Warnings: SPOILERS FOR 4.15 AU, no doubt. Extensive semi-colon abuse. Weird. Dark, depressing, death-fic. NOT HUMOR.
Disclaimer: They aren't mine, and aren't you glad about that.
Summary: Everything has an ending...
A/N: This might be the most depressing fic I have posted yet, and I apologize in advance for any trauma, especially to you Sam-girls. Death-fic, like woah. Way too depressing for a Monday.
Sam wasn't sure whether he could see the Reapers now because of what he'd become, or because he was dying. It didn't matter.
Translucent shapes like spectral jellyfish swirled in, hovered over each body in the field in turn and moved along. Harvesting the dead; moving their souls along to Heaven, Hell, Asgaard, Jannah, reincarnation as a mollusk, the next plane, nothingness, whatever. Again, it didn't matter. It was over.
The war between Heaven and Hell was over and the only people who knew it had ever happened were dead or insane. The world hadn't ended, the same very old, very cold War over humanity had resumed. There were heavy losses on both sides, heavy enough that it would be millennia before there was anyone powerful and ambitious enough on either side to attempt to tip the balance again.
A clear circle, free of corpses surrounded Sam. A blast radius. For a second he thought that the lack of nearby corpses might be why the Reapers weren't getting near him, but he knew they had other reasons. Nothing and no one that knew what he was now wanted to be near him. Sam wondered if that would keep the Reapers from harvesting his soul when he finally died, and make him a lost spirit. Maybe he didn't even have a soul anymore to interest the Reapers.
One Reaper was harvesting the edges nearest him, flitting between corpses, a bee among the honeysuckle. It probably wasn't finding much. The demons nearest Sam had been his 'lieutenants'; Ruby, others. Long-ridden corpses whose original souls had flayed away to tatters, or been absent from the start, unsalvageable long before Dean had been killed and Sam had become his own betrayer.
After Dean's death, Sam had stopped caring, again. He let Ruby and the allies she brought form up the army they wanted, place demons in key people in the world political and economic hierarchy, hundreds of foot soldiers, shock troops. Battles between demons and angels Sam only ever knew of from the reported results. Lilith's armies turning to him as he gained power, leaving her without support, and eventually with Ruby's knife in her back, as she believed Ruby's changes of allegiance one too many times.
Sam withdrew, except for the necessary shows of power. He let them assemble. Let them draw closer under the banner Ruby flew for him. Let himself become something that no one dared betray or cross. All the while, biding his time, focussing his strength, remembering Dean.
At the peak of his power, Ruby and her sycophants were suggesting now was the time to break the final seal and unleash Hell; time to leave the Earth to burn and storm Heaven. Sam had assembled them all, the carefully selected army of demons, monsters and dark things that hated everything bright and good in the world. He'd assembled his army in a lonely field near Pontiac, Illinois, one that had been a forest clearing with a single grave the only other time he'd been here. Once they were all there, all leering and shouting and eager to fight, Sam stood up, and up. He blasted his own army apart, burning out the blood Azazel had instilled in him, and the taint that had grown after. It was done.
His mother and father's blood was escaping him now. Sam couldn't heal himself anymore; all his power was gone, and even if he still had that power, he wouldn't try. It was over. Let it end.
The Reaper picking at the edges stopped, hovering near the cleared blast zone. Sam tried to proceed with dying in as non-threatening a manner as possible, so as not to scare away the Reaper. After all this, if he had a soul left, he didn't think he wanted it to remain behind.
The Reaper drifted closer, into the cleared circle.
"S'okay," whispered Sam, then cleared his throat. "Not gonna bite. All done."
The wispy floating shape poured down to the ground, taking human form. Heavy work boots touched the ground, legs in blue jeans shooting up into a t-shirt and plaid covered torso, a fleck of gold sparking on the chest. A face more familiar to Sam than his own formed, with an expression closer to smile than smirk.
Sam huffed out a red, wet laugh. "Wasn't expecting you."
Dean crouched low beside Sam, grin familiar. "Wanted to surprise you."
"You did. Good-" Sam broke off, coughing. "Good to see you, Dean."
"So," Sam tried to raise a hand and found he couldn't. He settled for nodding toward Dean and the Reapers still collecting in the fields. "New gig?"
Dean smirked. "Naw, I'm kind of like a specialized deputy." He held out a hand.
Sam looked at it, eyes half-closed.
"It's time, Sammy."
"I know." Sam's breath rattled and choked down to nothing, flow of blood staining the ground slowing to a stop. He stood up out of his body, not taking Dean's hand.
"I'm not going to like where I'm going, am I, Dean?"
"I don't know."
Sam raised his eyebrows.
"No, seriously, man. All the enigmatic Reaper bullshit is because we don't have a friggin' clue. We're just..." Dean shrugged. "Fed Ex for souls."
"I still have one? A soul?" Sam whispered.
Dean grinned. "Of course you do, Sammy. You're here, you're talking to me."
"I don't want to go to Hell, Dean."
"I don't want you to either, Sam. But I don't have a say on it. Personally, I figure wiping out the armies of Hell single-handedly as they were about to raise Lucifer and try to take down Heaven should be worth some brownie points."
"They were ready to do that because of me." Sam looked around at the carnage. "A lot of people have died, Dean. Thousands of people. All because of me."
Dean was silent, face neutral, unjudging.
"There's no way I'll go anywhere but Hell, right? I mean, this doesn't make up for the things I've done."
Dean smiled. "You know I wish I could tell you, Sammy. Anything at all. I just don't know."
"If it isn't Hell..." Sam looked around at the reddened field again. Some of the other Reapers were drifting towards them, stopping at the cleared edge, waiting. "If it's... some other, better place... I don't think I could take that either. Not after all I've done. I deserve- I don't deserve anything but Hell."
Sam shook his head. "I- I can't, Dean. I can't do this. I can't stay, and I can't go. Whichever, whatever's going to happen next, I can't do it. Not alone."
"You don't have to." Dean held out his hand a second time. "Trust me?"
Sam hesitated, looking first at his brother's hand then into his green, smirking eyes.
"Come on, Sammy. It's time."
Sam exhaled and took Dean's hand. "Okay."
Dean pulled Sam into a hug, folding an arm around him, closing his eyes.
"Don't let go," he whispered, gripping Sam's hand.
The circle of Reapers watched as light poured from Dean, sending Sam through to his afterlife. They continued to watch as Dean kept his grip on Sam's hand, and Sam gripped Dean's, tighter than he'd held on to anything before. Sam's spirit disappeared, and in an unravelling knot of light, Dean folded into himself and followed after his brother.
Sam's body lay in the middle of the empty circle, watched by a host of Reapers. One by one they drifted away.
The sun was high and bright, and the road was clear of traffic. Something with an extended guitar riff and howling vocals was playing on the Impala's stereo.
"So is this Heaven or Hell?" Sam asked, letting his hand ride the air currents outside his open window.
Dean looked over from the driver's seat and smirked. "What do you think?"
"I think if this was Heaven, we wouldn't be listening to AC/DC and I'd be driving."
Dean laughed. Sam smiled. The Impala drove off into a new day.
- - -
(that's it, don't say I didn't warn you.)
Post A/N: Since 4.15, the image of Dean becoming a Reaper and hugging Sam into the afterlife then following him has been haunting my brain. It just didn't jell 'til now. Title from the Tom Stoppard quote: "Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."