A/N: Some of the dialogue borrowed from the episode, written by Emily McLaughlin and Jeremy Carver

Finis

by Swellison

Dean woke to a quiet room, the first rays of the sun streaming past the thin curtains at the front of the motel room. They had forgotten to close the heavier, floor-length drapes last night; the full day of driving taking its toll. Oh, well, no harm, no foul. His gaze turned towards Sam, still sacked out on the inner bed - which was unusual for his little brother. Sam was the morning person. Not lately, though. Sam had taken to late-night internet sessions, searching relentlessly for a non-existent fix for Dean's deal. Dean didn't rag him about it, either. He wanted Sam to know that he'd done everything possible; he hoped it would give Sam a morsel of comfort, after…. Stop that right now. You're a real downer, first thing in the morning, Dean berated himself. And you think Sammy thinks too much.

Rising silently from his bed, he decided to take advantage of the rare first shower opportunity and all the hot water he could stand. After showering, Dean dressed quickly in a black t-shirt and the first pair of jeans he laid his hands on. He slipped on a black button-down shirt over his t-shirt, rolling up the sleeves, and then plopped down on the bed to put on his boots. The clock radio went off as he was tying the second boot.

"--heat of the moment, telling me what your heart meant. Heat of the moment shone in your eyes--"

Sam sprang up on his bed, staring first at Dean and then at the clock on the nightstand.

Dean could hear Sam's rapid breathing and saw the dazed, shaken look in his brother's eyes. He almost asked if Sam had had a nightmare, but his little brother wasn't nearly as forthcoming about his nightmares as he'd been when they were younger. Dean sought to lighten the mood, instead. "Rise and shine, Sammy." He grinned expectantly at Sam. "Dude, Asia."

Sam, still looking befuddled, shook his head slightly. "Dean."

"You love this song, you know it." Dean reached for the '50s style yellow clock radio and turned up the volume. He pointed a finger at Sam and started lip-synching. "Heat of the moment," Dean mouthed as he rose from his bed, grooving to the beat. He was ready to start the new day and the new hunt.

* * * * *

Dean opened the diner's glass door, rattling its mini-blinds and jangling its bell. He allowed Sam to enter first, closing the door behind them. Sam's steps slowed as they walked inside, and Dean passed him, heading for the middle of the three deserted booths lining the front wall. He slipped into the wooden booth with split red cushions padding its seat and back. Sam sat across from him, and Dean turned his attention to the specials board. "Hey, Tuesday. Pig in a poke."

Sam started. "It's Tuesday?" Not waiting for confirmation, he started talking to Dean, voice low and serious. "Would you listen to me, Dean? Because I'm freaking out here."

Before Dean could answer, a matronly middle-aged waitress approached. She smiled, pad in hand. "Are you boys ready?"

"He'll have the special, side of bacon, and a coffee," Sam ordered. "I'll have hot tea and a bagel with cream cheese, toasted."

The waitress - her nametag said Doris - wrote the order down. "Coming right up, hon."

Dean frowned slightly as the waitress walked away. The bagel had to be a taste Sam had acquired at Stanford, but he only ordered hot tea when he was sick, or stressed, or upset about something. None of those possibilities was good in Dean's book. He tried his first line of defense, a little humor to ease the situation. "Sammy, I get all tingly when you take control like that."

"Quit screwing around, Dean. I mean it." Sam hesitated a moment, then plunged on. "Doesn't this seem familiar to you? Like we've done it before--?" Sam was eying him expectantly, obviously wanting Dean to agree with him.

"No, it doesn't. Are you feeling all right?"

"Aside from freaking out? I'm fine, Dean. Just stuck in a time loop."

"Like in Groundhog Day?"

"Yes, exactly, like Groundhog Day."

"Uh huh."

"So you don't believe me?"

Dean heard the disappointment in his younger brother's voice. "It's just a little crazy, Sam, even for us. I mean, like--"

"Dingo ate my baby crazy?"

Dean startled. "How'd you know I was gonna say that?"

"Because you've said it before, Dean. That's my whole point."

Doris came back with a full tray. She placed a cup of hot tea and a small plate with a bagel and two packets of cream cheese in front of Sam, and then turned to Dean. Doris put a small plate of bacon, and Dean's plate of pig in a poke --whatever that was, it looked like a sausage rolled in a pancake, with an egg kicker, and a side of hash browns - in front of him. Lastly, she placed a cup of steaming coffee down. "Coffee, black," Doris said, reaching for the only item left on the tray. "And here's your hot sauce--" The small bottle wobbled and then fell off the tray.

"Crap!" the waitress exclaimed, and then watched as Sam's right hand deftly caught the bottle in mid-air before it could splatter on the floor.

Sam set the bottle on the tabletop. "Thanks," Doris exchanged a surprised grin with Dean and then walked away from their booth.

"Nice reflexes." Dean was pleased; a couple of years on the road and Sam was back in tip-top hunting form.

"No. I knew it was gonna happen."

"Okay, look. I'm sure that there's some sort of logical explanation for all of this--"

"Logical? No. Supernatural, maybe. Look, you're just going to have to believe me, okay? I'm caught in a time loop--"

"No, you're not." Dean interrupted.

"What? Dean, I keep living Tuesday over and over again and---"

"WE are," Dean said firmly, needing Sam to know that they were together in this. "Caught in a time loop."

"And we've got to get out of it, because--" Sam broke off, swallowing convulsively.

"Because what? Spit it out, Sammy."

"Because you die, today."

Dean was taken aback. "I'm not gonna die." He reconsidered; his clock was definitely ticking. "Not today, anyway."

Sam stared straight into Dean's eyes. "I've watched you die a dozen times already."

Dean squelched the 'lucky thirteen' joke that automatically sprang to his mind. "Sammy--"

"I tried keeping you in the motel room a few times," Sam confessed, eyes focused on the plate in front of him. "But you just found different ways to die. Whatever I do, you die--I can't stop it. And I can't watch it, not again."

"Hey." Dean waited until Sam's eyes met his again. "Whatever this is, we'll figure it out. If you and I decide that I'm not going to die, then I'm not gonna die. Now, eat your breakfast before it gets cold."

Dean followed his own advice, picking up his fork and digging into the 'pig' part of his pig in a poke.

* * * * *

They strode down the street. A golden retriever, tied up and waiting for its owner, barked a greeting as they passed. Sam glanced backwards, looking at the dog as if it was a harbinger, or something. Dean waited until Sam's gaze returned to the sidewalk in front of them. Paying more attention to Sam than what was in front of him, he bumped into a woman in a pink jacket, a stack of flyers clutched in her hand.

"Excuse me," she muttered and continued on her way.

Dean turned to watch her rapidly shrinking figure, because any woman wearing pink was worth a second look. They passed a couple of movers, unsuccessfully trying to cram some big wig's expensive wooden antique desk through an office building's open doorway.

"I told you it wouldn't fit!" The mover nearer to the street, bent over with both hands wrapped around a corner of the heavy desk, said, exasperation evident in his voice.

"What do you want, a Pulitzer?" The taller, skinnier mover at the other side of the desk jabbed his hand towards the desk in frustration.

Dean shook his head over the antics of normal people and got back to the subject at hand. "And you think this cheesy-ass tourist trap has something to do with it?"

"Maybe it's the genuine article." Sam spoke as they continued to walk down the street. "You know, the magnetic fields bending space and time, time becoming fluid enough to loop around itself."

"Are you listening to yourself talk? This all seems a little too X-Files to me," Dean scoffed while continuing to walk.

"Well, I don't know how else to explain it, Dean!"

Sam was clearly reaching the end of his rope. "All right!" Dean caved. "All right, we'll go check out the Mystery Spot tonight, after they close. Get ourselves a good, long look."

"Wait!" Sam halted, and Dean stopped in turn. "No, no, no. We can't."

"Why not?"

"Because--because yo- you--" Sam stuttered.

"I what?" Dean asked, but he easily put two and two together. "I die there?"

"Blown away, actually." Sam's voice was subdued.

"Huh. Okay, let's go now, then." Dean started walking again. They were almost at the end of the block, passing a brick and glass-fronted building on its corner. After a pause, Dean heard Sam's running steps from behind him. Dean reached the intersection, placing one foot into the crosswalk.

Sam's right hand grabbed Dean's upper right arm, gripping painfully. At the same time, Sam's left hand grasped his left shoulder and yanked, hard. Dean lost his balance and stumbled backwards. A light green sedan - older model Ford, maybe - careened through the crosswalk, uncomfortably close to them. Dean caught his breath, expecting to be braced by Sam's broad chest. Instead, Sam continued to stagger backwards, taking Dean with him. A dozen blind steps backwards, and Sam fetched up against the brick front of the corner building, causing their momentum to cease.

Dean shook off Sam's hands, forcefully. He stepped away from Sam and whirled to face his brother.

"Dean, I--"

"Inside," Dean ordered, unwilling to have it out with Sam on the street. He jerked his head towards the establishment's door, and waited while Sam collected himself and walked through the door. Dean quickly scanned the sidewalks, looking for signs that their little tango had attracted anyone's attention. He glanced at the green painted letters on the store's glass window: "Flora's Fins and Fauna: A His and Hers Gift Shoppe". Dean grimaced, and followed Sam into the store.

Inside, the gift shop was neatly split in half in terms of merchandise and floor space. To their right, the aisles were stocked with fishing gear, camping equipment, a decent automotive section, even an improbable rack of men's magazines and pin-up calendars. A few serious pieces of deep sea fishing equipment - harpoon guns, workman-like nets, a black wetsuit with sky blue trim - hung on the far right wall. A ladder leaned against the wall, sandwiched between a large window and the deep sea display. A slender woman in a bright floral skirt and blouse was talking to a young Hispanic cleaning lady, next to the ladder. "Be right with you," the saleswoman raised her voice to address the Winchesters, the store's only customers.

"We're just browsing," Dean told her, voice slightly raised in answer.

The woman waved an acknowledgment, and continued to talk in Spanish to the girl next to her. Dean heard "be careful" and "ladder", but his meager Spanish wasn't up to translating entire conversations. Sam probably could, but one look at Sam convinced Dean that his brother wasn't really tracking much of anything at the moment. Dean put a hand on Sam's shoulder, guiding his brother over to the deserted women's half of the store. The first row was a couple of display cases with an eye-catching assortment of jewelry inside. Display shelves about five feet high and full of breakable collectibles and knick-knacks ran parallel to the jewelry cases, and Dean turned down the narrow aisle between the first row of shelves and the jewelry cases. He released his hold on Sam's shoulder, walked a few steps beyond Sam, and then turned to face him. "What were you thinking?"

"I saw the car, hitting you again and I reacted."

"Overreacted, you mean." Dean corrected. "Dude, I can jump back as well as the next person. Next time, just yell. You've gotta get your head in the game, here, Sammy. We've faced a lot tougher hunts than this."

"But you were--"

"Sammy, I said we'll figure this out, and we will. You just need to--"

A high-pitched scream cut Dean off as the cleaning lady, standing on the ladder, accidentally discharged the harpoon gun she was dusting.

Dean's hunter's instincts kicked into high gear and he heard the whoosh of approaching danger. He straight-armed Sam forcefully, sending his younger brother reeling out of the way. A flash of movement in front of him, and then something slim and fast slammed into his chest, producing a white hot stab of pain, followed almost immediately by a second jarring pain in his back. Dean fell backwards a couple of steps, stopping when he was brought up roughly against the top shelf of the display shelves behind him. He heard the distant tinkle of breaking glass as collectibles and knick-knacks shattered at the impact.

Pinned to the shelf, like a friggin' bug under… microscope. Dean's head slumped forward, chin falling to his chest. He blearily took in the thin charcoal gray of the harpoon shaft that disappeared into his upper chest. Not bug…shark. Hurts…. S'posed to be….light? Not where…I'm going….

"DEAN!" A large, trembling hand cupped his chin and Dean felt his head being raised up to meet Sam's stunned, devastated eyes.

Tried…. Dean's vision tunneled in to just his brother's terrified face. Sorry, Sammy….

And the world went dark and silent.

* * * * *

Dean rolled over in bed, cracking his eyes open as sunlight streamed across his face. He listened, expecting to hear Sam puttering around, or the shower running from behind the closed bathroom door. Nothing. He flopped over to his other side, and saw Sam lying supine on the bed closer to the wall, still slumbering. Well, Sammy had been up later than he'd been last night, doggedly searching the internet for a cure, a way out of Dean's deal. Dean didn't have the heart to tell Sammy that such a way didn't exist. Sammy'd have to find out eventually, but for now, Dean let him search for his miracle. Maybe he'll even find one. The brief flare of hope that Dean felt motivated him to get out of bed and grab the first shower.

After his shower, Dean dressed quietly, perfectly content to let Sam sleep in until the alarm would sound. Dean slipped on his socks, and then his boots. He was seated on his bed, tying his shoelaces when the clock radio blared.

"--heat of the moment, telling me what your heart meant. Heat of the moment shone in your eyes--"

Sam jackknifed into a sitting position, staring at Dean like he'd just been returned after being abducted by aliens, or something. After a couple of seconds of that blank stare, Dean saw Sam's head turn to stare at the clock radio.

"Rise and shine, Sammy." Dean prodded, and then grinned. "Dude, Asia."

"Dean."

"You love this song, you know it." Dean reached for the '50s style yellow clock radio and turned up the volume. He pointed a finger at Sam and started lip-synching. "Heat of the moment," Dean mouthed as he rose from his bed, grooving to the beat. He was ready to start the new day and the new hunt.

FINIS

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