ACME'S Build a New World
The Apocalypse had been averted.
Lucifer had been put back into his cage, never to rise again.
And Dean…Dean had fulfilled a destiny he hadn't believed in and yet had gladly offered his life for to give the World a whole new start.
That had been five days ago. The air was still filled with the acrid, smoldering remains of fire, brimstone and blood, a battle that had been waged valiantly yet tragically won. The aftermath was a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. Victory over evil should have felt liberating and yet it felt empty. The warriors who remained had been battered, though not completely beaten yet many had been so broken that it was questionable whether they would ever recover to enjoy the freedom they had fought so hard to keep.
Then there was Sam. Broken didn't begin to describe the way Sam looked or felt. There was no victory in his red-rimmed eyes, bloodshot from lack of sleep and unending tears. Sam was beyond empty, he had been drained of any life, of any will to live and yet he moved in slow motion forward, one foot in front of the other with barely reluctant steps, walking inevitably towards what he viewed as a bleak future. There would be no celebrations, no hugs or high-fives of triumph given or received for Sam. There was nothing for him to feel proud about.
Sam had lost the only person he had wanted to survive from the war and in his mind he had brought it to fruition just as easily as Lucifer had taken him away from him, just before being defeated. To Sam, no words of comfort that Dean had died to save the World, that what had happened was his destiny, not even shifting the blame to Dean breaking the first seal would make Sam believe that what had happened, happened because it was meant to happen, that prophecy dictated that it end like it had. No, in Sam's mind, all that was crystal clear to him was that if he hadn't let Lucifer out in the first place, none of it would have been necessary. None of the lives that had been lost would have been lost. Dean would still be with him and they would still be mending their relationship. They had been making progress, forgiveness had been offered and accepted, but it hadn't been enough for Sam. They had been robbed of time, time that Sam wasted last year pushing Dean away. He selfishly wanted that back, not that he had deserved or had earned a second chance for more time with his brother, because he knew he had done nothing to receive either, but because he wanted to give it back to Dean. He had wanted to earn Dean's trust again, to have his brother look into his eyes and believe in him again. Dean had died without having his family back. He had died, not hating Sam because Sam knew Dean was completely incapable of hating him, as much as sometimes Sam wished he had or felt he should have, but he had died disappointed in him, not that he could have blamed him. And that was the worst feeling to be left behind with.
But it wasn't meant to be. Time was the one thing they didn't have. He'd been denied that chance and maybe it had meant to be the final, bitter punishment for his actions, maybe he had to lose Dean in order to right the universe that he had tipped into disarray with his arrogance, and maybe he had to be robbed of the one person who had withstood everything to try to save him from his fall in order to understand what he had taken for granted. It was a harsh lesson, but it had been the only one that could have penetrated his ego.
Dean's death at the hands of the Hell hound and Lillith had become a driving force to Sam's undoing at the hands of rage and revenge. Dean's sacrifice while fighting Lucifer had become the abject lesson he had failed to learn when Dean had been returned to him. Now, all he could feel was loss and regret, likely for the rest of his life. Knowing that Dean would have wanted Sam to go on without him, to live the life that Dean would never take credit for having given back to him, was heartbreaking, all Sam felt was failure, that he would just drown in his defeat instead.
Bobby watched Sam wallow and felt that if he didn't bring Sam around, Sam would waste away and just let death take him with barely a whimper of resistance, if that. He wouldn't let Sam wither away. He had failed him the last time, but this time, he had a promise to keep and he'd be damned if he'd let down the man he would proudly call a son, who had given up everything without a second thought to his own future.
Bobby went into his closet and pulled out a box. Just remembering when Dean had given it to him brought an ache to his soul that could have easily brought him down to his knees if he had let it, but he wouldn't. He promised himself that this time, he would not seek liquid comfort at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. The time for self-pity had passed. Dean had given them all a fresh start and Bobby wasn't about to waste it away in grief. He knew that he would grieve forever, but he would not let it consume him as it had the last time. Dean deserved to be memorialized with an attempt at making a better World, a better future, not continuing the grim past they had just left behind. Bobby was determined to make that happen and this was his first step.
He walked out into the living room, seeing the shell that Sam was slowly becoming. He was cuddled up in a fetal position, staring at the peeling wallpaper.
Sam didn't look up.
"Look at me, son."
Sam then responded, but barely as he looked at Bobby.
Sam stared at it at first, looking like he had never seen a box before or that he knew how to move his hands to take it from Bobby.
"A promise. Take it."
"Bobby I –"
"You listen to me, Sam Winchester. You are not going to wallow, you hear me? Not this time. I allowed you to do that the last time, let you run away from your pain, but it's not going to happen again. Dean doesn't deserve either of us sitting around here feeling like we lost when he won the war with his life. It's not right and I won't have it."
Sam felt himself on the verge of tears again. He didn't think he had any left in him and yet they continued to come. Bobby's expression softened. He had to find the right mix of tough love and compassion for Sam. He had found it with Dean to snap him out of his self-pity, only regret he had was that he hadn't spoken up sooner. He wasn't going to make that mistake with Sam.
"Look, I know what you're feeling, believe me, I do, but we can't let his sacrifice go to waste this time. Please tell me you know that."
Sam nodded, "Yeh, Bobby, I do, but it hurts so much and I can't help feeling like if I hadn't let Lucifer out in the first place, Dean would still be here and that we wouldn't be–"
"Suffering like we are now? How selfish is that, Sam? Shove that self-righteous blame out of your head because it's self-destructive and not what Dean would have wanted. For once in your life, Sam, put your brother's needs first. He'd been doing that all his life, willingly and without regret. It's about time you exercised that thick-headed brain of yours to do something good, to do some good with the capacity you have for compassion. Dean saw it in you, knew it was there. Why can't you?"
Sam took in a breath.
"Now, take this. Dean wanted you to have it, made me promise to give it to you if he couldn't do it himself," Bobby said as he pushed the box further towards Sam. "You have to know, Sam, he was fully determined to come out of this, he didn't just let Lucifer take him out without a fight, without giving everything he had to survive, to live through it. I don't think Dean knows how to fight any other way, but at some point, he knew he just couldn't do it, understood that it was a fight to the end and gave it everything he had before he left us. This was his way of leaving himself behind for you. Take it, Sam."
Sam reached out with his trembling hands and took the box from Bobby. He gazed at the top of it and it said ACME'S BUILD A NEW WORLD on it. A smile couldn't help, but come to his face. It was something Dean would buy. He opened the box and found a bunch of loose pieces in the box. At the bottom was an envelope. Sam swallowed hard, not knowing if he was ready to read Dean's last words.
"I'll leave you to it now," Bobby said as he started to leave the room.
"Thanks, Bobby," Sam said, his voice cracking with emotion.
Bobby paused, looked up, closed his eyes and said, "You're welcome, son" then walked off.
Sam took in another shaky breath, reached for the envelope then pulled it out. On the front, in Dean's all caps scrawl was Sammy. It made Sam's chest ache with longing. Despite his protests, whenever Dean had called him Sammy, it would always reassure him that things were good between them. It was Dean's way to get a rise out of him and be affectionate all at the same time. He opened the envelope slowly almost wanting to savor every moment of one of the few things Dean had touched and had left behind, just for him.
He took out the letter and unfolded it. He then began to read.
I really suck at writing letters, but this is just in case. If you're reading this, then I must not have made it, but you gottta believe me when I tell you, I gave it everything I had. I'd be damned if I was going to go quietly…get it? Damned? Okay, no Hell jokes. Seriously, I want you to know that I didn't go down without a fight. I gave it all I had. I don't want to leave you behind again like I did the last time, but if I did, it wasn't because I wanted to. Know that, Sammy.
But I know you, kid. No matter how this goes down, I know that you'll blame yourself, feel like it's all your fault. Am I right? I know I'm right.
Sam had a smile on his face and mumbled, "Shut up" to no one in the room.
Well, it's not and don't give me the whole, "I let Lucifer out" crap. You didn't know that killing Lillith would bring him out. Hell, I didn't know. The people who did led us down their garden path and what happened, happened. It's as simple as that. And yes, it's that simple. If you're going to blame anyone, blame me. I should never have left you, Sammy. I let my hurt ego piss and moan and I let you face everything alone. Bobby made me see that. I'm sorry that when you needed me the most, I became Dad.
Sam felt the tears roll down his face and took a minute to wipe them off with the sleeve of his shirt.
"No, you weren't Dad, Dean," Sam said.
Anyway, when I went out for coffee one morning and to clear my head, I walked by a toy store. No cracks about how old I am, dude. I'm young at heart. In the window, I saw this. A 3-D puzzle. When I saw what it was called, I went in. This very cute clerk, and no, she was NOT underage, pulled the box out for me and showed it to me. Something about it made me want to buy it so I did. Gave the clerk my winning smile and left her giggling in my wake. Okay, shut up.
Sam found himself unconsciously laughing. Reading Dean's words, hearing them in his head like a narration with Dean's voice saying them, it made him feel better, lighter than he had felt in months.
I brought it back and stored it in Bobby's closet for a while. I told him about it and made him promise that if anything ever happened to me, to give it to you because I knew you'd need it.
I know what you're doing and I want you to stop doing it. I'm not going to give you the whole destiny speech or the "it was all meant to be" line of bull because I don't believe in that crap. What I do believe in is you and that you will great things once you pull your head out from your ass and get over what happened. You know you're doing it so don't deny it or tell me to shut up. See, do I know my little bro or what?
Sammy, the last time I left you, I gave you nothing but a car and parting words that weren't nearly enough to get you through what would happen to me. This time, you have no excuse. I'm not going to Hell. Cas assures me that if the worst happens, I'll be at rest, at peace. I'm good with that and I want you to be too.
I'd give my life several more times over to make things the way they were before, but fact is, that's just not going to happen and again, I'm okay with that. I know that as I write this thing, you and I are in a good place. We're brothers again, for better or worse and that's all I've ever wanted. We've taken care of each other all of our lives. I think it's about time one of us gets a chance at making the world a better place…ugh, that sounds SO EMO and SO you. All the more reason it should be you.
Build the new world in the box and then work on the real one, okay? Who knows? Maybe I'll be that angel on your shoulder kicking your ass all the way.
You're my brother. That will never change. I'm proud of you, Sammy and I know that whatever happens you'll be with me when it does. I'm good with that.
Sam finished the letter, drained, but oddly relieved. They had been okay at the end and he had been there when Dean had died. Unlike the last time, when by the time Sam could get to him, Dean had already been gone, Dean struggled to live long enough to give him comfort as he had always done all their lives.
"Dean?" Sam said as he carefully lifted and held his brother's battered and broken body.
"Sammy? You okay?" Dean breathed out with difficulty.
"I'm fine, Dean. We have to get you help –"
"N…no, Sam…I'm hurt bad…can feel it."
"No, no, don't you leave me! Not again."
"Don't…want to…but I…can't…" Dean said as he arched in Sam's arms, his breathing becoming more labored.
"Dean," Sam said, a loss for anything to say. There were no words of comfort worthy enough for Dean.
"N…not scared, Sammy…n…no regrets. It's okay to let me go…"
"Don't know if I can…"
"You can and you will…" Dean said, feeling his life ebbing out of him. He lifted his hand up to touch Sam's face. "P…proud to be your brother."
"Me too, Dean. I always was proud to be your brother," Sam said, his voice filled with emotion.
"I know that, bitch," Dean said, trying to smile, but his pain squelching it away.
A wave of pain hit him then he exhaled his last breath.
"Jerk," Sam said even though he knew Dean hadn't heard it.
The memory was bittersweet, but comforting too. Dean had died knowing Sam was there with him. It had to be enough because it would be all that Sam would have.
He looked at all of the pieces of the puzzle in front of him and couldn't resist the urge to want to put it together.
He cleared the coffee table and poured out the pieces and began assembling the globe on the cover of the box. As he placed each piece together, a feeling of calm started to come over him and the pain that seemed to attack his whole being was subsiding. Suddenly all his concentration was consumed by wanting to complete the puzzle.
Finally, after a couple of hours, he was done. The globe was beautiful and was geographically correct. As he spun it around to admire his work, he noticed a circle on the United States section. He looked closer and the circle was round Kansas. It then dawned on him that Dean had assembled the puzzle himself and had marked it. At Kansas, he had written Dean and Sammy and Sam could only smile. At first, it seemed that was all Dean had written, but then at the top at the North Pole, there was one last sentence, Rock the World, Sammy.
Sam found himself laughing freely, without any baggage to weigh him down. Dean had done even in death what he had always done in life, lifted Sam out of darkness and saved his life, his soul. Sam knew it would be slow and arduous, but he wouldn't let Dean's sacrifice be wasted. He would honor it.
FIN. Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. It was inspired by the song, World by Five for Fighting.