By: Karen B.

Warning: Season Five spoiler!

Dedicated to my friend, PHX...for the lovely help and dear encouragement -- I truly wasn't going to post this.

Summary: AU -- short snippet. Tag to 5-3.

Note: Written purely and simply for self-indulgence. Not a leg to stand on here. As my grandfather always used to say: "Wish in one hand, shit in the other -- which do you think will fill up first?" ….Ha!

Hope you enjoy anyway,




Dean gazed momentarily at the empty passenger seat, seeing the darkness, the stillness, listening to profound silence -- how could the sound of nothing sound so damn-awful loud? The rumble of the Impala cut through the silence, like the first cup of morning coffee cutting through a bad hangover. Fighting the urge to slam a fist through the windshield, Dean opted to turn on the radio.

It had been a hard year, and curling up to die would have been so easy -- but that was not the Winchester way. He was tired. Sam was tired. They both were so tired, and the reasons to separate -- countless -- they had to break out the big guns.

Sam needed to run.

Dean needed to let him.

Had it really been ten weeks since he'd watched Sam walk away? Not a task Dean had relished. He'd carried the memory of his brother's face that day -- the recollection tearing at him a thousand different ways.

The anger.




The love -- the anger -- the friggin' love.

If letting Sam go, could give them just a teensy-bit of hope, he had to do it, even if it was the longest shot he'd ever taken in his life. Everything in him told him to jump up from that picnic table -- grab Sam's arm, stop him in his tracks, beg him not to go it alone. But going it alone was the only way for either of them. They couldn't live their lives through a microscope lens. Dean recalled their last conversation. The words floating between them mindful, powerful, devastatingly true -- but said with love -- with alternate meaning.

An eighteen-wheeler noisily blew by, rocking the Impala and snapping Dean from his thoughts. The sun had set, shrinking behind the trees; Dean flipped on his headlights and pressed harder on the gas -- glancing at the clock -- on the verge of panic. His nerves were jagged and jangling in his ears. He braced back into the leather seat, sighing deeply as if that would help speed things along. A heard of Elephants holding onto each other's tails and walking across a tightrope could move faster. Tapping his fingers against the steering wheel to the beat of a song he couldn't remember, Dean repeatedly glanced in the rearview mirror making sure he was not being followed. He'd stopped three times for coffee and gas, twice to take a leak, and once to change a flat.

He was exhausted, overextending himself but unwilling to waste anymore time on the open road. He reached down to the seat next to him, and flipping the phone on searched until he found the last text message he'd gotten.


The numbers had made his stomach lurch the first time he saw them, worse the second time. Ruthless, cold-blooded shivering swept through him -- not wanting to remember -- but he did -- he'd never forget. And Sam. What of Sam?

Dean felt so small, miniature; flowers had become trees and puddles --oceans. The world -- too big to see -- too big to save. Dean would never admit that to anyone, barely admitted it to himself. He would go down fighting, however, like his father would wish, like a Winchester.

Dean pushed the thought aside, exiting the freeway and turning right at the stop sign.

Maybe this was the turning point he'd been hoping for -- maybe not.


Dean rushed from the Impala, heading toward the docks. Dreary clouds covered the fact that it was early morning -- dark gray and hovering low to the surf. The screeching cry of a lone seagull seemed a fitting sound that filled Dean's gut with a creepiness he wasn't used to feeling. The cool breeze scattered wet newspapers around as Dean stalked noiselessly down the wooden pier. An old beer can clattering out of nowhere caused him to skitter to a halt, bringing a hand up under his leather -- retrieving his gun. He looked and listened, hearing nothing but the harmless sound of water sloshing up against the dock's support beams.

Dean turned to go the other way, when a ghost like apparition seemed to form out of the graying shadows -- seemingly drawn up from the wooden planks like smoke rising up out of a chimney. Dean's finger itched to pull the trigger, but the figure cocked his head in a familiar way toward him, making Dean stop.


"Hi, Dean," Sam answered, stepping out of the shadows to stand before him.

Dean stared at Sam a long time, then asked, "You okay?"

"Wasn't sure you got the message," Sam said, softly. "Thought you'd have been here sooner."

"Dude, I got the message. Drove for days -- practically none stop," Dean said, feeling the need to pull his brother into a hug, but sustained. "Only your ginormous brain would think to use numbers to spell 'hell' upside down as a code word. Well?" Dean questioned.

Sam didn't answer, face blank, almost numb looking. He turned moist, cloudy eyes downward, consumed, staring at Dean's hand.

"What?" Dean frowned.

Sam gestured with a small toss of his head toward Dean's gun.

"Oh, eh, sorry." Clearing his throat nervously, Dean slowly and carefully holstered the weapon." Did he show?" Dean asked, shuffling tiredly over to sit on a nearby stack of crates.

"Like you figured." Sam followed, sitting next to him. "He couldn't come to me, in person, thanks to Castiel's bone tat. And until I was far away from you. Physically and mentally - he couldn't show up in my dreams."

Dean cringed. The mental separation was the easy part, they still had so many issues to work out between them. But not having Sam by his side, sitting next to him in the Impala, hoping the kid was okay. Letting everyone believe it was what they both had wanted – in case Lucifer had mini cams posted all over creation spying on them -- crap times.

"So, I was right?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, keeping calm, not hunting, staying in one place, made it easier for him to zero in on me --still…"Sam shrugged. "Took awhile and…" Sam bit his lip.

"Straight up, Sam. What dark gift does he have for you?" Dean asked with a tinge of anger.

"You won't like it." Sam's shoulders grew tense, rigid.

"And!" Dean pushed harder

Sam stood abruptly, taking two steps away from Dean, facing the sea.

"Sam." Dean got up, standing behind him. "Just tell me. Maybe we can figure out what he wants -- trap him -- send that son of a bitch back to -- back to 7734."

"Me," Sam barely whispered. "He wants me."

"He wants you -- wants you?" Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Dude, I can't see you dancing with the devil -- that's just sick."

"Not that way," Sam huffed.

"What way, then?"

"He wants me -- the way..." Sam took another hobbling step forward, his sagging knees almost pulling him over into the water. "The way Michael wants you." Sam whirled to meet Dean's eyes.

Dean nodded calmly, lips pressed together, not saying a word.

"Dean, didn't you just hear me?" Sam gasped. "Do you know how terrible this is? I'm Lucifer's vessel. His true vessel. Do you know what that means? Do you understand if…what…how…if you…if I…" Sam choked, drowning on nothing but air.

Sam shook visibly, his face alarmingly white, the grief and pain in his eyes deeper than any bleeding wound.

"I know what it means." Dean walked across the slated planks moving in close to Sam. "It means no more cutting and running from our problems, from each other. It's going to be tough, but we go at it hard," Dean said, putting a hand on Sam's shoulder and squeezing tight. "It means we get charged up. We hold on." Dean took a breath. "It means we stick close to each other, cling to the one thing we've always clung to…" Dean paused, only the quiet rise and fall of his breathing in time with the lapping waves could be heard. "…Family, Sammy…family -- and family goes down together -- swinging!"

Dean's remarks had caught Sam off guard. He blinked hard, a slight sigh escaping his lips. There would be no brother on brother battle. No angel Dean vs. demon Sam. No gun vs. sword, welded by their hands would ever splatter Winchester blood to the walls. They were born brothers, and they would die -- brothers.


"Yeah, pal?"

A pause.

"You asked me earlier if I was okay?"


"I am now."

That's all she wrote