Apocalypse

He looked at me and it was all I could do to keep my hands still in my lap. I wanted to reach out and wipe that hurt look from his face. I wanted to see those green eyes sparkle with laughter, not leaking such exquisite pain that my breath caught in my throat. He looked at me and I could see the accusation in gaze. He blamed me for his pain, his imprisonment and his ongoing torture. He was right. The blame was at my feet. But there was nothing I could do to help him right now. I looked away from those eyes, looked out the barred window at the lush green that still covered the hills bordering the castle. I was ashamed that I could not meet his stare and yet I felt no real remorse. It had to be done, it had to be.

"You ready boy." Bobby asked, his voice hushed in the early morning silence.

I looked up into Bobby's hooded eyes and nodded. I couldn't trust myself to speak.

Turning away from him I gripped my arms tightly as soon, Sam's screams rent the air. He wailed, his voice ragged with despair.

It wasn't long before I felt the wetness on my face but I didn't reach up to wipe it away.

My body went cold as Sam continued to scream. I couldn't do this anymore, I could not.

The door banged shut loudly behind me. I heard my own footsteps pounding on the stone floor. I was running, heading for the woods, the river, anywhere but in here.

"Dean." Castiel's voice rang out.

I stopped just short of the door, of freedom, of peace.

"Don't ask me to go back there Cas. I can't do this anymore."

He approached me carefully. I thought that maybe he was afraid I would bolt like a frightened horse from a stall.

"He needs you," Castiel whispered, his gravelly voice echoing in the hallway. "He needs to see you. Seeing you is the only thing that keeps Lucifer at bay. Sam remembers who he is when he sees you," he said, his eyes full of understanding.

I wanted to curse him, to shout, to do anything but agree, but I knew he was right.

He led me back; he led me step by step down that long corridor.

The screams grew louder with each step.

Sam was trembling, his body bathed with sweat. It made his skin shine and his hair stick to his head in clumps. I wanted to comfort him, but knew better. His throat worked as Bobby finished the current incantation. He seemed to sense me then. Straining against his bonds, he tried to reach me.

"Dean, Dean," he croaked. "Help me, they're hurting me, it hurts so much." Tears shimmered in his pain filled eyes, ready to fall with a single blink.

I tried to step back, but Castiel was there his hand warm at my back. That warmth gave me strength.

"I'll be over soon Sammy," I promised knowing it was a lie.

Lucifer was reluctant to give up his vessel. He was fighting us at every step. His arrogance had led to his capture, but he was not as easily gotten rid of. Sammy was growing weaker as the days past. He refused to eat or to drink, unless he was forced. He called for me day and night. He slept only when he was too exhausted to do otherwise. His face was so much thinner that his cheekbones stood out. There were dark half circles under his eyes. Only his restraints kept him upright now.

As he always did he begged me to let him go, just for a minute. The blessed chains with which we had bound him, were crusted with blood from his wrists and they clinked dully as he moved.

When I did not respond, he cursed me. Then he pleaded, then he cried, then he began to moan. But we all knew that should we loosen his bonds even for a second we would all perish.

I wanted to push those stubborn locks from his forehead. I wanted to just hold my brother and give him comfort. The last time I'd been that weak, he had bitten a chunk of flesh from my shoulder. It still hurt.

I slid to the floor, my back against the cold wall. I remembered when Cas had brought us here, when we had been on the verge of giving up. The entire building had been consecrated. It had been used as the last bastion of the angels in the fight for the world. It was here that we had captured Lucifer, when he had boldly followed Bobby into the bowels of the place. And here we were still. The world had been saved, but Sam...

Castiel had been one stroke from killing him, that holy blade that he carried shining and poised, but that would have meant killing Sam too. And in that moment I couldn't let him do it, even though in my heart I knew it was really the only thing we could do. I had begged Castiel to find another way...

I couldn't help the shudder that went through me as Sam suddenly began screaming again. This time Castiel's voice rang out, the words flowing from his lips. Sam writhed, the muscles in his arms cording in his effort to pull himself free.

"No, no, no, no, noooo," he wailed. "Deeeeeean, Deeeeeeeeeeeean!"

I don't remember when Bobby came over and wrapped me in his arms. I can't remember when the tears came. But I remember the softness of his shirt, the smell of brandy on his breath. He stroked my hair and I let him do it. Somewhere along there I fell asleep.

The dream began as it always did; he was waiting for me smiling, his hair a bit longer than it was now, the way he used to wear it when he was seventeen and I was twenty one.

"Race ya," he shouted, and he began to run, laughing at the top of his voice as he ran towards the sea.

And as always I followed, knowing it was a lie, knowing that all too soon I would wake up to hear him screaming. But for now it was enough.

I put on an extra burst of speed as the blue of the sea appeared on the horizon.

Finis