I'll Promise if You Will
A Supernatural tale by FraidyCat
Spoilers: Everything before 5.05
Disclaimer: I serve the Great Kripke
When Dean finished his story -- the short version of "The Day I Fast-Forwarded" -- Sam swallowed thickly and leaned back, propping his elbows on the picnic table.
They were back in Colorado, driving from one job to the next. The rest stop was not a lakeside recreational area, like the place where it all went so wrong, but there were enough similarities that Dean was mired in memories as soon as he steered the Impala toward the exit. If he knew anything about Sam, the atmosphere was not lost on him, either. Same sunny weather, same scattered picnic tables, same brick-and-cement bathroom...hell, there was even a truck pulling a boat parked nearby.
That right there, by the way, was just a little too close for comfort. Dean almost kept right on driving when he saw that, back out onto the freeway. But Sam had been fidgeting in his seat for miles, and his face had lit up in a smile when he saw the bathroom. His hand was already on the passenger door's handle -- so Dean eased his own boat into a parking space and gave the kid a break. He owed him a few, after all.
Sam had mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like "thanks, Dean", and scurried off to the bathroom before Dean even had time to feel guilty that Sam still felt like he had to thank him for something as basely human as a piss break. While Sam was gone, Dean wandered to the drinking fountain, inhaled a mouthful of too-warm water that made his lips twist in a grimace, and then staked a claim at one of the picnic tables. He sank onto the bench with a sigh, back to the table, so that he could watch for Sammy.
By the time Sam exited the bathroom, spotted him and started loping his way in that gangly, surprisingly graceful way he had, Dean had made a decision. Time to fess'up. Sam smiled almost shyly before dropping to the bench beside his brother. "Tired?" he asked. "I could drive for a while...if you want." Even though Dean had started sharing the driving duties more, the kid still sounded almost apologetic when he suggested it.
Dean ignored the little pang that set off inside him, and looked his brother in the eye. "I'm gonna tell you why I changed my mind," he announced.
Sam's eyes widened in surprise. "Okay," he answered hesitantly.
And so, the short version.
When he was finished, Sam leaned back, swallowing. "So, I said 'yes'," he mused. He attempted a grin, failing miserably. "That sucks."
Dean shrugged. "Came pretty close myself," he admitted. The brothers sat silently, side-by-side, for a moment, before Dean spoke again. "I've been thinking."
To his credit, Sam let the opportunity for a snarky comment pass. "Yeah?"
Dean leaned forward, and rubbed the palms of his hands on his jeans. Then he sat back up, and turned slightly on the bench, so that he was more fully facing Sam. "I think we should both avoid...hosting duties."
Sam snickered. "Um...yeah."
Dean persisted, with some difficulty. He hated this thinking stuff; hated the talking stuff even worse. "Historically speaking, Samuel, you and I don't do so well when one of us loses the other. I been wonderin' what would make either one of us say 'yes', and here's what I think: Zach will target you. If I'm caught up in another...Cold Oak moment...I might say 'yes' to anything."
"Hell included," Sam noted dryly.
"Right," Dean agreed. "Lucifer targets me, for the opposite reason. If you lose me, you're likely to say 'yes' to anything."
"Mmmm," Sam murmured. "Have I ever told you that you're not an idiot?"
Dean smiled, then let the smile fade. "So I figure, we both have some pretty big targets on our backs." He sighed again; this was the hard part. "I'm not saying we'll lose this war, Sammy -- but we gotta face it. Bobby can't pull our asses out of the fire quite the same way, anymore, and these are some pretty righteous enemies."
"Not the descriptive word I would use," Sam commented, "but I think I know where you're going with this." He crossed his long arms over his massive chest. "You think there's a good possibility one or both of us might be killed."
Dean nodded silently, and let another moment pass as he looked out toward the Impala; their faithful steed. Then he cleared his throat and looked back at Sam. "For the record," he said, "I want you to keep saying 'no'. Look at it this way: it won't be for very long. Sooner or later, with no one to watch your back, you'll be going down, too."
Sam was arching his eyebrows when he turned his head toward Dean. "That's a pleasant picture." Dean shrugged, and this time Sam sighed, dropping his arms to his sides, and letting his palms rest on the bench. "Tell you what," he offered. "I'll promise if you will. That way, neither one of us has to worry about the other going into foreclosure." His voice grew fierce, and hard. "We fight to the end -- together, if we can manage it -- but even if one of us ends this alone, we still go out fighting."
Dean felt a weight lift from his shoulders, and his face relaxed. His chest expanded with a feeling at once familiar and foreign, and he understood that he loved his brother. Sammy had made some serious mistakes, along the way. For that matter, so had Dean. But in the end, they always came back to love, to each other. "I promise," was all that he said aloud.
Sam smiled. "So do I," he responded. He pushed with his long legs and soon stood towering over the table, looking down at Dean. "Time to kick ass and take names," he said.
Dean grinned, reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and tossed Sam the keys to the Impala. "Sounds like I might need a nap for that," he said. "You'd better drive."