DISCLAIMER: Tried to talk Chuck into sharing his ownership of Supernatural with me, hoping it would carry over into real life and Kripke! But right at the moment that persistence may have been about to pay off, this rumble and bright light started filling the room and said prophet warned me that 'they' were coming…and that was my cue to get going! LOL.
PREVIOUSLY: Dean could only stand by in utter shock and horror, helpless…listening as a loud crack echoed throughout the motel grounds…watching as a fine mist of blood and brain matter exploded from the side of his baby brother's head to coat every nearby surface in crimson. Soundlessly screaming as the light left his brother's soulful blue-green eyes, his newly lifeless 6'4" frame jerking, swaying, and finally collapsing from the bed onto the floor below, with more red liquid life immediately saturating the dingy area of carpet on which his shattered skull came to rest.
Dean, in turn, fell to his knees.
And the night and world around the devastated older brother fell deathly still and silent.
He was numb.
It was that wretched moment at Cold Oak all over again, those three days after…only this time it was even worse, because this time Sam was Sam's killer oh God why, Sammy, why, and because this time there would be no more deals to bring him back.
Dean Winchester knew that much…knew that he was far too important to the big battle now for the angels to allow such a thing; and hell, the angels had freaking told him that they'd bring him right back should he ever die…which was the only damn thing that kept him from snatching Sam's gun off the floor and following right after his brother himself.
Instead, after his mind and body started finally started functioning again, he crawled over to Sam's wilted form, the shock that his sibling, his best friend, his whole world, was really gone forever still too fresh for tears to even come to his eyes. It was almost if he was moving on autopilot as he knelt beside his brother's head and ghosted shaking fingers over Sam's cheekbone, the skin there still soft and warm and slightly wet from the tears shed before the trigger had been pulled. Dean committed the feel of it to memory then and there, knowing that the skin would eventually become rigid and ice cold, the tears long since dried. Sam's normally wide eyes were only half open, the always vibrant and expressive blue-green orbs now unseeing and horribly glazed over in death. Dean couldn't bear those eyes that had so defined the very essence of Sam all his life looking like that…gently, he swept the pad of his thumb over the partially closed lids, shutting them all the way. Now, instead of appearing dead, Sam only appeared peaceful…just resting.
That was…if not for all the blood on and around him, much of it still seeping from the mortal wound in his head. It pretty much quashed all chances Dean had of pretending…and he couldn't bear that either.
"Cas!!!" Dean was sure his frenzied shout could be heard through the walls of the room into the adjoining ones, but he didn't care…if the freaking gunshot hadn't awakened the folks next door – if there even were any – then certainly his yells wouldn't. "CAS!!!" In fact, he'd gladly wake the whole world up if that's what it took to get that damn angel to—oh…shit. With irritation, the older brother suddenly remembered the Enochian sigils Castiel had carved into his ribs…no way he'd be getting in touch with Castiel simply by screaming for him anymore. He immediately pulled out his cell phone with shaking hands, doing his best not to look at Sam's body as he highlighted and selected Castiel's name. The angel picked up on the second ring, with that pause Dean had come to expect as Castiel was still learning phone etiquette before…
"C-Cas…" Dean winced; he couldn't help the unsteadiness in voice anymore than he could help it in his hands. "I…I need you to c-come…P-Plainsview Motel, Kansas, r-room thirteen."
"Dean…? Are you alright?"
"No…no, m'not. And neither…neither is S-Sammy."
"Is your brother injured?"
Dean lost his patience. "For God's sake, Cas, what's with the twenty questions, I said just GET HERE!"
No sooner had Dean issued the command than a faint flutter and slight change in air pressure heralded the angel's entry. But Dean was still too numb to jump at the sudden arrival as he usually did…Castiel frowned.
"Dean…" the heavenly being greeted guardedly as he stepped forward from where he'd appeared just inside the door. "What is—" And then he saw Sam Winchester…slumped on the carpet between the beds, eyes closed, face ashen, and head lying in a pool of blood. The angel stared in silence for a moment…then bowed his head in regard for the fallen young man, understanding that Dean had been too late.
The hunter's hackles instantly rose. "Cas, with all due respect, I know you're real big on talkin' to that oh-so providing Father of yours who just happens to be on some kind of cosmic coffee break when you need Him the most…but my brother is dead and I REALLY don't have time for all that prayer crap!"
Castiel's head lifted, his blue eyes meeting Dean's intense green ones with remorse. "I am sorry, Dean. This…I know that this was nothing that my Father wanted—"
"Well your divine Daddy Dearest really ain't here to specify otherwise, is He?!" Dean spat hotly in interruption. "So let's just forget about Him and what He wants or intends or what-the-Heaven-ever for a minute, and concentrate on you and me…namely how you're gonna bring my brother back!"
The apologetic expression remained upon Castiel's face. "Dean…again, I am sorry, but…"
"But what, Cas?"
"You…your brother," the angel whispered sympathetically. "He is gone, Dean."
Dean's stare was stony and cold. "Gone."
"Yes," Castiel nodded. "This was his choice…he cannot be brought back from it."
"That so." The blood in Dean's veins began to boil. "Well that's kinda funny, seein' as how I remember your ex-boss tellin' me that if I were ever to throw in the towel and commit hari-kari I'd just be brought back." Feeling having returned to his legs, the elder Winchester stood angrily and loomed over the angel. "What's the difference, Cas? Wouldn't that be my choice too… am I some kind of exception to the rule just because your buddy Michael can't keep his sword in his own pants? Or…could it possibly that you dicks really don't give a damn about Sam, were maybe even just waitin' for him to buy the farm, huh?" Now furious, Dean grabbed hold of the lapels of Castiel's ubiquitous trench coat and drew him in nose-to-nose. "DON'T LIE TO ME, Cas!"
The angel was unfazed by Dean's aggression though, and answered him evenly. "Dean…if I could bring Sam back, I would do so. Sam was…undeserving of such an end, despite the poor decisions of his past. His heart and soul retained its innate good. However…" The angel swallowed, regret thick within his tone. "You must remember that I am now cut off from Heaven and much of its power, as I informed you. I do not have the means to resurrect Sam."
Desperate emotion crept into Dean's steely gaze. "Well then get somebody else down here! Get Anna, call on some winged pal of yours I haven't met yet, hell, get me Zachariah for all I care, just freakin' do something!"
Castiel had never felt more sorrow for his human charge than he did at that moment. Dean was truly beside himself in devastation…but it was a pain he could not ease. "I cannot, Dean. It is forbidden…other angels would never take the risk, not even those who have rebelled. Zachariah is out of the question, and Anna…" The angel lowered his eyes, guilt resurging within him for having ratted and sold out his heavenly sister. "Anna is…currently unavailable."
"Oh," Dean pursed his lips and averted his eyes, nodding sarcastically. "Right, of course. None of you feathery frauds would dare taint your shiny haloes by touchin' the boy with the demon blood, eh Cas? I mean, damn, the kid's used goods now in the grand scheme of things, really. You got him to open the last seal…he's done his job and now you're done with him. But you'll all be damned if he gets any severance pay, huh?"
Silence passed between them for a moment before Castiel locked eyes with Dean, showing the sincerity contained within. "Dean…I am fully aware that no apology I can give you will ever be sufficient, but…I can give you this much. Your brother has suffered a great deal upon this Earth, and still had much yet to suffer…but he has been released from this sentence. He is at rest, now." To the angel's consternation though, the hunter narrowed his eyes to mere slits upon the statement.
"He's been released, huh? Is that what you call it…sounds all well and good on paper but into what, Cas? Released INTO WHAT? You look me in the eye and you tell me that you self-righteous assholes actually took mercy on the guy whose screw-ups involved suckin' down Hell spawn juice and letting Satan out of the slammer, or who's had the damn stuff in him since he was six months old even if it's through no fault of his own. Hell, you tell me that Heaven's even still open for business being that its CEO is a little MIA…" Dean's fists were by then clenched hard enough for his nails to draw blood, but he couldn't even feel the sting of the cuts in his outrage. "Look me in the eye and tell me Sam's not burning in the pit right now for just having committed suicide alone!"
The angel looked painfully conflicted for a moment, opened his mouth to speak…then closed it back and dropped his eyes to the floor instead.
Dean's glare was icy, his voice hoarse. "I thought so." Castiel began to protest, but the hunter soundly cut him off. "Get the hell out of here, Cas."
"LEAVE!" came the incensed final order, then, more quietly but just as firmly… "I wanna be alone with my brother."
The angel nodded wordlessly and sadly, vanishing on the spot with another faint flutter.
Dean's gaze stayed riveted to the newly empty space for a few seconds, almost as if expecting Castiel to change his mind and come back, before finally reverting to Sam's unmoving form…now knowing it would never move again. And at long last, his eyes filled with tears. "Sammy..."
The tall, lean-muscled body was even heavier than usual when Dean gingerly lifted it from the dirty carpet into his strong arms. Sam's head lolled bonelessly to the side on his long neck, and Dean cupped the back of it in support as he guided it to finally rest against his own shoulder, swallowing back bile at the feel of sticky blood matting and hardening the formerly silky strands of Sam's thick hair. And amongst the now flattened curls that concealed Sam's ear on the right side was the still oozing bullet hole, which Dean made damn well sure not to touch. Sucking in a strangled breath, the bereaved elder brother pulled the younger's body close and laid his chin on top of the shaggy head, heart aching as the clean, warm scent of Sam's almond shampoo mingled with the coppery stench of blood reached his nostrils. "Sammy, God, I…I tried, kiddo. I tried, but those…those sons of bitches wouldn't bite. Cas fed me some bullshit about how you're better off like this, but…are you? Sammy? 'Cause I don't know about you, but…" A sob broke free. "I'm not. Not without you…I don't care what I said over the phone, I was talking out of my stupid, stubborn ass…never without you."
Unconsciously, the last remaining Winchester began to rock his dead sibling, hoping that Sam could somehow hear everything he was about to say. "But I…I guess you thought that I was, huh? And…I know it was me who really made you think that way in the end, dude, I know. When I said there was nothing you could do to help patch things up between us…when I told you we were better off on opposite sides of the world, wouldn't let you come back…and for that I'll never forgive myself, kiddo. I left you to feel like this and it doesn't matter how angry I was or had the right to be…there's no excuse for that. Freakin' telling you to stay away from me…God, Sammy…" The tears freely flowed down Dean's face by now, choking his voice. "I didn't mean forever, kid, you've gotta believe that…but I know, I didn't tell you that and not a minute's gonna go by where I don't wish I would've. All these years I've tried to save you from everything out there…and I end up killing you instead…guess Dad was right, huh?" he snorted bitterly.
"And I know, I know…if you could talk to me right now you'd be bitchin' at me about how it wasn't me who pulled the trigger, but damn it might as well have been me. 'Cause I know now…I know that you've been thinkin' of leavin' the game for a long time, ever since I went to Hell and how messed up you've been inside…and I don't mean that in a judgmental way this time, okay? I knew you were hurting but I just never knew how much, and worst of all I never bothered to find out, to ask…and for that I'm so sorry. No, I didn't pull the trigger but I sure as hell didn't do much to ever stop you from doing it either!" Dean's arms started to give out, weakened by physical and emotional strain, and he lowered Sam back to the floor with infinite care, cushioning his head the entire way down. He then took Sam's cooling, stiffening hand in his own and resumed his one-sided conversation, busying his other hand with a repetitive stroking of the younger man's blood-free and still soft long bangs.
"Sammy…God I'd do anything to get you back, kiddo. Anything…though I guess that's nothin' new, huh? I know I've never said this before because I never felt it, but now…I'm sorry about the deal, too. I'm not sorry about having gotten you back…but I am sorry for what that deal did to you. I was in Hell, yeah, but you were up here in Hell on Earth and I wouldn't…couldn't let myself see that. And because of that I couldn't…wouldn't help you through your own crap and here we are now I guess, huh? Only you're not here anymore and...nothing, nothing will ever make that okay." Dean squeezed Sam's hand harder as another sob burst from his throat.
"And I'd follow you, you know. In a heartbeat, without a freakin' flinch but…I finally get it now, I get that that's where this whole mess started. I couldn't let you go, not even when I had the slightest thought that maybe you were in a better place, and I sold my soul, but…I guess I kind of ended up sellin' yours too right along with it. And I won't do that again, man…I won't. Not because of the Hell it brought me, but 'cause of the hell it brought you. No more of that, kiddo, I promise."
Dean lowered his head to their linked hands and placed a firm kiss to Sam's knuckles to seal the vow, then looked longingly at the revolver that lay nearby. "But…but I can't follow you either. The damn angels, that bastard Zachariah…he said that he'd just bring me back if I ever died or killed myself. And I guess that's reason enough not to even pick up the gun at all, but…it's more than that. I know the thought of bein' Lucifer's meat-suit terrified you like nothin' else before and that you thought you were doin' the world a favor by denying him your skin like this…and I also know that you just couldn't fight anymore, and I'm not mad at you for that, okay? God knows there were times I felt like that myself and the only thing that kept me going was you. But you…you thought that you didn't have me anymore, so…I get it, kiddo. But anyway…I know that you wouldn't want me to…to come after you. That you'd want me to keep fighting if I could, so…I will, Sammy. I'll do it, I'll do it for you 'cause for all the times I called you selfish, I know that you almost always put other people first and I'm gonna do the same…you'll always come before them in my book, but they're gonna keep comin' before me. 'Cause if I had it my way I would've joined you by now, but I want you to have it your way one last time and I know your way is the higher road. So I'll keep takin' it for you…and I'll know deep down that you're still walkin' it with me, bitch."
Dean's lips trembled as he stared at his little brother lovingly through tear-blurred eyes. "So, later on, we'll…we'll go to Bobby's, okay? We'll fix you up a nice-lookin' pyre, put you in some clean clothes…maybe that funky white and red inside-out shirt you were always so crazy about, you geek. Give you a good hunter's sendoff…a hero's sendoff. 'Cause when it comes down to it that's what you are, Sammy. Not a monster, never a monster. Just a good kid who had a whole bunch of shit heaped on him from the get-go, a man who fought back against it all at every turn until it just got too much to fight…but most of all? My brother, kiddo. You still are…and you always will be."
The older man held the younger's limp hand to his cheek in silence for another minute, and then lowered it with infinite care to rest atop his stomach. "Be right back, Sammy," Dean promised as he stood on wobbly legs, his trek to the tiny motel bathroom seeming miles long when it was really only feet long. But even that was still too far from Sam, and he quickly performed his task of wetting as many towels as he could find with warm water before returning to his kneeling position beside his sibling. "Okay, kiddo…let's get you cleaned up a little, huh?" Dean gently began rubbing at the drying blood that stained one side of Sam's neck, wanting to remove as much of the gore as possible simply because he couldn't stand to see it marring his brother's cherished features. He didn't plan to stop until every surface of the once golden-tan skin, now pallid in death, was spotless…it was his only coping method for the moment, even though he knew there would never be any true way to cope with the loss of his Sammy. There sure as hell hadn't been one the last time, after all.
Within minutes, Dean was engrossed in the task. So much so, in fact, that he didn't notice the phenomenon that had just begun to take place around him until he shifted to wash the blood from Sam's cheeks and forehead…only to find that the crimson blots had somehow formed back into perfectly rounded beads that were moving of their own volition across Sam's face, sideways. Against gravity. Eyes widening in astonishment and bewilderment, he looked to see a similar marvel taking place with the blood on the carpet, walls, and furniture, with the blood on Sam's pale blue T-shirt…even with the blood that newly soiled the motel towels. Every last drop was somehow seeping from the varying surfaces as if it had never been absorbed into them, and closer inspection revealed that the droplets only had one aim – the bullet hole in Sam's temple. "Oh my God…Sammy? What…how…?"
Dean continued to watch in rapt awe as the unnatural process advanced to the next level, the scarlet globules having begun to merge into tiny streams that flowed backwards into the fatal wound, passing over any obstacles in their paths without a snag. Even the blood that had dried into Sam's hair had soon enough re-liquefied and followed suit, restoring the long locks to their natural sheen and fullness down to every wave and curl. And finally, there was the wound itself…which sealed up with some brief sucking and popping noises within seconds, right before Dean's boggling eyes.
When it was all said and done, everything, from the complete absence of the crimson in the room to the complete lack of it on Sam's body, along with the miraculous healing of his head, gave the appearance that the youngest Winchester had never pulled the trigger.
Dean was paralyzed with shock. "What the hell…?" And then a chilling laugh followed by ominous words sounded from out of nowhere, paralyzing him with fear in its place.
"Funny you should ask that, Dean. 'Hell' is indeed correct, but…just maybe it should be 'who the Hell' instead."
An average-looking middle-aged man with piercing light blue eyes then stepped out from the shadows into Dean's vision, and the hunter needed no further introduction…he knew who had joined the party. "Lucifer." It wasn't a question.
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Dean," the Devil replied with a cordial bow, causing Dean to glower.
"Yeah? Well, too bad the feeling's not mutual," he snarled.
Lucifer only smiled, unruffled. "Oh, I expected as much, I assure you. You are, after all, the one who has been appointed to kill me, are you not?"
"I am," Dean answered coolly. "And now's as good a time as any!" Lunging for Sam's discarded gun upon the last word, the hunter hoped to at least incapacitate his ultimate adversaryto some extent – knowing he couldn't call on Michael to bring down the blade that would actually finish the job due to the sigils – but was barred from even doing that when Lucifer used his infinite power to sling the weapon out of his immediate reach. Which was just too bad for his impromptu plan of action…because Dean wasn't about to step away from Sam.
"A valiant effort, Dean, a valiant effort," Lucifer chuckled. "But you can relax your guard…I am not here to harm Sam. Or even you."
"Oh, of course not," Dean scoffed. "Tell me another one, Beelzebub!" He backed closer to Sam, the large bare feet brushing against his boot heels reassuring him that the younger man was still there…if only in body. "Just how the hell did you find us anyway?" And why the hell don't your damn sigils work when we really need 'em to, Cas?!
Satan shrugged. "Simple, really. I merely had to send out a few feelers here and there…demons, in layman's terms. They have…kept an eye on your brother in your stead these past weeks."
Mentally, Dean cursed his negligence once again, but outwardly maintained his calm demeanor towards the Devil. "You know…if you're expectin' some kind of thank you, keep waiting!"
"Now, now, don't be so hasty," Lucifer soothed. "After all, my demons were much more accommodating and benign toward your brother than his fellow humans…fellow hunters, no less."
Dean's blood ran cold. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, were you not aware?" the fallen angel supplied. "Sam was ambushed in his latest place of employment by two men associated with your…profession. One of them I believe you even used to know. They had been…tracking my informants and regretfully, one of the demons became a little too informative under pain of torture…told them all about how Sam freed me and consumed tainted blood to lead up to that crowning achievement. The hunters took it badly, as you can imagine."
"W-what did they do him?" Dean stammered, still reeling.
Lucifer got that same sickeningly sympathetic look in his eyes – it was like 2014 all over again – and Dean wanted to punch it right off his face, especially since he wasn't wearing Sam's face this time. "Oh, it was certainly not pretty. They did the expected of course – beat him, attempted to kill him…but there was also that incidence of forcing Sam to drink more tainted blood, which proved quite harrowing for the boy." The Devil watched all the color drain from Dean's face upon the revelation. "You would have been proud of your brother, however…he refused to swallow. Spat it right back in their faces, actually…quite brave and bold for one so broken."
"You're lying," Dean growled, then backtracked sarcastically. "Oh no, wait, what was I thinkin'…you don't lie, you don't need to…right?"
"You are knowledgeable," Lucifer approved with all seriousness. "But if you do still doubt me, simply ask your brother when he returns."
The hunter's heart rate picked up speed. "When he returns…? But…but how, Sam….Sam's dead."
"And I, dear child," Lucifer boasted, "am an angel, despite the fact that so many of your kind call me the Devil. You were aware that, as Michael's intended vessel, you could not follow Sam into death because my former siblings would promptly resurrect you. Well…the same rules apply to my intended vessel – your brother."
"Stay away from him!" Dean hissed, planting his feet more firmly in front of Sam. "He'd rather be dead than have you riding around in his skin…and I'll fight to my last breath to honor that for him."
"No, you need not fear, Dean," Lucifer placated. "I only wish to bring your brother back at the moment, not take him…the time is not right."
"And the time'll never be right as long as I'm around, you son of a bitch."
Lucifer nodded. "Of course. Though I suppose that means you should be quite glad and grateful that I've not taken him already, being that you were not…around, as you say, in these past days of Sam's life."
Oh God… Dean could only gulp, knowing how right the statement was and just what all could've happened – and, in the case of the hunters, did happen – to Sam in his absence. Oh God…I'm so sorry, kiddo. But Lucifer wasn't finished.
"Well, actually…I suppose you have now seen what Sam was driven to without you, have you not?" The Light Bringer gestured with his eyes to the body behind Dean, and the hunter felt sick. "Quite the tragically selfless young man in this case, your brother. Even before my assurance that I would bring him back should he ever pass, he vowed to end his own life before letting that happen. So much more fearful of being used to hurt others of his kind than he was of his own death…so ready and willing to accept the latter. As if he thought he deserved it, and even with the knowledge that he'd most likely be Hell-bound…I applaud the boy's courage." Lucifer then shook his head sadly. "However…it seems that you, Dean, are not the only one who needs to learn that one simple fact about me once and for all – I do not lie. Your lesson concerning it will come soon enough…but for now, it's time that Sam gets his."
"What are you talking about?" Dean queried anxiously, his ongoing stalwart stance still daring Satan to make a move toward his brother.
"Look behind you…he attempted suicide, did he not?" Lucifer answered evenly. "It tells me that the boy obviously thought I was merely bluffing when I told him I would never let him die, but this…this is his literal wakeup call. And you, Dean…are in my way."
The elder brother hadn't even drawn in a breath before he was spun around and propelled across the room by the Devil's outstretched hand, hitting the wall which he was then pinned to by invisible force. He could only frantically watch and protest as Lucifer stalked purposefully towards his baby brother's motionless form. "No, NO! Sam! Get away from him, you twisted bastard! Don't you TOUCH him!"
Lucifer turned to give Dean an insincerely rueful smile before crouching down at Sam's side. "Oh, but I must, Dean…physical contact is entirely necessary in a situation such as this. Therefore, without further ado..." the fallen angel intoned as he placed his host's palm over the youngest Winchester's silent heart, "to loosely quote my Father…let there be life."
A soft yellow-white glow emitted from the splayed hand upon the statement and slowly spread outward across Sam's body, reaching to the very tips of his extremities and spanning every inch of his frame before rapidly returning to Lucifer's palm, where it then exploded into a brilliant flash before disappearing…taking the Devil and his flesh with it. Dean dropped from the wall upon the departure, stunned, wondering what the hell had just happened…
And then a loud gasp filled the room…a gasp that had come from none other than his brother.
"Oh my God…Sammy!" Spots still dancing in his vision from the Devil's light show, Dean blindly and hurriedly crawled in the direction of the blessed sound. It had turned into a cacophony of desperate gulps for air by the time Dean had reached his sibling's side, but it was still music to the older man's ears…it proved that Sam was alive again. His sight having mostly cleared after a few seconds more, Dean focused his gaze just in time to see Sam's long dark lashes flutter open to reveal the blue-green orbs he'd thought he'd never see again, full of fear and confusion, but clear and beautiful nonetheless. And Dean imagined that those eyes widened in further bemusement and surprise when he swiftly scooped the long body off the floor and into his arms, but after having lost Sam so horrifically, the older brother wasn't about to put up a pretense at just how over the moon he was to have the kid back.
"Sammy…" Dean whispered reverently as he clutched the younger man to his chest, one hand firmly planted against his upper back and the other threading gently through his soft chestnut waves. "Oh God, kid, I thought I'd lost you again…" The elder brother's heart soared with relief and love at the eventual breathless "De…" that was panted out against the side of his neck, and he began moving his hand up and down Sam's back in comforting strokes while keeping the other buried in his thick mop of hair. "Yeah, s'me, I'm here…I've gotcha, Sammy." He swallowed a lump when he felt tense muscles relax fractionally at the reassurance.
"Wha…wha' ha'ned?" The voice was childlike in its inflection and volume, the words garbled. Dean opened his mouth to respond, but his breath caught in his throat at Sam's next inquiry. "Wh-why m'not d-dead?"
The older Winchester felt his heart break. "Oh, Sammy…" He repositioned his hands to cup both sides of Sam's neck, gently placing his thumbs on each side of his sibling's jaw line and lifting his bowed head. "Kiddo, look at me." Sam did as instructed, and the depth of despair and disorientation in the wide, tear-bright gaze nearly left Dean at a loss for words. "We're gonna talk about all this, okay? I'm not leaving you again, I promise. You just need to get your bearings back now, all this other stuff can—"
"No…" Sam despondently interrupted. "No, was…it was him, wasn'it? L-Lucf'r. Said…said he'd do it, tr-tried an'way...di'nt wan' wait till I said y-yes."
"Yeah," Dean answered quietly. "Yeah, dude, it was him. But you listen to me." Dean made sure he had Sam's full attention before continuing. "I don't care…I don't give a shit." Sam winced against him, and the elder brother instantly realized that hadn't come out right…not in light of recent events and rejections, at least. He hastily clarified. "No Sammy, I mean, I don't care who or what brought you back, God or an angel or a demon or yeah, even the Devil himself…it doesn't matter to me. All that matters right now is that you are back…and though I won't be making a toast to ole' Luci anytime soon, I couldn't be more grateful for that, okay?"
Sam nodded shakily. "An' you?" Green eyes narrowed in uncertainty, and Sam worked to force out the words. "Why you back? Thought you…thought you di'nt wan' me 'round no more…"
The younger man's eyes lowered again at this, and Dean gave his head a gentle shake, recapturing Sam's gaze. "Sammy…I'm gonna put this as simply as I can since you're still so out of it, okay? I was wrong. Really, really wrong, kiddo. And I'm just as sorry…for turning you away, for those things I said to you…for making you feel like that," he gestured his head toward the gun that still lay on the floor, "was the only option left for you." A tear finally broke free to trail down Sam's face, and Dean wiped it away with his thumb. "But I'm here now, little bro…and I'm not goin' anywhere again, at least not anywhere that you don't go with me. And I'm not gonna let you say yes to Lucifer…just like I know you're not gonna let me say yes to Michael. We'll help each other, kiddo, the way it's supposed to be."
Sam swallowed audibly. "Buh…but you don'eed my help…m'so screwed up, De. I'll jus' b'n th'way of your m-mission…y'said we make ch'other weaker…"
"Yeah, and that?" Dean responded, shame filling his tone. "That…was one of the many things I was really wrong about. It's the total 180 of that, man…Sammy, we keep each other strong, and more than that…we keep each other human."
The younger man immediately shook his head. "Nuh-no…m'not human…monster, va-ampire…y'd hunt me…"
"And I was wrong about those things, too," Dean said with conviction as he pulled his brother back to rest against his chest once more and resumed stroking his hair. "Especially about the monster thing though…Sammy I'm so sorry for that. I said so before but I'm gettin' the feeling that maybe you didn't hear it somehow, so um…we'll talk about that. Hell, we've got a lot to talk about, kid, and this time I'm gonna listen…but right now? I want you to know for sure," he began as he held Sam slightly out from him again, making sure the blue-greens were locked on his own green orbs. "You are not a monster. Aren't, never have been, never will be…clear on that?" Sam only nodded minutely, but Dean wanted something more absolute. "And if you think I'm just tryin' to make you feel better…look at yourself, kiddo. You thought you were saving the world…you didn't know that killing Lilith was the final seal anymore than I did till the very end…and now you're guilting yourself to dea—to the bone over it…not to mention over what happened between us, when half of that was my own fault. And you're workin' so damn hard to make things right again, willing to do anything to keep Lucifer from using you…does that sound like a monster to you?"
Sam hesitated for several seconds, then finally shook his head. "N-no, but…but m'still sorry too, for all the bad stuff I did an'…n'said t'you. R-really sorry."
Dean squeezed his shoulders reassuringly. "I know, Sammy, I know you are…and contrary to how I acted the last times you tried to apologize, that does mean something. It means everything, actually, you know? It's the first step…and now I'm takin' mine too. And we'll meet in the middle one day or some sappy shit like that, right?"
A breathy giggle escaped from Sam's quirked lips, sounding sweeter to Dean than any classic rock song ever had. "Yeah…though…"
"Though what, kiddo?" Dean coaxed when Sam stalled too long.
"I think…I mean, I kinda feel like…like maybe we've already done it…"
That soft, soulful gaze that so defined Sam's core was in full force, and Dean felt a burning behind his own eyes at the younger man's heartfelt reply. "Met in the middle…'ca-cause you're here, an' I…I want you here'f…if you wanna be here too still, with me…do you?"
Dean smiled his first genuine smile in a long time. "No place I'd rather be, bitch."
And Sam's lips trembled into an answering smile as he fought to contain tears of a different sort, dimples making a much-welcomed and long-overdue appearance. "J-J-Jerk."
The older brother grinned wider and merrily ruffled Sam's already tousled locks, reveling in the restored camaraderie between them for a moment longer before schooling his face into a mask of seriousness again. "But Sammy…you've just gotta promise me one thing right now, okay?" Sam seemed to sense the change in levity and followed suit, giving Dean his undivided attention. "Promise me that you won't ever…ever do this again. Lucifer's intended vessel or not, the world's better off with you in it, man, not without. And me…hell, kid, you are my world, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Angels and devils and Apocalypse be damned."
"M'kay, Dean," Sam shakily acquiesced. "I p-promise…not that I c-could do it again now anyway, I guess."
"Well thank Satan for that," Dean quipped with a wink. "But that promise goes for after when we ice the ultimate Biblical bastard, too…got me?"
"Got'cha." The youngest Winchester answered with a newfound confidence.
"That's m'boy," Dean approved with a pat to the shoulder before sliding his hands underneath his brother's armpits. "Now, let's get you off this dirty floor, huh? Probably don't wanna know what half those stains are you've been lyin' in"…and thank God blood's not one of 'em anymore. With a mighty but careful heave, the older man lifted the younger to his feet and gently deposited him on his rear on the side of the bed. Sam was still weak as a newborn kitten, so Dean further assisted him by picking up his long legs and swiveling them until they lay straight, nearly hanging off the edge as usual. He then gathered several pillows, supporting Sam's upper back as he stacked them against the headboard before guiding his brother down to rest atop their softness. The taller man's whole body seemed to decompress in relief at the comfort, and Dean smiled warmly. "Better?"
"Much," Sam sighed, dark lashes fluttering shut. "Thanks, Dean."
"Don't mention it, kid," the elder brother accepted. "You get some rest now, okay? You're exhausted…dyin' and bein' brought back to life'll do that to ya; believe me, I know! So you take it easy while I get situated here and give Bobby a call to let him know you're alright, and tomorrow…maybe we'll pay the old coot a visit, see how he's doin' with those new wheels of his, huh?"
Huh. The kid was apparently already drifting off, Dean noted with amusement. Then he sobered, wanting to get in one last word for the night before he too gave in to his fatigue. "And Sammy…? Tomorrow…we're gonna talk, too. We already got through some of it tonight, but we've still got a lot to go…so no more puttin' it off, okay?"
"Mmm…" the younger man murmured. "Thought you di'nt do chick-flick mom'nts…"
A memory instantly resurfaced in Dean's head at his sibling's slurred whisper, and chick-flick though the sentiment it brought about definitely was, he couldn't think of a response more appropriate to give. So, tenderly brushing a stray lock of hair out of Sam's peacefully closed eyes with a fond smile on his face…he gave it.
"You're my little brother, Sammy…there's nothing I wouldn't do for you."
-o-o-o-o-o- THE END -o-o-o-o-o-
A/N: See, told y'all you could trust me! LOL. Though yeah, I'm sure it was in doubt there for a bit…but so are the effects of an evil cliffhanger. I know suicidal Sam stories have been done before, and many of them very well so, but I hope I came up with an original take on it…I sure had fun being able to bring him back to life, I'll tell you that! LOL. I could never permanently kill our boy, could never do that to him or Dean! *hugs them* :-)
So thus, another story comes to a close, and it's implied that the boys will be better from here on out, just the way I like 'em, LOL…and I thought it was better to just leave off here and let the big talk between them take place in all of your own minds. Hope you all enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed writing it, big thanks go to my LLS for her awesome beta work and to all of you for reading, favoriting/alerting, and reviewing! Would love to hear from y'all one more time before the next story, so please do drop me some final thoughts, and I will be back with something new soon, hopefully…definitely sooner than this one took, I assure! LOL. I've already got a couple new stories in the making, and with my new job-in-which-I-don't-really-do-a-lot, LOL, I have ample time to work on them! So I hope to see y'all back here again for the next one, and thanks again for reading this one! :-D
P.S. If anyone is curious to see the drawings of Jared I did for the multiple conventions, I plan to update my profile page later tonight and include a link to my Photobucket page, so you can see and comment on them there if you like! They're under the "Artwork" folder, naturally. LOL. :-)