"It's too late," Mary said, and Sam had been keeping her separate from the woman he'd never known as a mom. It'd cost him earlier when he hadn't been able to, and he'd been left blubbering like an idiot on the doorstep, his parents right in front of him. His dad alone had about broken him.
But when she continued in a soft, broken voice, "I'm pregnant," Sam let Mary become Mom, because Dean had already been in the room before they'd even gotten there, been in existence, and the look on his brother's face reflected the shock Sam was feeling. Mom was right: it was too late to stop the future from happening the way it had. Dean was already in the world.
But only Dean. Maybe it wasn't too late after all.
"Have Dean, but only Dean," Sam said, stepping forward. Dean's gaze whipped from Mom to him, eyes getting wider. Mom looked surprised too, but then her eyes grew even more watery.
"No, I-I couldn't do that to you-"
"You heard us before: we're okay with not existing," Sam said urgently. "If Dean's already here, then that's fine. He's the one it's okay to have."
"Sam, no," Dean cut in. To Mom: "Don't listen to him."
Sam moved in closer, and the awe over his mom being right there still hadn't faded. She looked in awe too, now, gazing up at him in a new light. Her son, tall and grown, fighting to save the world. She wouldn't be looking at him like that if she knew half of what he'd done. "Please," Sam said, giving her a sad smile. "It's okay. Just...just make Dean an only child. You'll all be the happier for it, I promise you."
Dean didn't even have a chance to respond before John, Dad, came running in, looking scared. "We've got a problem," he said.
That's the underestimation of the year, Sam thought grimly, then focused on the task at hand, hoping his mom would remember that much. Would remember not to have him.
World would be in a better place if she did.
Dean switched out the old alkaline batteries in his flashlight for new ones. They'd faded a little on the last hunt; better to be prepared. He wasn't really completely focused on the task, and he was probably putting the damn things in the wrong way. Truth be told, he wasn't even sure if they were going into the flashlight at all.
No, his focus was on Sam, Sam who was currently sitting on the side of the unoccupied bed, hunched over and staring gloomily at Castiel. The angel was breathing, wasn't bleeding anymore, and seemed to be in a deep healing sleep. It wasn't the angel that was bothering his little brother.
What was bothering him was the same thing that had Dean filled with relief. When Michael had sent him flying back to 2010 and their crappy motel room, he'd half expected not to find Sam at all. He'd been afraid that somehow Michael's mojo hadn't worked on their mom and that she'd remembered what Sammy all but begged her to do.
Just make Dean an only child.
But no, he'd found Sam back in the room, laying down on the same bed Castiel was now inhabiting. The instant Dean had checked for a pulse Sam's eyes had opened, wide and very alive. They'd found Dean a moment later, like every other time Sam woke up.
The disappointment and despair...that was new.
He hadn't wanted to wake up here. He'd truly wanted to not be born, and even now, four hours later, he was still brooding about it.
And suddenly, Dean was done with it.
He tossed the flashlight and batteries onto the table, not even caring if any or all rolled off. "Why," he said, and his tone was enough to catch Sam's attention.
"Uh...is that the how, what, when, where, or why question, or is it of the w, x, y variety?" Sam asked, but he didn't put a lot of feeling into it. He knew what Dean was asking.
"Why did you tell her not to have you?"
Sam snorted without any humor. "Give me a break, Dean. You know why. You told her yourself that she shouldn't have us."
"That was when we both wouldn't exist," Dean insisted. "That's completely different."
"No, it's not, Dean. Either way, the world wouldn't have Sam Winchester in it, and that can only be a win-win situation."
Dean gritted his teeth and finally stalked over to his brother. Up close, Sam looked pale and tired, both probably side effects of getting gutted and being suddenly put back together by an angel. That and the fact that Sam's eyes looked haunted and hollow, and it was for that reason that Dean chose to sit beside him on the bed. "No, it's different. Because one way would've landed the world without either of the Winchester brothers, and the other way..." Dean rubbed at his face before continuing softly, "The other way would've left me without a brother. And that's not something I'm willing to do, Sammy."
"No. Don't you do that to me," and Dean sounded vaguely like he was pleading, and after a moment decided he didn't care. "Don't you take the one good thing I've ever had away. We got lost for awhile, but we found our way back. And I'm even less happy about losing you then I ever was before, so take that into consideration before you start talking about my little brother not being here anymore."
Sam had his gaze back on Castiel, but he looked like he was sitting up a little straighter. Maybe it was Dean's imagining.
When Sam finally turned to him and whispered, "You should've asked for a puppy; doubt it would've started the apocalypse," Dean took in a deep breath. Definitely not as hollow. Still just as sad. But not as disappointed that he was still alive.
"Nah, you came with puppy-eyes, so I got the best of both worlds," Dean said, and Sam snorted, this time in what sounded like amusement. A small smile played at his lips, and the shadows in his little brother's eyes were replaced with moisture.
"I'll remember that when you bitch about something human I do," Sam said, voice stronger now.
Dean placed his hand on Sam's shoulder. He didn't really grasp it, just let it rest, a solid touch that told Sam everything Dean hoped to communicate. "Wouldn't have you any other way, Sammy," he said, and meant it.
It was still too late. Their mom was dead, their dad was gone. Michael and Lucifer were still searching out there, the apocalypse was slowly sliding to the end, and Sam felt like he was fumbling without a leg to stand on.
Yet Dean was still sitting beside him, hand a firm comfort on his shoulder. Telling Sam that he wanted him around. For everything that had happened, Dean still wanted a world with Sam in it, or he didn't want the world at all.
It wasn't too late for the world then, maybe. Not yet. Not if they were still standing together.