Honoring the Dead

Author: Cheryl W.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.

Summary: Under judgment for Pamela, Jo and Ellen's deaths, Dean and Sam struggle with how to honor the dead when their blood is on their hands. Directly follows MBV. No Slash.

Author's Note: It's been awhile since I could pen anything so I hope this is OK. I know the storyline seems similar to 'Page out of their Book' but I hope it's different enough to be entertaining. Besides, the storyline was a perfect opening for some Dean abuse –physically and emotionally. And compared to that…who needs originality right?

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Chapter 1

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He didn't deserve this reprieve, Dean knew that. Not when Sam was just hours out of the panic room, not when Sam didn't have much more color that morning than he did last night when he had pulled the sheets over his brother's shivering form in an honest to goodness bed, not when his brother's voice was still rough from days of screaming…for him. Not when Sam was skittish at his touch and wouldn't meet his eyes. Not when the knowledge that it might not last: Sam's lack of withdrawals, Sam being clean, the fortifications holding that they had erected at Bobby's house against supernatural visitors, them being alive, neither of them screaming "yes" at the top of their lungs just to end it. To end all of it. No matter how.

Tightening his hands on the Impala's steering wheel, Dean wasn't sure if he should continue to curse Bobby for ordering him to go on a food run or thank the man for his obvious effort to give him a break from the hopelessness that still permeated the very air in the house.

It was early yet, a little past 7 in the morning but it wasn't like he had been asleep or anything. Because sleep? It wasn't a usual companion for him anymore. And breakfast? The food run? It was for Bobby more than anyone else. Sam probably couldn't keep anything down, Cas had whisked himself off after Bobby had cruelly offered to fry up a nice greasy burger for him. And Dean himself? Hunger was just another thing he couldn't feel.

So the South Dakota road was bare in front of him and behind him, offering few mysteries until he would hit the next hill. It didn't matter though, because, lately? He couldn't bear to look in his rearview mirror or the view ahead. Both were miles of bad choices and worse outcomes. So he was moving forward even as he wished that everything would just stop. Course that certainly didn't mean that he wanted to stay in the present, because the present? It made him ache to drive the Impala off a cliff.

His breath hitched out of him. There was no one around to see him break. And after his unanswered prayer from two nights' ago, he wasn't worried that anyone was listening either. He was alone right then. But not more than he had ever been. There had been an aloneness in hell that was agony in and of itself. There he had been alone, vulnerable, cursed, damned. 'So not much has changed,' he cynically compared.

He nearly crossed the road's double yellow line, out of carelessness or reckless intent, had the Impala tires treading the yellow paint when he crested the hill…and found a car in his path..or him in theirs. Swerving, he yanked the Impala back to the right side of the road, cringed waiting for the swap of paint from his car and the brown jeep. He would have called it a miracle that there was no grinding of metal on metal, if he believed in miracles any more.

And then he was by the jeep, coasting down the hill. Though he was coming off of a week of events and emotions that would have decimated lesser men, of barely eating, of not sleeping more than a few winks between his brother's cry for him and the eerie quiet, he had not missed the familiarity of the jeep, had caught enough of a glimpse of the driver when they went head to head to have an impression of who was behind the wheel.

Bringing the Impala to a stop, he sat there, car idling and eyes on the rearview mirror. Knew that, if he was right, things would go one of two ways. Frustration and a warning of dread washed over him as the jeep made an appearance behind him, crested over the hill, approached as if its current direction was its destination the whole time. The closer the vehicle got, the more Dean's suspicions were confirmed: the driver was a fellow hunter, was probably on his way to Bobby's to utilize the older hunter's impressive knowledge of the supernatural.

'Crappy time for visitors to stop in,' Dean bitterly thought, tallying the house's occupants' readiness for company: One wheelchair bound hunter, one addict coming off a detox and him – the guy who was dead inside. "Sounds like a fun group to party with," he sardonically said under his breath as he rested his right hand on the gun tucked in the waist of his pants. For good measure, he slipped off the gun's safety and cocked it because, allies these days weren't to be trusted. 'Sam's proof of that,' mentally slipped out and he hated himself for that judgment, for his inability to truly forgive his brother. Sam's insistence that he get to Bobby's, be locked in the panic room, alone, it spoke volumes about how badly his brother didn't want to tread that path again. To hurt him, to betray him again.

The jeep came to a stop ten yards behind and Dean watched the driver get out of the car, couldn't hear what he said to his two companions before he began walking for the Impala. Feeling the most secure right where he was, behind the Impala's wheel, Dean waited for the hunter to reach his door, divided his attention between watching the rearview mirror and his side mirror. Cursed the blond, early twenty year old's lazy walk, the click of boots on highway and the way the man crouched down by his window, forcing him to change the angle of his head, to lose his ability to keep an eye on the jeep behind and the man by his door.

"This baby, she's one in a million. I can always spot her," the young hunter drawled, patting the hood of the Impala, earning no points with the Impala's owner at his endearment.

Dean offered up a bland smile. "Devon, you're pretty far from your home base."

The younger man shifted in his crouched position, looked up at Winchester through the window Dean had opened moments before, "Heading out to a job but wanted Singer's help figuring out what we might be up against. He's not quit the life, has he? Since…well…" the hunter pretended that he couldn't say 'since he became paralyzed from the waist down' but Dean suspected it was more ploy than squeamishness that halted the man's words.

When Winchester didn't step in to provide him with the words, Devon used his own. "Well, since he got gutted saving your life, was reduced to being half a man," he sneered, offering insult and accusation in one breath, goading the older hunter to react.

Anger flared in Dean but he knew the other man wanted that from him, for him to react, for him to give him a reason to pull out the gun Dean knew the hunter had tucked against his spine. Devon was a hot head, was always looking for a fight, in the past years had come to not mind much if it was with a person instead of something supernatural. Dean seared his gaze into Devon, gave a deadly smile and spoke lowly, menacingly but evenly, "Bobby's more man than you'll ever be, wheelchair or no wheelchair, Devon."

Devon shifted in his crouch but didn't counter Dean's claim. "You know, I keep forgetting that you're hung up on hero worship. First it was your old man and now it's Singer." He moved closer, wrapped his hand around the Impala's window frame. "They aren't heroes, Dean. Calling Bobby Singer a hunter, even before his unfortunate last hunt with you is being waaaayyy generous." He let his voice drop to a mockingly stage whisper, "And your old man, Dean? You were just another weapon in his trunk, he kept you around because you were useful, everyone knew that. You didn't actually think he did it because he loved you, did you?!" He gave a cruel bark of laughter at the very notion of Dean believing that.

The words stung Dean because there was truth in them. For all of the proof that said his father loved him, there was equal proof that he had been used, was his father's blunt little instrument of revenge, that, had he not proven himself a useful hunter, his father would have ditched him at some orphanage.

But Devon had miscalculated. Dean Winchester was a man of many walls, of masks and layers. You peeled one away, you just were stone walled by the next one.

Smiling, Dean drawled, "Least he didn't bail on me when I was ten …like your old man did. Guess its better to be used as a weapon than being a mistake someone wants to put in their rearview mirror." Devon's fury was palable..and his move for his gun was pathetically easy to predict. Dean had his gun leveled at Devon's head before the younger hunter's hand barely began to reach behind him. Devon froze, eyes blazing with hatred. "Get back in your car and stay away from Bobby. Or being paralyzed? It'll seem a blessing compared to what I will do to you," Dean lowly threatened, no hint of leniency in his icy green eyes.

Dean watched Devon's eyes flick to the right, to his jeep and his companions. But Dean didn't have to look to know that no one had gotten out of the jeep to rescue Devon. He had been in the game too long not to have a sixth sense when it came to getting snuck up on. Since no one was coming to back up Devon's play, it made no logical sense when the younger hunter smiled widely, looked like he had just cornered his prey.

"Your cockiness; it's what I always admired about you, Dean. No matter how bad the odds, you always came up swinging. Even when it seemed you were about to lose, you never backed down," Devon said but his smile faded away, was replaced by a grimness and a grief Dean felt bone deep. "What I never realized before was just how many people you were willing to sacrifice to get your victory, how many lives had to be lost just so you could walk away, live another day."

Dean's breath caught in his chest, the younger hunter's sentiments unexpected and just truthful enough to cut bone deep. "What…" he stammered, even as Devon raised his hands as if in surrender.

"Judgment comes to everyone, Dean. Even to you," Devon coldly promised.

Somewhere it registered: the shattering of the Impala's back window, the spray of glass, the crack of a long distance rifle shot. Dean was ducking at the first indicator of the attack, felt glass pelt him as he pressed his head between his left knee and the door. Then the bullet hit the windshield. He was reaching to put the Impala in drive when something slammed into the back of his head. He felt himself falling toward the Impala's bench seat, had the crazy thought that, if Sam was with him, if they were together, his head would be landing in Sam's lap. Then his face connected, not with the comforting flesh of his brother but with the Impala's interior.

As consciousness seeped away, Dean knew only regrets: That he hadn't shot Devon when he had the chance, that he wasn't going to be stopping the hunters from going to Bobby's. But most of all, he hated that, last night in the panic room, when Sam had reached for him, he had flinched away. Sam hadn't wanted to attack him, or choke him or kill him, had only wanted his help in getting off the cot, his help to get out of the hellish confines of the panic room. But more than that, Sam had wanted to connect with him, had wanted some proof that they were still brothers, that whatever distorted version of him that had been playing in his head doing the detox, it wasn't real.

Sam had simply wanted him with him, had trusted him to help him, even after everything.

'I always let down the people I love.' Then Dean went under, knew nothing else but darkness.

TBC

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Cheryl W.