Carry On...a Supernatural Virtual Season

Episode 10: Masquerading as a Man

Authors: Bayre and sendintheclowns

Disclaimer: We don't own Supernatural or it's characters, basically any characters familiar from the show. They are properties of the WB, CW and Eric Kripke.

A/N: Carry On...A Supernatural Virtual Season picks up at the end of All Hell Breaks Loose part one and then ventures on with a what if scenario that takes the Winchester brothers through heaven and hell while fighting to save the remnants of their splintered family. See our bio page for more information.

Episode Summary: Present and future come together taking the brothers on a whirlwind tour of what might become of their lives. Sam's powers, Azazel and Dean's future meld together in a bizarre way and with a definite Stephen King theme park feel. Is this their reality, or is this something created by an old adversary?

PART ONE

What was a deity to do? The world just didn't get him. He'd been cast as a foolish rule breaker which was as far from the truth as one could get. His true purpose on earth was to use his cunning to raise awareness.

Okay, so maybe he did go overboard occasionally. So sue him. Humans were just so easy to manipulate, it was hard to go easy on them.

Although there were two humans who had actually gone toe to toe with him, albeit just for a while. Two humans who were proving to be much more important in the scheme of things than he'd first thought.

Two humans who needed to be taught a lesson. Or two. Or three.

Not just for him (and really, where did they get off trying to stake him when he was having so much fun, even if it was at their expense) but for all of creation.

He picked up his piña colada and took a long pull from the straw. Ah, dark rum. Humans did get that one right. With a little help from his good friend, Bacchus. Proof that humans could be led in the right direction on occasion.

A busty blond in a red string bikini set another drink down on the cocktail table next to his deck chair. "Here you go, Mr. Longfellow…anything else I can do for you?"

Tilting his Giorgio Armani aviator style sunglasses down, he leered at the pretty young thing. "Do I look like a mister to you? Oh, please, call me Rod."

A text message chose that moment to announce its arrival on his cell phone. Sometimes modern conveniences weren't all that convenient. Sighing, he waved the blond away and picked up his phone.

It was a message about those damn Winchesters.

He crooked his pinky finger up to his mouth in an imitation of Dr. Evil.

Music poured over the hidden sound system. Pink's "Get The Party Started" assaulted his ears. Truer words were never spoken.

Duty called. Although he was pretty sure he could mix a little business with pleasure. That was definitely one of the perks of being a trickster.

-0-

Dean didn't like it any better than Sam who was sitting on the rickety double bed, massaging his temples. "So you're telling me that Bobby knows we're in Nevada and he wants us to drive clear across the country to New York? You're telling me there aren't any hunters closer than us?"

Sam might not be happy because of what he perceived to be unnecessary travel, but Dean wasn't thrilled about the job because it was pulling him away from where he wanted to be. Vegas, baby. "I'm just relaying Bobby's request. It's not my idea." Implied was the don't get snippy with me.

His brother stopped massaging long enough to scowl up at Dean who was already rolling his clothes and stuffing them into his duffel bag. "Are you sure it was Bobby?"

Maybe Dean ought to cut Sam some slack, maybe his brother's headache was worse than Dean had thought. Why else would Sam question him about who had called with the job? "I think I know Bobby's voice." Setting his packed duffel bag down, Dean walked over to Sam's bed and plunked down on it, bumping Sam's shoulder. "What's this about?"

Sam turned his head and Dean took in the roadmap of anxiety across his brother's face. Deep frown lines grooved around his mouth. Forehead—at least what could be seen through the overlong hair—furrowed so tightly it resembled a shar pei. Then there were the eyes. Puppy dogs could learn a thing or two from his brother. "I don't know. It just…doesn't make sense."

"What, like your spidey sense is tingling?" Dean asked. When Sam used his powers— used being a relative term since it seemed to happen without Sam's consent—his brother oftentimes ended up with a headache. Or nosebleed. Or he got plain ornery. Kind of like right now.

Raising his shoulders, Sam then let them droop. His brother looked pathetic. Dean could sit here all day and debate the job, and Sam loved nothing more than a good debate, but it was time they moved on. Places to see and people to do. "Since when has sense played a part in this? Come on, let's hit the road. The hunt Bobby lined up for us has to do with a library."

"A library? Which one? I'd like to do some research on…" Maybe it wasn't nice but Dean tuned out his brother. Dean was convinced the key to living so closely with someone was to sometimes quit listening. Just nod and make appropriate noises.

Huh.

Dean wondered if Sam did the same thing to him.

-0-

Sam had felt a lot better about the hunt once he knew they were headed to the New York City Library. Books! Sam loved surrounding himself with books and knowledge. Maybe he could find something that would shed more light on what was going on, with both Dean and himself. Bob the Angel had been somewhat of a help but Sam wanted to dig deeper. The more they knew, the better off they were. Knowledge was power.

The New York City Library was likely to be an excellent source of information on the seals. He and Dean had coins with actual symbols to look up and compare. He might have to work a little extra hard to break into the ancient texts department, but it would be worth the effort and risk.

Although so far this hunt Bobby had sent them on seemed a little hinky to both he and Dean. When they'd interviewed Alice, a current reference librarian, she'd mentioned disturbances in the library but wasn't very forthcoming with information. When Dean had tried to make small talk, put her at ease, he'd asked about the portrait on the wall; Alice had stated it was a portrait of another librarian, Dr. Eleanor Twitty. The name rang a bell with both brothers but Sam couldn't remember from where. Alice had excused herself and practically run upstairs.

Now they were roaming the stacks, fifteen minutes from closing time. Nothing so far.

"I still want to try and get into the room where we can look up some religious references, maybe make some copies." Sam stopped talking when he caught motion out of the corner of his eye and watched as books stacked themselves ten feet from where he stood.

Large books and small books were haphazardly stacked, leaning at a crazy angle. If they didn't put a stop to this, someone was going to get hurt. It would be worse than getting hit by a flying book.

Ducking to the side, Sam watched a book sail over his shoulder. "Dean!"

His brother appeared from behind a tall stack. "Whatcha got, Sammy?"

Motioning to the leaning tower of books, Sam looked around. Over Dean's shoulder he spotted a woman in a gray dress, white hair piled up in a bun, oblivious to the book stacking phenomenon going on mere feet from where she stood.

Dean looked over his shoulder and nodded. "Excuse me, ma'am?"

Even before Dean's whispered words were out of his mouth, the old woman turned to him and shushed him. "Shhhh." She even held a finger to her lips.

It was a joke, at least on Dean's part, that older women loved Sam. He motioned Sam over. "Maybe you can get her to move. Use some of that famous Sammy charm on her. I'm gonna check out those books more closely."

Rolling his eyes, Sam approached the elderly woman. Her back was to him and he gently tapped a finger on her shoulder.

Only his finger went right through her.

The vision—ghost—whatever, turned around to stare at Sam. Her—its—hair stood on end and the skin morphed into a skeleton.

Sam blinked in the face of the form. This was the best she--it--had?

"Duck!" Rock-salt blasted past him, Dean spraying the ghost. Sam brushed debris out of his hair while he watched the ghost dissolve.

Dean stood next to him, shotgun at the ready. "Good thing we're not those goofs in the movie. One grouchy ghost isn't going to make us run away."

That was it. Alice and Eleanor Twitty had been in Ghostbusters. The writers must've done more research than Sam had given them credit for.

He shook his head, letting a cloud of salt residue float toward Dean. Served his brother right for shooting the rock-salt while Sam was standing so close to the ghost.

When Dean coughed and glared at Sam, he gave his brother an innocent smile. "Let's get the sage out and start smudging. You want to give the overzealous librarian the good news that she's dead and it's time to move on when she shows up?"

Dean smiled widely at him. "No, Sammy. You're the one with the street cred when it comes to older chicks. You be the bearer of bad news."

Sam had left himself wide open for that one. The only thing that kept him from getting snarky was that Dean was so obviously pleased with himself.

What with Dean's radio set to angel frequency, and all the other crap that had happened, it was good to see Dean looking so relaxed and happy.

-0-

Dean tried to get comfortable on the lumpy mattress but it just wasn't happening. He flipped over violently on to his back and the headboard scraped against the wall. Wonderful.

"Maybe you should try counting sheep." Sam's voice was tinged with amusement but he sounded awfully awake considering it was after 2 AM. Both brothers were apparently still keyed up after their run in with the New York City Library ghost, despite hitting a few bars and sampling the vaunted city nightlife.

Dean rubbed his eyes tiredly. His body seemed willing to sleep but his brain wouldn't shut off. Every time he thought he was falling asleep, he'd jerk awake. When he tried to relax and get comfortable, the mattress lumps would pound him.

It didn't help that every time he closed his eyes, he was confronted with the image of Sam—dead in his arms. Sam burning—on the funeral pyre. Sam going toe to toe with their dad…and losing.

He was not only freaked out by the thought of Sam's death and the fact that he'd somehow come back to life, but that their dad—demon—whatever—was trying to make Dean choose between the two people he cared about most in the world. His dad and Sam.

Flipping back on to his stomach, Dean exhaled heavily. "We're both awake. Maybe we oughta just pack up and head out."

"I'm not getting in the car with you behind the wheel with no sleep in the last twenty-four hours. Talk about your weapons of mass destruction. And I'm no better off. Hey, how about I grab a book and read for awhile?"

Dean flopped back over, settling on his back. "I don't feel like reading. Although watching you read sure would be boring enough to put me out."

The bedside light flicked on and Sam padded across the room, digging in his duffle bag. "No, doofus, I meant I'd read aloud. I've got," Sam paused to look down at the book in his hand, "Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. I know you've got a soft spot for Scrooge."

Crossing his arms over his chest, Dean agreed. "Your voice, droning on…guaranteed to put me to sleep."

Sam's voice was low and mellow and he could probably make money if he read books on tape. But Dean wasn't going to mention that. It wasn't that Dean was against handing out compliments, but he'd rather do it for something Sam worked for as opposed to something he was born with.

His brother was ignoring his jibe, settling on his bed with the book leaning against his bent knees. "I'll just jump right in. Here, this is a good part. Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future…"

Dean relaxed as Sam described the appearance of the ghost. He let his eyes drop down after a few minutes, listening to the cadence of Sam's voice, not really paying attention to the story. This was much more effective than counting sheep. Settling on his side, Dean was pretty sure he'd be asleep in no time at all.

"Hello Dean, I'm the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. I'm here to show you what life could be like in the future." Dean's eyes flew open, head jerking up as someone else in the room began to speak. His hand was already reaching for the knife under his pillow as he catalogued the thing standing over him.

In some ways it resembled the shtriga, a large cowl hiding its head.

A shtriga.

Dean was on his feet, putting himself between the shtriga and Sam. Only the other bed was empty.

"I'm not a shtriga, Dean. I'm a ghost. Take my hand and I'll show a possible future. A future that can still be changed, depending on what choices you make." A skeletal hand reached forward and Dean dodged back.

Not quick enough. A bright light filled the motel room and Dean felt a jerk followed by a sensation of floating. It was calming. Peaceful.

A warm hand on his shoulder reinforced the sense of serenity. "Look and learn…"

Dean was sitting in the Impala, engine idling. The Impala was immaculate, sparkling even. The same couldn't be said for Dean.

His face was shaded with a scruffy beard, his hair long and unkempt. His leather jacket was slung over the passenger seat. The seat that should be occupied by Sam.

The dream-Dean rolled down the window of his car, confronted by a worn looking Bobby. "What do you want from me, Bobby?" The voice was steely. Flat. Uncaring.

His friend, a hunter he'd always looked up to, stared back. "I want you to be careful. I don't want you going off, half-cocked and loaded for bear. Sam wouldn't want that."

"Well, we don't always get what we want, do we? I mean, Sam is dead. Do you think that's what he wanted? I sure as hell didn't want that. He should be here, Bobby. Sam should be here." The words were growled in rage.

Dean stepped back for the scene in front of him. He didn't know this bitter, twisted man. Dean had been heartbroken when Sam had died at Cold Oak. Depressed and lost. But this…simmering anger ready to explode wasn't something he'd felt before. Not to this degree.

"Wow, this is some nightmare. I thought mine were bad but this is…pretty awful. What happened to you?" Sam's soft voice whispered in Dean's ear. His head whipped around, relief coursing through him. Sam wasn't dead. Sam was standing next to him.

His little brother was in the same blue v-neck t-shirt and flannel sleep pants he'd been in when they'd gone to bed. His feet were even bare. But he was here, standing next to Dean. "The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come paid me a visit and zapped me here. I guess A Christmas Carol wasn't the best choice for a bedtime story. What are you doing here?"

Sam's cheek warmed to a bright pink, embarrassment plain to see. "You were talking in your sleep and it didn't sound pleasant. I touched your arm to wake you up and ended up here. I'm sorry, I know I said I would get this thing under control but it kinda got away from me." Sam shrugged. "Actually, I have no idea how to get it under control."

So Sammy's powers were still running haywire. Dean didn't ordinarily like the idea of Sam tapping into his dreams—his dreams were his own, good or bad, kinky or not—but on this occasion he was happy to have Sam along for the ride.

Dean squeezed Sam's forearm, apology accepted. "Now that you're here, do you think you can zap us awake? This really sucks."

His brother shook his head no, hair flying into his eyes. "I tried as soon as I got here but it looks like we're both stuck. What's going on? What did I miss?"

Dean couldn't keep the frown from taking over his face. "You died. I'm fighting with Bobby. And apparently I lost my razor."

Sam grimaced. "I died? Again? That does suck. And dude, the Grizzly Adams look is not a good one on you."

The brothers quieted as the scene in front of them finished playing out, Bobby pleading with Dean not to go on a kamikaze mission and Dean vowing to take down as many mother-fuckers as he could before joining Sam. Dream-Dean gunned the Impala, gravel and dirt spraying Bobby as he catapulted down the driveway.

"I can't believe I was such an asshole to Bobby. That was pretty hard to stomach." Dean was quiet, upset with the way his nightmare was playing out.

Sam bumped his shoulder into Dean's. "It's just a dream."

Dean whirled around. "Where did the Future Ghost go? Maybe you scared him off."

A loud voice boomed from above them. Snapping his head up, Dean found the hooded figure perched on a tree. "Ready for your next stop? There's plenty more to see."

With a snap of those long, spindly fingers Dean was transported to a new scene. He only hoped Sam had made the jump with him. He wasn't sure he could face this pseudo-future alone.

-0-

Sam had stopped reading when Dean had finally dropped off to sleep. He wished he could do the same but he was still too amped up to wind down. That and a headache was starting to creep in again.

Maybe he could get to the bottle of Tylenol without waking up Dean. He didn't want to chance it though. If he could get his body to relax, the headache would probably ease up.

Dean made one of those buried-in-the-throat-screams that made the hair on the back of Sam's head stand up. It sounded like Dean may have fallen to sleep but his dreams weren't being kind to him.

When Dean's body spasmed and his teeth clenched, Sam rolled off the bed. Dean might need the rest but this was anything but restful.

Sam approached the bed with caution, cognizant of the fact that Dean didn't like to be awakened abruptly and he had a knife under his pillow. When Dean whimpered, Sam decided it was time to intervene. "Dean, time to wake up."

His brother turned toward his voice but the labored breathing didn't ease and his eyes remained shut. Still locked in his nightmare. Sam didn't want to touch Dean since that's what seemed to trigger his dream-walking ability but he couldn't stand by and listen to his brother in distress.

"Dean, come on, snap out of it." The words were delivered with a gentle shake to Dean's shoulder. Sam stepped back in case Dean startled upright.

Stepped back, right into another reality.

Dean's dream.

At least his brother didn't seem mad at him for invading his dream. If anything, Dean seemed happy to have him there. He understood that after watching scraggly Dean and Bobby argue. It was like watching a train wreck.

Before Sam's brain could make order out of the chaos in front of them, he was transported to another scene.

The color seeped back into the surroundings, leaving Sam and Dean standing in front of small cottage. In front of the cottage, other-Dean sat in the Impala, rocking back and forth. Through the car's open window, Sam could hear Dean muttering, "Never make me choose…wrong to choose…not fair…never make me choose…" The babble was constant and so unlike his brother, Sam looked at the real Dean.

His brother hitched his shoulders up, clearly as confused as Sam. Dean made eye contact with him but when the Impala's door slammed shut, both brothers followed other-Dean's progress as he climbed the steps to the cream colored cottage.

Two sharp raps on the door and a bedraggled young man stood in front of Dean. Maybe in his mid twenties, with a pallor that bespoke of inside pursuits as opposed to the healthy tan from out-of-doors, the dark haired man invited Dean inside.

Now that he was closer, Sam could see that the man bore a vague resemblance to himself. Layered dark hair, falling in hazel eyes, tall frame a few inches taller than Dean. But the most noticeable feature was the exhaustion that settled across the man like a heavy blanket. Bags below the eyes made them sag and the sharp features were drawn even sharper, the weight of the world pulling him down.

Other-Dean didn't shake hands with the man and wouldn't even look him in the face. "I've done some research and what you've got yourself here is a classic Boo Hag. They're a bit like vampires only they gain sustenance from your breath instead of your blood."

The younger man gasped, hand clutching at his heart. "A Boo Hag? Like a vampire? But this thing was red…didn't have pasty white skin or pointy teeth."

The other-Dean's voice was filled with barely veiled impatience, "It's not a vampire. And the reason it's red is because it doesn't have any skin. Now I'm gonna tell you what we're gonna do to get rid of it. But you need to do as I say."

"But—" the younger man stuttered.

Dean moved right up into the man's personal space. "Either you want to get rid of it or you don't. But don't waste my time. Which is it gonna be?"

Sam looked at Dean, the real Dean, and found his own bewilderment mirrored in his brother's round eyes. Dean was always a little impatient when on a hunt but first and foremost, he had people skills. He knew how to talk to victims to gain their compliance. Watching this…it was plain weird.

Sinking into a chair, the young man cradled his head in his hands. "I can't go on like this. I have no energy. I can't think. I'll do what you say."

Crossing his arms tight across his chest, other-Dean nodded. A small smile crept over his face but it wasn't joy or happiness or anything Sam would ever associate with a smile. It was borderline psychotic and creepy as hell.

"Come on, let's get you settled for the night. Couch or bed? All you have to do is fall asleep and when you feel the hag ridin' you, struggle with all your might."

"What do you mean, riding me?"

"The hag sits on your chest and sucks up your breath. When you feel like you can't move, that's the time to struggle the most. I'll take care of it then."

The dark haired man climbed slowly to his feet. "If you're sure…my bedroom's back here…"

A strong arm encircled Sam's bicep. "We gotta do something, Sam. If that kid struggles, the Boo Hag will rip off his skin!"

Sam was every bit as horrified as Dean. "Why didn't you just place a broom by his bed? The Hag would be distracted counting the straws and you'd be able to kill it then."

The real Dean thrust his hand through his hair. "This is insane. I would never put someone at risk like this. At least not without telling them what might happen. Sam, what the hell is going on here? What's wrong with me?!"

"It doesn't make sense, Dean. I know you. You would never set someone up as bait this way. Especially without back-up. This can't be you." Sam's mind was busy cataloguing and rejecting various creatures that could be impersonating his brother.

Dean charged forward, toward the hallway other-Dean and the victim had disappeared down. "I've gotta put a stop to this."

Sam took off after Dean. He wasn't sure how much they could interfere with the outcome, especially seeing as this was a riff on A Christmas Carol. Observe but don't interact.

Dean's forward motion stopped abruptly, his brother staggering back as though he'd hit a wall. Sam put his arms out to catch Dean.

On contact, the world around them began to dissolve.

When Sam blinked his eyes open, Dean was standing at his side and they were standing in a large cave.

-0-

Backing up a few steps, Sam turned one way, Dean the other, each scanning their newest surroundings.

"I've never been here." Dean turned a complete circle. "Have you?"

"Not that I remember." Sam looked up. They were inside some sort of cavern, but it was impossible to tell if it was natural or manmade. "I can't see the ceiling, it just keeps going up."

"Uh huh…but what are we supposed to see?" Dean twisted on his heels away from Sam then turned back to face him and shrugged.

Other-Dean stumbled into the center of the cavern waving a handgun. Sam squinted at it, it wasn't just any gun, it was a Colt, the Colt. Babbling, image-Dean staggered, taking as many steps sideways as he did forward. "Made me chose…should never made me choose…can't choose…can't…can't."

Sam leaned closer to his brother, his real brother. "That's what you were saying before, in the Impala."

"That wasn't me, Sam. It looked like me, but it wasn't."

"I know, but…the dream you was saying that." Sam shrugged. Dean's eyes were round and he was slightly pale and very freaked out which wasn't helping Sam remain calm and cool. In fact, it was making him feel the exact opposite.

A flash of light and Azazel materialized out of thin air. He stalked a slow circle around image-Dean. "You know what you have to do."

Image-Dean used the barrel of the Colt to scratch at his forehead, "Not choosing."

"It's the only way, son." John appeared behind Dean, leaning in to whisper in his ear. "Now, do it now."

"Can't make me." Image-Dean whirled around taking aim at John.

Yellow eyes burst out laughing and clapped, "Show time, Deano."

Image-Dean whipped around, this time waving the gun in Azazel's direction. "Can't…no…no…no…"

Image-Sam appeared out of thin air and was at once grabbed from behind by John. "Yes." John held tight to image-Sam, struggling and trying to jerk free of his grasp with both hands. "You do it, or I will, but one of us does it. It's the only way, Dean. It's everything or Sam. Are you going to let everything end? All those innocents, think about it, Dean."

"I said no." Image-Dean swung his arm in an arc, Colt now aimed at John's head. "Not choosing…can't make me…can't make me…" He tilted his head to one side and rubbed at his ear, "STOP TALKING."

"Now." John shouted.

"It's time." Azazel chorused with John.

Shaking his head, mumbling words Sam couldn't make out image-Dean opened fire, with every shot he backed up. Sam saw how image-Dean shot John, then Yellow Eyes, but it did nothing except make them laugh harder. The gun's aim was centered on image-Sam. Dean fired and image-Sam's body jerked one way then the other with each impact. John smiled smugly, let go of image-Sam's arms and stepped away, wiping his hands off on themselves.

Image-Sam crumpled to the ground, a bloody heap. Azazel jumped up and down, he punched the air with one fist and cheered image-Dean on.

John stepped over image-Sam's body and clapped Dean's shoulder, "I knew you could do it. I knew you would do it. You made the right choice, son."

Image-Dean giggled uncontrollably. He shot John and Azazel over and over; trigger finger working until the gun simply clicked. "I didn't save one for me." Image-Dean's laughter turned to sobs. "Figures I wouldn't save one for me. I never think of me."

In a flash of dingy gray light John and Yellow Eyes vanished.

Sam stumbled backwards unable to stop the gasp from leaving his mouth. Chills coursed up and down his spine to spread throughout his entire body. He couldn't breathe evenly and his vision swam through the tears pooling in his eyes. Wetness from those tears spilling over and down his cheeks was ignored. It hadn't happened, Sam knew that, his brain kept telling him the fact was it would never happen. However, seeing Dean put a gun to him and squeeze the trigger and actually commit the act was more than Sam could rationally process.

His brother shot him. Shot and killed him. Dean killed him. What if he was seeing the actual future? It couldn't be, Sam refused to believe Dean would harm him, let alone kill him.

Looking to Dean for some kind of reassurance, what Sam saw frightened him doubly as much as what he'd just witnessed. Dean stood there, barely breathing. His face was pasty white and his eyes were wider than Sam had ever seen them. He stared at himself holding the Colt staring down at dead image-Sam. Mouth working, but no sound coming out, Dean backed away, shaking his head.

He turned to Sam, but didn't seem to really see him, simply looked right through him.

"Dean," Sam found his voice and hissed, "Wake up right the hell now." Getting his feet to move he was at his brother's side and tugging on his arm. "Dean!"

The cavern dissolved and Sam was slumped beside Dean's bed, shouting his name. Dean jerked upright, rolled off the bed and backed away from Sam, arms outstretched, hands out. "I…Sam, I'd never…you have to believe…"

Struggling to his feet Sam looked around the room. They were back in their motel room. "Dean, you…it wasn't real, it wasn't." Who was he trying to convince—himself, his brother or both?

Dean spun around, fist lashing out he cleared off the low dresser and slammed a hole into the wall, yelling. "It'll never be real!" Without warning Dean went from shocked to deadly angered.

"Don't shout at me. Don't." Sam's knees ceased to work and he landed hard on the floor between the beds, trembling.

Taking a few deep breaths Dean stood straighter and seemed to calm. The color eased back into his face and his entire demeanor went from vicious to Sam's big brother in a blink of an eye. It was a bit creepy how Dean could do that. "Sammy." His voice was soft and kind, unlike the odd crazy quality of the dream or the shrieking fury of seconds before. Dean nearly ran across the room and held out his hand, offering to help Sam off the floor. "It won't ever be real."

Sam stared at his brother's hand for a few seconds before reaching up and taking it, using Dean's weight and strength to haul his ass off the floor. Biting his lip, he nodded.

-0-

Dean was wiped out. This whole Back to the Future thing made his head spin.

There was no way in hell he would ever hurt Sam. And shoot him? Dean would rather cut off his own hand. No freakin' way.

Sam shifted away from him, sitting abruptly on the edge of his bed. He dragged a shaky hand through his messy hair and stared up at Dean. "It wasn't real."

Dean sunk down on his bed, facing his brother. He wanted to be strong. Too bad his voice shook as bad as Sam's hands. "Of course it wasn't real. As if."

It was starting to make Dean uneasy, how Sam stared down at his hands on his thighs, down to the floor, then back to his hands. Avoiding Dean. When Sam continued to stare at nothing, Dean couldn't let the silence stretch out any longer. His nerves were too frayed and Sam's quiet reaction wasn't helping. Dean turned to a topic he knew would distract him. Sam. "So I thought you had this dream thing under control. What happened?

That brought Sam's head snapping up, eyes bloodshot and confused. "I just…I touched you. That's all I did. You were having a nightmare and wouldn't wake up, so I touched your shoulder and then I was standing there. With you. In your dream."

Sam's tone was defensive. Maybe a little hurt. Then he shook his head before rising to his feet. Arms crossed. "Let's forget about my…whatever you want to call what happens when I'm inside one of your dreams, and focus on what actually happened in the dream. You said it was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Did it tell you what it wanted with you?"

Sam had managed to deflect the conversation and put the topic back on Dean. That was Dean's favorite trick to use on Sam. Maybe his brother was finally growing up. The student becoming the master. That idea was too hard to contemplate at the moment. Dean would always have the upper hand. He was older, therefore it was his right.

His brother was staring hard at him, face pinched. Waiting for an answer. "Your usual standard Christmas ghost stuff. It wanted to show me what could happen in the future. Said I could change it depending on my choices. Blabbity blah blah. I think it was full of shit."

"But why were you so bitter? That Dean was nothing like you." Sam had uncrossed his arms and took a step closer, posture beseeching. For a moment Dean thought Sam was going to throw his arms around him, hug him. It was something his touchy-feely brother would do. And actually right now, after seeing what they'd seen, whether it was a dream or something else, he wouldn't have rebuffed a hug. But Sam didn't and Dean was still sitting on the bed, wrung out from the dream experience, and couldn't work up the energy to stand up.

"It wasn't me. You know I would never disrespect Bobby like that. Or hang a civilian out to dry like I did with that dude and the Boo Hag." Or ever raise a hand to you, never mind raise a gun.

The words remained unspoken. Dean couldn't go there right now. The whole trippy exercise had left him feeling vulnerable and nothing set his teeth on edge like that feeling. His teeth were almost grinding from the tension and he forced his jaws to relax.

When Sam opened his mouth, Dean shut him down. "But—"

"I think we're done with the sleeping portion of the program, Sam. Pack up and let's hit the road. You can dissect this all you want once we're in the car. I say we make tracks for Bobby's." Dean knew full well that once Sam was in the Impala, he'd succumb to exhaustion, leaving Dean in peace. The idea of heading to Bobby's seemed to give Sam some peace as well; his brother seemed to view the older hunter's place as some sort of haven. A junkyard. Go figure.

Sam would let the matter drop. At least for now.

Dean needed the time. What he'd seen in the future was something he couldn't contemplate. It was time for a little nervous breakdown and where better to have it then in his beloved vehicle with the hard road beneath him.