Warnings: SPOILERS, language, and angst.
"When it's time to live and let die
And you can't get another try
Something inside this heart has died
You're in ruins.
One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight."
-Green Day '21 Guns'
When Dean dangles the necklace over the trash can, Sam's breath catches in his chest.
Dean wouldn't do it. Sam knows that the new information about God was hard to take and the necklace is just a reminder of it, but it's also a reminder of him, of them. Sam n' Dean, before it all got so messed up, and his brother knows that. So he wouldn't. He's just upset.
But he does. Dean drops the amulet and stays inside the doorway just long enough to hear it hit the bottom of the trash. The resounding 'thunk' of metal hitting metal echoes in the trash can, and a similar feeling hits Sam's stomach. He immediately feels like he's going to be sick.
He stares at the looming trash bin with wide, hurt eyes, barely noticing as Dean stalks out to the car. For a moment he doesn't think he's going to be able to catch his breath again.
'Not you. He's not throwing you away, he's throwing away God. He's leaving God. Not you, not you, not you.'
But he is. Sam remembers the hurt in Dean's eyes when he saw that none of Sam's happy memories involved him. He knew that right then they took twenty steps backwards, as if the past few months of healing had never happened. It makes Sam feel like he's standing in the hospital parking lot again, with Dean saying things like, "I don't think I can trust you," and "I'm having a little trouble forgivin' and forgettin', here," and worst of all, "I don't think we can ever be what we were."
And they can't. Sam knows that, even though for while he let himself believe that they could be. But he's been wrong before, end of the world kind of wrong, and it probably won't be the last time.
He knows now that they have nothing left. God was Castiel's only hope and apparently, God was Dean's last hope too. Sam? Sam didn't have much hope to begin with, he was kind of riding on the coattails of Dean's. That's gone. So what does he have left? What do they have left? Sam swallows, wipes an angry tear away, and then jumps as he hears the horn of the Impala blare. He doesn't want to go. He just wants to curl up and pretend that somewhere things are better. But Winchesters don't do that. They push on through agony, hopelessness, and emptiness. Right now, Sam can't figure out why.
Sam scrubs his face again, erasing tears, and picks the amulet up from the trash. It burns a hole in his pocket for miles before he gets the chance to sneak it into his duffel.
Sam thinks that without the soul crushing feeling of defeat and loneliness, this situation would be painfully ironic. He also thinks that logically it makes sense. Sam had been abandoned by angels and God a long time ago, so God's "fuck you" didn't really hit him as hard as it did Dean. Dean didn't believe until he had no other choice, until his last hope was the big man in the sky.
Sam understands what it feels like to have a last lifeline and to watch it slip away, and disappear. Apparently, this is Dean's first rodeo in that department because Sam has never seen his brother look so utterly broken and emotionless, even after he came back from hell.
It's scaring him.
They haven't spoken, not really, in three weeks. Dean presses on like a robot, taking hunts when they come and being terrifyingly reckless, and ignoring Sam. Sam doesn't really blame him, all things considering. But even though it's understandable it still hurts, like there's tiny pieces of glass in his blood, cutting their way to his heart.
When they got back to earth Sam didn't try to explain about his version of heaven. Dean wouldn't want to hear it and he wouldn't believe anything Sam said anyways. He wishes he could tell him that "real" Thanksgivings and weeks alone just scratched the surface of his happy memories. Heaven left out the first time that Dean beat up a bully for him and then held him when he realized Sam was still crying. Heaven left out the time Dean worked his ass off at a mini-mart just so that Sam could go to prom with his first real girlfriend, behind their dad's back, no less. It left out how Dean bought him his first beer after said prom went horribly wrong, and they spent the rest of the night getting drunk and watching bad t.v.
Sam wishes they could go back to heaven just so that Dean could see all that. He wishes he could get Dean to understand that he was, is, and always will be, the most important thing in his life. Maybe he should just tell him.
They have a hunt three and a half weeks after heaven. In terms of difficulty it isn't so bad but they haven't exactly been on their A-game lately, so things get rough towards the end. And by rough, Sam means that the demons they were hunting got the memo that it's customary to try to strangle him. Dean guts the demon with the knife just as Sam's vision is starting to blur. He gives Sam a hand without saying a word and they get back in the Impala.
"It's kind of a joke, right? Dying? We both know where we're going and it's not like we'll stay dead anyways. Might as well make a habit out of it."
Dean doesn't say anything, just starts the Impala and floors it back to the motel.
It was like a horrible 'bad day at the office' joke even though there's truth in it. If Sam died again he doesn't think Dean would care much, mostly because they both know that he'd come back soon enough. Plus, he's pretty sure that he's falling lower and lower on Dean's 'list of favorite people' everyday.
He tries not to believe his most inner thoughts but fails. It hurts more than a shotgun blast to the chest.
Four weeks after heaven Sam gets piss drunk and falls asleep with Dean's amulet clutched in his giant hand. He wakes up to Dean sitting on the bed across from him, the amulet in hand. Sam feels a pit of dread form in his already sour stomach as he watches his brother stare at the trinket.
"I threw this away, Sam."
Dean's voice sets Sam on edge. Now days he can't tell when Dean's pissed or upset because he always has the same flat, uncaring tone to his words. He doesn't know if Dean's about to hit him or if he's going to…Sam doesn't know. Violence seems like the only outcome here.
There's a heavy silence before Dean stands, his eyes still glued to the amulet that once meant something. Dean rubs his thumb over it once before tossing it back to Sam. Sam barely catches it by the cord. The brothers lock eyes and for a brief second, the walls around Dean's emotions are crumbled. Sam can see it, the raw pain and helplessness burning there that Dean's barely kept concealed over the past few weeks. When Dean finally turns away and wordlessly starts moving to the door, Sam feels dread curl around in his stomach like smoke in the air.
Dean stops and Sam can see his older brother's shoulders slump as if someone just put bricks on them.
"I'm saying yes to Michael."
Inside, Sam's raging. How dare Dean give up when Sam, the one who started all this, is still fighting? How dare Dean leave him behind when Sam's willing to do anything to see this through together?
He sounds all of ten years old again asking Dean to stay home and hang out with him instead of going off with his new friends.
Dean shakes his head, "You do what you gotta do but I'm saying yes. I'm ending this, one way or another."
Dean grabs his leather jacket off the back of a chair, and tugs it on. Sam feels like he's watching him leave for the last time and his eyes burn. Just as Sam thinks that Dean's going to leave without another word, without even looking at him again, Dean turns. To Sam's surprise, his brother looks as torn up as Sam feels.
"Just, uh, take care of yourself, ok?"
Then he's gone, before Sam gets a chance to yell, scream, plead, or argue, Dean's just gone.
Sam feels like he's gone too.
Lucifer's in front of him with a calm, smug smile on his face.
"One condition," Sam says tonelessly, ignoring the victory plastered all over Satan's face.
"What would that be?"
Sam looks down at his chest where Dean's amulet is hanging, "This stays on."
He looks back up at Lucifer, "You can change my clothes, shave my head, whatever, but Dean's necklace stays on."
Lucifer tilts his head like he doesn't quite understand but Sam doesn't care. Those are his terms.
Inside, Sam's feels a little better. He's saying 'yes' to Lucifer but the amulet around his neck is saying something completely different. It might be down to Lucifer v. Michael now, but in the end, Sam is always on Dean's side, no matter who's driving. And hopefully with Dean's necklace standing proudly against his chest, Dean will know that too.
"Do you know what's worth fighting for?
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside?
You're in ruins."