Step by step, heart to heart, left right left
We all fall down like toy soldiers
Bit by bit, torn apart, we never win
But the battle wages on for toy soldiers
(Toy Soldiers - Eminem)
Dean found Sam in the small bedroom they usually shared when staying at Bobby's. He leaned against the door frame, watching Sam sort through the items in his duffle. It took him less than a minute to figure out what his brother was up to. He cleared his throat and Sam glanced up at him.
"Hey, yourself." Dean sat on the opposite bed, motioning toward the three distinct piles of items stacked on Sam's bed. "You spring cleaning?"
"I was just…...." Sam shrugged. "It was something to do."
Dean nodded, reached over and snagged a plastic sandwich bag from the nearest pile. Inside were about half a dozen small green army men.
"Dude! Where did you get these?" He opened the bag, pulling out one of the tiny figures.
"They were yours."
"What?" Dean frowned at the bag. "You mean………are these the ones we tormented Bobby with that one summer?"
"Well, what's left of them." Sam smiled and Dean realized how little he'd seen his brother do that lately.
"I thought Bobby was going to kill us if he stepped on one more of these suckers in the middle of the night. We must have had hundreds of these."
"And I think most of them ended up in his trash can."
Dean laughed at the memory of Bobby waking them up in the middle of the night, cursing at the top of his lungs every time one of his bare feet came in contact with one of their hard plastic toys.
Dean tossed the bag back onto the bed.
"That's your pile," Sam said quietly.
"Sammy, you shouldn't be doing this."
Sam glanced down at the iPod in his hand. "Don't suppose this should go in your pile, huh?"
Dean snorted. "Hell, no. I'm sure there isn't any music on there made before 1990, which means there might as well not be anything on there at all."
Sam nodded and tossed the iPod into the middle pile. "Cas might find it amusing."
Dean cleared his throat. "Sammy…."
Sam added a couple of shirts to Cas's pile.
Sam gave him an innocent look. "What? You know he needs to update his wardrobe."
"Not with this." Dean snatched the shirt on top of the pile, remembering the last time they had actually celebrated Christmas. Sam had worn this shirt then, the white one with the red "girly designs" on it, as Dean always called them. He hated this shirt but he couldn't bear to think of someone else wearing it.
Sam's eyes softened. "Dean, it's just a shirt."
Dean swallowed hard against the rock that seemed to be lodged in his throat.
"We're going to get you out."
"Yeah, I know you are, Dean." Sam continued to sort. "Bobby find anything yet?"
Dean shook his head.
"Is Crowley helping out?" Sam's voice was low but insistent on making his point.
"No, he's…um….well, he's disappeared at the moment."
Sam nodded, pulled out Ruby's demon killing knife and offered it to Dean. "Take this. I don't trust Crowley. He's going to try and keep Bobby's soul."
"Yeah, I don't like the sound of that deal at all. Crowley's only worried about his own hide."
"Then you'll take care of him." Sam gazed at him steadily.
"Yeah, Sammy." Dean tucked the knife in his own duffle. "I'll take care of him."
Sam sighed. "Well, I guess that's about it."
Dean studied the three piles and felt his eyes grow wet. How could one lifetime be summed up in so little? There was so much more to his brother than what was in those few items stacked up on the bed.
"Oh, yeah," said Sam. "I almost forgot."
Dean blinked back the tears before looking at his brother. When he did, he felt his heart stop for just a moment. Sam was holding his discarded amulet.
"You didn't think I would really leave it there, did you?" Sam gave a small grin and pressed the amulet into his hand.
Dean could only stare. He couldn't remember how many times he'd wished he had never thrown the amulet away. Hell, he'd even gone back to the motel on his suicide run to see if he could find it. He'd wanted to leave the amulet in the box of things he was going to have delivered to Bobby. He hadn't wanted to die with Sam thinking he had tossed the amulet because of him. It had nothing to do with him.
"Sammy, I'm sorry. I never meant….."
Sam waved him off. "I know, Dean. It's okay. You just……weren't yourself."
Dean choked out a bitter laugh and Sam gave him a questioning look.
"Sorry, that's just kinda funny coming from the guy who's getting ready to become one with the devil." Dean sighed. "God, Sammy. How did it ever come to this?"
Sam shook his head sadly. "I don't know, Dean."
Bobby appeared in the doorway. "You boys ready? Cas is waiting in the van."
"Yeah, we'll be there in a minute Bobby."
Bobby appeared as if he wanted to say something else and then decided against it. They listened as his footsteps descended the staircase. It was a sound Dean had never thought to hear again.
"Well, guess it's time." Sam pretended to check the piles one more time.
"Here, Sammy. I want you to have this." Dean held out his hand, the amulet staring up at them.
"Dean, I can't…..what if….?" Sam left the question hanging.
"There is no what if, Sammy." Dean fastened the cord of the amulet around his brother's neck. "You can give it back to me when we get you out."
Sam wrapped his hand around the small gold charm. "Okay, sure."
Dean could see by Sam's eyes he didn't believe the lie anymore than Dean did. Dean grasped Sam's face between both of his calloused hands and repeated it anyway.
"We're going to get you out." This time he couldn't blink back the tears as they made their way down his face. "But in the meantime, I'll be with you…..all the way."
Sam closed his eyes and nodded, touching his forehead briefly to Dean's.
"Boys!" Bobby's voice came thundering up the stairs.
"Did you leave one of your toy soldiers out?" asked Dean.
"If I did, he's gonna kick our asses now that he's got those legs back."
They both laughed, wiping at their faces.
"Coming, Bobby!" Sam gave Dean one more sad smile as he disappeared through the door.
What are you afraid of? Losing or losing your brother?
Dean sighed, running a weary hand across his face. He wasn't afraid of losing. Dean had faith his brother could resist the devil but how the hell were they supposed to keep Sammy from spending an eternity locked in Lucifer's cage?
Then he remembered something Sam said to him long ago: You and me, we're all that's left. So, if we're gonna see this through, we're gonna do it together.
And Dean smiled.
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