A/N: Here's my take on how things might go down next season. I know there's going to be a lot of speculation about what's going to happen, but I thought I'd just throw my two-cents in as well. This is un-beta'd and written rather quickly (for me, anyway), so all mistakes are mine, but I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think of it. :D
He really, really tried to enjoy that normal 'apple pie' life that Sam wanted him to live. So far, he had kept his promise as best as he could. He didn't try to spring his little brother from the pit and he hadn't hunted anything in months. He woke up every morning in the same bed, next to the same woman, he obeyed the law, he took Ben to the park, he mowed the lawn, he took out the trash, he got a job (an honest one rebuilding cars), he paid bills, he drove Ben to school, he met with the boys from work to play poker every Thursday night, he folded laundry, he bought groceries, he paid his taxes and he even let Lisa drag him to church every once in a while.
It was everything and nothing of what he had always dreamed a 'normal' life would be and he was miserable.
A life spent living on the road, sleeping in cheap motels, hustling pool, chasing ghosts, demons and fighting the apocalypse had been paradise compared to this. At least then he had been free and had his brother by his side.
But that was the past.
Sam was in hell now and so was he and he had to remind himself constantly that there was nothing he could do about it but move on.
Cas had even asked him what he wanted more: peace or freedom? Now he wasn't sure. He had peace, yes, but freedom? There was a time when he was certain that this was what he wanted and he knew it was what Sam had wanted for him, so that's why he stayed despite crushing weight that pressed down on him and grew every day that passed. Everything about this new life felt so wrong, so empty, confining and unfulfilling. Sure, he loved Ben and Lisa, but there was a hole in his soul that could never be filled again. Even at those times when he managed to get away from it all for a while and he found himself parked miles and miles away in an empty field sitting on top of the hood of his car staring at the stars, he only felt worse. Too many memories would come back to him, so many in fact that he was even considering selling the Impala just so he wouldn't have to see that empty seat next to him anymore.
It didn't help matters much when everytime he turned around he thought he saw or rather felt a presense near by. At first, he thought he was just going crazy, but in the line of work he had been raised in, crazy was a relative term. He knew what was happening. He felt the chills, saw the flickering lights, smelled the ozone, but he chose to ignore it. He wasn't a hunter anymore and it was time he accepted it, even if he was being haunted.
Sam came to this spot every night. Just under the street light across the street from the house that Dean now shared with his new family. At first he was content to see that Dean was moving on from him, that he had found some measure of happiness now that the Lucifer was locked safely away, but that all changed way too quickly. He watched as his brother took out the trash, mowed the lawn, went to neighborhood barbeques and played catch with Ben in the backyard. But, he knew his brother and he knew when he was just going through the motions. There was no happiness in his older sibling's actions, no spark of the Dean he used to know; he was a hollow man, a revenant of what he used to be.
He wanted to help. But how could he?
He didn't even now what he was now. When he finally succeeded in regaining control of his body from Satan and allowed himself to fall into the pit, he was certain that the rest of his eternity would be met with fire, torture and damnation. Instead, as he fell he felt a shearing, as though his soul was being ripped away from his body until he was engulfed in a white, blinding light. The next thing he knew, he was laying in a field, miles from civilization. Lost, alone and confused, he walked and walked, never growing tired or hungry, he just kept moving until he walked straight into a small town.
Trying to ask for directions, he was completly ignored. He yelled, he screamed at anyone passing by to get them to notice him, but it wasn't until someone walked right through him that he came to the cold realization that he wasn't really there.
He was spirit, a ghost perhaps, but he wasn't tied to any one place like every other phantom they had encountered? So what did that make him? He didn't have clue, but he was still him, he was Sam sans Lucifer. He took to wandering again, forever moving from town to town, destinationless until one day he found himself across the street from Dean, looking into the window from the outside. He wasn't exactly sure how he had ended up there, just that he had been focusing on Dean, wondering how he was and what he would be doing at that moment and suddenly he was there. After that, he found that all he had to do was center all of his thoughts on his brother and there he would be by his side.
The only downside to it all was he had no way of letting Dean know he was there.
Sure, he could make lights flicker on and off and once he was able to actually move a beer bottle perched on a table near Dean, but his brother either didn't notice or chose to ignore it all. It was all so frustrating.
And now Dean was getting worse, becoming more and more despondant with each passing day and drinking far more than Sam had ever seen him before. He saw the fight he was currently having with Lisa as she tried and failed to pull him out of his dark depression, yelling at him to shape-up or get out. He could see that she was worried for him, but there was little she could do to pull Dean out of the deep pit he was falling into. More angry words erupted from inside the house just before he saw his brother emerge from the front door and slam it shut behind him, rushing to his car and revving up the engine loudly before peeling out of the driveway.
Sam focused all of his thoughts on Dean and where he was going and in an instant, he was in the Impala, sitting in his usual spot, but to Dean he was alone in the car. HIs brother's hands gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles as he floored the accelerator and barreled down the street. Sam heard Dean sniff the air as if he smelled something and he wondered if he left that distinct odor of ozone that he knew spirits left behind.
"Whatever the hell you are, get out of my car." Dean growled into the air. Yeah, guess he did have the ozone thing going on. Sam may not have had a body, but he could almost smell the reek of alcohol rolling off of his big brother and while Dean was an expert driver when sober, the way he swerved and swung the car had Sam alarmed.
"Dean, slow down or pull over. You're in no shape to drive, man." Sam pleaded with him, but of course, Dean couldn't hear him. Driving the car hard, Dean raced off into the countryside. Sam thanked God that his brother had found a stretch of road with relatively few trees and cars that he might end up wrapping his beloved vehicle around.
He kept going and going while Sam fought desperately to find a way to get his brother to stop the car before he killed himself. Yelling of course had no effect and he was beyond frustrated, his anger at the whole situation escalating until he heard a crackling sound suddenly issue from the radio speakers. The radio dial flickered on and off and Sam appeared to be just a surprised as Dean was since it had been off the whole time until that moment.
"Did I just do that?" Sam wondered out loud to himself.
Slamming on the brakes, the car fishtailed until it came to a complete stop. "Alright, Goddammit, that's enough!" Dean shouted, flinging open the door and stalking off to the trunk. Sam was by his side a moment later, watching as his brother popped the trunk lid up then lifted the panel hiding his arsenal.
"What are you doing, Dean?" Sam asked, even though he already knew what he was up to seeing Dean grab a shotgun and load it up with rock-salt.
Once the shotgun was locked and loaded, Dean slammed the trunk lid and looked around in all directions. "Show yourself already! I've had it up to here with you."
"God, I wish I could." Sam muttered.
It grew quiet all around them, the crickets had stopped chirping and the only sound was that of Dean's heavy breathing as he turned around in all directions, attempting to find the source of his haunting. Sam hated it that Dean thought he was a malicious spirit, but at least this was the first time in a long time where his big brother was showing some of his old spark of life in his eyes. It was almost enough to give Sam some hope of saving Dean.
All too soon, it was gone. The shotgun lowered as Dean realized he was all alone, defeat registering on his face.
With a heavy sigh, Dean staggered unsteadily back to the front of the car. The sounds of the countryside started up again, the crickets taking up their chorus of chirps while Dean's boots crunched the gravel of the shoulder underneath until he made it to the hood. . Wearily, Dean leaned up against the front bumper, pulling himself up onto the hood and looking up to the sky. Sam followed him and joined his sibling on the hood.
The evening was warm and the sky was lit up with stars unobscured by the lights of the city nor the roofs of houses. Sam had always found a sort of peace at watching the stars with his brother, even when the world was going to hell in a handbasket, this was one way they could always find themselves and regroup before heading off into the fray once again. He just wished Dean knew he was by his side.
Dean was silent for a long time, his glistening in the moonlight. It wasn't until a single tear began to fall from his eye that the silence was broken.
"God, Sammy....I can't do this anymore...I tried...I thought..thought I could be content with being a family man, thought I could let you go." Sam had heard Dean speaking to him before to himself as though he knew was right in front of him, but this time he sounded so hopeless, so lost that it clutched at Sam's heart.
"I thought I could have a family again...but truth is...Ben and Lisa aren't my family, it was all just a...a fantasy I had. You were the only family I'll ever have." Dean's voice began to break. "And now you're gone and I don't know what to do anymore. All I do know is that I can't keep this up. I tried to keep my promise to you, but I don't think I can anymore." Sam watched as Dean mindlessly fingered the shotgun in his hand in a way that gave Sam a sick feeling.
"All I wanted was for you to be happy, Dean." Sam responded, wishing like hell that Dean was Haley Joel Osment and could see and hear dead people. "But this is killing you, man and I hate seeing you like this." Sam shook his head, Dean had always lived his life for either his Dad or him and it wasn't fair what he had done to him. Dean needed to be able to live his own life the way he wanted to, whether that was living a 'normal' life or saving people and hunting things. "I wish I had never made you promise me you would settle down. It's not who you are...all your life you were weighed down with promises Dad and I forced you into...we should have never tied you down with them, because you always kept them...always. I'm so sorry for that."
Sam felt so helpless, he was watching Dean implode right before his eyes and it was all his fault. He needed some way to fix this and fix it fast.
Dean sniffed and wiped the tears from his eyes, his pain palpable by his little brother who only wanted some way to comfort him, but Dean was oblivious him. Instead, he slid back down the hood and blearily trudged back over to the driver's side door, pulling it open and sliding in. Sam was in a panic, worried that Dean might start off driving again while still so inebriated, but to his relief, Dean merely dropped the shotgun into the backseat and leaned his head against the window, looking back up into the night sky until his eyelids began to droop and he slipped away into a fitful sleep.
One of the fringe benefits of being a non-corporeal being meant that Sam didn't need to sleep. This allowed him to watch over Dean as he slept and gave him quite a bit of time to think. It sucked not being able to bounce ideas against Dean like he usually would, but he needed to save Dean from himself and the only way he could do that would mean he would need some way to communicate with his big brother.
But 'how' was the big question. So far all of Sam's attempts to reach his brother had just freaked him out and made him feel like he was haunted by some kind of polterguist. Sam thought and thought then thought some more until his mind began to wander for some reason to the movie 'Ghost'. He had tried what Patrick Swayze had tried; he had made objects move, and he had been able to interact, albeit somewhat limitedly with the world, but still full-on communication was just out of his reach. That's when the 'Duh' moment hit him. He'd been so stupid not to think of it before. Patrick Swayze hadn't been able to talk with Demi Moore until he met Whoopie Goldberg; a medium.
And if there was one medium in the whole world he could get through to he knew who it was and he had to find her.
Sam knew all of the kinds of sigils, hexbags and salt-lines that kept spirits from entering a home and he also knew that Missouri Mosley had each and every one all over her home. Thankfully, she hadn't moved from her home in Lawrence and he found her quite easily. The only problem would be getting inside.
A fresh line of salt covered the threshold to her front door and while he had had no trouble just going right on through normal, everyday doors, he was a little worried about this one. He wasn't sure what would happen should he cross the line. Would it burn him? make him explode into a cloud of vapor? He just didn't know. But, he figured there was only one way to find out.
Tentatively he lifted a foot and sent it forward through the door. When he felt no pain and he was still in one piece, he gave a little sigh of relief and passed on through the rest of the way.
"Well, what do you know." He shook his head in amazement. "maybe I'm not a ghost after all." Well, whatever he was, at least he couldn't be stopped by salt for which he was eternally grateful.
Sam snuck through the home like a ninja out of force of habit. Even though no one had been able to see or hear him for a coon's age, old habits died hard. He made his way towards the bedroom via the kitchen when suddenly a light flicked on a he whirled to see none other than Missouri standing across the room, a baseball bat in her hands and a feral look on her face.
"Sam Winchester? Is that you?" She was looking right at him, directly into his eyes, taking him aback. No one had looked him in the eyes in so long that he hardly knew what to do.
"You can see me?" He finally managed to sputter out.
"Of course I can, fool. Now what the hell are you doing in my kitchen at 2 o'clock in the morning? You scared the ever-livin' daylights out of me."
Morning sunlight streamed though the windshield, hitting Dean full on in the face and causing him to groan involuntarily. God, he was sleeping in the car again and last night's little bender was coming back to him in the form of a stiff-neck, headache and queasy stomach.
He grunted as he sat up and rubbed a hand over his face, feeling the prickly hairs of his stubble poking his palm. Damn, last night was still a blur, but one thing was certain; Lisa was pissed as hell at him and going back to her home may not be an option anymore. He was well and truly all alone.
But, if he had to be honest with himself, he had been alone since Sam jumped into that damn hole, he just sometimes wished that it had been him being used as Michael's meatpuppet instead of Adam, at least then he could have followed his little brother down.
Dean's darkening thoughts were interrupted moments into his internal turmoil when his phone began to buzz and ring in his pocket. He pulled it out and checked the called ID. Saying he was surprised to see who was calling was an understatement.
He flipped it open and cleared his throat before answering. "Hello?"
"Hello there, Dean." Came back the voice. "I know it's been years, but it's Missouri Mosely, remember me?"
"'Course I do...Why?...what's wrong?"
"Oh uh...well," She stammered a little. "This is going to a little hard to explain, Sweetie and even I'm not totally sure how this happened, but I need you to keep an open mind about what I'm about to tell you."
"Okay...what is it?" Dean could keep an open mind, heck he'd seen enough in his time to have a mind as open as the Mohave.
"Well..." She hesitated just before he heard her arguing to someone, but there was no other voice coming from the other line that he could hear. "Alright, alright...will you just let me do this? Sorry, Dean my guest here is more than just a little anxious for me to talk to you."
"Yes...uh...this is gonna be a little hard for you to believe, but I've got your brother, Sam standing in my kitchen with me."
Dean felt the color in his face drain away. "That's not funny..."
"Now, Dean I asked you to keep an open mind here."
"Sam's gone...he's dead. I saw him....I saw him jump into hell myself." He nearly shouted over the phone line.
"He's not gone...well, not completely anyway, he's not a ghost per se, nor any kind of spirit I've ever encountered before....what?" Missouri was talking to the air again and Dean was getting the sinking feeling that she wasn't quite sane anymore. "oh..okay.. uh, Sam wants me to tell you that it was him that you thought was a ghost haunting you and that it was him that somehow turned the radio on last night. Oh, and he also wants you to stop being a jerk and just listen to me."
Dean couldn't find the words to respond to the woman on the other line. There was only him in the car last night, even if she was psychic, he didn't think she could know about the radio suddenly turning on or the other things happening to him that had him convinced a poltergeist was after him.
"Dean?...Dean? you still there?"
"Sam has something else he wants me to say..." Again she spoke off to the side. "No, boy. I'm not cussing, you got it? Sorry about that but Sam's foul mouth has me wishing I could slap him. Now he wants me to make it clear that I tell you this exactly. He says 'Fu--screw the promise. He knows you're not happy and he doesn't want you to stay if it isn't what you want anymore. Oh...and he says to get your ass over here, he needs to talk to you so you two can find a way to get him back in his body."
"Where...where are you?"
"At my same home in Lawrence, you know where it is."
"I'm on my way." He shut the phone just before turning the key in the ignition and roaring the engine to life. He flat-out floored it, his mind set on only one goal. If any of what she had just told him was true and he believed it was, then it would be damn well worth it to break the land speed record in his old impala to get to her and Sam. And that's just what he did.
Lisa would understand. She always knew that Dean wasn't happy, that he only stayed because of the promises he made. While he made an oath to himself to explain it all to her and Ben, he knew there was no going back now as he drove further and further away. Something inside began to grow as the Midwest terrain flew by and the weight that had been pressing down on him, suffocating him was lifting with each mile marker he passed. He had something back he didn't think he would get back ever again and by the time he pulled into Missouri's driveway, he knew exactly what it was. It was hope and it was life and it was freedom and it was good to have them back.