a/n: Hey there ! Long time no post. This is a one shot, an idea that hit me after seeing the very stunning Supernatural season five finale. Beware, it's emotional and might evoke a tear or two. Or many. Dean fights with his grief over losing Sam. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say he discovers a couple of things that push him to the brink.
For all you Zeppelin enthusiasts, the title of the story is from the song of the same name. Robert Plant wrote "All My Love" after his son died.
Dean could feel it from all the way across the room. Those dark eyes of Lisa's fixed on him. They were eyes of worry, of heartbreak, of frustration. He knew she wanted to help but didn't know how. He didn't know how to help himself.
"Were you up all night?" She asked.
"I got in a couple of hours." He knew that was a lie. Sleeping only brought back memories of Sam falling into that hole. Sitting on the couch all hours of the day flipping the remote and drinking wasn't helping either, but he didn't know what else to do. The grief was too overwhelming. He was grateful that Lisa was so patient with him and that she was there in support, but even she couldn't help pull him out of this.
He hadn't given her any reason to smile in the week he had been there and her concern was still too uncomfortable. He knew she was gazing at his slumped shoulders, unshaven face, red eyes, and somber expression. He often stared at his Dad like that after he came back from a long hunt and started on the whiskey for days straight. He didn't know Lisa that well, but he knew that look. "You don't need to worry about me," he said to her, not very convincing.
"I know Dean. It's just-"
Her heard her feet shuffle over to his location on the couch. His weary eyes met hers and she rested her hand on top of his. He loved how soft it was, so undamaged by the brutalities of life.
"Look, I know you need time," she said. "I can't imagine what it feels like to lose someone as close to you as Sam was. But you should get out, get some air. You haven't even driven your car in a week."
He wasn't sure he was ready to do that. The memories of everything that happened were still too thick. Not even the Impala could help him this time, even though he imagined she was hurting too. She was there, she saw the same horror he did. Truth is he couldn't bear the thought of that empty passenger seat. It hurt too much when he drove here. It still hurt.
"Wouldn't a short drive make you feel better?" Lisa asked.
He looked up and saw something different this time in her face, weariness. Guilt hit him a little, for he couldn't imagine this has been an easy week for her. "I'm sorry Lis. I know I haven't been too fun to be around. You want to come along?"
She gave him a bright smile. "Really? You've never taken me for a ride in your car. You sure you're okay with me being there?"
"I'm sure," Dean said flatly, even though he wasn't. He tried to convince himself it would be nice to have someone with him. "Where do you want to go?"
"You've been back and forth across this country thousands of times. I'm sure you know all the good places. How about some place private?"
Dean's face dropped. He ran his hand over his face, trying hard to prevent the rush of sorrow.
"Is it something I said?"
"No, it's nothing," Dean said pulling himself together. Sam used to say that exact thing when they had a day with nothing to do, but he wasn't ready to tell her that. Dean got up. "Give me five minutes."
"Okay," she replied with an uncertain smile. "Take your time. My mom's getting Ben after school. We've got hours."
Dean slightly smiled and went to splash some water on his face. Maybe a change of scenery would help relieve that aching pit in his stomach. He knew better though. Nothing was going to help right now.
Lisa sat in the passenger seat, in Sam's seat, gazing in wonder at the rugged beauty. "You've practically lived in this car your whole life?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Dean answered, running his thumb along the leather of the steering wheel. He remembered the time he almost lost her, the time he had to rebuild. He wished losing brothers worked the same. He noticed her unsettled glance as she ran her hand over the dash.
"I know, it seems awful, living like this," he said.
"No," she replied, dropping her hand to her lap. "I'm just trying to imagine what it was like, all that time on the road. It seems so lonely."
"It wasn't all bad," Dean answered with a slight smile. "Me and Sam, we were free to do what we wanted. It was nice." Dean's face dropped.
"No, that's good Dean. You know, that's the first time in days you've talked about Sam."
Dean nodded. He may not have talked about Sam, but his baby brother was all he could think of. He turned the key and closed his eyes, getting lost in the roar of the engine. It did feel good to hear that again.
"Cassette tapes?" she asked with surprise, looking at the player. She stopped saying anything more about the antiquated technology when Dean looked at her like he didn't see the issue. "What are my choices?"
"The box should be back there somewhere," Dean replied, pointing toward the back seat.
She nodded and turned around, sorting through other loose items to get to the box. She found it was under a camouflage bag. She picked the bag up and put in the front seat next to her, then grabbed the box of tapes. When she turned back around, Dean's pale white frozen expression alarmed her. "What is it?"
Dean couldn't answer.
"Dean, what, what is it?"
Dean's eyes began to well. "That's Sam's bag," he said softly.
Lisa looked at the back seat at the pile of things and it dawned on her. "Oh Dean, you haven't gone through Sam's things yet. I'm sorry." She returned the bag to the back seat.
"You know Lis, I've changed my mind. I'm suddenly very tired. Mind if we have a rain check on that drive?"
She gave him a comforting smile. "Sure thing."
Dean nodded, turned the key and felt his baby settle down. Maybe some rest would do him good. He just couldn't do this right now. He got out of the car, feeling comforted by the familiar squeak of the door. He then went inside and headed straight to bed.
Dean wandered into the hallway from the bedroom, feeling rested for the first time in weeks. Sure it was only a few hours, but it was restful. He still wasn't used to the idea of sleeping in a bed at someone's house, waking up alone without someone in an opposite bed. But for the first time since he arrived, he didn't dread getting up and facing the day. He didn't that was until he saw Lisa sitting at the kitchen table. She was weeping and stunned.
"Lis, what's wrong?" Dean asked, alarmed. He came over to see she was reading a typed manuscript, the name Carver Edlund on the front.
"I'm sorry Dean, this was delivered here. I opened it, not realizing it was addressed to you."
"It's okay. No one knows I'm here."
"Mr. Chuck Shurley does."
Dean's heart sunk. "What's in that?" He saw the title, "Swan Song." He guessed it was Chuck's latest pages and his and Sam's final adventure. He saw Lisa's shaking hand on top of the manuscript.
"How much did you read?" Dean asked.
"Every page," she answered. "I couldn't put it down." She pulled her hand up to her lips, trying to hide how upset she was.
An astonished Dean reached for the story from the table, but Lisa quickly grabbed it and jumped away. "I'm not sure you're ready to read that."
"What do you mean? What's in there?"
"How does this man know all that happened?"
Dean dropped his eyes, trying to find words to explain. He looked up to see scared dark eyes fixed on him now. "Chuck's a prophet. He knows details about us even we didn't know."
"He writes all of it down?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
Lisa turned around quickly, biting her lip and fighting back tears. Dean came up behind her and went to touch her shoulder, but stopped himself. "I know, its pretty upsetting-"
Lisa took in a deep breath. "How...I mean you and Sam..." She turned around to show the tears streaming down her face. "How can you recover from something like that? The things that must have done to your head. Are all the stories that bad?"
Dean's head dropped in deep sorrow. "Pretty much," he said softly. "After a while, we just tried not to think about it."
"I'm in there Dean. I'm part of that story. You coming to see me, that was Sam's last request?"
Dean's gaze met hers and he grabbed her hand. "No, it's always been my wish. Sam just knew it too and wanted me to stop wishing. I came here because I wanted too." He still saw how unsettled she was. "What else did you read?"
"Um," she said wiping the wetness from her face, "It's pretty upsetting. Sam really suffered after he said yes to Lucifer. It was pure torture for him until the very end. Then the car..." She broke into small sobs.
"What about the car?" Dean asked with shock.
"It, I mean she," she looked at Dean's troubled stare and gently handed him the pages. "No, you need to read this. You need to know what happened."
Dean's heart dropped as he took the story from her hand. The title jumped out at him, for it meant farewell. He was terrified, for he knew Sam was suffering enough now. He was afraid to read all that his brother went through before that. Still, something deep inside him told him he had to read this and read it now.
Dean nodded, eyes still fixed on the front page. "Um, if you don't mind, I'm gonna take off for a little while. Will you be okay?"
She stroked the right side of his face with her hand. "Of course."
Dean said thank you with an earnest glance and somberly turned away, finding his keys on the foyer table. He picked them up and held on tight, wondering where he planned on going. Then he remembered, he never needed a destination before. He just needed to drive.
He turned back to Lisa for a parting look and gave her a sad smile. Then he went out the front door.
Dean drove in a mindless fog, picking rural routes to drive so he could be as alone as possible. He glanced over to the passengerless seat next to him, the wounds of his grief still too raw. He deep down hoped one day he would see Sammy back even though his logical side knew God had decided. Or God had chosen to do nothing, it really didn't matter. Gone was gone no matter how it happened.
Dean came across a dirt road along the side and made a snap turn onto it. Something told him that was the path to follow. It was the same instinctive choices he and Sam would use during the days off. He was jostled by the bumps in the road and that made him smile. It felt good, being out on the open road again.
He wasn't sure how long it was before he turned into the abandoned farm property. The boarded up house, the half fallen barn, and a meadow that stretched for acres. This is what he was looking for. He pulled the Impala behind the barn and positioned her where he got the most serene view, a wide open shot of the field. The unkept property was rugged, wild, and lonely. It seemed like the perfect metaphor for his state of mind.
Dean grabbed from the back seat through the window the two items he needed; a bottle of whiskey and Chuck's story. He paused with a deep sigh, wondering if he was ready for this. He had to be for Sam's sake. He slid on top of the hood, looking out at the sunny horizon. It had been too long since he'd gone outside. Then he looked at the pages in front of him. "Swan Song, By Carver Edlund" he said aloud. With a deep sigh he opened the bottle of whiskey and turned to the first page. "Prologue." Within a minute of reading about the Impala, he was indeed smiling, just like Chuck imagined.
An hour later Dean was fixed in the same position on the hood, engrossed in the story as the evening sun lit the meadow. Sam was about to say yes and it was every bit as terrifying as when he experienced it. He took a swig of whiskey read on.
A little later Dean put down the manuscript, too stunned over the pages he just read. He instantly went for the bottle of liquor, chugging it down pretty good. "Oh Sammy," he said, "Why?" He wasn't sure what he would have done in Sam's shoes, but the story of Sam slaughtering those demons unnerved him nonetheless. So did the conversation through the mirror with Lucifer. That triggered the impulse for another drink. He noticed the sun was preparing for its descent onto the horizon. He went on, for there was plenty more to read.
When it was dusk Dean stopped, feeling like a thousand volts of electricity had gone through him. He didn't think he had any tears left, but he did. He grabbed the half empty whiskey bottle and ran his hand against the hood of the Impala. "Thank you baby," he said in shaken voice. "You saved us all. I'm sure Sammy is as proud of you as I am."
He finished the story via flashlight after the sun disappeared. When he was done he dropped the pages onto the hood, too numb to process anything. His glistening eyes looked upward to the twinkle of the emerging stars. He drank more and lost himself for the next few hours in the evening sky.
Eventually Dean decided to call it a night, realizing he was getting chilly and needed his jacket. He grabbed everything off the hood and went over to the back seat, opening the door. He threw the empty bottle and the story in the back and shined the flashlight into the backseat looking for his coat. He spotted the edge and pulled it out, only to watch Sam's bag fall over once his jacket broke free. The flashlight caught what fell out of the top and Dean's heart collapsed. "No," he said, too scared to confirm what he already knew it was. A rawhide string. "You didn't Sammy."
He took in a deep breath and reached for the rugged string, rubbing the leathery and worn texture between his fingers before having enough courage to pull. The rest easily flung toward him and he held up that familiar charm dangling from the string at eye level. Then it all hit him like a brick.
"Oh Sam, why?" Dean broke into uncontrollable sobs, clutching onto the amulet so hard it dug into his palm. He didn't care. He cried so hard just about every ounce of strength slid away. He crumpled against the Impala, resting his head and arms on the hood. Only he and his baby understood the vacuum of emptiness inside. The empty hole that could never be filled, the one missing Mom, the one missing Dad, the one missing Sam. He never wanted to be the last one standing.
"It's not fair," he said pounding his fist onto the Impala. The heavy sobs kept pouring from him, the sounds being absorbed by the vacant night air. Every bit of him ached but he continued to cry harder. All those memories, all those burdens of responsibility that he buried deep for years, all the angst, heartache, pride, love, it all surfaced in one giant explosion. He cried for loss, he cried for better times, he cried for all those they had saved and lost. They may have saved the world, but the deep personal cost left him shattered.
After a while the sobs began to die down and Dean ever so slowly pulled himself together. He loosened his grip on the amulet and put it around his neck. The memories swarmed him, putting the amulet on for the first time in Nebraska, putting it on when he returned from Hell after it had been on Sam's neck. He rubbed the charm between his fingers, feeling the bond and love that the trinket symbolized.
Dean looked upward at the spectrum of stars, wiping away the tears and feeling completely drained. He hoped whatever Hell Sam was in now he was remembering their times together. It saved him once before in that cemetery, maybe it would save him for eternity. "Keep on fighting Sammy. Dean went over to the front of the car, sat down and kept his gaze upward. He continued to cry all night.
Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time
His is the force that lies within
Ours is the fire, all the warmth we can find
He is a feather in the wind
All of my love, all of my love, oh, all of my love for you now
All of my love, all of my love, all of my love to you now
Dean listened to the worn out Zeppelin tape on the way back. He always played this song when he wanted to remember someone special. Robert Plant wrote this song after he lost his son. Ironically, it came out the year he was born. Dean had lost so many through the years but Sam was the one he always feared losing the most. This was the loss that he'd never recover from completely, but then again he never recovered from any of them. This song always reminded him of them. It was important for all their memories, especially Sam's, that he go on.
Dean passed the school bus on the way back, telling him what time it was in the morning. Before that he was lost in a haze, unaware of when it was. He pulled up in front of Lisa's house and walked through the front door. He still hadn't gotten used to that, entering without knocking. It didn't seem right yet. When his and Lisa's eyes met, she jumped into his arms relieved.
"I'm alright," Dean told her, holding onto her tight. He did feel better, worlds better. He needed that release desperately.
She noticed in the embrace the new piece of jewelry around his neck. "I remember this. You told me it was something very special."
"Yeah, well, I thought I lost it. I found it in Sam's bag," his upset voice trailing off on those last words.
She hugged him again, rubbing his back in comfort. "You found it now, that's all that matters. How long have you had it?"
Dean pulled away. "Since I was twelve. It was a gift from Sam." He looked at her curious glance and realized she needed more.
"Come on, let's sit down and I'll tell you the story about Sam and me at Christmas 1991."
She gave him a big smile and they went arm in arm to the couch. They got cozy together, Lisa's attention now with happy interest instead of worry.
"Dad had disappeared again for a while and Sam was getting suspicious, asking me all sorts of questions. All I wanted was to give him a normal Christmas, I wanted him to stay innocent a little while longer." He stopped to smile. "There was no fooling Sammy though, for he was pretty smart..."
They didn't stop talking until Ben came home.
a/n: Thanks for reading. Blame Eric Kripke for mucking with my emotional well being so bad I ended up writing this.