Disclaimer: I used to own supernatural, the boys, the Impala and everything else on the show. But then, the men in white gave me my meds and I had to take them.
Summary: Dean was not just his brother, he was the only person Sam cared about in this world. And he was determined to get him back.
A/N: Here it is. The last chapter.
Chapter 6. Dream On
Sam Winchester was a creature of routine. That was the only way he could maintain some semblance of control over his otherwise mess of a life. His brother might mock him for his OCD, but Sam knew that if Dean was with him right now, he'd appreciate it.
He had fallen into a hectic, yet somehow comfortable routine nowadays. Sam had taken up residence at one of Dad's old hunting cabins and each day had the same schedule. He'd wake up in the morning and check if Dean was fine. He'd then clean up Dean, emptying the catheter bag and wash him. He'd change Dean's bed-sheets and move his brother around to make sure he didn't get bed-sores. He'd make sure Dean's IV's were refilled, giving his brother the energy to survive. Then he'd begin his own day. Shower, breakfast, chores around the house, upkeep of Impala. Whatever time he had left after he'd spend it by Dean's side, either reading a book to his brother or watching TV. He'd talk to Dean for hours at an end, not bothered by how horribly one-sided the conversation was, till it was time for bed.
The doctors had declared Dean to be brain-dead. They'd said there was no more hope, that Dean's body was now just an empty shell, somehow surviving on its own without the life-support. What the hell did they know, right? It had been three weeks since Sam had gotten his soul back, three weeks since Dean had ended everything else and Sam was determined never to leave his brother again. Even if it meant that he had to live like this forever.
Carefully moving Dean to his own bed, to let Dean's sheets air out a little, Sam turned on the TV. He might have cut himself off from almost all human contact, but that was no reason not to keep an eye on things.
"In a stunning new development this morning, several of the missing persons in the Jackson County have been found." The newscaster said. "The authorities say that these people had been held captive by a group of vampires in an old warehouse. More from our filed reporter, Jonah McNally."
"Thank you Kat." The scene shifted to a man at a crime scene. "It has been three weeks since the stunning development that brought to light the existence of legendary creatures among us. As most of you are already aware, several individuals randomly dropped dead in many public places out of the blue. Though terrorist activity was suspected at first, these things were revealed to be, well, things. Autopsies revealed and continue to reveal, weirder and weirder DNA patterns. One such case occurred in Jackson County. According the hostages, they had been captured by a group of vampires who were using them as stored blood-supply, feeding off them slowly. They had been held captives for days, without food and water, until the fateful day three weeks ago, when all of their captors just dropped dead for no apparent reason."
I bet, Sam smirked. It was ironic that the moment the civilians found out about the existence of these creatures had been the moment they were wiped out of existence. Well, atleast it prevented mass hysteria from spreading among the general public.
It had been the same news every day. Just minors variations. Every creature they'd hunted, had fallen dead and their bodies lay there, rotting. Many of the species that had blended with the public, like the shapeshifters and skinwalkers and werewolves had been found almost immediately. Others that lived on the fringe, like the vampires, were being found one by one. If it hadn't been for the fact that they were all already dead, the world would've been thrown into chaos.
"You should see this Dean." Sam said to his unconscious brother. "You'll get a real kick out of it. Man, you broke Dad's first rule of family business in the most spectacular way. Hey, you think they are watching that old 'confession' of yours and dropping all charges against you as we speak?"
Sam wasn't bothered by Dean's silence.
"Yeah, since when did we get so lucky, huh?" Sam answered himself. "But man, if you would just wake up, you'll be the hero of this world. Bigger badass than Van Helsing, you know? Hey, did you know, Chuck's books have taken off. Become the new bestsellers overnight. All of a sudden, vampires aren't that cool anymore and hunters are all the rage. I actually tried to call him to threaten bodily harm if he even thinks about continuing the series. But he's nowhere to be found. Apparently no one else can reach him either. Yeah, I know, crazy right?"
On the TV, the report continued.
"I was horrible." One of the captives was saying. "They'd drag us out one by one and drink out blood. They even force fed me some of theirs. To turn me, they said. It was the worst thing I've felt in my life. Everything hurt and I could feel myself turning. Then all of a sudden that it just stopped." She shuddered. "I came this close to becoming one of them. I just want to say to whoever did this, thank-you. Thank-you for saving my life."
"But, as you just heard, we don't know who we have to thank for this miracle, yet." The reporter continued. "The authorities are baffled over what could have caused all these creatures to die spontaneously. The recently discovered underground community of hunters, people who have spent their lives secretly combating these creatures, have no explanation either. The local church, ofcourse, seems to have an answer."
"What we are witnessing here is a miracle of our heavenly father." A priest was saying, shaking a bible at the camera. "Let this be a sign to all the heathens and non-believers out there. God walks among us and he has shown us his wrath. He has done this to protect innocent lives. It is not for the first time. The people of Sodom were struck down the very same way. Let this be a warning to all you creatures of Satan out there. All you sinners and witches and homosexuals. Mend your ways. God is here and he is not pleased."
"You hear that Dean? Apparently, you are God now." Sam said. "That bible-thumper is just nuts. Hey, what do you think he'll say when he finds out that it was a Pagan Goddess who did away with all those monsters? With help from a man who drinks, has a lot of sex and actively hates God. Bet you could start your own religion now."
"But while it remains to be seen if God did, in fact, have anything to do with the extermination, the moral issues surrounding the complete eradication of so many species, seem debatable." The female newscaster was back. "Join us later for a debate on the subject between the spokesperson of newly invented 'Sentient Beings Rights activist' and an experienced hunter, Rufus Turner."
Chuckling to himself, Sam turned off the TV.
"Yeah, sorry, I forgot to tell you about Rufus." Sam said to Dean. "Well, apparently he was hunting a siren when all that crap went down. The siren had half the police force under its control was getting Rufus arrested. As soon as you dropped the bomb, the siren turned to its real from, in front of news cameras, no less. Since then, Rufus has kind of been in the centre of things. Hasn't had a moment's peace ever since."
Sam got up and adjusted the bed sheets around Dean.
"But man, can you imagine coming out and telling everyone what you did." Sam continued.
"You'd get so much tail. But you'll have to live your life under a microscope as well."
The sound of approaching car drew Sam's attention away. Bobby was finally here. Making sure that Dean was alright for the moment; Sam made his way out to greet the old hunter.
"Hey Bobby." Sam greeted. "Thanks for coming over here."
"You kidding me, I was glad to get out of there." Bobby replied. "That damn Rufus, he wasn't satisfied with going down alone, he had to take me with him. I couldn't take a step outside my house without being blinded by those bloody photographers. Meanwhile, there ain't a hunt in sight to distract me either. I've been going out of my mind with boredom."
"I thought you'd be thankful for a little peace and quiet after everything."
"Peace and quiet." The old hunter grumbled. "You come to my home and I'll show you peace and quiet. How's your brother doing?"
"He's fine. Stable." Sam answered. "Not talking much, but I guess that's to be expected."
"You are taking good care of Dean." Bobby said. "You are a good brother Sam."
"No, I'm not." Sam replied, sadly. "If I had been, it would never have come to this."
"What Dean did, were his own actions, his own choices." Bobby argued. "It ain't your fault your brother became what he did."
"Yes, it is, Bobby. Atleast partly." Sam replied. "If I hadn't been so inconsiderate towards him - ."
"You didn't have a soul."
"The problem started long before that and you know it." Sam replied. "In a way, we all caused it. We all kept telling Dean that he wasn't that good of a hunter, that the only way he could make something of himself was by saving others. Well, in not so many words, but Dean always though like that and we did nothing to correct him."
"Well, given what happened as a result, was that such a bad thing?" Bobby asked.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, look at what has happened, Sam." Bobby replied. "Dean ended up saving a buttload of lives."
"Screw you, Bobby." Sam said. "I would take Dean, healthy and whole, over all those people any day. I know it sounds selfish, but if Dean waking up right now would mean all those monsters coming back to life, I'll take it."
"Really?" Bobby asked. "Even with the way Dean has been for the past few months? All that hate and anger?"
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Sam shouted. "You keep saying that Dean is your favorite, but is he? Really? Or is it just when he is sacrificing himself for others?"
"Sam - ."
"You told Dean not to give up on me." Sam continued. "Even when I gave him every reason to do so, you chewed him out for even thinking that way. Why the hell are you so eager to give up on him?"
"I'm not giving up on him." Bobby shouted back. "I just wanted to know where your head was at."
"How could you even think that?"
"Dean did a lot of terrible things, Sam." Bobby explained. "He thought giving your soul back would kill you or worse. He killed your Dad. He killed most of your new family and I know you'd gotten close to them."
"Bobby, that was before I had my soul." Sam replied. "I was all screwed up then. I can't believe I stood for them treating Dean the way they did. They way Dad did. And I did the same thing to him. Dean has every reason to hate us. But all that doesn't matter to me. I mean, sure it might have hurt, but all I want now is for my brother to come back to me. I'll make it right with him because I love him. So much that if you ever give up on Dean, I swear Bobby, I wouldn't know how to even look at you anymore."
"I'm not giving up on Dean, boy." Bobby replied. "So, is there a particular reason you called me all the way out here?"
"Three weeks ago, after I got my soul back, I just booked it from there." Sam said. "In the hurry, I left most of our stuff back at the Campbell camp. And I happen to remember they had a lot of money back there too. Dean's maintenance isn't exactly cheap and I can't exactly go out and hustle pool. So I thought I could go there for the stuff while you look after Dean for a while."
"Are you crazy?" Bobby cried. "That place is ground zero for everything. It should be swarming with hunters right now."
"No, it isn't." Sam replied. "I checked. No one knows where it all started. I cleaned up the house before I left, burnt all the bodies there. So there shouldn't be any cops snooping around either. So, what do you say, you up for it?"
"Sure." Bobby nodded. "Show me the ropes."
Sam smiled in return and led Bobby inside the bedrooms to instruct him in Taking Care Of Dean 101.
"Who's there? Hands in the air. I've got a gun."
Sam cringed at the voice. He'd hoped to be in and out without anyone noticing, but apparently that wasn't going to happen. Sam got up from the safe, slowly, careful not to make any sudden noises.
"Relax, Christian." He said. "It's just me."
"Sam, thank God." Christian's relief was palpable. "Man, am I glad to have you back? Could you please tell me what the hell happened here?"
"Why the hell are you even here?" Sam asked back. "Why aren't you at the hospital?"
"They discharged me a few days back." Christian replied.
The fact that Christian hadn't been smart enough to close his eyes when Dean summoned Raphael's grace had worked in his favor, if you could call it that. His eyes had burnt out, but he'd been alive and unconscious. Arlene hadn't been so lucky, she'd died of internal hemorrhaging.
"And you are living here now?"
"Where else can I go?" Christian said, rubbing at the bandages that still covered his eyes. "It's been tough, let me tell you. A social worker comes everyday to make sure I'm alive. I can't find anyone from our family. Luckily, they left a lot of cash behind. I've been surviving on that for now."
Not anymore, Sam thought guiltily. He'd cleaned up the safe just minutes ago.
"So, now will you tell me what has been happening?" Christian asked. "Last thing I remember was that Crowley was about to kill Dean and that bastard was begging for his life."
Suddenly Sam felt a lot less guilty about taking all the money.
"Well, they're all dead." Sam replied. "Samuel and my dad and Gwen and Arlene, all of them."
Christian sighed and sat down on the nearest chair after groping for it a little.
"I figured as much." He said bitterly. "It's all Dean's fault, you know. That bastard killed all the creatures. I should have known that Crowley would kill us all as soon as he had no use for us. We should never have trusted that demonic bastard."
"You are right." Sam replied. "But Crowley didn't kill anyone. Dean killed him before that."
"You are kidding right?" Christian said. "Dean had an angel and a demon against him. There is no way he could've gotten out of that."
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Sam said, confused. "I mean, after everything Dean has done, you should realize what he's capable of. Dean is the best hunter in the world. Being blind is no reason why you shouldn't be able to see that."
"You are telling me Dean killed them all?" Christian said, enraged. "He killed our whole family? And Arlene, he killed Arlene? He did this to me?" Christian asked, pointing towards his eyes.
Christian controlled his breathing with difficulty. His were clenched and his face turned red.
"It makes sense now, why you left so soon." He said. "Don't worry Sam, we'll get him for this. Dean will pay for what he's done. Look, I know most of the hunters will see him as a God or a hero after what he has done, but they don't have to know about it right? I've contacted few of my old buddies and it seems that Dean hasn't told anyone about it. The only two persons apart from him that know this are us. We can use it to our advantage. If just tell others about him killing the rest of us, they'll help us hunt Dean down."
Christian had completely misunderstood the situation. Saving him had almost been an afterthought for Sam. After Kali had brought Dean back to him, explaining what had happened, Sam had taken his brother and rushed to the car to get him to the hospital. Only on hearing Christian's unconscious groan had he checked for his survival and taken him along. And even at the hospital, Sam had stuck around for four days, worried about Dean. He had completely forgotten about Christian after the emergency room. And thankfully, due to reigning confusion at the time, no one had reminded him either. Christian mistook Sam's shocked silence for assent and continued.
"But first we need to figure out how he killed the others. Crowley said something about a ring right? We need to get that away from Dean first. Don't worry Sam, the two of us, we won't let him get away with it."
"Dude, stop talking." Sam said. "Dean isn't getting away and I'm not tracking him. I'm staying with Dean right now. I just came back for some of my stuff."
"Don't lay it all on Dean." Sam continued. "We were all about to let him get killed. Hell, you'd have probably killed him yourself. Dad and Samuel, they were back from the dead in the first place. Gwen, she was going to try and kill Dean, no matter what. Besides, Dean didn't kill her, I did. And you and Arlene were too stupid not to have closed your eyes when the bright light started pouring in. I'm more surprised you survived till then."
"Why the hell are you with him?" Christian cried. "Sam, you can't trust Dean. Trust me, he'll try to force your soul inside your body and leave you broken."
"He gave me my soul back." Sam replied.
"And you are okay?"
"I don't understand." Christian said. "Sam you are so strong. You can survive a hundred years of cage with Lucifer without a scratch. Why'd you put up with Dean?"
Sam shook his head. Christian was right. He didn't understand. And Sam wasn't going to waste his time explaining it.
"Let it go." He said. "It's over."
"No, it's not." Christian shouted. "Dean took away everything from me. He left me a pathetic blind man who can't even take care of himself, let alone hunt and I have no one to take care of me. I thought – I thought that you came back here for me. That you were going to help me, take care of me."
"Why?" Sam asked, genuinely confused.
"Why? Because we are family." Christian replied. "Because I have been like a brother to you."
"You are not my brother, Chris." Sam said. "I already have a brother and his name is Dean. And you – you don't even compare to him. He is all the family I need and want. I'm telling you right now; don't even try to come after Dean. If you do, I'll know about it and then I'll kill you myself."
He should feel guilty, Sam thought as he walked out. He should feel guilty for what Dean had done to Christian. For what he was doing to him right now. But try as he might, he couldn't summon up an ounce of regret. It wasn't like Christian wouldn't have thrown Dean to the wolves if he'd gotten the chance. He'll, he'd already done that. The only thing Sam felt guilty for was ever giving Dean the impression that he'd liked Christian. For ever making Dean think that he thought of Christian as a brother. But he was going to make it up to Dean. As soon as Dean woke up (because there was no question of if, only when) Sam would make it right.
Bobby put down the newspaper as he heard the Impala pull in. good, he thought, the second idjit was back.
"You forgot your phone." Bobby said as Sam entered, referring to the latter's old number. "Christian left quite a few messages for you. Something about hunting you down for stealing his money."
"We needed the funds." Sam shrugged. "You got a problem with that?"
"Not really." Bobby replied. "Especially now that you can't exactly go hustling."
Bobby pointed to the newspaper lying on the table in reply to Sam's look of askance. Big bold headlines stared back at Sam 'The Pope Declares Supernatural Series As The Winchester Gospel'.
"What the hell?" Sam said, picking up the newspaper.
"Rufus let the cat out of the bag." Bobby explained. "When asked about his questionable involvement with the Winchester criminals, he said and I quote, "You don't know squat about the Winchesters. If you really wanna know, go read the Supernatural books." After that, it was only a matter of time."
"Did he - "
"No. Rufus didn't say anything about what happened after the apocalypse." Bobby replied. "Actually, he didn't say anything else at all. Some reporter snooping around Chuck's house found the unpublished manuscripts."
"Fantastic." Sam said bitterly. "Like our lives weren't already complicated enough."
"I agree. The recent developments have been most unsettling."
The occupants of the room jumped at the sudden intrusion of the angel of the Lord. Castiel, for his part, seemed to be used to such welcome.
"What the hell Cas?" Sam shouted. "Learn to knock."
"I'm sorry. I arrived in a hurry." Castiel explained. "I have been attacked."
"What? By whom? Demons?"
"I do not think so." Castiel said. "In my understanding, the photograph of Jimmy Novak has been published quite widely over the net. I was recognized."
"Bugger." Bobby said, sympathetically. "You got anything for Dean."
"Maybe. I'm not sure."
"Enough with the riddles, Cas." Sam said. "You said you couldn't heal Dean because his body was rejecting your grace. Now, have you found some way to, you know, shove it in him?"
"No. Our only chance lies in convincing Dean to accept my grace and allow it to heal him."
"Jee, Cas." Sam said, sarcastically. "If only Dean was awake and could hear us."
"If you'd let me finish." Castiel replied testily. "I'm trying to tell you that I've found a way to accomplish that. It's a potion made from African dream root and few other things. It'll allow us to go within Dean's mind. We have to go there and convince Dean to come back to us."
"Okay." Sam said. "So, what does this potion entail? Some complicated angel magic?"
"No. The procedure itself is quite simple. There is one problem though." Castiel explained. "Once we get in touch with Dean, our souls would have left our bodies completely. We'd literally be dead. And we wouldn't be able to stay connected to Dean for long. There is a limited time window in which we have to convince Dean to come back. If we fail during that time, we'd never be able to do this spell again and if we do not return by the end, we'd be trapped inside Dean forever."
"So, you are saying it's now or never?" Sam asked.
"So, basically like everything else in my life." Sam replied. "Great then. When do we go?"
"What the hell?"
Sam looked around, taking in his surroundings. He was in some sort of a motel room. A vaguely familiar one. Before he had the chance to look around for Bobby or Castiel, someone grabbed his collar and slammed him against the wall.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Dean snarled, inches away from his face. "You are not supposed to be here."
"Dean." Sam let out a breath of relief at the sight of his brother. "You are okay. You - "
Air rushed out of Sam's body as Dean punched him in the stomach. Another well-placed punch to the face sent him sprawling to the ground. A moment later, Dean was on top of him, whaling away.
"You are the one who is not supposed to be okay." Dean said, between the punches. "You are supposed to be a blubbering mess. Why are you okay?"
Vaguely, Sam became aware of Bobby and Castiel pulling Dean off him. Dean looked at them in turns, surprised.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"We'll tell you if you stop trying to bash my face in." Sam replied.
"Dean, we have come here to take you back with us." Castiel supplied. "You are trapped inside your own mind and you are rejecting my grace, so I can't heal you."
"Why are you here in the first place?" Dean asked. "Wasn't heaven supposes to seal itself?"
"Heaven has sealed itself." Castiel answered. "No angel or any other living entity can go in or out now."
"And somehow you can?"
"No." Castiel replied. "I did not return to heaven. I stayed behind with some of my brothers on earth. Right now, Joshua is in charge up there."
"Because of you Dean." Castel answered. "I did not wish to leave things like they ended the last time we met. I knew that you would need my help sooner or later."
"Well, sorry to disappoint you, Cas." Dean said. "But I don't need your help. I'm just fine where I am. And I suppose you were the one who healed Sam here."
"No, you did." Sam replied on Castiel's behalf. "Cas wouldn't know where to begin. But according to Kali, I'm alright because of you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Dean asked.
"Dean, Kali told you something about your soul right?"
"Yeah." Dean replied. "Like it was some sort of cosmic doormat."
"Really? Because that's not what she told me." Sam said. "Your soul is special, Dean. It can make those you love stronger. It can help them heal."
"And what does that have to do with you?"
"You wore me close to your heart for months, Dean." Sam explained. "My soul was close to yours for a long time. That helped me overcome all the damage Lucifer and Michael did to me down there."
"Jesus, I can't do anything right after all." Dean shook his head. "So, what's going on now?"
"What's going on is that you are trapped inside your body." Bobby explained. "After you pulled that suicidal move with the angel ring, you were supposed to be a piece of charcoal. But Kali saved you. She healed you, physically atleast. Something about you being like a devotee and her actually liking you. And she gave you back to us and told us to figure out the rest. Which we are doing right now."
"That bitch." Dean snarled. "I'm gonna kill her."
"Why? Because she saved your life?" Sam asked.
"Because she was supposed to end it all for me." Dean replied. "I don't want to exist anymore, Sam. I just want it all to be over."
"We are not letting you go that easy Dean." Castiel told him. "We are not giving up on you again."
"Because you would do the same." Sam replied. "You didn't give up on me."
"Are you really that delusional?" Dean laughed. "I gave up on you, Sam, I gave up on you long ago. I didn't give you your soul back because I loved you, I did it because I hated you."
"I don't believe that Dean." Sam said. "Somewhere, deep down, you still love me. Beneath all that hurt and anger, there is still a part of you that cares for me."
"Whatever gets you through the day."
"You can lie to me all you want and you can lie to yourself, but you can't lie to your own soul, Dean." Sam continued. "If you didn't still care about me, I wouldn't be okay right now. I'd be dead or worse."
"Whatever. I don't care." Dean said offhandedly. "You can spew all that love bullshit, bu tit doesn't matter anymore. I'm not coming back with you."
"Dean, please, listen to me." Sam begged. "This isn't what you want. You have never wanted this. Come back to us. I promise I'll make it all up to you. We all will."
"Yeah, like I'm gonna believe a word that comes out of your mouth." Dean said bitterly. "You left me Sam. Betrayed me over and over again. There is nothing for me out there anymore."
"And I'm sorry for that Dean." Sam said. "I wanna make it all up to you."
"You really think you can?"
"Just hear us out, son." Bobby interjected.
"Save it. I know what y'all are gonna say." Dean replied. "You are gonna tell me how family is supposed to be together, be there of each other. You'll tell me I'm being selfish and that I don't realize how much you guys need me out there. And then Cas is going to talk about how he fell for me, gave up everything for my sake and this is not the way he expected me to repay him. And then Sam, you are going to tell me how much you love me, how much you need me out there believing in you to be a better person. And you know what, all that is crap. You all just want me back to be your whipping boy again. Someone to make you feel good about your own screwed up lives. Well, I don't care anymore."
"You are messed up, kid." Bobby said.
"You are messed up." John's voice echoed from behind them.
All three of them turned around in surprise as John Winchester appeared from nowhere amidst them. John, for his part, didn't even seem to notice their presence.
"Go clean yourself up." John ordered Dean. "Then we'll go look for Sam."
"Yes, sir." Dean replied docilely.
"Dean, what - ?" Sam turned around in surprise and noted that Dean now had a split lip, a bruise forming on the cheek and held his are close to his body. "Dean, what is going on?"
"Now, Dean." John shouted. "Seriously, how do you expect to be even a halfway decent hunter when you can't even track a runaway fourteen year-old?"
"This is a memory." Sam realized. "This is the time I ran away from home. Flagstaff. Dean, did Dad do that to you? Did he beat you up because I had run away on your watch?"
"Welcome to my life Sam." Dean shrugged. "It has been one hell of a nightmare."
"You can't let him go on a hunt alone." Bobby's voice shouted. "He ain't ready for that yet. Probably never will be."
"How else is he gonna learn, Bobby?" John's voice replied.
They were at Bobby's house, all four of them. In this memory, apparently Bobby and John were arguing in the other room about Dean.
"You remember this one, Bobby?" Dean asked, sitting dejected at the table. "This is the one where you threatened to shoot Dad full of buckshot."
"Dean ain't like you or Sam." The other Bobby said. "He ain't strong enough to hunt alone. He's not smart or focused like that."
"Bobby?" Sam said horrified, turning towards the older hunter.
"That is not how it happened." Bobby replied, looking horrified himself. "I never said those things. I was telling John that you had just left and Dean wasn't ready to hunt. I told him that you needed your family, Dean. I was afraid that you'd do something stupid if John left you so soon after Sam had."
"That is not how I remember it." Dean replied.
"Bobby may be right." Castiel interjected. "We of all people should know that memories are subjective."
"What are you saying?" Dean asked him. "That I'm losing my mind?"
"I'm saying that what you remember may not have been what Bobby actually said. Or meant."
Dean glared at them for a moment and then the whole scene shifted. They were in an alleyway now. No one else on the street seemed to notice the two men in the dark. With a shock, Castiel realized that they were himself and Dean. It was the time after Dean had decided to yes to Michael.
"This is what I fell for? I rebelled for this?" The Castiel in the alley shouted at Dean, his words punctuated by thrown punches. "You pathetic waste of space. You are worthless. The only thing you are good is sacrificing your life for the sake of humanity and you can't even do that. I should throw you back to hell. That torture - that is what you deserve."
"No." Castiel shouted and started making his way towards the duo, but Dean interrupted him, ignoring the Castiel beating the life out of him.
"You can't do anything here Cas." He said, between spurts of blood coming out of his mouth. "This is my memory."
"This memory is a lie." Castiel shouted back. "Dean, you have to know - ."
But Castiel was cut off by a change in scenery once more. This time, Sam was alone with Dean in the Impala. They were parked outside a building and Sam could hear loud music coming from an apartment. He frantically looked around for Castiel and Bobby.
"They are around." Dean said in reply to his unasked question. "They are seeing this too."
"Where are we?" Sam asked. "Which memory is this?"
"Of course, you don't know." Dean answered. "We are in Stanford Sam. It's twenty-fourth January, 2003. The time when I stopped trying to call you because I finally figured out that you won't pick-up."
I'm sorry, Sam wanted to say. But he knew that it wouldn't matter. No amount of sorries would be enough.
"It's Jessica's birthday." Dean continued. "Well, Jessica's and mine, but only one of them mattered to you. Dad had completely forgotten ofcourse. And I waited for your call the whole day. When you didn't call, I thought I'd drive up here and try to convince you get atleast a drink with me. But you were – busy."
It was his party, Sam realized. The celebration going on upstairs was the surprise party he's arranged for Jess. All his life he'd never done anything more than buy Dean a cupcake and he'd thrown an entire party for a girl he'd just started dating. And all the while Dean had been sitting outside, alone. He hadn't even given his brother a call.
"Dean, I'm sorry." Sam said, finally finding his voice. "I know it's too little and too late, but I'm sorry."
"Like it matters now." Dean replied, turning away.
Sam made to grab his brother's arm, but instead his hands found Dean's throat. He was leaning over Dean's prone form, his hands squeezing the life out of his brother. Surprised, Sam drew back as if he'd just been burned. They were in a motel room again. The honeymoon suite where he'd left Dean, beaten and broken. Memory of what he'd just said rushed back to him, everything about Dean being weak and useless. Everything about almost killing his brother over a demon.
"Dean, stop it." Sam shouted, jumping back.
"You never said you were sorry for this, Sam." Dean said, without getting up. "You never apologized for this."
"Yes I did." Sam replied. "I know it's not enough, but that was the least I could do."
"No, not for this." Dean said. "You said you were sorry for letting out Lucifer. That you were sorry for trusting Ruby and the demon blood. But you never actually apologized what you did to me or said to me."
He hadn't, Sam realized. Somewhere in the myriad of apologies, he'd forgotten the one thing that should have mattered the most to him. To Dean.
"Would it have changed anything?" Sam asked. "I mean, I am sorry, Dean, I really am. But you should have known that, right?"
"It just confirmed what I always thought." Dean replied. "That you believed those words to be true."
"They are not true, Dean Winchester." Castiel said from beside Dean. "You are not weak or worthless."
"Listen to him boy." Bobby had appeared again, right beside Castiel. "These memories, they ain't right. That is not how we see you. You mean so much more to us than you think yourself to."
"Is that right?"
"Dean, please, come back with us." Sam begged. "We won't ask anything of you after this. You can live your life however you want. If you want all of us never to speak to each-other again, we will do it. If you want to leave us all behind, we won't stop you. Just, come back to us, okay?"
"No." Dean replied, steely-eyed and resolved.
"Sam." Castiel said in a warning tone.
Before Sam could respond, the room began to shake. Like an earthquake, but the trembling just kept getting worse.
"Sam, the bond is about to break." Castiel explained. "We have to get out of here, now."
"Screw it." Bobby shouted, frustrated. "Just drag Dean outta here."
No sooner than the words were out of his mouth, the three of them were thrown back against the wall.
"Seriously?" Dean said, casually getting up and sitting down on the bed. "You guys can't do squat here. My mind, remember?"
The trembling was getting worse. Bits of plaster and room fixtures started falling to the ground.
"Sam, we have to go now." Castiel shouted above the roar, dragging Bobby to the door – their way out.
"Not without Dean." Sam shouted back.
"Sam, I didn't tell you about the last part of the spell." Castiel said. "About its true purpose."
"I already know Cas." Sam replied. "I researched the spell."
"Then tell me Sam, do you think you can really serve any purpose by staying behind?" Castiel asked.
Sam looked at his brother once more. Dean was looking at them scornfully, seemingly enjoying their panic. He himself was surprisingly calm for someone whose world was literally falling apart.
"Get lost Sam." Dean said. "I never want to see your ugly mug again."
Dejected, Sam averted his eyes, turning away from his brother.
"No, I don't think I can convince him to get out of here." Sam replied. "Let's go, Cas."
Castiel and Bobby were already beyond the door. As Sam stepped outside, he heard a pained grunt from his brother. A piece of plaster had dislodged from the ceiling and fallen on Dean's shoulder.
"Sam, no." Castiel shouted, but it was already too late. Sam rushed back into the room, slamming the door behind him. He threw himself bodily over his brother, his large frame covering Dean completely.
"What the - ?" Dean started asking.
"It's okay Dean." Sam replied, smiling. "I promised I wasn't gonna leave you again. I'm here now and I'm not going anywhere."
Sam ignored Dean's startled silence beneath him. He ignored the room falling apart around him, on him. He ignored it when the plaster turned into bricks and concrete and started crushing him alive. All he was aware of was the fact that he was with Dean again and he wasn't going to leave.
"AARRRGGHHH." Sam screamed. "Dean, please. Stop."
"Sorry, Sammy." Dean replied. "You missed your chance to get away."
It had been a long time – weeks, months, years – Sam didn't know, since he'd closed the door behind him. And Dean, well, he'd spent the time taking out the years of pent up anger and frustrations on Sam. He was currently strapped to the table with Dean's scalpel cutting him open from chest to stomach.
"Castiel was right." Dean said. "You should have run away the first chance you got. Like always."
"I'm not leaving you again Dean." Sam replied between pants. "I promised."
"And now you are gonna pay for that."
Sam screamed as Dean once more went back to work on him. How long had he been on this table? How long had he been suffering at Dean's hands? Sam had given up on keeping track of time days ago.
"Please, stop it, Dean." Sam begged, crying. Like he had so many times before. "You don't have to keep doing this."
"Don't act like you don't deserve this." Dean replied.
Did he, Sam thought. At first he'd convinced himself he deserved whatever punishment Dean decided to meet out. But he didn't. Not really. And he had the choice of ending it whenever he wanted. He had been going through this for a different reason altogether.
"No, I don't." Sam said to his brother. "I don't deserve all this. I know I haven't been the best brother to you, but I haven't been the worst either. I always loved you, Dean. I'd have died for you. Even when it looked like I didn't, I still cared for you. I don't deserve this from you."
"Don't you dare say that, you son-of-a-bitch." Dean screamed. "I gave you everything. Everything."
"I know. And what I gave back just pales in comparison." Sam replied. "But it wasn't nothing."
"So I'm the bad guy here?" Dean asked. "Because I'm putting you through things you don't deserve."
"No, Dean, you are not the bad guy here." Sam said. "Because you didn't deserve a lot of what you were put through either. You had it bad, Dean, with me and Dad and everything and I wasn't there to help you through it. Like I should have been. But I'm here now."
"You are here because you can't leave without my permission." Dean snarled. "As soon as I let you go, you'll bolt out of here."
"No, I won't, I promise." Sam replied. "But you can't really trust me, can you? So go ahead, Dean. Get it out of you. Let all the anger and rage out, because I can take it."
"A minute ago you were begging me to stop."
"I want you to stop." Sam replied. "But I don't want you to bury that anger either. Not again."
"What is this, Sam?" Dean asked, confused. "Some sort of ploy to get my forgiveness?"
"I don't care about that, anymore." Sam replied. "I don't care about leaving either. All I want is for you to be a little bit like before. For you to be happy. And the only way I can help you do that is like this."
"You are saying you want to be tortured?"
"I'm saying that you want to torture me and that's okay with me."
"Because every moment you spend torturing me," Sam replied. "is a moment you don't torture yourself."
"Think about it, Dean." Sam said. "Ever since you started on me, you haven't had a single bad memory from your life. If that's the way it's gonna be, then go right ahead and continue. I'll forgive you anything"
Dean stepped back in shock for a moment. Then his face distorted into a snarl and he jumped back on Sam.
"You bastard." Dean shouted, his thumbs digging into Sam's eyes. "Now you say this? After I spent a lifetime wanting to hear those words from you, till the day I finally gave up. Now that all I care about is hurting you so much that you'll hate my guts, now you say that?"
"I'm sorry." Sam screamed, feeling the hot sticky tears flowing down the sides of his face. Blood, he dimly realized, not tears. "I'm sorry, Dean, I should have done this sooner."
Abruptly, Dean let Sam go. Opening his eyes, Sam realized that he was completely healed. And free from restraints. They were in another motel room once again. Dammit, Sam thought, he should have kept his mouth shut.
"Dean, please, don't start again." Sam said.
"Relax, Sam." Dean replied. "This isn't a bad memory. I brought you here to show something."
"Where are we?" Sam asked, confused.
"In a motel in California." Dean replied. "Near Stanford. It's October, 2005."
Sam looked around and saw a calendar on the wall that verified Dean's statement.
"I wanted to show you these." Dean said, throwing a bunch of papers at Sam.
They looked like – research. They were weather maps of areas near Stanford, showing some sort of disturbances.
"What is this?"
"Electrical storms. Omens. Signs of demonic activity." Dean replied. "I was here working up the nerve to ask you for help and I decided to check out the area for any unusual activity."
"What are you trying to tell me, Dean?" Sam asked, still confused.
"That I knew something was wrong here before I came to get you." Dean explained. "I knew and still I dragged you away from Jessica. I knew that if I told you that there was danger in the area, you would never agree to leave Jessica unprotected. You'd never come with me. So, I didn't tell you and that got her killed."
Sam's mind reeled at the revelation. Suddenly he found himself feeling weak in the knees and fell back on the bed. Dean knew. Dean knew that the demon was coming and he didn't tell Sam. Maybe not directly, but in a way Dean had caused her death as well.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"What about now, Sam?" Dean smiled mirthlessly. "Do you still love me now? Would you still go through hell for me, knowing what I let happen to the one person that mattered most to you? Would you still forgive me anything?"
Dean wanted Sam to hate him, Sam realized. Not just that, he needed it. He needed it because otherwise, the shell he'd built for himself would come crumbling down. Dean had shut himself away from everyone, locking himself away in eternal torment and misery, because he was afraid. He was afraid that if he let the guard down even for a moment, if he let Sam back in, he'd be hurt again. And he knew, as did Sam, that Dean would never recover from that. Not again.
"Dean, it doesn't matter now." Sam told his brother. "If you are looking for forgiveness, I forgive you."
"What?" Now Dean was confused.
"Jess isn't the most important person in my life anymore, you are." Sam continued. "I'm not gonna leave you over a memory of her. And even if she was here, even if all of them, Jess, Mom, Dad, Bobby and the whole Campbell clan, if they were on one side and you on another, I'd pick you. I told you Dean, I'm here for you and I'm not going anywhere."
"Jesus. And they call me pathetic." Dean said, angrily. "Fine. You get your wish. I forgive you."
"You heard me. I forgive you. I'm giving you permission to get the hell out of here." Dean said. "Go ahead. Summon a door. Get out. Tell Bobby and Castiel that I forgive them too. Go live your life, Sam."
Dean looked expectantly at the wall to see if a door appeared there. It didn't.
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Sam said. "I'm not leaving you. You are stuck with me."
"C'mon, Sam. I'd have killed you if I could." Dean said.
"You could, Dean. You can kill me any time you want." Sam replied. "You didn't want to."
"What do you mean?"
"Remember the thing Cas was talking about when he left." Sam explained. "The real purpose of this spell is to bind souls. My soul became subservient to yours the moment I decided to stay."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you hold my life now." Sam said. "You can get us out of here if you want, but even after that, you'd hold power over my soul. Basically, you can kill me with just a thought."
"Jesus, Sam." Dean shouted. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"Because I didn't want you to kill me."
"That would have been more merciful." Dean said.
"Yes, but then you'd be alone." Sam replied. "Besides, Dean, your knowing didn't matter. If, during all this time, you really wanted to kill me, I'd be dead. You never wanted me dead Dean, you just wanted me to care about you like you did."
Dean pushed himself away from his brother and turned towards the wall. With nothing else to do, Sam looked at the maps in his hands once more. Something clicked in his mind as he saw the lower corner of the photograph.
"And you just lied to me." Sam said. "This map is dated 31st October, the day you came to get me. No way you got these on the same day as they were taken. This isn't before Jess died, it's after, when we were researching what could have killed her." The calendar on the wall mustn't have been changed. "Jesus, Dean, why would you try so hard to push me away?"
"Because I can't trust you." Dean replied. "I'm tired, Sam. I'm tired of hating you. Of being angry. I want to trust you again. I want to love you like I once did. But - ."
"But you are afraid of getting hurt again." Sam finished. "I'd say that you hold my life with you, but we both know that that's not gonna matter. You'd never use that against me."
"So here we are then." Dean said.
"I know you don't trust me." Sam said. "I know I don't deserve it either. But I'm willing to work for it. And I get that you might never trust me again ever, that you might spend the rest of our lives keeping an eye on the door waiting for me to leave, but I'm not gonna let that stop me from trying. We don't have to go back. We can stay here Dean, together, forever. Here or out there, with me or without me, I just don't want you to be miserable and lonely."
Silence reigned in the room for few minutes as Dean thought over Sam's words. Finally, Sam was at the place Dean had been all his life. It had been a miserable place, but there had been something else there too. Dean's mind went back to the words his other self had thrown at him all those months ago. He was never going to be happy. That was not his fate, but the way he was now, atleast he wouldn't get hurt anymore. But what if he could be happy? What if he did let Sam back into his life and his heart and it turned out to be better than he could imagine. Sam was certainly promising that. Dean looked up hopefully, but at the sight before him, his heart sank.
"You are going to leave." Dean said, dejected.
"No, I'm not." Sam replied.
"Yes, you are." Dean jerked his head towards the side. Sam followed his eyes to the wall and saw a door standing there. Their way back out.
"Dean, I didn't bring this here." Sam told his brother.
"C'mon, Sam. You are the only one here." Dean replied. "Who else could have brought this?"
"You, Dean. You summoned it." Sam answered. "Don't you get it, Dean? You are finally ready to get out of here. To make a fresh start. You want to live again."
Did he? He was certainly hopeful. He wanted a better life. And this, trapped in his own memories, like heaven only much less nice, wasn't being alive. If he went out, he could start over. Begin a new life with Sam.
"I'm not sure Sam." Dean said. Suddenly he was terrified at the prospects opening before him. "I'm not sure what will happen when I get out."
Dean felt his brother stand beside him. Sam took Dean's hand into his own and gripped it firmly.
"Don't worry, Dean." Sam said reassuringly. "I'm not gonna let anything bad happen to you."
The first thing that registered in Sam's mind as he groggily made his way back to consciousness was Castiel standing between his and Dean's beds. Second thing was Bobby sitting at the foot of his, looking worried. Third was the fact that he felt incredibly hungry.
"Unhh. How long?" He asked Castiel.
"Almost a month." Castiel replied.
A month? He had been inside Dean for a month? They must have built a church in their name by now. Sam shot up from his bed and ripped out the IV fluids that were undoubtedly keeping him alive. He looked over at Dean's bed to see his brother was already awake, eyes wide open and staring at the ceiling. Sam rushed to his side immediately.
"Sam?" Dean said, still a bit out of it. "I feel tired. Really tired."
"It's okay Dean." Sam said. "Just rest. After you have eaten something. You need to get your health back on track again."
Contradicting his own instruction, Sam gently slid his arms under his brothers and behind his back, lifting Dean and enveloping him in a hug.
"You can rest all you want." He said, rubbing soothing circles on his brother's back. "We got no place to be. We can do whatever we want now."
Sam was aware of Dean weakly trying to return his hug. His brother was not back to his full strength yet. Two months of starvation would do that to you.
"Guys. Bobby. Cas." Dean said, softly, to everyone in the room. "I'm really sorry. I'm sorry for everything."
"You have nothing to apologize for Dean." Castiel replied.
"He's right, son." Bobby added. "You just focus on taking care of yourself."
Sam felt Dean relax against him. They would feed him later. Soon, though. They would stuff him full of his favorite burgers and pies and then they were going to find the softest bed for him to sleep in. But not just yet. For now, Sam was going to revel in the moment of getting his brother back.
Alright. All done. This was the final chapter of this story. Now I can finally start on the new idea I have been so hung up upon. I hope you all liked this one. Tell me, please.