A/N: I wanted to give everyone a little Happy Thanksgiving story offering a little hope. Of course, being me, the hope is well—let's just say Muffyed. This takes place immediately after 6.09, no real spoilers for the episode, but some for the season. The other day, for some reason, an old debate from my college days popped up and the seeds for this story were planted. They were there growing without me even realizing until they popped out this morning and said here we are, time for a debate on the nature of man. (Yes, I had way too much philosophy and theology in college.) Hang with me to the end. Obviously this will be AU after Sam gets his soul back which he will... right? Pretty please? Soon? Ahem. Thanks to Merisha, TraSan and Abni and yes TraSan, I am sending you my long- winded belief your way.
Thank you all. You are all one of the things I give thanks for. You have kept me going and writing and once or twice... well... I love you all.
A/N II: This is a little experiment in POV. Please be kind.
Measure of a Man
The wind is cold against my face as we sit on the Impala. I can actually feel Dean's warmth through the sleeve of my shirt, there is something solid there in his presence. The thing about hunting with the Campbells, there was never that presence beside me, never that pain in the ass that is Dean. Jiminy Cricket—how well he hit that nail on the head.
Of course he always has been. I wonder if he knows that. I wonder if he knows that he has always been my balance. Because soul or not, I have always been willing to do what needs to be done. He would be the first to deny it and I would say "Nancy", referring to a gentle secretary I had been willing to sacrifice and he will brush it off like he always does.
You know, I still remember his shock on that day a million years ago when he said we would have to kill Gordon and I agreed without a beat. I was supposed to disagree, stop him, and I didn't. I wonder if he's thought about that in the last few days or if he is just so caught up in the idea that it has to be my soul that is the problem so he overlooks everything else.
I've just about run out of ideas to drive him away. Short of killing an innocent in front of him, and making him kill me, and even then I am not sure he would. That is not Dean. Never has been. Even in those last moments when Lucifer was in control, he still... he still believed in me. It let me save him and as a side effect save the earth. That mattered less than saving Dean.
I've been letting him think the soul is the problem. I remember debating that in philosophy. Is it the mind or the soul that guides behavior? I always came down on the side of the mind. Everyone has a soul—Hitler had a soul. The mind lets us decide what is right and wrong and all of my calculated "wrong" is just not driving him away.
Dean is about family. I am family. Dean does not, will not back away from family.
I should have known.
Hell, I even told him I didn't care. I did everything I could to show him I didn't and still, here he is, sitting beside me, offering me a beer out of the battered Coleman cooler that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
"Dean," I finally say.
"I have all of my memories, all my intelligence." I pause, maybe that's the first time I have said my instead of Sam when talking about this.
"You keep saying that."
"Did you know there was this huge debate in the Renaissance about what made man a moral creature, the mind or the soul?" I look at him, his eyes are bright green, full of emotion. And, god, I want to react to that look, but I clamp down on the emotion again. It is getting harder and harder to do.
"Yeah, well I think we've found out the truth of that Mr. Let's-have-Patchouli-girl-sex while my brother is missing."
"I told you, I will try and keep you on the straight and narrow, Sam, but you have to listen," Dean says in his scolding voice. I almost smile, but this is not a moment for smiles.
"I..." Truth time. Maybe not having a soul makes telling the truth easier. "I always have."
"I always have, Dean. Remember that thing we were hunting just before I went to college. It hurt you."
I see the dark memory flash in his eyes. The moment he recalls me hacking the creature long past the point it was dead, rendering it into a piece of nothing. "You were protecting me."
"Yes." I look away, across the dead grass, watching the wind whisper across it. I once read a diary of a woman crossing the great plains, she said the wind in the grass reminded her of the rolling waves of the sea. Where did that memory come from?
"My god," Dean whispers.
I choose to ignore that, keeping up the pretense I have maintained since I first saved him from the djinn's poison and he hugged me, welcoming me home and all I wanted to do was bury my face in his shoulder and hide from all that had happen and was still happening. I grind my teeth together, like I did when he offered me the keys to his beloved car. A gesture I will never forget.
"Sam," his voice is even softer.
Still I look away,
Finally he grabs me, yanking me around and forcing me to look at him. I keep my face calm, half smile painted on it.
The stinging slap doesn't break me.
This time he meets my eyes in a way he hasn't since we were reunited. His hand tightens on my arm so tightly it is painful, actually painful. I hiss against the pain, but say nothing, still trying to maintain the farce.
"What?" I keep my voice calm, emotionless.
"You're protecting me."
"I don't know what you're talking about." I stop the hard swallow before it gives me away.
And that breaks me, that single word. Torture, beatings, angels shoving their hands into my body, nothing has broken me. That single word does.
"I don't want my soul back," I say. Dean's face falls, but I plow on, "Lucifer has a plan. When Crowley pulled me out, part of Lucifer burrowed its way into me. If I get my soul back, he is free again. I can't let that happen... I... Dean..." I sound like a child, begging for help, and maybe I am. Dean, help me. It was always my plea, maybe always will be.
"Is that why...?" He doesn't even need to explain what the "why" encompasses.
"It's not going to work." He looks away for a minute then back. "I'm not leaving. So get that out of your head right now."
"I will stop trying to get your soul back until we have a plan." He looks at me, all Dean, all the big brother I have idolized my entire life, and the man I need right now.
I nod. "I..."
"And drop the 'no soul' carefree Sam game, okay?"
I nod again.
"We'll figure this out, Sam. Doesn't matter what you did, we move forward from here. Hell is behind us both now."
What can I say to that? There is only one thing. "Thank you." I reach for him, like I should have on that day we were reunited and hug him.
Family. We will go on.