Hey y'all :)

This is another (*cough* depressing *cough*) one-shot set just in time for Christmas. It's rated a little higher due to one F-bomb. Of course, it focuses on the brothers and their wonderful dynamic - plus there's a lot of chick-flicky moments and crying. After all, "the best parts are when they cry", right? ;)

Summary:- AU post-5x22. It had been several months since Sammy had jumped into Lucifer's cage, and Dean had done what he promised to do. However it seems that, no matter what they did, an apple-pie life would never be an achievable goal for a Winchester.

As bad as it sounds, hopefully this fic will make you cry a little bit. The scenario is something that would make me have a serious mental breakdown if it ever happened on the show (so I hope it never does). But, if 5x22 had been the last ever episode, this is what I think would have happened afterwards.

I wrote this listening to 'Time' by Hans Zimmer from the Inception (awesome film!) soundtrack, so I think it helps if you listen to it when reading :).

Anyway, too much rambling, I hope you all enjoy it! :D


He was still awake. He could feel his consciousness waning, like a flame about to be cruelly snuffed out, but he was still awake. Somehow, in God's absolute fucking cruelty, he was awake.

A choked splutter ignited in the back of his throat, exploding into a coughing fit that would have made an asthmatic proud. Occasionally, the wet hacking was punctuated by painful gasps; ones that forced his back to arch in an attempt to draw in precious air. The cycle continued, even when something warm, damp and definitely not saliva dribbled down his chin.

Oh shit.

Limply, he allowed his head to start drooping forward, only to be halted by searing pain along his chest and left side. A scream rent from his abused throat but was instantly muted, fading into weak whimpers whilst he held himself in that exact position, scared to move. His vision was blurring to the point where he could hardly focus on the splintered and blood-stained windshield ahead of him.

What? As though in answer, a pulsating throb thrummed along his hairline, stealing his sight again. Right, I see. Had the pain not been so intense, he liked to have thought that he would have scoffed at the self-ridiculing statement.

The weaning vision finally returned after the application of what little willpower was left and he gasped, feeling as though he had just sprinted a mile. Chest still heaving while crackling breaths struggle in and out, he somehow managed to focus on the delicate snowflakes through the spider-web cracks in the glass. He remembers now; winter, almost Christmas. It had been a few years since they had a White Christmas – just him and his brother, and some rather pungent egg nog.

His laboured gaze dropped to what seems to be compressing harshly against his ribs, breaking them and moulding them into impossible positions. The steering wheel – although arguably not much of a wheel anymore – had been crushed inward on its left side, then compressed further into his body. The door, he knew without looking, had become an additional limb wedged somewhere into his torso. It should have hurt a hell of a lot more than it did, but as it was, he was grateful for the numbing ability of shock.

All he felt was the bitter pang of loss. His baby, his precious baby, had been totalled.

His mangled chest chose to lock again and, pinned by pain and metal, he was unable to manoeuvre to grant a reprieve. Seconds ticked on endlessly as he fought to breathe, his flesh on fire as he shifted involuntarily against his prison. Eventually, his broken ribs moved again and, despite the pain the agony brought, he gulped down the air desperately.

A noise – music, he reasoned – whispered into his ear and it takes him far too long to realise that it was the radio. Absently, as his eyelids flutter on the verge of oblivion, he wondered how the only thing to endure of his beloved baby was perhaps the easiest object to replace: Figures.

"All is calm, all is bright..."

A light frown coveted his features as the lyrics wound around him. It was a familiar song, of course, but he couldn't remember where from. It had something to do with Christmas. It's nearly Christmas. It was something to do with it...

The darkness beckoned him again and, too weak to keep fighting, he relented. He was drifting weightlessly. The feeling was interesting; a lot like being drunk but without the threat of killer hangovers the next day. He decided that he liked the sensation and relaxed, content with floating in nothingness for the time being.

His eyes snapped open in an instant and he cursed his lack of restraint; he was content with the comforting dark where he could feel drunk but not actually be drunk.

The radio had been turned off. That was the first thing he noticed. The second was that the destruction was gone and the Impala was as pristine as ever; exactly as she should have been. Thirdly, there was no pain. Glancing down at himself, he ran his hands over his torso, so certain that only a minute ago there had definitely been something sticking into his chest.

Was I dreaming?

Eyes flitting around with a blatant 'what the hell' expression on his face, he found himself voicing that sentiment. Slapping his palms on the steering wheel – now actually a wheel shape – he shook his head, grasping the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "I gotta stop watching The Twilight Zone."

Out of the driver's window, there was a distinct lack of snow and the two-lane asphalt was disturbingly empty. But also, he noticed with alarm, somehow an entire woodland had managed to materialise itself around him. Last time he checked, he was in Indiana on his way home through town. He squinted harder at the trees, trying to ascertain what was so creepy about them; well, besides the fact that they seemed to be freaking glowing.

Twisting to glance skyward through the now undamaged windshield, he studied the bright full moon with unease. Even if it did account for the glowing trees, he knew that the moon was never supposed to be that big. And, he was sure it had been a new moon tonight...

A high-pitched wail made him flinch; his head smacking none too gently against the side window whilst his hand smashed down on the wheel, in a useless karate chop action. Turning to the passenger seat, the apparent source of the noise, his eyes widened considerably. Because, beyond all sense of reason, there was a baby in a child's seat beside him, crying sorrowfully and reaching out with chubby hands toward him.

He opened his mouth to speak, but then realised that he had no possible words to clarify this situation. Instead, sending a fleeting look around him and searching for any sign of a parent who had had the bizarre urge to abandon their child in his Impala, he sighed. Great...

Reaching for the handle to the Impala, determined to find the useless parents of the screaming kid beside him, he shoved on the door. As it began to creak open, the noise seemed to cause an instantaneous increase in pitch of the baby's screaming and he hastily closed it again.

"Hey, kiddo," he soothed softly, leaning over the red-faced infant with a comforting smile. "Ssh, it's okay. I'm not going anywhere. It's okay."

After a few calming whispers, the baby began to quieten, blinking deep eyes up at him. Frowning, he gazed into them, noting the splashes of green that nestled within the brown and he found himself wondering why they seemed so goddamn familiar. Pausing in his ministrations, he tilted his head in contemplation, only for the child to mimic him. Quirking an eyebrow, he tipped his head the other way. Sure enough, the baby copied, emitting a joyous giggle in amusement.

As freaked out as he was, he had only ever known one baby with the strange ability to be able to learn and mimic his every action. But it couldn't be. It didn't make any sense. Swallowing, the child's eyes watching him with an uncanny intelligence, he murmured.

"Sammy?"

A harsh thud at the Impala's driver side door jerked him around until he was staring suspiciously out of the window. There was nothing there, but his hunter persona was wide and alert, his muscles coiled and body tense like a bowstring. After a further few seconds of nothing but silence, Dean loosened the tightness of his frame, turning back to the baby. He recoiled upon finding no sign of the child or the seat that had been there before. "Sam?"

Another thud, although this time it sounded more like a knock, rapped on the door and tentatively, he shifted over to it. Steadily, he levered the door open, eyes easily locating a small mop of chestnut hair waiting for him. When the opened door widened to a certain width, the tiny child lunged forward with such speed that even he, a relatively renowned hunter, stood no chance.

"Deanie!" Tiny arms encircled his waist, latching on and squeezing so tightly that he was afraid his liver would rupture. "I finds you, I finds you!"

Dumbfounded by the declaration of the currently bouncing toddler, and even more puzzled as to the use of such an old and detested nickname, Dean remained immobile. He could only hope that the four-year-old's impossibly strong grip would loosen before he was, to put it bluntly, squeezed dry.

Luck, it seemed, was on his side as the miniature child pulled back; wide beam and adorable dimples on full show. The sight hit him like a speeding truck, his breath catching in his chest. It had been a long time since he had seen his little brother, and even longer since he had seen him when he was actually little.

"I finded you. You din't tink I would but I did!"

"Uh..." the wide puppy dog eyes were gazing up at him, expecting an answer. His mind worked furiously, vaguely remembering a time when he could have found the right words in seconds. It had been too long since he had been looked up to in this way. "Yeah, good job Sammy."

The cute toddler, because damn it all there was no other way to describe him, chuckled before darting back away from him. The absence of the small arms around his abdomen struck him instantly and he rose to his feet, glancing down at the tiny version of his brother.

"Your turn to finds me now!"

Then Sammy was running away from him, feet slapping against the asphalt until he disappeared into the vast woodland. His heart warming giggles drifted back to the frozen elder brother, until a fierce protective awareness made its presence known. "Sam! Sammy, wait!"

With height and strength on his side, Dean chased closely after the wayward child, glancing in desperation around the eerie trees for any sign of him. In his bout of so familiar brotherly protection, he did not even consider that Sam had not been a toddler for many years; even less so, the fact that his little brother was dead.

The ethereal moonlight cast itself in a shattered spectrum across the ground and, with no boy beside him as proof of his success in his search, Dean drew to a stop. Breathing rapidly – an action that had nothing to do with physical exertion – the elder Winchester grasped at his cropped hair, the emerald orbs worried as they scanned the surroundings.

"Sammy, come on," he hissed, releasing his hair and pivoting on the spot, pausing each second upon mistaking a shadow for the runaway child, "where are you?"

"It's Sam."

With startling agility, Dean's head snapped around to discover a boy leaning casually against a tree behind him. The kid looked to be around ten years of age, although when it came to Sam who had taken until the age of fifteen to reach his growth spurt, the elder brother's estimate may have been a little sketchy. Nevertheless, despite the rebellious tone, with much too long hair that fell into his eyes and the sweet-natured expression coupled with trademark dimples, it was undoubtedly the same person that Dean had just been chasing.

"S-Sam?" He really wasn't sure if he should phrase it as a question – the person before him truly couldn't be anyone else. Trying to control the waver in his tone, he spoke again: "Sam."

A frown creased the boy's forehead at the vulnerable tone and he straightened. "Dean? Are you okay?"

"Am I okay?" the elder brother barked, giving way to sharp hysterical laughter. Again, through the confusion that crushed down upon him, he tugged at his hair, absentmindedly wondering if he would end up bald by the end of this peculiar night. "I don't..." With wide crazed eyes, he held Sam's gaze with startling intensity. "Am I going crazy? Is that it?"

The boy's own eyes narrowed as though assessing if Dean was pulling some stupid big brother prank on him. Tilting his head to the side in the familiar puppy action, he spoke with hesitancy, choosing his words carefully, "Well, I always thought you were a little mad, if that's what you mean."

A scoff fell from Dean's lips and Sam relaxed instantly, a gentle smile quirking at the corners of his mouth. "The hunt's over, Dean. Before you decided to go all head case on me, we were on our way back to the Impala, remember?"

Without waiting for him to answer, the younger brother turned and began to stroll away into the trees, missing Dean's amused expression falter entirely until he looked utterly torn. Because none of this could be real... could it?

Dragging himself tiredly from his thoughts, Dean began to follow the young boy back through the intertwining trees and towards the Impala. As he walked behind his brother, so close to Sam that he could easily reach out and touch him, he wondered if he should. Would he even be corporeal – a word that Sam had always been so keen on using, college boy that he was - or would his hand sink straight through? Peering at the brown jacket that Sam wore, his green eyes glinting brightly against the moon's glow, he internally found himself asking: Are you just a figment of my imagination?

The crunch of gravel beneath his feet awakened him to the fact that they were back on the road. Glancing over his brother's mop of dark hair, he studied the Impala: undamaged, untouched and almost otherworldly looking in the moonlight.

Sam turned towards him, instantly becoming the focus of his scrutinising stare and Dean recoiled. He was stunned by the small signs of maturity that had somehow developed on the boy's face through the duration of their walk. Impossibly, within minutes, his brother had aged by a few years. Beneath the heavy set fringe - one that Sam was forced to keep brushing out of his eyes - Dean knew that there would be a barely discernable scar on his brow. It was a small one that would eventually fade almost entirely from sight. Regardless, in ten years time, Dean would still be able to see it; Sam's unwanted fourteenth birthday present.

"Dean?" The elder brother flinched, only just realising that Sam had been speaking and so, in pitiful acknowledgement, he released a rather unintelligible grunt. "Dude, you okay? You're acting even weirder than usual."

Dean didn't even register the teasing jibe, shaking his head in an attempt to rebuff any concerns. Swallowing around the ever-expanding lump in his throat, the broken voice replied: "I'm fine Sammy." The slight detail that the teenager did not even correct the use of his frustrating nickname only held testament to the despair etched onto the elder brother's expression.

Scrubbing his face in a literal attempt to brush off his concerns, Dean found his mind working overtime to try and make some sense of what was happening. As such, his best conclusion was that this was all a dream. One very vivid, freaking weird-ass dream, but a dream all the same.

This can't be reality.

Dropping his hand, his brow creased upon only discovering the Impala before him. He pivoted on one foot, coming to a stop facing the two-lane asphalt that raced away from him. It seemed to shine beneath his feet, highlighted in the night; his only lifeline in this place. Staring down its length until it vanished into the darkness, he found that he contained a surprising urge to follow it. Yet, for the time being, something held him back: a little voice whispering not yet.

"Sometimes you have to follow what you want, you know that right?"

His neck nearly dislocated with the speed in which his head spun around and he cursed, clutching at it in a futile attempt to ease the pain. His little brother, though now, he realised as he was forced to raise his gaze, not so little, was stood behind him. A longing expression smothered the younger Winchester's appearance as he stared down the road and Dean felt the colour drain from his own face. He had seen that exact expression once before. That was how Sam had looked before leaving for Stanford. It had been during the night of their 'chick-flick' talk, when Dean had sprinted down to the bus station intending to stop him, only to watch his baby brother leave.

"Sam..." he cut himself off, glancing sharply down at his feet. As far as dreams went, he reasoned that this one was pretty crappy. The day that Sam had left them was still pretty damn high ranking in his list of shit things to occur in his life. After everything, it was probably still in the top ten.

"Dean," spoke the painfully familiar voice, followed by a light weight on his shoulder. The elder brother squeezed his eyes closed harder: this is the second time he's touched me. He's corporeal, it must be a dream. "I still think that we shouldn't have let Dad go. But, we will find him again, okay?"

"Yeah," he murmured, refusing to open his eyes for fear that the dams that his eyes had successfully built years ago would break. "I hope so, Sam."

And, as though it had never been there in the first place, the hand on his shoulder disappeared. A chill nestled deep within the pit of his stomach due to its absence and Dean shivered, the emerald orbs finally revealed only to stare blankly at his feet.

What was this? What the hell was this?

"Dean."

On instinct to hearing his name, Dean twisted. Upon finished his turn, his brow knitted tightly together upon seeing the patter of rain off of his boots. When did it start raining? Bewilderment guiding his gaze, his eyes rose to peer through the grim haze. The hunched outline of his brother was barely recognisable, yet as his name was called again, Dean could practically see the smile of relief Sam wore upon seeing him. His own lips curled at the sentiment and he took a step towards his approaching brother.

Something like a sixth sense had always existed in Dean: one that had consistently warned him of any potential danger involving Sam. They had casually nicknamed it his 'Sammy sense' and it was something that Dean could not and would never silence. As it was, it was currently screeching at him in anguish, alerting him to the presence of a stirring shadow behind his oblivious little brother. In an instant, he was moving, shouting in sheer desperation: "Sammy, look out!"

But, he knew from memory that his warning would come too late. Even as he screamed, Sam's lithe body arching as the knife was driven fatally into his spine, Dean was aware that this had already happened; that his actions now meant nothing.

He caught his brother on his knees, knowing that before he had spoken his brother's name, pleaded with him. He couldn't this time. He understood; he knew how this went. Instead, he cradled Sam's pliant body in his lap, his chin resting deeply atop the messy head of hair. Forcing his eyes tightly closed, he began the mantra of muttering – something that he knew was dangerously close to a prayer for him. "Wake up. Please, wake up, Dean. Wake up."

"This isn't a dream."

Still clutching his dead baby brother like a newborn, Dean glanced up. An older Sam was standing before the Impala's bonnet, watching him with a haunted look; that of a person who had seen too much for his short life. Tears that he had not even noticed had been wept, trailed down Dean's face and the elder brother's eyes lowered back to the burden in his arms. Before even looking, he had guessed that Sam would have disappeared and he wasn't disappointed in his assumption.

With his fingers curling tightly into fists, Dean leapt to his feet, spinning on the oldest version of his brother furiously. So far, this one had been the only illusion that seemed to acknowledge that he was not just part of a memory in this place.

"What the hell is this?"

The sympathy on Sam's face was a mocking sentiment to him and Dean took a dominant step closer, lips pulled into a tight line. Softly, a smile weaved onto the younger Winchester's face as he leant back against the smooth bonnet. "I think you know, Dean."

"Stop playing mind-games with me!" the emerald eyes glinted dangerously with previously shed tears and fury. "So, what are you: a demon, a djinn or just another dick of an angel?"

The dimpled smile never faltered as Sam patted the hood of the classic car gently in open invitation. Scoffing at the gesture, Dean opened his mouth to let loose with a torrent of spectacularly colourful words, before he was interrupted: "I'll tell you the truth, even though you already know it."

"What do you mean 'I already know it'?"

His little brother remained ominously silent, waiting patiently for Dean to join him. Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, he acquiesced, settling himself uncomfortably beside the image of the youngest Winchester. His gaze flittered over the tall man in trepidation, his body tensed and prepared for attack. After all, to see your brother looking exactly the same and wearing the same clothes as he had on the day that he had jumped into Lucifer's cage would do little to ease your nerves.

The representation of his brother shifted to face him and Dean, despite his obvious lack of amusement at the situation, quirked an eyebrow cheekily, "So, enlighten me."

"It's Christmas Eve. You were working the late shift at the garage, doing some overtime, to get some extra cash together for tomorrow. It was so you could buy Ben that specific car model he really wanted."

Despite himself, the elder brother found himself smiling a little at that, "A '67 Chevy Impala. What can I say, the kid's got taste." Sam – it's not Sam, it can't be – chuckled lightly and, judging that whatever the hell it was didn't appear to be much of a threat, Dean relaxed slightly. "I said I'd teach him to drive in her when he was old enough, just like I did with you."

Flinching upon letting that last sentence slip, Dean wrenched his stare away from his brother's, cursing the damn familiarity of the pair of eyes that watched him so lovingly. He gazed up at the beautifully night sky, studying the stars in silence. The person beside him remained equally quiet, seeming to bask in being close to him and sharing this moment.

Finally, Dean broke the stillness that had fallen upon them. "Who are you? Why have you brought me here?"

"I didn't bring you here."

"And you didn't answer my first question."

From the corner of his eye, he saw the younger Winchester let loose a soft sigh, wringing his hands together tightly on his lap. "You already know who I am, Dean. We don't have long left to talk and I know it's a stretch with your 'trust no-one' policy, but you're gonna have to trust me."

"Why don't we have long left?" Dean asked, his voice losing some of its bite upon hearing the recognisable pleading tone of his sibling. "Or is that something that I already know as well?"

Sighing again, Sam shook his head. Dean sent a small glance at his brother's dejected form and deflated slightly, gazing skywards once more. "Anyway, Ben's reaction to driving her was a little more promising that yours." He smirked lightly, "He actually looked excited at the prospect. You looked like I'd just said I was gonna use you for target practise."

"In my defence, I know how much you love that car. If I'd have crashed it the first time I drove it, you would have used me for target practise."

Grinning widely, Dean shrugged. "Well, at least it scared you enough not to damage her." Upon speaking, he noticed the sudden drop of Sam's features and with all traces of humour draining from the conversation, he turned to fully glance at his brother. "What?"

"You were on your way home, Dean," replied the murmured voice, filled with such grief that it actually made Dean's heart stutter. "There was a drunk driver, a truck driver to be exact. He ran a red light and noticed you at the last second to slam on his breaks. But it was snowing and he couldn't stop in time."

The weight of the words hung heavily in the air and unable to reply, Dean barely even registered his brother swivelling to face him. Stunned, his mouth gaped open uselessly for a further few minutes, not yet capable of forming any words that would be produced coherently. The memory of pain flashed in his mind, of a destroyed Impala and a struggle for breath: Holy shit. "I'm... I'm dead?"

"Dying. You're still alive at the moment."

An unbelievable look of sorrow enveloped the youngest Winchester's face at the bluntness of Dean's question and the rather harsh answer he was forced to give. The two sat in what could only be described as a companionable silence of combined grief, cast into more surreal portrait by the ethereal glow of the full moon.

"And," Dean cleared his throat ruggedly, the lump in his throat seeming to grow with each breath, "And the drunk driver?"

"Concussion, probably a killer hangover in the morning, but that's it."

The words were sharply spoken, with such a bitter edge that they probably tasted foul on Sam's tongue, but, despite being the victim in all this, Dean failed to replicate them. Again, shock seriously had its good uses in numbing pain of every form in the body. Or not his real body, since this form couldn't really be him if he was dying, so maybe he couldn't actually feel any types of pain anymore – my head freaking hurts.

Planting his brow neatly into an open palm, he snorted blankly. "Shit."

"Yeah."

"Not the way I thought I'd go," the absent-sounding murmur continued as though Sam had never even spoken, "but you gotta see the symmetry."

Opposite him, the compassionate eyes narrowed with complete incomprehension. "What do you mean?"

"The last time the Impala was totalled by a truck, I should've died. I would've if Dad hadn't been stupid enough to save me." The familiar pang of heartache, a wound that would never fully heal, jabbed deeply within his chest and he winced visibly. "I dunno, maybe it's like the natural order of things is finally sorting itself out."

"The 'natural order'?"

"Okay, so do I look like a New Agey type person to you?" snapped the elder hunter at the obviously disbelieving tone. After receiving the patented Sam Winchester eye roll, he exhaled steadily. "I'm just sayin', what if this is how it was always meant to happen. You know, me checking out like this."

"I thought you didn't believe in destiny."

With a comical snort, Dean shifted his stare towards his brother, who was wearing a sympathetic expression marred only by his unconditional affection. "I don't, Sammy. But you believed in fate, a long time ago. I guess you finally managed to bring me round to the idea."

"So what, you're okay with all this?"

"No," Dean replied instantly, gazing up towards the stars as he and Sam had once done before; so long ago on nights when their biggest worry was hunting a Wendigo. "No, I'm not. But it's not like I can do anything about it now. Besides, when you've died as many times as we have, I figured that we were gonna wind up firing blanks at some point."

His words faded away quickly, a wisdom that both brothers denied – both in jest and sincerity - had even been gifted to him making its presence known. The truth was that Sam had always been the smart one: the bookworm, the brains and the intelligence that provided their basis of knowledge for a hunt. Dean had always been the 'shoot first, ask questions later' hunter: the trigger-happy one, the brawn and the instinct that protected them in times of danger.

That had always been the dynamic of their relationship, or at least, it had been until Dean went to Hell. His surprise when he came back to realise that Sam had been taking on his role as the brawn, and successfully too, made him question his worth. Since his death, his little brother had learnt how to function as a lone unit and honestly, didn't need Dean around anymore. It had taken Dean a little too long to realise that the form of protection he gave was more than just as a physical barrier.

He was Sam's rock. Sam was his core. There really couldn't be one without the other.

"So," Dean began, trying futilely to ignore the slightest hitch to his voice, "which way am I headed? The attic or the basement?"

The slight pause was discomforting, and for a second, Dean remembered the torment of Hell; an eternity of endless suffering. However, the soft voice that followed offered some relief to his situation, "The attic. You never deserved Hell, Dean, and you never will."

"And neither do you," shot back the elder brother with determination, practically glaring at the side of Sam's face. An idea, one that filled his body with elation that he really didn't doubt that he was a spirit, struck him and he asked, "If you're here now, does that mean you get a free pass?"

"No, I'm here because you want me to be."

"You're..." Screw feeling like a spirit, he glumly thought, the sense of euphoria long since depleted. Currently, he felt like his heart was plummeting downward like a lead balloon. "You're not real?"

Chameleonic eyes, now a compassionate blue-green in colour, rotate to greet him. "I'm real in your memories and right now, that's all that matters, isn't it?"

And Dean couldn't help but agree. As it was, being a few seconds away from seeing the light meant that he had very little else left to hold dear. Even in life, his possessions were few and far between; the result of an existence on the road where they were always in motion. "Wait a second. Last time we were in Heaven, we had the whole 'life flashing before your eyes' thing. Is it just a one-time deal up here or what?"

"Your life has been flashing before your eyes, Dean."

The elder brother paused, realisation creeping steadily into his mind like a steady trickle of blood. Since waking up here – if this was actually Heaven or somewhere near – he had seen Sam through the various stages of his life. He had seen him as a smiling newborn, gradually growing up until he had become the man that had, and still did, make Dean proud. The truth of it all was that Sammy always had been his life, his greatest achievement and his only objective.

"What happens now?"

The slender arm beside him rose into the air, pointing straight down to two-lane asphalt and to where it led beyond. "You follow your road home, Dorothy."

"The girl's names really don't work coming from you, Samantha." Dean smirked amusedly, bumping his shoulder against his brother's in a silent act of affection that always managed to speak so many loving words. The curve of his lips straightened suddenly. "What about Lisa and Ben?"

"They'll grieve for you, because you kept your promise to me and went to them, but they will carry on." The soothing weight on Dean's shoulder increased as Sam leant against him, trying to offer support in any way possible. "You made your own family, Dean, and, even if losing you hurts them now, it will always be better than if they had never had the chance to know you."

Sniffing, the elder brother's lower lip trembled despite his fierce determination to keep it still, "But what about you? You tell me how it's right that I go to Heaven and just..." A weak sob interrupted his words before he forced himself to finish, "just leave you to rot down there."

The faint cushioned thump of Sam's mop of hair landing against his own head had Dean squeezing his eyes closed, huge tears losing their stubborn grips on his eyelashes. "You have looked out for me for my entire life, Dean. And I am so grateful to you, but I know that I can never really repay you for everything you've done. All I can tell you is that jumping into that cage was the only way to make up for all the wrong things that I did. I just wanted to make you proud."

"Sammy..." Dean's arm snaked tightly around the form of his little brother and, real or not, he clung on as tightly as possible. A part of his cocky persona reminded him how much of a 'chick flick' he was having at this moment but, as Sam reciprocated the embrace, he found that he really couldn't give a damn. "I will always be proud of you. But I can't go to Heaven knowing where I left you."

"You made me a promise, Dean, that you'd let me go. You have that chance now and you have to take it."

"Sam, no..."

"You have to," the youngest Winchester interrupted, his voice echoing somewhere near to Dean's right ear. "If you stay here, you'll just become one of the things we hunt and you would never let that happen. Even if you won't admit it, you know that I'm right."

Emerald eyes staring towards the dimly glowing trees over Sam's shoulder, Dean knew with regret that he had no choice. He had always known that he would be unable to save his brother from the cage; he had known from the moment that he had agreed to the plan that it would be the end of them both.

He had just never considered the fact that the consequence of their resistance would mean an eternity without each other.

Shuddering with a long inhale, Dean curled his fingers tighter into Sam's jacket, tugging his brother as close to him as possible. A small part of him was foolish enough to think that it would be enough to keep them together. "You just hold on in there, Sammy. I'll find a way to save you."

"Dean..."

"I can't give up on you, Sam," spat the elder brother, eyes swimming as he gritted his teeth together. "Don't ever ask that of me again. I've got an eternity to find a way, and even if it takes that freaking long, I won't stop until I find it." A solitary tear rolled down his cheek as he pulled back, grasping the sides of Sam's face and locking their eyes together. "I promise."

The bright pair of eyes ahead of him creased affectionately, the memorable Sammy smile shining for him once more. His eyes stinging with moisture and his vision blurring to the point where he could only just glimpse his baby brother's outline, Dean blinked once, and Sam was gone.

His hands fell limply to his lap, his head bowing forward from where he sat on the Impala's hood. Sammy. The road sparkled beneath him, the world around him seeming to increase in brightness with each passing second. His gaze flicked up to the trees, radiantly shimmering while their branches seemed to aim down the two-lane asphalt.

You follow your road home.

Rising to his feet steadily, Dean stared down the road, hoping to catch a glimpse of something beyond the darkness. It was an irrational endeavour really – nobody knew what happened when you followed the path into the unknown.

"Sir? Sir! Can you hear me?"

Turning slowly, the crackle of the Impala's radio carrying a myriad of panicked voices, Dean lowered his gaze; the tear tracks still glistening in the glow of the night. Returning to his baby's side, his fingers curled neatly around the handle, tugging strongly. With a groan, the door opened and he slipped easily inside, allow it to close again behind him.

"Shit! We... no pulse... Get the... shit... Hurry... hospital... losing him!"

Resting his hands on the wheel, he glanced over at the radio as it continued to sputter out disjointed words. A twinge in his chest made him glance downward at his torso. Was that his body giving out that he was feeling now? He let out a slow exhale, the discomfort in his body maintaining its hold fervently.

"... holding on. He... make it."

Make it? Dean found himself wondering if they were concluding that he might make it or that he wouldn't. There could still be the slightest chance that he would pull through; that he could live to fight another day. There was still the probability that these people would save his life. Regardless, it was still his choice to make.

A long time ago, he remembered telling Sam that he was tired, that he was willing to kill himself rather than live on without his brother. He had sold his soul to save Sam rather than move on and try and live his own life and he had fought with everything he had not to say yes to Michael; so that he could stay with his brother.

And he was still tired. He still wanted to just call it a day and to rest after everything. The only difference this time was that there was nothing left to fight for – there was no real reason to stay.

With a sigh like the first breeze of autumn carrying away fallen leaves, Dean reached over and changed the radio station. The melodious tones of Silent Night filled the car as the elder Winchester leant back in his seat, closing his eyes and trying not to notice how the tug in his chest was steadily fading away. His fingers deftly rose to the keys in the ignition, rotating them sharply until the Impala roared to life.

His hands refastened their grip on the Impala and emerald orbs reappeared, glancing down at his pale skin that seemed to have acquired an ethereal glow. His baby hummed beneath him, ready to take him away to that place that he didn't, that he couldn't know; to be with him where his brother couldn't.

Lips quirking at the corners, his foot lowered to the accelerator pedal, his gaze rising to the illuminated two-lane asphalt in the Impala's headlights. The road ahead was almost bleached white under both the car's and the moonlight's glare and Dean couldn't help but scoff at the stereotype.

"Guess we're both heading into the light, huh baby?"

The Impala rumbled her agreement and, steeling his shoulders, Dean lowered his foot to the floor. Howling loudly into the night, the classic car sped forth, the road behind her shattering into non-existence as she carried her passenger away. Her shadow, cast by the overhanging moon, gave the appearance of two wings against the asphalt: an angel ascending with her charge.

And smiling as he drove forth, his body glowing in the eerie light, the last remaining Winchester gave a slight nod of agreement to the tender final line of the Christmas hymn as it echoed around the interior of the car: his swan song leading him to his eternal rest.

"Sleep in heavenly peace..."


I suppose this is really what I get for listening to numerous Christmas songs non-stop. This fic is based a lot on 'Dark Side Of The Moon', as I'm sure you all guessed, simply because that was such a moving episode for me and had great character development for both characters :)

Please, please review and let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your opinions :D. Thank you very much for reading!

Hugs, Ami-Rose x x x x x ;)