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: Something that Dean said in the alternate, acid-trippy universe got Sam thinking about what he wanted in his life. And Dean going on about that world wasn't helping. Tag to 6x14 – The French Mistake.
A/N: Sorry everyone. The last few weeks have been crazy and I haven't been able find time to write new things. And things are going to remain a bit crazy for some time to come. Not sure when I'll be able to write more again but rest assured that I'm not giving up on any of my stories. Right now I've got two WIP's. I'll be working on 'Fallen Atlas' when I have a chance and when I feel like it I'll keep adding one-shots to 'With You'. That story isn't over yet and I still have a few more chapters in mind. Be patient. Hopefully you won't have to wait for long.
"So everything points to a Chupacabra." Sam said, flipping the pages of the dusty old book. "But if it is a one, then it's not acting like itself."
"That seems to be the MO of these things nowadays." Dean replied, looking up from the computer. "Ever since the whole Mother thing started, every monster we know seems to be changing its habits."
"I guess." Sam replied noncommittally.
"Hey Sam, imagine how great this thing would be in the other world." Dean said, grinning at his brother. "We wouldn't need to go through all these dusty old books and really obscure websites. The writers would have done all the research for us."
"Yeah, sure." Sam answered distractedly.
"And then you could pack up early and have a nookie with fake-Ruby at some 'Save the Rats' convention." Dean continued, waggling his eyebrows at is brother.
Sam looked up at his brother is irritation. Dean had been going on and on about the alternate universe and how things were much better for them there. Granted they were, but he should have let that go by now.
"What's the matter with you?" Sam asked, exasperated. "Do you actually want to go back there or something?"
"Jeez, relax Sam." Dean held up his hands in mock surrender. "I'm only kidding."
"You don't joke about the same thing all the time unless there is a deeper underlying issue." Sam replied.
"I don't joke about it all the time."
"Oh really? Let's see, shall we." Sam said, ticking off his points one by one. "Yesterday in the line for Burger King, you said that we'd have underlings to get food for us. The night before, you wished that you had a driver to do the night driving. And when our latest Credit Card maxed out, you said that we wouldn't have to run any scams there because we'd have like a gazillion dollars. So tell me again Dean, do you really wish that we'd stayed?"
"Of course not, Sam." Dean replied. "My baby wasn't there, was she? I wouldn't want to live in any universe without her."
Sam raised his eyebrows, seeing through his brother's weak attempt at deflection.
"Honestly, Sam. You know me. I'm a hunter." Dean explained. "You know that I would go out of my mind living there."
"Then why do you keep bringing it up?"
Dean sighed. Sam was right. Their little journey to the alternate universe had affected him more that he cared to admit.
"I guess I was just trying to make a point." Dean replied. "Maybe get you to agree with me."
"Agree with what?"
"That leaving this life behind might not be such a bad thing." Dean explained.
"I don't want to leave this life behind, Dean." Sam replied. "I chose this life."
"That's crap and you know it." Dean said. "No one chooses this life. And you wanted to get out of this life once."
"That's not me anymore." Sam replied, confused. Why was Dean bringing up all these old issues?
"That's what I'm saying. You had to accept this job because you didn't have a choice." Dean explained. "But now you do. You are finally free from the destiny that was laid out for you before your birth."
"What are you talking about?"
"First it was the Yellow-eyes. Then I was going to hell. Then there was Lillith and then Lucifer. And then you didn't have a soul." Dean said. "You couldn't exactly get out because you knew they'd come after you. But now they are all gone. So if you want to give up hunting - "
"But I don't want to give up hunting." Sam argued. "Monsters are still walking the earth and I can't just sit back and do nothing."
"Which brings me to my point." Dean said. "If we were in a world, with no monsters and no supernatural evil out to get us and if we were trapped there with no way out, wouldn't you be okay with it?"
Dean should have been the lawyer in the family, Sam thought wryly. His point was hard to argue with.
"I guess." Sam agreed. "But I still wouldn't want to live in that universe."
"Because I was married to Ruby there." Sam replied. "And I know, she wasn't really Ruby." He added as he saw his brother was about to argue the point. "But she looked like her. And I would rather not live in the world where there is a constant reminder of my biggest mistake."
"Sam, you gotta stop this, okay?" Dean said wearily. "You gotta stop beating yourself up over it. Ruby used you. She got you hooked on her blood and reeled you in. And there were forces way bigger than us at play there."
"Yeah, I know."
"Besides, you fixed it." Dean continued. "You stopped the apocalypse. You signed up for an eternity of torture to save this world. In my book, that washes you clean of any mistakes you might have made."
"Yeah, I know." Sam repeated. "That still doesn't mean that I want to be reminded of it every day. And I don't want to live in a world where we are not brothers."
"C'mon, Sam. That shouldn't be much of a problem." Dean said off-handedly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam asked a little put-off.
Dean tried to shrug it off, but one look at his brother told him that Sam wasn't going to let this point go. Things had been great between them ever since Sam had gotten his soul back. Better that ever in fact. And raising this topic now could open a can of worms that Dean wasn't sure he wanted to see open. But the truth was, this thing had been festering inside him for a long time now and it was finally out of his mouth.
"It's just – you don't think of family the same way I do." Dean replied. "It's not the most important thing to you in life."
Sam got up angrily. After everything they had been through together, after everything they'd done for each-other, how could Dean even doubt that he wasn't the most important thing in Sam's life?
"What in world would give you that idea?" Sam asked incredulously.
"You did, Sam." Dean replied. "You said that to me during our trip upstairs."
Sam winced. Their forage into the afterlife had been a never-ending source of mortification for both of them. Sam still felt guilty about his memories they'd seen up there and the part they had played in Dean's downward spiral. Apparently, Dean wasn't okay with them either.
"And a guy can't change?" Sam argued.
"A guy can, but I'm not sure you have." Dean replied.
"So, what?" Sam asked angrily. "You don't trust me or something?"
"No, ofcourse I do." Dean replied. "But I'm afraid that one day, you'll decide that we don't want the same things anymore and that'll be it. You'll walk out again."
Sam was about to deny it when he realized that Dean had a point. All his life, Sam had done nothing but cultivate this belief, a belief that got stronger every time Sam walked out of the door. But he'd changed now. Or had he?
'Family just slows you down'. Unbidden, a memory of his past year came back to him. Even though Dean hadn't been around to hear it, Sam was sure that that was how he'd acted the whole time he'd been soulless. And now he was sure that he must have done a lot more to hurt Dean in the past year than he knew.
"What happened between us, Dean?" Sam asked. "This last year. What did I do that makes you think that I haven't changed at all?"
"Let it go Sam." Dean replied. "I shouldn't have brought it up. It's just a stupid insecurity that's all. I'll just have to learn to live with it."
Dean was afraid, Sam realized. He was afraid that any mention of the past year would bring down Sam's wall and all hell would literally break loose. Sam felt a little guilty about using Dean's fears against him, but he had to know.
"I can't let it go. You know that about me." Sam said. "I don't want to break the wall, I really don't, but you know me. I won't be able to stop thinking about this. So I think that the best way to avoid that is to tell me."
Dean sighed. His brother had him there. He knew Sam well enough to know that this wasn't a threat, simply the truth. The best way to avoid a catastrophe would be to be open with him.
"Well, you came back a few days after you went to hell." Dean said. Sam nodded. HE had known as much. "But I didn't know about it till almost a year."
"You and Bobby decided that I finally had a life and a family and that I'd be happier not knowing that you were alive." Dean explained.
"So, how did you find out?"
"Well, some djinns got my scent and made me think that I was hunting something in the neighborhood." Dean replied. "That's when you came in to save my ass."
"Hunting? I thought you said you were living the civilian life."
"I was. But as soon as I saw the signs – well, I guess once a hunter, always a hunter."
"So that's why it didn't work out between you and Lisa." Sam said. "You came back into this life because of me."
"You are missing the point Sam." Dean said. "What I'm saying is that once again you decided that we were better off apart and left me behind."
"You are the one who keeps saying that it wasn't me, Dean." Sam argued.
"True." Dean agreed. "So tell me this Sam. What would you have done differently if you had your soul then?"
"I'd have come to you." Sam replied. "Ofcourse I would have."
"Knowing that I would jump right back into the hunt?" Dean asked.
"What do you want from me Dean?" Sam asked, exasperated. They were going around in circles now. Dean kept bringing up these issues and as usual Sam saw no way of resolving them. "I know that you want to hunt. I know that you went to Lisa only because I made you promise you would, but I also know that you don't want to quit hunting, not just yet. Even if you were happy there, you jumped right back in the game the first chance you got. Is that it then? You are conflicted between hunting and wanting a family with Lisa and Ben and you are somehow projecting it on me?"
"You are not getting it, Sam." Dean said.
"Then explain it to me."
"I don't want just any family, I want my family." Dean replied angrily. "I want you to be in my life, whatever that life is. But you don't care about that. You've never cared about what I wanted."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't." Dean continued. "Sam, I'm not blaming you here. You are a great guy Sam, the best little brother a man could ask for. And I know that you love me and you'd give your life for me. And you want to see me happy, but for some reason, what I want doesn't factor into any decisions you make. It's just the way you are."
"And what makes you so sure I haven't changed?" Sam asked.
"Because the first thing you did after you came back was scratch the wall even though I begged you not to." Dean replied. "Sam, I get that you are trying to make amends, but the fact is, you doing that could end up taking you from me and you didn't care about that."
Sam nodded slowly. He'd never thought of himself as a callous or unfeeling person. In fact, most of the time he'd prided himself on being significantly more empathetic than his brother. But everything Dean had just accused him of was true. Somehow, in a lifetime of seeing other people's pain and suffering, he'd consistently neglected his own brother.
But why was Dean so hung up on all this right now? Nothing had changed since they came back from the trip to the other world. He'd promised Dean that he wouldn't try to regain his memories and he'd meant it. He still meant it, now more than ever. And he wasn't going anywhere because they both wanted the same things. They both wanted to hunt and deal with this new Mother threat. Or did they? Sam knew that Dean wasn't the kind to feel insecure without a good reason. So Dean had no reason to feel this way unless he knew that they were going to want different things in future and Sam knew for sure that he didn't want to give up hunting. Not for the fore -seeable future at least. Suddenly, something clicked in Sam's mind.
"Oh my God!" He exclaimed. "This isn't about me at all. It's about you."
"What?" Dean asked, confused.
"Dean, do you want to quit hunting?" Sam asked. It all made sense now. Dean had avoided taking Lisa's calls because he wasn't sure he'd be able to stay away. And he'd been going on and on about the alternate universe because a part of him wanted to live peacefully in a world without monsters.
"You are not listening, Sam." Dean argued. "Whether or not I want to quit hunting is not the issue here."
"It is for me." Sam replied. "Answer me this question, Dean. If I hadn't come back from hell and I hadn't made you promise that you'd go to Lisa, would you still hunting right now?"
"Yes." Dean replied, without hesitating.
"Why?" Sam asked. "If the last year has shown us anything it's that you can be happy living a normal life."
"It has also shown me that I'm not ready to quit. Not yet." Dean replied.
"Because there is still stuff going on out there, okay?" Dean replied. "I still can't turn away from people in danger. I still have that much left in me. I still care. But one day soon, I'll get tired of it all. It might be tomorrow or a year from now or ten years from now, but one day I'll decide that I don't want to hunt anymore."
"And when that day comes, you'll quit for real?" Sam asked.
"No, I won't."
"You know why." Dean answered.
Sam knew. Oh, he knew alright. This was classic Dean. He always put his brother's life, Sam's wants and needs before his own. Sam knew what Dean was trying to say here. One day soon, he'd get tired of hunting and Sam won't. Then his only choices would be either to keep on hunting until he became a hollow shell of a man or quit and walk away from Sam. And he would never do the latter, because even if he stopped caring about the hunt, he'd never stop caring about Sam. And if Sam went on a hunt without Dean and got killed, his brother would never forgive himself. That was the day Dean was most afraid of. That was the reason why he thought of the alternate universe as a way out. A place where he didn't have to hunt and they could be together.
"I would have come to you." Sam said at length.
"Before. You asked me what I would have done if I had my soul when I got back from hell." Sam explained. "I would have come to you. And I would have let you make the decision whether to go back to hunting or not."
"And if I wanted to stay?"
"Then I'd have stayed with you." Sam replied. "And that's what I'm gonna do."
"What are you talking about Sam?" Dean asked, confused.
"The day you feel like quitting, you don't have to keep going for my sake." Sam explained. "You tell me what you want and I'll stick by you."
"And if you don't want to give up hunting then either?" Dean asked. "What if you feel that there are more amends you want to make?"
"Well, tough, because the only person I should be making amends to is you." Sam replied.
"You have nothing to make up for with me, Sam."
"Yeah, I do." Sam said. "Before, when I said that I couldn't live in that world with the constant reminder of my mistake, I wasn't talking about the apocalypse."
"So you don't feel guilty about letting Lucifer out of his cage?" Dean said.
"I do. But I also put him back. So, I'm okay with that now." Sam replied. "But there is that other thing, about me picking Ruby over you. I can't forgive myself for that."
"She was using you, Sam." Dean made his usual argument.
"Even so, I made that choice." Sam said. "Dean, even if Ruby had been on level, even if killing Lillith had actually stopped Lucifer instead of freeing him, it wouldn't have changed what I did to you. That was the first time in my life you gave me any kind of an ultimatum. The first time you asked me to pick between you and someone else and I picked someone else. I don't know how you can forgive me for that, but you did and I'm not screwing up this chance."
"Sam." Dean started. "If the only reason you are with me is guilt - ."
"No. You don't get to do this." Sam interrupted angrily. "You don't get to resent me for not caring what you want and then push me away when I try to."
"I just don't want you to make any promises you can't keep." Dean replied.
"I'm not promising anything, Dean." Sam said. "I'm telling you. And what I'm telling you is that being with you is more important to me than any hunt and I'll quit this job in a heartbeat if if and when you want."
Dean smiled. For the first time in what felt like years, he truly smiled. He felt as if a huge load had been lifted from his chest. He knew that life held no guarantees for the Winchesters, but for now, Sam was being as sincere as he could and Dean knew that he meant every word he said.
"So, you'll quit when I say so?"
"Yeah, I will." Sam replied. "You want me to prove it to you right now?"
"Nah, its fine." Dean said. "We have a Chupacabra to hunt right now."
A few thoughts on the episode itself. First of all, I loved it. No show does meta quite like the Supernatural. That being said, I do feel that some issues were left unresolved about the alternate universe. They never went into the lore of alternate worlds or how the whole system worked. And they never told us what happened to Jensen and Jared when the Winchesters were there. It was more like an alternate universe for the sake of meta than any major plot point. But still, the show pulled it off magnificently.
One of my favorite parts was Smart! Dean. Even in the heat of the moment, he took care to see Balthazar's every move and memorized it. And in Jared's house he figured out Genevieve was his wife from the wedding pictures. This fits with the view I have of the boys that Sam is more research smart, capable of looking up lore better, while Dean is more combat smart, taking in the surroundings and using them to his advantage.
I also loved how perfectly the boys were a team in the last fight. Sam distracted Virgil while Dean tackled him from the side.
The whole production team was awesome, especially Bob Singer. On Octobra – "They will buy anything". The whole bad acting bit was great as well. Dean played hyper-focused and gruff, clearly mimicking Misha and Sam wasn't sure what to do with himself during Dean's lines, fidgeting and swinging his arms around while trying not to look at the camera.
About the last shootout, did anyone else notice the ninja on the production team? I think he was the assistant director or something, the guy with the accent. Don't know if he was playing any real life characters. But when Virgil was shooting at him, that guy dodged the bullets first by bending backwards, then forwards and then calmly backing out. All with a deadpan look on his face. That, in my opinion, was very cool. If Sam and Dean hadn't been there, he could have taken out Virgil himself.