A/N: This story is complete, but I don't want to dump the whole thing here. I'll chapter it up for easier reading.
Over the Hills and Far Away
They were everywhere, and multiplying fast. Dean wrested himself from the hold on his arms, powering forward. They had his brother. Sammy. Sam. This was wrong, wrong place, wrong time. Hands. Black demon eyes. Fire, fire, no. Bright lights. They were taking Sam somewhere away from him. If he could only think past the panic, but he couldn't. Sam was the only thing keeping him him. Seconds after freeing himself, Dean was caught again. Couldn't move, only inches. It wasn't enough. The panic bubbled. He could feel it, in his gut, his hands. He was sure his brain was fizzing like a goddamned can of Coke.
"Get your hands offa me," Dean shouted. Sam wasn't moving, but they were taking him. "Sam. Sammy!"
No one listened. No one helped him. Only Sam could, and Sam was… Dean got his arms free and swung wildly, his chest tight with a cough that wouldn't come. Fire. Smoke. He killed it, it was dead. He knew it was. Fight fire with fire. Demons all around him, spreading like an epidemic. Help, oh … oh. He couldn't see Sam anymore. One of the demons who had him wrenched his right arm behind his back, and up.
"The fire," he shouted. "Demons. Wrong time. Have to get back, back to the future. It's our density!"
"You want to give me a hand here, Reed?" one of the demons said, then grunted as Dean elbowed him with his left arm. "This one's got a real bee in his bonnet."
Breath hot on Dean's neck. Hot, burning. Fire demons. His skin would start blistering if he didn't get free soon. Everything started to fracture before his eyes. Black-eyed people loomed around him, each one becoming three, then four, until all he could see were faces with black eyes. They were suffocating him. He had to get to Sam. Sam needed him and he thought maybe he needed Sam even more. Knew it, the only thing he knew.
"Put him in six, and call extra security down here. Mike, we'll need psych."
One last effort yielded a knock of his forehead against the frame of a door, another bruise. If they got him in that room, Dean knew they would torture and then incinerate him just like they were doing to Sam right that very second. He screamed and kicked as they lifted him onto a thin mattress. They were so strong. Too many of them.
"Hold him. Get the restraints on him, now."
It was the leader demon speaking, Dean realized. He was in some sort of demon nest. He bucked, refused to give up. It wasn't in his blood to give up, and even if it was, he couldn't. Sam, he had to get to his brother. Couldn't. Too-strong hands held him fast and strapped him down. He must be on some kind of torture rack. Oh shit, oh god, Sam. This wasn't right. He had to think, think. Everything swirled above him, faces. A ceiling of big squares filled with holes. Couldn't catch his breath. He didn't want to die, he wasn't ready yet. This wasn't supposed to be happening. Sam was, where was Sam? His brother, at least was supposed to survive. The deal. He'd made the deal so Sam could live. But that was then, hadn't happened yet, because now was back then and not right time. Something metal and big, reached for him like a malformed arm.
Dean screamed. Terror. And he knew, deep down, how wrong this was. Winchesters didn't scream. Think, think. Had to keep his brain straight. A prick on his arm, something sliding into his veins like ice water. Dean thrashed on the bed, couldn't free himself. Felt his arms turn to wet noodles. Spaghetti arms. Oh no, oh no, no, no. He had to … something. Some … couldn't remember. Thwapthwap. The multitude of demonic images went hazy, then disappeared.
Thirty-three years later
"I friggin' hate witches," Dean grumbled. "We just got done dealing with them last week or something, didn't we?"
Dean put a hand on his stomach, feeling sharp razor blades tear him up from the inside all over again. Some memories were visceral, too real and too much like what he imagined he'd signed up for, for eternity. He tried to tell himself it was different, that the Hell pain would be easier to take because it meant Sam was above ground. Even though he'd long ago given up the pretense he was okay with his afterlife home being built in the Pit, he still didn't like it to show. For Sammy's sake.
"It was months ago, and this one's more serious, Dean, not a bunch of misguided housewives looking to get rich quick," Sam said, sounding about as bone weary as he looked.
Whatever. It didn't matter to Dean the motivation, witches were all skanky and gross and that included Sam's little guardian devil. Hell, Ruby was at the top of the witch skank list as far as Dean was concerned. He didn't like the way she smelled, and he didn't like the way she hovered around Sam. She was up to something. Dean didn't know what; he didn't have to, to know it was no good. His stomach turned over, this time not from reliving razorblades. He didn't want to think about Ruby or whatever she was up to.
He and Sam hadn't found any murdered bunnies yet, but Dean was sure they were bound to any time now. Some poor rabbit was probably seconds away from becoming splatter as they sat here twiddling their thumbs into next week. He had to give Sam the point – their witch of the hour was not an amateur. Everything that had been done had been under the radar of regular cops, a series of unfortunate accidents that all happened to be related.
Dean hadn't been paying close enough attention to say how, but if Sam said there was a connection, there was. His own mind just wasn't on the hunt, or any of their hunts for the last month or so. He knew Sam was still looking for a way out of his deal and would keep doing that until the very end. Dean knew in his gut, which twisted even more, that there was no way out. He was scared out of his mind to die, but at the same time had no regrets.
"Dean, are you even listening to me?" Sam asked, as he slapped Dean on the shoulder.
"Sure, I am," Dean said, lying and not knowing why.
"Then what did I just say?"
Normally, it was times like this he could quote Sam word for word, if he had to, to prove a point that a person didn't have to be an uptight tool for his brain to be working. He supposed he should be glad Sam was intent on a regular hunt for the moment, and try to pretend to himself that in less than two months Dean wouldn't be dead and burned. All he could think about was that, though.
"I dunno. Blah, blah, blah, witches, blah." Dean grinned, all the while knowing it would make Sam upset. It was all he had anymore, really, that came close to normal, making Sam mad. "What does Bobby think?"
Sam huffed and shot him a scowl, the same way he always did but now tempered with genuine anger and fear. Dean knew. He knew exactly what he had condemned his brother to live through, because he hadn't been able to himself. Sam was more independent and always had been. Sam had already chosen to live without Dean once, and he could do it again. He had to. Dean wondered if he told himself that often enough, then Sam would magically think him roasting in Hell was just like when Sam ditched them for Stanford.
"Hey," Dean said, "we both know Bobby is the font of all knowledge. The man's more of a geek than you, in a greasemonkey sort of way."
"He is," Sam said, with a halfhearted laugh. "Haven't heard back from him yet. I'll call him in a few hours if we don't hear from him first."
Having Bobby at their backs for the last two years had probably saved them more times than Dean could count, and in more than one way. Without Bobby, he wasn't sure he'd have been able to handle it after Dad died. Not as Sam started being more and more like the things they'd normally kill, not after Sam died in a goddamn puddle of mud in South Dakota, not this whole year of demons and the clock on Dean's deal winding down.
He defied anyone to fault him for not having his head in the witch hunting game.
Dean knew damn well Bobby was splitting his time between a heavy caseload from a lot of hunters, him and Sam, and a search for a way to save his life. He didn't like what Sam and Bobby were doing, half expected Sam to drop in his tracks because that was how good Bobby was at finding solutions; he'd stumble on the wrong one and get Sam dead. He also knew he couldn't stop them and would be doing the same thing if the situations were reversed. They couldn't screw up more than he had, except they could. Sam was supposed to be the one to survive, and he would. Dean had to make sure of that, somehow.
"What do you say we take it easy for tonight? Go out, have a few beers. You know, live a little."
"You go ahead," Sam said, no hesitation. "I'm going to keep at it."
The sad, sorry fact of the matter was, Dean didn't want to go out alone. He didn't want to hook up with any more women. He didn't want to drink until he sloshed when he walked. He also didn't want to stay in the room watching Sam toil away on a hunt that, in the long run, didn't matter. The only thing left for him to do was start thinking about this skanky ass witch and how to dispatch it. Not his favorite way to spend a Saturday night. Dean huffed and gave Sam a scowl, mirroring his brother's earlier grouchy look as closely as possible. Kid should know how big of a douche he looked when he did that.
"Fine. Work it is, but I need some food. You want anything?"
Sam pondered, then said, "Hasenpfeffer."
It took a second for it to click in Dean's head, and then he had to hand it to Sam. That was actually pretty funny. He had no intention of letting Sam know it, of course. He was the funny one in the family, always had been and would be until the day he … died. Soon. Shit, shit. Everything came back to that. He was teetering too close to being the unfocused fool who got them hurt or killed.
"Smartass," Dean said as he mentally doused images of Hellfire. He shuddered and pretended it was about witches, not Hell. "You know there's always a dead rabbit."
Sam smiled, though briefly. "I think we're beyond rabbits. Not enough blood. Well, except for, you know."
He didn't need the reminder of what was at stake. The world was swimming in demons and monsters and innocent people who still needed to be protected. There were so many innocent people who couldn't care about Dean Winchester in the slightest, even if he might have saved someone separated by six degrees from them. Hah. He bet he could get to Kevin Bacon fast.
"Fantastic, a superwitch." Dean pulled the jacket off the bed and put it on. He noticed the pinch around Sam's eyes and determined food was needed even if the guy didn't want anything. "I'll be back in a few."
"Be careful, all right?" Sam twitched, a tick that got worse when he was emotional. He always twitched. "I have a weird feeling about this one."
"Hey, it's me," Dean said.
"How is that supposed to make me feel better, exactly?"
Dean let himself out, stepped into a musty, dark hallway. The place was a tinderbox. If one sleazebag forgot to put out a cigarette after a roll in the proverbial hay with a hooker, it'd go up in a matter of minutes. He didn't like the thought and decided he'd push for an upgrade when he got back. Sam wouldn't go for it at first, but if Dean played the "going to be dead in two months" card, his brother would do just about anything. He put his hand on his stomach as he walked, acid seeming to burble. It hampered his hunger, but then just about everything did. Food had become his last distraction, a way to pretend everything was normal. He had exhausted all the diversions not relevant for maintaining life. Sex, booze, the usual.
Despite the bravado he couldn't seem to let go of, ever, Dean was as nervous about this case as Sam. More, probably. All of the known casualties had gone out with a bang, some of them literally. LA was a big city and the chances of him randomly running into their witch while he was picking up a sack of burgers and fries were slim, but he was a guy who'd puked razorblades and knew he didn't have to see a witch to have one try to kill him. He hoped that because they hadn't pinpointed a suspect yet meant the suspect hadn't pinpointed them. Shit, he was turning into a pussy looking over his shoulder in his golden months.
He bet Tara Benchley could take his mind off his worries for a few hours. He smiled. She had a nice … trailer. Food, new digs for him and Sam and a night of trailer rocking with a movie star. Maybe he could find a way to make this hunt not so terrible after all. It was the little things that kept the nastiness of witches at bay. Sure. Right. Sometimes the old tricks worked fine, like when it was a famous woman on the bed beneath him.
Dean opted for burgers and fries because he'd seen the place from the car earlier. In a stroke of unWinchesterlike luck, he had no problems at all with the dinner run. He wasn't hungry, hungry, but the smell of greasy French fries and salt had his stomach growling anyway. Hopefully, Sam would eat something; he'd been on single-minded intense attack mode for the better part of ten months. It wasn't healthy. Look what it had done for Dad. Dean knew that kind of behavior could sustain a man for decades, but he didn't want that for Sam. He wanted Sam to have as normal a life as possible, the life he himself could never have.
"They didn't have any of your pansy ass salads or fake no-meat burgers, so you're going to have to suck it up and eat what I brought you," Dean said by way of announcing his return.
Sam didn't answer or respond at all, and for a change Dean didn't care. His brother was fast asleep, nose pressed awkwardly against the laptop keyboard. On the screen, Google was showing no search results for "sejknaonioeuniiwea9rui8(*EY". Big surprise, there. Dean debated trying to move Sam to a more comfortable location or leave him be, and leave him be won out by the knowledge that if Sam woke up even a little, he'd be back at it. All of it. The witch-hunt, the desperate search to break an unbreakable deal with a crossroads demon. And, honestly, Sam was in no danger of starving but the likelihood of him burning out was reaching critical mass.
There hadn't been a real debate. Dean carefully slid the laptop out from under his sleeping brother's face and ate both the burgers while he picked up the geek stuff where Sam had left off. Sam wasn't the only one in the family with brains, he was just the only one who made a federal case out of it. And because Sammy got such a hard-on for the research aspect of hunting, it had never been such a bad thing to let him rule that part of it. When they were growing up, it was the only thing Sam truly enjoyed and Dean had learned at a very young age that beggars could never be choosers.
He was elbow deep in gory police reports of the victims Sam had linked, trying to see the connection more clearly, when Sam let out a snuffling snort and a "nyahhah" and rejoined the land of the conscious. Dean almost laughed, then saw the hollow look of something dark and haunted in his brother's eyes. It was the same look he'd seen a million times now, all of them since Sam had died and come back to life. He didn't like thinking about it, but it lingered in the back of his mind with everything else, how Sam was not quite right these days.
"Morning, princess," Dean said. "I ate your dinner."
"Wasn't hungry anyway," Sam mumbled. He stood, stretched and glanced blearily at Dean. "How long was I asleep?"
"Not long enough."
"Sam, you look like crap and you know it." Dean hadn't forgotten his plan for the evening, despite the refresher course in all things bloody and witchy spread out on the bed in front of him. "I was thinking we might see if we can find a better place to hole up. This place is an accident waiting to happen. Maybe if you had a decent bed you could sleep for more than half an hour at a time."
"No time for sleep. This monster's going to hit again tonight, Dean. How many more people will die before we figure it out, huh? No. Sleep isn't important."
Wrong. Dean knew better than to approach that subject, the way Sam knew better than to openly talk about Hellhounds scheduled to arrive right in time for the kid's damned birthday. He tried not to grimace at the thought. Okay, so maybe there was a regret in him somewhere.
"Humor me," Dean said. "I don't like the way this place smells."
He was all set to hear a long diatribe about the countless places they'd stayed which were far worse, but it never came. Instead, Sam nodded, retrieved his duffel and began rolling his clothes into a ball. At this stage in the game, Dean figured it was best not to wonder why and go with the flow. Besides, he knew why Sam didn't bicker quite as much when Dean wanted something. He smiled sadly. He'd get Sam all set up someplace decent, then give Tara a call.
Everything was going exactly the way he wanted. Dean closed the folder on the images of crime scene photos depicting various bloody body parts, no closer to figuring out where their monster was than Sam had been. He was sure they'd find it before it found them, though.
His lungs burned and his hamstrings felt like they'd been stretched too far to ever regain their original shape. He couldn't stop, no matter what. To his right and slightly behind, Dean sprinted for all he was worth, but the barest of glances showed Sam his brother was tiring as quickly as he was. Frankly, he didn't know why they were running so hard. They weren't going to get away this time.
"Why the hell haven't we exploded into a million handsome pieces already?" Dean huffed and puffed between steps.
There was only one reason Sam could think of. The witch wanted them to run, was amused by their futile attempts to flee. It was waiting for the right moment. None of the other victims had been eviscerated or mauled. He could almost feel hot breath against his neck, which was ridiculous. All in his head. Part of him wondered if the whole supernatural world knew about Dean's deal, and this was some cheap magic trick to call up the idea of Hellhounds. He'd seen the horrible, sick look on Dean's face at the first growl. Think, think. Sam had to think of a way to make this bastard get dead.
"Shut up and run," Sam said, as he slipped on something and nearly took a header.
The witch or warlock or whatever it was called was so much more powerful than Sam had anticipated. He had screwed the pooch on this one and now they were both going to die. As he ran, he wondered if there was some clause in a crossroads demon deal that prohibited an early death by means other than actual, bona fide Hellhounds. Had to be. He'd take comfort in knowing he was the only one bound to die tonight, except Dean was going to die anyway, only with Sam gone he'd be all alone when it happened. There wasn't time to call Bobby, make sure someone knew his dying wish was for Dean to not be by himself at the end.
All the mental fatalism reminded him he had a job to do, a brother to save the way Dean had saved him time and again their whole lives. He had to think. He couldn't do that while running through dank, garbage-filled alleyways. Think, think. His foot caught the edge of a wet pool and he slipped again. This time he couldn't recover, landed on his ass. His teeth rattled at the impact and he clamped down on his tongue, hard. This is it, Sam thought, I'm dead right here. The wet oozy stuff he'd fallen in seeped into his jeans. He didn't think it was water, didn't think he wanted to know what else it might be. He flopped a bit, like his top and bottom halves were out of sync. For half a second, he thought maybe he'd seriously injured himself, expected to feel a whitehot pain rip through him. Like before. Less than a year ago, he'd died in mud and water. He must be fated to always go out that way. Better that than being eaten by Hellhounds.
"Sam," Dean said, more of a wheeze than a word.
Shit, oh shit. Sam thought he might have said that last bit out loud. What kind of dick move was it to make it about him, anyway? Sam felt a strong hand under his left arm, wanted to help it pull him upright. He couldn't seem to manage, which was about as wrong as his assessment of the situation had been. He was useless. He couldn't fix anything. He couldn't do anything right, no matter how much he wanted to.
"In here. Come on, get up." Dean oofed into his left ear and tugged at him again. "Sam."
Sam blinked. There was an open door, there as if by magic. Magic. Damn it. Think, he had to think. He knew he and Dean both knew there wasn't much use in hiding, but maybe if they could get a break from running one of them could come up with a way out of the mess before they became mystery piles of ooze in a damned seedy alley. Or warehouse. Blown to smithereens, nearly unrecognizable as human. He had a horrible thought about what he'd fallen in. He got his legs and arms to cooperate at last, half crawled through the door with Dean hovering right behind.
The building appeared to be empty, at least for business. Sam gathered his wits, surveyed their new location. Boxes piled. Light coming from somewhere. The stink of unwashed bodies, urine and booze. Unfunded homeless shelter. They couldn't stay here if there were people living inside. Too much danger. No one else deserved to get hurt because of how stupid he was for plunging ahead on this hunt without accurate information.
"You okay, Sammy?" Dean asked, breathing still accelerated from the run. "You looked out of it for a minute there."
Sam realized he tasted blood. He spat, a glob of red-tinged saliva hitting the warehouse floor. It sounded loud. Somewhere to the right, a man's voice muttered something too low to hear.
"Dean," Sam said. "We can't stay."
"I know, I smelled 'em before I heard 'em. Just thought we could catch our breath for a while." Dean stared at him. "You didn't answer me. You okay?"
Not really, but Dean didn't mean long term. He only meant the physical here and now.
"Well, not for long. We're screwed here, Sam," Dean said. "Even if this shithole smells ripe enough to throw our scent, it won't last."
"Hey," that indistinct voice from before shouted and was understandable, if slurred. "Who asked ya? Get outta my house, asshole!"
"Yeah, yeah, get your panties out of a bunch," Dean shouted. He pursed his lips, then tilted his head. "You hear that?"
"Hear what?" Sam asked. Then it clicked. "It's too quiet out there. Those things were right behind us."
Neither of them were naïve enough to believe ducking into a warehouse was enough to actually lose the trail of a witch-controlled pack of dogs. More than that, a group of animals like that running loose on the city streets would have brought the attention of cops, or animal control. Fire department. Anything, yet there were no sirens, no indication anyone or anything was out there. The only sounds Sam could hear was him and Dean breathing and one of the residents of the warehouse apparently taking a very loud and powerful piss.
"Something isn't right." Dean checked his weapon, then checked it again. "Like, for one thing, I don't get why it didn't blow us up the second it knew we were onto it."
"You know witches aren't exactly known for following anyone's rules but their own."
Sam ignored the strange look that crossed Dean's face at that remark and inched toward the door. Before he'd fallen, he would have sworn he felt the nip of teeth on his jeans, the hot breath of an angry canine pack. He eased the door open an inch and peered out. There was nothing. No sounds, no smells. Nothing. It didn't even look like an alley. It didn't look like anything, like the warehouse had been draped with a black blanket.
"Uh, Dean," he said.
"What in the hell is that?"
But he had an idea. Sam's lower back developed a strong twinge. The fall had been real, he had hit the ground. But he was starting to wonder how much else had been, and for how long it maybe hadn't been. How much was real, not had been. His tongue throbbed where he'd bit it. Real. He turned to the interior of the warehouse, expected it to be gone and replaced with the black nothingness. The stench of piss remained, so did the faint movements of transients dwelling in the shadows. There were walls and windows. He didn't know if he was relieved or not. Probably not. Probably didn't matter either way. He had a bad feeling. He couldn't sort everything into neat real and not real columns.
"The son of a bitch is messing with us." Dean's anger was below the surface, but very much there. They were both on the same page. "There never was any …"
Hounds, Sam completed the thought in his head when Dean couldn't say the word out loud. Sam wasn't sure where reality had begun to turn into fantasy, which was terrifying. The more he thought about it, the more confused he got. Them holing up to mount some kind of defense was worthless, because even if this all looked solid, at any moment it might not be real and they wouldn't figure it out until it was too late. He didn't remember ever getting to the warehouse district, only running through it, which hadn't been happening at all. So, if hadn't happened, it was a pretty fair bet it still wasn't happening. Their only choices were to stay where it seemed genuine or go back out to what they knew for sure wasn't. They were so completely screwed. And it was his fault.
"No," Sam said, "there wasn't."
He squinted into the darkest corners of the expansive room, looked for visual confirmation of the smells and sounds. There was no solid black curtain smothering them inside, the way it hung outside, but that might mean nothing at all. His head spun.
"I said get out," that bodiless voice shouted again. Louder, closer. "Get out now."
Sam would feel so much better if he could put a face to that voice. He felt like it was coming from everywhere. Couple that with not even knowing if it was a figment of his imagination made it all the eerier.
"I wish that guy would shut his cakehole," Dean muttered.
"Dean, I don't think …" What was he going to say, that he thought that angry drunk was all in their heads? It was ridiculous. "I'm not sure there's anyone … what if none of this has been real?"
Dean looked a little pasty in the dim light, as he stared tight-lipped at Sam, and Sam thought maybe he was more scared than angry. He couldn't blame Dean; he was feeling the same way. Sam tried to remember something he could be one hundred percent certain about. It was surprisingly difficult. He thought it had something to do with Dean telling him he'd do nobody any good if he burned himself out. Damn. He guessed Dean was right about that.
"We're real, though," Dean said. "You and me. Right?"
The question threw him, big time. Sam felt his palms get clammy and the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He was real. But he didn't know if Dean was. He stared at his brother, the face so familiar to him he could picture it exactly with his eyes shut. He was just about sure Dean was actually standing there and not some sort of projection and then he got punched in the arm, hard.
"Ow, hey. What the hell, Dean?" Sam said.
"We're real." Dean looked at him with a grin that almost covered the alarm. Almost. "If nothing else is, at least we are."
Sam nodded and pretended that Dean punching him was proof enough of their mutual existence. It had to be. He didn't want to consider that he was alone. Not yet. He wasn't ready for that.
"Come on, Princess, what do you say we start fighting instead of running?"
Sam couldn't argue that. The idea, anyway.
"I could kick some witch ass right about now."
The problem was they didn't know for sure it was a witch. They didn't know what had been done to them, or if it was still happening. It could be one of many things. They could be experiencing a joint hallucination. They could be in a shared dream again. Maybe they'd been slipped something; that was easy enough to do. Sam had no idea, because he'd had no idea what this guy was truly capable of. They couldn't fight the unknown, and Dean knew it too. Sam frowned. Think, think. He was going in mental circles.
A scraping sound behind them, like metal across concrete, made them both jump and turn toward it. Their reflexes, fast enough on a normal day, were too slow. Coming at them like a dervish was a vaguely man-shaped creature. Immediately, the image of the Tasmanian Devil popped into Sam's brain, and suddenly that was what it was coming straight for him. Not real, not real, he thought. He didn't know what Dean saw but guessed demon, only because he started spouting Latin.
"It's not real," Sam shouted and pulled his gun. "Dean."
The cartoonish Tasmanian Devil spat at him and devoted its attention to Dean. It happened too fast. Sam felt like he was wrapped in that black blanket they'd seen outside, wondered if it was possible he was. The thing put its hand on Dean's forehead, with a resounding slap. Sam choked on the smell of sweat and piss and yesterday's booze. His ears rang with the sound of Dean whimpering, the sound so foreign he didn't know if it was really happening, what was being done.
"I told you to get out," the thing said and shoved Dean. "Hunters, go where you won't bother me."
Reacting, Sam grabbed for Dean's arm and wrapped his fingers around a sleeve. The momentum pulled him forward instead of stopping Dean. Somehow, impossibly, they were on a walkway, falling over the guardrail into empty space. The witch, warlock, whatever waved his hands at them, his lips moved. Sam couldn't hear what was said, he could only hear Dean's distress. It seemed like they fell forever, but he knew that wasn't right. He knew they might not even be falling at all. He twisted midair anyway, tried to put himself on the bottom, in case they'd eventually impact the ground. Dean didn't fight, just made that awful sound, like a child waking from a bad dream. He didn't have time to tell Dean it would be okay, or wish Dean would tell him that.
Because it wasn't okay.
Above, he saw what looked like shooting stars. White fireworks. It was amazing and terrifying simultaneously, surreally beautiful. Cold air whipped his hair every way. Everything melded together, the bursts of light, Dean's cries, the sensation of falling and floating. Then, Sam knew only pain. His body slammed into the ground, expelled the air from his lungs. Dean landed on top of him, an elbow jabbed into his gut, forehead hit his teeth. Sam's shoulders bounced off concrete and, as abruptly as that, he bounced out of consciousness.
When Sam finally woke up, Dean was already gone. Neither of them knew that right away.