Can I Go On?

Summary: Dean ponders if he can continue after this final devastating blow when a reminder comes of what he still has from an unexpected source. * Thoughtful/Upset!Dean * Spoilers for 07x10 Death's Door.

Tags: It is tagged for 07x10 Death's Door

Spoilers/Warnings: This contains spoilers from 07x10 Death's Door so be wary if you haven't seen it yet. Not sure if it requires use of tissues so I won't put a tissue warning on this one. Mild bad language though since this is Dean.

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, the boys, etc. This is just written for fun and a way to kill the next long five weeks.

Author Note: Yes, I said no more tags for this one but Dean decided to talk this morning so this is from his POV when he's in a rather dark spot of self reflection.

SPN SPN SPN SPN

I'd almost forgotten what this much pain could feel life. Oh, not the gut wrenching, stomach clenching emotional loss. That's something I usually tend to feel daily or at least monthly and that's been since I was probably old enough to understand what my Dad really did when he'd leave me and Sam for days or weeks on end.

No, right now I'm talking about physical pain. The kind you get when you get tossed around by a Wendigo or a vengeful spirit or a raging Angel high on too many souls from Purgatory. Though this pain is a bit more generic than what I'm used to since I brought this on myself.

The first fist through that glass thing in the hospital was first but that's nothing. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll remember how I got most of the bruises…though I do remember taking a shot at my brother before tearing out of the hospital for…well, wherever the hell I ended up.

It wasn't right to take a cheap shot at Sam when he'd only been trying to help but then that's mostly all my little brother had ever tried to do and these past few years it seems like I was always shooting him down when he did that…and I wonder why he'd closed himself off more since waking up this time with barely a hinge left to hold his sanity in.

I'd gotten used to burying my grief. My emotions had been in a state of lockdown since I was young and I'd only let them escape a couple times. It seems like these days I've been a bit better at appearing like I didn't care when Hell, even Bobby called me on it…crap.

That was one of our last conversations…it had been our last conversations…in the van while Sam had been skulking around. I really had stopped feeling or caring and had just been going on automatic ever since we seemed to loose Castiel to those damn, black gooey monsters out of the depths of Purgatory.

It was just numb to me now. I mean, I'd been a hunter since I was old enough to pull a trigger on something evil. I'd given up the dreams of normal, apple pie, wife and kids before I was even able to understand what those dreams meant and that was fine for me because I knew at least one of us would have the chance and Sam was it.

So I hunted, I put up with Dad, I stuck it out when Sammy left for college because I knew it was what was right. Then it just started coming down on us, one huge chunk of crap after another. "Dad died in a deal to save me…I still have some really bitter stuff in my head about that if I let myself dwell on it. Then…Sammy died and I made the deal that sent me to Hell but my little brother, the kid I'd sworn always to look after, was safe and I never once complained or bitched. I dealt for a year and then handled Sam as best I could the couple nights before it happened.

Y'know, considering what I did in Hell, what happened to me there…stuff I still won't tell Sam, I should've been a raging nutcase when I got out but…I wasn't. I buried the guilt, I buried the pain, the memories and I coped because that's what I was taught to do by my old man. You stuff that crap right down and you go on. That's when it started going strained between me and Sam.

In the four months or forty years I'd been gone, he'd grown up too hard and way too fast and not at the hands of who I would've preferred but we were still brothers and no matter what, Bobby was right. Family ain't supposed to make it easy and Lord knows mine rarely ever has.

I grew up giving lip service to my Dad. I mean, sure I loved him and idolized him…he was my…Dad but now that I'm older…now that I've seen and done what I have…there are nights when I hate the man. I hate what he turned into after Mom died and I hate what he did to me and my brother but that's neither here nor there now.

Sam and I survived the fights, we survived Lucifer getting out and learning about the grand master scheme that Heaven and Hell had for us. He and I carried on when everyone else was ready for the world to bite the big one. We carried on because that's what we did. The family legacy, hunting things…saving people and in the end I couldn't save the two people who mattered the most.

Oh, I carried on after Stull when I thought Sam was gone. I reluctantly went to Lisa since it's what Sammy wanted…even though I want it known that I did not ever promise…and it's what Bobby wanted for me so I went and I stayed out of this crap for a year…until Sam came back…well, we'll say something came back.

Bobby had lost his soul to help us find a way to stop the Apocalypse and y'know…to this very second…it's never occurred to me how much worse this could have gone if he hadn't found a way to stop Crowley from keeping that thing.

By this point, I'd begun to feel the pressure but I shrugged it off on having a kid brother with no soul running around. I mean, dealing with T-1000 wasn't easy when I never knew who he'd try to kill if my back was turned too long and I know how hard Bobby had it to get to the point where he could forgive Sammy for what he did the night Death put his soul back in. I mean, what guy can easily forget when one of the boys he's raised tries to kill him just to avoid having his soul put back in?

Hell, I'd been having a hard time forgetting the whole getting turned into a vampire thing so I could imagine Bobby's issues but…he did forgive Sammy and it seemed like all was right again. If I ignored the grandfather coming back from the dead-turning us over to some ghouls-trying to use Robo-Sam for his own ends thing. Then all I had to cope with was getting hit in the gut when I realized how far Castiel, our resident Angel, had fallen in his attempt to win the war in Heaven.

I'd never trusted Angels…hell, they were dicks from day one, but Cas had been there for us when he didn't have to be. Though I should've caught the change the night after Stull and maybe if I hadn't been so deep into denial about losing Sam then I would've but…hindsight's a bitch as Bobby would say…if he could.

I think the night I found out that it had been Castiel who pulled Sam out of the Cage but…didn't do anything to make sure his soul had been attached…because I do not want to think that Sam did have his soul only to lose it after he got out, was when I stopped feeling so much.

I'd been to Hell, I'd watched my innocent little brother turn into a hunter that might've even scared our Dad, I'd seen the Apocalypse come and go, I've been back in time to see my parents before they were my parents…so to realize…to see how much else Sam and I could lose…well, to say that I might've begun to lose interest in saving things.

Cas seems to have lost the fight against the Leviathans since he ain't been seen since even though I still have a slim hope that somehow he survived…even if his vessel might not have. So now, the monsters seem to think Sam and I public enemy number one and have been trying to take us out but that's nothing new…just I didn't care as much.

I'd saved the world how many times these past seven years and it gets to be old when it seems like it's just me and Sammy against the odds. Sam's mind has been stretched too thin and thinking that I could lose my brother again wasn't helping the mood I've found myself in.

Now, I will admit that I did start to feel old instincts kicking back in when Becky drugged up my pain in the ass little brother, got him to marry her and…I still see his eyes in that cabin when Garth, the littlest hunter that could, and I found 'em. Still wished I'd dropped something on that girl but then this happened and now I'm wondering as if it's finally time to hang it up.

Sam and I had lost things all our lives. Mom, Dad, Sam's girlfriend at Stanford, Pastor Jim, Caleb, Ellen, Jo, Ash, Pamela…hell, we've lost people that we've probably forgotten…but this one…this last loss could be what finally does me in.

Bobby had given me the speech and I knew how I've been but after fighting for so long I'd begun to wonder just how much more Sam and I were supposed to take…then the other shoe dropped and now I nursing pains like I haven't had in awhile.

The moment that Doctor came out and just looked at us…I felt Sam even before he moved to squeeze that scar on his hand that was his recent coping mechanism. I was numb because of all the losses we've been dealt I hadn't allowed myself to even consider this one.

Our Dad was strong, our Dad could beat the odds but I always knew that one day I'd either see it happen or get that final call that he'd bought it. When Dad died, I was numb but then I went on burying the feelings and the guilt. This death…

Bobby Singer had been the one constant in our lives since I was four or five years old. He was one of the few hunters that could…cope with Dad, though I think he did it mainly for Sam and me. Bobby kept us when Dad took off, he taught us things that would be needed but he also taught us how to be kids.

He never once turned us away if we needed help. He was the one Sam and I turned to before Dad died and he's the one who dealt with the fallout after he died and every single fallout of every single heartache since. He put himself in a wheelchair rather than be forced to kill me when a demon possessed him and even though he could've given up, could've said the hell with it and us…he still fought beside us…with us and he was there at Stull the day it happened.

Bobby gave hard lessons in life, he never pulled his punches or his words when he felt Sam or I needed to hear the cold hard facts. It was him who made me want to fight for Sammy when the end was coming and it was Bobby who had drummed it into my head that 'family don't mean blood' and in that he was right.

He was the last line of family that Sam and I had and two days ago I saw him look at us for the last time and say his last damn word. "'Idjits,'" he'd called us which both Sam and I knew the real meaning behind the word then he was gone and so was I.

Every ounce of anger, emotion, and every nerve that had been stretched to the breaking point finally snapped and I lost it. I know I threw a punch at Sam when he went to grab me before I hit a doctor and I don't know if I connected or not but I do know that I've hit every bar or so in the area around the Jersey area in which this nightmare happened.

I'd been drinking more as of late but I must have lost it in the booze and only this latest bar fight brought me back enough to realize that I was tired and without Bobby, without the one constant in my life that I'd come to count on…I wasn't sure if I wanted to even try to go on.

I'd gone back for the Impala since Sam and I had hidden her after that clone mess a few weeks back since I figured if this was the end of my road then I'd go out with the home I've had since I was four.

How I got to the car and back to this area I wasn't sure. I woke up in the front seat with a splitting headache, bloodied knuckles, torn shirt and more bruises and cuts than I've had in awhile. I've been sitting here on the hood like Sam and I used to do just to think while staring at the .45 that I always carried.

It's not the first time I've been disgusted enough to consider this. After I got back from Hell, the days and nights of memories, of seeing how much of Sam I'd lost…I tried to do it but a pesky baby brother pulled me back. It had always been Sam when we'd been kids who would pull me back but this time…

"'This time, just watch out for your damn brother, ya idjit.'"

Huh, damn. Just what I need. Hearing voices…but I remember the night Bobby said something similar to me. During that whole unlucky rabbits foot mess when Sammy's luck really sucked after Bella stole that rabbit's foot from us. Major puppy dog eyes when he lost his favorite shoe but again it was Bobby who bailed us out with the spell and everything.

Bobby had been surrogate Father, Uncle, advice giver and mediator all rolled into one and now he was gone. Who the hell was supposed to keep me and Sam running straight if he was…

"'You've been big brother and father to that kid since you was four, boy. Family ain't supposed to make it easy on you. They're supposed to drive you to drink, to pull your hair out. Hell, they wouldn't be family if they didn't but just because things ain't like what they were don't mean you can give up on 'em.'"

Fine…little bits of Bobby-isms running in my head but then I've been drinking nonstop and probably have a concussion so what else can I expect. By now, Sam's found the letter I left at our motel and…damn. I fell apart with Bobby's death but I did the same thing I did when Dad died. I shut Sam out. I didn't care that he'd also lost the biggest role model in his life, the one guy who never looked down or treated him any differently…even when he could've.

It just all hit me and I needed out…I still want out. I'm tired. I'm tired of always being the one with the answers, of being the one who has to sacrifice everything for a world that'll go to pot anyway and…

"'Oh, boo-hoo. You want a fiddle to go with that whine, boy? You've been a hunter too long to quit because you're hit a few times. Hell, I've seen stronger hunters go down that bad road or get themselves killed over a lot less than what you and Sam've face. There's been a lot of things I might've hated your Dad over but the one thing I could never hold against is that he didn't raise either of you boys to be goddamn cowards.'"

"Less annoying when you were alive, Bobby," Yep, I've either snapped or my subconscious is still awake past all the booze of the last few weeks and days.

Touching the .45 again, I can nearly feel the slap to my head and then I feel the tears that I hadn't realized I'd been crying. I hadn't quit in seven years of literal Hell but now I want to. Now, I don't care about the world, the innocents I'm supposed to be saving or…Sam…okay that's not true because I will always care for him but…

The sound of my cell phone ringing makes me stop to nearly ask how many times has he called when I hear the voicemail click and after a long moment I finally reach into the car to listen to it.

"'Hey, Dean. I'm not sure if you'll get this but I've waited as long as I thought I should…or could to call you. I hope you're okay and you haven't done what you said you were going to in this letter because…Dean…I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Oh, I know the whole funeral pyre thing but…God, I don't want to do this once much less twice so…could you please just call me back to tell me what to do? Bobby's gone, De'n and…okay, I'll say it…I can't lose my brother too…'"

Sonuvabitch. Yep, there was a tone I hadn't heard in nearly five years. Sammy, since being on his own, facing what he did, going into the Cage, being soulless and now fighting to keep his sanity, hasn't been letting as much emotion out as he did once. That call had pure emotion, tears ready to come but fighting it little brother…and the fact that he dropped letters in my name tell me that he's about gone.

Bobby Singer had been like a Father to us…hell, he'd become a Father in all ways save blood but…blood doesn't make you family. Family has to be earned and he earned that. I know how Bobby felt for us and I hope he knew how Sam and I felt for him but as I look to see a second message, I frown a little since Sam said this was his first call and no one else has this new number…or at least no one had better have this number.

Clicking the phone again, I listen to the other message and was half expecting a wrong number or telemarketer or something but wasn't expecting what I did hear and it was that message that mad me shoving the .45 back under my jacket, ignoring the pain I'm in and any further thoughts of chucking it all to hit the road to hopefully still have time to not lose what I did still have.

My head's pounding from the blows to it, the lack of food and the thoughts whirling around in it when I finally make it back to the last hotel we had…a block from the hospital in which Sam and I lost our surrogate Father and friend. A quick talk with the surprised manager tells me what I need to know.

"Sammy."

Sam hadn't left yet. In fact, if I take in the darkened room that smelled of stale air and other things that remind me of other times in our life, I'd say he hasn't moved much since he got back here.

Sam's been taller than me since he hit that growth spurt at fourteen…and I still hate it that my little brother is four inches taller than me, but right now as I look at him sitting with his back against the headboard, his knees drawn up to his chin with his head buried, he reminds me of when he'd been twelve and scared out of his mind.

There has always been one thing that will break me faster than anything else and that's the sight of my little brother hurt or crying. It's been awhile since I've seen Sam this broken to the point that he's sobbing. The last time it was this bad had been the night before my deal came due and he'd finally had to face my death.

I'd left him alone then too. This time, I'd left him alone with not only memories of Hell pushing him but the responsibility of being the one to make those final decisions for Bobby.

The message on my cell had made up my mind. I knew that going on without Bobby wouldn't be easy for either of us but I also knew that I had two things to do that I couldn't run from. The one was business because I'd made Dick Roman the sorriest son of a bitch who ever left Purgatory but the second thing…was more personal and I wouldn't break that promise again.

I didn't bother turning on a light yet since I could see well enough to know what I was dealing with when I sat down on the bed beside Sam. I saw the battered trucker's cap he'd been clinging to but I also see something that I hadn't noticed was no longer in the trunk of the Impala and wonder when the hell Sam had snuck my old leather jacket out and into his duffel.

When he'd been a kid, Dad would let him hold it if he was scared or cold. I did the same when I got it and when I stopped wearing it after Stull…I never realized how much that loss had affected Sam since his last memory of that jacket was me wearing it as Lucifer while in control of Sam beat the crap outta me.

"I miss him too, Sammy," I just tell him and wait only a second before I feel him move toward me and I throw my own rule out of the window for awhile to put one arm around my shaking little brother and let him get it out with me there with him. Do I know I'm crying too? Yeah, but I don't care.

I'd done the anger and fury thing, I'd lashed out at things, people and took a beating because of it but in the long run no matter what else I did, Bobby was right. I still had family and he's still with me.

Sammy and I would still fight the good fight. We'd keep on with the family business and we'd save the damn planet again because so long as I had Sam and my memories…it'd be enough to carry on for.

John Winchester taught us to hunt, to fight, to kill…and he taught me never to give up…but Bobby Singer taught me that no matter what else…I was more than a hunter, I was more than a killer. I was still a son, a friend and a big brother to the best little brother around and we'd see this through.

"De'n?" I know he's in shock and half asleep when he finally realized I'm there but I know how bad he is when he doesn't pull away but instead pulls my jacket closer. "You…real?"

"Yeah, Sammy, I'm real," I tell him in the tone I only use with him when he's like this and that's how we stay until Sam finally falls to sleep but is still upset enough that he's latched onto me like he would as a toddler running from a nightmare and I don't move him. "It's okay, little brother. I'm with you and we'll face this crap together. We'll make our family proud and send every damn Leviathan pack to Hell."

I feel Sam nod before he relaxes though I know he'll wake up with a nightmare just by how tight his shoulders seem so I know it'll still be awhile before I sleep fully. Giving his neck a squeeze that had always meant comfort and security to him, I flip open my phone to replay that one message and hear it echo in my mind long after I've closed my eyes for a brief attempt at rest and I understand that even though he's gone, even though Sam and I might appear to be alone in this fight…that we'll never truly be alone.

"'Dean…just don't forget what I said and…well, just look after your damn brother…ya idjit…'"

The End