It was supposed to be perfect, you know? The white, picket fence, a couple kids, maybe a dog, complete with those clichéd dog houses, you know, the ones with "Fido" crudely painted above the door. Growing up, I had never experienced normal. Tonka trucks and trips to the park were replaced by weapons training and the seemingly endless pilgrimage across the US. God, I can't remember how many states Dean and I had been to before my tenth birthday. Too many to count. It wasn't that Dad was a bad father. He was just doing what he had to do. After all, how many kids had their mothers killed by god knows what when they were babies? If it wasn't for Dean, I probably would not have even known what a (well, at least somewhat) normal childhood could even look like.
So, when I had the chance to study law at Stanford, I took it. You better believe me, I took it. Dad was pissed, but that wasn't really a surprise. I had expected my father to be more than a little upset when I "ditched" the family business in search of higher education. It was the look of hurt and sadness on Dean's face that nearly made me tear up the acceptance letter and stay with my family. My fucked up excuse of a family, but family nonetheless. Dean had always had my back, been more than a parent than my father had ever been (or at least, so it seemed to a young boy who had no mom and saw his dad on rare occasions between hunts). Dean had taught me everything, from how to ride a bike, to how to tie my shoes, and everything else in between. I idolized that man, had looked up to him since I was four, and now I was abandoning him. Let me tell you, it took all I could to head out that door. I was heading for freedom, that normalcy that I had been deprived of for going on 20 years.
And freedom was exactly what I got. Term papers, all nighters , exams, I relished it all. While my classmates looked at me like I had two heads, I indulged in the freedom of being a student, just being normal, savoring each moment as if it might be my last. Being one of John Winchester's boys, you could never know what might be after you. And my efforts were paying off: my GPA was in the high 3.0s, and a free ride to law school was just a few short years away.
Jessica was the one who saved me from my hermit-like ways. Jessica Moore: beautiful, intelligent, the sweetest woman on the face of the planet. She accepted my overzealous study habits, and taught me to live a little. She helped me to forget about my fucked childhood, and breathed a fresh, new life into me. She was like oxygen, allowing me to soar, carried me along the wind like a bird.
I was free.
I remember that night, after the Halloween party. The last gathering I had ever attended as a college student. I remember being awakened to stirring in the kitchen; the brawl that ensued; and staring face to face with none other than my smart ass older brother. The brother I had looked up to since childhood; the brother who had just broken into my dorm and gone on some speech about how Dad was missing and he needed my help. And what did I do? Tell him to get the fuck out, brother or not? No, I went with him. I always look back at that moment with mixed emotions. Would things have gone differently if I had told him to leave me alone? But then again, I would have missed out on that weekend with Dean, which I had to admit, was not only pretty awesome, but the stepping stone to our reuniting after all those years. Dean was, and still is, my rock, the one who keeps me steady during the mess that is my life; and I'm his. But, regardless, that weekend in Jericho was the beginning of the end for me in so many ways: because in those early hours of Monday morning, hours before my fateful meeting at Stanford Law, my world as I knew it came crashing down, for the second time.
I remember that night clearly, every minute detail. I remember the cookies Jess had baked for me, chocolate chip, and the cute note she had strategically leaned against the plate. I remember the blood drops trickling on my forehead, the look of fear in her blue-green eyes as she stare down at me, pinned to the ceiling, a lethal gash across her abdomen. I remember the smell of burning flesh and hair, the intense heat of the fire, of me lying on our bed, staring up at her with horror, frozen. I couldn't move; I knew I had to, or I would have ended up dead too, but I couldn't. I couldn't leave Jessica to die alone. I remember screaming her name, and then hearing my own name being called; I remember Dean pulling me frantically off the bed (looking out for me, as he always does), and my attempts at resisting.
Suddenly, law school had been the last thing on my mind. And for the first time, I finally understood how Dad had felt all those years. As close as he seemed to be with Dean, my father and I finally had something in common; we felt grief, we shared not only the loss of the women we loved, but under eerily similar circumstances. I could understand why Dad had this intense desire; need to find the one responsible for Mom's death. Because now, I needed it too. I needed to find my father, to be able to share with him the pain of losing our significant others. As much as I loved Dean, as much as I looked up to him, I just knew he would never understand quite like Dad would. Yeah, Dean had lost his mother, but Dad and I, we had lost the loves of our lives.
And so, I dropped the law career, the fancy office and the wealthy clients; traded that life for the life of a hunter. I adapted (albeit reluctantly initially) Dean's motto of saving people, hunting things. The family business. Though I always had Dad on my mind as we followed his seemingly endless texts with coordinates to other cases, the wild goose chase which was obviously meant to distract us while he continued on his hunt for whatever killed our mother, and no doubt Jessica, too.
Jess was also on my mind those first months after her death. I remember the nightmares, of my beautiful Jessica holding me close, whispering seductively in my ear, and then suddenly bursting into flame before my very eyes. I remember waking up in cold sweats, with Dean (ever the over protective older brother) trying to act cool as he questioned me to hide the fear in his green eyes. But most of all, I remember the other dreams, the ones from before the fire. The dreams in which I saw Jessica's death days before it actually happened. Those dreams are scary accurate, nailing everything from the baked goods to the nightie Jess was wearing. The guilt is just too much to bear; I knew my girlfriend was going to die, and I did nothing to stop it. What kind of boyfriend does that, sits and does nothing to save the one he loves?
Even now, at night, I think of her. As Dean snores in the bed beside me, I close my eyes and think, for the millionth time, of the what might have beens. I see family suppers at the Moore's place, gathering around the table and enjoying each other's company. I think of the diamond I had been admiring at the local jewelers just days before the fire, and how I was planning the most romantic proposal ever, enough to make anyone (especially my pain in the ass older brother) want to gag, but I knew would make Jessica's heart melt. I was even thinking of the impossible, of Dad and Dean actually joining us for a Fourth of July picnic or something like that, Dean trying to teach my kids how to fire a sawed off or something equally crazy.
But now, there's none of that. The last fringes of hope that I would have a normal life seem to have vanished into thin air, dissipating like the spirits we vanquish with salt rounds. Dean is my life now. I know that sounds crazy, and a bit clingy, but it's true. It was Dean who carried me out of that house fire 22 years earlier, who saved my ass on more occasions than I can count.
I open my eyes, look at the goofball who's still snoring away, oblivious to his surroundings. I miss Dad and Jess so much that it hurts, but to have my older brother beside me, to look out for me and make me laugh, to help me get through the shit storm that is my fucked up life, well, that means more to me than he will probably ever know.
I feel the fear, that intense, pounding, lump rising in your throat fear as I see my brother stagger towards me, and that shadow of a man just a stone's throw away. I catch a glimpse of brightness as the moon beams on the steel of the blade. I manage to cry, "Sam, look out!" But it's too late. I can hear the hiss of my brother as he grimaces in pain, the crunch of his knees meeting gravel as he collapses to the ground, the clang of the bloody knife as the attacker drops it and flees.
"No!" I can sense Bobby rush past me as he hurries off after the assailant. But I have eyes only for Sam, for my baby brother, as he sits on wobbly knees, the life draining from him. In a heartbeat I am at his side and I pull him close, groping in the darkness for the wound. When I feel the tacky blood in my hand, I feel my heart sink in my chest. This is a lot worse than I had hoped for. I remember my phony attempts at reassuring my brother (it's not even that bad), his eyes staring, unseeing, at me, the way his head suddenly went limp in my arms. And just like that, he's gone. My little brother, Sammy, the kid I had raised since he was in diapers, is gone. I pull him close, and cry out his name. I wish with all my heart that he would reply, that he would open his eyes from behind that mop of hair, and make fun of me for breaking my own "no chick flick moments" rule. But there's nothing. I don't even hear the reassuring thud of his heartbeat in his chest.
"Sam!" One lone tear squeezes from my eyes as I pull the limp body closer into my arms. I have no idea how long I knelt there, cradling Sam's body and sobbing quietly. Eventually Bobby returns from an unsuccessful search for Sam's killer (it still seems so new and unbelievable to me, Sam's killer) and lets out a pained cry at the sight. I know that I should acknowledge the man, he's basically been our father since Dad died, hell, maybe even before) but I can't. There are only two people in this world at the moment, me and my brother. Mercifully, Bobby seems to understand this, and stands back at a respectful distance, watching, until I forget he's even there. Finally, as dawn breaks in the East, Bobby approaches and places a withered hand gently on my shoulder.
"Dean?" he asks in a choked up voice. I finally look up, my face streaked with tears, Sam's body still protectively pulled against mine. I remember the older man mumble something about bringing Sam's body inside, we'll worry about it later (at the time I had no clue what he meant by "it" but later found out that he meant the typical ritual of salting and burning the body). I nod my head and try to get up, but my grief (and no doubt the hours I had spent crouched in the same position) make it nearly impossible, and Bobby gently helps me up. He offers to help me carry Sam too, but I refuse. I have to do this, no one else. Mechanically we walk to the sparsely furnished cabin, and I gently place my brother's body on the bed, the blood that had yet to congeal staining the bare mattress. I can remember Bobby standing in the other room for a little while, then head out the door, saying something about bringing me something to eat. I don't want food. I'm not hungry. All I want is my little brother to be alive.
I don't know how long I kept my vigil at Sam's bed side. I remember Bobby returning with a bucket of fried chicken, and me pushing him away. He tries to convince me to bury my brother, to salt and burn him as if he were not the one person I had left in the world, but I will not have it. He means well, but I just can't let go.
After what seems like an eternity, the room is quiet; it's just me and the body that not twelve hours earlier had been my very much alive younger brother. I pull up a chair beside the bed, and just sit there, my eyes raw from crying. I look back at the times I have failed him over the past years: letting him go off on your own at Flagstaff; keeping him in the dark about what really happened to Mom and our family's secret life (though that, I had to admit, was necessary); allowing him to go off to Stanford feeling that we hated him (hell, I feel guilty that we drove him away in the first place). But most of all, I had failed my kid brother, the one I would die for, by breaking Dad's cardinal rule, the one thing he asked me to do before he died: I didn't protect him.
"I was supposed to protect you," I moan, and the guilt washes over me, so intense that I can't breathe. "Dad didn't even have to tell me that…"
And suddenly, I let it all out. Sharing my intimate thoughts with my Sammy, pouring out my heart and soul as he lies cold on a bare, moth eaten mattress (such an indignity). I can feel the tears flowing again, and I wipe them away with one hand, continue my little monologue, no matter how much it hurts. I tell him how it had been my job to protect him, and I had failed. "What am I supposed to do, Sammy?" Of course, Sam has no answer for me, but I already know.
I had considered it before, albeit briefly. A crossroads demon. That night in Mississippi, what seemed like a lifetime ago, I had come face to face with her. Despite the fact that Dad's deal had scarred me, broken me, I came so damn close to making one of my own. She told me of the torment Dad was going through in Hell, because of me, and I had the chance to make it better (I remembered that line from Mom's favorite song, "Hey Jude": take a sad song and make it better. I remembered thinking that this was my chance to make it better). I was so fucking close. In fact, what kept me from kissing that demon bitch was Sammy, my kid brother, the one whose knees I bandaged and whose lunch I'd pack for school. I kept thinking about how I was supposed to protect him, after all, it was my job, and I sure as fuck couldn't do it burning in Hell. Dad or no Dad, I was not going to put my brother through it.
But could I do it now? I know he'll be pissed, but at least he'll be alive. That alone would make it worth my while. I could spend ten years with him, raise a little hell, gank some evil soneofabitches, and have Sammy by my side the entire way. By that time, I'd probably be tired of the game anyway, and ready to check out. Truth be told, I'm tired now. Sam isthe only reason why I carry on.
"WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?" I leap from my chair and let out a heartbroken yell, because I already know. Before I can chicken out, I leave the cabin and rush to the Impala, drive erratically to the nearest crossroads. Do I want to die? No. Do I want Sam to live? More than anything.
What am I supposed to do? The answer is quite obvious.
Time: they say it is of the essence, that it can be our friend in so many ways: time to spend with friends and family, time to relax by the fire at the end of a long day. Time to prepare, to cherish…
A time to live, a time to die.
Dean has no time; it has been our enemy since that night in Cold Oak, when he confessed about the deal he made to save my life. Every minute, every second of the past year seemed to flash before me, slipping away like beads on a young woman's pearl necklace. I tried all I could to save my brother, believe me, I tried, and yet all my efforts have failed. Time was most definitely not on our side the past twelve months, and as I count the last minutes of my brother's life, I reflect on all Dean has done for me, and how little I have done for him in return.
As a four year old, he carried me to safety from our burning home. I became a burden for him and my father.
As a young boy, he protected me as best as he could from our past, the real reason why Dad was never home. He raised me while Dad was away. I complained because I had to change schools more often than the other kids, and never made any real friends.
As a teenager, he taught me how to hunt. I rewarded him by abandoning him for Flagstaff at sixteen, and eventually to college.
As a man, my brother, he sacrificed his life, his very soul, to save me. I can't return the favor.
I just needed a little more time.
I turn to Ruby, eyes desperate as I try to come up with some last minute reprieve, some miraculous stay of execution. Instead of the hopeful "there is one more option," I hear the demon say, "It's too late." But it can't be. There's no possible way that my brother, my seemingly immortal big brother, is breathing his last. Being the typical tough guy that he is, Dean tries to convince me to give it up. "I'm not going to let you go to Hell!" I scream, to which Dean simply, and sadly replies, "Yes you are."
Nearby, I can hear the grandfather clock in that preppy New Harmony town house chime midnight. Every clang feels like the blade of the guillotine as it beheads its latest victim. As each chime sounds, I cringe, the tears flowing freely. I am about to lose my big brother, the one who has been my rock, my saviour for all these year, and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. Beside me, Dean smiles sadly, his own eyes wet with tears, and filled with the fear of the horrors that surely await him. Horrors that I, Sam Winchester, was supposed to prevent, but have been unable to.
I am useless as a brother.
"What am I supposed to do?" I ask through my tears, and I notice that Dean, the man I had never actually see cry in my entire life, was struggling to keep his composure. "Keep fighting", he told me, and I manage a faint nod, already knowing that this is a promise I will surely not keep. How can I go on without Dean? I look at him and wish with all my heart that I would be dying alongside him. Life without my big brother would not be worth living. My thoughts are interrupted when I hear Dean say, his voice full emotion: "Sam, remember what Dad taught you, ok? And remember what I taught you." I look up and my brother smiles sadly, and yet bravely at me. He is facing death the Winchester way: with dignity. Could I really consider killing myself? Dean was going through this hellish ordeal because of me; the least I could do was go on living.
Could I really make that promise? As the final strokes of the clock fade into the night, I look at my brother again, and I can feel my heart break. Memories flash before my eyes: the pranks in Texas; the endless miles covered riding shotgun in the Impala; him teaching me the ropes on how to care for his baby; holding him close that Wednesday the Trickster had brought him back to me. As long as I'm around, nothing bad is going to happen to you. I long to pull my brother close, to hug him goodbye, but it's too late.
In the distance, a Hellhound whines.
You're not my brother.
Words I never believed would come across my mind. To think as Sam as being a complete stranger to me, as being one I would actually consider hunting, was asinine. This is the kid who had idolized me since childhood, who had looked up to me, who had told me he would die for me. This same brother was now violent, crazed, and hell bent on revenge.
I remember what Dad had told me the morning he died, those fateful words he had whispered into my ear: You have to save him, Dean. And if you can't, you might have to kill him. I had been horrified at my father's speech, not just because he had confessed about his deal, but because I thought he was nuts. No way would Sammy go Dark Side; it was just too crazy, even for Winchester standards.
I remember Gordon Walker, the hunter who had known about Sam Winchester's dirty laundry, that nasty little secret about his being a monster. Again, I was in denial. Not Sammy, not my kid brother. He was always the one to try to help others, who had so much compassion. How could he possibly turn evil? And yet, Gordon had been insistent, had tried to convince me that my brother's death would be for the greater good. And I didn't believe him. No way. Not in a million years.
But Gordon had been right. Because Sam, my Sammy, had become addicted to demon blood, had gone on an exorcising spree with that bitch Ruby. Admittedly, he had been pretty messed up those four months I had been in Hell, and had wanted revenge on Lilith, but to team up with a demon? Come on, Sammy, you knew better than that!
Sam had insisted that he had had the best of intentions, and I'm sure he really did. Or at least, believed that he did. I remember that time when we first met Anna, when Sam had shared with me his grief and anger following my death. I was saving people. And that felt pretty good. But in order to do that, he had to drink shitloads (and I mean shitloads) of demon blood. My brother was a junkie, reckless in the way he hunted, and oblivious to his own family. It pained me to see him like that, to see him choose his desire for revenge over his own goddamned family!
I remember that day when I first found out the gravity of the situation. The small details are fuzzy, like a photograph out of focus, but I can clearly see my brother looking up at me, his face red with demon blood, a look of guilt and shame on his face. I remember the tightness in my chest; I felt like I couldn't breathe, as if cement weights had been strapped to my chest. I was drowning inside, and I know that sounds a tad melodramatic, but it's the truth. I remember thinking, Dad was right, Gordon was right, over and over again. And nagging at my brain, another thought: but he's still my brother.
And then, just moments earlier, Sam had insisted in joining Ruby and going after Lilith himself, his own selfish desire to seek revenge clouding his judgment. I had tried so hard to get him to realize the poison Ruby had been feeding him, but he was just so fucking oblivious. That demon bitch had him wrapped around her little finger, and my brother, wearing his rose coloured glasses, blindly followed her. You're wrong, Dean, he kept on telling me, like a broken record. Damn, that kid was always stubborn. Going on about how much I had always called the shots, how he had blindly trusted me. He did have a point, Sam had always trusted my judgment, but it had never been as clouded. I could feel the fury burn inside me, well up and ready to explode. His desperate desire to team with Ruby, his insistence that he knew what he was doing, was just confirming what I had so desperately been trying to deny for months.
"Say it," Sam told me coldly, and I suddenly I realized that I had almost told him the words he had never wanted to hear from his big brother. I could see the anger and hurt in his eyes, but the ache in my heart could not prevent me from telling him what I had realized was the truth. I wanted so badly to keep them to myself, to just keep my fucking mouth closed, but I couldn't. God help me, I couldn't: "It means you're a monster."
A monster. The boy I had risked my life, my soul for, the brother whose dead body hung limply in my arms that horrible night at Cold Oak, the brother who meant everything to me. And I had called him a monster. I remember the fight that ensued, me telling Sam that if he walked out that door, not to bother coming back. I remember staring, with bated breath, watching and hoping that Sam would come to his senses. Please, Sammy, please don't go out that door. I'm begging you…
And he did. My pain in the ass little brother, walked out that door. And now, standing before Bobby, I'm still pissed, hurt, and embarrassed. I had been told on more than one occasion that my brother was a threat, and I had blindly ignored the truth, trusting blindly in him. You need to trust me for once. Fuck, Sammy, you had no idea how much I had trusted you these past few years. More than you'll ever really know.
Bobby is insisting that I call him, try to make amends, but I can't do that. This isn't a simple mistake, oops I thought I had more time to salt and burn that corpse, or oops, I fucked up the research and almost got us killed. This isn't even oops, I never thought you would be worried sick those two weeks I ditched you for Flagstaff. This was "my demon BFF's judgment is superior to my own brother's." Bobby couldn't possibly understand. I had lost my brother, in such an irreparable, final way. This was much worse than Cold Oak had ever been. My brother may be still breathing, but he's still gone. That final trace of humanity, that spark that had been Sam, was snuffed out like an ember. I feel more alone than I had ever been in those minutes with my surrogate father beside me.
And there he is, acting like the father figure he really is. "You stupid, stupid son of a bitch!" he yells. "Well, boo hoo! I am so sorry your feelings are hurt, princess! Are you under the impression that family is supped to make you feel good, make you an apple pie, maybe? They're supposed to make you miserable! That's why they're family!" I remember looking down, a lot of the fight ebbing away, but the hurt still present. He's right, I know that, but Sam had messed up. Royally. And how knew what potential harm he could cause with that bitch Ruby? He had walked away, even after I had given him the choice; had chosen her over his own flesh and blood, the one who had carried him from his burning house for Christ's sake!
Bobby kept up with his speech, hitting me with words as if they were punches. Telling me that Dad was a coward, the one who had risked an eternity in Hell for me, a coward? But Bobby just looked up at me, the fight out of his voice. It was then that I realized how old Bobby Singer looked just then, his own heart heavy with pain. "He'd rather push Sam away then reach out to him," he told me softly. "That don't strike me as brave. You are a better man than your daddy ever was. So do both of us a favor. Don't be him."
Don't be him. Looking back on Bobby's words, I can feel my heart breaking. I had lost Sam for good, I was sure of that. Yes, he was no doubt about to make the biggest mistake of his life. But I had had the chance to be by his side the entire time. I had called my brother a monster. Would Sam be reckless, be on a suicide mission, thinking his brother hated him? I could feel the tears well in my eyes, my legs give way beneath me. I felt the air leaving my lungs, in a whoosh as I struggled to breathe. I had lost him. I had lost my baby brother for good. Sure, he had no doubt fucked up by trusting Ruby, but he was still my brother, like it or not.
I sat on the floor for a while, staring at my cell phone, willing it to ring. And when it didn't, I still got up and left, eyes red and raw with unshed tears.
I had to get to my brother.
I had always had faith in my Father, from the days when I was a fledgling, to the millennia I wandered the earth, waiting for the mission God had assigned years before Dean Winchester's conception. When God had banished Lucifer from Heaven, I had faith that matters would have been settled relatively quickly; when I had witnessed (unbeknownst to them) the tragedies which had befallen the Winchester brothers from the moment their mother had died, I had faith that Heaven would guide them, or at least protect them from harm; when I finally had the chance to save Dean from Hell, when the one who had to be saved found his salvation to be questionable to say the least, I had faith that he would restore peace to the planet, to save us all from damnation and the impending apocalypse.
And when Dean had lost all faith in himself, in his brother, in humanity, I still tried to cling to the glimmer of hope that God, my Father, would somehow spare mankind the atrocities which would befall the human race. After all, as clichéd as it sounds, God does work in mysterious ways. A newborn born with a life threatening birth defect awakens with no symptoms; a family on the brink of losing everything wins the lottery, keeps enough only to keep the family afloat, and donates the rest to charity; a tornado levels a house in seconds, but leaves the family inside unharmed. A man can be pulled from the fiery bowels of Hell, reunited with his brother, and assigned to the astronomical task of preventing the Apocalypse.
But God works in mysterious ways.
I find it increasingly difficult to keep my faith, despite my desire, my need to do so. I try to look at the good in life, the miracles, but I also see death, pestilence, and evil. I see disease, hunger, violence, filth; hopelessness and despair. I see a broken man, struggling with his own faith and the pressures held upon him because of my Father. But most of all, I see abandonment. I had truly believed that God would intervene, to help at least somehow. And when he had told me about Dean's amulet, I had felt that hope renewed, like a drowning man rescued just minutes before succumbing to the waves. I had felt my faith renewed. It was like fresh air, breathing new life into me; I had been rewarded for my faith, and would spare the Winchesters the misery of theirs.
But then, my faith shattered, with one, simple action. The murders of Sam and Dean that morning in their motel room were the first step in my descent to despair. Of course, I had no fear that the brothers would return; I had saved Dean from Hell, and my touch could raise any from the dead, as long as my powers were strong, or "fully charged." My greatest fear had been Zachariah, who would have stopped at nothing to convince the Winchesters to accept their roles as Michael and Lucifer's vessels. The only positive news was that, in Heaven, the boys would have a chance to talk to Joshua, God's go to man. Surely he would have something of value, something to help the brothers in their quest to save the world.
Joshua had nothing. God had not prevailed.
I no longer have faith, at least in my father. I had held the amulet, Dean's useless necklace, repulsed by the sight of it. This was the symbol of faith lost, of despair. I had tossed it back to Dean as if it were made of hot coals, and vanished.
I sat on a park bench, watching an old man sitting on the bench nearby. He seems lonely and dejected, friendless; his appearance haggard, clothes warn. In his lap is a brown paper bag and for a moment, I experience a hint of prejudice as I assume that in the bag is a bottle of liquor. Instead, he pulls out, of all things, a sandwich. I watch as the man slowly rises from his bench and walks over to a little girl, also poorly dressed, her face dirty and dark curls a tangled mess. The child tries to play with a tattered doll, but has no heart in the activity. The old man approaches the child, shyly at first, and then hands the little girl his sandwich, perhaps the one thing he has to eat that day. The little girl then smiles, her grey eyes shining, her grin revealing a few missing teeth. "Thanks, mister!" she calls with a smile, and takes a generous bite from her sandwich. And then, the child looks up. Sees that the kind man had probably given up his lunch for her, and energetically pulls the bread and half. "Here you go, mister!" She smiles that gap toothed grin and the man, before hesitating, accepts the gift, tears in his eyes.
I witness the entire event, my own eyes misty. And then, I realize that I may have not lost my faith, at least not entirely. My father had let me down, no doubt, but to see two people sacrificing what was likely the only thing they had to eat, it reminded me of my mission. Of two brothers who had sacrificed everything for each other, of one who had died for his brother.
I stood from my bench and disappeared from sight. I knew of two men who had believed in each other, regardless of the hurt they were experiencing at the moment. I had to see the Winchesters. It was they who would restore my faith not only in my father, but in the human race.
The room is deathly quiet. I feel the tension so thick, you could easily cut it with a knife. Dean is staring at me, anger, grief, and pain in his eyes. Behind me, Sam stares at his brother, oblivious to the awkward silence which lingers.
Just moments ago, I had confessed to Dean, the man I considered to be like my own son, that I had known about Sam's return for nearly a year. I had known that withholding the truth would break Dean's heart had he known the truth, but when Sam suggested that I keep his return a secret, I had agreed. After all, my boy finally had given up hunting, seemingly for good. He had a beautiful woman, a young boy who looked up to him, a job. He was safe from demons, ghosts, and all that other supernatural shit which had plagued all of us since we were kids. So, was I glad he had left hunting for that "apple pie life"? You bet your ass.
Did it hurt me to lie to him about Sam's return? Hell, yes, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done, even harder than some of the most dangerous jobs I'd ever been on. That boy loves his brother so much, it hurts. So much that he would do anything recklessly stupid to bring him back. Hell, he already did years earlier, when he made that damn deal after Cold Oak. Not only was he loyal, but recklessly stupid. Suicidal, almost. With Sam supposedly gone and the hunting life behind him, I figured Dean would finally have some peace.
But it wasn't only Dean's happiness which I had been thinking of. Selfishly, I had relished in the fact that my boy would be safe. I had seen him die in the most imaginable way possible; I'd seen his Daddy, Ellen and Jo, hell, everyone the boys were close to, die. How could I deal with that again? Could I really sit and watch another Winchester lose his life because of the job?
I looked down as Dean spoke, unable to look him in the eye. "I showed up at their doorstep half out of my head with grief!" he hissed, and I could feel the lump forming in my throat. He was right. It had been wrong of me to keep such a secret from him, but a part of my still clung to the belief that I had done the right thing. It had kept him out of harm's way, hadn't it? And then I looked up, and I saw the hurt and pain in his green eyes; I felt a lump forming in my throat, and I remembered that day nearly three years earlier, when Dean and Sam had tried to go after Lilith alone. Dean had tried to insist that it was his and Sam's fight, and not mine. "Family don't end in blood, boy!" I had told him angrily.
"Family don't end in blood…" I whispered and for a moment, Dean gave me a confused look before continuing. "You couldn't put me out of my damn misery?" I looked up, Dean's eyes bright with the tears he was trying desperately to hide, and I felt my heart break.
I'm sorry, kid. I'm so sorry…
I looked over to Sam, his face surprisingly cold considering the anguish his brother was feeling. I should have caught on that something wasn't right, but I was too focused on my own misery, and Dean's. I watched as he plopped, emotionally spent, on a tattered easy chair, head in his hands. I had done this to him. Had caused the man I loved as a son a year's worth of heartache. "Dean," I murmured, but he wouldn't acknowledge my presence. "Dean, I'm sorry. I was only trying to do what I thought was best."
"I know." In a voice barely above a whisper.
We sat there in silence for several minutes, Dean and I overwhelmed with emotions, and Sam toying heartlessly on a rip in the arm of his chair. If I had looked up at the time, I would have finally clued in that something was wrong, but I could barely look up from staring at my lap. Finally, I heard the old chair creak as Dean stood and headed to the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later with three ice cold bottles of beer, which he passed around before easing himself once again into the chair. We drank in silence, fully aware that everything wasn't all right, and that there would still be hurt and resentment. Hell, I know I would have felt the exact same way had I been in the boy's shoes. But that simple gesture gave me some comfort. We were a family, one who stood by each other thick and thin, no matter what shit comes our way.
Family don't end in blood…
I've lost everything.
That November night when I was four, I lost my mother.
The horrible night after the car crash, my father left the world, making the ultimate sacrifice to save me.
In Cold Oak, I lost my baby brother for the first time, that devastating moment in my life which spiralled me into despair and led to the event which would ultimately kick start the apocalypse.
I lost my own life, and the innocence of a world of saving people, hunting things was shattered.
And now, for what seems like the hundredth time in my miserable excuse of a life, I was losing everything again. I had to keep my beloved Impala in storage, for fear that our true identities would be exposed (goddamn shape shifting Leviathan sons of bitches); Cas was dead, the only evidence that the angel existed being the drenched trench coat I had saved from the water; Sam's wall had finally crumbled, his visions of hell and torment by Lucifer plaguing him. Looking at his overtired form, I wonder how long he will last before he succumbs to the lack of food and sleep.
But the most heartbreaking of the losses is that of Bobby. Our friend and father figure, the man who had practically raised us when Dad wasn't around, the man who had helped us on so many hunts, who had stood by our side even when we were facing despair. He had followed me that morning in Lawrence, when Sam had fallen into the pit. He had been there when the Hellhounds had been after me in New Harmony; he had been there when Dad had never been, providing advice, comfort, and love. I, the king of hating "chick flick moments", had been secretly glad that the old man had provided the affection we had been seeking for practically all our lives.
And now he was gone, his life snuffed out by Dick Roman's bullet. Sam was spiralling farther and farther into his descent into insanity, and there was nothing I could do. I sought refuge in the bottle, the liquor bringing the peace that no one else, not even Sammy, could provide. I sat in the old abandoned cabin, a nearly empty bottle of Jack dangling from my limp hand; I am on the brink of slipping into a merciful, alcohol induced unconsciousness, but shake it off. Bobby would no doubt hate to see me like this.
But I can't help it. Sam is worried about me, I know, even when he should be more worried about himself. He has commented on more than one occasion about my excessive drinking, and I tell him I'm fine. The typical Dean Winchester way of answering tough questions. Sam isn't stupid, I know that, but maybe, just maybe, he will back off. Shit, he's really no one to talk. Between the booze and the demon blood, those months without me after my trip to Hell Sam had not exactly been coping with my loss in a healthy way. He had admitted so much to me the day we met Anna. I down the last of the bottle and plunk the empty with a little too much enthusiasm on the table beside me.
And I feel a whoosh.
Startled, I look up, my mind surprisingly clear considering the copious amounts of alcohol I had recently consumed. I feel and hear nothing, and for a while, I begin to think that maybe I am losing it, that my drunken state is making my mind play tricks on me.
And then, I see it. A book, placed squarely in the center of the coffee table, slides aside and lands with a crash on the wood paneled floor. I can feel my heart beating faster, a faint gleam of hope welling inside me. Hardly believing it myself, I call his name.
"Bobby, are you here, man? I'm not exactly in my right mind, so if you're around, could you give me something a bit more concrete?"
Nothing but the rustling of the leaves outside the window.
The closed window.
Carefully, I reach into my duffle and rummage around until I find my EMF reader. I switch it on, and the machine almost immediately flares up, beeping incessantly.
I look out the window to see power lines nearby.
"Fuck," I shouted, tossing the device to the ground with a flourish. Of course it wasn't Bobby. There was no way it could be him. I was definitely getting my hopes up: I wanted so badly for him to be here that I was looking for him too much. Sam was right.
But that didn't explain the book. There was no draft in the house, all the windows closed.
And I am drunk out of my mind.
I sigh, look at the empty liquor bottle nearby. I consider reaching for another, but decide against it. If Bobby wants to make another appearance (if, in fact, it was Bobby's spirit in the room with me) I want to make damn sure that I am sober for the event. I reached to pick up the EMF, now silent, and placed it back in the duffle, my fingers brushing against something brass in the process.
"Damn you Bobby," I mutter, picking up the old object in trembling hands. I sit there for several moments, until I hear the door open and Sam walks in, looking like Hell. With barely an acknowledgement, he collapses on the couch and tries to sleep, no doubt plagued by whatever torture Lucifer was handing him again. "Damn it Bobby," I repeat, "we need you." I pick carefully placed the flask back in the duffle and leave the cabin for some air, Sam oblivious to my departure. I needed to think.
An old man stands in the cabin, frustrated that his attempts at communication are being ignored. He should have known that the power lines would set off that damn EMF, but he had hoped that Dean had sensed his presence. Bobby watches as his boy leaves, the door practically slamming behind him.
He's gone. He's really, truly, gone.
I sit behind the wheel of the Impala, the lump I have been trying so hard to keep down forming in my throat. I know the tears will come, but I can't let them fall. Because to cry would be to give up, and I can't give up on my big brother. I have been sitting in this parking lot for hours, exhausted after a day of extensive searching, continuous driving, hoping blindly that I will finally find Dean. He has always come back to me, one way or another.
But then, there had always been someone to bring him back. Those days following the car crash, Dad's deal had saved his life. During that horrible time loop, those days I had witnessed Dean die in practically every way imaginable, the Trickster had pitied me and brought him back; Cas had saved him from Hell, and on so many other moments when the both of us had supposedly died. Fuck, the both of us defied the natural order, so what was one more time?
What was one more time…
I had tried everything to bring Dean back: I had called Cas, but after the umpteenth call without a response, I concluded that he was probably with Dean, if he was even alive. I had tried making deals with crossroads demons, but they had seemed as clueless as I was. I had initially taken this to be some comfort, proof that he was alive. After all, he had been to Hell, and would likely return if he were dead. The demons would be the first to know. Unless he was in Heaven….
I looked down, at the ratty box which contained Dean's assortment of mixed tapes. I picked up one of them, feeling the cold, cracked plastic in my hands. It was an AC/DC tape, one of his favorites. I tossed the tape back in the box and pushed it away, unable to look at it. It brought too many painful memories. Fuck, this car reminded him too much of his brother. But I couldn't get rid of it. To give up on the Impala would be to give up on Dean, and I can't. Not yet.
I leaned forward against the wheel, and finally sobbed, my grief finally overwhelming me. I don't know how long I cried (it could have been five minutes or an hour) but I just sat there, trembling as I sobbed. I called his name over and over again (Dean, Dean, Dean), my voice breaking uncontrollably. He was gone. It was just then that I realized that I had given up, probably a long while ago. I had been in denial for weeks now, cruising from town to town in a desperate last minute search for someone, anyone, who looked like my brother. And that realization made me cry even harder. Dean had never given up on me, not once, even when he had every right to. The demon blood, the crazy powers, all times he could have given up on me (hell, almost did) but had ultimately stood by me. He sold his soul for me and spent the equivalent of 40 years in Hell so that I could live after Jake had stabbed me in Cold Oak. And when I had said yes to Lucifer, and jumped into the pit, he was by my side, even while I was beating him to a bloody pulp. "It's OK, Sam," he had told me, "I'm not going to leave you."
And yet here I was, leaving him. I finally lifted my tear stained face, wiped my eyes, and turned the keys in the Impala's ignition. I ran my hand along the steering wheel, the wheel of the car my brother had loved so much, and for a moment, I thought I was going to break down again, but instead I shoved the gear into reverse and backed out into the parking lot. I can't remember how long I had been driving, oblivious to traffic lights, stop signs, and speed limits. To be honest, it was a miracle I had never caused an accident or killed somebody.
It was right in front of me, out of nowhere, and I slammed on the breaks, hoping that I had not been too late. When I felt the sickening thud as I hit the dark, I felt a wave of nausea build up in my throat. Heart pounding, I leaped from the car and hurried to the dog's side. For a moment, I thought I had killed it, and another session of waterworks threatened to leak from my eyes. He's gone, just like Dean, I thought, and gently picked up the animal. It was a beautiful dog, and I couldn't help myself as I choked back another sob. Ohgodohgodohgod, I murmured.
And then, I felt the faint flutter of a heartbeat.
The dog was alive!
Without hesitation, I carried the wounded creature to the Impala and carefully laid it in the backseat, the thought that Dean would have been pissed faintly crossing my mind. I raced back to the driver's seat and frantically searched for the nearest vet. I had to save this animal. I had let Dean, my own flesh and blood, the brother I would die for, down. I couldn't let this poor dog down too.
I couldn't. Because if he died, I wouldn't be able to carry on. This was like my second chance, to somehow make it up to Dean. I had failed him; I couldn't fail my new furry friend.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this fic. As you may have guessed, Each segment is one season, in which one character shares in his POV about one of the major storylines of that particular season. This was intended to be a chapter fic, but decided in the end to make it one long shot, mainly because I felt that I couldn't stretch what some of the characters had to say into one chapter without it being really short. Some of the dialogue is taken directly from the show, just because it was actually what was being said in the scene in question. I was not doing it because of my lack of creativity, but because I wanted to be as authentic as possible. As usual, I do not own Supernatural, the characters, or dialogue used in this story. This is for entertainment purposes only. Pease read and review, would really appreciate it. Thank you PS, the final scene was inspired by another fic I read, I can't remember the author's user name. Whoever you are, thanks for the inspiration!