A/N: I just want to thank again everyone who has read, favorited, or reviewed this story. Your support is wonderful, it really makes my day! Getting to the end of this story, thanks for sticking around!
Dean lies on his back, eyes staring lifelessly at a starry sky. The moon casts an eerie glow on his blood spattered face, shadows dancing upon pale skin as the wind rustles the trees overhead. Kneeling over the torn body, Sam cradles his brother in his arms, tears spilling from hazel eyes and splashing gently on the dead man's bloodied cheek. Trembling in grief, Sam pulls Dean's unresponsive body close to his chest, not caring that his brother's blood has now covered the front of his white shirt. The night is still, other than the tortured cries and sobs as Sam mourns his older brother.
"Dean, Dean, Dean…" He finds himself repeating his brother's name, gently rocking him back and forth like an infant. His brother, his life, the man he had tried so desperately to save, is gone. And Sam, for the first time, is truly alone. His heart is aching, as if it has been torn from his chest. He can't live with his brother, it's not humanly possible. How could he, when Dean had raised him, been his father, brother, best friend, for twenty-five years?
Ruby suddenly appears before Sam, her face pale in the moonlight, eyes black as coal. She watches for a moment, a look of frustration on her face. "I told you, Sam," she says, not really in sympathy, but in tone which Sam thought sounded almost like gloating. "Remember that morning in the motel? When I said I knew how to save Dean? Well, guess what, buttercup, it's too little, too late." She smiles faintly before she turns away. "See you soon, Sammy."
Sam awakened with a start, face slick with sweat, breathing heavy. The nightmare had seemed all too real, so much so that he hastily looked over to his brother's bed, and felt his heart drop to find it unoccupied, the sheets pushed aside. For one irrational moment, Sam thinks that it has already happened, that Dean's deal had already come due and that someone else must have occupied that bed. But then, the sound of the shower running in the bathroom snaps Sam back to reality. His brother is alive and well, at least for now. Thankful that Dean has not witnessed his latest nightmare, Sam sat up, tossing aside his covers. The sound of the shower ceased, and in a few minutes, Dean emerged, a towel wrapped around his waist.
"Shower's free. Hurry up, dude, I'm starving. Thinking pancakes, or Pig in a Poke."
Sam smirked, rolling his eyes. "Dude, the only thing you ever think about is your stomach."
"Well, the way I see it, I got less than a year, I say go for it." Seeing Sam's face fall slightly, Dean immediately regretted his choice of words. Suddenly he realized just how tired he looked, despite the fact that it is past ten and both brothers have slept in a lot longer than normal. No doubt the poor kid had had a nightmare. "Sammy…"
"Just forget it." Sam headed to the bathroom, and in a few minutes, the sound of the shower once again can be heard in the tiny motel room. Dean sighed, once again mentally scolding himself for his choice of words. But it seems as if he can't help it. The last thing he wants to think about is how terrified he really is of his fate, of spending an eternity in Hell, undergoing Lord knows what kind of torment. But it wasn't just his fate which scared him, but Sam's wellbeing. He had seen firsthand how his brother had not been quite on his A game this past hunt, and while admittedly the mistakes could have been made by any experienced hunter, none of them could compare to how great a hunter Sam Winchester is. These were mistakes which under normal circumstances his kid brother would have caught in a heartbeat. Imagine how Sam would be once Dean was gone, and his brother actually was hunting on his own. Would he make rookie mistakes, find himself pushing petals before winter? Or would he pull the revenge card, go after anything with black eyes in hopes of hunting down the ones responsible for actually collecting what was due? But none of these scenarios scared him like the thought of the most likely option Sam would take: selling his own soul to bring him back. Because it would be the exact thing Dean would be doing if the situations were reversed.
Dean closed his eyes, felt moisture forming from beneath the lids, but quickly brushed them away before Sam could come out of the bathroom. He didn't want his brother to see him like this, emotionally scarred, and scared out of his mind. Because he was scared. Sam was right, this macho act he was pulling was just for show, a façade of how he was truly feeling. Instead of caring and sharing, Dean Winchester had always coped with trauma by putting on a show, making crude jokes, anything to seemingly make light of the situation. Because to face reality would be too much. And he can't go through that; can't put Sam through that.
By the time Sam emerged from the bathroom, Dean is dressed and ready to go, zipping up his duffel and slinging it over his shoulder. "Hurry up, Sammy, I seriously need some grub," the older brother said with a grunt, gesturing towards Sam's nearly empty bag. Sam rolled his eyes, reaching for a pair of boxes which had not seen a Laundromat in a few days. "Dude, can you at least let me get dressed?" Dean flashed one of his trademark grins, reaching for the keys to the Impala. "What's the matter, Sammy? I think you look dashing."
"Shut up, jerk."
Ten minutes later the brothers were on the road, AC/DC's "Back in Black" blaring over the stereo. Leaning in the passenger seat, watching the town of Antigonish disappear in the rear-view, Sam couldn't help but remember that October morning, what seemed like a lifetime ago, when he had reunited with his brother in search of their dad. Dean had fired up the engine and the familiar riffs of the song had echoed in the car, like an old friend. Sam found himself smiling at the memory; Dean caught the grin, and flashed one of his own, surprised.
"So your taste in music has finally changed, Sammy boy?"
"Sammy boy? That's a new one, even for you, Dean."
Dean grinned, playfully whacking his brother on the shoulder. "Sometimes I like to test the waters a little bit. Glad to see you're crossing to the wild side. Can't blame you, Brian Johnson nailed it, big shoes to fill too."
"Should've known," Dean sighed, shaking his head. "Brian Johnson. Lead singer. Replaced Bon Scott after he died. Ring a bell?"
"Dean, I don't like this stuff like you do and have no clue who these guys are."
"Then why the smile?"
For a moment, Sam is quiet, not wanting to reveal an embarrassing secret and initiate one of his brother's dreaded "chick flick moments". But when Dean continued to stare at him quizzically, obviously hinting that he was not about to let this one slide, Sam caved.
"Well, this was the song that you put on when we first got back together. Before…" Before Jess died. But he can't bring himself to say it. Dean, however, knew what his brother was about to say, and nodded his head in understanding. He can feel his eyes water again, and was grateful that Sam was still looking out the window, seemingly interested in the Nova Scotia countryside, and not paying him the least bit of attention. The revelation has touched Dean, and he smiles, pleased that something as simple as leaving a gas station has triggered a pleasant memory for his brother. But, in typical Dean Winchester fashion, he was not about to share and care.
"Aww, Sammy, you are such a girl. Should we find a motel, sit on the couch and watch Lifetime movies? You get the popcorn and I'll pick up the Haagen-Dazs." Sam finally looks at his brother, sees the emotion behind the joke, and smiles. He knew he had less than a year to save his brother, to somehow undo the mess they were in. In the few moments alone since waking up that morning, Sam had wondered if trusting Ruby to help them was such a bad idea after all. Had the dream been an omen that perhaps the demon was of more help than he had initially thought? That perhaps teaming up with her was the wise choice? He wasn't certain about Ruby's role in the story which would unfold within the next few months. What Sam did know, however, was that he had a brother to save. One who had been with him through thick and think through the passing years. And he wasn't about to give up on him.
After all, he was a Winchester.
Thanks for sticking with the story guys! Just to let you know I am working on my summergen fic now so I may be out of the picture for a little while, at least writing wise. So there won't be many posts for a few weeks at least. Hope you enjoyed my second installment in what I am now calling my "Winchesters North of the Border" series. Thanks for your continued support! Love and hugs, jojospn