Tick Tock

Killing time. It was such an innocent expression. People tossed it around on a daily basis.

"We've got a few hours to kill, what do you wanna do?"

"No worries, I've got some time to kill."

He even used to say it every once in a while.

"Hey Sammy, whadduya say we find a crappy movie and kill a few hours before we hit the road?"

He never used to give it a second thought. But in these last few months, Dean had never allowed that simple phrase to cross his lips. He shied away from it like it was a disease. Flinched from Sam's casual admissions of "heading off to the library to pass the time". As though it was okay to just let the minutes tick by, unaccounted for. Wasted. His life was filled with blood and death and killing. But the thought of killing off something as precious and limited as time? It disgusted him. Terrified him.

The passage of time used to be a refuge, a gift. Time stitched up his wounds, made him strong and healthy again after a particularly brutal hunt. Time had continued to dull the aching crater of loss that still gnawed at his insides, leftover from the death of his father. He knew it would never heal completely, but the passage of time ensured that he could eventually wake up in the morning without feeling like the weight of the world was pressing down on him, crushing him mercilessly. After a while, he was finally able to open his eyes and see at least a flicker of something besides the pressing emptiness that had at first flooded his vision. And after a few more months, he was even able to laugh again. He could finally pick his head up and get back to work. Back to the family business. It wasn't easy, but Time made it bearable. Time was his beautiful companion, his savior. And now she had betrayed him, molding unrecognizably into his worst enemy.

God why had it ever seemed like a good idea to kill off the one thing he would always need more of? Why had he ever wasted a second of it?

thirty-six days. That was all that was left of his precious time. eight hundred sixty-four hours. fifty one thousand, eight hundred and forty minutes until it all ended. Just like that. There was nothing he could do to stop it or slow it down.

And Dean wasn't ready.

Of course, he had always known that a hunter's life was a short one. Death was always nipping at his heels, hot and putrid, breathing down his neck like a bloodthirsty hellhound. He knew his bill would eventually come due, but he had always thought it would be in the heat of battle- sidestepping just a moment too late, feeling a brief and flashing agony as claws or teeth ripped through his skin, and then nothing. Gone. He expected that Time would once again be on his side, not giving him the extra moment to contemplate what it really meant to die, and most of all, to no time to think about who he would be leaving behind.

Sammy.

It hurt to know that after he was gone, his baby brother would be left to pick up the pieces. Dean knew that despite his certainty in his decision, it had been selfish to bring Sam back. Dean hadn't been able to live without his brother, and it seemed heartless to put Sam through the same ordeal, but he knew that Sammy would survive. He knew that his little brother had the strength to carry on, to create a life for himself, a life that Dean could never have.

And that made it all worth it.

So even though Time was steadily slipping away, and even though each tick of the clock brought him one step closer to damnation, Dean couldn't bring himself to feel regret. He had always hoped that his death would mean something, and dying for Sam seemed like the best way to go. It would be his last and greatest gift to his brother.


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