The Long and Winding Road (amypond45) wrote,
The Long and Winding Road
amypond45

The Time Traveler's Brother - Chapter Six

Dean's seventeenth birthday has come and gone, and he's technically supposed to be a junior in high school, but he's fallen so far behind so many times that he doesn't try to go back, just rides the year out until John comes to pick them up again, depositing them for the summer and most of the next school year at a farm outside Hannibal, Missouri.

The farmhouse is another safe house, used by hunters and protectors in the past so it's well-warded, the fields around it planted with vervain and other herbs used to repel the supernatural. John gives Dean the Impala as an early birthday present, buys himself a monster truck with winnings from a particularly lucky hand of poker in Carver City.

"You know as much as I do about caring for this thing," he tells Dean as he hands him the keys. "She's yours now. Be good to her."

Dean nods solemnly because the fact that this car is now his represents an act of faith and trust that he's never quite sure he's earned from his dad, especially after the accident with the Mustang. But he's more than grateful that he's got wheels, especially since he and Sammy are stranded out here otherwise and that hasn't been so fun in the past. There's a school bus that passes right by the farm, but Dean takes Sammy to school and picks him up every day anyway. It's worth it to see the looks on the other kids' faces, and Dean gets the chance to wink at a couple of high school girls in the process. He even takes one or two of them out, although it makes Sammy so jealous and hormonal he gives up after the first few dates, falls back on his own hand-jobs for relief because it just isn't worth upsetting Sam like it does.

Sam travels off and on, although Dean only knows for sure if he's in the room when it happens. Sam explains that time moves differently in the future, so sometimes when he spends an hour or two with Old Dean in some distant future, when he comes back only a minute or two will have passed. It's a little disorienting, that's all, otherwise it's no big deal, or so he says when Dean glares, furious that he can't stop it from happening. Dean officially hates time travel, at least when it's his little brother doing it.

Old Sam, on the other hand, can just get his sorry ass back through time anytime now. Dean misses Old Sam more than he's willing to admit, even to himself. He doesn't bother telling Sammy what Old Sam told him about not being the special time-traveling superhero that saves the world after all. Dean feels a little guilty for not telling him, but Sammy seems so excited about the whole thing right now, and Dean knows how sad he gets later so he just wants him to have his happiness as long as he can. If Sammy wants to believe he's going to save the world someday, who is Dean to take that belief away from him? Besides, at least from Dean's point of view, there isn't anyone else who could do it, if it's even possible at all. He believes in Sam, always has, so who's to say his Sam, this Sam, isn't the one who finally saves everyone in the end?

That's enough for Dean.

*

Which is why, when the end finally comes, it rocks Dean to the core.

It's late January, just before Dean's eighteenth birthday, and Sammy's at school. It's the middle of a cold, cloud-covered winter day, when the ground is frozen and the sparse trees look like long-fingered skeletal claws against the sky.

Dean's in the house baking bread, filling the house with a smell he vaguely remembers from his earliest childhood, giving himself yet another domestic skill he doesn't really care if John teases him for. John doesn't understand how good smells are everything, how important food is when you've been food-poor most of your life. John's father may have left when he was little, but after his mother remarried the mechanic from Lawrence, Kansas, Dean imagines John's life was fairly stable, comfortable even. John grew up in one house, in one town, where everyone knew him and where he felt secure and cared about by more people than Dean can count. So John can't ever understand, not really, what it's been like for Dean.

Not that it matters. As long as Dean has Sam – and as far as he can tell, he always will – he doesn't really need anything else.

"Dean."

Dean turns, heart leaping because he'd know that voice anywhere. Old Sam is in the kitchen doorway, his hair a disheveled mess, his face pale and drawn, his clothes bedraggled and unkempt. His right arm is bandaged and held in place by an elaborate black sling which is belted to his torso and across his opposite shoulder. It looks awkward and uncomfortable, but it's the look on his face that propels Dean forward, grabbing Sam's good shoulder and his waist to pull him in for a hug.

"What happened this time, Sam?" Dean demands as he releases him a little, keeping contact because he can't not touch Old Sam, not when he's so obviously in need. Again.

"I can't do this anymore," Old Sam declares, his face a mask of grief and horror, worse than anything since that time he came back after Hell. "I can't keep doing this, Dean."

"Sure you can, Sammy," Dean rubs his brother's shoulder. "It's not that bad, remember? Cuz you've got me, right? You've always got me."

"No," Old Sam shakes his head. His eyes are wild, and he looks a little unhinged. "No, you're not there again, Dean. You – Oh God, I just can't do this."

"Hey, hey, come on, Sam, come on now," Dean turns to the kitchen table, still keeping his hand on Old Sam's shoulder, pulls out a chair for him and sits him down, pulling one for himself opposite. "Now listen to me, Sam. You're gonna get through this, whatever it is. Just like you always have. Okay? I promise. It's gonna be okay."

"No, no – fuck, no, Dean, you don't understand," Old Sam's breathing is ragged, he's sweating and his eyes are tearing up. Old Sam closes his eyes for a minute, takes a deep, shuddering breath, tips his chin down to his chest and lets it out. "You died, Dean. You died right in front of me again. Horribly. Bloody."

Fuck.

"Okay," Dean clears his throat, focuses on Sam so he doesn't have to feel the ice water flooding his veins. "Okay, Sam. But I'll be back. I always come back. You can't get rid of me that easy, you know that."

He doesn't get this dying and coming back business. At all. But he knows the drill, knows that somehow, however it happens, he and Sam always end up together again.

"No, no, not this time," Old Sam shakes his head, looking up, straight into Dean's eyes. "You turned into a demon."

Okay, that's a new one.

"Huh," Dean nods, going for rational in the face of the crazy he's hearing. "Okay, well then. Guess I made one too many trips to Hell, huh?"

Old Sam's eyes widen. "It's not funny, Dean!" he protests. "It's a fuckin' disaster! You're alive again, sure, but you're some kind of monster and I can't fix you! Oh God, I am so done with this shit, I can't even tell you."

"Listen to me, Sam," Dean leans forward, puts his hands on Sam's knees to get his full attention. He knows he's still just a kid, just a past self to Old Sam, but he's still the big brother. He can still get Sam to do what he needs him to do.

"We're gonna figure this out, okay? Just like we always have. It's always crazy with us, I see that now, and it just gets crazier. But I know for a fact we are there in the future – your future. Remember? Because my little thirteen-year-old brother is visiting a very old version of myself in that future, and I've seen you old, Sam. Like white-hair-and-wrinkles old. So we survive, okay? Some way, somehow, we survive."

Old Sam is shaking his head, has been since Dean started his little pep talk, and now he gets up, moves in long-legged strides toward the back door, muttering "no no no" under his breath.

"No, Dean, not this time," he says when he's got his hand on the doorknob, turns and looks back at his brother. "This time, I'm gonna change it."

He turns and is out the door before Dean has time to react, before he can interpret the determined set to Old Sam's jaw, the wild-eyed obsession driving him, making him blind and deaf even to Dean.

He's just like Dad.

The thought suddenly hits Dean, terrifies him, gets him up onto his feet and out the door after his brother before he even realizes what he's doing. Outside, the cold hits him like a wall, solid and unyielding. The wind is frigid, even if it's not very strong, and it pierces through Dean's shirts and jeans like they aren't even there. He sucks in a breath, curses himself for not grabbing a coat, then stares around wildly, looking for Old Sam.

It's only a second or two before he sees him, standing in the middle of the empty field behind the house, good arm outstretched, staring up at the sky. It takes Dean a minute to realize he's yelling something; the wind is increasing, so at first it carries the sound away from him, and all Dean can see is Old Sam's mouth moving. That, and the fact that there's a silver knife in his hand. A long one, clutched in his left hand because his right one is immobile.

"Come on, you son of a bitch! Come and get me! Come on!" The wind has shifted, and now Dean can hear Old Sam's voice, can hear the challenge and desperation in his tone.

"Sam!" Dean bellows, starting across the windy field toward his brother, thinking only about getting Old Sam back into the house, knocking some sense into him and warming him up with soup or whiskey or sex. Maybe all of the above.

That's when the air is suddenly filled with the sound of flapping wings, and out of the corner of his eye Dean catches sight of something huge and black and feathery which at first he assumes is a crow, but when he turns to look at it full on it's no longer there. The sound of beating wings gets louder, and then something huge and dark swoops down right over Dean's head. He has only a moment to look up, to grab the gun from the back of his jeans before the thing is right on top of him, moving fast toward Old Sam. There's a smell like decay and dust, and darkness falls all around him, as if night had come on a fluttering mass of feathers and death. Dean has an impression of millions of glittering eyes like stars winking at him from a blanket of rippling blackness. He fires his gun blindly, with no real target, but he must've hit something because he hears a shriek, then he's hit by something hard and he's on the ground with the wind knocked out of him and his consciousness flickering against a throbbing pain in his head.

"Dean!"

He can hear Old Sam bellowing at him, moving closer, but he's barely conscious, something dripping into one eye and the other one swelling shut –

Then Old Sam's yells turn to screams of pain.

"No!"

Dean feels Old Sam's agony like it's part of him, like his own insides are being ripped out, except worse because he can still move, he can still do something to stop the thing that's hurting Old Sam if he can just stay conscious, focus, get his body to move.

Afterwards, when Dean thinks back on those moments, he knows it was only a few minutes. But at the time it feels like an eternity. It feels like it takes him forever to get to his feet, to stagger towards Old Sam and the huge black winged thing hovering over him, ripping at him with teeth and claws and a beak, its million eyes opening and closing amongst its constantly rippling coat of feathers. It sees Dean approaching, starts to spread its massive wings, and Dean has the impression that it means to pick up Old Sam's body in its gigantic talons and carry him off, or what's left of Old Sam after it's done shredding his chest.

"You will die like this one day, Dean Winchester," a thin, raspy voice whispers deep inside his head. "Your brother will watch it happen. And now you know how your brother will die."

Dean's head throbs, the whispery voice inside it making all his senses scream in protest, resist the psychic invasion with every fiber of his being. He can feel it, like it's a physical force inside him, like it's trying to grab his insides and pull them out through his nose.

"No!" he screams, launching himself full-force at the creature, knowing it's a useless gesture, that he's lost his gun and he's bleeding and half-conscious, knowing Old Sam is dying because he can't hear him screaming anymore, just sees the little red pieces of Old Sam in the creature's beak and claws. Dean stumbles, falls to his knees, sobbing, crawling in the dirt now because he can't seem to make his legs work.

Then he sees it. Old Sam's long silver knife is right there, where he must've dropped it when the creature – Samael the Archangel of Death, Dean knows it now, heard the thing whisper its name in his brain – attacked. Dean reaches for the knife, clutches it in both hands, starts to rise to his feet, meaning to make one last running leap. It's only about ten feet, and he should be able to land a blow or two before he's flung aside again.

"Leave my brother alone, you son of a bitch!"

It's a battle cry he's heard before, maybe something his future self has said, maybe something he's heard in a movie or a TV show or just in his own head. But as he's throwing himself forward, thrusting the knife home into one of the creatures eyes and twisting it with every ounce of strength he has, he thinks he feels something tearing, some deep, vibrating weight that's pushing back at first but then just splits open, letting his knife pierce deep – wrenching some primal piece of the universe right out of its fucking comfortable little hole.

Dean can hear the thing shrieking, can feel it moving under him, trying to shake him loose, twisting and turning its hideous body away, maybe landing blows but Dean can't feel them because he's focusing only on putting all his weight into the blade, pinning the creature in place and twisting. He hears it rustle and scream, knows without lifting his head that it's dying. Its movements are getting weaker. The screaming is all in his head now, and then it's silent.

For a solid minute that feels more like an hour, Dean lies still, not daring to let up on his hold, afraid that if he does the thing will leap to life again, go back to its gory work on Old Sam. Then Dean hears the roar of a truck and he lifts his head, momentarily panicked because it's Dad's truck and no way can he let this thing go after Dad too.

He's still so out of it – barely conscious really – that he doesn't even register at first that he's alone. Old Sam and the monster are gone. Vanished. He struggles to his feet, looks around with his one good eye. He's still clutching the silver blade, red blood dripping from it, and there's so much blood on the ground it looks like a fucking army bled out right here, and it's all in one gigantic puddle because the ground is so frozen it can't absorb the stuff.

"Dean!"

John Winchester is stalking toward him across the field, sawed-off in his hands, Sammy at his heels.

"What happened here?" John demands as soon as he's close enough to see the blood, to see that Dean is covered in it, to see that he's still holding a seriously dangerous-looking mini-sword in his hand. "Put the blade down, son. Tell me what happened."

Dean drops the blade, understanding instinctively that John thinks he killed something here and might still be in the killing mood and needs to disarm –

"I think I killed it, Dad," he says, his voice raspy and broken from crying.

Crying? He's been crying, he realizes. Because of Old Sam. Because of what the creature was doing to his brother.

"What did you do, Dean?" John asks, his voice low and steady, soothing.

He still thinks I did something bad, Dean realizes.

He shakes his head. "No, Dad, I killed that thing. The thing that killed Mom. It attacked Sam and I – I just – "

"What are you talking about?" John raises his voice, clearly getting a little freaked out. "Sam's right here. He's fine. What do you mean you killed the thing that killed your mom? What thing?"

Dean swallows, forcing himself to speak calmly, even though he knows he looks like a crazy man with blood all over him and a gash above his eye and he's a little wobbly because he's really hurting all over and it's fuckin' freezing out here –

"Samael, the Archangel of Death," Dean clarifies. "I've seen it before, Dad. I know what it looks like."

"It was here?" John's voice is verging on hysteria now.

"Yeah," Dean nods. "It was after Sam. Old Sam. From-the-future Sam. He – " Dean shakes his head, trying to clear it. "He – " Dean glances at Sam, sees Sam's wide, adoring eyes just staring at him, and he smiles, knowing how ghoulish he must look doing it.

Sam smiles back, blushing a little.

"Old Sam drew it out," Dean says, looking at Sam as he says it, letting his brother anchor him, keep him steady. "He was totally kick-ass brave. Just stood there in the middle of the field and called it. Yelled at it to come and get him."

"No way," Sam says under his breath, rapt, eyes shining, like Dean's telling one of his bedtime stories.

"Oh yeah," Dean nods. "Just called it down so we could fight it. We killed it together," he assures Sam. "I couldn't have done it without him."

John doesn't believe him. He's been tracking this thing for years, tracked it this way just this morning – feared it was coming after his kids, so he high-tailed it here, only to find a field of blood and his oldest son covered in the red stuff – but no body, only Dean's word for it that the thing's dead. John spends the afternoon searching the field, comes up with a single black feather and a couple of pieces of blood-soaked flannel, not from Dean's shirt.

Sam takes Dean inside, helps clean him up, cleans and dresses his wounds, feeds him soup and fresh-baked bread, tries to get him to lie down, get some rest.

"Sammy, don't leave," Dean begs after Sam's finally got him in bed, pain pills starting to take effect so he's drowsy, warm – finally, finally warm again – and it feels so good to have Sam's small hands on him.

Sam looks a little worried, unsure, but he complies easily, slipping fully-clothed into bed next to his brother. Dean wraps an arm around Sam's shoulders and pulls him close, tangles their legs together as Sam lays his head on Dean's chest, snuggles in under Dean's chin. Dean buries his nose in Sam's soft hair and breathes deep, banishing the horror of watching his older brother being torn apart as best he can, letting his little brother's smell – warm and alive and sweaty and real – overwhelm every other sense-memory.

Later, Dean wakes up to the sound of voices in the next room, Sammy gone from the bed. He can hear John's deep voice, talking to someone on the phone, followed by Sam's higher, boyish voice giving short answers. Dean pulls himself out of bed, stumbles to the door, pulling on a pair of jeans and grabbing a flannel shirt because it's cold, cold, cold, and the heat isn't up high enough to take the chill out of Dean's bones today.

It's what he expects when he opens the door. John's on the phone, talking to Caleb, and Sam's on their newly-acquired laptop, bought with money Dean won hustling pool over the summer. Sam's sending e-mails and checking message boards and listservs for signs of supernatural activity.

Sam sees his brother first and his face softens.

"Hey Dean," he calls. "You won't believe this."

John looks up, says his goodbyes to Caleb, immediately dials another number.

Dean crosses the room, pulling his flannel on, hugging himself as he looks over Sam's shoulder at the computer screen.

"We need to get down to the library, search some databases," Sam says. "This is amazing."

"What?" Dean demands, squinting at the words on the screen. Just a lot of messages, posted one after the other.

"This is one of the most active boards," Sam explains. "It's where hunters discuss their latest cases, reach out to other hunters for advice, that kind of thing. It's usually hopping. Right now? And for the past six hours or so? Nothing. Nobody has anything. It's like – "

Sam glances up at Dean, gets all flustered for a minute because Dean's right there leaning over his shoulder. Dean notices, pulls back right away. It's instinct, he thinks. Don't make Sammy uncomfortable. He does it so automatically he only now realizes he's been doing it for awhile.

"So it's like everybody's on vacation?" Dean suggests, and Sammy shakes his head.

"No, it's like there's no supernatural activity," Sam says, focusing again with a slight flush to his cheeks. "It's like everything's disappeared."

"We don't know that for sure," John booms out, putting the phone down. He frowns at Dean. "I still have a few more calls to make. Nothing's definite yet." He heads into the kitchen and the brothers listen as he opens the refrigerator, then pops open a beer.

"I think you did it, Dean," Sam whispers. "I think you stopped it all, when you killed that thing. It was you, after all."

Dean stares, shakes his head. "No way, Sam," he protests. "You were the one. It was always gonna be you."

"Maybe it had to be both of us," Sam suggests. "My time-traveling, your psychic thing."

Dean stares, stunned. "My what? I don't have a – whatever thing. What are you talking about?"

"Old Dean explained it to me. He said Old Sam figured it out. He said the time-traveling thing always complemented a power in a sibling or soul-mate. Since we're – we're both, it's doubly powerful in us. That's why when I travel, I always go to you. You do that. You bring me to you. Like – like an anchor. Without you, I'd go spinning off through time, end up in the middle of the interstate getting run over by a mac truck or something. Or in space."

"But I – I don't even think about it," Dean's shaking his head. "You just show up. It's not like it's something I can control."

Sam nods. "Like my time-traveling," he agrees. "It just happens."

"What's the use of having a magical power you can't control?" Dean feels panic rising in his chest, not liking what he's hearing one bit, damn it.

"Maybe so you can shift reality and banish everything supernatural from the entire universe?" Sam suggests, raising his eyebrows, pursing his lips, and suddenly looking so much like his older self it makes Dean a little queasy.

"And you think – you think our killing that thing did that?" he says slowly. "That's what you think?"

"That's what it looks like," Sam shrugs. "That's sure what it looks like."

Dean sinks into the armchair next to the computer table, sucks in a deep breath.

"Oh, and happy birthday," Sam says, almost as an afterthought, which is when Dean realizes he slept the night through and it's actually morning of the day following the Day Everything Changed, as he would later refer to it in his mind. It's January 24th. Dean's eighteenth birthday.


Epilogue:

In the days and weeks and months that follow, life goes on fairly normally. John doesn't believe Sam's theory at first, so he keeps them moving, follows them around in his monster truck while they drive the car. Being alone in the Impala with Sam is a new experience for Dean, and one that he begins to get used to pretty quickly. They can talk about stuff, or not, listen to the music Dean wants to hear, or not. John still directs their general movements, but they can choose the diners they stop at, the motels where they crash for the night.

On Sam's fourteenth birthday Dean takes him out for pie and ice cream, makes the waitress put a candle in the pie for him, then takes him back to the motel room and lays one on him.

"Figured you've been thinking about it," Dean explains as he pulls away, leaving Sam wide-eyed and slick-lipped. "Didn't want you to think it's all just you."

Sam reaches for Dean, manages to push him back against the door so he can kiss him again, sloppy and inexperienced and unbearably sweet, and Dean lets him because he's the big brother and it's his job to take care of Sam.

After a year without finding a single incident of supernatural activity, John finally – cautiously – admits that Sam might be right. He leaves them in a rental house in Pontiac, Illinois and takes off. They find out later he's remarried and had another family, a young son named Adam and a secret "normal" life where he settles down once he's fairly convinced nothing will come after them.

Dean is more hurt than he will admit, the idea that their dad found something normal he could escape to while he was leaving them in shitty motel rooms without enough food or money. All the wilderness training and hunting exercises, everything Dean went through to become a hunter, to follow in his dad's footsteps, all feels like a lie suddenly. John's second family never knew what he did, never knew about his first family, gets to have him full-time once it's all over, once John's convinced there's no more work to be done. And Dean gets it, that's the sick thing. Even though it's unfair as all hell, he gets it. John grew up normal, had this crazy traumatic event rip his world wide open, suddenly has to care for and protect two small children on his own, does his best but really, who wouldn't want to find normal again if they could? Who wouldn't want to leave all the crazy behind? And Sam and Dean are not normal, of that they're both pretty well convinced. Like their mother, they're a kind of aberration, a freak of nature that any sane person would avoid like the plague. So Dean doesn't blame John. Not really. For Dean, there was never a choice. He was always going to be in this crazy life, apparently; there just wasn't any other way for him.

Sam doesn't time-travel again. They both decide it's because he doesn't need to, that the magic that allowed him to do it in the first place just isn't in this universe anymore. It's such a huge relief to Dean he can hardly stand it. Sam won't leave him. At least, not that way.

For awhile, Dean thinks maybe Sam can get out. Sam's training has been more theoretical, less hands-on. He hasn't had the early trauma, or the brutality and intensity of Dean's hunting experiences to haunt his dreams. Dean's mostly protected him from the bad things. Sam's never had to kill something with his bare hands, and Dean's determined to keep it that way. Sam does well in high school, graduates with honors, wins a full-ride to Stanford, and Dean drives him there, helps him move into his dorm room (one duffel, one bed-in-a-bag charged to a fake card at a local Walmart). Dean finds an apartment, gets a job at a local auto shop, tries to stay out of the way so Sam can have a normal college experience.

It lasts about a month. Then Sam calls, drunk and crying, missing Dean so much he can't study, can't think straight or eat or sleep. Dean makes him stay in the dorm for the rest of that first year, visiting pretty much every night, but that summer Sam moves off-campus into Dean's apartment and things are easier after that. They discover how easy it is to let people think they're a couple; nobody ever asks, since it's pretty obvious, and they don't really look enough alike to make anyone suspect that they're related. It's close to San Francisco, and half that city is gay, and Sam and Dean fit right in, finally find the normal lives they never had growing up. Dean figures he can even forge adoption papers, go through the black market if they ever decide to have kids.

For years after Old Sam's death, Dean mourns him. He wakes up sobbing, images of blood and feathers and fire all crowding together in his nightmares. Sam holds him, soothes him, kisses the tears away, but it takes a long time for Dean to stop sleeping with a gun under his pillow, to resist the urge to salt the doors and windows every night before they go to bed. Old habits, especially the ones learned under extreme stress in childhood and early adulthood, are the hardest to break, and Dean's well into his thirties before he begins to relax, lets go of the terrible fear that Sam's going to die horribly in his arms. But eventually, with Sam's constant reassuring presence and steadfast love, Dean feels the memories begin to fade, doesn't grieve so intensely anymore when he thinks about all of Old Sam's suffering, the horror of his life and death.

"You saved me from that, Dean," Sam reminds him when Dean gets drunk and maudlin and starts going on about how miserable Old Sam was and how Dean wishes he could've done something. "You spared me all that. You did. I'm him, remember? You fixed it so I never have to live that life, I never have to suffer that way. You did that. And I'm grateful, okay? Come here and let me show you how grateful I am."

And when Sam does, when he's deep inside Dean's willing body and Sam is pounding into him, making him forget everything except this moment, this time, being possessed and filled up and devoured by this Sam – it's almost enough to wipe his memory clean, to make him forget that sad, tortured version of Sam who will never exist because he died on a Missouri field that day. When Sam is thirty-one, about the age he must've been when that happened, Dean finds himself lying awake at night, just watching Sam sleep. And when Sam calls him on it, blushing and giving Dean one of his perfect dimpled grins, lighting up the room with it like he always does, Dean just shakes his head.

"I'm imagining you old, Sam, like you were when I first saw you," Dean admits. "Like you were when I was little. Like you will be some day."

"Thanks to you," Sam lifts his eyebrows, reaching up to trace Dean's cheek with his fingertips.

They've already talked about it several times because it never makes sense to Dean that both alternate realities existed simultaneously, that in one Old Sam just went on without Dean for the rest of his long life, dropping in to visit his little-boy brother like some kind of consolation prize for losing his life-long partner. Not to mention the older version of Dean that Sam visited more than once, who was living in some kind of bunker with knives and guns all over the walls, a man whose body was covered in battle scars and whose soul seemed so dark and embittered it makes Sam sad just to think about him. Old Dean welcomed twelve-year-old Sam's visits like he had been waiting for them for a very long time, like they were the only thing he still lived for.

Sam says they were both alternate realities, other ways he and Dean might've ended up if Dean hadn't killed the beast that day. Neither of them ever uses its name, Dean because he can't shake the feeling that Sam was the creature's target all along, its namesake, and Sam doesn't mention it because he doesn't want to upset Dean over what feels to him like such a trivial thing.

"The important thing is, it's gone," he tells Dean. "It doesn't exist here. Like you used to tell me when we were kids. Angels don't exist."

And that's a good thing. Dean's just sure that's a good thing.

Definitely beats the alternative.


THE END


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