Art Title: NOTHING LASTS FOREVER BUT THE EARTH AND SKY
Prompt Number: S2023
Fic Title: NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
Fandom/Genre: SPN Romance
Word Count: 6K
Summary: The work is done, the monsters are dead. Somehow the Winchesters have lived long past their time without aging, and now it’s time to move on, to leave this world that no longer needs them. They’ve just got time for one last road trip.
Art Link(s): LJ | DW
Fic Link(s): LJ | AO3
A/N: I couldn’t believe how lucky I was when I snagged art by the amazing cassiopeia7 for this challenge! She was a delight to work with and created even more fabulous art than I deserve! Thank you, dear one!
Many thanks to my fantastic beta, onlythefireborn, who gives the best con crit. I learn so much every time we work together!
Last, many many thanks to the mods of the spn_reversebang , which is always a pleasure. May it live long and prosper!
They leave the bunker at dawn.
They leave it mostly like they found it, kitchen cupboards clean and empty, beds neatly made. Sam packs his treasure box last, tucking it under his underwear in the duffel he uses for dirty clothes, where Dean’s least likely to find it.
Dean shuts off the master power switch and locks the door. He puts the key back in its original box and wraps it in a buckskin cloth. They’ll bury it at their mother’s grave in Greenville, Illinois, next to their father’s dog tags. The key was meant to be John’s in the first place, so it feels right.
The sun’s in their eyes most of the way to Kansas City, where they stop for brunch at their favorite Waffle House. Dean orders the pecan waffle with a side of bacon, and Sam gets a short-stack with coffee.
“You can’t order pancakes at a Waffle House, Sammy!”
Sam rolls his eyes at Dean’s exaggerated shock and looks out the window. He watches a family pile into a black sedan. Mom, Dad, two little boys. The boys are squabbling, and the father looks irritated. Sam watches as the car turns out of the parking lot onto the main road. He can see the two boys’ heads over the top of the back seat.
“Remember when Dad used to bring us here, when we were kids?” Sam says.
Dean follows his gaze, and together they watch the black sedan until it turns a corner and disappears from sight.
“Yeah,” Dean says. “You always ordered the grilled cheese with hashbrowns. Also not a waffle.”
Sam shrugs. “Waffle Houses have the best hashbrowns.”
“Yeah? So why didn’t you order some?”
Sam shrugs again. “Hashbrowns are kid food,” he says.
“Oh yeah?” Dean looks skeptical. “Not if you put jalapeños in ‘em.”
“Nobody does that,” Sam scoffs.
“Wanna bet?” Dean points up at the menu posted over the bar. “Peppered hashbrowns. Best hashbrowns north of the Louisiana border.”
Dean grins. “Wait till you try ‘em.”
The waitress arrives at that moment with their orders, and Dean surprises her with one of his most charming smiles and another order.
“Peppered hashbrowns and catsup,” he requests cheerfully. “And a pitcher of water to wash ‘em down.”
Sam shakes his head. “I’m not eating those,” he says as he digs into his pancakes.
“Wait till you try ‘em, Sammy.” Dean winks. “Just wait till you try ‘em.”
Of course Dean’s right. As soon as the hashbrowns arrive at the table, Sam remembers why he loved them so much as a kid. Golden brown and flakey, just greasy enough to make it onto the long list of foods he no longer eats. The dark green pepper bits give the dish some color, and the whole effect is mouth-watering.
Dean sets the plate between them and pours catsup over the top without preamble.
“Ew!” Sam complains. “You’re drowning them! That’s so gross. I’m not eating that.”
“Come on, Sammy. I had them put in extra jalapeños. The catsup cools them down.”
The hashbrowns do look good, and finally Sam can’t resist. They’re every bit as tasty as Dean promised, and before he knows it, Sam’s eaten more than half of the plate. When he catches Dean beaming at him, he can’t even manage a scowl.
It’s late afternoon, the sun sinking low behind them, when they reach Greenville. They find their mother’s grave almost by accident, stand side-by-side gazing down at the headstone.
“She’s not even buried here,” Dean says after a minute.
“You don’t know that,” Sam says. “Amara pulled her out of time and dropped her in 2016, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t also die in the fire that night. I’m pretty sure there are records.”
“We burned her body out back of the bunker,” Dean says.
“Doesn’t mean she didn’t also die trying to save me that night in Lawrence,” Sam says, stubborn.
Sam kneels next to the headstone, pulling out his trowel, and digs a hole just big enough and deep enough for the box. Dean pulls the box with the bunker key out of his pocket and kneels next to him, putting the box, carefully wrapped in waterproof cloth, into the hole. Sam fills it in.
“I’m glad I got to know her,” he says softly, patting the headstone. “I miss you, Mom.”
Dean’s frown deepens, but he says nothing. He’ll never get over her death. Either of them.
They eat silently at Jo’s Pizza & Pasta, pick up a six-pack and a fifth of whiskey to share at the Red Carpet Inn. They sit side-by-side on the king-sized bed, watching TV and sipping their drinks. They take turns showering, turn off the lights at 11:00 by mutual, unspoken agreement.
It’s a warm evening, so they leave the air-conditioner on. Its rattling white noise masks the sound of Dean’s deep breathing as he falls asleep, but Sam can feel when he’s unconscious. He rolls over and slides his hand across the bed till he touches Dean’s arm, just to be sure he’s still there, in the dark. Dean stirs, turns toward Sam in his sleep, so that there are only a couple of inches between them on the bed.
Sam falls asleep with Dean’s comforting warmth right next to him, their arms almost touching.
In the morning they grab breakfast on the road so they can make the long drive to Sioux Falls before nightfall. There’s nothing and no one there for them anymore, but it feels right to make one last visit.
Jody’s house sits silent and empty, a shell of the place they once thought of as a home away from home.
The remains of Bobby’s old salvage yard have long since been bulldozed over. It’s a vacant lot now, probably impossible to build on because of all the supernatural activity it attracts. Sam and Dean stand outside the chain-link fence, the words “No Trespassing” painted in red on a slab of wood and tied to the fence with barbed wire.
“How many bodies do you reckon are buried in there?” Dean asks.
Sam shrugs. “A lot.”
They walk around the lot, into the woods behind it. Dean finds the tree trunk he used to use for target practice, pieces of it shot off before he learned to hit the tin can resting on top.
“You taught me to shoot here,” Sam says.
“Bobby taught me,” Dean says.
Sam frowns. “I thought Dad taught you.”
“Dad handed me the gun and told me to stay out here till I could shoot a tin can off this trunk from twenty-five yards,” Dean says. “After a couple of hours, Bobby took pity on me and showed me what I was doing wrong.”
Sam shakes his head and huffs a breath. “That sounds like Dad, all right.” He frowns. “Where was I?”
“Pretty sure you were stuck inside, trapped in that playpen Dad built for you that looked more like a cage.”
Sam frowns. He doesn’t remember much about his earliest days, but he remembers Dean teasing him about how much trouble he was after he learned to walk but before he was old enough to follow directions.
“How old was I?” he asks.
“Dude, I was six, so you couldn’t have been more than two years old, if even.” Dean shakes his head. “You were always getting into things. Bobby’s house was definitely not baby-proofed. Weapons and whiskey everywhere. When Dad put you in that playpen, you screamed bloody murder for a solid hour.”
“Of course I did,” Sam says. “Like you said, it was more like a cage.”
Dean winces. He gets the reference too well.
Sam gives him a lopsided grin. “I bet I shut right up when you climbed in to play with me,” he suggests slyly.
Dean grins. “Yeah, you did.”
They spend the night in the local Holiday Inn. This time when Sam slides his hand across the bed, Dean takes it, raises it to his lips, and kisses the knuckles. He scoots closer, rolls Sam onto his other side and presses in behind him, spooning him. Sam hugs Dean’s strong arm like a teddy bear, falls asleep to the feel of Dean’s breath on his spine.
In the morning, they drive to Blue Earth, reminiscing about Bobby and Pastor Jim. They visit the church and the rectory where Pastor Jim lived and died, recalling the times they stayed with him while their dad hunted.
“I must have been twelve the last time I saw him,” Dean says, and Sam nods.
“The winter and spring before I turned eight,” he says. “We spent Christmas here that year. Your birthday, too.”
“Yeah,” Dean nods, smiling and the memory. “Pastor Jim was good about birthdays.”
“He hung balloons on the mailbox, so everybody in town knew,” Sam says. “The cake was huge, and I ate too much and got sick.”
“You remember that?”
Sam smiles wryly. “It’s not like we had that many birthday parties,” he says. “That one kind of stood out.”
They drive by the church where the Whore of Babylon wreaked havoc so many years ago, but they don’t go in. Too many bad memories.
Back on the road southwest again, they make it to Broken Bow, Nebraska, before stopping for the night. As they eat at the Neighborhood Grill, Sam notices that Dean’s wearing his amulet. He reaches across the table to touch it before thinking, and Dean jerks away, glaring.
Sam pulls his hand back, but he can’t help the grin that splits his face open.
“You remembered,” he says. His chest warms, his eyes smart.
“Sap,” Dean mutters, ducking his head, concentrating on his food like it’s the best meal he’s ever had.
Sam thinks about how hungry and cold they were all those years ago, waiting in the motel for their dad. He thinks about how Dean stole presents and a Christmas tree when John didn’t show, how he stole food for them, too. He thinks about how he’s always marked that night as the moment things shifted between them, how Sam’s allegiance to Dean became paramount to every other that night, even to his dad.
As an adult, he came to understand how Dean had always put him first, but the eight-year-old who gave Dean the gift he’d meant for his father couldn’t imagine being more important to Dean than John Winchester. That little kid had grown into an insecure teenager, then a rebellious young adult who loved his brother more than was healthy. Back then, Sam was sure Dean wouldn’t love him back. Not that way.
Until he did.
Dean’s foot knocks his under the table. “Earth to Sam,” he teases. “Hey, let’s get out of this shit hole, what d’ya say?”
Sam starts to protest. It’s not the worst place they’ve eaten, and it’s definitely a town with meaning and memories for them.
Dean’s childhood was fraught with worry and strife. Keeping Sam fed and happy was a constant challenge. For him, this town is a reminder of another failure. He’d wanted to keep Sam safe, to let him be a kid a little longer. But this is where Sam found out the truth about what their dad did.
This is where Sam’s childhood ended.
It’s dark when Dean stops at a liquor store and it’s getting late when they pull into the parking lot of the Wayside Motel. As soon as they’re inside, Sam pushes Dean up against the door and kisses him. He clasps the amulet in one hand, holds the back of Dean’s neck with the other and goes to town on his plush mouth, his scruffy cheek. He sucks on Dean’s adam’s apple and leaves a line of wet, hungry kisses to his ear, mouths along his jaw to his mouth again as he tugs on Dean’s clothes.
“Okay,” Dean growls as he ruts against Sam’s thigh. “Okay. Just let me...” He pushes Sam back enough to get his shirts off, and Sam does the same.
Sam knows he reeks after hours in the car, but Dean smells good. Tastes better. Doesn’t mind being manhandled and stripped and pushed down on the closest bed so Sam can pull his jeans off and swallow him down. Dean lets him devour his balls and lick between his legs like Sam’s starving for it.
“Okay, okay, Sammy,” Dean gasps, hands in Sam’s hair, kneading his scalp.
Sam kicks his boots off, pushes his own jeans and boxes down, frantic and needy. Desperate. Like it’s the last time. Like there might never be another chance for this. Like the world’s ending. Again.
Sam sucks and swallows and tongues Dean’s slit, crawls naked up his body to his nipples, suckling each one to a perfect pert nub, making Dean writhe and gasp.. Sam kisses and nips up his brother’s neck to his mouth again, kissing him deep and dirty, running his hands up his smooth sides, over his bare chest. He gets his hands under Dean’s ass and rolls over, pulling him on top, Sam spread out beneath him.
“Need you in me, Dean,” he begs. “Please!”
“Yeah, okay,” Dean pants. “Okay, Sammy. Yeah. Just let me...”
Dean crawls backwards off the bed to find the lube. Sam lets him go with reluctance, reaches for him when he crawls back onto the bed.
“Come on, Dean.” Sam pulls his knees back, spreading himself as wide as he can.
“Yeah, okay, Sammy. Okay. Hang on.” Dean kneels between Sam’s legs, gets his fingers well-lubed so he can start opening Sam up. As Dean slides a finger into him, Sam moans. He throws his head back as Dean adds another finger.
“Come on, come on, hurry up!”
“Jesus Sam, hold up a minute. Don’t be such a needy little bitch!”
“Shut up and fuck me already, god damn it!” Sam bears down, impaling himself on his brother’s fingers. He cries out when Dean hits his sweet spot, sending shivery sparks up his spine.
“That’s it, baby. That’s it.” Dean wraps his free hand around Sam’s dick, jacking him slowly as he adds a third finger. Sam gasps, giving in to the sensation of fullness, of Dean’s hands working him open while stroking his dick. His eyes slide closed and his chin tips up, exposing his neck.
“Yeah, baby, I got you,” Dean soothes. He leans down and plants a kiss in the middle of Sam’s chest, licks up the sweat pooling in the hollow of his throat, before sitting back to slick up his dick.
“Dean,” Sam gasps as Dean’s fingers slip free, replaced by the head of his dick a moment later. Sam’s eyes slide open a crack to watch, and Dean looks up, waiting a moment as Sam adjusts.
Sam nods, and Dean slides home, punching all the air out of Sam’s body, taking with it Sam’s ability to speak. Sam’s eyes close, all sensation focused on the burn that borders on pain as Dean holds himself still, buried deep.
Sam takes a deep, shuddering breath. He can feel tears leaking from the corners of his eyes as he nods.
“I’m okay, it’s okay.” He reaches for Dean, pulls his face down to kiss him, the amulet caught hard between them.
Sam wiggles his butt, tips his head back so Dean can kiss down his throat. “Fuckin’ move, man. Come on.”
“Little bitch.” Dean pulls back, then slides home again, punching the air out of Sam’s lungs and sending his eyes rolling back in his head. He does it again, pushing Sam’s knee back for better leverage, grabbing his wrist with the other hand. On the third thrust Sam keens, deep in his throat. His mouth opens in an “Oh!” as Dean hits his prostate, then does it again as he gets the rhythm right, starts up a steady stream of encouragement.
“You like that? Huh? Right there. Right there, Sam. That’s it, isn’t it? Oh yeah. So gorgeous, baby. You’re so good for me.”
Sam’s speechless now, quivering with sensation. His eyes open to see Dean’s face hovering over him, shiny with sweat as the amulet swings with each thrust. Dean licks his lips, dips down to kiss Sam as he grabs his dick.
“Come for me, Sam.”
And Sam does. His orgasm goes on and on, longer than any he’s had in recent memory. As he comes to, he feels tears on his face, feels the soreness of a strangled cry in his throat.
Dean’s still hovering over him, eyes closed, full lips parted. He thrusts shallowly as he rides out his own orgasm. Sam reaches for him, pulls him down for another kiss. Sam can’t get enough kisses tonight.
“Dude. Gross.” Dean’s dick slips free as he shifts out of Sam’s arms, wiping his jizz-covered hand on the sheets. He grabs tissues from the bedside table and wipes Sam’s belly with them.
“I’m sleeping on the other bed,” he mutters.
“Fine.” Sam smiles. He’s more relaxed and satisfied than he can remember ever feeling before. A bomb could go off, and Sam would be fine with it.
He’s vaguely aware of Dean moving around the room, going into the bathroom and running water. He’s almost asleep when Dean comes back in, crawls onto the bed to wash him off with a warm, wet washcloth.
The last thing he’s aware of is Dean pulling up the sheet and blankets over him, leaving a gentle kiss on his forehead.
“Good night, Sammy.”
They get a late start the next morning, go out of their way to visit Cawker City, Kansas, home of the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. They have good memories of stopping there with their dad.
“Oh, now we have to go to Carhenge,” Dean insists as the sun dips low in the sky. “If we drive all night, we can be there by morning.”
Sam shakes his head. “We’re not driving all night to look at a Stonehenge replica built out of old cars.”
“Dude! Are you kidding me? Of course we gotta go there!”
“I’m not letting you drive all night,” Sam insists.
“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Dean shrugs.
Sam shakes his head. “You get too tired, we pull over,” he warns.
“You know me, Sammy. Safety first.” Dean grins.
Sam shakes his head. “Yeah, right.”
The road is wide open most of the way, so they get there well before dawn. Dean pulls into an all-night diner, and they eat breakfast in the dark, drive out to the exhibit as the sun rises.
Dean’s sheer pleasure at staring at a bunch of old cars made to look like an ancient prehistoric monument is almost worth the drive. Sam stares at his brother’s face as the sun rises and decides the sun’s got nothing on Dean. He shines twice as bright.
By noon they’re headed to Denver, but Sam makes them stop a couple of hours later because Dean’s crashing, obviously falling asleep at the wheel. They find a motel with a diner next door and sleep for a while, then get up to eat and have sex before sleeping again.
It occurs to Sam that this road trip is the closest they’ve ever come to a honeymoon.
Not that he’d ever suggest that to Dean. Being on the road together without the need to get somewhere or hunt something, without needing to do anything, just hanging out and taking their time, is about the best thing Sam can imagine.
He’s so happy he barely notices his own reflection in the mirror.
He’s getting younger.
Dean notices. He runs his hands through Sam’s hair, sweeping his bangs back tenderly as he plants a soft kiss on Sam’s forehead.
“You look like that college kid I picked up all those years ago in California,” he says affectionately.
Sam blushes, grins till his face feels like it might split open, but he says nothing.
The magic is happening, just as Sam knew it would.
“They’ve got a great collection of nineteenth century firearms,” he assures Dean when his brother rolls his eyes at the notion of visiting a museum.
They bed down that night in a cheap motel that has gorgeous views of some pretty impressive-looking rocks. Sam wants to hike into Monument Canyon, but Dean talks him out of it.
“First, no hiking,” Dean says, shaking his head. “Hiking is not something Winchesters do. No hiking, no camping. Second, we’re headed to the mother of all canyons, Sam. No reason to look at this one.”
Sam doesn’t argue. He knows Dean had enough survival training as a kid to last a lifetime. It was traumatic enough, being dropped off alone in the wilderness, expected to find his way out alive. Then when Sam got old enough, Dean was expected to pass his training on to his brother, which meant they both got dropped off in the middle of nowhere. So in addition to surviving, Dean had to keep Sam alive, too.
No wonder Dean hates camping.
They microwave popcorn and watch Avatar on the big flat screen in their room after watching the sun go down over the mountains. They’ll be in Vegas tomorrow, which means their road trip is coming to an end.
Neither of them wants to think about that, or what comes after.
They pass a bottle of whiskey back and forth until they’re both too tipsy to watch any more. Then they strip and lie side by side on the bed, kissing and touching like teenagers. Dean’s face has lost all its lines; he’s younger, too. His eyelashes are long and thick, and Sam can’t resist brushing the tip of his finger over them where they lie on Dean’s smooth cheeks. They don’t look real. When Dean opens his eyes, they are bowls of translucent green seawater. Sam’s sure he could drown in them. Dean’s beauty is unearthly, otherworldly. Sam’s always suspected his brother wasn’t completely human, and now that they both know the truth, it’s hard to imagine how he didn’t see it from the very start.
They fall asleep in each other’s arms, reluctant to stop touching now that time is getting so short.
Only three more days.
Their lives have been simple in recent years. There haven’t been any monster sightings in over a year now.
Their work is done.
The bartender cards Sam, looks skeptical when he shows him the ID that says he’s 21. Dean teases him, calls him “baby,” charms the bartender into letting his “kid brother” hang out while Dean has a beer.
Sam scowls but doesn’t really mind. Dean doesn’t look much older than 21 himself.
They spend the night at the Howard Johnson’s on Tropicana, same as always. Dean spoons Sam all night, like he’s afraid he might disappear.
Sam wakes up in the early hours of the morning, feeling different but oddly familiar. For a moment, he thinks they’re in the car, curled up together on the back seat while Dad drives.
Then he remembers. Dean’s arms seem longer than usual, and his chin is resting on the top of Sam’s head. Sam’s feet are tangled with Dean’s, but his legs feel shorter.
He carefully extricates himself from Dean’s arms and pads into the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror.
He’s not a day over 12. Maybe even younger.
Dean appears in the doorway, rubbing the back of his neck and blinking in the light of the bathroom mirror.
Dean is all big eyes and puffy lips and soft skin, hair longer, skin smooth and practically hairless. He’s sixteen at most.
Staring into the mirror, Dean starts to hyperventilate, so Sam grabs him, steers him away from his own reflection, back into the bedroom.
“It’s okay,” Sam assures him. His voice sounds high and young. “This is what was supposed to happen, remember? We’ll be all right, Dean. I promise.”
“But — it’s accelerating, Sammy,” he gasps.
“Shhh,” Sam soothes. “It’s okay. We knew this would happen.”
“But — how are we going to make it to tomorrow, Sam? Huh? What if you de-age into nothing? What happens if I can’t drive the car?”
“That’s not going to happen,” Sam assures him. “If I end up as a baby, you know what to do. It can’t go any further than that. It’ll be okay.”
But Dean won’t settle down. He doesn’t sleep, spends the rest of the night pacing the floor, worrying about Sam de-aging into oblivion. Nothing Sam says will convince him that’s not going to happen.
“We never should’ve done this,” he says. “It was a stupid idea.”
“We didn’t have a choice,” Sam reminds him.
“We always have a choice, Sam!”
“Yeah, well, not for long. If we let it go much longer, it would all be over anyway.”
“You don’t know that!”
Sam gives him a look that makes Dean snort with frustration. He knows Sam’s right. He just can’t stand feeling helpless and out of control. Never mind that they’re doing this to themselves. It’s their last act of salvation. The Winchesters get one more chance to save the world, as well as each other, and they’re taking it. They’re doing the thing that needs doing.
Of course there’s a price. Just like always. But this time, Sam’s pretty sure they’ll end up together. Sam and Dean are two halves of the whole, the light and the dark. Their existence keeps their universe in balance.
When they cease to exist, that balance will remain.
“This whole farewell tour thing sucks,” Dean complains, stamping his foot like a petulant child, which is what he’s fast becoming anyway.
“You thought it was a good idea when we talked about it back at the bunker,” Sam notes.
“Yeah, well, that was before you turned into jailbait!” Dean snaps. “And just what the hell are you going to wear tomorrow? Huh? None of my clothes will fit you!”
By morning, Sam is a five-year-old with a mop of dark curls and nothing to wear, just as Dean had predicted. He takes some of their gambling earnings and stomps off to find a children’s clothing store and some burgers, almost ends up arrested when he tries to drive the car and the manager reports him.
“He kept asking me, where’s your dad?” Dean complains when he returns after his shopping spree, pissed off because he had to go on foot. “I had to lie a blue streak to keep him from calling the cops on us. Here,” he throws the bag of clothes at Sam, “I got us some swim trunks. We’re going to the water park.”
“What?” Sam stares. “Dean, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.”
He’s lisping, which is something he forgot he did when he was five. Dean’s staring at him with a little smile at the corners of his mouth, like he can’t believe how adorable his little brother is.
Sam blushes. “Stop looking at me like that.”
“Why?” Dean grins. “You’re adorable! I totally forgot how cute you were at this age. Annoying, but cute.”
“Shut up.” Sam glares.
“Yeah, come on. We’re going to the water park. The casinos won’t let us in without adults anyway, so we might as well enjoy ourselves.”
“Dean, they won’t let us into the water park without an adult, either.”
Dean rolls his eyes. “So use your psychic mojo! You know you want to! Now’s your chance, Yoda. Come on!”
Sam shakes his head, but Dean’s excitement is contagious, and within the hour they’re at the water park. Afterwards they hit the theme park, although Sam’s not big enough for the exciting rides.
Sam understands that Dean’s just trying to keep their minds off what’s happening to them, and he’s grateful for that. Dean’s always been good at distracting them when things are weird or scary, and right now things are definitely weird. Sam tries to muster confidence he doesn’t feel, fends off the panic that rises in his chest every time he sees himself in a mirror.
“You know what to do, right?” Sam says when they’re back at the motel later with a bag of takeout food.
Dean nods as he bites into a burger. “We went over it all back at the bunker. Easy peasy.”
“Good,” Sam says. “Because chances are I won’t be talking tomorrow morning.”
“Right.” Dean won’t look him in the eye, so Sam grabs his shoulder, gives Dean his best puppy-dog look.
“It’s gonna work, Dean,” he says. “I promise. You trust me, right?”
“‘Course I do, Sammy,” Dean scoffs, still not looking at him. “‘Course I do.”
“Dean, I need you to look me in the eye and promise me you’ll drive us out to the Grand Canyon at sunrise tomorrow,” Sam says. “This is what we agreed on.”
“Yeah, yeah, Sammy, we agreed.” Dean slurps his soda, glances at Sam, winces and looks away.
Dean slams his soda down. “I just hate that we don’t know what’s gonna happen,” he says. “I mean, if we were gonna end up in Hell, or Heaven, or even the Empty, I could deal with that, you know? It’s the not knowing that’s making me crazy.”
“It’s none of those places, Dean, and you know it,” Sam says quietly, hating his lisp and his little boy voice. He needs Dean to settle down and stop freaking out. He needs Dean to trust him. “It’s someplace new, just for us. Someplace that needs us. That was the deal, remember?”
Dean nods, tucks his chin into his chest. He looks every bit the little boy that he is on the outside.
“We’re gonna be together, that’s the main thing. As long as we’re together, the world stays in balance. Just like Chuck and Amara.”
Dean’s eyes flick up to Sam’s, and his cheeks flush pink. “Yuck. God, Sam, don’t remind me of those two. What a nightmare!”
“Okay, okay, sorry. Never mind. Bad example.”
Dean shakes his head. “I just can’t believe it’s over, that’s all. That this is our last night on earth.”
“It was fun,” Sam concedes. “I had fun.”
Dean looks up, holds Sam’s gaze. “Me too, Sammy. Me too.”
Sam opens his eyes. Dean’s leaning over him, wrapping him up in a blanket, and it’s dark. It’s still dark outside. Sam’s body feels impossibly small, and his brain isn’t working very well. He thinks he’s hungry. That’s it. He’s hungry.
Dean picks him up, cuddles him close as he carries him to the car. Sam’s too small for the passenger seat, so Dean lays him in the footwell, props pillows around him to keep him in place.
Sam dozes as the car starts to move. He’s finding it hard to stay awake.
“Okay, Sammy, here we go.”
Sam opens his eyes. The car has stopped, and Dean’s gathering him up, carrying him. It’s dark and cold, with stars overhead. They walk for a long time, and Sam dozes. He’s really hungry, but he tries not to fuss. Dean’s working hard enough as it is.
“Okay, this is it.”
Dean lays him down. The ground is hard and uncomfortable, and the blanket falls away as Dean sits back so that Sam’s suddenly freezing. He lets out a little cry before he can stop himself.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay, Sammy, it’s okay.”
Dean gathers the blanket’s corners in, tucks it tighter around Sam’s small, helpless body. Sam’s muscles don’t even move the way he wants. It’s disturbing.
“So we’re just gonna sit here while the sun comes up, all right?”
Sam tries to speak, although nothing comes out but funny little noises. Dean smiles anyway. The sky is lighter than it was a minute ago. The stars are starting to fade. A breeze ruffles Dean’s hair, and Dean looks up, out toward the east, just as the first ray of sunlight rises over the horizon.
“Here it comes.”
The light touches Dean’s face, turns his freckles orange, makes his eyes sparkle. He squints away from it, looks down at Sam instead.
Sam tries to nod, but his head just jerks around on his neck. His arms flail spastically as he kicks his legs. Dean smiles.
“Loved you the first minute I saw you, Sammy. The first minute. When Mom brought you home from the hospital, all wrapped up and sleeping. She put you in my arms and I knew.”
Dean’s eyes sparkle, and Sam realizes he’s getting emotional. He’s afraid. He thinks he’s about to lose Sam.
Sam opens his mouth, trying to say something reassuring. He wants to reach out and take Dean into his arms, but all he can do is grab his own toes through the blanket. Dean seems to understand, though. He leans down so Sam’s flailing arms can reach him, so his grasping hands can grab onto Dean.
The sunlight is touching the canyon now, making the landscape glow. Sam feels its warmth when it touches him. His whole body shivers, and for a moment he thinks he’s on fire. The light becomes brighter, until he can’t see Dean’s face anymore. He hears a roaring in his ears, feels the warmth become hotter, almost painful.
Dean grips him tight, gives a strangled cry that sounds like Sam’s name. Sam screams as he feels Dean’s grip loosen. He opens his eyes in time to see Dean transform, growing in front of his eyes until he’s the grown-up version of himself again. He stares up at Sam, which is how Sam knows he’s grown, too. They’re both surrounded in light, dressed like they were yesterday before things got so damn crazy. They’re standing on the edge of a cliff, on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Sam reaches for Dean, finds their hands already clasped.
Dean peers up at him. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” Sam nods. “You?”
Dean nods. He’s shaking. His hands are trembling.
“Let’s do this.”
Sam’s head spins. He thinks about how they’ll never know if this works. He thinks about how they’ve already outstayed their time, lived longer than any hunters who ever lived. He thinks about how lucky they are to be going out together.
He thinks about how they don’t know what comes next, but whatever it is, they’ll face it together, just like they always have. On some other plane of existence, they’ll go on. Some other world needs them now.
Sam nods. He glances at the car, hopes she’ll be there waiting, wherever they’re going. He has a feeling she will be.
He puts his arms around Dean and pulls him close, closes his eyes and reaches out with his mind to the endless future, letting the light engulf them.
The adventure begins.