vie_dangerouse (vie_dangerouse) wrote,
vie_dangerouse
vie_dangerouse

Now's the Time, the Time is Now (cont.)

 (cont.) 



When Dean wakes up in the middle of the night, unable to decide whether he wants the blankets pulled up to his chin or bunched around his ankles, he’s ready to admit (if only to himself) that he’s got a fever. He sits up in bed, muffles a cough into his upper arm, and squints around the dim room with a pinched expression, his gaze lighting on a small glint from the night-table between the two beds. Sam’s helpfully left a glass of water, some Tylenol, and a box of Kleenex out for him. He partakes of each before turning his pillow over to the colder side and resting his head on it again, waiting for the acetaminophen to kick in. Unfortunately, this makes him shiver, which gives way soon enough to waves of heat, and he’s almost begun to think he’s stuck in another Trickster loop when the meds wash over him all of a sudden, and he’s asleep, sprawled diagonally across the bed with half the covers on.

            The morning comes too quickly, as it always does, that sonofabitch sun popping up like burnt toast on the horizon (eggs sunny side up, Dean’s ass) as if to say, “Wow, made it through to another day! Look at this gorgeous sunrise! Do you know how many more you’ll have a chance to see?”

            He blinks and coughs softly into the sheet, hoping Sam won’t notice he’s awake. Too late. Sam’s standing at the end of his bed, looking expectant.

            “How are you feeling?”

            Sam answers his own question before Dean has time to form words and sentences.

            “You look worse.”

            Dean sits up and allows a small smirk to have run of his face. “Last night you said I looked like hell. What could be worse than that?”

            He’s surprised at how rough his voice sounds, so he clears his throat experimentally and tries again, “Though, I guess if I had to look at that ugly mug of yours in the mirror every day…” He gives a fake shiver for effect, but it turns into a real one.

            “Fever.” Sam slaps the word on him like a binding mark.

            “Sorry to break your diagnostic streak, there, Medicine Woman, but… ah… no.” Dean realizes just how unconvincing he must seem; his voice grinding more glass every time he speaks, sitting up in bed, shivering, the cord from his amulet crossing the lines of his tattoo like breaking a Devil’s Trap.

            “Fine.” Sam pulls out another bitchface. Dean wonders vaguely if he picks them out in the mornings to match his outfits.

            The word’s like a syringe with a 16 gauge needle to his head. How many times have they said that to each other, when it was the furthest thing from the truth? Is he still going to tell Sam that he’s fine when he’s taking his last breath?

Like dry rot in his brain, just one lightning flash, one spark is all it takes and the whole thing will come down. The glass was half-empty and getting emptier all the time. His thoughts are like perverse butterflies, sharp, black-winged, and impossible to pin down.

Fine’s what you’re supposed to say after you have a business dealing with someone, maybe you’re selling and they’re buying, or the other way around, but it’s not something you should use to describe the scene that’s all too familiar by now.

            First his father, then Sam, then himself—all taking a draught from it like some sort of tainted communion ritual. Body and blood, indeed (Sam’s blood between his fingers, hot and sticky, the moment of realization that his body rejected like a transplanted heart with an incompatible blood type, and Sam’s voice resounding in his head, mocking him because Winchesters didn’t take stock in irony, irony owned full shares of Winchesters, It’s worth it, Dean. It is. It’s not fair, and it hurts like hell, but it’s worth it.).

            The beginning was the end—not the other way around. Because once it’d begun, it couldn’t be stopped, and he just kept on propensating it down the line. First his dad’s deal for him, then his own for Sam. He’d cheated death twice now, and counting, and no one likes a cheat, least of all demons.

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            It’s a long shot, and they both know it. Sam’s never heard Dean mention this book before now, but now he’s acting like it’s his last chance for salvation or something. Huh- irony’s a cold bitch (the Colt aimed at the midpoint between the Crossroads Demon’s eyes, her laughter bubbling like tar, Oh. All this tough talk. I have to tell you, it's not very convincing. I mean, come on, Sam. Do you even wanna break the deal? And he hadn’t said no, he’d asked her what she thought. Was that evasive? Sure as hell it was. Not sure as heaven, because though the two are opposites, hell’s the only sure thing. No rest for the wicked, and all that. Admit it. You're here, going through the motions. But truth is…you'll be a tiny bit relieved when he's gone. Once again he hadn’t said no, he’d told her to shut up because he didn’t want to hear it anymore, kept saying it over and over, shut up, shut up, shut up, the Crossroads Demon like a voice of reason that meandered from the straight path— Sorry sweetheart, but your brother's an adult. He made that deal of his own free will, fair and square. It's iron clad.).

            “Dean, even I’ve never heard of anything like this, and I’m—”

            “I know, I know, you’re G-guh-huutsch-shuug!- Geegboy.”

            “Bud-” Dean drags his wrist under his nose and then raises a finger for emphasis, “I think I remember reading something about it when I was younger.”

            “And so you thought we’d come look for it at the University of Wisconsin. That’s completely logical.”

            “Since when have we ever done ‘logical,’ Sam?”

            Sam’s silence is answer enough, and Dean turns his attention back to driving, his face pale but determined.

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Impala’s parked in a parking ramp near the university campus, and Dean’s rummaging through the trunk cache as Sam pages through their dad’s old journal in a last attempt to find any evidence besides Dean’s questionable memory. The sound of metal pieces clanking against each other becomes a sort of background noise until it’s suddenly missing, the sound of Dean coughing violently replacing it. Sam waits a few moments, then opens his car door and pokes his head out to see his brother leaning heavily against the car and sounding like something’s clawing its way out of him. Finally, though, he manages to get it under control, and Sam calls back tentatively, “You gonna live?” expecting the usual quick comeback. This time, though, there’s a pause, and then Dean’s hoarse voice, “No.”

            Sam gets all the way out of the car now, and stands just outside the open door. He gives a short laugh at first, but then it gives way to the darker emotions that haven’t ever fully sunk to the bottom since that cold, rainy ghost town in South Dakota. It surprises him how sudden and strong this grief is, this grief for his brother who’s even now breathing (however noisily) next to him. Sam gives himself a mental shake, but he can’t brush it off completely, because the realization that he’s already mourning the loss of his brother, even before he’s dead… that… that’s just something he doesn’t want to deal with right now. He shouldn’t be doing this, but these last small deaths of moments somehow seem like they’re going to add up to a sum that’s greater than whatever the big picture is worth.

            It’s started to drizzle when they leave the parking ramp, and it makes Dean think about Winchester luck again (Bobby, It’s not a luck charm. It’s a curse. Sam, So, I won’t lose it, Bobby. Bobby’s voice final, in that special, ‘yes, you are dumber than you look, ya idjit’ tone: Everybody loses it.), or really, the supreme lack thereof. Dead. The word is so heavy, carries such finality. An anvil sinking to the bottom of the ocean to be buried by a thousand identical pieces of sand. Like his own limp body thrown over his shoulders- a morbid mantle for him to carry around until it actually happens. (Back in that exam room, the weight of his gun familiar and friendly in his hand, and about to become friendlier. Sam telling him that he could keep on going without him, and his reply, Who says I want to? I’m tired, Sam. I’m tired of this job, this life. This weight on my shoulders, man, I’m tired of it. The worst part of this memory is that even now he’s not sure if he wouldn’t have gone through with it; the cold metal against his skin just the proper ending to the story. But really, when he thinks about it, he did go through it; it’s just a slower kind of death this time. The epilogue. Or maybe footnote, as who can say what will happen after. The only thing he’s certain about is that he’d do it again.)

            He’s feeling shivery again. Add that to the mix of rain (yeah, whoever said rain was cleansing, ooh, Dean would like to hunt that son of a bitch down, because they never saw how the (tears) rain blurred his vision as he held Sam’s body, rocked it back and forth), sneezing at the worst possible moment, and the solid fact that there are over 8.1 million books on campus, well, it’s just shaping up to be a terrific day.

            “Dude… look ou—”

            “—That was a curb.”

            “Gee, Sab, thags for clarifyig thad. Adctually, the curb ad I have beed gettig agquiated dowd here.”

            Dean spits onto the damp ground, wipes his skinned palms on his jeans, blinks up at Sam.

“Help me up, bro.”

            “‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,’—what are you, the new spokesperson for LifeAlert?”

            “Shuddub.”

            Sam thinks that Dean looks a little unsteady once he’s back on his feet, just for a moment, but then Dean’s off and walking again, the collar of his leather jacket popped up.

            They decide to split up; Sam will go talk to someone in the Special Collections department (“Go work your nerd mimbo-wimbo,” Dean says. “Maybe bond over some Star Trek trivia.”), and Dean will actually go poke around in the stacks.

            It’s been barely an hour and the Special Collections people are already giving Sam strange sidelong looks out of the corners of their eyes, like they’re afraid he’s going to bomb their precious books or something. Sam’s sure that using his phone inside won’t gain him any fans, either, but he ducks into a row of shelves to call his brother anyway. He’s given Dean his time here, hasn’t complained (much) about the futility of the exercise, but now- it’s time to go. They don’t have time to waste.

            “Ready to go?” he asks Dean in an artificially chipper tone.

            “No—”

Dean sneezes and drops his phone.

            “Was that what I think it was?” Sam laughs, when he hears Dean’s heavy, annoyed breathing on the other end.

            “Nod—ode—word,” Dean growls.

            “All right, then.”

            “What did I justd say?”

            “That was three words, not one, and besides, I just wanted to tell you that I haven’t found anything yet. I don’t think it’s here, Dean.”

            “Give id the good colledge try.”

            There’s a click and Sam’s alone again, severed from his brother’s voice. Part of him wants to call back and tell Dean that enough is enough, they’re leaving now, a book authored by Satan never existed, and certainly didn’t contain a spell to summon and destroy Lilith. The other part, the less rational part that’s fueled by Winchester genes, the part that’s more like his brother than he cares to acknowledge, makes him put his phone back in his pocket and return to the Special Collections desk. Maybe he’s missed something. Or not. Regardless, the Winchesters have never really done ‘rational,’ either. He’s leaning his elbows on the wooden desk, chin in hand, a professional, apologetic smile decorating his face, when it hits him just how much he wishes that it could’ve been real (the Trickster smirking, This obsession to save Dean? The way you two keep sacrificing yourselves for each other? Nothing good comes out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean's your weakness. And the bad guys know it, too. It's gonna be the death of you, Sam. Sometimes you just gotta let people go.)—how nice it could be if once, just once, they could catch a break before it became a compound fracture that was set improperly.

            When his phone blares, the volume jarring in the still of the library, Sam picks up and walks away from the desk, mouthing an apology to the librarian but not really caring whether he’s being rude or not. The rain’s stopped, so he meets Dean behind Memorial Union, winding through groups of students to where Dean’s sitting, tipping precariously back on one of the iconic colored chairs. He lets it fall forward again with a dull metallic thud when Sam approaches and takes the seat opposite his, and greets him with only the eyebrow’s equivalent of a limp handshake.

            “I really thought there’d be something here, Sam.”

            “Dean—” Sam sighs before continuing.

            “Why did you think that it would be here, of all places? I mean, Wisconsin’s not exactly demon central. Werewolves and wendigos, maybe, but—”

            “They have a nuclear reactor.”

            “What?”

            Dean coughs heavily. “The—(cough)—school—(cough)—has a—(cough)—nuclear reactor.”

            “So?” Sam’s genuinely clueless as to why this has any bearing on the topic at hand. Dean’s never been much for random facts, much less (God forbid) scientific trivia.

            Dean drags his hand under his nose and leans further over the table.

            “I thought it might be a..ahh—cahhhuuguhxx-shoo!-- cover-ub.”

            He pauses to clear his throat, then goes on, “I thought it could be like in Wyoming. A Devil’s Gate.” He stops again to blink at Sam intensely, his eyes looking just a little too bright. “And if you dare say one thing that even hints at involving the words ‘Buffy’ or ‘Hellmouth,’ so help me God I will kick your ass from here to—” He has to stop and cough. “—To a long ways away.”

            Sam bites back a laugh, and tips his own chair back. “Don’t tell me you’re a conspiracy theorist, too.”

            Dean rummages around in one of his jacket pockets and comes up with a crumpled-looking tissue. He blows his nose into it and lets it drop underneath the table. He glances out toward the lake, shading his eyes with his hand, before he turns back to Sam and says tiredly, “Sam, do you remember what we do?”

            The phrase, ‘saving people, hunting things’ runs through Sam’s mind, but he decides to turn this discussion in a different direction. What the hell, indeed. Bring it right back to the fiery origin, where every conversation for the past (almost) year has circumlocuted and then returned to eventually.

“I’m going to get you out of this, Dean, if it’s the last thing I do.”

“And if you do, you’ll get your wish. Sam-”

There’s a thousand unspoken words hidden in the syllable of Sam’s name, so lonely without the usual ‘and Dean’ tacked onto it. Maybe it’s better, though, to not be so tied to each other. He remembers the end of Samneric—their giving in to baser instincts, as a single unit bent on survival.  Would each have had a better shot at living, really living, had they gone their separate ways?

Dean passes his hand over his eyes again, and breathes in deeply. He can hear it rattle inside his chest, like some sort of bird that can’t wait to be let out—a raven, maybe, or a vulture. He starts again. “Sam- you know what’ll happen if you try. So, just listen to me for once, and don’t.”

The words are painful in too many ways, coming out of his mouth like razor blades that cut him again when he picks them up. He turns his face away from Sam and coughs into his sleeve. If only Sam knew just how much he wished (the Sam from the djinn’s world asking him, Why is it our job to save everyone? Haven’t we done enough?, and the apology spilling out of his mouth as he dug the knife in deeper) there was some means of undoing the ‘all-in, zero: zero probability of coming out without debt’ part of the deal. Dean’s pretty sure he could testify on the stand on the disadvantages to deferred payment. Act as his own lawyer and everything. He closes his eyes, just for a moment, and when he opens them again he lets Sam think that it was just to prepare for the oncoming sneeze.

            Dean knows that it’s futile, and he can’t even take hope from Picard overcoming the manifestation of his personal darkside without killing himself in the process, except to think, bully for him. Two more strikes on the universal tally. He wonders if they’ve started a new row yet. Wishes, he’s certain, are as useless as prayers nowadays, but (God) (helldamn what he wouldn’t give for a little faith right here. Yeah, that’s right, what wouldn’t he give. His soul? He has to scoff at himself. Wishes- wishes are like flipping through a novel, reading phrases at random and getting the wrong idea about how it’s going to end.

Sins of the father, sins of the brother. His father’s sins had shoved his soul back into his body; his shouldering of Sam’s cross had torn it out again, laid it bare and willing on the table, not for the highest bidder, but for the one willing to make an exchange. No return policy, no receipt. But hey, you couldn’t have everything.

Who knows, maybe it will even be a relief when it’s finally over. Debts paid in full, cash up front. By cash he means blood, but isn’t it just a little reassuring to disguise things with pretty metaphors, just for a bit?

            The unearthly squeal of metal on concrete is apt punctuation to end the conversation. The ellipses hang in the air between them like incandescent light bulbs, and finally the heat’s too stifling; Dean has to walk away.

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Back in the Impala, radio static a fitting soundtrack to the charged atmosphere, Dean’s coughing into his elbow as Sam gets back into the car.

He clears his throat, rasps, “What’d Bobby say?”

“That we can feel free to continue playing Hardy Boys, but he doesn’t think it exists.”

            “Oh.” His voice breaks on the single word.

            “You look like someone kicked your puppy.”

            Dean starts the car, muttering it as he twists his head to back out of the parking space, “You should know, bitch.”

            “Jerk.” The reply’s automatic, but somehow Sam feels obligated to say it, like he has to get it in before the red numbers glow double zeros, mocking snake eyes that say they’ve just lost all their turns, game over.

            “Hkkkuutsch-shuh!” He sneezes into his collar, shifts gears, guns the engine in annoyance.

            They don’t speak again until Dean’s pulled into the parking lot of a small-town Dairy Queen.

“Ice cream for lunch? Really, Dean?”

            Sam’s on the receiving end of a glare that could probably exorcise a demon.

            Sam raises his eyebrows and tries to hide a smile. “Are you sure you don’t want to go through the drive-thru?”

            Dean remains silent as they both remember the time Sam had laryngitis when he was twelve. Apparently, karma does, too.

            Dean gets out of the car, tries not to associate the sound of his door slamming with the image of Sam’s back to him in the rain, turning up Boston (Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' along, you'll forget about me after I've been gone), not worrying about anything more pressing than would there be enough whipped cream on top of his pie.

            For once there’s no argument that Sam’s driving, no comments about old ladies or turtles or bifocals. Dean eats his ice cream slowly, then tells Sam that he’s going to sleep until they get there. He doesn’t specify where, it’s unnecessary by this point. If (when) it’s going to end, it’s going to end without care as to location. It’s not a battle where logistics are going to matter. When you die, you’re not exactly picky about scenery.

            Sam drives on autopilot, taking highways that twist through countryside, often framed by tall trees on either side. Without Dean’s banter or music to accompany him, he can almost imagine what it’s going to be like (after) later, though he tries to stop those thoughts as best he can. Maybe it’s a good thing that English has no future tense, Sam thinks sourly, at least not like the Romance languages do, with endings that mark the verbs as special, as part of that intangible ‘could-be’. Sometimes he feels as if the most realistic conversation they had about it was directly after he’d learned the truth- that Dean had tossed in all his chips to win a losing bet. (Dean, looking younger somehow, a thin ribbon of blood breaking ground across his forehead, Tough. After everything I've done for this family, I think I'm entitled. Truth is, I'm tired, Sam. I don't know, it's like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
 And his own petulant answer, It's hellfire, Dean.)

The sun’s making an obvious descent by the time Sam turns off at an exit that promises all the goodness of Winchester home: motel beds, diner food, and brotherly company. Dean’s been awake for a while, staring mutely out the window and sometimes shivering. He’d woken in a jolt, from a dream about his father. It had been so realistic that he could almost feel the grain of the wood against his cheek, feel the sharp pain in his lungs from the double punch of being knocked to the ground and the shock of seeing the yellow glow from Dad’s eyes. He’d tried to go back to sleep again after that, but when he closed his eyes, oh, God, it was John’s voice again. He couldn’t remember answering the phone, but maybe he had? But no, that was wrong, too, it hadn’t actually been his father, it was something else. Then again, what was the difference really? He was going to Hell himself in a couple of weeks, and after that he would be something else too. (Ruby now, the words reverberating so loudly in his head that if he’d had the Colt he’d have taken it out and shot the bitch, once and for all, That's what happens when you go to hell, Dean. That's what hell is, forgetting what you are.)

After that, he’d stayed awake resolutely, mm-hmm-ing vaguely when Sam asked if it was okay that they stopped for the night, and once catching a volley of three rapid-fire sneezes into his elbow.

            They sit across from each other at some old, scarred table that seems like it’s the same one as in every other motel, location the only difference. Like his brother, Dean thinks, the same but different.

There had been a line, once, but it had been erased and then re-drawn so many times that he was no longer sure where it had originated, or if he could even see the spot from where he was now. Winchesters never crossed the line, no—they just pushed it further, took it as a challenge.

It hadn’t even been a choice, not really. Choosing meant that you had options; that you considered. Dean doesn’t remember doing any of that. (Sam’s voice, Meg’s words: But whatever I do to you, it's nothing compared to what you'll do to yourself, is it? I can see it in your eyes, Dean. You're worthless. You couldn't save your Dad, and deep down you know that you can't save your brother. They'd have been better off without you. ) All he remembers is the knowledge that he’s going to prove Fate wrong, even if saving his brother is the last thing he does. Huh, careful what you wish for.

And he would burn for him. He would burn for Sam, his brother, the maybe not-so-innocent bystander, but whom he could hardly look at without seeing that eight-year-old asking whether monsters were real. And it broke his heart to say, yes, Sam, monsters are real, and they gave me one year.

            The next sneeze catches him completely unaware, and he forgets about the half-eaten burger in his hand as he tries to cover his mouth. There’s a moment of silence before they both start to laugh, and Dean wonders why they don’t do this more often, because it feels so goddamn good, even if it makes him cough.

            “Dude, you can’t lick your elbow,” Sam puffs out between laughs, and Dean catches the errant dab of ketchup with a napkin, a faux-scowl on his face.

            The moment peters out all too quickly, though, as if they’re children playing in a funeral home and being scolded for not showing proper somber for the occasion.

Sam clicks on the T.V. for some background noise, but neither of them really watch the movie that’s on- they’ve both seen enough blood and gore to last several lifetimes. Dean recalls making fun of Sam a few weeks ago for watching one of the Lord of the Rings films, but now he can’t get the image of that funeral pyre out of his head. He’s not going to be that lucky, though—no last minute saving grace for him. He hears the sound of claws tearing flesh, remembers the flicker of the fire—portending of what is to come, perhaps (the family business, he’d told Sam, making it sound like the best thing in the world. Like there was no other choice. And now it had killed them all.).

Dean supposes he must’ve dozed off, because he comes to with his brother standing over him, and he feels like his eyeballs have ignited behind their sockets.

Sam’s hand on his forehead, for once he skips the gay jokes and the complaints of personal space issues and just lets him.

“Dean, you’re burning up.” Sam states it matter-of-factly, lays it out on the table like shaking dice for Yahtzee. There’s no skill involved in it- it’s an equal opportunity game. The same chance of winning for everyone. Sam wonders how it’s still equal if Dean ends up with the loaded die every time.

            “Don’t—don’t say that.”

            “Well, it’s tr—oh. Oh, okay.”

            The thermometer in his mouth, he’s thinking about falling objects, and how they descend at the same rate regardless of from how high they’re dropped. When Sam reads him a three-digit number, his lips pursed tightly, he just shrugs, his head buzzing. As he’s dropping off to uneasy sleep, he thinks about numerology, phrasing. What exactly did it mean to say that his number was up. How it would feel for Sam when he was down for the count. For some reason it reminds him of game shows—he and Sam have been playing Password for months now, but somehow they’ve never quite gotten to the game whose answer is the word ‘goodbye.’ Neither of them is ready to force the other to say it, to color within the lines of the picture labeled ‘Finality,’ or God forbid, flip to the reverse page: ‘Closure.’ They’d rather tear out the last page of the book, salt and burn it without knowing the ending. They’d rather use commas and semicolons, hyphens—anything but periods.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s a long night. Then again, wasn’t that their whole story? A long night—with no guarantee that the sun would come up again?

4 a.m.: Dean wakes in a sudden panic of not knowing what day it is, much less the date. When Sam tells him, he raises a hand to his eyes wearily, as if the side table lamp’s a solar flare and he’s going to block it out just to go through the motion, as if he doesn’t really care if his eyes get burnt out. “It’s drops in a bucket of boiling water,” he tells Sam in a crackly voice. “It’s too late.”

            Yes, that’s exactly it: water boiling over; clocks stopped at the fringe of midnight; sunspots; molten lava; and the phone numbers of girls he’d never call scrawled on the backs of matchbooks.           

            Cold ground in South Dakota, gulping sobs of air like the sky was crying, too. Graveyard, Wyoming, breathing deeper than he had in months, since the balance had finally been restored. An eye for an eye; blood and more blood; his soul for Sam’s. Choking on his breath in this godforsaken motel room, sulfurous air raping its burning way down his throat, a hundred miles an hour on the brimstone highway.           

            “Dear—God—” Dean gasps out. Sam blinks hard, trying to will it away, but it’s like Ava’s standing there with him—I don’t think God has much to do with this, Sam—reminding him that no matter how hard you fought, you could never kill it, because your own worst enemy always stared back at you with cold eyes in the mirror.

            Maybe that’s why they were so suited to hunting, really—they were killing themselves by proxy, or at least the parts of themselves that they recognized in the things they hunted. The wounds reflecting in their eyes—the light that pierces their pupils so they shrink back in fear. (Bela, taunting, Being a hunter is so much more noble? A bunch of obsessed, revenge-driven sociopaths trying to save a world that can’t be saved?)

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Morning again. Dean’s fever has broken, spiking before splintering off and leaving him clear-eyed but pale and spent, looking hardly ready to take Hell’s bull by the horns. Sam recalls his own words bitterly (It’s a brave new world), thinks it’s a good thing that when it comes to brotherhood, he and Dean left their morals far behind.

            They’re gathering their things together, the litter of random glasses and still-damp washcloths the only reminder of the long night. In the doorway, Dean pauses and Sam almost runs him over.

            “Dude, what gives?” The words are out of Sam’s mouth and he’s not sure he wants an answer.

            Dean coughs into his fist, looks up at Sam with a defiant expression- one that Sam can clearly recognize from their childhood, like a flip book that’s a thousand different moments of his brother.

            “I don’t wanna Butch and Sundance this one out, Sammy.” Dean coughs again, raises his hand like he’s going to pat Sam on the arm and then reconsiders and lets it drop back to his side.

            “So- you have to promise me you’ll keep fighting.”

            Sam’s not sure whether to cry or laugh. “But who’ll I fight with? I’ve had the most practice with you.”

            And there. The moment’s broken, and they can go back to pretending, hiding everything, pulling the layers of self-defense tight around them like a shroud.

            “Jerk,” Dean says good-naturedly, and turns to go out the door.

            Over the top of the Impala, it’s like turning to the last page of the book, knowing that the best endings are never black or white, but still wanting more. Wanting a sequel, when you knew the author was long dead.

“I mean it, Sammy. The good fight. Listen to Triumph if it gets you in the mood. Just- just remember, okay?”

            “Yeah,” Sam says quietly. “I will.”

           

Episodes quoted from:

1.02, 1.05, 1.10, 1.12, 1.20, 2.04, 2.08, 2.09, 2.14, 2.20, 2.21, 2.22, 3.01, 3.03, 3.05, 3.08, 3.09, 3.11





Tags: angst city-population: sam & dean, bitchface and sundance, butch & sunny, cough, fanfiction, fever, flu, i eat angst for breakfast, my soul's not black it's dark blue, sadistic creativity, sam likes being snarky too, sick!dean, supernatural
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