Characters: Sam, Dean [gen]
Summary: After the flash of light faded, all that was left is the two of them. Coda to 4.22.
.: failure to communicate :.
The Rising was over almost as quickly as it had begun – a bright constellation streaming up, up up and away, disappearing into the ether. After the flash of light faded all that is left was the two of them, and it took Dean a moment to realize he was still clutching Sam’s arm in a death grip: another moment to relinquish his hold.
“I’m sorry,” Sam repeated, sounding defeated and small – which was ridiculous, given how he always towered over Dean – but he looked diminished, as if he somehow took up less space, now. And this was Sam, the baby and the boy and the man, changeling and child of prophecy, brother, always and forever, and Dean felt the same fierce love as always – a relentless crackling under his skin, that made itself known through insults and fists and breaking glass. Love that didn’t go away no matter how much you wished you could stop caring – and Dean was glad of it, because how could he have ever thought he would want to cut Sam out of his life? How could Sam have ever believed that?
“Don’t,” said Dean, and his voice came out harsher than he intended, cracked as the faultline beneath their feet. There were too many apologies, too many things to say sorry for, and if they started now, they’d never be finished. They needed to get out of here, get back on the road – and then they could begin untangling this whole mess three thousand miles and four states later. But right now, they were both still here, and they were going to be okay.
“What took you so long?” Sam asked. He sounded as if he had been expecting Dean, had been waiting for him.
Dean swiped his palm across his chin. “Yeah, well,” he said, “I was in some kind of angelic lockdown. Cass had to help me bust out.”
Sam nodded, and Dean wondered when dealings with angels and demons had become something they just accepted as a matter of course.
Lilith’s blank eyes stared back at them reproachfully.
“So,” Dean said awkwardly. “Apocalypse now, huh?”
Sam looked down. “You were right,” he said. “You were right about everything.”
Dean laughed, strangely at peace - because maybe the world was ending, but they were together, and that had always been the only thing that mattered, even now. “I’m your big brother, Sam,” he said. “How long’s it going to take you to realize that I’m always right, huh?”
Sam’s eyes kept darting in all directions, wary and waiting. “Listen,” Sam said. “About your message,” he hesitated.
Dean held up his hand. “I meant it, Sammy,” he said. “Every word. You know that, right?”
Sam nodded, slowly. Dean clapped him on the shoulder, and Sam flinched and turned away, his back to Dean. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. I just – I wanted you to know I’m sorry. And I understand.” His voice came out sounding thick and choked, and when he turned back around it took Dean a moment to process what he was seeing.
“Sam,” Dean said, slowly and calmly, “what the ever-loving fuck are you doing?”
Sam was standing there, Ruby’s knife in his hand, pointed straight at his own chest. “It’s not fair that you have to do this,” he said. “Dad asked you to, the angels asked you to, hell, I asked you to. And it’s not fair.”
And Dean suddenly knew with cold certainty exactly what Sam was about to do. “Put the knife down Sam,” he said, voice gentle so as not to spook him, raising his hands in a type of surrender.
“No,” Sam said. “It’s better this way.”
Dean’s fingers curled into fists. “Look, Sam,” he said. “I know we’ve got a lot to work out. But you’re my brother,” he said. “That hasn’t changed. And let me tell you, there is no possible way that you killing yourself would be better for me.”
Sam looked at him. “I’m a monster,” he said. “I’ve become what we hunt.” It wasn’t even the words that broke Dean as much as the flat monotone of Sam’s voice, as if he was reciting facts that were obvious and should be apparent to Dean. And Dean had hurled exactly those words at him recently, Dean recalled guiltily - and how was it, even after all these years, that he was still blindsided by the fact that his words shaped Sam’s reality as much as Sam’s did his?
“I was wrong, okay?” Dean said, voice breaking, slightly. “It’s been a crazy year, Sam. We’ve both done things we regret.”
“Oh yeah,” Sam said, hysteria in his voice. “How many seals have you broken lately?”
Dean met his gaze squarely. “I was the first seal,” he said. “The moment I stepped off the rack… I started all this, Sammy. This is just as much my fault as yours.”
“You didn’t,” Sam protested, and his voice was firmer than it had been all night. “It’s not your fault. It’s my choices. The things I’ve done, the choices I’ve made.”
Dean shook his head. “No, Sam,” he said, tired and wanting nothing more in the world than to wrest that pointed knife from Sam’s hands. “It’s everyone’s choices. Mom, Dad, me, Cass… even that hell-bitch Ruby. We’ve all made choices and it’s come down to this. It’s not just you, Sam. You don’t get to carry that all by yourself.”
Sam shook his head, but he was listening, Dean could tell.
“So maybe we helped start all this, you and me,” Dean continued. “And maybe we can finish it. Together. But not like this. Never like this. Sam, you gotta give me the knife. Please. I’m begging you.”
“But your message,” Sam said, trailing off.
Dean sighed in exasperation. “For crying out loud,” he said. “Would you drop it about that message, already? How many times do you want me to say it? I already told you – I’m sorry. And I know I’m not good at apologizing – especially over frickin’ voicemail. But give me a break, dude.”
Sam shook his head. “Yeah,” he said, “because when I try to apologize to somebody I always tell them I’m going to kill them.”
“What?” Dean said, disbelief warring with dread.
Sam looked straight at him. “Your message, Dean. Warning, goodbye, whatever. You’ve washed your hands of me, I get it – so drop the act. Stop acting like you still care, like I’m something that you can save.”
“Stop,” Dean said. “Just – Sam. We’re not talking about the same thing here.”
“Really,” said Sam flatly.
“Yes, really,” Dean said. “Sam. I left you a message – I did. But not that. I called you up to say that you were wrong, but so was I. I said we’re brothers. I said I was sorry.”
“Really?” said Sam, and there was a note of wonder in his voice, and for the first time he looked like himself.
"Really,” Dean said. “And I don’t know what the angels or demons or whoever made you think I said, but it’s not true, Sam. You and me, that’s true. We’ve been going about this all the wrong way, butting heads and I just – I want for us to be us again, y’know?”
Dean was stepping forward as he spoke, and he now stood directly in front of Sam. “Give me the knife, Sam,” he said, and Sam passed it to him wordlessly, as if in a trance – and Dean threw it to the side, eyes locked on Sam the whole time.
The metal echoed loudly against the stone floor.
“So we’re good,” Sam said, hesitantly, as if he could hardly believe the words he was speaking.
“Yeah,” Dean said, and he let out the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding for days, weeks, months. No more secrets. No more waiting for the other shoe to drop. All their cards on the table. “We’re good.” He pulled Sam into a rough half-embrace, and this time Sam didn’t flinch or pull away.
“C’mon,” Dean said, finally. “We got work to do.”