Summary: Don’t cry, Sam tries to say. It’s okay.…
Rating: Gen. R for violence
Warnings: Character death. (Note the title of the original fic...) Includes the death of a child.
Spoilers: Minor for Jus in Bello
Original fic: Four times Dean watches Sam die (and one that he doesn’t), by lunabee34
It’s Dad’s voice invading his consciousness, and Sam wakes with a jolt of oh, shit, overslept, he’s going to be pissed before he sits up and gets his bearings: in his own bed, in his own apartment, where John’s never been.
Except that Dad’s standing at the foot of the bed, relaxed and calm and whole. Sam stares stupidly for a moment, then pinches himself, digging his nails in. He can’t feel anything. Dream then, Sam knows, and that makes it okay that his voice cracks a little when he whispers: “Dad.”
Dad smiles, warm and gentle. “It’s good to see you, kiddo.”
There’s a thudding outside, someone coming up the stairs and pounding on the door. Sam glances reflexively towards the sound, and when he looks back he’s expecting to be alone -- that’s how these things work, after all – but Dad is still there, and...
“Jess,” he breathes. “Mom.” And he starts to get it.
Jess grins at him, and he definitely feels it when she brushes her fingers over his arm. “Not looking half bad for an old guy, Sam,” she says, and Sam’s snorting, forming a retort when Dean finally picks the lock on the front door.
Dean’s panic and grief washes over the room like a distant sound, far removed. Sam doesn’t remember standing, but he’s looking down at himself lying in bed – which is a damn weird feeling, he’d had no idea just how white his hair was, for a start – and down at Dean, who has fallen to his knees.
Don’t cry, Sam tries to say. It’s okay. He can’t seem to make words that Dean will hear, but Mary is there, stroking Dean’s hair even if Dean can’t sense her. She kisses the top of Dean’s head and whispers something in his ear that sounds like ‘soon, darling.’ She stands, holding out her hand.
“Sam,” she says softly, and her voice is something he’d had no memory of, and something he’ll never forget.
“Mom,” Sam says, taking her hand, gripping tight, and they drink in the sight of each other as the room fades away.
When she opens the door, she actually doesn’t recognize him. Or rather, she doesn’t want to think that this gaunt, frail looking young man had anything to do with the guy who fought off a ghost with a fire poker, and who kissed like there was nothing in the world but her.
She could nearly believe it’s not him, except his brother is standing behind him. There is a quiet grief in the set of Dean’s shoulders, but he meets her eyes with a steady gaze. She nods to him. He returns the greeting and turns away, walking back toward the car.
“Hi, Sarah,” Sam says. He sounds the same, and she doesn’t know if that makes it better or worse.
“Come in,” she says, and steps back to let him enter.
Once the door is closed, though, the polite formalities drilled into her falter, as does anything at all she can think to say. She hugs him instead. He smells of sweat, and within that is the scent of illness, of something wrong inside. She doesn’t let him pull away for a long time.
“So...” Sam smiles, one of the bleakest expressions she’s ever seen. “It looks like I’m going to be the one doing the leaving this time. I just... I wanted to say goodbye.”
His eyes are bright, and she’s not too far off tears herself, but she pushes that down and goes up on her toes to kiss him, her lips over his, her tongue against his teeth.
“Can we say hello, first?” she murmurs against his mouth.
He cups her cheek in his palm and slides a hand under her shirt, warm against her back. His kiss tastes of salt.
“Yeah,” he whispers. “Yeah, I’d like that.”
Sam can only see out of his left eye. When he closes that eye, there is only blackness, so he keeps it open and concentrates on what he can see. Above him are dusty rafters. He can’t turn his head to check, but there’s a window somewhere that’s letting a pale yellow dawn to spread over the basement ceiling.
He has to concentrate to hear anything other than the sound of blood bubbling in his own lungs, but after a while he can make out Dean’s breathing close by, in syncopation to his own. Sam doesn’t so much turn to see, more that his head lolls to the left. He won’t be looking up again, but that’s all right – he can see Dean now, sprawled a few feet away, looking back at him.
“We wasted that fucker, Sammy,” Dean says, more blood spilling down his chin. He’s slowly, laboriously reaching out across the floor and Sam meets him half way, sliding his hand under Dean’s.
“Yeah, we did,” Sam rasps. He presses their palms together, and Dean manages to tangle their fingers. Sam can feel Dean’s hand, warm and heavy in his own, even when he can’t see anything anymore.
There are rituals for the outsiders, for the people on the periphery. Bobby had stood at the back of the church, making sure people don’t have any trouble walking through the Devil’s Trap they’d sketched under the carpet. Now that everyone’s inside, Bobby watches Dean, who is standing at the front of the church, watching people as they shuffle past Sam’s coffin.
The funeral had been paid for by an old couple who’d had a ‘spot of bother’ with a spirit a few years back. Dean hadn’t volunteered what sort of ‘bother’ had earned damn-near a cathedral, or a box that lavish, and Bobby hadn’t asked. Whatever it was, it had also earned them a bribed funeral home that was going to quietly turn their backs while Sam’s coffin was stuck under a tarp in Bobby’s truck and driven away. That was enough for him.
Dean sits in the pew closest to the coffin while some kid Bobby doesn’t know delivers the eulogy. The kid cracks jokes, but he’s got tears on his face as he says them, and they make the crowd of civilians laugh. If anyone wonders why Dean isn’t doing the speech, they don’t say it out loud. This is for all the people they’ve helped, all the ones that have family to go home to because of the Winchesters. This isn’t Dean’s ritual, so it makes sense that Dean isn’t speaking, but Bobby looks at the blank expression on Dean’s face, and remembers the few drunken nights John had mentioned the time after Mary’s death, how Dean hadn’t spoken a word for months, and Bobby worries.
There are rituals for the closer people, the ones who know, who have walked that path. The second procession, of trucks and beat-up cars that trail out to the woods, is substantial – people want to pay their respects to one of Winchester’s boys – but all Bobby can see are the empty spaces around the circle after they gather wood for the pyre. Jim, Bill, Caleb, Elkins, Steve, John, Ellen... so many good people are already gone.
If anyone is surprised that Dean doesn’t stand and speak, they hide it well.
The most animated Dean gets is to back quietly away to be sick at the edge of the clearing. He stays there while Bobby scoops up handfuls of salt and lets it trickle through his fingers over the body. The funeral home did a good job, Bobby lets himself think, even if the makeup is starting to run on Sam’s face, revealing gray skin underneath. Nausea curdles abruptly in Bobby’s stomach, and he concentrates on the way the salt is clinging to his sweaty palms rather than on the body beneath, so unlike Sam in its stillness...
Bobby steps back, squeezing his eyes closed for a moment, fighting the wave of grief. Dean comes forward and does the lighter fluid himself, but he stands with the match unlit for so long that Bobby is just about to offer when Dean strikes and drops it in a jerky, almost uncoordinated movement.
The body -- Sam’s body, Bobby reminds himself savagely, forcing himself to take one last look – catches fast, and the smell is barely half a breath behind. Burning one of your own always smelled far worse to Bobby, necessity be damned, but the circle of hunters holds until the pyre burns, and only smoke and ash remains.
Hunters greet Dean quietly, respectfully, after, and even though Dean’s eyes focus on every face, Bobby is sure Dean is seeing nothing even close to resembling what’s in front of him. Dean animates enough to shakes hands and nod, farewelling people until there is only him and Bobby in the clearing. Dean stills, looking at the remains on the ground, and Bobby’s sure Dean’s seeing that.
There are some rituals for one person alone, and Bobby hands Dean the shovel and goes for a walk.
He doesn’t go far -- just along the track enough to be out of earshot -- and leans up against a tree.
Dean comes down the path a while later, shovel dusty from turning his brother’s ashes into the ground. His expression is tight, face drawn, and he walks straight past. Bobby catches up and keeps pace.
“You got any plans for tonight?” he asks.
Dean doesn’t break stride, doesn’t even acknowledge Bobby’s presence. Bobby’s wondering what the hell to do with a Dean who doesn’t respond to direct questions, when Dean shrugs, muscles locked.
“Getting really drunk.”
Dean’s voice is flat, but the air still rushes out of Bobby’s lungs in a long, silent sigh of relief.
“You want company with that?” he asks, and that earns him a flicker of a glance.
“Do I get a choice?”
“No, not really.”
For a moment, irritation cracks the blank surface of Dean’s face, and under that Bobby can see a flash of fear, of being the last Winchester, of being alone without Sam. Then it’s gone, the nonchalant shrug covering it up, and Dean’s voice wavers only slightly when he says:
Bobby lets Dean lead the way to the car, and stays close behind.
The time Sam stays
There’s been a rash of disappearances in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. The local police call them teenage elopements, talk about sulking runaways or point to child abduction cases with leads that take them three states away. The local kids point to the abandoned two story house on the outskirts of town, and don’t need to say anything at all.
They’re scanning the second floor of the house with a silent EMF, Dean making uneasy: “we all float down here...” cracks, when they both smell the sulfur.
Sam glances at the window sills as they switch tacks and start digging through the duffle bags, switching rock salt for holy water. The sills are clear, the ugly, bulky furniture left in the room is covered only in dust, and the sulfur is becoming a stench, definitely wafting up from downstairs. Fear raises the hairs on the back of Sam’s neck: whatever is down there, it’s not going to be banished by the two bottles of holy water they have between them.
“Time to go,” Dean says tightly, even as he’s wrapping one of their rosaries around his fingers knuckle-duster style.
They make it half way down the stairs – front door in sight – when the demons try to swoop them. Dean shouts, and then a column of black is smothering Sam, blinding him. He flashes back to the dingy motel room where he’d been possessed last time, the terror of past and present making it hard to even think, but this time the tattoo on his chest burns and the demons surge away, retreating back behind…
“Oh, God, no,” Sam groans. For a moment, the fear is overtaken by a horror that makes his skin crawl.
The missing kids are all there, eyes black with possession, emerging from the kitchen, the living room; too many to count, heading towards them with slow, measured steps that speak of a battle already won.
“Exorcisámus te, omnis immúnde spíritus,” Sam calls, making his voice as steady and loud as he can, Dean reciting half a beat behind as they hurl themselves back up the stairs. Most of the demons flinch and stagger -- as young as their captive hosts, Sam guesses, bile in his throat -- but too many are right on Dean’s heels as they hit the landing.
Sam lunges through the bedroom doorway, still on his feet. Dean is not so lucky: a little boy, eyes black, mouth twisted, growls as he clings to Dean’s back. The other demons are so close behind all Sam can do is grab Dean by the shirt and pull him into the room. More demons try and fight their way in; Sam slams the door on a grasping hand, splashing it with holy water until it jerks back, and Sam can get the door closed and locked, glancing over his shoulder to check on Dean.
Dean has the kid pinned to the floor, the demon thrashing, arching its back and cursing as Dean continues the exorcism in earnest now.
Sweat stings Sam’s eyes and makes his hands slippery as he rocks one of the closets until it crashes to the floor. He’s maneuvering it into position to barricade the door against the scrabbling and snarling on the other side, when the demon howls its way out of the boy’s body and Dean makes a soft, hurt noise.
The boy is too still, eyes open and sightless, the broken neck obvious now that the demon isn’t animating the body.
Ahh, no Sam thinks, and then he looks at Dean, and all thought stops.
Dean is on his back, an arm pressed against his stomach which is doing nothing to stop the dark stain that’s spreading over his shirt.
“Dean, no. No.” Sam lunges forward. There’s a knife in the boy’s limp grip, a short, insignificant looking thing, but it had been enough. More than enough. The demons on the other side of the door redouble their wailing and snarling, but all Sam can hear are the tiny, experimental sips of air Dean is taking.
“Sammy,” Dean murmurs, voice distant. Sam takes Dean’s arm from the wound, pulling off his own shirt and bunching it up as a compress. The pain makes Dean open his mouth in a silent scream, back arching, but his eyes focus, fixing on Sam’s face.
“Sam,” Dean says sharply. He reaches up, pushing at Sam’s chest. “Get out of here.” It’s Dad’s voice, the tone that must have had Dean running out of the house when he was four: the order that must be obeyed.
Sam covers Dean’s hand with his own, holds it.
“No,” he says.
Dean’s face contorts in a way that has nothing to do with the wound.
“Sammy…” Dean gasps, strength fading as fast as it came. “Please.” His hand is heavy – Sam’s grip is the only thing keeping it up now. Sam presses Dean’s red-streaked fingers to his lips. He’s not sure if the salt is from the blood or his tears.
“Okay,” Sam whispers. “Okay.”
He lowers Dean’s hand to floor and backs a few feet away, out of the Dean’s sight line. Dean’s face relaxes, his gaze losing focus as it wanders the ceiling. Then he exhales, and does not breathe in again.
The demons are working together now. Even as Sam watches, the wood around the lock starts to splinter and give way under the coordinated blows.
Sam sits down beside Dean’s body, closes Dean’s eyes, and waits.