Title: The World Is What You Make It
Category: Angst, Character Study, Dean
Spoilers: Takes place after Time Is On My Side
Summary: As Dean's time is running out, he takes a moment to stop somewhere unexpected and considers his next move.
Word Count: 1,451
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke and co. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This is for entertainment purposes only; no financial profit has been gained from this story. This story is not mean to infringe upon the rights of the above-mentioned establishments.
He didn't know why he'd come. Nothing was going to change. Hell, he didn't expect anything to change. Yet, here he was.
Dean stood in front of the church, hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket, as he stared at the large iron-lined doors. It was a big church – Saint something-something. He didn't really care about the name. He just remembered seeing the place when he and Sam had driven into town.
He'd never have imagined two days ago that he'd have ended up on the church's doorsteps that night.
Dean took a deep breath, and after a brief hesitation, he opened one of the doors. He was mildly surprised the priest, or whoever was in charge, would keep the church open this late at night, but it wasn't his problem. He wasn't planning on staying anyway.
Inside, the church looked…churchly. There were a bunch of pews, an altar, and those annoying stained glass windows that would offer absolutely no protection against anything dangerous if something decided to bust in. Dean didn't see any sign of life in the aisles or beyond, aside from some dying lilies on the windowsills.
"I must be crazy," he mumbled as he plucked a dry petal from one of the lilies.
The church was quiet, suffocated by a deafening silence that only broke with the sounds of his heavy footfalls. He could hear the echo ripple through the church and disappear past the altar. In that moment, he had never felt more alone.
Sammy didn't know he was here. No one did.
He'd like to think he came for some kind of redemption or that he came because it was the right thing to do. He knew it wasn't. Dean was done with trying to find a quick fix to his situation. He knew his dad wouldn't be popping out of nowhere like a regular Roma Downey, and that bitch Lilith was nowhere to be found. After Sam's Doctor Frankenstein break down just a few days back, Dean knew their chances were slim.
Nah, he was here because he knew that in two weeks, he'd never be able to come into a place like this ever again.
He owed his mom that much.
With a heavy sigh, he eased himself into one of the pews in the back, not far from the door, and propped his feet up on the kneeler. He winced and shifted his weight, then did it again, and again. He couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind would come to a place like this on a weekly basis. The wood felt like it was biting into his ass.
"Oh, young man?" Dean glanced up to find an elderly priest hovering by the side of the altar. "I'm sorry, but we're not open right now."
"Then maybe you should lock your doors."
The priest chuckled and shook his head. "Sister Katherine must have forgotten." He paused before taking a step forward. "Perhaps the shelter down the street?"
Dean frowned. "You think I'm a bum?"
Dean saw the priest's face redden. "I didn't mean to—"
"Nah. No big deal." Dean rose to his feet. "I was just leaving anyway."
Dean exited the pew and started down the aisle. He'd come to do what he had to do. He knew he had better get going before Sam had a hissy fit.
"Wait!" Dean turned to find the thin man behind him. "You look like you are carrying an incredible weight on your shoulders." He gave a gentle smile and motioned to the left corner of the church. "I could spare a few minutes, if you need it."
Dean followed the priest's gaze to a small booth off to the side of the church. He groaned. "I sure as hell didn't come here to confess."
"What did you come here for?"
Dean swallowed hard, his gaze shifting to the altar in front of the church. He cleared away the scratchiness in his voice. "To say goodbye."
"Son." The priest reached out and placed his hand on Dean's shoulder. "The church will always welcome you."
"Not where I'm going."
The priest frowned and shrunk back, almost as if he had been burned. Dean tensed at the tremor he saw in the priest's eyes, unsure if he was seeing fear, pity, or something else. The experience rattled him, but he quickly brushed his nerves aside. The look in his eyes was all Dean needed to know. He figured he'd be getting that look for all of time, so he'd better get used to it.
Dean turned away from the frightened priest. He had nearly reached the door when he heard the priest call out to him again.
"Just one thing before you go."
Dean raised his eyebrow. "You're not gonna go all Opus Dei on me?"
The older man ignored the comment and waved, beckoning him closer. Dean followed the priest down one of the side aisles toward a small enclave filled with old, half used candles.
"Aw, crap." The priest was going to go all religious on him.
"Wherever you are, even in the darkest of dark, if you carry with you something pure and something dear, its light will keep you safe."
"Thanks, Padre, while I appreciate your concern, I doubt that's gonna make a difference."
"It will." The priest snuck him a small sly smile. "The world is what you make it."
Dean jerked at those words and stared at the small priest. Some time ago, Pastor Jim had used that same phrase.
Dean hadn't really cared. He knew what the world was – it was a nasty place filled with demons and monsters and bastards who wouldn't hesitate to snuff you the first chance they got. The world wasn't what he made it. The world was something to fight. It was something he had to battle with his every last breath. He'd go down swinging the way his dad had taught him.
But for whatever reason, since he'd come to town those words by Pastor Jim had started haunting him. He found himself thinking them in the car as he waited for Sammy to buy some grub or when he had a quiet moment alone in some shoddy motel room. They just kept creeping up on him and went all Rambo in his mind.
He hadn't been able to figure out why Pastor Jim's words had come back to nag him. Only now, he finally understood why.
"You know what I do," Dean said.
"So, you know none of this crap means anything."
The priest arched his eyebrows. "Is that what you really believe?"
"God, I'm in an infomercial."
"What I am talking about isn't about God." He grabbed one of the lit candles and passed it to Dean. "This is about what you take with you." He motioned to the candles. "Go on. Light one."
Dean rolled his eyes. A bunch of cheap candles couldn't save his soul.
The priest pressed him again. "Go on."
This time Dean obliged and lit one of the candles. How ridiculous it looked to have him lighting a ball of wax to pray for his damned soul.
"Yeah, okay. What was that supposed to do?"
The priest shrugged. "Nothing."
"It's just a show of faith. You didn't have to light it but you did."
"So what's your point? I don't exactly have a lot of time on my hands these days."
"Take with you a token, a symbol, anything that serves as a reminder of something dear to you." The priest smiled. "And just believe."
"Yeah, I'll remember that."
You crazy bastard.
Dean said goodbye to the priest and headed for the door. This time he left without interruption, quickly heading down the steps toward the Impala. He decided he was going to put this night behind him and forget it ever happened. He didn't need Sam knowing he was having weirdo quasi-religious experiences right before the hellhounds came to play tag.
Only, there was one thing he knew he couldn't let go. He stopped at the side of the car and reached into his pocket, taking out a small pad and a pen. He quickly scribbled those same words that had been haunting him for days, and slipped the note into the glove compartment of his – soon to be Sam's – car.
Sammy wasn't going to make the same mistakes he had. Even if it was his last dying wish – and Dean figured it pretty much was – he would make sure Sam understand what Pastor Jim had told him so many years ago. And unlike Dean, Sam would live by those words the way they were meant to be lived.