Category: Angst, Drama, Humor
Spoilers: Spoilers through On the Head of a Pin
Summary: When a hunt to protect one of the seals goes wrong, Sam awakens to find he's a hot-shot lawyer and Dean is a mechanic. Now, as the end of days nears, he must navigate a foreign life to figure out what went wrong, and get back to who he should be even if it means sacrificing the ones he loves.
Word Count: Approx. 33,000
Disclaimer: See previous posts
[Chapter 1][Chapter 2][Chapter 3][Chapter 4][Chapter 5][Chapter 6][Chapter 7][Chapter 8]
[Chapter 9][Chapter 10]
Sam sat on a bench outside of their motel room. Dean rested inside, his leg elevated. Castiel told them he should heal a lot faster now that he was whole again.
He flung a pebble into the road and wondered if his soul was whole, too, or if it had ever been.
The sun was low on the sky with sunset just on the horizon. After a whole night of blackness, Sam welcomed the warmth and all that it brought with it. This time he knew once the sun set and the night sky replaced it, the terrors that accompanied the end of days would be left at bay.
At least for now.
Between periods of rest, Dean had recounted the past few days as well as he could. He admitted that he couldn't remember most of it, between being drugged in the local hospital and having a difficult recovery. The other Sam had adapted fairly well, though Dean said, perhaps a little too proudly, that he sucked at carrying a gun. They had spent most of the past two days trying to get past the police investigation at the antique shop. That was when Castiel had intervened.
The rest was history.
When Sam had asked how much the other Sam had told him about their alternate lives, Dean had just shrugged and told him they hadn't talked much about it.
"The other you loves secrets just about as much as you do," Dean had told him.
Sam hadn't really pressed it further, though when Dean had turned away from him, he suspected he knew a lot more than he was telling. Later, when Dean had asked Sam what he'd experienced, Sam promised to tell him later, even if he had no intention to do so, and assured Dean that yes, he was badass there, too.
That had been several hours ago. The adrenaline rush had since worn down, as had the relief to be back in his own element again, leaving Sam to have to face his experiences for the last few days.
Though they weren't his friends, his family, his life, he still felt their loss. Sam would give anything to know that Dean's family lived on, and Timothy and Rebecca would grow up to be fine adults. He regretted never getting to know Charlotte, what she did for a living, what she liked, and what her dreams were. Randy Pinto would never know true freedom, living his last moments on bail. He'd abandoned his bosses, his employees, and his friends in their final moments. He'd turned a blind eye to the people suffering from the plagues and tortures of a world ripped apart. And mostly, he ached for Dean, wishing he could have kept his promises.
He wished he'd kept his promises to Dean here as well. He wished to God he didn't have to be drinking the demon blood, but if it meant stopping the pain that everyone in the other world experienced, then so be it.
Sam looked down at his hands. The sun was setting now and his experiences seemed a lifetime away.
"What's with the long face?"
Dean was leaning on the doorway to take the pressure off his leg. His eyes were slightly glassy from the pain meds that Sam had given him, and despite the fact he had enough drugs pumping in him to keep his pain under control, he swung a half-empty bottle of beer in his right hand.
"Nothing," Sam said.
"That's a whole lot of nothing," Dean muttered, his voice muffled by the bottle. He took a long swig of beer and let out a satisfied sigh. "You're back and everything's normal again."
Sam hesitated, unsure of how Dean said the word normal. He almost felt that that bitter resentment he'd heard at the antique shop was back.
And then he saw the other Dean's disgusted face replay in his mind over and over again.
"Look, you did everything you could, right? Cas said that place wasn't going to last anyway."
"All those people died, you know."
"It wasn't really us." Though, Dean didn't sound too convinced. "I know what it's like to be in a different--"
"You don't know what it's like," Sam snapped. "That was different. None of that was real. These people were real, Dean."
"The people in my dream were real to me," Dean said defensively.
Sam wanted to convince him their situations were entirely different. But Dean wouldn't listen. He never did. He always had to paint everything with the same brush.
His other self hadn't deserved the mess he had left him. His last few seconds of life before the unwanted pocket of time collapsed would have been nothing but anguish for him.
Castiel had assured him that when the pockets of time dissipated, it was painless for those that lived in them. They would fade into non-existence and it would be over in an instant.
He tried to take comfort that in another life he had still tried to make a difference. His atypical law career spoke to that need, as did his desire to keep Jessica's memory alive by fighting evil in a different way.
No matter how he looked at the situation, he couldn't make the ache completely go away. He only knew of one thing that would make it better.
"We need to protect those seals and kill Lilith."
"What we need is a plan," Dean said. "Not running off half-cocked."
Sam turned away. He hated being saddled with such a weaker version of his brother. He wished the old Dean, the one that wasn't afraid of anything, would come back so they could finish this fight together.
He turned to Dean and asked pointedly, "Do you even care what we're facing?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"This is big time, Sam. We're talking Major Leagues."
"You just don't want me to use my powers."
"Damn right I don't." He shifted uncomfortably, the frustration pulsing in his eyes. "You know, I sometimes think if I hadn't become a hunter, you--"
Dean didn't finish, but the damage was done. Sam narrowed his eyes.
"That I'd come out okay? That I'd be normal? Is that what you think?"
Dean brought the bottle to his lips and looked away.
"That's what this is about?" Sam was sure it was. All his anger and resentment. All his frustration and his distance since Sam had returned.
"This is who I am, Dean. That's not going to change."
"No, it's not. You just keep telling yourself that to make it seem okay."
Sam shook his head and turned his back to Dean. He didn't know what he was talking about. He never knew what he was talking about anymore.
It was in his anger, his grief, and his own resentment the question finally came: "What if the only way to win is to sacrifice someone you love?"
Sam didn't need to see Dean's face to imagine the darkness that settled over it. "Then, it's not worth winning," he heard him say.
And that was it. Dean left him, slamming the door behind him.
He didn't come back for Sam after that. The sun set, bringing the cool chill of night. As he sat alone, more alone than ever before, he withdrew the picture the other Dean had given him.
Their bright cheerful faces looked toward a life that was no more, to a future that would never exist.
Dean could never see this. He was troubled enough as it was.
Sam took out a small matchbook and lit one of the matches. He let the fire catch the corner of the picture and said nothing as Dean and his family were lost to the flames.
He couldn't look to possibilities that had never happened. He couldn't dwell and wallow in the memories that would hold him back. If Sam wanted to do right by them, he had to take a stand even if Dean didn't have the courage to do so himself.
Sam might not be able to keep them safe, but he could fight the battle in their honor.
End Note: Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the story. And if I ever decide to write Dean's POV as the accompanying fic, I'm sure you'll hear me babble on about that one, too, heh.