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13 August 2010 @ 03:23 pm
Somewhen I was Meant to Be 8/9  




~ Chapter 7 ~

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Stop every clock
Stars are in shock
The river will flow to the sea
I won't let you fly
I won't say goodbye
I won't let you slip away from me

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Tears of an Angel - RyanDan
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Wyoming was still a few hours away, the street in front of them lengthening like a rubber band under the darkening sky and Dean felt the strong urge to open the door and jump out of the driving car.

They had left Bobby's yard in the early morning hours and had stopped only to fill up on gas, water and a family pack of Snickers, which was now lying in the backseat discarded like everything else in their relationship. Never before had his father been more alien to him than in this moment, as they passed the borders of the state and entered Wyoming. The sound of the engine was the only audible background soundtrack and for Dean it seemed like it gained volume every few miles until it was the only thing filling his head. The steady rumble and the vibrations under his feet and back were lulling him into an almost meditative state of indifference.

So that's what it feels like to be my father, he thought and huffed barely audible but loud enough to get his father's attention.

"What!" His father said gruffly and concentrated back on the street. It felt enticingly good considering to just ignore his father's question and sink down into the lure of not-caring what his father was thinking or doing.

"Nothing," He replied finally, giving into the urge to answer when being asked a question. Didn't have to mean he couldn't lie, right?

It was his father's turn to huff and to Dean's surprise he began to smile. Dimples appeared under the black, disheveled beard and the view was so unexpected that Dean stared at it.

"Do you know what day it is?" John asked and leaned down into the seat, as if wanting to relax.

"I don't know," Dean murmured. "Sunday?"

His father threw him a long look that said 'Use your head' before adding grimly, "It's Wednesday. Today is Wednesday, May 2nd."

A hammer hitting his temples couldn't have hurt more than these words and Dean stiffened, feeling sick all of a sudden. Today would've been Sam's 24th birthday and Dean had forgotten.

"Stop the car!" He said between clenched teeth and for the first time in his life John promptly did as he was asked. The car stopped, the wheels swirling up dust and dirt from the roadside producing a thick cloud in which Dean stumbled into as he opened the door and all but fell on his knees, retching helplessly.

John had the decency to leave him be for a few seconds before he got out of the car himself, rounding the car and coming to a stand next to where Dean was now standing with his upper body bowed down.

"Are you okay?"

Dean felt a hysterical bubble of laughter rise somewhere deep inside and he felt disgusted and angry at the same time. At his Dad for pointing Sam's birthday and making it sound like ‘We have to do the laundry’ or ’We're out of cleaning oil’. At Bobby for having found the case in Wyoming and therefore separating him from Dee and Matt and... more than anything else angry at himself for forgetting something like that in the first place.

Sam's birthday. He had forgotten Sam's fucking birthday like the return date of a library book and he blamed his father for not caring enough? What a hypocrite he was.

His father didn't move but kept looking down at where Dean was still gagging even though there was nothing left in his stomach. Carefully, he heaved himself back up and threw his father a look that should have killed if John hadn't been used to it by now.

"Fine, can we keep going then?" John said, stony-faced, and was already about to turn around and get back inside the car when Dean slammed him against the vehicle, his own disappointment fueling his anger.

"Are you happy now?" He yelled and it probably was the surprise that kept John from fighting back. Something like understanding blazed up in the older Winchester's eyes and Dean retreated a bit, his hands still wrapped around the hem of his father's shirt. "What the hell is wrong with you? You must be getting a real kick of this, aren't you?"

"Dean..." It was meant as a warning but Dean sent all caution to the wind.

"No, I don't get it, Dad," Dean said, his anger deflating quickly to make room for confusion, hurt and utter disappointment. "This is Sam we're talking about - Sammy - and you act like he was our fucking lap dog."

"Watch your tongue, boy!"

"No, I've been holding back for eight years now," he spat. "Why do I get the impression that Sam's death was like an inconvenient change of plans in your book?"

The older Winchester straightened, rearranged his clothes before taking a deep breath and Dean finally took his hands of him. Then, without further warning, the older Winchester threw a punch to Dean's face. His head was being thrown backwards and Dean stumbled a few steps before he could get his balance back, rubbing his jaw.

"Don't you dare telling me what Sam's death meant to me!" John's face darkened. "You have no idea what you're talking about. And you should be glad about at least that."

Glad? Where the hell is the reason that should make me glad of all things?

"Should I? I don't know. You tell me! You are the one keeping the secrets."

"Dammit, Dean! Can't you just let it rest?" John's voice rose, devastation creeping into it like poison into a blood stream. "Haven't you ever thought about Sam being the one to be out of the woods? Do you have any idea what Sam would have had to face if he hadn't died?"

"Face? I don't know. Like..." Dean began sarcastically. "...maybe a career? Family? A life? Us? "

"No!" And this time it was a real scream, one that made Dean cringe. One that made him see that maybe he had involuntarily opened a gigantic dam that wouldn't close soon. "That's the whole point, Dean. He wouldn't have."

"What... do you mean? How do you know that?"

"Your brother was... tainted, Dean." John made it sound like it was his own fault. Like he was the one to be blamed.

"Don't say that!"

"Dean, listen!" It was pure, long-term conditioning that stopped Dean from attacking his father again. "You should be happy he doesn't have to go through what fate had in mind for him."

"Happy for him or for you, Dad?" John had the decency not to answer that question so Dean went on. "You act like he was just this huge klutz that has been taken off your shoulders. Like you didn't want to deal with him any longer. Why do you believe in some destiny crap but not in your own son? You've denied him his chance to make his decisions, the right decisions."

"I didn't take anything away from him."

"Maybe you didn't take anything but you didn't give a damn, either," Dean finished, his breath coming in short gasps. "You didn't have to do anything because the demon... " He spat the word like it was a bitter pill on his tongue. "...did it for you."

Silence fell between the two men until Dean was the first to avert his eyes to look across the vast wasteland ahead. Somewhere in the far distance, where the sky was still a soft shade of navy blue the mountains were towering like mute witnesses. Dean felt a bone-deep tiredness creep into his bones as he made himself aware of the fact that it didn't matter how loud he yelled at his father or how much he blamed him for not caring. What happened in the past was exactly that: the past. He had spent all of his ammunition on his father, now feeling the emptiness again. It wasn't like he could do anything. Sam was dead and he would never come back.

"What I don't get is..." he mumbled and looked into his father's eyes. "The woman said, Azazel wanted Sam for something. But...why did the bastard kill him then?"

He didn't expected an answer. Knew, his father didn't have one. And it felt like a small victory when a tear escaped from the corner of his father's eye, rolling down his wrinkled skin and into the beard, vanishing. "I can give you the answer, dad," Dean went on, making sure his voice was as emotionless as he was feeling. He needed to make sure his father understood it all. "He killed him because eventually Sammy would have made the right decision. But you were so scared of the possibility that Sam could turn his back on you that you didn't even consider fighting just a little bit harder to make sure Sam was on the right path. After all, in the end, he was supposed to be the one to kill the demon." He couldn't stand the look of devastation and acceptance in his father's face but he held his stance. "Sometimes, demons don't lie. Right, dad?"

He sat back in the car, watching his father's frozen stance through the side mirror. It took a while before John Winchester followed his son in the car and started the engine.

The silence even heavier than before.
The area around them was dead. There were no sounds in the forest, no chirping, no rustling, no twittering. Even the wind seemed to have died.

The pebbles under the Impala's wheels sounded like breaking bones as the car slowly came to halt. It coughed once, twice, then it was shut off and an eerie silence settled around them only interrupted by the steady ticking of the cooling engine block. The stillness inside the car was condensed enough to be cut with a knife and a funny lethargy was binding Dean's limbs to the seat.

"You wanna grow roots?" his father mumbled but the half-hearted criticism didn't even scratch Dean's surface. Disappointment and anger had killed all sense of obedience and caring he had grown up with. As an answer, he opened the door and stepped outside into the night, which was even uglier with the steady drizzle falling out of sky black enough that you couldn't even see the clouds. There was just a black blanket over them.

The place didn't just look dead. It felt dead. The trees were bare, no green on them, just naked branches. The air smelled used and full of chemical and Dean's skin started to itch.

He looked around suspiciously, all the while hugging his body against the abnormal coldness.

Dean turned up the collar of his jacket. The cloud of his condensed breath vanished quickly in the drizzle. Somewhere on the road between Palo Alto and here Dean seemed to have lost his drive. Somehow it felt like having displaced a key without any idea where to start looking for it. He had no explanation for it but the fight with his father had sucked him right to his bones. In some macabre way it felt like losing Sam all over again. Maybe this was the moment when he should take another step and leave his brother behind. Maybe, just maybe, Sam was better off wherever he was. The thought made him shake his head while the corners of his lips turned up just a tiny notch. That much was true, everything was better than spending your time with one grumpy old hunter in an old graveyard. Seriously.

"Maybe we should split," he suggested as John rummaged around in the trunk.

Sure, it was a stupid thing to suggest. Experience told him, that splitting up usually meant more complications but right now, he would have given his right arm... well his left maybe... to have some quality alone time. Yes, even if it meant he'd have to spend it on a creepy cemetery in the middle of the night with nothing but a sawed off shotgun, a fire lighter and soaked clothing. Of course, his father didn't even grant him that.

"No!" John Winchester snapped, checking if the gun he was holding was loaded. "Not as long as we don't know what we're up against."

"Or at all," Dean added.

"Hey," John scolded, his voice like pebbles crunching in his throat. "We have a job to do."

"Yeah, sure," Dean muttered. "It's all I ever do. Do my job."

Yes, maybe he was a little more bitter than the situation allowed but Dean was beyond caring, especially with the stupid rain running over his neck and under the back of his shirt. California had been so much nicer even with the demon.

"Dean!" his father said and handed him a gun, quickly followed by a small knife Dean hid in the side of his left boot. "This is just reconnaissance but there's no need to go in unprepared."

The road they had taken ended with a large gate. It looked old and rusty, the hinges being held upright merely by the vines and the ivy looping around like snakes surrounding the bones of a skeleton. John was the first there, his hand reaching for the iron handle bar and with a long suffering squeak one side of the gate sprang open, while Dean pulled out a flash light, lighting the path in front of them. The weed was up to their knees, the ground muddy from long rains and tombstones peeked their heads over the tangled bushes and ferns. No loving family had come here for a very long time to care for the graves, that much was clear. Dean let the bright pool of light rush over the barely readable inscription of the closest grave, claiming the death date of the poor soul to be more than a century ago.

"Looks like Bobby's backyard," John said, his voice strangely subdued in the quiet of the night and Dean knew it was supposed to be an ice breaker. He didn't buy it. Not yet. His father wouldn't get away so easy.

They had walked for a few a minutes without seeing anything out of the ordinary and Dean was about to suggest they come back in the morning, when a loud, growling thunder echoed above their heads, making the molecules in the air dance around them. Dean's skin prickled, the hair in his neck rising, and he squinted, trying to get a look at the undergrowth and the thick forest surrounding the cemetery. He half expected to see eyes staring back at him.

He looked to his right where his father was visible enough that Dean could see he felt it too. The heavy anticipation hanging in the air. The feeling of someone coming... or something. The rain lessened and the wind picked up, making the grass bow in one direction. It stole Dean's breath for a moment and he coughed into the collar of his jacket.

"Turn off the flash light," John ordered and Dean complied. It took Dean a few seconds to get used to the darkness. There was another rumbling over their heads like the growling of a huge stomach and a flash of lightning made the cemetery bright as in daylight, blinding Dean for a second. But in the nanosecond it took for him to avert his eyes he saw movement ahead.

"Ack!", he yelped and blinked a few times to get rid of the dancing dots in his visual field. "Did you see that?"

"See what?" His father replied.

"I don't know. Movement. Maybe just a falling branch."

"Very likely," John grouched and from the corner of his eyes Dean could see his father straighten up, his body preparing for an attack or danger or anything remotely surprising.

"Where?"

"This way." Dean pointed an arm at approximately 11 o'clock, his vision finally back to normal.

They walked closer, using every chance to hide behind large tombstones or boulders, a precaution that came naturally when crawling through unknown territory until they finally saw a figure walking towards a bulky mausoleum that was situated in the far corner of the cemetery. It stood slightly apart from all the other monumental buildings and was completely unremarkable with crumbling walls and a rotting but stable looking gate.

From what Dean could make out the person was a man. Black, young, normal looking. Average John Doe from across the street and as far as Dean's visual validation went, no horns, no claws, no fire spitting eyes. Heck, maybe a mourning widower or son or brother... who was spending his mourning time staring at an ancient mausoleum in the middle of the night while the sky was falling down on them.

Yeah, sure.

The tension in the air was almost palpable and Dean expected to see little flames springing from his fingers as he touched one of the gravestones to huddle behind it. With a sharp wave of his hand John pointed out they'd zero in on the guy from two sides. Dean from the right, John from the left. Immediately, John took off, moving away from Dean. His outline seamlessly blending with the darkness around him and Dean took a few steps to the right, never taking his eyes of the man, who had come to a halt a few steps in front of the crypt.

Another thunder boomed in the sky and with his shoulder pressed against a wet stone to use its cover he could feel the vibrations through the numerous layers of his clothing. Carefully glancing over the headstone he watched as the stood there, unmoving and staring at something he held in front of him with his shoulders slumped. The longer Dean watched the more he got the impression the man was mourning. Until he let his hands hang loosely at his side.

In his right hand, Dean could definitely detect a weapon, a colt. Long and shiny. Beautiful. Its silver muzzle reflected another flash of lightning that went down to earth somewhere far behind Dean and he chose the moment get up and make himself present.

"Hey!" The man turned around, not even trying to hide the gun and Dean could see the white of his eyes standing out sharply. "Nice weather for a walk."

"Who... are you?" The guy questioned and took a fearful glance at the crypt now behind him as if afaid something would jump out of it.

"Uhh... security," Dean improvised.

"Security? With a shot gun?"

"What can I say, I take my job serious."

"You shouldn't be here, man," the guy said and Dean thought he heard an afflicted undertone. "I have a job to do, too."

"That'd make the two of us, huh," Dean answered, his senses on full alert when the man's gaze travelled downwards to the colt in his hands, then turned back to the door, holding the colt at waist level and pushed it into a hole, like putting a key into a lock. A rattling sound came from it and the butt of the gun swirled in circles.

That's when the earth started to move with small tremors and a surprised voice came from behind him, startling him bad enough that he spun around and stared at the man who had appeared just a few feet away. A man who wasn't alone and had a large hand wrapped around the wrist of a small, eight year old boy.
"This looks like a family reunion, huh?" The demon huffed in honest surprise, his yellow eyes boring into Dean's. "Didn't expect you of all people."

Dean's mind was racing, his thoughts one big mass of shock and confusion. Nausea rose in him, a sudden feeling of losing control, as he considered the possible reasons why the hell Azazel would want to bring Matt in. What was he playing at?

"Let him go!" he ordered.

"Him?" Azazel looked down to his left where Matt was standing with eyes that were almost comically large, his small hand helpless caught in the demon one's as if he was a father holding back his son out of fear of the boy running on a busy street. "Uhm..." The demon pretended to think, then shook his head. "Nope, no chance."

"Dean!" Matt's voice sounded so weak but said so much that Dean heard more in of this single word than he had in all the words that had ever reached his ears. The message (help me - please - I don't want to die) hit him with an impact on almost made him stumble. It sounded... familiar. Familiar enough for Dean's heart to recognize it.

Sam.

"Please." Dean felt like a fool even before the word had slipped between his lips and hung into the air, evidence of another failure. How could he not have seen this before? How had this truth been able to behind doubt and denial?

Sam had never been just a person, a corporeal living being. He had been so much more. He had been the trusting child, the adoring brother, the rebellious son. Sam had been the way his lips curled when he wasn't happy or the way he put the tip of his tongue between his lips when he concentrated. The way he could speak volumes with just a single Dean. How could Dean have missed all this when it had been in front of him all the time?

"I'm sorry, Sam," Dean whispered and for the first time in his life he didn't care how pathetic he sounded.

"Ooooh," Azazel cooed, all puppy eyes, but didn't let go of the boy. "That is so tragic, Dean, to have you present while I get rid of him a second time." Azazel's head tipped to the side as he looked at something behind Dean's back. He resisted the urge to turn around and see what had caused the demon's concentration to wander. The ground beneath him vibrated and squirmed like he was standing on a living matter, stretching itself awake after a long nap whereas the sky seemed to come down on them. The wind picked up bringing the stench of decay, death and heat and thunder and lightning took turns, like a well-rehearsed orchestra following an invisible conductor.

Something else intermixed with the cacophony of the storm, like a choir in the background pitching in with a blood-curling crescendo. Dean thought he could hear voices and screams and when he finally did turn around he could see the gate had opened, releasing a gush of black mist. The earth was spitting out its contents and polluting the world with darkness. Dean could recognize a demonic cloud when he saw one and this was a demonic invasion the world had not yet encountered.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he realized he was watching his father who had stepped out of his hiding place. His father was surging towards the gate but the information his eyes delivered somehow didn't connect with his brain. It was like staring at a big screen with Dolby Surround Sound. The stranger who had opened the gate had already stepped away from it and when John reached him he was wiped away with a short lifting of an arm like some meddlesome mosquito. He flew through the air and landed in a heap somewhere close to the treeline. Dean hadn't realized he had held his breath until he could see his father's figure stumble back on his feet, already back on the offensive.

"This is so exciting, don't you think?"

The question made him turn back towards the one who asked it and Dean's gaze met with the boy's.

Dean had to yell over the earsplitting noise. "What do you want with him? Why Sam?" He wasn't really sure whom he meant with Sam. His dead brother or the child but in this moment he didn't care. Past and present met with a painful clarity as the brother's eyes met once again. "He's just a child."

"It didn't stop me the first time. What makes you think it will this time?" The demon snickered. "Anyway, the little tyke here..." Azazel clapped his right hand on the closed fist in which he still held the boy. "...has the tendency to not stay dead. So, this time, I'll make it right. Hell will make sure he's safe and warm and at least down there I have my little helpers who are having an eye on him so he won't get away again."

"You bastard," Dean whispered and there was so much rage in him that he was convinced if he only cursed long and loud enough, mere words and credo would kill the demon.

"Hell, yes! Of course I am," Azazel smirked, his yellow eyes twinkling with a sickish glow that mirrored the one from his eyes. He moved his hand-just a small wave like he was winking at a friend on the street-and Dean could feel himself flying through the air. It felt like he had rounded half the planet before he was stopped by a tree. Pain exploded in his shoulder and threatened to take his consciousness but sheer will managed to keep him awake. Hissing loudly, he took a breath while ignoring the pain, leaned against the tree to steady his rise and pressed his arm against his chest with muscles screaming in protest. Forcing his body to straighten he watched as the demon walked towards the gate. Only ten yards separated him from the Mausoleum, from which still a steady stream rose like smoke from a chimney. One single black cloud that had nothing to do with the weather swept over their heads billowing almost lazily like an deathly oil carpet on the ocean. Suddenly, with the force of an exploding volcano, the barrier around the cemetery was breached, causing the black cloud to swirl hectically and scattering its demonic cargo in all directions.

This is bad. This is really, really bad, Dean thought, unsure how things could have gone down so fast. He needed time to breath. To think.

Devastation threatened to overwhelm him and he closed his eyes, just for a second. The pain in his shoulder doing the rest as dots began dancing in front of his eyes.

"Dean!" Dean was being pulled back from his shock by the voice of his dad, who was back fighting with the tall, black man, ducking under a powerful blow that would have made his skull shatter. Instead, a headstone was blown to pieces by the strong blow. This was no normal man, Dean knew. It had to be something else. "Move! Get the boy" His father bellowed harshly as Dean still didn't move and it was like his mind woke. From one second to the left he could hear again. The pandemonium of hell opening its front door and Matt was right in the middle.

No! Not Matt. Sammy!

"Oh God!" Dean murmured and looked back at Azazel, who held the struggling boy in front of him like some dirty garbage bag. Sam fought, his little legs kicking in vain while his eyes were concentrated on the wings of the open gate. Whitish, transparent strings reached for the boy like ghostly fingers and he screamed. Screamed so loud that even the apocalyptic storm around them was subdued by comparison. Without thinking Dean dashed forward, intending to tackle the demon out of the way if necessary. The actual impact caught him by surprise and he didn't even lift his arm to break his fall as the demon was falling by his side. Matt was cast aside like a bag of potatoes but Dean didn't have time to make sure he was alright. Jumping back onto his feet he prepared for another invisible attack.

"You're starting to annoy me," Azazel hissed and his lips parted in a grim sneer. "I'll make sure you follow your brother quickly." Dean didn't have a chance to try another attack as he was thrown into the air for the second time, arms and legs flailing to prepare his body for another painful collision with something a body should not confront at such speed. Luckily, he landed on a patch of grass, his reflexes sending him in a wild tumble until he came to rest with his face down. His ears were filled with the rush of blood as he scrambled back on his feet, only marginally aware of shots ringing out somewhere to his left and the black man was down. His father was rushing to the gate, pushing with all his might against it. John would have to deal with the gate on his own. All Dean needed to find was Sammy.

Dean's heart thumped against his ribcage in time with the thudding of his hurt shoulder as he watched Azazel stand erect where he had last seen him while Sam was huddling behind a slanted gravestone with his knees pressed against his chest. From his position the demon obviously couldn't see the boy but Dean was pretty sure that wouldn't last long. Scraping together the last bits of his sense Dean pulled the gun from where it was sheathed in the waistband of his jeans and aimed at the man, pulling the trigger twice before lowering the weapon. Not that it did any harm but it filled Dean with a sense of grim satisfaction as Azazel turned to him, then looked down at his chest where two entrance wounds were visible. Black puddles were starting to grow for a moment before the demon laughed.

"Is that all you got?" He threw his head back, cackling with malice. His hand stretched out and Dean expected another invisible attack... but it didn't come. "You and your father, you've always been thorns in my flesh. Tiresome little, rodents you are. You are nothing! Nothing! " He was hissing like a cat. "Filthy little cockroaches."

The gun in his hand was useless. Just as well he could have thrown grass blades at the demon.

He needed distraction. Needed Sammy to be safe.

Needed Sammy.

He emptied the gun, just for the sake of it, and the demon laughed scornfully, throwing his head into the air like he was laughing about a particularly funny joke. Maybe he did. Very quickly he looked to the place where he had last seen Sam, not knowing whether he should be relieved or worried by the fact that he was gone.

"Dean!" He heard his father's voice behind him, jumping out of the way the moment his father yelled, "Down!" A bullet flew past his head, burning the air. "Get the boy. I'll try to keep him distracted," John Winchester yelled, his voice hoarse with exertion. Rather ungracefully Dean jumped over a large rock and landed flat on his stomach--almost having fallen on Sam. The little boy had his arms wrapped around his knees, the horror and the fear of the last few minutes or hour or even days visible in his huge eyes, staring at Dean as if seeing him for the first time. Dean wanted to wrap his arms around him and run away as fast as he could but it was out of question. Not as long as they yellow eyed son of a bitch was still out there.

This had to end. Tonight.

"Don't! Move!" He mouthed and Sam nodded almost imperceptibly, biting on his lower lip and folding in on himself like he wanted to become invisible.

Dean jumped on his feet and looked over the rim of the stone. His father was still shooting even though it was proving meaningless. The bullets couldn't do anything but rip holes in the demons clothes. Dean could see John was out of breath after the fight, limping badly as he slowly closed the distance to the demon. His face was covered with blood from a nasty cut over his eyes and he spit some on the ground.

"You killed Mary," John said and wiped blood from his eyes to be able to see. "You son of a bitch killed Mary. And you killed my son."

"All for the greater good, John-boy," the demon cackled maliciously and his lips contorted into a bizarre smile. "You have to look at the grand scheme. You should know that, John. After all, it was you who knew about it all along. You and your torn little conscience."

John slowly took a step forwards, the gun still held in front of him even though it was useless.

"What do you mean?"

"Don't take me for a fool, John," Azazel chided. "I know that you know. And I know that you know that I know that you know," He snorted, apparently amused. "I always wanted to say that."

"What are you talking about?"

"Oh come on, Winchester. I know you're anything but an idiot. Remember the greater scheme? The one where Sam was meant for me from the beginning? The one where Mary sold her son so you could live? That's so poetic, don't you think. Sometimes I think, us demons--we're not the cruel ones at all."

John didn't reply and it was all the answer Dean needed. He wheezed as he stumbled backwards and it was only then when Azazel addressed Dean. "Yes, Dean. That's what your father has been hiding for years." In a dramatic gesture he pressed his finger on his lips. "Ooops, now I spoiled all the fun."

Dean's vision blurred. The beating of his heart was painful against his ribs and it felt like it wanted to pump itself out his body through his throat.

"Sam had to die so you could live?" He rasped, staring at his father and he didn't care that this was like a cheap jurisdictional TV show with Azazel as the judge.

"Die? Oh no," Azazel interrupted. "I didn't really want Sammy to die, see? Well, not originally. Why would I want him dead when he could be worth so much more alive and kicking? My right hand. The leader of my army. He would have made an amazing leader." Azazel shrugged. "Well, until my little Ava told me about Sam's..." He spit out the last word in disgust. "...decision. "

"My son would have killed you," John confirmed and now it was his turn to smile. There was a pride in his voice that Dean had never heard there before. Pride, love and a deep contentment that made the smile in his face honest and bright.

"Would have, mind you. Because I'll just kill him again. And if you take him away from me, I'll just find him again. But..." He trailed off and smirked. Holding his arm in front of him he formed a fist with his fingers and even in the barely moon-lit darkness Dean could see his father's eyes widen and within seconds his face was turning blue. With jerky, uncoordinated movements John Winchester grabbed at his throat as if trying to get rid of a noose that wasn't there. His mouth opened but instead of sound a rush of blood appeared between his lips, covering his chin.

"Dad!" Dean yelled and panic made him forget anything but the sight of his struggling father. Made him forget about the demon and Sammy and the fact, that he wasn't miraculously immune to the demonic power. His feet lost ground and his vision grayed as he, too, was being hauled into the air.

His head hurt. It was obviously too small for his thoughts.

Sam blinked his eyes sluggishly, wiping away the wetness he could feel on his eyelashes. When he lowered his hands he stared at them like seeing them for the first time. In some way, he did. These were his hands. He had known them all his life. A life that was as long as his memories lasted. But he also remembered bigger hands. He remembered the feeling of his fingers curling around the hilt of a knife long enough that it was protruding from the back of his attackers after ramming it into their soft stomachs. He remembered pulling the trigger of a .45, shooting bottles from a chopped tree. His thoughts were racing, sending controversial feelings into his mind like balls into a lotto bowl and someone was jumbling them all together.

Sam... Matt... Sam.

A zapping between personalities that made him sick to his stomach as much as to his mind.

Only Dean was the one thing that held them both together. He remembered Dean as clear as if he had never left him. Like he had grown up with him again even though a part of him (Matt) had only met him.

Dean.

Sam cringed, his back pressed painfully against the hard surface behind him as Dean landed in a heap in front of him and lifted his eyes to look at him.

His brother's name was on the tip of his tongue but fear and confusion was holding it back while a myriad of expressions flickered of Dean's face in just a fraction of a moment. Relief, fear, recognition, pain. Their eyes met and Dean ordered him not to move right before jumping back on his feet and storming away like he couldn't get away from Sam fast enough. It felt almost like a physical pain when Dean vanished out of side but yet he knew when to listen to his brother.

So he didn't just not move but froze. So afraid of the rising and falling of his chest that he held his breath and curled even more around himself, pressing his knees against his forehead. Maybe, if he couldn't see the demon, the demon couldn't see him either? All the noise made him dizzy and he was sure he would have fallen if he hadn't been sitting already but realized it was just the lack of air that made his vision grey. When he took a much needed breath, the air rushed into his lungs and he was surprised how much it hurt to breath. Breathing shouldn't be painful.

When he looked back up Dean was still gone and panic blossomed inside of him, banishing all the other thoughts but Dean, Dean, Dean.

He could hear voices, could hear his name spoken out loud by someone but he didn't know whose voice it had been. Everything was so muddled until a pain, worse than anything he had ever felt before (both his lives combined) threatened to make his head explode. His body jerked involuntarily, muscles contracting and the back of his head slammed painfully into the stone surface behind him. He knew he wasn't allowed to, tried to hold it back, but a scream escaped his lungs, that made his ears ring. Everything else, the graveyard, Dean, John, his mother and Missouri. Even the demon and the terrible cold were distant memories and everything he knew was pain.

Pain and a vision that was unfolding in front of him like a rapid sequence of images. The pictures weren't clear, the outlines blurry and the movements jerky, like under short bursts of light. But he could see enough to know what it meant.

The experience didn't last longer than a few seconds but it felt like a lifetime and when he came back to his senses he found himself lying on his back awkwardly, his fingers still twitching with the unexpected agony of the fit.

Someone was calling his name and this time he knew who it belonged to.

Dean.

"No Sam! Stay where you are!" He heard his brother's quenched yell. Rough, like someone was squeezing his throat.

"If you want your brother and your father to stay alive you really shouldn't." This time it was the demon's voice and Sam knew what he had to do. Had just seen it. Although, he might have known it already long before. The realization made him feel better, stronger and lighter than he had ever before. As if some huge weight had been lifted off of him. This new knowledge made him feel like he had a goal and now even the means to reach it.

On wobbly legs, he stood up. Slowly and with one hand leaning on the stone that had provided cover. His head was hurting, throbbing in time with the beating of his heart and in some ways it helped. It helped banish the pure fear that was about to freeze his movements. Instead, he concentrated on walking. When he looked up, he could see the demon, both arms outstretched. Where he was pointing he could see Dean and his father being held into the air like puppets on strings. Dean was struggling with back against a tree, John's against a large crucifix that stood on one of the graves. While Dean was staring at him, his hands on his throat, his father had stopped struggling and his limbs were merely twitching even though his mouth was still wide open, yapping for air like fishes on the shore. A strange calmness settled into Sam all of a sudden. A clarity that was draining his head of all emotions like fear and worry and all that existed was the truth that he had seen in his vision.

His destiny. Whatever the price.

His fate unfolding even though the demon had done his best in trying to change it... but couldn't. Maybe the demon was responsible for it in the first place and had shoveled his own grave, in the truest sense of meaning. A smile played on Sam's lips as he neared the crypt, never taking his eyes of the demon who looked confident enough not to realize what Sam was up to. The hell gate was closed again, the Colt exactly where the vision had foreseen it, and Sam pulled it out of its place the same instant as the demon cried out in anguish and let go of both older Winchesters. Their bodies fell to the ground, not strong enough to hold their own and Sam knew this was it. This was the moment he had died for. Literally.

The Colt was surprisingly heavy and it almost slipped through his sweaty fingers as he aimed it at the demon. His outline wasn't clear through Sam's hazy view and as he hiccoughed the gun jerked in his hands like a frog ready to jump. He tightened his grip, exhaled and pulled the trigger. The recoil of the shot made him stumble backwards and he landed on his butt, all air being pressed out of his lungs. The colt felt out of his useless finger and landed somewhere close to him.

It didn't matter now. He had either shot the demon or would be dead pretty soon. His delicate body had enough of any of it. Blackness crept along the corners of his vision and he was pretty sure he would black out pretty soon anyway with his head still being tortured by a nagging pain.

Being a kid sucked.



A shot rang out, sharp and clear. An almost musical sound in Dean's ears.

The ground was rushing towards him and all air that had still been in his lungs rushed out of him. His chest was screaming in pain as he managed to take a breath that almost knocked him out in an instant. Something in his airway rattled but the feeling diminished with the next breath. And then with the next until he could find the energy to raise his head from his lying position on the wet ground. The gravestones were towering above him, blocking his view. The echo of the shot was still reverberating over the distant treetops as he crawled a few feet before finding something to lean himself against.

Sam.

The breath stuck in his throat again as he couldn't see the little boy (Sam - his Sam) anymore. Couldn't see the demon. Couldn't see his father either.

"Sam?" He croaked, his voice catching in his throat and he fought himself up into a more or less standing position, with one hand leaning heavily on a gravestone.

There was the demon, stretched out as if sleeping a few feet away from him with a black hole in his chest. From the wound, fissures seemed to have shattered his whole body like he was made of glass. Dean could see small fires jumping from one fracture to the next like grasshoppers. The man's eyes were open, staring into the sky and when Dean followed his gaze he could see cracks opening in the cloud cover, stars twinkling curiously at what was happening down on earth.

"Sam? Dad?"

The only answer he got was the distant grumbling of the sky. For the fraction of a second lightning was illuminating the clouds on the horizon.

"Sammy?" Next to one of the gravestones he could see movement and he was running towards it before he even realized it. The little boy was on his hands and knees, breathing loud enough that Dean could hear it from ten feet away. With a miserable cough he looked up, his eye movement uncoordinated and his eyelids dropping. "Sammy, are you okay?" Letting himself sink down beside him Dean took Sam's face between his hands and stared at the large eyes that were blinking sluggishly, pain clouding them over. A thin trickle of blood was running out of Sam's nose and he licked it from his upper lip, his face showing surprise and confusion. But only for a second. Then recognition made the boy's face light up with a careful enthusiasm that made Dean's eyes water.

"Dean?"

"Yeah, it's me," Dean breathed and relief was threatening to make him loose all reservations before he swallowed and got his emotions back in line. "Are you hurt? Did he hurt you somewhere?"

"No, I'm f-fine. Dad?"

Sammy was awkwardly looking to his right, his face still captured between Dean's dirt-streaked fingers, and when the older brother followed his gaze the joy and relief crumbled fast.

"Dad?" Dean echoed his younger brother's call and got up, helping Sammy to his feet when the boy stumbled and lost his balance.

John Winchester's eyes were wide open and his gaze turned towards Dean and Sammy. His chest was moving rapidly up and down and beneath all the blood his face was the colour of ash when Dean and Sam staggered closer.

And no matter how often Dean blinked his eyes, his blurry vision kept seeing the same thing. From between his father's rips the rusty pike of a crucifix - once a proud sign of forgiveness and hope on the grave of a poor soul - was protruding. Now it was the ironic monument of John Winchester's last battle.

"Oh my God," Dean breathed and next to him, Sammy kneeled down. The younger one's face on the same height with his father's as John Winchester blinked once, twice. Tears were pooling in the corner of his eyes and blood was bubbling from between his lips. It was clear to both, Sam and Dean, that this was a fatal wound. No demon, no magic colt, no nothing could undo this. John Winchester was dying.

"Sammy?" It was almost too quiet for Dean to hear it but still, the stunned regret and sorrow that his father was showing was more than Dean could bear. There was so much in his words. Regret and joy, disbelief and conviction at the same time. "I'm sorry," he croaked. "I'm so sorry." A sob wreaked his body and he moaned, while Sam was holding his head and stroked his fingers over his father's forehead.

"It's okay, Dad," the little boy said, his voice strong and even though Dean didn't see his face he knew his little brother was smiling as he said the next words, right before John Winchester shuddered and closed his eyes forever. "I don't hate you, Dad. I promise."