Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: under 30K total; this chapter, 952 words
Spoilers: through the end of Season Four
Summary: What if Sam and Dean knew one crucial piece of information about the future before Dean's deal came due? Would it have changed everything, or would the end result have been the same? AU version of Season Four, written for spn_30snapshots .
Master table is here. Prompt for this chapter: solstice.
15: At the Still Point of the Turning World
"Dean, we need to talk."
His brother lifted his head from the thin motel pillow and rubbed his bleary eyes. "This early in the morning?"
It's the only time you're guaranteed to be sober, Sam thought, but he bit back the words. Instead, he said, "It's after nine. I've already gotten coffee and breakfast and maybe found us a new hunt."
"Hurray for you," came the muttered response.
Letting out a sigh, Sam sat down on his brother's bed, the springs creaking under his added weight. Dean shifted away from him but didn't otherwise acknowledge his presence. "Look, I've been thinking," he started.
"About time," Dean said, eyes closed. "Since you sure as hell weren't thinking with that coin."
Pursing his lips, Sam reminded himself that yes, he really had fucked up, and no, yelling at Dean wasn't going to improve the situation. "So I know you told Castiel where to stick it, and for the record, I think you're right."
"Thanks for the Sam Winchester Seal of Approval."
Sam kept going. "But if we're really talking the Apocalypse here, we have to do something. I've been talking to Bobby, and he thinks he can identify some of the seals. Maybe we can go and stake them out, try and protect them."
Dean's reply came in the same worn-out tone. "Right, 'cause we have such a good track record with that."
Sam drew in a deep breath. "Or maybe we can go after the source."
That got a response: one eye cracked open and fixed him with a glare. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Lilith is the one breaking the seals, right? If we can stop her, then it all ends."
"That's funny, I seem to remember having this conversation before, and it ended with me saying 'no' and you saying 'okay.'" Dean raised himself on one elbow. "Has something changed since then?"
"Besides you going to Hell?" Sam snapped back before he could help it.
Dean's face instantly shuttered, and he turned away. "Oh right, I knew I'd forgotten something."
"Damn it, Dean!" Sam abruptly stood up and paced between the two beds. "Look, there was something strange when I was fighting Samhain, and the same thing with Alastair." He quickly explained about the strange feeling under his skin, and then added, "For a moment, Samhain looked like he was afraid of me. And even Alastair seemed to think I could fight him without any weapons. Ruby said so, too, the one time she came by. That means there's something in me, something I can use to fight demons. And if I can figure out how to do it, I can go after Lilith. We can go after Lilith."
There was silence for a moment. Then Dean said, "There some reason you're bringing this up now?"
"Tomorrow's the winter solstice," Sam replied.
"Wow." Dean rubbed at his eyes. "Time flies when you're having fun."
"Most cultures around the world celebrate the return of daylight as the nights stop getting longer. It's the turning point when evil and darkness are defeated for another year." He shrugged and spread his hands apart. "I thought it couldn't hurt to start searching on the solstice."
Dean looked at him for a long moment, and the serious contemplation on his face showed more life than anything Sam had seen from him since that damn ghost sickness. Finally he said, "You know that Castiel told me I'm supposed to stop you from doing whatever it is you want to do here."
"You don't know that this is what he was talking about," Sam quickly replied.
"You're right, I don't." He looked at Sam a while longer, and finally gave a short, sharp nod. "You know what? Fuck 'em."
Sam's eyebrows shot up. "Seriously?"
"Seriously. Look, I don't like this idea of you trying to do…whatever…with something you got from the yellow-eyed bastard. I really don't. And not just because a guy in a trenchcoat warned me. But I trust you more than I trust them." Dean took in a deep breath. "I'm still gonna keep an eye on you, though."
"I wouldn't even consider this if I didn't think you had my back," Sam answered quietly.
"Even now?" Dean asked darkly.
Sam drew in a deep breath. They hadn't talked about Dean's sojourn in Hell since he'd first brought it up, and they hadn't talked about Anna since they burned her body next to the tree where her grace had fallen. Somehow he didn't think that now was the time, either, even if this was the first time Dean had acknowledged how screwed-up he'd become, how distant and withdrawn and barely reliable on a hunt.
Besides, all Sam really had to say in response was, "Yeah, Dean," knowing the sincerity of his tone was speaking volumes more.
Something like pain flashed across Dean's eyes, but only for a second. "Yeah, well, the second your head starts spinning around, I'm cutting you off."
He huffed out a half-laugh and dropped his head. "Duly noted."
There was a pause. Then Dean asked heavily, "You got any idea what you're doing, Sammy?"
"Nope," Sam replied cheerfully. "Bobby might, though."
"You been working something out with him?" Dean asked, eyebrows raised.
Sam shook his head. "Not until I talked to you."
Surprise lit up Dean's face, quickly replaced by the usual cynical look he wore these days. "You don't need my permission, you know."
"I know." Sam shrugged one shoulder. "I just—I wanted to talk to you first."
The dawning understanding and gratitude in Dean's eyes made Sam think that maybe the amount of daylight wasn't the only thing that was going to start getting brighter soon.