Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: 26,915 total; this chapter, 681 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, and the previous chapter is here. Prompt for this chapter: days.
Sam stood as still as a statue, watching the flames consume the wrapped bundle on the pyre, the sparks flying skywards as the woods beyond shimmered in the heat waves from the blaze.
In a handful of days, they'd found out they had a brother, gotten used to the idea that they were no longer alone in the world, and then had him snatched away as brutally as Castiel had been taken from them. And now, another Winchester was being consumed by cleansing fire, this one lost before they'd even known him.
To his side, Dean let out a short sigh. "You doing okay?"
Sam wasn't sure whether he was asking about their vigil over their dead brother's burning corpse, or the bandaged slashes on his arms that meant he had to maintain some pretty keen concentration in order not to keel over from blood loss. He grimaced as he realized this was going to limit the amount of time he could spend practicing on the demons they'd been trapping for the last few weeks. "Yeah," he rasped. Damn smoke was getting in his throat.
"Sorry you didn't get to be a big brother for long," Dean said, nudging his arm. "Though that whole speech about how hunting has to be your entire life might have been a little over the top."
"It's true," Sam shrugged. He leaned a little into Dean, hoping he wasn't going to have to actually use his brother to prop him up. "I mean, look at us. Look at Dad."
"Yeah, look at Dad," Dean muttered. "Christ, he could have told us about Adam."
"I don't know, I think I get why he kept it a secret." Sam felt Dean staring at him, but he went on, "He was trying to protect Adam because he knew that this life is all or nothing. He'd already made the choice for us, so he wanted at least one of his kids to stay out of it."
He could feel Dean's curious gaze like a weight on him. "If that's so, then why didn't he want you to leave?"
Sam let out a breath. "Like I said, he'd made that choice for us. For me." He scuffed at the dirt with one foot. "We still don't know what he knew when he told you…what he did about me. Or how he knew it. Maybe there was another reason he wanted to keep me hunting." He wondered what their father would think about his plans to kill the most powerful demon they'd ever encountered with his mind, and then he figured he probably wouldn't want to know.
There was silence except for the crackling of the fire. Then Dean cleared his throat. "If Jess hadn't…you know…do you think you'd have gone back to hunting at some point?"
Sam scoffed. "I never had a choice, Dean. Not just because of Dad, but because of Yellow Eyes. If nothing else, I would have gotten dumped in Cold Oak no matter what." Castiel's words about all possible futures leading to Lucifer flitted through his mind, and he swallowed hard. "Maybe because of something worse than that, if Castiel was right."
"Yeah, well, he wasn't. Those seals aren't breaking, and you're not saying yes." Dean leaned into him more solidly, the warmth of his presence discernible even with the fire blazing in front of them.
"What kind of leads have we got?" Sam asked.
"Cas was looking into places where the final battle might go down, in case we couldn't stop Lilith from getting number sixty-five. He told me something about a convent in Maryland, and I did some digging on it before…" Dean waved his hand at the pyre in front of them. "There was this massacre of nuns a while back that might have been something demonic. Saint Mary's, something like that."
"We should check it out," Sam said.
"Yeah, we'll go in the morning," Dean replied, his eyes locked on the flames.
They stood there, leaning against each other in the early May darkness, until there were only ashes before them.