Rating: R (language, violence)
Length: 26,915 total; this chapter, 645 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: hours.
When he was younger, Dean had idly wondered from time to time what his last words to Sam would be if he could choose them. He'd toyed with the sentimental, the gruff but caring, and the sarcastic. It wasn't like he was going to get a chance to consider it carefully when the time came, so it made for something to think about in the long, silent hours driving across the country in the dead of night.
He couldn't remember anymore what his actual last words to Sam had been, either in Cold Oak or in New Harmony, and it wasn't like it had mattered either time, anyway.
Still, for all of the times they'd prepared for a major fight or faced down death together, he'd never had a moment like this one: standing next to the Impala on the side of a dirt road in Maryland, both of them locked and loaded, sending his brother off to battle something that Dean couldn't. Something that had already taken Dean down and had even more motivation now to blast the Winchesters into dust. They were here to stop Lilith from breaking the final seal, and based on everything they'd pieced together from Chuck's words and Castiel's wisdom and their own research, Sam was the only one who could do it.
"You got the silver knife, right?" Dean asked, even though he'd seen Sam tuck it in his coat. "And the bronze one?"
"Yeah, I do," Sam replied, even though both of them knew that Castiel had said they would be useless against Lilith.
"Eh, you won't need 'em," Dean said confidently. "You're gonna blast her right out of here before she can even touch that seal."
Sam nodded earnestly, the same way he had when Dean first taught him how to use a gun, and it made something twist in Dean's chest. They'd been counting down to this moment for nearly a year—maybe for all of their lives in a sense—and now they were down to the final hours.
It had been a shock to find that Azazel had been here before they were even born, laying the groundwork for what had to be the final confrontation. As soon as Sam found that name in the newspaper records of the massacre of nuns back in '72, they'd known this was it. The weird weather patterns over the past couple of days confirmed it: swings in temperature, hail out of a clear sky, eerily red sunsets.
They talked out the plan and then went through their usual routine: cleaning the guns, stocking the salt and holy water, checking the integrity of their tattoos and adding a few extra charms around their necks for good measure. Usually it was a reassuring ritual for Dean—some people prayed the rosary, he stripped and cleaned his Colt—but this time was different. This time, he was leaving his little brother alone to face a demon.
Well, not alone alone—there was no way in hell he was letting Sam out of his sight—but he was going to be on the sidelines, and that didn't seem right. Not here and now, not when it mattered the most. Dean grimaced, trying to think of something to say, some last motivation, something that didn't sound like the final words he knew they might be. Sam would see right through anything like that that he said, and they had to stay strong here.
Then Sam cleared his throat. "I know you've got my back, Dean."
"Always," he replied automatically, and that was it. That was enough. Dean looked at his brother a moment longer, wishing him luck and strength and courage and all the things he couldn't say out loud.
Then he turned and started walking towards the convent, whistling Metallica, his brother at his side, ready to save the world.