Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester; mentions of John Winchester, the YED, and various minor characters from Seasons 1 and 2; allusions to episode 3.01
Rating: PG-13 for dark themes, general angst, contemplation of suicide
Word Count: 1733
A/N: I thought of this in the shower today and stopped work on my other fics to get this one written and posted, and now, thanks to a beta by the lovely and ever-helpful </a></font></b></a>engel82 here it is! Set later on in Season 3, but no actual spoilers for Season 3; spoilers for all of Seaons 1 and 2.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no money is being made, no copyright infringement intended! "Supernatural" and its characters are owned by Eric Kripke, Warner Brothers, the CW network, et al. This is fiction written entirely for entertainment purposes only. Not mine; don't sue, please. I repeat: not mine.
Summary: As Sam watches Dean sleep, his mind wanders...
Sometimes, Sam wishes he’d never taken Dean to Nebraska.
When Sam’s sitting awake at night, watching Dean sleep, the haunting glow of the laptop his constant companion, Sam thinks that maybe he should have let Dean die. Maybe it would have been better for both of them. For everyone.
If he had just let Dean go. Just let him die when he was supposed to. Naturally, peacefully—well as peacefully as one can go out from heart failure—when his time was up, then maybe Dean wouldn’t be going to hell. Sam had no doubt in his mind that if not for the Deal, Dean’s soul would never have had the possibility of darkening the gates of Hell. For all his lust, pride, and even wrath, Dean was always a good guy—selfless and giving to a fault—and that, Sam thought ruefully, was kind of the whole problem.
So, on nights like these, when he saw his brother lying there peacefully, another night, the deal not yet broken—another week, another month—every tick of the clock that passes without a solution, a way out of the deal, is another tick on the score sheet in Sam’s mind. And while it makes him redouble his efforts to find something to save his brother, it brings with it doubt. Sam can no longer stop the thoughts of what if I cant save him or what happens when the hell hounds come for him from creeping in, and when he does, that’s when the morbid reflections on Dean’s deaths-that-should-have-been begin.
If he just hadn’t brought Dean to Nebraska, maybe Dean would be at peace; hell, maybe now he would be watching over Sammy from afar. But if Dean had gone, well then they would have never really come together as brothers. Dean wouldn’t have had closure (if you could call it that) with Cassie. He would never have gotten to kill that Shtriga to atone (at least in Dean’s mind) for the mistakes he made when he was younger. Dean wouldn’t have been there to see John again; he wouldn’t have been there to support Sam through his first really bad visions; he wouldn’t have been there to serve as a buffer between Sam and John; he wouldn’t have been there to save Sam from the Benders; Dean wouldn’t have been there to stop Sam from running into Monica’s burning house after the Yellow-Eyed Demon. He wouldn’t have been there to stop Sam from killing himself in River Grove; he wouldn’t have been there to stop and exorcise Sam when he was possessed; and he wouldn’t have been there to promise to kill Sam if it ever came to that…
But then again, would Sam have ever been in those situations if Dean wasn’t there? And asking Dean to kill him, well, Sam regretted that one with every breath, every day of his new life. Because deep down he knew that that promise was the promise that sent Dean over the edge—Dean would stop at nothing to save Sam and not have to kill him, and Dean was so attached to that he couldn’t fail, he couldn’t see Sam dead. So, he made the Deal and sold his soul, and gave up any sense of peace or happiness he ever could have had. Yeah, tonight Sam really wishes he had never brought Dean to Nebraska… sure, all the lives Dean has saved since then (including the victim’s of SueAnn LeGrange’s twisted attempts to play God) might not have been saved—or maybe different lives would have been saved. But Sam thinks, maybe that’s OK. Because Dean deserves better than this, not hell; anything but hell.
Sam feels responsible. He never thought about what Dean wanted. He never thought about what he was doing when he dragged Dean to the “faith healer”—Sam never stopped to think about the consequences. He was lost in the urgency, the immediate need, the sheer terror of losing Dean. All Sam could think was I have to save him but he never thought about what it would do to Dean, to have someone else’s death weighing on his conscience, to feel like he was no longer living his own life but some other life with some other purpose. Dean’s own happiness had never been a priority for Dean, but Sam didn’t really understand that then. So, he didn’t realize that in Dean’s second life even Dean’s normal purpose—protecting Sam—would barely be adequate to make up for the guilt of being alive.
But then again, who would Sam have been if he hadn’t had Dean with him all that time? Would he have succumbed to the pull of his powers sooner? Would he have lashed out against the universe for taking Dean from him? Sam knew he was selfish—but he was also terrified. So, maybe it was OK that he brought Dean to Nebraska. Dean might have been ready to die, but Sammy wasn’t ready to live on his own then. Sure, John was still alive, but Sam wasn’t about to delude himself into thinking he would have gotten along with his dad back then.
So maybe it would have been better if Dean had died (or stayed dead) like he was supposed to after the crash. If no deal had been made then. Just let Dean go with the reaper like he was supposed to. Maybe Sam would have made it then. Or maybe he would have died—hell, maybe his Dad would have had to kill him. Or maybe with the Colt in their hands—the yellow-eyed demon would have died and the devil’s gate would never have been opened… Sam’s mind idly wonders if John knew that the Colt was a key, but as always his attention drifts back to Dean. This isn’t about him. It’s about Dean. Didn’t Dean deserve some peace? Didn’t he deserve to die without feeling like his father’s death was his fault? Without knowing that his baby brother was a potential monster? Without the risk of learning that his Mom wasn’t the saint he thought she was, and that his brother was part demon? Shouldn’t Dean have been spared the pain of being asked to kill his own brother—the only purpose he ever had in life—by not one but both people he loved?
Yeah, Sam feels guilty. But bringing Dean back then wasn’t his call. At the time, he was happy about it, he didn’t want to lose Dean. But nights like these, he wonders if maybe that would have been the right thing for Dean.
But then he thought about that feeling he got when Dean was given only weeks to live. He felt it again after the crash. And he feels it every day now. It was like a switch. Was. Flipped. Just like Ava and Jake had said about their powers… and Sam felt something like that inside himself every time Dean’s life was threatened. The raw surge of power, determination, and defiance seemed to boil in his veins and thrum beneath the surface of his skin. Back then it was like an adrenaline rush—and that’s what he convinced himself it was. But now, now it’s his constant companion, a pull directing his actions, driving him along—to where he doesn’t know. Sometimes he doesn’t want to know. Sam’s terrified that the looming threat of losing Dean might just be the thing to send him over the edge. Because honestly, what wouldn’t he do for his brother? He knows nothing’s off limits, even if that’s not what Dean would want. Sam knows that he can’t stop himself, and nights like these that scares him more than the thought of living without Dean—than the thought of Dean burning in hell.
Sam knows he’s selfish. And on he recognizes now that Dean wasn’t being selfish when he made the deal. Just like his Dad wasn’t being selfish. Sam didn’t understand it then. He didn’t want to. Blaming Dean would be so much easier than facing the truth. Sure, Dean was tired, and he didn’t want to live without Sam anymore than Sam would want to live without Dean. But now Sam realizes that he already knows what Dean’s selfish response would have been—he already saw it in River Grove. The Dean that just didn’t want to go on alone would have just killed himself. And he could have done that after Sam died—and Sam almost wishes he had, because he doubts God or any other forces in the universe would say that single lapse of selfishness outweighed all the selfless acts—but he didn’t. Dean chose to make Sam live, at the cost of everything. Sam didn’t understand how important he was to Dean. He never understood where Dean’s seemingly off-kilter priorities came from. Sam didn’t understand how living with the burden of two lives and one soul sacrificed, a lifetime of a singular purpose to protect and save another, an ultimatum from two loved ones to save or kill, an existence that draws meaning from one thing—Sammy, alive—could drive Dean to only one possible solution. Sam understands now, but he realizes that it’s too late.
Dean murmurs and rolls over in his sleep, the moonlight from the window casting its ethereal beams across Dean’s freckled face and shoulders, bathing him and radiating around him like an aura. Sam can’t help but think that Dean looks almost angelic… and then the guilt of being the reason for his brother’s damnation slams down on him like an anvil of doom. Nights like these, Sam prays. He prays to God for salvation, redemption, a solution. He prays for Dean’s soul, for his life, for a way to fix this mess. To stop the war and undo the damage. Today, Sam wishes he could give his life in Dean’s place. He realizes that he probably wouldn’t go anywhere good, and he knows that Dean wouldn’t survive (and might still be locked in the deal) if he did that, so he doesn’t, because deep down, Sam isn’t selfish either. This is all for Dean. He closes his eyes against the ghostly glow of the laptop and prays. He doesn’t know anymore if God exists or listens to part demons, but for Dean’s sake, and the sake of the world, Sam hopes God does.