Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer/Summary: See Prologue
Author's Note: Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing! I sincerely appreciate the gift of your time.
I knew I was taking a bit of a chance that everyone would like where I chose to set this story and the direction I am taking it. Some of you have PM'd or reviewed worried that I am taking away Sam's redeeming moment; I can promise you that I didn't look at it that way as I wrote and I hope that if you choose to keep reading, you'll give this idea a shot. Swan Song was just fine as it played out, but I couldn't help but watch it thinking…what if? So this is my answer to that question.
Oh, one more thing - I like to shift POVs in my stories. While we opened with Cas', this story really belongs to the boys, so it will be primarily told through their eyes.
Hope you enjoy!From Yesterday, Part 1: Prologue
It wasn't until he stopped for gas in Springfield, Illinois, that Dean realized he'd been driving for hours in silence. His mind had been so full, buzzing with all that had happened, all that could still happen, he felt like there were three of him in the car. He had too much time to think, to allow fear and doubt a toe-hold in his heart.
In retrospect, he probably should have asked Cas to beam him to Lawrence.
But then he wouldn't have had the Impala with him and with the metric ton of uncertainty around him, he wanted at least one familiar thing. He wanted her history and her protection. He wanted her memories. She was the closest thing he'd ever had to a home; she was his tie to his dad, to his past, to his purpose. As strange as it might seem to anyone not a Winchester, she was part of his family, and he needed her with him if he had any hope of doing what he had to do for Sam.
So he drove on, and he sorted through his memories.
Despite the pain, anger, uncertainty and fear of the past few years – and God knew there had been plenty of each – his thoughts kept returning to the last time he'd seen his father. Not flat-lining on a hospital cart or wrapped in a funeral shroud, but had really seen him. The last conversation he'd ever had with him. The look in his father's eyes, the timber of his voice, the impact of his words.
You took care of Sammy, you took care of me. You did that, and you didn't complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you.
As he exited, searching for the Conoco sign he'd seen along the Interstate, Dean felt his skin ripple with chills as he imagined he could hear his father's voice once more. He pulled to a stop next to an empty gas pump and turned off the car, letting the silence tick around him for a moment.
When he stepped out, the cool of the dawn caught him and he instinctively took a breath. He felt a weightless kind of euphoria he always associated with the adrenaline rush necessary to keep him going with no sleep. He'd been up for nearly forty-eight hours with no rest in sight.
Looking over his shoulder, he saw the sun warm the horizon, turning low-hanging, latent storm clouds deep-rose pink edge in the gold of dawn, the sky around them almost blood-red.
"Red sky in the morning," he whispered to himself, letting his eyes linger on the treetops, listening as the world slowly came alive.
As if a switch was flipped, singling the world to go, traffic picked up on the nearby highway. Mourning doves took up the last of their chorus, giving way to the more raucous call of the ravens. A radio blared from an open window in a house near the gas station. A dog barked. Someone leaving their house for an early-morning shift let a screen door bang behind them. A car door slammed.
Dean breathed, eyes on the sun as it continued its slow ascent, the red bleeding to rose, and then pale pink as gold took over, chasing the stars and defeating the moon. With what felt like a gasp, the sun crested the Earth's horizon and light stretched out across the bits of life around him, as if arching its back and readying its muscles for the day.
With a startlingly raw sob in the back of his throat, Dean shook himself, stepping away from the warm support of the Impala. He knew it was very possible he'd seen his last sunrise. For a fleeting moment, he remembered that awful night back in Indiana when he'd been hallucinating demons in the faces of his family, when he thought of all the things he'd never do, all the things he'd wanted to do, all the things he should have done…just before the Hounds ripped him apart and dragged him to Hell.
He knew he wasn't just going to meet up with his brother, no matter what he'd said to Bobby and Castiel back in that alley. He wasn't going to just…talk to him. He was going to try to find Sam's soul tucked up away inside his own body, kept prisoner by none other than Lucifer.
And he wasn't going to just walk away from that.
Blinking to clear tears from his eyes, Dean flipped the license plate of the Impala down and inserted the hose, filling up the car with enough fuel to get him the rest of the way to Lawrence. Gaze lingering on the shiny, black surface of the trunk, he remembered another moment when the world had been a staggering weight on his shoulders; he'd beaten the hell out of the Impala with a crowbar simply because it was all just…too much. And nothing had made sense.
He missed his father with a truly painful ache that spread from his heart through his chest, into his arms, down his torso, settling in the bones of his legs. He missed their family. He missed when it was simply about saving people, hunting things.
He missed his life making sense.
Dean wasn't a complicated person. He had never really thought much past tomorrow. The moment was all that really mattered. But Sam…Sam had always been two steps ahead. Thinking down the road. Sam had a five-year plan. Dean rarely had a five-minute plan.
But it seemed he'd always been part of one. And now he was about to try to rewrite it. Change a destiny. Or maybe fulfill one. He wasn't entirely sure.
He replaced the hose on the gas pump and went inside to pay and grab a cup of coffee. He needed a jolt to keep moving forward. As he entered the empty convenience store section of the gas station, he heard an early-morning news report talking about the strange weather hitting all points of the Midwest, the destruction resulting, and the on-the-street reactions to these recent events. Five sound-bites were aired. Three of them mentioned the Apocalypse.
Dean knew people were scared. He knew that while this might seem intimate to him – a battle between two pairs of brothers – it was so much larger, impacting the world, not just the Winchesters. Dean was willing to sacrifice whatever he had to in order to save his brother, but Sam had made his choice to save the world.
The fate of one bartered against the fate of millions. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. It wasn't fair. It would never be fair.
"You need some help, son?"
Dean jerked, startled at the unexpected sound of the voice to his left.
"No," he shook his head. "I'm okay. Just need some coffee."
"Machine's over there," the older man behind the counter replied, gesturing with his thumb to Dean's right.
Dean nodded his thanks, filled up a 16 ounce cup, and grabbed a packaged apple pie slice. He paid for the coffee, food, and gas, sparing another glance at the TV.
"You believe this?" The man asked him, handing him back his change, eyes on the images of an F5 tornado crashing through Chicago the day before. "Like the end of the world."
"Yeah, seems like," Dean muttered his reply. "Thanks."
The man nodded absentmindedly at him, his attention on the television. Dean headed back out to the Impala, sliding behind the wheel before he was able to take a full breath once more. It was hard to fill his lungs; his chest was so damn heavy. This was too big, too much. He wasn't going to make it, be enough.
Dropping the pie on the seat next to him, he put his coffee between his legs and carefully leaned over to the glove box. Feeling around, he pulled out the oldest cell phone stashed in there, the one that they'd never tossed, the one Sam hadn't gotten rid of even while Dean had been in Hell. Holding it in one hand, he dialed the number with his phone, letting the older phone vibrate in his palm. He wanted to hear that voice. Not just imagine it.
"This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If it's an emergency, call my son, Dean. 785-555-0179. He can help."
Licking his lips, he waited until his father's voice ended and the beep sounded, then he cleared his throat and began talking.
"So, uh, I know this is crazy," Dean said quietly, breaking up the silence around him with the cracked sound of his own voice. "I doubt you can hear me. I mean…we were there. Sam and me. In Heaven. Or, well, a version of it. Point is, we didn't see you, so…."
He paused, took a breath, squirmed slightly in his seat, then readjusted his elbow on the windowsill.
"Okay, so here it is," he pressed on, needing so desperately to talk to someone, knowing it was really only himself, and not caring. "First thing I can really remember you telling me was to watch out for Sam. Take care of him. And I have been. But…Dad, this is so much bigger than us. Bigger than anything you taught us about. And I think you knew about it. I think you knew and you were just hoping we'd never find out."
He started up the Impala, letting the rumble of the big machine tremble beneath his legs, behind his back.
"But we did. And now…now I have to go back to Lawrence. Where it all started. I have to go back there and try to talk to Sam. Because…because he's in the biggest fight of his life…and he needs me. If you're hearing me now, you know what we're facing. You know what I have to do…what Sammy's gotta do. I just…," he swallowed hard as his throat tightened and his eyes burned.
"God, I wish you were here," he whispered, closing his eyes, and letting his head drop back against his seat.
In that moment, longing for what had been, for people long gone, for his family, struck him hard in the gut and he caught his breath. He had to be strong enough to remind Sam of who he was, to help Sam control his own body despite Lucifer's power. Having never been possessed, Dean had no idea what kind of effort that took, but any fool would know it was going to be nearly impossible.
Their dad had done it once, Dean knew. John had forced Azazel back and away, kept the demon gripped tightly inside, stopping it from killing Dean. He'd asserted his control long enough they'd been able to limp away from the cabin and to the Impala, making a break for it. If John had been able to break free, Dean knew that Sam could.
Sam was his father's son in more ways than Dean knew his brother would admit. Sam had the same undercurrent of strength, the knowledge of demonic power, the memory of what it felt like to have something else control his body.
Sam could do it, Dean knew. He believed it. He just needed to make Sam believe it.
He glanced up at the rear-view mirror once more where the amulet dangled like a pendulum. He hadn't been able to put it back on, not after what Castiel had told him. He wasn't sure if he quite bought the angel's eleventh-hour Hail Mary.
Still, with his arsenal consisting of simple plea to remember their plan, he wasn't going to turn his back on it.
Sighing, he shut off his phone, tossing it into the glove box. In a moment of sentimental weakness, he stuffed his dad's phone into his pocket. It didn't matter, really. No one he knew would be trying to reach him now – except maybe Bobby, trying to talk him out of what he was doing, and if that were the case, he wouldn't listen to him anyway. It felt nice, keeping a memento of the only other person he'd truly ever trusted with Sam close to him.
He pulled back onto the Interstate, the morning sun now reflecting in his rear-view mirror as he continued west. He passed semi-trucks, minivans, motorcycles. He slouched in his seat, finding his groove, setting his speed for a long-haul. Turning on the radio, he pressed the dial buttons, searching for something worth listening to.
His lips tipped up as the last few chords of Zeppelin's Kashmir filtered through the static prompted by distance. He was about to re-tune the dial when the DJ came on, talking about a rock block and cued up Ramble On. Despite himself, Dean's face relaxed into a smile, his fingers tapping out the familiar rhythm on his steering wheel.
Illinois became Missouri and Missouri seemed to evaporate beneath his wheels, the distance disappearing as Dean lost himself in the effort of not thinking. Memories blended with the music, images so thick before his eyes he had to blink them away. The Interstate was typically heavy with truckers, but as he focused on all possible scenarios that might greet him when he reached Stull, Dean barely noticed. He slipped through Kansas City, the sun cresting and turning the sky around him to a cool metallic haze.
Unbidden, images of that city at a different time, a time that would never be if he was successful today, surged to the forefront of his memory. He glanced at the brick buildings and clover-leaf highways and saw instead the burned-out husks, twisted metal, and crumbling concrete of the city in a future horror – imagination super-imposed over reality.
But it wasn't his imagination, he knew. It had been real. And it had been horrible. Sam had been gone, his eyes almost serenely evil. Dean had watched himself be killed by his brother – a different Dean, a Dean that had been damaged and scored like the bullet-riddled buildings he'd found refuge within – with as much concern as one might show an ant.
Dean felt bile burn his throat and swallowed hard. He wouldn't let that happen. If he couldn't save Sam, he was going to have to find a way to let Sam go, condemning both souls to Hell. He would have to choose humanity over his brother, fulfilling his father's final, bleak order: save him, or kill him.
Sweat beaded across his upper lip, the back of his neck becoming clammy at the thought.
As he reached the first Lawrence exit, he felt his pulse quicken, beating an anxious tattoo against the base of his throat. He turned off the radio, exhaling slowly, his lips pushed out around the exodus of air. He remembered where Stull was; he hadn't been there before, but John had written about it in his journal, the proximity of the cemetery to their hometown, the rumors of a portal to Hell.
Dean rarely forgot a fact, his mind a complicated maze of lore, rites, and weapons. With the amount of times he'd read over his father's journal, it wasn't hard to pinpoint the location based on John's description. He took the third exit, following the signs toward Lawrence, his palms sweaty as he gripped the steering wheel tighter.
You can do this…. Youcandothisyoucandothisyoucandothis….
"Nothin' to it," he quietly coached himself. "Just goin' to have a talk with Sammy."
Sammy…who was being held captive in his own body by the actual friggin' Devil. Dean felt a sharp, unexpected stab in his chest. This was all just so…wrong. He hadn't carried his brother from their burning house, pulled him out of the fire that took his girlfriend, watched him, protected him, gone to Hell for him, just to lose him now.
"This isn't how it ends," he whispered.
The sun hung heavy and low in the late afternoon sky; the world around him seemed to gray out with the intensity of the light. Clouds were gathered on the horizon, but they seemed to be held at bay, the ceaseless Kansas wind taking five. There was an unnatural pressure against his ears, like a storm was coming. The world felt as if it were holding its breath in anticipation.
"This isn't how it ends," he repeated, louder, stronger, with purpose. "We're gonna be okay, Sammy. You just hang on, little brother."
He glanced up at the amulet swinging from the rear view mirror. Believe, Castiel had said. Dean didn't have much left to believe in. Everything and everyone he'd ever believed in had either died, left him, or turned their backs at one time or another.
Believing never really got him very far.
And yet…he'd survived Hell. He and Sam had defeated the Four Horsemen. They'd bested demons and angels alike, making it further in their resistance than anyone in Heaven or Hell believed they would.
"Son of a bitch," he mumbled, grabbing the amulet from the mirror, the loose knot in the leather tie giving way easily.
Gripping the metal figure tightly in his right hand, he steered with his knee as he wrapped the leather string around his palm, securing it to his thumb. He couldn't wear it; he didn't feel right. But he'd have it near. Hopefully he'd know what to do with it when the time came.
The turn off for Stull came up quickly; Dean banked to the right, slowing as the big Chevy rumbled down the narrow streets, past small houses and old brick buildings. The cemetery was on the west end of town, and by the reports he'd read, the church had long ago been burned out and torn down by vagrants and taggers and those who liked to think of themselves as occultists.
But the graves were still there.
Just before he reached the edge of the lot with the cemetery entrance, he stopped. Rolling his window down, he pulled in a lungful of air as if it were the last time he'd ever be able to do so. A strange calm flowed over him with that breath.
This was a fight. Like so many fights he'd faced and survived before.
"You got this," he told himself, plucking a cassette from his collection and shoving it into the Impala's player without looking.
As Def Leppard's Rock of Ages boomed out through his speakers, Dean brought his chin up and settled his shoulders, pulling forward through the cemetery entrance. He could see Sam; his brother's back was to him and he wasn't standing quite right, but it was Sam. As Sam turned at the sound of his approach, Dean leaned slightly out through his opened window and saw Adam – wearing a mask-like expression of determination – standing opposite.
"Howdy, boys," Dean greeted casually, raising his voice to be heard over the music. "Sorry. Am I interrupting something?"
Adam glared at him and Dean turned off the car, quieting the music. As he got out of the Impala and shut the door behind him, he couldn't quell the dizzying feeling of stepping off a high-dive. He kept his eyes on Sam, ignoring the way Lucifer held his brother's body too stiffly, his chest thrust out, his face a snarl of contempt.
Swallowing hard, Dean moved to stand in front of the Impala, feeling the heat of the over-used engine hit the back of his legs.
"Hey," he said to Sam, his hands in his pockets as if this were any other day, any other conversation. "We need to talk."
Lucifer looked out through Sam's eyes with derision. "Dean. Even for you, this is a whole new mountain of stupid."
"I'm not talking to you," Dean replied calmly. "I'm talking to Sam."
Adam spoke up. "You're no longer the vessel, Dean. You've got no right to be here."
Glancing to the side, Dean spared a thought for his half-brother. The kid never had a chance, never knew what his Winchester heritage would bring. Dean felt partially to blame for his even being here; the only reason Zachariah had gone to Plan B was because Dean refused to say 'yes.'
Eyes softening with sympathy, Dean addressed the brother he'd never really known. "Adam, if you're in there somewhere, I am so sorry."
Adam's lips twisted. "Adam isn't home right now," Michael said snidely, disgust sitting at home on Adam's face.
It helped assuage Dean's guilt a bit. Adam was gone. "Well, then you're next on my list, Buttercup. But right now," he pointed to Sam, "I need five minutes with him."
Adam snarled, stepping forward. "You little maggot. You are no longer part of this story!"
Dean turned, shocked, upon hearing Castiel's voice. He knew his friend had promised to help, but he honestly never expected to hear his voice again. He stared at the angel uncomprehendingly, trying to figure out what Castiel was planning to do with the Molotov cocktail he brought with him. Next to Cas, Bobby stood with the Colt held loosely in his grip. Dean felt his stomach drop at seeing his friend and mentor there with him among the angels. His heart raced as thoughts and possibilities of what could happen to Bobby instantly bombarded him.
But Bobby wasn't looking at him. He was staring at Sam.
Before any of the Winchesters could move, Castiel flung the flaming bottle he'd been holding directly at Adam. The angel screamed in rage and pain as the holy fire turned him to ash.
Shaken, mind spinning at what had just transpired, Dean looked back at Castiel. "'Ass-butt?'"
Castiel didn't even bother to shrug. "He'll be back," he warned. "And upset. But you've got your five minutes."
Sam turned to face the newcomers, his lips pulled back in a snarl of disbelief. "Castiel. Did you just Molotov my brother with holy fire?"
At that, as flash of fear crossed Castiel's face. "Uh…no."
Sam stepped forward, his very movement so unlike Sam that Dean was having trouble not thinking of him as Lucifer. "No one dicks with Michael but me."
Lucifer snapped Sam's fingers and Dean looked on in shock as Castiel exploded in a rain of blood and chunks of flesh. For a moment, Dean couldn't breathe. His body had started to tremble from the inside out as his mind screamed out denial.
Castiel wasn't dead. He couldn't be dead. He simply was without his vessel. That was all. That had to be all.
"Sammy," Dean said in a shaking voice, trying to draw Lucifer's attention back to him. "Can you hear me?"
As if infinitely weary of the pointless chatter, Sam turned back to Dean. "You know…," he moved forward, slowly closing the gap between them. "I tried to be nice. For Sammy's sake. But you," he grabbed the front of Dean's jacket, "are such a pain in my ass."
With appalling ease, Sam lifted Dean from his feet and hurled him onto the windshield of the Impala. Dean never heard the glass beneath him shatter; the air was driven from his lungs as he felt his side cave with the impact, his back stabbing pain through his body in electric waves. Before he could reclaim his breath, he heard a shot ring out.
Sam's body flinched, Lucifer's expression shifting from irritation to rage as he turned away from Dean. Eyes darting frantically, Dean saw Bobby pull the trigger once more, blood blossoming on Sam's shoulder. The Colt – the weapon that could kill anything – made no impact whatsoever on Lucifer. Without hesitation, Lucifer lifted Sam's hand, twisted it, and Bobby's neck snapped, his body falling to the earth in a lifeless heap.
The scream was torn from Dean's heart. He couldn't breathe; Bobby was gone. No vessel, no returning, just gone.
He couldn't process this. He had to focus. He had to reach Sam.
Oh, God, Bobby.
"Yes," Lucifer growled, grabbing Dean's legs and pulling him from the hood of the Impala.
Dean was now completely alone and utterly defenseless. Lucifer plowed Sam's fist across Dean's jaw. Sam had hit him before, many times. He'd beaten him senseless once, juiced up on demon blood. But this wasn't Sam hitting him. This was Lucifer. And Dean knew from the first punch he wasn't going to survive this encounter.
It felt as if he'd been hit by a freight train. The force behind the blow rattled his teeth, sent his senses spinning, and threw him back against the Impala, blood pooling in his mouth. Dean spit it out, rotating and trying to find his brother's eyes.
"Sammy?" he gasped. "Are you in there?"
Lucifer almost smiled, a twisted version of Sam's expression. "Oh, he's in here, all right." His fist crashed across Dean's cheekbone, turning his vision white. "And he's gonna feel the snap of your bones."
He slammed his fist against Dean's mouth. Dean's legs lost their strength and he crumbled to the ground. Lucifer didn't allow him to stay down; he was too pissed off at Dean for daring to interfere, for daring to question the grand plan, for denying him his moment of battle satisfaction.
"Every. Single. One." Hauling Dean to his feet, Lucifer gripped him by the edges of his jacket and breathed a promise against Dean's damaged features. "We're gonna take our time."
And Lucifer kept that promise, his fist pounding against Dean's face over and over until all Dean knew was pain, until he couldn't breathe through the blood caught in his throat, until his world was spinning, his reality nothing but a white-hot void. He forgot why he was here; he only knew that he was dying.
He felt the bones in his cheek crack, felt his jaw break, felt his nose shatter. His mouth was shredded, his left eye filling with blood. Thought had become no more than sensation, reason was gone, hope was a memory. He wasn't sure how he was on his feet except for the fact that Sam's hand was fisted tightly in his jacket.
Each punch brought a flash of memory to Dean's battered brain.
Sam at five, climbing into his big brother's bed after a nightmare; Sam at eight, lost in a new school, reaching for Dean's hand and reassurance; Sam at ten handing Dean a Christmas gift meant for their Dad, but given to the one person who never left him; Sam at thirteen lighting fireworks against the night sky and grinning up at his big brother; Sam at eighteen boarding a bus to California and keeping Dean in his line of sight as long as possible; Sam at twenty-two reaching out for his brother when a vision tore through him; Sam at twenty-five staring with a tear-stained visage as he fought to not have to say good-bye.
A steady rhythm beat through Dean's soul: Sam…Sam…Sam…Sam….
Barely able to see, Dean reached up with his right hand and clung weakly to Sam's jacket, the amulet impossibly heavy in his grasp.
"Sam," he choked out through swollen lips, his own blood running down his throat as he fought for breath. "It's okay…it's okay. I'm here."
Lucifer hit him again. And again. But Sam needed to know. He needed to know that his big brother was there. That he wasn't alone; he was never alone. Dean had never been further than a phone call from his brother's side Sam's entire life.
"I'm here. I'm not gonna leave you." The fist crashed again. "I'm not gonna leave you."
Lucifer reared Sam's hand back for what Dean knew would be a final blow. His entire being radiated pain. He was no longer able to stand, held upright only to be used as a punching bag. He was barely able to grip Sam's jacket. But he would hold on until Lucifer killed him; he wasn't going to let Sam die alone here.
And then, Lucifer paused, light glinting across Sam's hazel eyes. He loosened his grip and Dean collapsed to the ground, slumped against the side of the Impala, his breath rattling through his broken mouth, tripping across his damaged lungs. He could barely lift his head, his left eye swollen shut, his right blurring with pain, but he kept his face toward Sam, kept his presence focused on Sam.
Sam seemed frozen, his face a struggle of emotion, as he stared at the broken windshield of the Impala. He looked at once enraged and torn, as if fighting an epic war on an invisible battlefield. And as Dean watched, his brother returned, Sam's soul flooding into his face and posture so suddenly it was electrifying.
Sam's eyes found Dean's and Dean wanted to cry. He was back. They had done it.
"It's okay, Dean," Sam gasped, his fist unclenching, his chin trembling. "It's gonna be okay. I've got him."
"No!" The sudden outcry of Adam's voice stabbed through Dean's pain-seared senses. Castiel said he'd be back, but somehow Dean hadn't believed him.
Sam dug into his jean's pocket and pulled out the Horsemen's rings, connected by their odd, magnetic power. He tossed them to the ground and Dean heard him mutter something in Latin. Dimly, Dean remembered what he had to do.
You must have the strength to say a phrase in Enochian….
The wind that had been silent and still suddenly returned with a vengeance, whipping through the small cemetery and pulling at Sam's hair and clothes as the ground behind him, directly beneath the rings, began to crumble and fall into itself.
"No…." Dean tried to speak, but could barely move his swollen lips.
Adam advanced and Dean began to push himself to his feet, unable to get further than his knees. His body was beaten, his heart trembling, agony wrapped around him like a blanket.
"I have to fight my brother, Sam! Here and now!" Adam was shouting over the wind, growing closer to Sam while also trying to avoid the ground gaping open behind him. "It's not going to end this way! Step away!"
"You're gonna have to make me!" Sam screamed back, then looked one last time at Dean.
And in that moment, in the space of a heartbeat, Dean saw what Sam had seen. What had given his brother the strength to wrestle control back from Lucifer. He saw their brotherhood, their past, their present, the future they were denied. He saw the love that bound them like a slipstream of power lighting the air between them and around them like a beacon.
Gripping the side of the Impala, Dean struggled to his feet, not bothering to look at Adam, staring only at Sam, feeling a surge of strength inside of him the likes of which he'd never known.
You're my brother, and I'd die for you….
Remember what Dad taught you, remember what I taught you….
Long as I'm around, nothing bad's gonna happen to you….
It's my job, right? Watch after my pain-in-the-ass little brother….
Dean took a breath, and everything happened at once.
Adam stepped forward, Sam stepped back, and Dean reached out, the amulet pocketed in the palm of his hand. As if on instinct, perhaps without thinking, Sam reached back, his left hand gripping Dean's right, and Dean knew – he knew in that moment – that he was not going to let his brother fall back into that Pit.
The memory of the pain he'd felt in Hell, of every soul he'd tortured when they let him off the rack, of every guilty breath he'd taken after Castiel hauled him out, turned to molten steel inside of him. The air around him lit up, his whole body burning with the heat of it. He cried out from the intensity and saw the shock and fear on Sam's face.
"Lonsa el balt cnila," Dean choked out, his voice barely audible through his shattered mouth.
Sam's eyes widened and Dean felt the weight of his brother's body tugging on his hand, but he didn't let go. The amulet burned in their joined grip and Adam roared in rage and denial. Dimly, Dean was aware of Adam lunging forward, arms reaching for Sam, and of the look of anguish on Sam's face. The heat around them grew until it stole what remained of Dean's breath, sapping his swiftly fading strength and turning the light from blinding to non-existent.
As he sank to the earth, he felt a strange, vacuum-like tug of air around him, heard an aborted cry of protest, and then nothing. Darkness claimed him, cloaking him in victory, his last conscious thought that he could still feel Sam's hand in his own.
Continued in Part 1: Chapter 2
a/n: Thanks for reading! If you take time to review, I appreciate it. It's my practice to reply to each review, but time is limited these days. I'll be balancing writing Part 2 of this story with writing the weekly episode Rambles and replying to comments/reviews, so it may take me a bit to get to yours, but know that I read them all and they encourage me to keep going. Slainte!