Characters: Dean, Sam
Spoilers: For episode 3x11, Mystery Spot. And there is a character death, 'cause, well... you know...
Summary: Four moments in the span of a hundred, four lessons in sacrifice, four chances to save him, and only one to say what he really means.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.
a/n: This one-shot was written about a year ago for agentwithstyle's Mystery Spot Tribute zine, You'll Thank Me When It's Wednesday. She actually put out two Mystery Spot zines, the other being Every Possible Way. Both are filled with stories by some fantastic Supernatural Fanfic writers. Some stories were angst-filled, some darkly humorous, and some that simply take your breath away. This story is simply four moments told from each brother's POV. And we all know that when Wednesday finally rolled around, death had no dominion over the Winchesters.
If you choose to read, I thank you sincerely and hope you enjoy.
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
23rd Tuesday: Sam
I sit up, heart pounding, mouth dry, eyes burning.
I sit up and he's here.
He's here. Alive.
He's turning the music up and bouncing his head like an extra in A Night at the Roxbury. He's tying his boot. I wonder each time I see this how long he's been up. How much have I missed each morning before the sick cycle of my new reality hooks me and I follow along in its wake?
I watch him brush his teeth, gargling with that shit-eating grin ticking up the corner of his mouth because he knows exactly how to annoy me. No one knows me like my brother. No one enjoys getting under my skin as much. I stare at him, willing my eyes to blink, then turn away with effort. I dress with robotic disinterest because I know exactly what I'm going to wear. I tried to put something different on once. My shirt tore before I'd stepped from the bathroom. My jeans split as I reached for my boots. So, I gave in to that one inevitability. Yesterday—or well, the last moment of awareness before now—I tried to get through the day without telling Dean what I knew.
I tried to act nonchalant as he ordered a 'pig in a poke.' I tried to let the bottle of hot sauce fall. I tried to simply ignore the fact that we were stuck in a twisted real-life episode of The Twilight Zone…but I lost him anyway. I held him as he shook. I held him as he fought for air. I held him as the light left his eyes and he went slack and my world crashed around me until I sat up, heart pounding, mouth dry, eyes burning.
"You're quiet," Dean notices.
"Just tired," I reply.
I don't know if I've slept.
The last time I remember actually climbing into bed was the Monday when we arrived. When we came to this hellish loop in time because I had wanted to. Because I thought it would be an easy job. Because I was tired of looking for Bela. Tired of finding dead-ends in my search for Dean's salvation.
"You having bad dreams again?" Dean asks, his voice tickled with the big-brother I should have noticed that guilt that he doesn't know he shows, but I hear in almost everything he says. Everything he says that's not a blatant attempt to shove attention away from anything real by masking it with sarcasm.
"No," I lie. My entire existence has been a bad dream for the last twenty-three days.
Dean shrugs as if saying he doesn't want to let it go, but he's not going to force me to talk.
"Ready for breakfast?"
"Not really hungry," I say.
"I'm starving," Dean replies, predictably.
He starts for the door and I think that there has to be somewhere other than that diner with Cal the bum, and Mr. Pickett, the drunk old man who has now killed Dean twice, and Doris, the clumsy waitress, and that random dude in the business suit, who apparently loves his pancakes with tons of syrup.
"Let's check out that place." I snag his sleeve, tugging his attention. I point to a small bakery in the opposite direction of the diner.
"The diner says they have fifty-cent coffee," Dean points out.
"Coffee, Sam," he says as if he's speaking of the bread of life, the one thing that will keep him going and I'm suggesting he deny himself.
"I just think this place looks…more interesting," I push.
He pauses, hands in his jacket pockets, head tilted, eyes narrowed. I feel him looking through me in a way unique to my brother. Seeing the other side of my eyes. Seeing the noise inside the quiet.
"Will you eat something if we go there?" he asks.
I grab that notion like a life-line. "Absolutely."
We walk in silence. I notice our strides. I absorb the way he seems to roll with an internal rhythm while I lumber, somehow always trying to make myself smaller. Trying to match him. His eyes are moving. Always moving. I wonder if he realizes this. It's as though he's looking for escape routes, or checking for weapons.
He'd have made a great Secret Service agent.
His voice startles me. I force my eyes front.
"You were staring at me," Dean accuses.
"No, I wasn't," I reply, though in truth, I don't want to look away.
Twenty-two days I've watched him die. Twenty-two ways he's been taken from me. Twenty-two times I've been unable to stop it. His blood has been on my hands, in my eyes, on my face. I've tasted his tears as I've held him and my tears as I've waited for oblivion to be swept away with the sound of an '80's rock band.
The year I was promised has been whittling away at my heart and now suddenly I'm forced to feel what losing Dean will be like before the end has officially arrived.
"What is with you today?" Dean asks as he pulls the door of the bakery open, allowing me to step through first.
"Nothing," I insist, wondering how to approach it all this time. Wondering if anything I do will result in a different ending to our story.
I breathe in the heady scents of fresh-baked bread and smile because I hear Dean sigh despite himself.
We order from a rotund Italian man, Dean grabs a paper, and we sit at a small, square table situated in the window of the bakery. I watch Dean reading. His eyes skim the text, searching, I know, for trigger words that would mean we should pay attention. I watch Dean sipping his coffee, black, strong, hot enough to scald his throat. I watch Dean bite into his bagel.
"You're starting to freak me out, man." Dean looks up and I start to sweat.
How is it going to happen this time? Will it be loud and bloody? Quiet and sudden? Will I feel him grow cold, or will I simply wake up in the bed, Asia in my ears, Dean's Susie-Freakin'-Sunshine grin mocking me?
"Dean, there's something I have to tell you," I say.
He pales. And just like every time I've tried to tell him the truth, I see the myriad of possible fears running through his head in a quick burst of anxious thought.
"And, no, I'm not gay." I roll my eyes, knowing my brother's humor too well.
"I wasn't going to say that!" He protests.
I take a breath and begin at the beginning. He sits back, lips pressed together, fingers lightly gripping the coffee mug, eyes shadowed by his lashes. He listens. Every time I roll out the tangle of truth like a ball of steel-studded yarn, he listens.
I stop talking and wait. Slowly, Dean shifts forward, purses his lips, then nods. I see worry warring with belief in his eyes. The worry is both for me and for the truth. We've seen enough in our lifetime to know that nothing is impossible.
"So, this, uh…this time loop," Dean says, "it's happened… how many times?"
"And I've died each time?"
I nod, feeling cold. He bobs his head, taking this in.
"What have we tried so far to, uh, break the loop?"
He believes me. I don't know why the realization floors me so completely each time.
"You believe me?" I say, hearing a break in my voice across the word believe.
His eyebrows arch. I know immediately that he's surprised by my question.
"I'm not saying it doesn't sound crazy… I mean, even for us crazy."
I pray he doesn't say dingo-ate-my-baby crazy because I need this time to be different.
"But if you're gonna go all Mulder on me, who am I to call you on it?" he asks. "Besides, dude, you look like shit."
I rub my face. I haven't shaved in twenty-three Tuesdays, but my face is smooth. Sighing, I drop my hands to the table. I cut my right hand on the glass embedded in Dean's neck two Tuesdays ago. There was no sign that anything had happened. It was as if, aside from my memory, each day started completely new, erasing all evidence of tragedy and all attempts to thwart fate.
"We've tried… God, everything, Dean," I say, feeling my breath leaking out with the words, deflating me.
"Well," Dean wads up a napkin, tossing it across the small table, "we can't have tried everything or it would be Wednesday."
I look at him. I realize that I am beginning to breathe hard in an almost reflexive effort to calm myself. I feel my jaw tighten as I lean toward him, watching with a new appreciation as his eyes instantly go on guard.
"I've burned it down. Taken the place apart board by board. Killed the owner. Damn near killed you myself—"
"Whoa, easy!" Dean holds up a hand and I feel my teeth click shut. "What place?"
"The Broward County Mystery Spot."
Dean's eyebrows do a tiny dance of patience. He wants to tease me. I can feel it radiating off of him. But something in my face must rein him in because all he says is, "Huh."
Keeping my voice tight, my tone low, I tell him about the Mystery Spot, everything I've learned in the last twenty-two days spilling out in a rush. To his credit, Dean simply watches me. I can't tell if he's following me or if he's humming Over the Hills and Far Away inside his head, but he watches me. When I finish, I sit back, feeling weak and oddly shaky. Quietly, Dean finishes his coffee, then looks out the window.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" I ask, impatient.
"Good coffee," Dean comments. "Do I like the coffee over at the diner?"
"What?" I exclaim, feeling my eyebrows meet over the bridge of my nose. "How the hell should I know?"
Dean folds his lips down. "Well, apparently I've had it enough times. And you've been with me…"
I close my eyes and shake my head. "Except for the time you choked to death on sausage before you got to drink any, yeah."
"Dude, sausage?" he exclaims, nose wrinkling in disgust. "Why didn't I order bacon?"
"You did. We were trying to change it up. See if that made a difference."
"Like eating at the bakery?" he asks, his face gentling with his voice.
"Aren't you even remotely freaked out by this?" I ask, incredulous. If I had been told that I'd died twenty-two times, I would… I lick my lips, pausing my thoughts. Dean was already living with a death sentence. One more viable and real to him then my claim that it had already happened in some alternate universe.
He shrugs. A simple lift of a shoulder. And I want to punch him. I've been in agony trying to keep him alive—on multiple fronts for multiple reasons—and he shrugs.
Feeling my lips pull tight against my teeth in an automatic snarl, I push away from the table and head for the door. He's calling my name, but I ignore him, needing the brace of cool morning air to ease the sudden heat in my face.
I ought to just let the sonuvabitch bite it this time. Get this freakin' day over and start up a new one.
I keep walking. Damn dog is barking its fool head off as I stalk past. I reach the street corner and reflexively look for Mr. Pickett to come screaming around the corner.
"Sam, hold up, man!"
I continue across the street, holding my breath. I hear Dean's boots hit the pavement as he runs—runs this time, not walks—across the street to catch up with me. The rattling roar of Mr. Pickett's old car blasts through the intersection just as Dean grabs my arm to halt my stride and turn me around. We stare at the taillights as one of the hubcaps spins off of Mr. Pickett's car and comes to rest against a blue newspaper stand.
I look at Dean. He looks back at me, then catches his lower lip in between his teeth for a moment.
"He hit me, didn't he?"
I feel my heart skip and tilt my head. "Twice. You… you remember that?"
"No," Dean shakes his head. "Lucky guess."
I almost let it happen again. I feel my hands begin to shake.
"I can't keep doing this, Dean," I confess, a sour taste in the back of my mouth. "I'm losing my mind here."
Dean releases my arm and I am instantly sorry. My brother has always been my balance in ways he could never understand.
"Don't worry, okay," he assures me. "We'll figure it out."
"When?" I bleat. "This is the twenty-third Tuesday, Dean!"
"I know, I know," he taps the air with his hands. "We just… We need to figure out what's causing it."
"I've tried!" I yell.
The two men moving the impossibly large table through a narrow door on the other side of the street pause and look up at me. I glare back. They dropped that damn table on Dean. They could go to Hell as far as I was concerned.
"Well, we'll just have to keep me alive until—"
"I've tried that, too," I snap at him, turning away and continuing down the sidewalk in a blind path toward the Broward County Mystery Spot.
"So what, then, that's it? Twenty-three's your magic number?" Dean calls after me.
I pause, turning part way so that I could see his face. He's staring at me, challenging me with an open expression.
"You just giving up on me, Sammy?" he asks, his voice softer.
I feel my stomach sink. I turn to face him fully, standing roughly ten feet from the one person in my life who would never give up on me. Who had sacrificed not only his life but his soul for me. Who would turn himself inside out to save me if someone told him that was the solution.
I begin to sweat again.
"Good," he says, suddenly all business once more. He gestures with two fingers in the direction of the Mystery Spot and begins to walk toward me in that rolling, bow-legged stride that always spoke purpose and result to me. "Then let's go solve us a mystery."
"It's not there," I say. "I don't even think it has anything to do with this."
"Well, no harm in making sure, now, is there?" Dean bumps me with his elbow as he crosses my path. "Besides, if we're wrong, I bite it and you can try something else when Tuesday comes around again."
His grin is quick, but I feel my lips pull lower in reaction to his humor. "Not funny," I complain.
He's still walking as he tosses back, "It was a little funny."
It takes exactly thirty minutes for Dean to die this time.
We had always searched the Mystery Spot together, so I agree to his idea that we split up. He steps through the backwards door—hinges on the right, handle on the left—and finds a set of stairs. I make sure he has his gun as I pull my own, keeping it low as there are still people milling around.
I find Mr. Carpiak. I question him. I scare the shit out of him. Again. I don't have patience for the man's lies and I turn around and tell the people nearby to leave. Now. I show my gun. They scramble away and I turn back to Carpiak. Who is now holding a shotgun in trembling, sweaty hands.
Only this time Dean isn't standing next to me, trying to talk him down. This time, Dean went up the stairs and is away and safe. So I push Carpiak back, away from me, demanding he tell me what the fuck is going on.
My anger has made me bold.
My fear has made me strong.
My desperation has made me careless.
The shotgun blast annihilates the wooden boards of the ceiling above us and shards and splinters rain down around our shoulders. The wet, surprised, "Son of a…bitch…" brings my eyes up and I stare in horror as my brother drops to his knees at the edge of the hole above me, blood on his lips, and his hand pressed to his belly.
I run. I search. I scream his name. I pray not this time not this time not this time. The upper floors are a maze of filing cabinets and props. I can't not be with him this time. I fear him slipping away as I search frantically and simply waking to Asia and the knowledge that I let it happen again.
He's still on his knees. As if frozen there. I skid to a halt in the doorway, unable to comprehend what is before my eyes. Dean's blood is sprayed across the wall behind him, pooling in his cupped palm, dripping from his bottom lip.
"Oh, shit, Dean," I whisper, stumbling across the hole in the floor. I drop to my knees beside him, reaching out a trembling hand. "Oh, shit, man."
"C-can't m-move," he says, lifting tragic eyes to mine.
I grip his shoulder, pulling him against me. His legs are limp and uncooperative as I pull him off balance, his bloody front against me, his chin on my shoulder. Out of the corner of my eyes, I see Carpiak standing below, staring up through the hole, fear etched on his face.
"Call a fucking ambulance!" I yell, uselessly.
In moments I will sit up, heart pounding, mouth dry, eyes burning.
"I'm here, I got you, brother," I say, holding him tight, my hands slipping in his blood.
"R-remember th-this one," he gasps, his blood splattering against my neck as he forces out the words, "d-didn't… work."
I sob, my knees giving out, and land in a heap, Dean against me, in my arms. I feel him begin to shake as the life leaks from his body. The life I can't save. The life I'm destined to lose—one way or another.
"Not fair," I say, my tears mingling with the taste of his blood on my lips.
I watch as Dean blinks, breathes. I watch as the light ebbs from his eyes. I watch as his lips part and he says my name again, this time as a goodbye. I feel him go still in my arms, no heartbeat, no breath, no motion.
Just completely still. Gone. No spark in his slightly parted eyes to show that my brother is still fighting, still hanging on.
I drop my face into the wet crook of his neck and grip him tightly, rocking us, and wait for Asia.
37th Tuesday: Dean
Sam has lost his mind.
"Let's just talk about this," I say, tone careful, watching him.
"No," he shakes his head, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes and making him look twelve. A totally insane twelve…but young enough that my gut tightens with protective worry. "No, we've talked enough."
What the fuck? "Sam," I try for a soothing tone. "You just got up, man. We haven't talked at all—"
"You don't get it," Sam yells, sliding a chair under the door handle of the motel room. It's hard to see him in the near-dark. "No shower, no razor, no radio…" He's looking around the room, shoving his hair out of his eyes, rubbing his lips. "What else, what else."
He has unscrewed the light bulbs, pulled the curtains shut and locked the door. All after freaking me the hell out when he body-slammed me against the mattress two seconds after sitting up in bed, as if waking from a nightmare. He had me hog-tied so fast I was almost proud.
If I hadn't been pissed as hell.
"Untie me, Sam."
He is pacing, eyes searching the room, sweat gathering between his shoulder blades. He goes to my duffel, pulls out my .45 and ejects the clip, then bounces the bullet from the chamber. He does the same with his Glock, then puts the bullets on the bathroom counter, the empty guns back in the duffels.
"Sam, what the hell?"
"I said shut up," he glares at me. "I'm thinking."
"Right, well, certainly wouldn't want to—"
"Sorry," I mumble, twisting around, stretching my fingers, reaching beneath my pillow for my knife. I watch Sam cautiously as I do so, hoping he doesn't remember.
"Stop moving," he says suddenly, turning toward the bed. "Don't get your knife. Don't even breathe for a second."
I am very aware of the feel of sheets against my skin. I'm aware of my heartbeat. I'm aware of the rough sound of Sam's breath as he slides my knife from beneath my pillow as if a bomb were tethered to it. He sets it on the bathroom counter next to the bullets, then looks back at me.
"I think… I think that's it."
"You gonna explain all this?"
"Wouldn't do any good," he sighs, then moves around the end of the bed to grab his jeans, pulling them on, but leaving them unfastened as he drops back down to the bed, propping his elbows on his knees.
"Sammy," I say, scared for him. "Untie me."
He lifts his face. "You have to promise me something, first."
I feel a heavy weight in my gut at this request. The last time he asked me that, he'd been drunk and scared and I just wanted to calm him down.
"I promise," I say, trepidation drying the back of my throat. "Untie me."
"You have to promise not to leave this room," he says. "Not until midnight."
I frown. "Where are you going?"
I lift a brow. "So…you just want us to sit in here…in the dark…all day?"
"What about food?"
"You won't starve to death," he says, oddly decisively. "There's not enough time."
"Sam," I say, my worry significant. "What's going on with you?"
"Please, just promise me, Dean," he says, lines drawing his face into a pout.
"Fine!" I huff. "I freakin' promise not to leave your little den of darkness. Now will you untie me?!"
Pushing himself up, Sam crosses to my bed, unties the twisted sheets, then drops them in a puddle on the floor between our beds. I rub feeling back into my hands.
"You want to tell me what's going on here?"
Sam looks at me and I'm reminded of my brother at five, waking up from a bad dream and climbing into my bed. I feel cold.
"You're going to die," he says.
Oh, is that it. I close my eyes, "Sam, we've talked about this. We find Bela, get the Colt—"
"No," Sam shakes his head. "I'm not talking about months from now. I'm talking about today."
My eyes pop open and I tilt my head in question, my fingers rubbing absently against my wrist. "You have a vision? I thought those were gone."
"Not a vision."
I stand. He glares. I sit back down.
"Well, what, then?"
"I've told you so many times…"
"What?" I feel my worry turn into fear. For Sam. That he really has lost his mind. "Told me what?"
"Can you just trust me?" He asks. "Can you just do this one thing?"
I stand again, ignoring his eyes. I cross to the bathroom, pausing in the doorway. "You want me to sit in this room, with you, all day, and not ask you why?"
"You've taken a walk off the map, man."
"Dean!" He calls after me.
"What?!" My fingers are hovering over the light switch in the bathroom wall.
"No lights. Just… just trust me on this."
"It's dark in here."
"Leave the door open."
"Aren't you the kinky freak," I mutter, taking care of business in the dark. I wash my hands, splashing water on my face and reach blindly for the towel. My fingers brush the edge of my straight-razor and I jerk them back.
Finding the towel, I dry my face, then turn to see Sam standing in the doorway.
"Jesus Christ!" My heart slams against the base of my throat.
"You didn't cut yourself, did you?" He asks, worriedly.
He visibly relaxes, then turns toward the dim room, dropping down on the edge of my bed.
I follow him out, snagging my jacket and pulling it on as if donning armor. Leaning a hip against the edge of the credenza that supports the TV, I cross my arms over my chest and look at him. He's staring a hole into the floor. I wait. Sammy always talks. The sun rises, the tides ebb, gas prices go up, and Sammy talks. It is the way things are. But he sits, silently defying my clear line of right and wrong, black and white. He stares and I watch and my neck begins to itch.
I reach up to rub at the knotted muscles there, wondering what I'd missed.
"Okay, so, let's recap," I begin. "We head here from Indiana on your say so, get to this little slice of heaven last night after driving over hell's half acre, go to sleep, I wake up hungry and you wake up crazy."
Sam huffs. "Multiply that last part times fifty and you'd be close."
What? "Sam," I say. "Talk to me, man. What's going on with you?"
The story he mumbles at the floor is unbelievable. If it weren't for his out-of-character panic mode, his rough, red-rimmed eyes, the tremble of his hands, the curve of his mouth, I would laugh outright. I can already think of a dozen reasons why this improbable story of a time loop can't be true. I can think of at least eight reasons why, if it is true, we should leave this room and figure out a way to stop it. I can think of four reasons why Dad wouldn't hide.
And I can only think of one reason to stay put. And he's staring at me. And I have to make it right. I gotta get that freakin' destroyed look out of his eyes.
"And we…never figured out how to stop it?" I ask.
"You think we'd be here if we had?" He points out.
"Right," I nod. "And so your solution is just to… hide?"
"No," he says, standing up suddenly and rubbing the back of his neck. "My solution is to keep you alive until midnight."
"We can't do that after breakfast?" I ask, hopeful.
He turns on me. "No! No, Dean. No breakfast. No. Breakfast!"
I raise my hands. "Okay! Ease up there, Scarface."
We stand in the darkened room, staring at the shadows on each other's face.
"This is the craziest thing you've asked me do to," I say.
He stares at me.
"No music?" I ask, testing him.
I lick my lips. He believes this. I can see it in the set of his shoulders, the twitch of his hands, the hollowness in his eyes. He believes that he's seen me die—multiple times—and that he's run out of options for fixing it. Maybe he's trapped in a nightmare. Maybe he got some bad mojo. Maybe he's under a spell.
Whatever the reason, I have to take care of it—of him.
"All right, then," I sigh, grabbing the back of a chair and flipping it around. I swing my leg over the seat and sit, facing him. "We got, like…sixteen hours to kill. Any ideas?"
Sam sits slowly on the edge of my bed once more, cautiously eyeing me. "Ideas?"
"We just gonna sit here and stare at each other?"
Sam frowns. "What do you want to do?"
I lift an eyebrow. "I want to get breakfast."
He stares at me, lips curving down in a pout that says please don't mess with me right now.
"How about cards?" I offer.
He nods. "Yeah, okay, cards. Cards should be okay."
"Unless I get a nasty paper cut or something," I joke. Wrong idea. Sam's face pales. "What? I died from a paper cut?"
Sam swallows and I feel my stomach flip over.
"Dean," he says. "You've been shot, stabbed, burned, blown up, run over, choked, poisoned, electrocuted, hit by lightning, drowned…"
I blink. I feel him sinking even as I work to believe this is actually happening.
"I've been there each time. I've seen each one. So you're not going anywhere."
"Okay, Sam," I say softly.
He looks up at me, hesitantly. "Okay?"
I shrug. "Sure. I mean, why not. We could use a day off, right?"
His smile is weak, but present. I watch for his dimples, but am denied. "Right."
It's hard to see the cards, so Sam agrees to part the curtains in the main window facing the parking lot just a bit. We sit mostly in silence, anteing up with torn strips of paper because even toothpicks were too dangerous in Sam's mind. I win two hands before the quiet begins to beat against my ears.
I start to sing, low at first, but then I like the sound of something other than my heartbeat, so I increase in volume.
"You always gotta go with Metallica?" Sam asks.
"I take requests."
"How about shut it?"
"How about you let me turn on the radio?"
"How about no. Full house."
I push my strips of paper toward him, then begin to shuffle the cards. "It's a radio, Sam."
"It electrocuted you once."
He deals the cards.
"You ever wonder how it's really going to happen?" I ask.
"How what's really going to happen?"
His hand freezes with a card poised to drop onto my stack. "I can't believe you just said that."
"C'mon, man, I know you think about it," I say, leaning back a bit in my chair. "All the shit we've been through, all the near misses, all the graveyards."
"I don't think about it," he says, dropping the card and continuing to deal.
"Why not?" I push.
I have started to work on a theory. I admit that I may have seen too many late-night episodes of Oprah while Sam was sleeping, but I can't help but think that this is all a psychotic break from the deal I made for his life. He is afraid of seeing me die.
Almost as afraid as I am of dying.
"What do you mean, why not? Because it's… creepy."
"It's going to happen, Sam. We all die eventually."
"Yeah, well, eventually isn't now."
I push the words from my gut. "Eventually is soon, Sam."
"Stop it." He throws his cards down.
An odd buzzing sound begins out in the parking lot. As if someone is firing up a wussy-assed motorbike. I ignore it to stare at my brother.
"No, Sam," I say, my voice hard in the dense air around us. "You need to realize that I'm going to—"
"Stop! Just stop, Dean." He stands up, his legs pushing the chair across the room in a stuttered bounce until it falls over on its side. "You have no idea what I've been through."
My anger is hot and sudden and lends speed to my stance. I am not as tall as my brother, but I have age and might on my side. I know how to intimidate him. And I use that as I step forward.
"Oh, you think so?"
He matches me in fury. "Yes, I think so! I've had to feel you die, Dean."
"And I don't know what that's like, huh?"
Sam shoves a hard finger against my chest, pushing me back from the table and toward the curtain-covered window. "I've had your fuckin' blood on my hands."
I catch my balance and slap his hand away. "And yet here I am." I spread my arms wide. "I'm standing here, breathing the same air as you."
"Only because of this time loop," Sam yells, stepping forward again and reaching for my jacket. I try to shove his hand away, but he grips and pulls, yanking my jacket from my shoulder. "Only because we're stuck!"
"Sam, you gotta let this go," I try, pushing at him. "You gotta snap out of this!"
"I can't," he spits at me. "I can't do this again. I can't watch you die again." He shoves me hard, my back thunking against the window. "You don't know what it's like—"
"The hell I don't!" I yell, my face hot, my eyes burning, my jaw so tight my temples are throbbing from the pain of it.
He stops, staring at me, surprise dropping his mouth open like a fish suffocating on air. I struggle out of my twisted jacket, throwing it to the side in frustration.
"I know exactly what it's like to watch my brother die," I say, the memory shaking through me, burning my gut with lava-like footprints. "I held onto you and felt you go slack and felt the air leave your body."
I start to push him back, away from me, the buzzing outside growing loader. A part of my brain identifies it as a chainsaw, but I dismiss it to face the growing horror of realization on my little brother's face. "I carried you away from the mud and I sat next to you."
Sam takes a stumbled step back, closing his mouth, his face unnaturally pale. Scaring me.
"And I knew, Sam, that if I woke up the next morning, you'd still be dead."
"So don't stand there and tell me I don't know what it's like. I know exactly what it's like."
I am shaking. This surprises me because I thought I was over that memory. The reality of Hell, the knowledge that dreams of normal and a future with a family are no longer possible, the acceptance of death had all but erased the feeling of Sam's blood on my hands. Or so I'd thought until this moment.
Voices call to each other outside our motel room, shouting non-descript instructions, whistling for attention, calling out orders. The buzzing continues, and I stare at Sam, working to control my breathing.
"Then you know why I have to keep you safe," he says softly, his eyes large and pleading. "You know why you have to stay here."
I sigh. "You really believe we're in a time loop?"
"And the only way to break it is to keep me alive?"
I watch him, thinking, remembering.
Remembering the kid that climbed into bed with me after a nightmare. The kid that sullenly accepted that our lives would always be different. The kid who gave me the amulet that never leaves my neck because I didn't lie to him. The kid who left to find his own life only to have it ripped from him. The kid who stayed by my side when everyone else gave up on me. The kid who forced me to realize how much I missed Dad. The kid who died in my arms. The kid I'd given my soul for.
"Okay, Sam. You win."
The shouts outside spike, drawing our attention seconds too late. I begin to turn, my arm lifted in the act of parting the curtains when the glass window shatters, throwing shards around the room as a fallen tree branch slams into the motel and into me.
I have one moment to glimpse the shocked expression on the face of the tree-trimmer holding the chainsaw that we'd been listening to before I'm carried to the ground with the force of the limb, one branch stabbing into my shoulder, another my lower belly, and a third the edge of my neck.
I feel nothing for a moment. Only shock. And then the heat hits like a wave, followed by searing pain that whites out my vision.
Sam's voice is a faded sob. His hands are on my face, at my throat.
"Don't—" I gasp as he touches the branch that has pierced the soft skin of my neck.
"Oh, God, Dean, I—"
I try to shake my head, but the branch has pinned me tight. I try to swallow, but my throat isn't working. I feel wet building in my mouth, and the nauseating coppery taste of blood is on my tongue.
I suddenly know Sam hasn't lost his mind. His eyes reflect his sanity and his sorrow and his pain as he leans over me, hands hovering, waiting for me to die. Waiting for me to die so that he can wake up and try again. I am shaking. I want to remember for him. I want to believe for him. I want to help him.
"Dean, I'm so sorry…"
"S-Sa…" I can't finish his name. My mouth is full of blood and my heart is hammering, frantic to keep my body going. My breath is trapped and burning my lungs. I stare at my brother.
He grabs my hand and I squeeze his fingers with all of the strength I can muster.
"I'll stop this, Dean. I swear to God, I'll stop this."
I know, I want to say. I believe you, I want to say.
But I simply blink as I grow cold. Blink as Sam fades to gray. Blink as I wonder if a time loop has shortened my actual days on earth. Blink as I hope I wake up to see Sam again.
65th Tuesday: Sam
I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but seriously? How many times am I supposed to go through this? How many times do I have to explain a time loop to him? How many times do I have to hear him call me crazy? I can't remember the last time I ate—I mean really ate. And sleeping is the joke of time between Dean's last breath and the snap of the alarm clock bringing Asia into my head with pulsing regularity.
I give up. If he's not going to believe me, then to hell with him.
"You don't know everything," he says, lips twisted in disbelief.
"Yeah. I do."
"Yeah, right," I say with him, knowing his answer.
"Nice guess," he hedges.
I wait. He's been adding new ticks to his response each time, but I know most of them.
"Right, you're a mind reader," I say with him.
"Cut it out, Sam," he growls. "You think you're being funny, but you're being really, really childish."
That was new. I smirk.
He narrows his eyes. "Sam Winchester wears makeup."
I roll my eyes, guessing the next one and watching his eyes flinch as I say it with him. "Sam Winchester cries his way through sex."
"You believe me now?" I ask.
He stars at me, green eyes cautious, lips pursed in thought. "So…I die…" I nod. "And then I wake up. And then it's Tuesday again. Like… Groundhog Day?"
"Oh, my God, do I hate that friggin' movie."
"So…we do things differently," he shrugs, taking a sip of his coffee.
"We have. And you still die."
"So, we leave," he says.
"What?" This is new, too.
"We leave," he says. "All this started when we got to this place, right?"
I nod. "Right, yeah."
He shrugs. It's such a simple motion, and I've seen it so many times, but I am caught by it this time. I am caught by how quickly he is able to filter through the angst and anguish that I've been drowning in to offer up a solution I hadn't thought of.
"We leave, break the, uh, loop thingy, come back and solve the case."
"What if that could work?" I wonder aloud.
He grins at me and it is at once annoying and heartbreaking.
I love my brother. I can never tell him that, because there is an unspoken rule in the Brother Code of Conduct that explicitly states vocalization of feelings such as love cannot be expressed. Even in moments of dire straits. Even in life and death. We are allowed to show each other through sacrifice, but saying it aloud would break the code.
Yet, I am tempted.
I just want him to know. Before he dies on me again. Because he will. I know he will. Even if we break this damn loop, Dean is going to die. And I want him to know. We circle the outside of the diner, heading for the car, walking a route that in sixty-four Tuesday's I have not yet traveled. Dean is three steps ahead of me and I am trying to look everywhere at once.
"Where do you want to go?" he asks, casual, like we're on vacation. Like I haven't just told him that I'd seen him die in every possible way.
"I don't care, as long as it keeps you alive," I say, my eyes catching on his profile as he shoots a quick, sunny grin over his shoulder.
The sinkhole opens up beneath his feet with no warning. The ground simply vanishes, swallowing my brother with it. I skid to a halt, staring with uncomprehending surprise at the break in the asphalt. There is silence below. I edge my toes to the gap and look down. Dean lies at the bottom, roughly ten feet below me, eyes open, empty. Neck turned at an impossible, sickening angle.
"Dean?" I say, just to check. Just to be sure. But I know. I know he's gone.
And all I can think is that I wish I had told him.
99th Tuesday: Dean
The way the kid is gripping my arm, I should be pissed. He's literally dragging me to the Impala, wordless, not even letting me brush my teeth and, worse yet, without coffee.
"Dude, what the hell?"
"Just get in the damn car, Dean."
I should be pissed, but for some reason, I'm almost scared. Sam isn't acting like himself. He's usually wound pretty tight. I feel it's my duty to keep things light, loosen him up. But at the moment he's so tense, I could shove a lump of coal up his ass and have a diamond in a day.
He pushes me toward the passenger side of the Impala and I slap my palms on the roof to halt myself.
"Sam, hold up a goddamned minute!"
"Get. In. The. Car!" he yells and, with a flash of keys I didn't realize he'd snaked, he jogs around to the front.
"All our stuff's still up in the room!" I protest.
"We'll come back for it when it's Wednesday," he says cryptically.
I open the door, dropping into the seat and slam it shut in unison with my brother, wanting to smirk at the fact that I could still time his actions even with distractions running amuck around us. Sam fires up the engine and, with a quick glance over his shoulder, peels out of the lot and onto the open road.
"You're starting to piss me off," I say, keeping my voice hard as I grab the dash to keep from spilling across the seat and into my brother's lap.
"I don't care," he says, eyes intent on the road.
I look around. He's not taking us back to the highway. He turns down a small, two-lane road and appears to be driving aimlessly.
"In my sleep, when I'm ninety, and before you."
"That's how I want to die."
My mouth goes dry at the thought and I eye him cautiously. "You hit your head last night or something? What is wrong with you?"
"And the ruler in the morning thing? Lame, man."
I instantly wonder how he knows I do that. I have been so careful…
"And if you'd ever had sex with someone who actually matters to you, you might cry, too," he glances at me quickly, then back at the road.
I rub at my temple, working my jaw as a pressure begins to build in my ears. "Did I hit my head last night?"
Sam is quiet.
"Seriously, man. I feel like I'm missing time," I say.
"You're missing a helluva lot more than that," he grumbles.
"You want to tell me what's going on?"
"Because I've said it almost one hundred times now and I'm so tired of the story I want to puke."
"You've said what almost a hundred times?"
I'm starting to feel dizzy. I look out through the side window at the landscape spinning by and see rows of houses begin to spread out as pastures grow and fences separate.
"Listen, Dean," Sam says, his tone suddenly urgent. "I don't care, okay? Because I know we're just racing some sick, twisted clock. I don't care because I know you'll tease me today and forget tomorrow. I don't care because you need to know this."
I begin to sweat as I stare at my formerly sane brother with trepidation. His knuckles are white on the wheel, his eyes wide and frantic, and I can see beads of perspiration collecting on his upper lip.
"Sammy, slow down, okay?"
"I love you, Dean."
Okay, now that freaked me the hell out. "Just…just pull the car over, and we'll talk about this."
"And I am sorry I got myself killed."
I am having trouble swallowing. "It'll all be okay, just…just pull over and let me drive."
"And I'm sorry you made that deal. And I'm sorry I haven't found a way out. And I'm sorry we're cursed."
"You don't remember, but I do. I do."
He's pale. His words are coming out like bullets at a target. And I have to do something about this. I have to bring him back to me.
"What do you remember, man?"
"I remember how you look when you die and how much you shake when the pain hits you and how sometimes it's sudden and sometimes it's long and every time you look at me and you don't blame me, but you should. You should."
Something pulls my head around. An intersection is looming and Sam is approaching it faster than I would like. My fingers tighten on the dash, my foot presses hard into the floorboard against an imaginary brake pedal.
"Death shall have no dominion," he rambles.
"That's the way it should be, right? We should be able to beat this. We know enough. We've fought enough. We've survived enough—why not this?"
"Sammy, slow the car down, okay?"
He is running, that much I can see. He's running as if the devil himself is chasing us, and he's not ready to stop. The pastureland to our right gives way to what looks like a shooting range with an elongated shed on the far end and several people milling close to the road.
His eyes widen as he glances at me and I feel it happening. I feel the wheels of my car slip, steered into a spin by an anxious, uncontrolled hand. Something hits the right front tire and I find myself shoved by a rocking slam of air across the interior of the car into Sam as the Impala rolls.
My car rolls, and I tumble inside of her, held loosely by her metal embrace. My brother is beneath me and on top of me and wrapped around me and behind me. I feel slices of glass on my skin. I feel bones bending and twisting, breaking with a sharp retort. I feel Sam's skin against mine, slick with sweat and blood—his and mine. I feel everything but fear.
And then all is quiet. Even the air around us still.
"Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God." The prayerful chant becomes louder as the voice approaches.
I open my eyes, blinking blood from my lashes and look up to the passenger side of the Impala, now thrust into the air as my baby lays broken and bent on her driver's side. An arrow is sticking out of the right front tire. The Impala lies as if felled by a Comanche warrior counting coup. And I lay inside her, broken and bleeding.
He crawls up from the back seat, having somehow landed there in the melee. He is bleeding, his cheek raw, one eye blood-red.
"Oh, crap, oh, crap, oh, I am so sorry," says the voice from outside the car.
Sam looks over my head to peer through the front window. His voice is eerily calm and controlled as he calls out, "Doris, calm down. Go get help."
I can't see who he's talking to, and am starting to feel cold.
"Sam… something's wrong."
He's gentle as his hand brushes across my face, his thumb wiping blood from my eye so that I don't have to keep blinking it away. His expression is now a picture of calm—the backside of the panic that had scared me before.
"I know, Dean."
"Broke my leg."
"What happened?" I ask as my mind rolls through another uncontrolled spin.
"Doesn't matter," he says, and smiles. He smiles and I find solace in that, even though I should be something else. Mad, scared… moving.
"I can't move."
"It's okay," he says. "You don't have to."
"How are we going to get out of here?"
"We'll worry about that tomorrow."
I am feeling fuzzy, remembering his comment earlier. "When it's Wednesday?"
"Everything will be better on Wednesday."
I'm suddenly tired. I want to close my eyes, but something pulls my gaze back to Sam.
"Did you tell me you loved me?"
My lips are numb. I have to force them to move. "Never said that… before."
"Don't worry. You won't remember. But I mean it."
"'S nice, though."
His fingers are trembling a little against my face. I want to roll my head so that I can press against them, but I can only close my eyes.
"Yeah, Dean," he says, his voice wet.
In the distance I hear sirens, but can't lift my heavy eyes.
"Jus' gonna…rest m' eyes," I say, my voice barely audible to my own ears.
His fingers slide across my cheek, brush my lips, then his hand rests on my chest.
"No dominion, Dean," he whispers and I slip sideways into the dark with the feel of my brother's hand over my heart as solid as a promise.>