Happily Ever AfterRemix Author: ninhursagOriginal Story: The Last Fifty Miles Original Author: causewaysRating:
So, the hero is saved and the villain redeemed. Now what?Warnings:
So many stories had happy endings, but no one ever talked about them or wrote about them. No one ever said, okay, they rescued the princess, saved the kingdom and the next day they all went out and got wasted at the local roadhouse and had a life. Back in Brit Lit freshman year, this girl in a transparent shirt told Sam that it was just because the happy part was every day life and that was the boring stuff no one wanted to read.
Which, okay, yeah, Sam understood that. No one really cared if Han and Leia swanned off to get married and have two point three kids in a suburb or anything. But that was only one type of happy ending. Then there was the other kind, the kind where Darth Vader got redeemed, swore off the dark side. Except, when he turned good he did everyone a favor and dropped dead, so the problem is solved.
Sam's problem was that he was not dead. That was only his first problem. His second was that no one would let him solve the first problem.
On the first day it wasn't bad because he didn't remember much. Dean's twisted, worried face. A sense of being cold. Someone crying. Nothing else.
On the second day he remembered blood. Not whose blood, just that it was there, on his arms, dripping over his fingers, slipping under the nails. In his mouth, metallic-sweet. The body memory of it made his cock press up, hot and hard. He spent most of the second day in the empty bathtub, shaking. It made the clean up easy when he kept throwing up.
No one came into the room and tried to make him stop doing what he was doing and that just made him grateful. He was alone.
Later, when it was light out, Bobby came in and brought him a chicken sandwich and toast. Finger food, no utensils. Bobby's was the first face Sam remembered seeing since… before.
"Eat it," Bobby said, stern and hard eyed, like he was facing down monsters. He moved funny too. Slow, like an old, old man. Sam swallowed and stared down at his own bare legs. There were scars on them, white and long, in spirals too perfect to be anything but deliberate. He tried not to smell the food; it made him want to throw up all over again.
"Where's Dean?" Sam whispered. His voice came out wrong, burned out and husky, like someone had tried to cut his throat. For some reason that didn't surprise him. "Bobby? Where is he?"
Bobby's eyes narrowed and he shook his head. "You go on and eat," he said, letting the plate clatter down at the edge of the tub. "You ain't likely to be able to go without any longer."
"Bobby, come on," Sam said. His hands clutched at the edges of his own knees, the fingernails digging into flesh. The nails were too long, needed a
trim. They were clean, though. White and shiny. In between throwing up, he had kept washing and washing. "Where's Dean?"
Bobby compressed his lips and turned around and walked out, shutting the door tightly behind him. Sam could see a glimpse of the runes engraved in the door before it closed. They glowed dimly, even in the full daylight. Nothing evil was getting through that door.
Sam buried his face in his knees and sobbed himself sick. The food stayed where it was, forgotten. Dean? His brain kept pressing him. Where's Dean? Where? He cried himself to sleep and dreamed about bars, smoky and strange and a cage, the bars rising up around him, right through his skin.
No Dean. Not even when he was dreaming.
In the middle of the night, when Sam was all the way awake, he tried to hang himself with the shower curtain. It wasn't a great option, but there was nothing sharp enough to break skin in the room, not even glass to break.
The shower rod ended up not being strong enough to hold his weight and he went slamming into the ground, biting off a scream of shocked pain.
Screams. Sam remembered screams. Oh no, no, he remembered the screams. He put his hands over his ears and lay there on the floor, mouth pressed against the tiles until the door slammed open. The sound of him falling had brought people.
Sam didn't look up, not until there was Bobby's voice from somewhere else and he said, "Dean, don't, we still don't know if--" Then he raised his head and there was Dean. Bruises under his eyes, every vein popped and red. Shaking like an epileptic. There was Dean.
Sam reached for him, forgetting everything else, not even wanting to remember. "Dean," he said, like he was begging. "Dean. I couldn't remember--" He never finished his sentence. Dean flinched back, like Sam had slapped him. Like had Sam had slapped him just by slipping into his space.
Sam scuttled back like an insect, bruised shoulders pressing into the tub, all huddled hands and knees. "Dean," he whispered.
Dean bit down on his lower lip. It already looked purple and raw, like he'd bitten through. Stained. "I'm here," Dean mumbled. Bobby's hands went to rest on his elbow, but Dean jerked away from him too, hard fast and for some reason that made Sam feel better. It was sick, but at least it wasn't only him.
Dean stared at him, swaying on his feet and Sam couldn't peel his eyes off him. "Hi," he whispered. Dean closed his eyes.
"You look better," Dean said a second later. Sam didn't know how Dean knew that if Dean wasn't looking at him. "Good. Let's get out of here."
"What? Dean, no--" And that was Bobby, cracked sounding, unsteady. Terrified. Sam was terrified. He wrapped his arms around his shoulders and huddled in further.
"We appreciate the hospitality, Bobby, but now that Sam's better, we best be moving on," Dean said. Firm and absolutely unsteady, like he didn't have a foundation for his words anymore. Like he was building them on open air.
Sam didn't have that to build on. He couldn't remember where the air was. There were bruises and scratches on his neck from the fucking shower curtain but he couldn't remember what had happened last week, two days ago, last month. Nothing.
"What happened?" he said. His hands wound together, tight, twisted. Long fingernails. "Dean, what happened, come on?"
Dean made a sound that wasn't language and Sam covered his face with his hands. Somewhere far away he heard Bobby huff out a sound. "Can't protect a man from himself," Bobby said. "You watch yourself, Dean Winchester." Sam watched Bobby walk away from between the spaces in his fingers. Not even walk. Hobble.
"I dreamed something broke his back. Broke it like a matchstick," Sam whispered, even though he didn't remember dreaming it before the words came out.
"Yeah. There was that," Dean said. Then he was there, kneeling right next to Sam, right in touching range. His hands were very gentle when he pulled Sam's fingers away from his face, gentler than Dean had ever been except when Sam was really young and really scared.
Dean's eyes were bright, bright when he looked at Sam and he gave a tiny, tight-lipped smile. "No matter what anyone says, just remember you saved me in the end, okay?" he whispered. "You saved us all, Sammy."
Dean helped him up, hands circling his wrists and heaving. Sam's feet were shaky underneath him and Dean muttered to himself, just soft curses under his breath as he half guided, half hauled Sam away. There were duffels full of clothes in the spare room and Dean's hands hardly shook at all when he dressed Sam.
"I don't remember. I don't remember anything like that," Sam pleaded. Dean just nodded and rubbed his thumb against the inside of Sam's wrist, smooth and steady like he'd never ever flinched away in his life.
They slept in the Impala that night, pulled over by the side of the road, both curled up in the front seats, breathing in exhaust, dust and rotting leaves. Sam curled in on himself, like he could be small, like he could disappear and never touch anything again. All he could feel was Dean watching him, right into his dreams.
Sam's dream self had yellow eyes and red dripping hands. "You should have killed me," his dream self told him. "You should have killed me when you had the chance. Now look what happened."
When he woke up, Dean was still there, watching him out of narrow slitted eyes. "Sammy?" Dean whispered. Dean sat there, huddled in on himself like he was trying to hide behind the steering wheel. "You in there?"
Sam nodded wordlessly and didn't ask why that seemed like the most reasonable question in the world.
They found the ghost out of sheer cussed luck. A 7-11, the fluorescent lights flickering in and out, crazy buzzing sound enough to give Sam a stomachache. He wanted to stay in the car and cover his eyes while Dean microwaved whatever they were going to eat, but Dean just gave a half growl and took him by the wrist.
Sam figured it was better than being flinched from and went with it, even if that meant he was hiding in the corner of the 7-11, sweater sleeves drawn up to cover his palms, palms covering his ears in turn. Dean just stuck hot pockets in the microwave, plopping them in one right after the other.
The thing was, he wasn't covering his eyes so he still saw her. He didn't even jump at first, because he thought he might be asleep, or that maybe being asleep wasn't going to matter anymore. He thought that maybe from now on girls with bright red blisters all over their faces and blood all over their mouths were just going to be there, looking at him. Right up until he finally died.
Sam watched her dully and wondered about dying. He wasn't going to be like her, he knew that. Nothing he needed to stick around for, anything that killed him was doing the world a favor. She took a careful, shambling step closer, and Sam saw that she had black eyes, but that they were wild, like she was scared or angry. He wondered if he was the one that had killed her, if she was going to just reach out and get revenge.
Sam let his hands drop to his sides and nodded, almost smiled at her while she got closer, close enough for him to smell death and sickly sweet rot. He thought maybe she was going to do something, wrap her fine, red covered hands around his throat. Instead she leaned over, close enough so that Sam almost gagged on the stink of ruin and fluid.
"Out back, in the dumpster. Find me," she murmured. "Please."
Sam nodded and turned and went. He could still smell death every step of the way; it didn't thicken or get any better. Out in the dumpster in the far corner, it didn't get any worse. But, there she was, wrapped under plastic, eyes wide open and palms pressed out, covered in blood.
Sam just watched her, didn't get a chance to do anything, because then Dean came spilling out of the store, calling his name all tight and frantic. "Sammy!" he screamed. "Sam, where are you, come on?"
Dean stopped quick and hard when he saw what Sam saw, the girl, her palms, the look on her face. "I--" Sam whispered and found out he still couldn't talk much.
"You didn't, did you?" Dean demanded, staring from Sam to the girl and then back, the whites of his eyes nearly swallowing up the color like he was dead too. Then he looked again, from the girl to Sam. How much blood there'd been, dry and sticky and everywhere, and how clean Sam's clothes were. Never mind the fact she'd been dead at least a day. "Shit. Shit," Dean said and shook his head. "No, shit, of course not."
"She told me to come and find her," Sam finally managed to say. "She said… she said please, Dean." Sam remembered please. That word. He couldn't not remember that word, and he thought maybe Dean had said that to him. That maybe…
Dean's hands spasmed and that was when Sam noticed that Dean was touching him. "Okay," he whispered. "Fine." He took a deep breath and Sam could see him craning his neck. "Let's… let's call the cops from the pay phone. That should get things moving."
"You don't want to salt and burn her?" Sam said, too loud, too steady.
Dean just gave him a funny look. "You think something supernatural did this?" he said instead of answering. "If not, the cops… they ought to know, you know?"
Sam didn't argue, didn't think he could. Dean put him back in the car and did something at the pay phone before he came back himself and drove them away. Sam watched the girl where she sat in the back seat, staring at him from out of the rearview mirror. He watched until about sixty miles down the rode she suddenly blinked, whispered something Sam couldn't catch and then disappeared.
"I think the cops found her," Sam whispered. Dean didn't look at him and didn't ask what that meant.
They kept driving, stopping about once a day so Dean could force food into both of them. Then at random times, just pulling over by the side of the road so Dean could curl up and pretend to sleep. Sam wasn't sure if he ever actually did sleep or it was always a fake-out, because every time he opened his eyes Dean's were on him, watching him.
The second time he tried to kill himself it was in back of a gas station in some shit town in Missouri. He had his fingers on the hilt of his favorite knife, so sweet and sharp it drew blood before you ever realized it had bitten you.
Sam was awake, eyes wide open. He could see a girl in some smoky club, just there in the corner of his eyes, like she was imprinted on his retinas. He didn't know if she was alive or dead.
Sam found old scars on his wrists, the ones that told him this wasn't the first time he'd tried this. He wondered what stopped him, if it was Dean. He'd have to cut fast and deep or it would be Dean again. Not a lot of time. Sam bit his lip and cut, no hesitation, no fear. The blood running over his hands was hot and bright and familiar.
He woke up somewhere sterile and hospital white with Dean by his bed looking like the whitest thing of all. His wrists and ankles were attached to the rails, bandaged and held down, firm and tight.
"You dumb fuck," Dean said. His tone was level, no emotion. "You dumb, dumb fuck. Don't you dare."
"Sorry," Sam muttered into his pillow even though he really wasn't.
"You don't have the right to off yourself, Sam. Not after everything. You don't have that right," Dean continued, in that empty passionless voice.
"You said I saved you in the end," Sam whispered. "That's not enough?"
"Shut up," Dean said. So Sam did. He didn't talk again, not to the doctors or the staff or the counselor they brought him. Not to anyone until Dean slipped in during the night shift, undid the restraints and took him away.
"Don't do it again," Dean said when he was buckling Sam's seat belt around him.
"Okay," Sam said. So, he didn't.
The next ghost appeared in the car, a boy missing half his face, his mouth gaping obscenely.
"Pull over," Sam said. He hadn't spoken in miles and Dean never played music anymore, just kind of hummed under his breath. His voice felt too loud now. "Pull over right now." Dean stared at him, but he did it. Dean never argued anymore, he just did it or he didn't.
They found the boy in the cornhusks, like discarded trash. Sam knelt by the body and put his fist in his mouth. It just tasted like unwashed skin and he didn't cry. He didn't know if he had the right to do that either, so he let Dean cry for him.
There were five more along the way, mostly young, except when Sam knocked down the door of an apartment in Ohio and found a woman, ripe and rotten, who'd died where she sat. Dean called the cops and that was it. They kept going.
Dean finally stopped the car an hour and a half after dark on a side road somewhere in Massachusetts. Maybe because the options were to drive right into the Atlantic or to turn around. Instead he took the keys out of the car, put his chin up against the wheel and stared out at where the ocean crashed into rocks.
Sam stayed absolutely still until Dean closed his eyes and finally, finally for the first time since everything, fell right asleep. Then Sam waited a little longer to make sure that yeah, Dean was really asleep, before he got out of the car.
The rocks were slippery, especially in the dark, but once he'd climbed over them there was a beach. Sam took his shoes off and let it dig in. The sand was icy cold where it was wet and sharp as unpolished glass. He still didn't remember much. The scent of stale sweat, bar smoke and girl flesh. Life. Thick, bright blood.
Not like now, when all he saw was crowding death. Sam wondered if seeing the dead all the time meant he was cured or just completely gone and he knew that Dean was probably wondering that too.
Sam closed his eyes and let the water numb his feet. He could keep walking; he thought that it wouldn't even hurt much. So cold and he could just keep walking. Dean in the car would just sleep. Just sleep and never know. Dean could close his eyes and not be afraid, when Sam knew, Sam fucking knew how scared he was now all the time.
Sam remembers, but it's an old memory, old and sharp, the way it felt to be sixteen and all out of tune with his skin. To be sixteen and feel wanting, the thick deep sweetness of it and the way his dick ached all the time and he wanted to reach out. Not far, not far at all, just to the bed next to his where Dean was asleep and snoring, in motion even when he was out. Sam had wanted to reach out so bad and he remembered all the times he hadn't and the time he finally, finally realized he never would.
He still couldn't remember the time when he did, he just knows it happened. A cage and a dream and the sharp, sharp smell of Dean and the knowledge, there and sure, that Dean didn't really want to do this. Sam didn't remember and he didn't cry because crying wasn't for him anymore.
Somewhere in the distance Sam could hear people talking, but he wasn't sure anymore. Not if they were ghosts or memories or real. He wasn't sure if he was real now and he kept hoping he wasn't. The ocean crashed in his ears, vast and numbing, and muffled everything.
"Hey out there!" A voice called. Thin and high and sweet, a girl's voice. "Aren't you cold, man?"
Sam winced and turned around. There was a light, a high beam flashlight, and behind it a girl in a white dress flapping in the high wind. "Hey, you hear me?" she called.
Sam couldn't remember the last time he'd spoken to anyone who wasn't Dean or wasn't dead. She didn't look dead. He forced a queasy smile. "I'm okay," he called back, cupping his hands around his mouth so he could be heard over the wind and water. "Just walking!"
"Dude, it's dangerous out here at night. Cold and rocks and tide's a bitch. Come on, there are lights a little further out if you want to walk on the beach! Come on!"
Sam didn't really know why, but he went. Up close she wasn't as young as he'd thought. Just small, dark-haired and smiling in a white party dress.
"Hi," Sam said because he didn't have a clue what else to say. He scratched the back of his neck and didn't smile.
"Come on," she said and he followed her. She was right. A little further out there were lights and there were people. Not many, it was dark and late, but Sam could hear them laughing.
"I'm Tamar," the girl told him. Her glasses were speckled with salt water and her smile was pretty. Sam nodded. "I don't normally introduce myself to strangers or anything but… you looked lost."
"Sam," he said. "My name is Sam. I'm not really. Lost or anything."
Tamar gave him a long, careful look. "Yeah, okay," she said. Then she shrugged. "It's after Mariv on Yom Kippur, you know."
He blinked and frowned at her. Like he even knew what that meant. "Okay?"
"Yom Kippur… the day of atonement. The last prayer is over, it's done," Tamar prodded and Sam just shook his head. Tamar grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I forget goy-- people don't know things. All I mean is, if you're sorry for whatever it is God has forgiven you."
Sam blinked harder. "What? I don't know what--"
Tamar shrugged and gave another half-embarrassed smile. "Yeah, don't worry about it. God forgives everything, if you want it. That's just… you know. You probably don't care. Why should you?"
"What?" Sam said again, but in a different tone, one he didn't recognize. "No. I do. I think I do care."
"Cool," Tamar said. She reached out like she was going to pat him on the shoulder and then seemed to think the better of it, drawing her hand back. "Then stay out of the surf at night, okay?"
"Yeah, I will." And weirdly, he meant it.
When he got back to the Impala Dean was curled up tight and still in his sleep. He whimpered when Sam climbed in next to him and shifted like he might have woken up. He looked like death, even in the dim combination of moonlight and streetlight. Grey faced and stubbled.
"I love you," Sam told him in a whisper and wondered if Dean could even hear, would even care. Wondered if it mattered. "Since I was sixteen. Since I was… always."
Dean whimpered and blinked, like he wasn't sure if he was awake or asleep and Sam didn't touch him. "I love you," Sam said. "And I'm sorry."
Then Dean opened his eyes and smiled. "Yeah, ditto, sparky. Wanna stop somewhere and get a shower? I hate to tell you this, dude, but you reek worse than one of the dead people you keep finding us."
Sam stared for just a second and then he shook his head and laughed. "Yeah," he whispered. "Yeah. Ditto, sparky."