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Forks in the Road

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The guy is old. Like, ancient.

“Seriously? I’m really not that old!” He protests, clearly offended. “I’m only… well yeah, if you’re counting those Hell years then I’m almost eighty, but...” He breaks off, clears his throat, straightens up. “Not the point here. The point is – “

“That you’re me,” Dean finishes dryly. “From the future.”

“Yeah,” the guy says, as if he doesn’t see how freaking crazy that sounds.

Sure, they already went through all the tests – silver, holy water, the usual – and Dean has to admit there is a striking resemblance between the two of them. The other guy is like an older (okay, not ancient), more weathered version of himself, with deep lines around his eyes and stubble that makes him kind of ruggedly handsome. Dean’s always known he’d age well. But yeah, not the point here either.

“So you’re saying angels helped you travel back in time,” he sums up what he's learned so far, “because there’s this Darkness chick who has the hots for you - which I kida get, by the way - and she's endangering the entire planet, while Sam’s locked up in some cage in Hell with Lucifer?”

“Yeah,” maybe-Dean says almost absently, lost for a brief moment in his memories. The pain in his face looks familiar, except there’s so much more of it than Dean’s used to seeing in the mirror. Just looking at it is devastating. “It all went to shit, again.”

“So why are you here?” Dean demands, because he can’t help it, he’s starting to believe it’s all true. How would you make shit like that up? “How does going back to your younger self help solve anything?” He’s not doing anything special, after all. Just finished a case and caught whiff of another one two towns over, was packing his stuff when his unexpected visitor showed up. “It’s not like I matter,” he blurts out without knowing why.

“Right. That’s what I used to tell myself too.” The smile the other Dean gives him is more of a bitter grimace. “All my life, I’ve been trying to do what’s good for others. Dad, Sammy, the entire fucking world. Put other people’s lives, other people’s wishes and needs, before my own.”

Dean finds himself nodding unwittingly; this is something he knows and understands.

But his future self goes on. “And it never helped. Actually made things worse a few times.” He steps forward, getting well into Dean’s personal space, and for some reason, Dean lets him. “So I’m doing things differently this time." He chuckles darkly. “Everyone keeps talking about destiny and how it can’t be changed, but there's one alternative nobody ever took into account. See, I’m gonna do what’s good for me.”

“What does that even mean?”

This time, other Dean’s smile is honest. Encouraging. Bright, even beautiful, despite the tears glimmering in his eyes. He cups Dean’s cheeks, his palms rough but the touch so gentle, so loving, that Dean leans into it immediately. “Anything you want.”

“Anything?”

“Anything.” He offers Dean his hand, and Dean takes it, following his older self outside the motel room, to the Impala and the open highway.