The music was deafening.
Sam tried to keep himself busy with his beer, but the lights and the music and the people bumping into his table were slowly getting to him. Heaven had taken away his hearing issues, and the pain in his joints, and the fog in his mind that sometimes obscured his memories, leaving him feeling as if he was forty or even thirty years again, but the weight of the eight decades he’d walked the Earth was still heavy on his shoulders.
He didn’t know where this melancholy was coming from. Maybe just knowing that the story had really ended: that he would never see his son again, that he’d never advise him and his friends on the best ways to catch a lamia, that there was nothing left for him to do. He’d left no unfinished business and when the time had come, it had been easy to choose to let go.
He knew that someone was waiting for him in Heaven.
Dean danced in the middle of the floor along with two beautiful girls, gyrating his hips and shaking his head to the music. The girls all laughed as they surrounded him while the music blasted from the jukebox on the corner. Nobody ever put a quarter on it, but whenever a new song came on, everyone screamed how much they loved it and continued dancing. The bartender (an angel, as far as Sam could tell) always knew exactly what everyone’s favorite drink was, and there was a seemingly never-ending game of pool going on in another corner.
Sam had lost track of the time they’d been there and he supposed it didn’t really matter. Time was meaningless. They were all dead, enjoying eternity together, because Heaven could be just an endless party. Or an endless dinner at the folks’, or an endless game night with friends, or an endless rock concert of all their favorite bands. It could be whatever they wanted it to be and Dean was making the most of it, surely, singing at the top of his lungs, placing a hand on one of the girl’s waists, beckoning Sam to join him in the dance floor.
Sam didn’t feel like dancing, though. He smiled at his brother and shook his head. He was happy Dean was happy. He was elated to see him again, of course.
But since Sam had got to Heaven, it felt like they’d spent almost no time alone. That wasn’t true, of course, they had spent a lot of time talking (Dean wanted to know everything about Sam’s life) and travelling aimlessly through the most breathtaking landscapes. But they had also gone to see their parents, they’d found where Castiel had his “office” (he was gone, but they left a message that they would come back again sometime, later, maybe on the next decade), they had visited Bobby and Karen and the Roadhouse crew: Ellen, Pamela, Jo and Ash. Lots of friends they had lost along the way, lots of familiar faces they hadn't seen in a while.
And he was happy to see them, he really was.
But it was also exhausting in a way that he wasn’t expecting. He’d thought he’d be delighted to spend time with everybody. He was wrong.
And now he was suffocating in that heavenly bar where the party never ended and he needed to get out. He needed to breathe.
He got up and stumbled outside.
The Axis Mundis looked like a highway that passed right through every single place in the infinity of Heaven. The Impala was parked nearby, along with some other muscle cars and classic bikes. They were a manifestation of the people’s desires, of course. They never ran out of gas or needed any sort of maintenance, unless those who possessed them wanted to spend an afternoon or a decade fixing them because they enjoyed that. Sam and Dean, in their wandering, had encountered more than one vehicle parked by the side of the Axis Mundis, with the soul attached to them being more than happy to be there working on their broken down car as the sun or the breeze kissed their skins.
Everything was perfect, whatever perfection meant for each individual soul. There was no pain, no hunger, no solitude. Jack had made a Paradise for humanity, just as Castiel was sure he would.
It was a problem with Sam, then, that he was leaning against the bar’s wall, feeling like he wanted to cry.
The door opened and for a second the music became louder outside too, just before getting muffled again. Familiar steps over the pavement headed towards him and Sam opened his eyes to discover Dean was standing in front of him.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” Sam replied, forcing himself to smile.
He’d never been able to fool Dean, of course.
“Is there something wrong? You looked a bit… well, unhappy in there.”
“No. No, there’s nothing wrong,” Sam assured him. “I think… I think I’m still getting used to all of this, you know?”
“No, I don’t know,” Dean said, leaning on the wall next to him. “There’s nothing to ‘get used to’ here. This place… it just is.”
“Yes, I know. And that’s exactly it.” Sam sighed. “There’s nothing to worry about here, nothing to… we’ve just been fighting and grieving all of our lives and now we don’t have to, not anymore. We can just… rest. Be content. Be at peace.”
“Yeah, well… that’s the whole point of Heaven, isn’t it?”
“Doesn’t it feel weird to you?” Sam asked, point blank.
“Yeah, it did. For a while,” he confessed. “But then you got here and I guess it all just… settled.”
Sam stared at him, but Dean only smirked. The keys of the Impala jingled in his hand.
“You don’t want to…?”
“Nah, man. You’re not having fun and the place’s still going to be there if we ever want to come back. So let’s just hit the road.”
“Wherever we feel like.”
That was vague enough that the Axis Mundis could take them anywhere. They could be driving until the sun came up or through a strange twilight, or for days on end, without reaching any sort of destination or seeing any one person, and they didn’t have to stop to eat or pump gas or go to the bathroom.
Just a perpetual road trip for the two of them.
Sam settled in the seat and smiled as Dean turned on the radio and the first notes of Back in Black invaded the car.
“I love this song.”
“I know you do,” Dean said, as they sped up.
The night wind coming in through the window messed up their hair. They howled to the song, laughing and drumming on the wheel and the glove compartment. It lasted forever.
It lasted just a few minutes.
The Impala rolled over wood instead of pavement. Somehow, of course, they had ended up on their bridge.
It happened from time to time. No matter where they were, no matter where their journey started, the bridge always showed up and they always stopped on it. It was a bridge, of course, but no one else ever came around, so Sam had started thinking about it as theirs. That was the place where Dean had waited for him. That was the place where they’d met again after decades apart. John and Mary had their little Lawrence house, the Harvelles had the Roadhouse, Rufus had his shack.
They had the bridge.
Dean stopped the car and lowered the music.
“Wanna get a beer?”
There was always beer in the trunk, and it was always cold. Sam sat on the hood of the car while Dean brought the cooler over. The stars were warm and familiar over on the dark blue sky. Dean climbed by his side and handed him a beer. They drank in silence for a while.
“Wanna talk about what’s the matter?” Dean asked.
“Nothing’s the matter, Dean.”
“Sure.” Dean took a swig of his beer. “We’re literally in Heaven, where we could have and do whatever the hell we want, and you’re moping in a corner like it’s still our job to keep the entire world safe.”
When put like that, it did sound ridiculous. Sam let out a chuckle and stared at the stars for a moment. They had traced their constellations thousands of times sitting by the side of the road, when it was too late to keep driving but too soon to arrive anywhere. Those were some of Sam’s favorite moments.
He didn’t think he’d ever told Dean that.
“I guess I’m just wondering,” he started, very slowly. “You’re spending all this time with me… why didn’t you… stay with Jo at the Roadhouse? Or, why didn’t you go to find Lisa or Cassie…?”
“Nah, Jo made it clear that train left the station long ago. I did run into Cassie, though.”
“Oh, you did?”
“Yup. Died a couple of years back, at eighty-five,” Dean told him. “We talked for a bit. She had a good life. Started her own newspaper. Got married, had a big family. Looked like a total GILF, too.”
“Oh, my God,” Sam laughed. “Why didn’t you stay with her?”
“It would have been awkward once her actual husband showed up. But you know, I could ask you the same. Jess is here, you know. Sarah. Don’t know about Amelia, but if we ask around…”
“No.” Sam shook his head. “I wouldn’t know what to tell them. Jess and Sarah… I couldn’t protect them.”
“Is that what worries you?” Dean asked. “Because, you know, this is Heaven. Everything is forgiven. Every wrong is made right. And I’m sure they know you didn’t fail them.”
Sam really wanted to believe that was true.
“I don’t… want to disrupt whatever they have going on here.”
Sam tapped his fingers against the bottle.
“Amelia was… well, we didn’t exactly part in good terms.”
“You could have gone back to her.”
“Yeah. I guess I could have.”
The silence fell between them once again.
“But… what about Jo?” Sam asked in the end. “Or Lisa?”
“Not even sure if Lisa’s dead yet.” Dean shrugged. “Or if she’ll even want to see me. Maybe I’ll find out once Eileen dies.”
“Eileen?” Sam turned to him, frowning.
“Yeah, I mean… once she gets here, you two are gonna get a little house like mom and dad did and I’ll visit whenever you have a barbecue or something. Maybe then I’ll… I’ll see who’s around. Whoever’ll have me.”
Sam stared at his brother in confusion for a second, before he realized what was going on.
He’d never told him.
“Eileen and I divorced.”
“When Dee was about eight. She wanted to keep hunting, I was worried about anything happening to her, we kept fighting about it. It wasn’t working out. So, she… went to keep doing her thing and I stayed home with the kid.” Sam shrugged. “She wasn’t like a deadbeat mom or anything. She called often, she showed up for every birthday and Christmas and big game. But it was mostly just Dee and me for a long time. Until he met Johnny, at least.”
“Right, you mentioned Johnny,” Dean remembered. “Well, that’s a bitch. Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Sam assured him. “I still loved her, just… I think we were better friends than we were spouses. But in any case, I don’t think we’re going to be getting a little house with a white picket fence together anytime soon. We tried that. Didn’t turn out great for us.”
“You could try again,” Dean suggested. “This is the land of opportunity and no hard feelings, after all.”
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t… as much as I wanted to settle down with somebody, I don’t think I was made for it after all.”
Dean nodded, though Sam had the feeling he was going to insist, so he changed the subject:
“What about you?”
“Oh, I definitely wasn’t made for settling down,” he said. “But we always knew that.”
“Why would we settle down, then?”
It was a good question and neither of them had thought about asking it before.
“I don’t know,” Dean admitted. “Everybody else here seems to have. Mom and Dad, Bobby and Karen, Rufus and Aretha… hell, even Jo and Ash seem to have a thing going on now. Just… everybody has…”
“Unless they don’t want to. Pamela looked happy alone.”
“Do you want to have someone?” Sam asked.
It was a good question.
He could go see Jessica. He could talk to her. He would, in fact, at some point. They had all the time in the world there, after all. But as to staying with her? Well… it had been a long time. Jessica’s soul had been there, at peace, for ages. He had grown old and been through so many things. He’d missed her and he’d also missed the young man he used to be. But much as Heaven had taken away his years, it couldn’t take away the person he’d become after losing her.
It wouldn’t be fair for either of them to pretend that was the case.
And Amelia and Sarah? Well, they had their husbands. They had moved on long before any of their lives ended.
“Would it be strange if I told you that I’m fine right now?” Sam asked. “Just as things are. You and me. I loved them, everyone I lost, all of them, I did. But in the end, it was you I always missed the most.”
“Aw, Sammy, you know how I get when you say those things…”
“I’m serious, Dean,” Sam complained. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
“Well, huh…” Dean said and Sam figured for a moment that he was going to make another joke, because that was what he always did, but for once, he sounded serious when he spoke again: “I don’t know if I loved them. Cassie, Jo… even Lisa. Every girl I’ve been with… I cared about them. I was attracted to them, sure. But love, that’s… that’s another thing. It’s different. I don’t think I ever… maybe that’s a part of me that’s always been missing and I never really noticed, because I didn’t care. As long as I had you, I never needed anyone else.”
Sam smiled. He smiled because he knew. He’d always known. But it was nice to hear it said out loud.
“So… no settling down, then.”
“No,” Dean agreed with a chuckle. “Place is big. There’s plenty to see.”
“We can just keep travelling.”
“Just you and me.”
“I think I’d like that.”
Heaven could be whatever they made of it, after all. An endless open road, and an endless starry sky above their heads.