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Where I Can't Follow

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It is always like this.
Sometimes, I think my father takes a sick pleasure in that. In bringing us together, so close that we can almost—almost but not quite—touch.
And then life and another fucking apocalypse rips us apart. Again.
It’s not fair.
But this is Dean Winchester, and he’s never been given a fair hand. If life was fair, heaven would never have used him. He would not have been called, over and over and over to end the apocalypse. He would not have been alone.
I would never met him, if life were fair. And much as that thought hurts, part of me wishes that I could give him that.
He deserved it.
I can feel the other, drifting around me. Waiting.
But I can’t. Not really.
It’s distant, and not in the distant that everything was when I was possessed by Lucifer.
This is the distance I know so well. The one of aching grief.
I can feel him, still. The way he held me too tight, while his brother and my father watched, while the abominations who had somehow become allies waited.
Okay. Okay. Alright.
He was comforting me. Me. The idiot who had loosed Lucifer, the idiot who had broken Heaven, the broken angel who ruined everything I touched, and this man.
He was comforting me.
Still. After all the years and all the time that had passed, after everything.
He held me too tight, and his lips brushed my ear and I wanted to scream.
I could go with you.
And he smiled. So sweet, like the sun was rising, instead of dying.
Like that was the thing he needed to hear.
He said his goodbyes. To his brother, and Chuck, and the dead mother who still held so much of her son’s heart. And me.
But it was then. That moment, that offer, that I saw the slight shift.
He shakes his head, and it hurts.
Because I have followed him, so many times. I have always followed where Dean Winchester would lead. Even when that meant death. Even when it meant worse than death. He was mine, to protect and defend and care for.
And I couldn’t follow.
This time, I couldn’t follow.

 

****

 

The sun brightens. The world still turns.
And against all odds, we have won.
He won.
Again.
Rowena is shocked, and pleased. Crowley is all gruff happiness that seems so strange from a demon.
Sam is a silent, broken man at my back.
I should be happy. I want to be happy. The world will turn, and the innocent will never remember this for more than a day of strange weather and odd light.
They will never know how close they came to utter destruction.
They will never know the brilliant beautiful soul that saved them.
“We did it,” Rowena murmurs, baffled and stunned and just the little bit happy.
That stabs at me, like an angel blade, slicing me open and leaving me weak and bleeding grace.
“And Dean?” I whisper, and it stills them.
Silences their happy.
And a part of me.
The part that shattered when he left me.
Is glad.

 

****

 


I want to die.
That is the thought that repeats, an endless loop in my head as Sam drives us back to the bunker.
I want to die.
He’s silent, tears tracking down his face, and I should say, something. Anything. I can’t.
I want to die.
Living without Dean Winchester in the world. It’s not a reality I’m prepared for. Not one I’ve ever considered. There was a brief moment, that horrible year of war and death, when he was separated from me. But it wasn’t this—this gaping hole where only Dean has ever lived, and only Dean can ever fill.
It’s worse, somehow, than losing my grace.
I want to die.
That was always. Always. The plan. Dean would live out his life, played with by heaven and hell, and refusing to submit to either. He would destroy the best laid plans of God and angels and demons, and save the world, and he would live. I would bring him back, every time, until he found his true end. The one that came after a long life, and peace had finally been found and he was old and grumpy and happy.
Not like this. Not a pawn in a fight that had long since lost all meaning.
He is not meant to die like this.
He is meant to die happy.
And then I would follow.
I would die, because I couldn’t imagine life, without him. I wouldn’t live without him. Dean taught me free will and choice, and that was my truth. My most basic truth and choice.
I want to die.
My angel blade weighs, solid and reassuring and tempting, at my side.
Begging for my use.
Look out for him, ok?
I want to die.
And I can’t. Because Dean.
Dean, who loved his brother more than life, who sold his soul for him, who spent his entire life protecting him and raising him—who had never trusted another soul, not even the angels, to protect Sam.
Has asked me for one last thing.
The most sacred and important thing.
Look out for him, ok? Make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.
I want to die.
But because he asked for this. I can’t.

 

****

 

I am talking, something I don’t even register. Anything to get Sam talking. He has begun to scare me—a silent, too stoic presence.
He hasn’t broken. He cried, silent, and steady, but collected, on the way back to the bunker.
But he hasn’t fallen apart.
Which disturbs me, because if Sam was his world, than Dean was equally Sam’s.
Dean is…
Dean is gone, and Sam is stoic and functioning, and—
Light. Blinding, and painful, rips through me, and I scream.
I’m ripped through time, away from Sam, and for a moment.
For one endless, blinding, excruciating moment, I am nothing but grace.
When I come to, it’s in a black plane, that maze dimension where angels are sent, when they’re banished.
It’s impossibly dark, and every inch of me hurts. There is, beating like a heartbeat, a blinding worry for Sam, and bone deep need to return to him.
But I am laughing. I am laughing, and tears are on my cheeks, and his name is a prayer, a chant, every holy thing that I have ever served, filling my mouth and filling my soul and filling that aching hole where he has always been.
Dean.
Because for that heartbeat, when I was banished and nothing but light and pain, and grace.
I felt him.
I felt Dean.