Dean was in a downward spiral, actually thinking of saying yes to Michael. Sam had known this for some time, but it had still been a shock when Dean killed the Whore of Babylon, as Cas had said that only a true servant of heaven could do that. Of course, Dean had denied that he was going to give in to the ‘douchebag’ angels. When Dean drove off in the Impala leaving Sam behind at the motel, he had been angry but not surprised.
When Sam saw Dean standing over a packed box in the seedy motel room, looking defeated and weary, his anger melted. Dean had always carried the weight of the world on his broad shoulders, and now that was literal - Dean truly believed he had to sacrifice his own life to save the world. Perhaps he was right, but Sam had to believe that there was another way.
“How did you find me?”
“You’re going to kill yourself, right? It’s not too hard to figure out the stops on the Farewell Tour. How’s Lisa doing, anyways?”
“I’m not going to kill myself,”
Despite his desperate attempts, Sam had been unable to convince Dean to change his mind. Luckily he hadn’t arrived at the motel alone. Cas zapped them back to Bobby’s, where Dean angrily bitched and complained, while Sam resolutely tried to prove to him that it wasn’t too late to find another way. Bobby and Cas also attempted to reason with Dean, but he still had that look of hopeless despair and determination.
Adam’s arrival was a shock to all of them, and only strengthened Dean’s resolve to be Michael’s vessel, leaving them with no choice but to lock Dean in the panic room. Sam left Dean to cool his heels before going down to talk to him, to try once again to reason with him.
“Do you think maybe you could take a half a second and stop trying to sacrifice yourself for a change? Maybe we could actually stick together?”
“I don’t think so,”
“Why not? Dean, seriously. Tell me. I—I want to know.”
“I just…I—I don’t believe,”
“In you. I mean, I don’t. I don’t know whether it’s gonna be demon blood or some other demon chick or what, but…I do know they're gonna find a way to turn you.”
“So you’re saying I’m not strong enough.”
“You’re angry, you’re self-righteous. Lucifer's gonna wear you to the prom, man. It's just a matter of time. “
“Don't say that to me. Not you...of all people,“
“I don’t want to, but it’s the truth. And when Satan takes you over, there's got to be somebody there to fight him, and it ain't gonna be that kid. So, it's got to be me.”
Dean’s words had hurt so much, the twist of a knife in his heart, but Sam knew why Dean felt that way. Sam had lied to him about the demon blood, betrayed him by siding with Ruby and had broken the final seal that freed Lucifer. Not a good track record for building trust.
Sam had to prove Dean wrong, he had to try again. With a deep breath, he opened the panic room door and walked in, leaving it open behind him.
“There’s nothing more to say, Sammy,” Dean muttered, “I have to do this,”
“No, you don’t,” Sam retorted, “I know you’re tired, you’re at the end of your tether. I know we’ve lost so much, that this world has never been what we expected, and perhaps we don't belong any more. Perhaps we should both just accept our destiny.”
Dean had been staring down at his hands, but he looked up now, unshed tears in his eyes.
“You’re not making much sense, Sammy,” Dean tried to smile but it was more like a grimace; “Are you trying to talk me out of it or into it?”
“I don’t know what else to say, “Sam admitted, “even if I say It'll be alright, still you say you want to end your life,”
“Sam, it’s not like that, it’s not suicide…”
“Of course it fucking is! Once Michael takes you as his vessel you’ll be gone, wasted away…”
“Do you think I actually want to do this? You know I saw Raphael’s vessel, he was a broken, drooling mess. I know there’s no way back for me once I say yes, but I have to. It’s too late to try to find another way, and I told you I ain’t letting Adam take my place,”
“Please, Dean, I need you to just stay alive, to stay with me,” Sam dropped to his knees before Dean, desperate now, “maybe we'll turn it all around - it's not too late. Please give us some more time, it's never too late…”
“If I don’t do this, the world we know won't come back, the life we had, crappy as it was, won't be ours again. Michael will take Adam and Lucifer will destroy it all,”
”That’s not going to happen, ‘cause I won’t say yes, Dean, I promise you,” Sam was crying now, his hands on Dean’s knees, “I wish I could go back and change the things I did, to make you believe me; I wish I’d never left you… but the time we've lost we can't get back,”
Dean was crying too now, lifting his hands to gently wipe away Sam’s tears with his thumbs, then he held Sam’s face in his hands.
“I’m sorry…” and with Dean’s whispered apology, Sam knew he had lost. Dean was as good as gone.
It was risky, Sam knew it; Bobby and Cas both thought he was insane. Cas pointed out that Dean had already tried to escape once, that he’d had to bring Dean back battered and bleeding. They’d cuffed him to the bed and still Dean hadn’t changed his mind. So Sam’s plan to take Dean with them to rescue Adam from Zachariah, although Dean still intended to say yes, seemed completely crazy.
Sam had to believe enough for all of them – his mantra was becoming ‘it’s not too late, it’s never too late’, and he hated to think of how smug Zachariah would look once he heard the word fall from Dean’s lips.
Once they were inside the so-called beautiful room, it all went to hell. Zachariah had both Adam and Sam coughing up blood, dying in agony right there in front of Dean, and his utter despair was clear on his face. Sam’s pain was numbed by the knowledge that it really was too late now.
“Do you hear me? Call Michael down, you bastard!”
“How do I know you’re not lying?”
“Do I look like I’m lying?”
Zachariah’s face lit up as he recited “Zodiredo…noco…aberamage…nazodpesade…”, adding with an ecstatic whisper, ”he’s coming,”
Sam stared at Dean in horror and then it happened. Dean winked at him. He fucking winked at him.
“Of course, I have a few conditions,” Dean’s voice shook with emotion but Sam knew Dean had changed his mind. The next few minutes were a blur, ending with Dean stabbing an angel blade through Zachariah’s chin, up into his smug-ugly face.
The room started to shake and fill with white light. They had to get out now, before Michael arrived.
Dean helped Sam up, and they made it through the door but, behind them, Adam was trapped as the door slammed shut. The room filled with brilliant white light and they tried to open the door but it was impossible. The light faded and Dean managed to open the door to find the beautiful room had gone, leaving behind a shabby, disused office.
The loss of Adam was a heavy one, but Sam was relieved that it was Adam and not Dean. He knew that was incredibly selfish of him, but he loved Dean and needed him; nothing and no one else on earth mattered.
They were both shell-shocked afterwards, driving away on auto-pilot. It wasn’t until sometime later that Sam asked Dean what happened.
“I saw your eyes. You were totally rockin’ the “yes” back there. So, what changed your mind?”
“Honestly? The damnedest thing. I mean, the world’s ending, the walls are coming down on us, and I look over to you and all I can think about is, 'this stupid son of a bitch brought me here.' I just didn’t want to let you down.”
“You didn’t. You almost did. But you didn’t.”
Sam was touched by Dean’s apology and encouraged by his vow to take the fight to Luci and Mike - their way. They drove for a while in silence; as Sam stared out the window at the night time world, Dean’s eyes were trained on the road.
“Thanks again, Sammy,” Dean murmured, glancing over to him, “for making me see some sense for once,”
“You’re welcome,” Sam smiled, “I just had to make you believe that it’s not too late,”
“You did, Sammy. I guess it’s never too late.”