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The Sin Eater
, The Winchesters should have kept driving
Member No.: 29,179
Joined: 25-December 07
I still like that song...not my usual choice for tunes--the more radiohead the better for me...
I keep saying second-last chapter, but the words keep adding up...so again: Second-last chapter here--lol
"...good. Good...." Dean said. He got up and stretched, tired from the exertions, physical and otherwise. "so--what am I gonna need?"
"You need a meal, to lay on the dead...on me. I guess you gotta dig my moldy carcass up...."
Dean snorted. "Not a problem, Nate. We've done it a few times before. What kind of meal--?"
"Whatever you like. This part belongs to you, just like it did to me. You don't just take what they want to give you, or you'll get a bowl of cold gruel, full of beetles, and some spoiled beer. You tell 'em what you want. I always asked for pie. I never had that, at home, 'cept for one special time every fall. My momma made it when the apples was ready and Pa was gone for a coupla weeks on the hunt. Her and me would eat the whole thing at once, just the two of us, after supper. We'd always feel kinda guilty, but we laughed anyway...it was always our little secret..."
"That's it, plus your drink. Bring that, and a shovel. I'll tell you the words you need. ...When...when will you come..?"
"Today, Nate. This afternoon. The day is perfect. It's all perfect, won't ever be more so. Sam and me will come back before sunset, I promise. Do what you need to prepare, ok? Because this is going to happen."
Nate whispered back, something too quiet for Dean to pick up. But the sentiment was clear. The chill dissipated along with his form. Dean shivered in it's wake, and turned towards the place where Sam was standing in the field. "Hey--!" he shouted. "--you can come back now, all the scary stuff is over.. "
Embarrassed, Sam trudged back. "Got it worked out..?"
"Yeah. All good. Nathaniel Willard has seen the light. Now all he has to do is walk into it willingly." Dean pulled his injured arm up a little higher, trying to ease the ache. "Listen, do me a favour, will you? I need enough of those apples for a pie. I don't know how many, so just grab a bunch of the ones that don't look too wormy."
Sam looked doubtfully at what remained on the branches. "Are you sure, Dean? We could probably find a pie or something down at the store--"
"No, these are better." Dean said simply.
Sam filled all his pockets, and Dean's for good measure. "You ready to go back?"
"Yeah." Dean sighed wearily. He wished the car was closer. He was feeling drained after the hike to get here, and Nathaniel's habit of dropping the air temperature while he was present had chilled him to the bone. He wanted to be horizontal for a while. They trudged through the grass, carefully stepping over the tangle of vines that hid there. Sam wanted to talk while they walked, but Dean seemed determined to keep the conversation minimal. And truth be told, he recognized that Dean was tired, and the subject he wanted to broach was pretty trying. He didn't think that Dean was up to it at the moment. They finally reached the Impala. Sam pulled the door open and Dean slumped into the passenger seat. They drove the short distance to May's in silence.
Once there, Dean settled in to take a catnap. Sam brought the apples he'd collected to May. She eyed them with an expression of distaste.
"For heaven's sake, Sam, I have a bushel of decent apples in the shed. I'll make you a pie, that's no trouble, but I'd rather use those nice Courtlands instead."
Sam shrugged helplessly. "I know, May. They look pretty gross to me too. But Dean insists he wants it made out of these. Think you can do anything with them...?"
She picked over the pile. "Well I suppose so. Heck, these are what real, natural fruit looks like, I suppose. We're all so used to the sprayed and pretty modern produce, we tend to forget what the real thing looks like. I'll give it a shot."
"Thanks." he said gratefully. "How long til we can pick it up? And I'll pay you., of course--"
She snorted. "Sam, you've done plenty for me around here. This one's on the house. It'll take about a half hour to put together, and another hour and a half to bake. Come by at five, it should be ready."
"Thanks, May, I really appreciate this."
He returned to the room, and saw that Dean was asleep. He took the opportunity to clean and medicate the pin sites again. Dean frowned but hardly stirred.
"..evil nurse--" he mumbled.
"Jackass." Sam countered, not entirely unkindly.
He lay on his own bed for a while. He was nervous over the whole Nathaniel Willard thing. If things didn't work out this afternoon, it had repercussions for all of them. He knew that Dean was placing a huge emotional value on this. He understood it, to some degree. He wasn't exactly sure as to why Dean needed so much to feel that he'd personally led Nate to his peaceful passage. But he wanted it too, more now for Dean' sake. It was driving him crazy, the need to air their feelings, or grievances, or whatever came out, after all this. But he knew he would have to be patient. This would all come to a head, and he feared it as much as needed it. But only on Dean's schedule, that much was clear. He glanced over at his sleeping brother. He was curled up on his side, his injured arm resting higher on a pillow. He didn't seem to be dreaming, for once. He was breathing with a quiet ease, getting the rest he obviously needed. Sam's eyes settled on his face. Still pale. Still sporting the circles under his eyes that seemed to plague him since the 'deal'. The familiar pang of guilt gripped him. He had to turn away.
Both were still asleep when May knocked. She peeked in, and greeted Sam, who roused himself at the sound. "Sorry, dear. But you said this was something you needed right away..."
He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and thanked her. It looked and smelled delicious. "Wow. That's from those road-apples?"
"Yes." she beamed. "You know, after all the work to get the bad bits cut away, they turned out to be the sweetest, finest apples for a pie. I'm inclined to go get some for myself!"
Sam thanked her again, and promised to gather some for her later.
"Well, if you have time, " she said, "but after today, there won't be any to be had. Russell phoned and asked to speak to you earlier, but I didn't want to wake you. He said to tell you that the work was going to start on the farm site tomorrow. I don't know why he thought you would want to know that, but there you are."
"Ah. Thanks for telling us, May. It's a nice spot, maybe we'll take a last hike before it gets plowed under."
"Not with your brother, surely! Look at him, he's still snoring away! I really don't think you should be dragging him around the countryside in his state--"
Dean sat up at that. He'd been feigning sleep to avoid her, but he figured he should probably rescue Sam. "It's ok, May. We won't go far, or for too long. I just want to take some pictures before it's gone."
She sighed and put her hands on her hips. "Well, to each his own. Although I will say they have some lovely postcards at the post office if you wanted pictures of this place. Mind you, they're probably fifty years out of date, but it'd save you the walk."
"Thanks, but I think we'll head out there anyway. And thanks for the great pie."
"You're a strange thing, you are." She shook her head but smiled, and left them.
They left soon after. Time was ticking, and Nathaniel Willard's fate hung in the balance.
The drive was too short for Sam to try to talk with Dean. He left it on the back burner for now. He parked at the roadside, and again, they trudged up the rough road to the field. Sam carried a box of what they'd need.. Dean used a shovel as a walking stick. When they passed out of the cool shade of the trees, the sun greeted them with a brilliance that made them squint. But it was welcome. They followed their earlier path through the grass, which snaked in front of them, a flattened, parted line through the softly sighing stalks, passing the remains of the barn, which had almost been their funeral pyre, past Nathaniel's house, charred fragments of wood on a rectangle of carefully laid stone. It ended at the orchard, and they settled by Nate's headstone. Dean stabbed the shovel point into the soil and sat down carefully.
"How's the arm?" Sam demanded.
"Fine." But Dean smiled sheepishly as he said it, knowing he wasn't fooling anyone. "..For an arm that was ripped off Frankenstein."
Sam leveled his gaze at him but said nothing. "So, how should we call Nate-?"
They didn't have to. The air suddenly chilled dramatically, and he whispered a greeting.
Dean answered him. "Hope you're ready, Nate. It's time to go."
The spirit answered. "Yes. I think I am. This ain't a bad place...but...it's real lonely out here..It'd be awful nice to see somethin' new."
Dean was glad that Nathaniel was still on board. "Alright, good. I've got my meal ready here. --Just need my lovely assistant here to dig up your leftovers. Sit tight, Nate. I don't know how long this'll take, can't get good help these days, you know."
Sam mouthed something uncomplimentary and drove the shovel point into the sod.
The digging was surprisingly quick. While most people were accorded the courtesy of at least six feet of soil depth, Nathaniel Willard's burial had been hurried, and Sam hit wood at four feet. He cleared away the soil to reveal the outline of a simple rough box. Dean shivered where he sat, despite the sun. Sam was streaming with the sweat of his efforts. "Ok. Done. Just tell me when to pull the lid."
Dean addressed the thin, cold air. "Nate. It's time. Can we open the box?"
"Sure...." he whispered. "I ain't scared of seeing that." The mist formed again, materializing into the Sin Eater. His haggard, bloody form stood in front of them, looking uncertain. "You still wanna do this, Dean..?"
Dean assured him that he hadn't changed his mind. Sam pried at the soggy remains of the lid. It came away in pieces, and after a few moments, he'd chucked the bits out of the way, revealing the body that lay within. He hopped out, and for the first time in many decades, the sun shone again on Nathaniel Willard's face.
Sin Eater smiled. "Hope you brought somethin' good to eat..."
Dean sighed and covered his eyes. "Nate, seriously, If I have to look at that the whole time I won't be able to eat anything, I'll be too busy hurling--"
The spirit looked down at himself. "Oh." he said sheepishly. "Sorry, Dean, I forgot." He disappeared from their view for a few moments, reappearing again as the young boy with the sun warmed skin and bare feet. He sat down, cross-legged at the graveside. curious now.
"That's a lot better, Nate. You don't wanna scare your poor Ma when she sees you."
Nate raised his eyes to Dean. The mix of fear and worry and aching hope within them was heart breaking. "Dean..." he asked quietly, "..do you really think-?"
"She'll be there, Nate. I know it."
Nathaniel nodded. He was frightened by it all, but once he had placed his faith in this process, he had no doubt that Dean would steer him home. He shifted forward and peered down into the hole. He took in the sight of his own now corrupt form, lying brown and shrivelled amongst the composted remains of the pine box.
"Well that's pretty hard on the eyes, ain't it?" he grinned. "I never had to look at nuthin' like that. The dead was always laid out in their sunday clothes, all neat and tidy and smelling like lavender and rosewater and such. Didn't have no trouble eating what was laid there on them. I'm sure glad I ain't you."
Dean glanced at him wryly. "Yeah, thanks alot."
Sam snorted. "Don't worry, Nathaniel. Nothing ever puts that one off his feed." He opened the box he'd packed. In it was the apple pie, smelling delicious. There was a six pack of beer, and a tray. He retrieved the tray and tied the twine to it, so that they could lower it into the hole without it tipping it's contents onto the ruinous body below.
"Lord, that looks good--" Nate said. "--I always asked for pie."
Dean smiled. "Yeah, I know."
Sam was looking longingly at the golden, flaky crust. He picked off a little, before Dean slapped his hand. "Aw c'mon, Dean, aren't you gonna share? You can't eat the whole thing--"
"Yeah, I can--! " Dean turned to Nate. "I dunno. What do you think, Nate? Does he deserve a piece?"
Nate smiled shyly. "..You gotta share with your kin. Besides, he can have a piece for me, since I can't taste nuthin' anyway."
Dean cut the pie into quarters. He lifted two off the plate and placed them on the tray, along with one of the bottles. The other two he handed grudgingly to Sam. "So what do I do now, Nate?"
"You gotta put the tray on my belly down there. Or whatever's left. Then you close your eyes and think about the dead person, think about the sins comin' out. And you say the words."
Sam lowered the tray by the ropes. When it was resting on something, he let them go slack and waited.
Dean stared down into the hole, trying to see only the tray with it's tasty contents, rather than the unappetizing view underneath. "Tell me the words again, Nate."
He did so, and Dean closed his eyes. "..I give easement and rest now to thee, friend. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen...." He opened his eyes. "Is that it?"
"Yes. Now the sins are in the offering. You gotta eat it to finish this thing." Nate met his eyes, worried. "--You still want to? Cuz you don't have to--"
Dean sighed with exasperation. "We've been through this, Nathaniel. It won't have any effect on where I end up. You know that." Sam stared hard at the ground, while Dean grinned. "Besides, that pie is mine--!"
"..Ok then. Hope it's good."
It was. It was spectacularly good. Sam pulled up the tray and they dug in. May Adams wasn't much of a looker, but damn she could cook. Dean finished his off in half the time it took Sam, and he ogled his brother's portion as he quaffed his beer. Sam rolled his eyes and gave him another quarter. Dean traded him another beer in return.
"Ok Nate. There you go, you're officially sin-free. Feel any different.?"
Dean regretted his offhand manner as soon as he'd asked. Nate sat, stricken, tears beginning to fall from his sandy lashes. "I don't. I don't feel nuthin, Dean. I should feel...purified. None of that filth felt like it went away, it's still in me... Something's wrong, I know it--"
"Nothing is wrong, Nate---we did it exactly like you always did. If it ever worked for anyone else, then it worked for you. Those sins are mine now, you are delivered, you hear me? Listen to me---I want you to look around and tell me what you see, that we can't."
Nathaniel stopped his weeping. He snuffed and spoke quietly. "Just that bright spot. It's always there, in the corner of my eye. I try not to look at it, it kinda pulls at me. I stay away from it."
"Aw, Nate..." His doorway had always been there. All these years, he'd been too afraid to approach it. Dean swallowed the tightess in his throat and spoke to him again. He framed it in a way that he thought the boy would believe. "That light...it's your lantern. Don't be afraid of it. Go to it, it won't hurt you. Go now---tell me what you see--"
The boy got up, and faced the thing that was invisible to the living, who could only watch blind as it played out. He took a few tentative steps toward it. "..it's warm..." he whispered. But he turned back to Dean. "-- It tugs at me, Dean---like it wants me. I'm scared--what if it's the fire, or..."
"It's not fire, kid. No sulphur, no brimstone. Open your mind to it....you can feel it, it's good. Nothing bad is behind that door, I promise you.. It's your reward, you've earned it. Open it."
Nate's image was fading, becoming more and more transparent. They waited, holding their breath, while the spirit walked toward it's destiny. Finally he disappeared from their view. His whisper floated down one last time, so quietly, so reverently, so full of wonder...it was almost lost amongst the rustling of the
warm breeze through the golden grass.
They sat in silence for some time, mesmerized by the sweet and poignant passing of Nathaniel Willard into his great reward. Neither wanted to speak, for fear of shattering the perfection of that moment. They finished off the six pack, each listening to the quiet sounds of the world around them, each soaking in the breeze and sunshine of the warm afternoon, as if to store it as a bulwark against other, less pleasant days.
The completion of it all brought some measure of solace to Dean. At least now, whatever happened to him in the end, he would know that it made a difference here. It was a small comfort that he found sharply lacking when he looked at his brother. But he steered his mind away from that bitter quagmire, if he allowed himself to step near it, he could sink too easily into those black and hopeless depths. And he didn't want to address any of that, not here, not now, at any rate. He wished he could bottle that moment when Nate realized the beauty of what he'd finally embraced. He needed to remember it.
He broke the spell first. "Well, I guess he's happy now."
Sam made some small sound of agreement. "Do you think we still need to burn--?"
"No." he said, decisively. "...He's gone. He won't ever come back to this shithole now. Just fill it back in." He got up with a groan, stiff and tired, and wandered off a little as Sam shoveled back the loose soil. He stood in the soft, waving grass, running his hand absent-mindedly through the golden seedheads, feeling the grains separate from the dry stalks and scatter through his fingers. --don't waste this, Nate-- he thought. --don't ever come back here.
The bright and beautiful completion of Nate's life was something he would never forget, but it made his own reality fade to a deeper shade of grey by comparison. He stared back at Sam, who was packing the last shovelfuls of dirt over the grave, and the grey darkened one more measure. He sighed deeply, trying to ease the tension, the tightness in his chest, but it would not leave him. Finally he did what he always did, he pushed the feeling down into the box and clamped the iron lid down tight, and he turned and walked back.
"Hope you got May's tray out" he said.
"Of course. It's over there, in the grass." Sam kicked the last clods of clay from the shovel, as Dean went to retrieve it. It lay by the headstone.
"What do you figure this thing weighs--?" Dean mused, wiggling the stone slightly at it's loosened base.
Sam wiped at the sweat beading on his face, and sized it up. "..It's not too big. We've seen alot bigger. ..Not very thick either...maybe a couple hundred pounds..?"
Dean nodded. "--Think you could carry it --?"
Sam looked at him quizzically. "Yeah, I guess. If I can get it out. Why, Dean?"
"I don't know...I just think it shouldn't stay here. They'll only break it up, or bury it. It was important to Nate. I kinda think it should go in the churchyard he talked about. Somebody should remember him..."
Sam watched him for a moment. "Sure, Dean...it's a good idea. He deserved that much." He cut out the sod around the base of it, and put his strength to the task of dislodging it. After some grunting and cursing, he got it pulled up out of the resistant suction of the damp clay, and laid it flat on the grass. Once free of the soil, it's weight was more manageable. "You ok carrying the other stuff?"
Dean nodded and gathered the remaining items, and they walked with a slow and awkward pace back through the grass and down the road. When they reached the car, they laid plastic over the upholstery and deposited the heavy stone on the back seat. The rest went back into the trunk. Both were tired. They leaned against the warm black of the Impala. Sam decided that now was as good a time as any, he broached a tender subject.
"Dean, I need to talk to you...about some stuff."
Dean frowned. "No you don't."
"Don't do that---don't always shut me out when there are important things to--
"Ow. Time to go, Sammy, my arm hurts."
"Don't play the sore arm card! And it's not your arm that hurts right now. That's what I need to talk to you about..."
"Lord, here we go. How many tissues am I gonna need--?"
Sam roared at the clouds in absolute frustration. He knew he was beat. He could hammer and hammer away, but Dean would never crack and open up. He realized he would never get anywhere while Dean was still sober. He needed the confinement of the room at May's, and the bottle of bourbon. He let it drop for now. He helped his brother into the car, and the drove back to May's.
Member No.: 29,179
Joined: 25-December 07
Hey all. Last chapter. Thanks for reading---ml
He wasn't faking, his arm was really bothering him, and the repeated treks up to the Buell farm had taken a toll. Dean dropped heavily onto his bed and unclipped his hospital issue sling, and carefully arranged his injured limb on the pillow. He threw his good arm over his eyes, sighing with weariness. Sam searched and found a bottle of painkillers, shaking out a few and handing them his brother.
"Here, take these, they'll help." He poured out a good measure of bourbon and passed it over.
Dean sat up and accepted both. "..Aren't you supposed to be nagging me not to drink while I take these now?"
Sam snorted. "--Like that ever had any effect on what you decide to do. Besides, after everything that happened, --go right ahead, knock yourself out."
"I just might." He swallowed the pills with a deep draught of the drink, feeling the welcome warmth in the pit of his stomach. He settled back again. "..that was good, though, wasn't it--?"
"What, the pie, or Nathaniel's passage..?"
"--both." he sighed.
"Yeah, Dean. Very good.....one for the diary."
Dean smiled. "..you keep a diary..?"
"Yeah, right! Not with you around!" He poured another drink for him, and one for himself. Dean accepted it without question this time. As soon as it was empty, Sam poured a healthy third.
"I'm not that easy, you know. You gotta at least buy me some flowers--"
Sam laughed. "That's not what I heard." He sat beside him and took the opportunity to check out the pins. Dean groaned in annoyance as Sam looked him over. "Don't bitch, Dean. If we don't keep an eye on this you could get serious infection."
Dean rolled his eyes, but he stayed still while his brother dealt with the six points of entry. He was secretly glad that it was being looked after. Lord knows, if it were up to him, they'd be gangrenous by now. Two in his hand, two above his wrist, and two in the thick of his forearm. If the break hadn't been so damned close to the end of the bone, they wouldn't have had to have it put on. The lower four hurt more, as they were prone to movement. He couldn't wait to pull the stupid thing off. He barely let Sam finish his ministrations before he shrugged him off.
"Ok, you're done. Go away now." he growled.
Sam produced a bag of smarties, a pair of shot glasses and a deck of cards. "Ok, dude. Game is 21. Winner gets a smartie, loser drinks one shot." He shuffled expertly.
"One smartie? Well that sucks..how about five..?"
Sam weighed the sack. "Fine---five. And no picking colours." It was a calculated risk. Dean was already two generous glassfuls ahead of him, and the effects were going to be magnified by the painkillers. And while Dean had a capacity for drink that bordered on legend, Sam was bigger, and was cultivating a decent tolerance himself lately. He felt fairly sure he could control the evening to achieve his goal.
When the smarties were gone, and a number of shots had been consumed by both sides, the interest in the game had run its course. Dean was slurring. Sam himself was feeling considerably less constrained. He decided to play his real hand now.
Dean lay on his bed. Sam sat on the floor, his back resting against the side of his brother's bed. They were quiet for some time before Sam began.
"I really need to talk to you about something--"
Dean sighed in irritation. "Not now, Sammy.."
"Yeah, now! C'mon, Dean! You keep pushing me away. I really need to-"
"Aw crap--! Sam, we were having a good time here. Don't start--"
"No! Don't do that! This is important-"
Dean turned away and curled up. He was really feeling the effects, and he did not want to start an argument now, for fear of losing his carefully crafted control. "I said not now--!"
"Dean, just talk to me---please! I need you to know how I feel, and I want you to tell me--
"I'm tired, ok? And I'm freaking loaded--- Man, why do you always have to go on and on about crap? You're draining the life out of me, for christ sakes--" He turned the clock radio up loud, its out of tune screech filling the room.
Sam yanked the plug. "Would you just stop it?! I'm trying to--"
Dean glared at him. "You're trying to wreck this, is what! Jesus, Sam! Can't you give me my five minutes of warm fuzzy about things before you ruin it with your freaking whining? Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don't wanna hear what you have to say? I already heard enough before! Nothing you can say to me now makes any difference! What, --do you want to rehash the whole thing? Fine! Yeah---I sold myself to fry for eternity, and yeah, it was a stupid thing and yeah, I should never have done it! I threw away everything to bring you back, and yeah, I know, you never asked me to--! "
The bourbon had been more than effective--- his iron lid was suddenly thrown wide, the contents of the box boiled up. He ground out the rest now through gritted teeth. "--and if all that isn't enough to keep me from ever sleeping again, I get to sweat through my minute-by-minute countdown knowing that this whole deal is so totally f~~king lop-sided, that it was all a god-damned waste anyway! And why is it a waste?! Because I know, no matter what you say, no matter how hard you try to lie your way out of the truth, --that you would never, ever have done it for me--! So why don't you tell me, Sam---what the hell is left to cover now? It's done! Live with it! ---I have to!"
Sam sat in open-mouthed shock at the outburst. He had no idea how deep and painful Dean's misplaced resentment was. He could not believe what he was hearing. "How can you even think that--? Dean, you're--
"Just get away from me, you clueless sonofabitch! You know, right from the start, all you've done is let me know I screwed up again! You never once looked at me with any hint of gratitude, all you do is judge me, day-in, day-out! --And I don't know why that surprises me---I should have expected this, it's just like always! As soon as you decided you weren't a kid any more, you rejected me and conveniently forgot every damned thing I ever did for you! All the times I protected you, all the fights I had to get into after you opened your big mouth to some bully, the times I covered for you when Dad was on the war-path, or all the things I tried to do to make up for our crappy upbringing--! You got all the advantages, because I made sure! And the second that paid off for you, you took off to California so you could leave the trash behind, didn't you--!? Well guess what, Saint Sammy, you're made up of the same damned crap that I am, you can't escape it, and don't you dare sit there thinking you could have made it on your own! And you've resented me ever since I took you away from it, never mind reality! So what if I'm damned now? That's nothing! You've been damning me every day since you left for Stanford. I'm used to it now, so what's a little longer--?!"
He was running out of coherent words. He sat, chest heaving, eyes shining with fury and bitterness and hurt.. But he wasn't finished. The rest came out in a strangled whisper.
"--And you wanna know the truly screwed up part of all of this? I'd still do it all over again! Knowing everything, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I wouldn't have to think, or weigh, or analyze anything, I'd just do what I'm supposed to do--!"
Sam had heard enough. He shouted back-
"Shut up! Just shut up, Dean! You're so full of feeling sorry for yourself, you can't even conceive of the idea that this could be hard on anybody else! Your stupid pride won't let you even peek over that bloody brick wall of yours! You did this thing, and it's so huge, so f~~king unbelievably heavy, and you did it for me! And I'm just supposed to kiss your ass in thanks, and keep my mouth shut and never ever talk about any of it--?! You said I never showed a shred of gratitude---well you never let me! You handed me your life, and I'm just supposed to take it and shove it in my pocket and go on as if nothing's different--! Well I can't live like that, Dean! I won't!"
He swore and sat, shaking with the intensity of it all. "And yes!! Yes, alright?! I am angry! I'm pissed beyond telling you!! I'm going nuts here--!! Christ, it's like I just woke up in the hospital and found out you donated your liver to me to save my life! So what if it means you're doomed, what the hell, it's only Dean, right? At least Little Sammy is saved! And now I can watch your life tick away in front of me, knowing it's all on my head! And yes, I am fully aware of every damned thing you've ever done for me, ok? Painfully aware! You think I never noticed Dad's uneven attention? God, the guilt suffocates me whenever I even think of our happy little family! You were the one looking out for me every day, I know that---and nobody ever did that for you! And this is your reward....this is what I brought you--!"
He dissolved into tears. "..how do you expect me to react to this, Dean? The guilt, ...and horror... and...everything...it's f~~king drowning me--"
He broke down, sobbing. "I am trying to find a way to live with this, but I can't! I can't make any of this right, or better. Not in one year, not in a hundred-! So you tell me how I'm supposed to get up every day and keep going---Tell me that--!"
Dean sat in stunned silence, pained and confused by the depth of Sam's reaction..
Sam wiped his eyes angrily. "--and you're full of crap, you blind jack-ass. I do remember all the stuff you did for me, how can I not?! It wasn't you I was running from, it never was! It was every new crappy town we woke up in, it was every dirty, bug infested motel, it was Dad, and his bitter, obsessive drill-sergeant crap, it was this whole crappy life--!"
He fought to get a grip.. "Do I have to draw a picture for you to get you to understand?? I didn't leave Stanford with you to find Dad. I just left with you. My life was falling apart---I needed you, and going with you was all I could think of that made any damned sense.."
That hit it's mark. ---I needed you--- Dean stared at Sam for a moment. It dawned on him now, the effect he had, the impact his own decisions had made on his brother's life.. He dropped his head into his hand, overwhelmed by his own emotions, and Sam's simple, but powerful statement. The room was beginning to spin.
"--F~~k." he choked.
Sam pulled himself together a little. "Dean, all I wanted to do was talk to you. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you did. ...ever since that day. And how guilty and...undeserving...I feel. But you never let me do that...you shut me out at every turn. And then you asked me that question in the tunnel, and it totally caught me off guard. I was more worried about getting our brains blown out by Buell at that moment. I sounded so freaking lame when I answered....And I know what you thought after, I saw it on your face, clear as day, but you wouldn't let me talk to you to fix it--"
Dean turned away, not wanting to relive that. Sam pulled him back by a handful of his hair. "Listen to me, you stupid moron! Let me finish. I hesitated, because the question was so...important, and I wanted to say this right. I didn't hesitate because I was afraid to say I wouldn't do it for you...all I wanted was to wait til the right time, and that sure as hell wasn't it."
He sighed. "I've been thinking about this whole thing non-stop since it happened, Dean...trying to sort it out. I don't know where I was when you brought me back. I don't remember anything, bad or good. But what I came to figure out was that...if you were dead, and I thought you were somewhere better, somewhere... somewhere beautiful...I wouldn't try to reverse it, no matter how much I wanted to. But if I thought for a second that you were suffering, I'd dive into the pit headfirst to save you from that. Dean...please, you have to believe me..."
Dean stared at his brother. He saw the tears, the earnest intensity in Sam's eyes. He saw the truth. He crumpled under the weight of it and lay on the bed, crying, and cursing. Finally he whispered-
"..I'm sorry...I'm sorry....I did what I'm supposed to do. Save Sam. I played my role."
Sam pulled him up and hugged him tightly. "I know. I know. Thank-you."
"--i'm so freaking scared of this--"
"..Me too, Dean." He released him and forced him to meet his eyes. "But I swear, Dean--I swear--- you, me, and Bobby, we will find a way out of this! I promise!"
Dean said nothing. but his expression spoke volumes. Finally he nodded. He lay back again and covered his eyes. "--god I'm totalled-" he groaned. "--I might not even remember any of this."
"I'll remind you."
"I'll probably hurl later."
"Yeah, I know."
"sssh...it's alright, Dean. I know."
He was sick. Spectacularly, exhaustingly so. It was a rare thing for him, but the circumstances at that time conspired against him. Codeine, prodigious amounts of bourbon, three quarters of an apple pie and an emotional roller-coaster ride. I was pretty much a given. Sam got him through that, and the two of them slept in the next day until past noon. But that unpleasantry aside, they had made a significant break-through in terms of communication. They both understood now, some of the impact that this had. Sam had no illusions that it would continue to remain so open between them. It just wasn't the way things worked. He saw the brick wall back in place by morning, the iron lid clamped back down, and the truth was, he relied on his brother to play that rock-steady role.
When they finally did get up, Sam asked him; "So...how ya feeling..?"
Sam laughed to himself and got up. He washed up, dressed, and headed next door to see what he could talk May into providing for breakfast. Her camp coffee was always on the stove, he brought back two cups of it. Dean accepted his with a grudging wince. "..ugh...bowl of aspirin, please."
"Little hung over are we..?"
"No." ---not a little--- "Why are you up so early--?"
"It's way past noon."
Sam just shook his head and left again for May's kitchen. Dean groaned and sat up. He felt lousy. Both his head and arm ached with a nauseating intensity. ---God, I'm out of practice--- He sighed, berating himself for acting like such a neophyte. But despite that, he felt...good. He felt lighter, somehow. He did remember the evening. He remembered the shouting, the emotion. He remembered the topic that brought it all to head. He lay back down, going over it all.
Sam returned, laden with toasted western sandwiches. He handed one to Dean. Sam sat down with his own, and wolfed it down. He waited patiently until Dean had consumed his own. When they were both fortified, he brought it up. "..So...Dean...are we ok..?"
Dean looked at him quizzically. "..Ok? are we ok..? What the hell are you talking about, Sam?" He knew exactly what he was talking about, but he wasn't about to make it easy on him.
Sam was crushed. All the gains they'd made last night, all the understanding--- "..Nothing...nothing, forget it..."
Even Dean couldn't withstand that. He relented. "Sam---I'm just messing with your head, ok? Yeah. We're good. We really are, ok? --at least as far as I'm concerned. ..What about you...?"
Sam nodded. He too felt better about the state of things after the catharsis of the previous night. He knew he shouldn't keep flogging it, --both of them had had their time on the soap box. Both knew where the other was coming from...and headed. It was enough, for now. "..Yeah....we're good."
"Alright then." Dean settled back. "Now all we have to deal with is this stupid metal rig."
Sam turned to him, successfully derailed. "What do you mean? You have an appointment in a few days--they'll probably take it off and put you in a cast then--"
Dean sighed. Sam was always the optimist. "No...they'll probably put me in cuffs. Get real, Sammy. It'll have been two weeks. Don't you think they'll have figured out that the paperwork is bull by now?"
"Well, maybe not--"
"Sure. Maybe not. But if you don't mind...I think I'll pass on that gamble. I've been there before, remember? Unless it's by a hot blonde in a teddy, I don't ever want to be hand-cuffed to a bed-rail again. It's reality check time, Sam. This rig is coming off, and it ain't the good medics who are gonna do it."
Sam swore. He hated it, but he knew Dean was right. He sighed in exasperation. "Yeah--fine. But can you at least wait the proper amount of time that they would have done it in?! For shits sake---don't jump the gun on this---you could seriously affect your recovery. How are you gonna be able to hunt properly with one gimpy arm?!"
Dean stared down at the metal bars and pins. His gut instinct was to pull the damned thing off himself, later. It was an encumbrance, and he hated encumbrances of any kind. But Sam spoke the truth, he could really do some long-lasting damage if he gave in and removed it early. And he couldn't afford that kind of limitation---not with their line of work. "..Alright. A few more days. After that I'm ditching it."
It was at least a compromise. I was the best that Sam could expect. "So I guess that's why you bought the arm thing at the drug store. I was going to get rid of it so you'd have to do things properly, but unfortunately, you're probably right about the hospital."
"--You nosy little bitch--!"
"Uh huh. But I don't get the box of crayons--"
"Oh yeah, I forgot about those. And that reminds me, we've gotta get that stone off my seat springs before it flattens it. Feel like a little tour of the countryside? I want to find the graveyard, and put up Nate's stone."
"Sure, I guess. But you didn't answer my question."
"You'll see." he said. He rose and made motions to join the living. "Sam, I need a favour...I need you to ask Angus if he knows what Nate's mother's first name was. And if he knows where the old church is. Do you mind...?"
Sam groaned. "Aw, crap, Dean....don't make me go talk to him. He forgets who I am every time, and tries to brain me with his cane. Takes me fifteen minutes to convince him I'm not there to steal the silverware."
"C'mon, Sammy. Hell, I'd go, but you know... sore arm...ouch."
Sam rolled his eyes and mumbled something, but he went anyway. By the time he returned, Dean was waiting for him in the car.
''Geez, you're gung ho, aren't you--?"
"That damned thing's wrecking the upholstery. Look at the wrinkles at the edge--"
Sam snorted. "It'll be fine. The church and grave yard are up May's road a few miles. She said they don't do services at it anymore---haven't for years, not enough people. But they still keep the grass cut."
"What about her name, did he know it?"
"Grace. Gracie Willard. He seemed pretty sure about it, and he made me pay him five bucks before he'd tell me, so it's probably right."
Dean smiled. "Good."
The small, rectangular frame building sat at the end of a short, gravel lane. It was old, white paint was peeling from the clapboards. It sat quietly on its postage stamp of trim, green grass, flanked by two massive sugar maples, each sporting patches where their leaves were beginning to hint at the crimson they would become later. The tiny grave yard was to the side, a collection of faded marble headstones sitting crookedly in the ground that they'd occupied for a century. Here and there, more modern ones had been fit between. The property was bordered by a simple old wire fence, rusting now. Lilacs grew rampant at the edges, encroaching on the lawn. Sam began the arduous task of hauling the stone out of the back seat under the critical eye of his brother, ignoring his very vocal protests that it would scratch or break something on the way out. He carried it through the gate, and deposited it on the grass. "Ok, Dean. Shut up already. Where do you want me to put it?"
Dean looked the spot over. In one corner, a crab apple tree grew over the fence, it's branches hanging with small, red fruit. A shrub crowded at it's base, laden with greenish white masses of flowers. May had the same one growing by her porch, she'd said it was hydrangea. It was idyllic, and Dean said as much. Sam grunted under the weight of the stone, complaining that Dean had chosen the farthest point on purpose. He just grinned.
Sam returned to the car for a shovel. Dean bent over the stone, brushing off the back of it as cleanly as he could. He pulled out his crayons, selecting a black one. By the time Sam returned, he'd neatly inscribed Willard onto it, followed by Nathaniel, and below that, Grace. He figured the wax crayon was the most enduring means of writing on the stone, short of actually carving into it, and he had no means to do that. It wouldn't wash away, and probably wouldn't fade. Sam stood and admired his handiwork. "Good thinking." he smiled.
Dean looked away, embarrassed over his sentimentality. "Yeah, well---Nate was pretty attached to that stone. But I figured he should be remembered by his real name. We can just put the sin eater side facing the fence."
Sam nodded, and he quickly dug a neat slot in the turf, and slid the heavy marker in place. He straightened it up and tamped the earth down until it was steady. "There. How's that..?"
Dean said nothing. He simply nodded. Nathaniel Willard finally got his wish. He was never able to bury his mother properly. Now, at last, her name was written here, in hallowed ground, along with that of her son. Sin Eater could fade from history and memory, while Nathaniel Willard's memory lived on.
Finally Dean shrugged off his emotions. "OK, Sam. Guess that about does it. I wouldn't mind grabbing our stuff and hitting the road now. I'm getting a little sick of Hooterville, how about you--?"
"Kinda. I'm getting tired of reintroducing myself to Angus, and I have the feeling that May's about to adopt me. But maybe we should wait a few days, so you can just chill until it's time to pull your pins..."
"Nah. I can do that anywhere, Sam. I'll just mail the hardware back to Bradford. I'd rather spend some time in my car, even if I have to suffer through your little-old-lady driving."
Sam knew it was pointless to argue. They drove back to the house, and gathered their things. May was disappointed, but they couldn't be swayed. They asked her to pass along their goodbyes to Russell, and they hit the road by late afternoon. Dean's tension lessened the moment there was road under the Impala's wheels. He sighed in relative happiness, resting his head back against the seat. He may not be behind the wheel, but this was home for him, nonetheless. For now, the big picture didn't matter....both he and Sam had worked things out, and he was going to simply live day by day, at least for the next little while. He closed his eyes.
Sam glanced at him. It pleased him to see the relaxed little smile that he wore. "Which way, Dean?"
"I don't care...just away. Maybe in a direction that gets warmer..."
"Warmer. Sounds like plan."
Member No.: 14,770
Joined: 11-January 07
great ending...nice to come back to this after my skiing trip.
Loved that Sam and Dean got all those emotions out there, they really needed to..
great job as always...
when is the next one?
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