Untitled 13x22 tag! Dean POV, second-person, stream of consciousness.
Probably it hadn’t ever stopped. Sliding, that is. Because you’re pretty sure that’s what this world is doing around you, like chalky sand that gives when you step and slides when it’s time to circle the drain. Except it’s not, because there’s Sam, alive, and you suppose that means it’s time to take a few more shots at this. (At least two—one for you both.)
Aim for your throat, you think, when you’re angry and you can’t keep it in and you’re shouting and Jack disappears. You know it’s your fault but it’s Lucifer’s fault you’re like this so it’s his fault. You feel in that instant that he’s probably going to win. Lucifer is oil and you’re not water.
You’re not gonna be grateful to Lucifer, not even with Sam beside you again. That’ll make Sam feel like he should be, and whatever your stance on anything the one thing you know for sure is Sam fucking shouldn’t.
You drink from a motley cup, something yeasty and sour and the color of everything around you. That clears your head a little, but nothing feels real until you have your arms around Sam. It’s not like usual, if you have a usual. You feel him, corporeal (and there—a flash of Sam, much younger, still wielding a flashlight someplace dark and colorless and damp, still hurting, and you unable to help). You feel the muscles in his shoulder jump under your cheek. He relaxes instantly in your arms, the way he did when he was a baby. Then his shoulder ripples beneath you as he holds you tight, too. It’s going to be okay.
The second you let go, the world stops feeling real again. You drink a little more of the soapy sour shit.
You almost understand Mary. You could, if you had to.
You have to.
You know how it feels to want to save everyone. (You probably still do. Maggie’s here, isn’t she?) But also you’re angry, and resentful, and you’re not even sure at what anymore. Ideally, Lucifer. Maybe Mary. Or the universes, as though being responsible for one weren’t already e-fucking-nough. You’re tired and you want to die.
Twenty-five, says Mary. Twenty-five, plus nine, all through a rift somewhere in what’s apparently northeast Kentucky. You want to die.
You fix a bus.
You wonder if that was Mary’s way of showing she cared. Her chastising you. That was kinda motherly, right?
Take it easy on Jack, she says. He’s fighting a war, she says. He’s lost people, she says.
You’re not gonna play pity Olympics with the Antichrist or anyone else, but more than once on that march you’d genuinely wanted to ask: Does she honestly think you’re okay?
Maybe she’s asking you to be kind to Jack because she doesn’t know how to tell you to be kind to yourself. To be kind to you and him both. To be kind to everyone; you’re all in the same boat. You all feel the same way.
But when Mary says she knows what you went through to get here, you know she doesn’t.
Be kind to Jack, says Mary. He’s an actual child, and he has feelings. You don’t.
Which, you figure, fair enough. You’ve got your brother back. Clean slate.
“Pity Olympics,” you say, when Sam asks if you’re okay, because you’re not. You’re sitting in the skeleton of a military Jeep beside your brother, a bus behind you, and you’re trundling through southern Ohio northeast Kentucky. You’re in a cave. Your brother is an artery. Your brother was an artery.
Everything’s passing you by like a clip show, disconnected. You feel the way you did right before you lost Sam to the Trials, back in the day. To angels falling.
You tell yourself to focus on the road, like usual. (You lost him to Gadreel. You lost him to yourself. Then you lost yourself. So maybe "road ahead" isn't a great idea.)
You focus on this weird stringy plant Sam’s boot brought into the bottom of the Jeep. You wonder if that’s from camp, or from the vampire den.
You wonder if there’s another Death here, too, or if there’s just the one, moonlighting in every universe like some kind of all-powerful temp. You wonder if this Billie would say, You’re Important, you are needed, and if she’d bring Sam back, too.
Twenty-five plus nine people need to make it through a rift.
Eighteen plus some other number people make it through a rift.
Even you’re surprised when the first thing you do topside (don’t say it like that; that wasn’t Hell, it wasn’t Purgatory) is make a beer run. You buy everything the next town over has to offer.
“Happy Memorial Day,” says the liquor store cashier.
“‘Merica,” you reply.
Welcome to the family, says other Bobby, when you return with the beer and everything else, and everyone is drinking. Welcome, he says to you, in your own damn war/living room.
You toast with everyone else.
Immediately after, you move to slink away, because this is not your family, but Sam steps forward and in. You can’t tell if he wants to or feels like he has to. You’re not gonna begrudge him either.
When you look around, the only one who looks the way you feel is Jack.