Summary: He was here to protect Sammy and for no other reason
Spoilers: All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1 (spec only for Part 2)
Note: Just an idea I had kicking around, pre AHBL and I thought I'd try to fit to canon. Many thanks to my kickass beta, themoononastick, who has written an infinitely better, heartbreakingly good fic inspired by the finale. That you should go read right now. *nods*
From the moment his father had thrust his baby brother into his arms and he'd carried him out of the burning house to safety, Dean knew he'd die protecting his brother. He would die for Sammy, over and over, if he could and the knowledge fueled him. It was his one constant. He was here to protect Sammy and for no other reason.
But somehow it was Dean who kept dying. He'd already cheated death twice, had other people make deals for his soul, had other people die in his place. Each day was numbered, marked. Borrowed time. When it happened again, he'd be ready. There would be no more deals.
He made Sammy swear, when the day came, not to bury him. He didn't want to come back again as some thing. Didn't want to ever have Sammy dig him up, to douse his rotting remains with salt and gasoline and watch the fire consume his bones so he could finally be at peace. He'd heeded the Reaper's words well. He couldn't become what he'd hunted.
He'd been the one to wrap Dad in stolen sheets, to build the pyre. It was the fire now or the fire later and Dean only had the heart for now.
Sammy hadn't protested, hadn't argued for a real burial. But if it had been up to Sammy, Dad would be lying right next to Mom’s empty grave with a headstone that read "Loving Father" or some other meaningless, dime-a-dozen sentiment.
He'd gone to Dad's grave, the fake one in the world the Djinn had dreamed up for him. He'd shed tears, the way you're supposed to, and he'd talked to the dead, but he was only talking to himself.
He'd wanted to take the crossroads demon's trade, wanted to have Dad back more than he wanted to go on breathing air but life wasn't life if it was a cheat. And yet, the demon said, Dad could come back, even now. Fire wasn't enough. Death wasn't death.
He hated Dad for taking the damn deal, for giving in, for bargaining. He didn't know if it was devotion or contempt that prevented him from making the same deal Dad made. But deep down, he knew. It was weakness that stopped him; he’d never be as strong as his father.
He'd stayed behind in Oregon, ready with a bullet for Sam, and one for himself, if it came to that. He'd left a note for Bobby on what to do with their bodies. But Sammy had been fine and Dean had pocketed the note. He knew, no matter what Sammy was or what he became, he couldn't ever kill his own brother. All his life, he'd been carrying Sammy and nothing on earth would stop that.
Sam was heavier now, in death. Too heavy for Dean to carry on his own, but he managed, somehow, to drag him out of the Impala and onto the pile of kindling he'd spent the last two hours building.
He left Bobby sleeping back at the motel with the same note, adding only where to find them both. The instructions were the same, except Dean would take care of Sammy first.
He sat with Sam and winding sheet, the gasoline and the match, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Even in death, he was failing Sammy. He was failing Dad.
Fire wasn't fire, he told himself. Death wasn't death. Sammy wasn't Sammy but if that was so than Dean wasn't Dean.
His time, this dishonestly purchased time, was nearly done.The sun was coming up and Bobby would have read that note by now.
Dean watched the sun rise and then he carried Sam back to the car. He knew now he couldn't bargain for Dad's life but he would for Sam's.
"You understand, Dad," he said out loud, because talking to Dad made as much sense as talking to Sam. "It's Sammy."
If this was weakness, then he was a weak man. Dean didn't really give a fuck about that anymore.