Title: One Year On
By: elfin
Pairing: gen
Rating: PG-13

It was a dull night, drizzle falling from the skies, the almost-full moon making the thin shroud of cloud cover seem like a hundred miles up.

The Impala was parked over to one side the road, and Dean had pressed the keys into Sam's hand with unshed moisture in his eyes while the rain mixed with tears on his brother's cheeks.  Sam had gotten something from the trunk, but Dean was distracted and hadn't seen what he'd picked up.  Nothing was going to make a difference now anyway.

He'd lost count of the number of times Sam had tried to rescind the deal; countless ways, multiple offers to various demons.  And every time Dean had managed to stop him without once telling him what would happen if one of his offers had been accepted.

Now his time was up.  They stood in the middle of the road - hundreds of miles from the crossroads where Dean had made the deal but he knew it didn't matter.  Wherever they were - state, country, continent - they would be found tonight.  It was just gone three a.m., exactly one year since Dean had driven out to the crossroads, summoned the demon and with a broken heart had made a desperate deal; Sam's life in return for his soul.

Tonight he was going to hell.  There was nothing he could do about it, but at least Sam would survive him.

"Live for me, Sammy," he'd said last night as they'd sat in the harsh lights of a good diner, blowing the last of their cash on real food and good coffee.  "Meet someone great, settle down.  Have kids and name your first born after me."

"Even if it's a girl?"

Dean hadn't answered that, because despite it being his last wish he knew in his heart and by the look on his brother's face that a normal life - wife, kids, a picket fence - was the very last thing a Winchester boy was ever going to have.  "I will find a way," was all Sam would say about it, and Dean hadn't asked.  It was over.  

And he was using every ounce of macho determination he had to hide his fear because he was very, very frightened.

As they stood there, Dean felt his brother's hand touch his, palm-to-palm, big fingers pressing through his own, holding on.  And he held on right back, squeezing Sam's hand.  This was the climax, the point in the movie when - if the director and the actors had done their jobs - the audience was on the edge of their seats and anyone so much as munching popcorn would be sushed.  

In silence they waited for the final showdown, and as they stood side by side Dean saw something at Sam's side glint in the moonlight.   He glanced down and saw the wicked, curved blade against his brother's thigh, knew instantly and intimately the hard black leather that would be pressed in to the large, calloused hand.  It was his favourite knife, sharply curved with a razor sharp blade on one side and a serrated edge on the other.

It could do horrific things to a human or an animal, but against a demon it was next to useless and Dean knew that Sam knew it.  He was surprised.

"Bro', why have you brought my knife?"  Sam just looked at him, squeezed his hand and smiled.  "You know it won't do any good…."  But there was a terrifying realisation uncurling in his mind while at the same time a sickening relief was unfurling in his stomach.  "No."  He shook his head.  "I won't let you, Sammy.  I didn't do this just so you could…."

"Dean Winchester."  The voice - half-female, half-something else entirely - spoke directly in his ear; purring, breath as hot as the fires of hell blowing over his cheek.  "Mine at last.  And what's this?  Two for the price of one?"


The following morning, local police were called to a T-junction on a quiet road just south of Lawrence, Kansas.  Four students on a road trip had come across the bodies of two young men lying one over the other almost in the shape of a cross, hands crushed between them, fingers grasped together.  

The students had moved them to see if there was anything they could do, but both men were dead.  One, with short dark hair and wearing a leather jacket, bore no signs of injury save for a weird burn around his mouth.  The other, with longer, brown hair and wearing a thick blue lumberjack shirt, had been stabbed in the heart with a long, curved blade that was still buried to the hilt in his body.

When fingerprints were taken, police would match the only two sets on the knife handle to the dead men - the Winchester brothers, whose mother had died in the family home in the nearby town twenty-six years previous.  Some would assume one brother had killed the other before committing suicide, the result of a pact between them, although a verdict on the cause of Dean Winchester's death would never be recorded.  Only a handful of people would ever know the truth and for one or two it would become an obsession.

And another story.