Title: Back to Reality - posted April 21, 2009
Author: Lacey McBain
Pairing: none
Rating: G
Word Count: ~1350
Summary: Episode tag to 4.17, "It's a Terrible Life" - Castiel tells Sam that Dean's made his choice.
Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Kripke and Co. I'm just playing. Spoilers up to 4.17.

Back to Reality

Sam was walking across the Sandover employee parking lot with his half-empty box containing the bobble-head vampire and not much else. He’d grabbed a pack of pencils in Ian’s honour, but he couldn’t bring himself to take anything else, and he was burning the crappy yellow polo shirt as soon as he got to his apartment. The phone he’d beaten to death would no doubt be coming out of his last pay cheque, but it didn’t matter. He was pretty damn sure he was meant for greater things than working in a cubicle farm solving ridiculously simple tech problems for morons making six figures a year. Even if he couldn’t convince Dean of that, Sam was getting out.

Not without regret, though. He’d thought Dean would totally be on the same page as him. They’d worked so freakin’ well together against old man Sandover’s ghost, and Sam had felt more alive in that moment than the entire three weeks answering tech calls in his tiny cubicle. Maybe he could talk to Dean again—drive by his place and try to persuade him there was more to life than spreadsheets and sales meetings.

Sam reached his car—a second-hand green Datsun with a crotchety stick shift—when the world sort of shimmered for a minute, as if there’d been a glitch in the Matrix, and he shook his head and gripped the trunk as the world went out of focus, then came rushing back with a tidal wave of memories.

Dean behind the wheel of the Impala. Jess pinned to the ceiling in a blaze of hellfire. Dad in the hospital that last time, before he’d made the deal that brought Dean back from the edge of death. Dean saving his ass from ghosts and vamps, from clingy chicks and hell-spawned demons and sometimes even from himself. Castiel and Uriel and Ruby, angels and demons turning their lives inside out. Dean, loud and certain, roaring in at the last minute like the cavalry. Ruby offering her mouth, her body, her blood. Dean in the hospital, bruises on his face. Dean. Dean. Dean.

“I knew it!” Sam said aloud. The memories rolled through him like a shockwave, and suddenly his life made sense again. He was Sam Winchester and Dean was his best friend, his pain-in-the-ass big brother, and the one person he’d do anything for. Dean had gone to Hell and back to save him. Dean had died for him. Someone had made him forget that, and someone was going to have to pay. After he got Dean out of there and convinced him of who he was and what his real mission in life was, of course.

“Your intervention will not be necessary,” Castiel said, his voice low and close, and Sam took a startled step back and away. The angel didn’t seem offended.

“I’m not leaving him there,” Sam shot back. “Whatever plans you or God has for him, that’s not Dean. I’ll make him remember who he is.”

“You misunderstand me.” Castiel turned his head slightly, and looked up at Sam. “Dean has made his choice.”

“His choice? No way is it his choice to stay here and be that guy. He’d hate that.”

“You’re right.” Castiel laid a hand on Sam’s arm, and Sam got the impression Castiel was trying to figure out a way to explain in small words. Words didn’t seem to come easily to him, and Sam had to remind himself this was an angel, not just some holier-than-thou prick in a trench coat. “You’ve regained your memories because Dean has chosen his life as a hunter over this dream.”

“So, he remembers? He’s gonna be okay?” Sam looked up at the Sandover tower, trying to image what was happening to Dean right at that moment. He was probably ditching the suspenders and bitching about being hungry.

Castiel thought for a long moment, and Sam had almost given up on getting an answer until, “Yes. I believe he’s regained some perspective on where his path lies.”

Sam nodded. He might have been able to imagine another life for himself, but it had always been hard to see Dean as anything but a hunter. “Did you do this? Was this some sort of test?” It came out sounding like an accusation, and he saw Castiel look away.

“It was a test, but not of my design.” Castiel paused. “My superior saw fit to provide an arena where Dean might regain his sense of self by revealing his true nature as a hunter.”

“Well, it worked,” Sam agreed. “We didn’t know exactly what was going on, but somehow it was all instinct.”

“It’s difficult to escape the things you were born to do.”

Sam looked at Castiel, but there was nothing on his face to indicate he was talking about anything other than Dean. Sam tried to calm his racing heart. If Cas knew about the demon blood, he probably would’ve told Dean by now, and Sam knew Dean wouldn’t be able to keep that fact to himself. So far, it seemed, his secret was still safe, but it was probably only a matter of time. He’d been feeling the slow itch underneath his skin these past few weeks, the need for something he couldn’t define. Now he had a pretty good idea that thing was Ruby and what she could offer.


Sam saw Dean striding out of the Sandover building, tearing at his tie as he went. Castiel had conveniently disappeared, and Sam couldn’t help the grin that split his face wide open. He waited for Dean to get within earshot before he said, “I told you so.”

“Shut up,” Dean said, stripping the suit jacket from his shoulders. “It’s not as if we couldn’t seriously use some health insurance.” He tossed the jacket into the back of the car—which Sam could see had sneakily morphed into the Impala, complete with all their gear in the backseat. “I’m getting real tired of angels messing with my head. Cas’s supervisor, Zachariah, gave me a pep talk.”

“Yeah, Cas was here too,” Sam said, tossing the polo shirt and grabbing one of his own t-shirts from the back. It felt familiar and smelled like the generic laundromat detergent they always used. “He told me you’d made your choice.”

“He did?” Dean was busy pitching the perfectly shined dress shoes into the back and digging out his runners. “Yeah, well, it wasn’t much of a choice really. I’m not exactly corporate material.”

“But you were, Dean. You were good at what you were doing. If I hadn’t been having those dreams, if I hadn’t told you, maybe—maybe you’d still want to be there.”

Dean shook his head. “No way, Sam. I was born to do this, remember?” Dean grabbed his familiar leather jacket, slipped on the pendant of the horned man he always wore, and punched Sam in the arm. “Besides, someone’s got to look out for you. I’ve been drinking that Master Cleanse crap for the last two days, and I’m starving. Let’s get out of here, okay?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, and he’d never been so happy to slide into the front seat of the Impala beside Dean and hear the first notes of AC/DC blast through the speakers. They were meant to do this, to live this life. They were meant to be in it together.

He just hoped when the time came, Dean would be willing to do what it took to halt the apocalypse. They were going to have to take down Lilith, sooner rather than later. Sam knew it in his blood, and Dean had become squeamish about those sorts of things since Alistair. Dean, even the angels, Sam doubted any of them had the strength to do what was going to be necessary to hold Lucifer off. But he could do it. For all of them.

“You okay?” Dean asked, and Sam nodded.

“Yeah. Just ready to get back to reality, you know?”

“Absolutely,” Dean said and gunned the accelerator away from Sandover.


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