The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords, in such a just and charitable war.

~William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

"Dean!" I scream as I sit up in bed.

In the matching double bed in the tiny motel room, my brother draws his gun from beneath his pillow and sits up as well, squinting and aiming at the same time. "What! Where? What is it, Sam?" he yells when he can't find a target.

Although it's the middle of the night, I can see him clearly. In cheap motels, you don't really have to worry about the room being completely dark. There's always light from the hallway seeping around the door or the parking lot lights creeping beneath the curtains. "You know," I say, my voice scratchy from sleep...and the screaming, of course, "there are a lot of safer things to curl up in bed with. Whatever happened to that stuffed dragon you had?"

Dean slips the safety into place and jams the weapon back beneath the pillow. "Smokey was yours, not mine. And what the fuck is going on?" he asks as he reaches for the lamp between the beds.

"Sorry. Nightmare," I say sheepishly, brushing my fingers nervously through my hair. I need a haircut.

"Nightmare? Or one of those dreams?"

I take a deep, annoyed breath at the faint scorn in Dean's voice. Dean always scoffs when I have visions or prophetic dreams. The talent's new and all, but for someone who deals with demons and prophecies and things that go bump in the night on a regular basis, Dean's skepticism is an enigma. Like what he refuses to believe in, can't be true. But he knows better. He's seen. He's heard. He's done. He's had whatever and moreover done to him. But Dean's a stubborn bastard. Always has been. Maybe that's why...

"Shit. Don't look at me like that, man. What? You see me die? Again? I get eviscerated? I get laid? What, Sammy, what!"

"Dean," I sigh. How was I going to explain that my dream wasn't so much a premonition as it was an epiphany. I'd thought, in a horrific, puffed up, "I'm special" sort of way, that I, Sam Winchester, was the key to all the shit that my family was drawn into. Sure, we searched the news outlets for strange happenings, but so many things came to find us, sought us, targeted us--well, targeted me. After all, the demon killed our mother in my nursery. The same demon killed my fiancee--and, God, yes, it still hurts. I was the one with the prophetic dreams and had had the bout of telekinesis. A demon had come for me when I was a child left in Dean's care. Oh yeah, and that bitch Meg had latched onto me while Dean was off stopping a scarecrow from murdering...

Yeah, there it is. Probably the one over-riding reason why Dean... I understand the why. I even accept the why. But what it's going to do to my brother...I'm never going to forgive Them--the gods, overseers, monkeys-in-charge, whatever the hell/heaven runs the universe. See, eventually, he's going to be--more, better, but the journey to that point... I shake my head and will the tears back down into their ducts. Dean has been, is, and is going to be hurt. He's not going to break, however. Dean doesn't break. He bends, flows--loudly, bitterly, sarcastically--around or through the obstacle that stands between him and his objective. Because he has an objective, and not an obsession or a vengeance.

I curl my fist in frustration. How will I be able to explain it to him if I can't explain it to myself? There's this huge difference between me and Dean, the same one that's between Dean and Dad. You see, Dad and I are into hunting the night uglies because they pissed us off. They killed Mom, and they killed Jess. To us, the hunt is all about an eye for an eye. For Dean, it's about keeping people safe. Maybe it started off as a way to keep the family safe, but Dean's gone beyond that now. It took me a while to notice because when I'm with Dean, Dean protects me, so I thought he was just doing what he'd been told to do when the demon took our mom--"Dean, protect your brother." But Dean has shortened that to, "Dean, protect."

I smile, picturing Dean as a bad ass pit bull. A pit bull with a trunk full of very shiny, well-oiled weapons.

"See? That smile? Creepy as hell, Sam," Dean comments grumpily. "You know, since you aren't bothering to talk to me, I'm going back to sleep." He turns out the lamp with a vicious twist, thumps his pillow, and lays down. His breathing regulates quickly into sleep. That's training, you know, or conditioning. To grab sleep in miniscule amounts. I know if I make the slightest noise, he'll be awake, and the gun will be pointed, and Dean...Dean will once again be Action Dean. Dad's perfect little soldier, I called him. But it's not Dad's orders he's following anymore. He's moving beyond Dad. Beyond me. Soon, he won't need either of us. And that's good in a way, because Dad and I aren't in this for the long haul. We get our revenge and that's it. I go back to the life I've planned in my head, and Dad...I don't know, maybe he'll sit down and write a book about his experiences.

Dean--Dean's never going to quit. Hunting has become the sum of him. No, not hunting, but saving. Maybe it's the frustrated wannabe fireman in him. Or maybe the fireman would've been the frustrated one if Dean hadn't found his true calling. Because this is what it is, a calling as clear and real as any preacher's, politician's, athlete's. As I look back over all our past year's adventures, I hear over and over again, "Sam, get ‘em outta here!" Always me. Always the innocents.

That's why it's Dean, not me. Dean's the chosen of the Powers-That-Be, the designers of what was, is, and shall be. They've picked him to be the weapon wielded against the rising forces of evil because he's steadfast, devoted, and already skilled in the art of denying self. In my dream/premonition, I saw a broadsword, its thick blade totally devoid of decoration. Instead of a hilt, all I saw was a fist, knuckles bleeding and swollen, but gripping tightly and surely. I knew that hand. As a child, it had fed me and dried my tears. As a boy, it had pushed/pulled me and guided me forward. As a man it had pulled me up into safety or shoved me out of harm's way. I knew my brother's hand. I will always know my brother's hand.

But the dream was not telling me Dean was the one wielding this sword. It was telling me Dean was the sword. All this chaos--Mom and Jess's deaths, the demons we found, the demons that found us--was forging Dean, honing him, fashioning him into a weapon with sharp, unforgiving edges. The sword was unadorned because decoration symbolized fragile beauty and by the time this forging was done, there would be nothing fragile or beautiful about Dean, save for the perfect symmetry of his purpose. He would be hard, stark, tempered, and no instrument created by or used by Hell would prevail against him.

Oh, this is a good and noble thing my brother's becoming, but the price...the price is so steep. He'd already given up the thought of a home, wife, and two point five kids. In the best of worlds, I'd go back to a real life and Dad would write that book, but I'm pretty sure this isn't the best of worlds. Dad and I will probably one day be other sacrifices, more prices for Dean to pay, our obsessions weakening and blinding us. I think that will be the day that what's left of today's Dean will slip off and fall to the dusty highway that we constantly travel. On that day, the Powers will have their weapon and the denizens of Hell will feel his shadow fall upon their graves. In the peace that comes afterward, Dean will be alone...and somewhere I'll be shedding tears and begging for favors.

On second thought, I'm not going to tell Dean anything. I think the dream was meant for me, to make me aware of Dean, to make memories of this Dean--his laughter and smiles and occasional childish antics. In the final polishing, Dean will lose these things and although it'll be the world's gain, it will also be it's loss. Tomorrow, I'll thank him for what he's done and what he will do. He won't want to hear it, and he'll end up telling me to shut the fuck up, but it's something I need to say.

I glance over at the opposite bed and all I see is the top of his head and a small expanse of back. Devoid of decoration, my ass.

I've never seen a more beautiful sight.

Transcript from episode 1x21 - Salvation:

SAM: Dean, uh....(DEAN turns to look at him.) I wanna thank you.

DEAN: For what?

SAM: For everything. You’ve always had my back, you know? Even when I couldn’t count on anyone, I could always count on you. And now....I don’t know, I just wanted to let you know—just in case.

DEAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you kiddin’ me?

SAM: What?

DEAN: Don’t say, “Just in case somethin’ happens to you”, I don’t wanna hear that freakin’ speech, man. Nobody’s dyin’ tonight. Not us, not that family, nobody—except that demon. That evil son of a bitch ain’t gettin’ any older than tonight, you understand me? (SAM nods, and they resume watching the house.)


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