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[personal profile] last01standing
Title: To Cross the Universe
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Supernatural is emphatically not mine
Summary: The man Sam finds strung up in the djinn’s lair is not his brother.
Spoilers: AU after What is and What Should Never Be
Author's note: Written as part of Sweet Charity for muffaletta



To Cross the Universe

None of this is real, Dean thinks, fingering the knife. The djinn’s stuck me in a dream world and I just have to wake the hell up.

“Dean,” Sam says, panicked now, “Dean I’m here, I’m real, and you’re about to kill yourself.” And then quieter, he adds, “Dean, I believe you.”

The words hit him harder than they should. He knows he’s not crazy. He’s been doing this far too long to still think he’s crazy, but somehow, Sam voicing it makes everything feel painfully real.

The knife hovers inches away from his stomach. If you’re about to die in a dream, you wake up. He knows the legend well enough, but it’s not something he’s ever wanted to put to the test.

“Dean,” says Sam again. “Dean, please.”

“I’m sorry,” Dean says and takes a leap of faith.

The knife hitting his stomach isn’t supposed to hurt like this.

___________________________________________________________



When he sees the djinn drinking Dean’s blood, Sam loses it. He’s not sure of the last time he snapped like this. He thinks it might have been in the house with Max Miller, images of his brother’s blood splattered all the walls. He’s not entirely aware of what happens next, just that something inside him breaks.

The djinn never stood a chance.

It’s not until later, as Sam is wiping the djinn’s blue, glowing blood from his knife that he stumbles towards Dean and his world gets knocked off kilter.

The man Sam finds strung up in the Djinn’s lair is not his brother.

Sam knows it immediately, from the first time his hands brush the rope binding his wrists. He shrinks back as if burned when Dean raises his eyes--the same color, the same shade as his Dean’s eyes—and mumbles, “Sam?”

There’s a shotgun filled with rock salt his hip and he drops the knife in its favor.

“Jesus,” whispers the thing that is not his brother, “Jesus, Sam, why the fuck do you have a gun?”

“What have you done with him?” Sam hisses. “Where’s Dean.”

“Sam,” the doppelganger mutters and there’s something in his voice that makes Sam pause before he shoots. “Sam what are you doing?”

“Where’s my brother?” Sam hisses.

“Your name is Samuel Winchester,” Dean said, a tremor in his voice that Sam has never heard before. “Parents are Mary and John, you go to Stanford law school and scored a really hot number named Jess who’s way out your league.”

“Hold on,” Sam says, dropping the knife. “Law school?

He pauses for a full twenty seconds as the second part of his statement finally registers. “Jess?”


___________________________________________________________


Dean wakes up in a hospital room with a huge gnawing pain in his gut. It’s not Sam at his bedside but Carmen, with her scrubs and her wide smile. “Dean?” she asks. “Dean, are you awake?”

“I feel like I’ve be run over by a freaking eighteen-wheeler,” Dean grumbles. Again, he adds silently.

“We thought you were dead,” Carmen mutters, her hand resting lightly on his. “Sam told us what happened. How you guys got mugged and the guy pulled a knife on you.”

“Mugged?” Dean echoes faintly and then reality snaps back full force, the girl hanging from the djinn’s lair, Jessica on Sam’s arm with a ring and above all, his mom, vibrant and so alive.

And then he remembers the hunt and his brother, his Sammy back in the real world, looking, searching for any sign of him. “Dean?” Carmen says. “Dean you look a little freaked.”

The hand on his arm burns. You’re not real, he wants to scream, you’re here and you’re perfect and my brother’s happy, but this isn’t real.

“Where’s Sam?” he croaks. “Is he all right?”

“I’ll call him,” Carmen says. “He and Jessica are still at your mom’s house. He’s worried about you.” She leans closer to him, too close. “I was worried too.”

He wonders what changed while he was sleeping. Why the brush of her lips against his own suddenly feels like cheating rather than perfection. This is not his world. He can’t be happy when he knows what’s out there, when he knows that people are dying because he isn’t there.


___________________________________________________________


He can’t take Dean to the hospital. The real Dean probably wouldn’t need it, but this Dean is a complainer. He’s concussed, malnourished and nowhere close to hunting shape.

(His real brother has been gone for four days three hours and forty seven minutes. Not that he’s counting.)

“Sam,” the not-Dean says, “Explain to me again why there’s an arsenal in the trunk of my car.”

“It’s not your car,” Sam snaps. “And if you were really Dean, you’d know.”

They stop by a run-down motels and Sam swabs disinfectant into Dean’s still raw wound as the other man squirms. “When did you learn how to do stuff like this anyway?”

“Part of the job,” Sam mumbles.

“They teach first aid in law school?” Dean asks.

“I never went to law school,” Sam says and just then things start to click, rapid fire in his mind all the tiny oblique references to Jess and mom and Stanford and the picture slides into focus.

“You are Dean,” he says more for his own benefit than anything. “You’re just not the right one.”


___________________________________________________________


“So,” Sam says as he walks into Dean’s hospital room. “Demons are real.”

He’s got a black eye and four stitches in his side, standing out against otherwise unmarred skin. “You saw it then,” Dean guesses. “The djinn?”

“Guy with the tattoos and the glowing blue hands?” Sam says, still mildly frantic. “Yeah, Dean. I saw him. What I want to know is why you knew about this whole thing beforehand.”

“It’s a long story,” Dean says.

“Your girlfriend’s the nurse,” Sam says. “She’s not kicking me out. I’ve got time.”

Dean hesitates. This Sam is unmarked. This Sam hasn’t grown up without a mother. He has never seen his girlfriend burning on the ceiling. He has never learned Latin or how to hold a gun, never crisscrossed the country in the old Impala, never combed obituaries for possible leads, never been on the run from the FBI…

“Dean,” Sam says, “Dean, you don’t get to deal with this all on your own.”

This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a mirage, he’s not going to wake up if he gets close to dying. He’s here and now he’s stuck.

And he’s brought his darkness with him. “Sammy,” he says. “I don’t want you involved in this.”

“Too late,” Sam says. “I’m already involved. I want to know what happened.” He pauses for another long moment and then says, “You’re not my brother, are you?”

___________________________________________________________


Sam used to wonder what Dean would have been like without the hunt, without the isolation. In the days before he’d left for Stanford, he used to dream of it. Dean as a cop or a firefighter, with a college education and a permanent home, dropping in on Sam in college with a wise-ass grin just to tease his brother about being such a brain.

What bothers him about this Dean is not how much is different, but how much is the same. The smiles, the flirting, the sarcasm. The sensation of loss is so profound, he starts cataloging the differences just so he doesn’t go insane.

This Dean has an accent, product of living in Lawrence all his life. He’s got a girlfriend named Carmen, a mother who’s still breathing and he hasn’t talked to his brother since last Thanksgiving when he’d swiped his brother’s credit card to cover a gambling debt. He works in a garage. He never went to college.

He’s never pulled anyone from a burning building. He’s never exorcised a demon. He’s never saved his brother’s life.

Sam flips the page in his book. Dean is out at the nearby roadhouse shooting pool with some of the locals. Sam is too tired to warn him about the dangers of getting the cops on his tail, too tired to tell him he to lay low until Sam can do his research and find out a way to get him back where he belongs.


___________________________________________________________


“I figured it out,” Sam said on the day they released Dean from the hospital. “How you got here, I mean.”

Dean sits in the passenger seat of his Impala with Sam at the wheel. The music on the radio is some of that soft emo-rock crap they listen to at college. Dean’s fingers itch to change it, but he doesn’t. “Enlighten me.”

“It’s a parallel universe,” Sam says.

“What?” Dean asks, “Like that Star Treck, science fiction bullshit.”

“It’s not science fiction,” Sam says and for a moment, he sounds so much like Dean’s Sam that it feels like a punch to a gut. “String theory, parallel universes it’s all very popular with actual scientists these days.”

“Science, science fiction, they’re practically the same thing. Still, assuming I actually believe this, what would have happened to this universe’s Dean?”

Sam can’t meet his eyes and all of a sudden, the knowledge hits Dean with shocking clarity. “He’s where I should be, isn’t he?”

Sam shrugs. “That would be my guess. Makes more sense than a dream world.”

“Well,” Dean says, shifting uncomfortably in his seat so as not to pull his stitches, “That’s just… peachy. Got any handy ways to get me back?”

Sam’s grin falls from his face. “I haven’t got that far yet. Everything’s highly theoretical. You see, there are…”


___________________________________________________________


“…these two universes, right?” Sam says. “Essentially the same worlds, but with different people, different choices. And every once in a while, they bump. Not for long, but enough for a djinn to reach through and swap the two of you.”

Dean who is not really Dean yawns. “So basically we’re talking magic.”

“No,” Sam says, “We’re talking astrophysics and the make-up of the universe.”

“Yeah,” Dean says, “magic.” He flops down on the motel bed, taking up twice the space that his size should allow. “I really need a beer.”

“What we need,” Sam says, “is to get you back to where you belong.” There is a pile of books on his nightstand, books on djinn and the nature of the universe and he’s running on nothing but caffeine after three straight all-nighters and it all says the same thing. “From what I can tell it could be a while. There’s a pattern to it, an ebb and flow. This isn’t the only case.”

“How long?” Dean asks. “Couple of weeks? I can do with a few weeks off work after night like that.”

“If I’m right,” Sam says. “Summer solstice is the next time the walls are going to be weak. That means three months. We’ve got to be in that warehouse in three months. With you on one side and my Dean on the other, we shouldn’t even have to do a thing. It’ll just go back to the natural way of things.”

Dean pushes himself to a sitting position and turns to stare at Sam. “How do we know your Dean’s going to make it there? I’m not exactly the most reliable guy on the planet.”

“He’ll be there,” says Sam.

He’s got to be there because he’s Dean.

___________________________________________________________


The warehouse is empty when they return and Dean has the sneaking suspicion that finding this djinn was the only sure-fire way to get back.

So they make a plan, hatch a pact.

It’s a road trip, Sam tells Jess, It’s my last hurrah at bachelorhood before I take the big plunge.

It’s a road trip,
Dean tells Carmen, I’m turning over a new leaf. I want to fix things with my brother.

They slide into the Impala, Dean in the driver’s seat, Sam in the passenger’s. The mix tapes in the cassette player are the same songs in the wrong order and Sam has the newspaper open, four different obituaries circled in red. They’re looking for the djinn, looking for some way to send Dean back, but he’s never been averse to taking out whatever evil sons of bitches they may find along the way.

Besides, it’s not like he knows where to start.

“How about this one?” Sam asks. “A pair of guys manage to drown on a hike in the desert. No water around for miles.”

Dean nods, smiles, says, “Where we headed then, Sammy?”

“Arizona,” says Sam.


___________________________________________________________


It is the road trip from hell.

If Sam thought traveling with Dean could be bad before, this is around twenty times worse. It’s not that the habits are all that different; Dean still eats more grease than actual food, he still leaves his dirty clothes on Sam’s bed, he still drinks, he still flirts, but there’s something missing.

This is not the brother he knows. The one who put everyone else before himself, who gave and gave and gave without asking for much in return. This Dean is selfish.

This Dean is no hero. He’s just a guy. A normal everyday guy who likes going out for drinks and getting laid. He rationalizes like any other civilian when Sam patches him up and takes him on the road.

He doesn’t believe in demons.

Maybe that’s why Sam doesn’t tell him a thing about the hunt, why he leaves his brother passed out in the motel room when he goes out to find a poltergeist, why he lies and says he was in a bar fight when Dean asks why’s he’s so broken and bloody the next morning.


___________________________________________________________


“We did it!” Sam breathes, as Dean offers him a hand up.

Sam’s hands are slick with blood and he can see a dark bruise rising on the side of his cheek, but his eyes are shining with purpose.

“Dean,” he says again. “We actually did it. We saved those people. They would have been dead without us.”

“Yeah,” Dean says. “Yeah, I guess we did. That’s great, come on, we got to get that cut of yours cleaned before you go get it infected.”

“You don’t understand,” Sam says and Dean has to be a little worried about the blood loss. He grabs for Dean’s shirt with a blood-slicked hand. “Dean, that was, it—we’re heroes you know?”

“Heroes,” Dean mutters and his face splits into a grin.

It’s been a long time since he thought of this as anything but a job.


___________________________________________________________


“I want the truth,” Dean demands. “This isn’t just the world’s most bizarre road trip. I mean your Dean gets swapped out for me and you’ve barely flinched. It’s like living with a freaking robot…”

“What’s brought this on?” Sam says after a long pause. “Why now, why not two weeks ago when this first happened?”

Dean rolls his eyes. “I thought you were going to fill me in, not pretend nothing’s wrong. I may not know you very well, and I may be a selfish son of a bitch, but I’m not an idiot, Sam. I want to know what’s going on. Where’s Carmen? Where’s Mom? Where’s Jess? Why aren’t you in Stanford? And why the hell is there an arsenal in my trunk?”

“It’s not your car,” Sam says and there’s red seeping into the edges of his vision. “You’re not Dean.”

“Yes,” Dean says, matching him in volume. “I am Dean. I’m your brother. I may not be the one you’re used to, but I am your brother. And I want to know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Or at very least why you won’t let me go back home.”

There’s a flash of red that explodes in his vision and the tacky green lamp by the beside table shatters into a million shards of ceramic. Sam takes a deep breath and pushes himself back into control. The last thing he needs is a freaky ass psychic episode to freak him out. Dean is staring at the pieces in a mute kind of shock.

Very quietly, Sam says, “The thing that took you is called a djinn. It punched a hole through the fabric of reality and switched the two of you. Me and Dean were looking for it because that’s what we do. We hunt demons, vampires, ghosts, you name it. You can’t go home because you don’t have one and we have to keep moving because a skinwalker took your form and now the FBI thinks we’re murders. Mom and Jess aren’t here because they’re dead and the thing that killed them is…”

Dean lets him talk, staring impassively as Sam spills his fractured soul all over the hotel room. Finally as he trails off, Dean flashes him one of his most irritating smiles. “See,” he says. “That wasn’t that hard, was it?”

Sam stares at him with glassy eyes.

“For what it’s worth,” Dean adds, “I believe you.”

Sam chokes out a sound, half sob, half laugh and for just a minute, everything’s all right.


___________________________________________________________


He’d told Sam, this Sam, once that he’d been good at hunting and he’s starting to think that was a straight up lie. This Sam has none of the grace that his Sam has. None of the coordination born of years of training and hunting and every time he pins Sam in a sparring match a part of him screams at how wrong it is.

“Again,” Dean says. “Come on, with those freaky limbs of yours, you should be kicking my ass.”

“Dean,” Sam says, annoyed.

This Sam is still awkward. Stuck in that little boy stage of someone who grew too high too fast and isn’t comfortable in their own skin. Dean hasn’t seen Sam look this clumsy since he was fourteen, that one night he’d sprouted up and outgrew both him and dad on the same day.

The first time he shoots a shotgun, the recoil almost knocks him to the ground. Dean laughs even though he hates the thought of his brother unable to defend himself.

Still, Sam’s picking it up slowly, just like he’s picking up Latin and research technique.

Sam lunges at him, with a big clumsy swing at his face that Dean dodges without even having to think about it. The follow-through puts Sam off balance and Dean uses his momentum against him, grabbing his arm and spinning him around, pinning him to the ground in a matter of second.

“Again,” Dean says. “That's not good enough.”

“Dean,” Sam protests.

“No, Sammy,” Dean says. “One of these days we’re going to come across something a little more substantial than your standard poltergeist and I need to know you’ve got my back.”

Sam rubs at his shoulder and gives a little sigh of resignation. “What did I do wrong?”

“You’re wasting motion,” Dean says. “You don’t need to go for the knock out move every swing. It’s a lot more important to be quick about it.”

He shows Sam the proper way to throw a punch, the proper way to block one, how to keep his balance, how to get back up.

“Better,” he says as Sam finally lands a punch.

But he takes his brother out twenty seconds later and when he’s pulled himself up and gulped down a bottle of water, Dean says, “Again.”


___________________________________________________________


Sometimes, when Sam is lying in the dark, he thinks about his brother in the wrong universe. He wonders if he’s on the same maddening quest, sharing rooms with another Sam, waiting for the three months until their time is up and they can get back where they belong.

(Dean has been gone for five weeks, four hours and eighteen minutes. He hasn’t stopped counting.)

One night he wakes up in a cold sweat panicked by the sudden pervasive notion that maybe Dean wouldn’t be coming back, that maybe he was off tracking the djinn Sam had already killed and didn’t know of another way back.

The thought keeps him up for a good hour until Dean’s snores from the next bed lull him back to sleep.


___________________________________________________________


They fight a poltergeist outside Reno and Sam breaks his wrist, Dean cracks a rib in Salt Lake City when a shape shifter raises some trouble. It’s a hell of a lot easier to deal with the things without the FBI breathing down their backs.

Sam sends post card to Jess and Dean does the same to Carmen. Sam never leaves long messages, just ‘love, Sam.’ Dean has no problem selling the lie. He tells Carmen about all the sites he’s never seen and would have felt guilty she actually felt like his girlfriend.

They run into Andy Gallagher in Guthrie, and Sam shoots him a funny look after the seventh mention of Jedi mind tricks. Andy is still Andy, still living out of the back of his van, still getting stoned every other day, but he’s not psychic.

That’s the change between this world and Dean’s, it’s not that his mom gets to live, it’s not that Sammy went to college, it’s that old yellow eyes never existed.

Still, when Sam starts waking up every night with dreams of Jessica on fire, of Mom on fire, Dean starts to get a little worried.


___________________________________________________________


Sam’s been dreaming about Jess again.

Jess on fire, Jess on the ceiling, Jess with the red slash across her white night gown, dripping blood onto his forehead.

The Yellow-Eyed Demon is coming and his brother is trapped in some alternate universe while he’s left to fight alone.

He’s not sure if he can meet this fight without his brother.

(Two months, eight days and seventeen hours gone. The time is passing with maddening slowness.)

He’s not even sure if his brother is coming.

___________________________________________________________


It happens slowly.

Just a few boxes of salt and some butane at first. Then a colt, (but not the colt) and some silver bullets. Then a shotgun Dean shows Sam how to load with rock salt. A few decent silver knives…

Sam isn’t comfortable with it. He’s a law student after all, and this many illegal weapons in the trunk makes him all sorts of nervous, but for Dean, opening that trunk feels a little bit like coming home.


___________________________________________________________



He doesn’t fight right, Sam realizes as he watches Dean move.

Sure he’s got the basic know-how, how to punch, how to dodge, how to weave, but everything’s sloppy, like he’s used to drunken brawls rather than fights for his life.

He doesn’t take the stupid risks Sam is used to seeing from his brother. He doesn’t throw himself into danger with a reckless abandon that seems borderline suicidal.

He fights differently.

But Sam can work with that.


___________________________________________________________



Dean pushes the leads they have on the djinn’s whereabouts because no matter how much this had seemed like a perfect world at the beginning it’s starting to feel a little too much like work.

And he misses Sam. Not the law student stuck on the world’s most bizarre road trip, with a brother he barely knows, but his Sammy, the real Sam. The one who knew how to fight and called him a jerk every time he called him a bitch.

“Dean?” Sam says after yet another dead end. “You ever consider what would have happened if Sam—the other Sam just killed this thing in your world.”

The thought plagues Dean. He pulls all nighters with thick research books looking for another chance, another loophole but he was never good at this. Researching, finding answers was always Sam’s forte. And this Sam didn’t have the same know-how. While Dean has no doubt that Sam could recite laws to the letter, he just doesn’t have the same encyclopedic knowledge of demons.


___________________________________________________________


“I’m sorry, you know,” Dean says as they pull each other back to the motel room after a particularly nasty hunt.

“Why?” Sam asks. He’s in worse shape than Dean is, but he knows how to handle it better.

“I’m sorry I’m not him,” Dean slurs.

“It’s not your fault,” Sam says.

Dean goes quiet for a long moment and Sam almost thinks he’s lost consciousness before he says, “I don’t know how long I can do this.”

There’s another month to go. They just have to stick it out. They’re going to make it.


___________________________________________________________


In the end, Sam finds the answer in a book on theoretical physics and not the demonology textbook. The barest suggestion that the walls between the dimensions would weaken at the solstice.

“It’s still a long shot,” Sam cautions. “The odds of the two of you in the same place at the same time are astronomical.”

“My Sam would head back to the warehouse,” Dean says. “I’m assuming the other Dean is with him.”

“Summer solstice is tomorrow,” Sam says. “It’s a two day drive.”

They make it with time to spare.


___________________________________________________________


Things go smoothly until Sam wakes up to see Dean’s empty bed beside his. It’s enough to send Sam into a panic, because today’s supposed to be the day, the day when he gets his brother--his real brother, not the stranger who’s been in the passenger’s seat--back.

There’s something wrong with this, something that eats at his insides and threatens to tear him apart. He starts combing every street in the city, canvassing neighborhoods and attracting too much attention.

At ten past noon, his phone rings.

“How’s the search coming, Sammy?”

Ice seeps into Sam’s veins. “What did you do to him?”

“Your brother’s alive,” says the Yellow Eyed Demon. “How long he stays that way is up to you.”

Sam’s pulse doubles, his breathing quickens.

“You’re going to meet me at the crossroad,” the Demon says. “Midnight. We’re going to make a deal.”

“You really think I’m that stupid?” Sam says and his voice sounds miles away from his ears. “I’m not going to walk into that kind of trap. I know a place. An abandoned warehouse out in the woods.”

“Taking us to an even more secluded spot, are we Sammy-boy? Not your smartest move.”

“The last thing I want are civilians getting killed,” Sam says and it’s a fight to keep his voice steady. It’s a gamble, but it’s the only chance he’s got. “The warehouse.”

“Very well,” says the Demon. “The warehouse it is.”


___________________________________________________________


They’re about an hour away from the warehouse when Sam blacks out. Dean pulls over to the side of the road and spends the minute panicking because he can’t do a thing to help until the vision pass.

“God,” Sam mutters after what feels like an eternity, “My head.”

“Sam, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Sam mutters, rubbing at his temples.

“That wasn’t nothing,” Dean says. “That looked a hell of a lot like something. What’s going on?”

“Nothing here,” Sam clarifies. “I didn’t want to tell you, but ever since you came, I’ve been getting these flashes, impressions of your Sam. It doesn’t happen often, I think it comes when he’s feeling something strongly. This is the worst it’s been?”

“What’s he feeling,” Dean asks without even pausing to process the fact that his brother’s freaky psychic powers could transverse parallel worlds.

Sam swallows. “He’s terrified.”

___________________________________________________________


The air in the warehouse is thick, laden with dust and every breath Sam draws is a struggle. There are splotches of blood on the walls, caked in the dirt and Sam has uncomfortable flashbacks to the last time with the djinn.

A man walks out of the shadows. Shorter than he is, older with a craggy face and graying hair. Sam’s fists clench on their own accord. “Where is he?”

The Yellow-Eyed Demon smiles and slowly, looks up.

And there is Dean, Dean on the ceiling, Dean with his mouth open in a silent scream, Dean who is not his brother but is all he has left. “I’m going to kill you,” Sam hisses. “I swear to God, I’m going to kill you.”

“Try,” the Demon says, “and your precious Dean burns.”

“What do you want?” Sam asks.

“Isn’t it obvious?” the Demon says. “I want you. I went through quite a bit of trouble to get you where you are today.”

“I want my brother safe,” Sam says. “I’m not doing anything as long as you’ve got him.”

Sam’s stalling, talking out of his ass without a real plan, but he can’t think, can hardly move because Dean’s on the ceiling and if Dean dies, either of them, he’s got nothing left.

The Demon reads his eyes, smirks. “Tell you what, Sammy,” he says and when he waves his hand, Dean plummets from the ceiling and hits the ground. Sam can hear the wind whoosh out of his lungs, can hear his quiet moan of pain.

“It’s not even your brother, is it, Sammy?” the Demon says and with a wave of his hand, Dean’s body flies off the ground and pins itself to the wall. Sam flinches. “You’re going to risk everything for a fake, a hollow replacement?”

And just as he says that, it happens. There’s no flash, no blinding light, just the barest shudder of Dean’s body and he can see it change. Nothing outwards, but there’s a spark in his eyes Sam hasn’t seen in three months.

He drops lightly to the ground, and Sam looks into yellow eyes and realizes that he doesn’t know.

There’s a rusted iron rod, lying against the wall. Dean picks it up and the next thing Sam knows, he’s staring at the long end protruding from the Demon’s chest.

Iron’s an old standby when it comes to repelling demons, but Sam had forgotten the other use. As long a demon is touching iron, the super powers, the mind tricks, it’s all gone.

Yellow Eyes is staring that the iron rod with surprise. Sam, belts him across the face. He moves towards it, after it. Dean meets him half-way, pushing him in the other direction. “Move, Sammy,” he hisses. “That thing’s not going to stay down for long.”

“Dean!” Sam grunts, “We’ve got to finish it.”

“Unless you’ve found the colt again, we don’t have a way to stop it. Now where the hell did you put my car?”

They make it out before the Demon recovers. Dean in the driver’s seat for the first time since this whole ordeal started. “So,” Dean says when they’re five minutes out of the warehouse and the speedometer is passing ninety, “Please tell me you did not let that imposter drive my car.”

“He was you, Dean,” Sam says, feeling about a million years old. “Not the right version, but still you.”

“Yeah,” Dean says thoughtfully, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. “The other you was still a bitch.”

“Jerk,” Sam replies automatically and then his face softens. “Good to have you back, Dean.”

Dean glances to his brother, around the Impala and says, “Good to be home.”


___________________________________________________________


The ride in the Impala is suspiciously quiet. Dean’s in the driver’s seat, Sam on the passenger’s side. “Back in Black” is blaring out of the radio and it’s Sam not Dean pushing up the volume.

They don’t talk until the end of the tape and then it’s Dean who breaks the silence. “So, where to Sam, back home?”

Back home to a white picket fence and wedding preparations and law school and Sam wants it back, really he does, but after months of road tripping with the wrong Dean, he half thinks he’d like to get the know the right one.

Besides they’ve got weapons in the trunk, lighter fluid in the back seat and… “There’ve been some disappearances a few counties up,” Sam tries. “I was thinking maybe we could, you know, check it out.”

Dean doesn’t look at him, but Sam can tell he’s smiling.

(end)

ETA: The lovely, wonderful and talented [livejournal.com profile] fryadvocate remixed this fic for [livejournal.com profile] spn_remix. It's Someone Else's Girlfriend (the beer girl in a refrigerator remix) and it's a complementary Carmen POV to the events in this story. I highly recommend it.
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(no subject)

28/10/07 07:41 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] essenceofmeanin.livejournal.com
that was a really interesting AU! the last part really made me smile, too. thanks!

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:36 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you very much. I loved that episode and it was fun to play in that verse for a while.

(no subject)

28/10/07 11:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lightly.livejournal.com
This was excellent, and I LOVED the ending.

Really nice work.

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you! The ending was my favorite part as well. I felt a bit guilty about ending with the alternate Winchesters intead our Winchesters, but, whatever.

(no subject)

28/10/07 11:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] fleshflutter.livejournal.com
Awesome AU and I loved that there was a happy ending all round! :)

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:38 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks! Sometimes these boys need happy endings. What with all the WInchester whumping that goes around.

(no subject)

28/10/07 12:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sunset-dark.livejournal.com
That was a very clever idea, loved the way you explored the two sets of brothers, the fact that there would have been something to the image of Dean in the other world, why the other characters made assumptions about him. You also redeemed the other Sam who came across badly in the program and he came across now as someone much better. I also really liked the way the real Dean and Sam can tell what's missing in their sibling. Fascinating... Thanks for sharing it.

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:40 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for reading. I'm glad you liked the AU characterizations of Sam and Dean. For me Sam had a redeeming moment in the fact that he was stubborn enough to walk with his brother into the warehouse and I like the idea that AU Dean could have the same sort of redeemability.

(no subject)

28/10/07 13:48 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dolimir-k.livejournal.com
Ohh. I like this AU and the way you executed it. Very nicely done.

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:40 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
AUs are so very much fun to play with. Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

28/10/07 14:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] vesuvianite.livejournal.com
Cool concept. And I like how you incorporated the YED into the story.

If you don't mind a little constructive criticism, however, I did have a little trouble, at times, figuring out which version of Sam or Dean was speaking. And there's one section, in particular, where I'm wondering if you missed one of those separating black lines because it seems to switch from one Sam to the other, midstream.

It's the section that begins with:

Sam’s been dreaming about Jess again.

And ends with:

Sam isn’t comfortable with it. He’s a law student after all...

The first part seems to be about "our" Sam. He mentions worrying that the YED is coming and Dean won't be there to face it with him. But then the perspective switches and it's clearly the other Sam's POV. So it seemed to me that a black line was missing before It happens slowly. Am I right?

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:41 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
You are very right about that part. Thank you for pointing it out. I completely missed that. Stupid auto format in word automatically makes the black lines into things that don't come over in copy past...

Glad you liked this. Thanks fore reading!

(no subject)

28/10/07 15:53 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tabaqui.livejournal.com
Oh, interesting. That would have been a neat twist on the ep! I like both Sam and Dean slowly coming into the hunting world and i love Sam's 'we're heroes!' Too fun.
:)

Teeny thing:He’s got a black eye and four stitches in his stitches

Stitches in his stitches? :)

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:42 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Stitches in his stitches?

...well I'm sure it could happen. =)

yeah, that was supposed to be stitches in his side. Thanks for catching that.

Glad you liked it!

(no subject)

28/10/07 16:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] parlemer.livejournal.com
Wow, this is a very cool idea, and I just love the ending. Nicely done :)

(no subject)

28/10/07 21:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you very much. It was a blast to write

(no subject)

28/10/07 22:49 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blackcat333-99.livejournal.com
This was great. I loved how Sam was looking for the differences in NotDean because the similaries were wigging him out, and Dean was looking for the similarities in NotSam because the differences were throwing him. And the differences in fighting styles/training in both verses. Excellent.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:01 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm glad the AU versions of the boys worked out for you, because iron out exactly what would be different and the same was intensely confusing (kind of like that sentence =))

Thank you so much for reading.

(no subject)

28/10/07 22:54 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] caithream.livejournal.com
VERY interesting! This episode opened up a WORLD of possibilities (literally!), and I have not yet tired of reading all of them. Good work!

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:03 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Glad you liked it. It was certainly a fun episode to play with.

(no subject)

29/10/07 03:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ex-egorstan.livejournal.com
I enjoyed this story.

I do wonder though how long the other Dean and Sam are going to last in the hunting world without the proper training.

Thanks for sharing!

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
...the other Sam and Dean... well you see, AUDean accidently sets AUSam's hair on fire the first time they have a salt and burn and AUSam's all like 'that's it I'm going to get married now' but they still get together every couple months and try to take out a few ghosts. Neither Jess or Carmen like it because they always wind up scrubbing the blood out.

=) Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

29/10/07 03:11 (UTC)
ext_16464: (Orli7)
Posted by [identity profile] dairwendan.livejournal.com
This is such a great concept! I'm so happy both pairs of brothers were united in the end!
Thanks!

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it.

(no subject)

29/10/07 08:36 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] alphabet26.livejournal.com
I've read a couple of fics about that AU verse and I just love the concept. Your story was amazing. The way Our Sam and Dean try to bond with the Other Dean and Sam and how they they could bond, a little, but not quite. Sam was counting the days! I love how the Other Sam and Dean were brought together. Great job.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much.

The end of WiaWSNB bugs the hell out of me every time because, well, it was super cheesy. I liked this way much better.

(no subject)

29/10/07 13:59 (UTC)
ext_1310: (let's be killers babe)
Posted by [identity profile] musesfool.livejournal.com
Oh, very cool. I hope the AU Sam and Dean don't get themselves killed, though.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks! I can't really see AUSam sticking for the hunt for more than a few weeks after the story what with the impending marriage and all, so they're probably all right (and there is fluffy bunnies and brother talking and all is good. )

(no subject)

29/10/07 17:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] strangevisitor7.livejournal.com
This was just brilliant. A fabulous AU. I love your alt!sam and Alt!dean dealing with the "real" brothers. The ending just makes me smile because in the end the boys are hunters. It would be interesting to see the AU versions on a hunt.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much. Like I said before, I loved this episode but despised the ending. The super cheesy 'stay with us' bugged me to no end, I wanted Dean on a hunt with his alt!Sam and I wanted real Sam to have to deal with the Dean who was kind of a dick. So much more fun that way. =)

(no subject)

29/10/07 19:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] iamstealthyone.livejournal.com
Nicely done. Fun and well-executed idea to have the parallel universes. I really liked both Sams figuring out what was going on with the alternate universes and how to fix things, and that it took AU!Sam longer to do so. He’s still as smart as our Sam, but without our Sam’s background, he’d definitely be a little slower.

And I like that our boys both had some affection for the AU!boys, who definitely had enough similarities to our boys to make that logical.

Favorite lines:

(His real brother has been gone for four days three hours and forty seven minutes. Not that he’s counting.)

Oh, Sam.

“Dean,” Sam says, “Dean, you don’t get to deal with this all on your own.”

I love AU!Sam being so firm about this. *pets him*

What bothers him about this Dean is not how much is different, but how much is the same.

I really like this, because I can see how it would be easier if AU!Dean was drastically different. To have someone so similar just makes Sam miss his Dean all the more.

as Sam spills his fractured soul all over the hotel room

Nicely phrased.

“I’m sorry I’m not him,” Dean slurs.

*hugs him*

“What’s he feeling,” Dean asks without even pausing to process the fact that his brother’s freaky psychic powers could transverse parallel worlds.

Sam swallows. “He’s terrified.”


Oh, Sam. Of course he is. He’s so close to getting his own Dean back, and then the demon interferes.

“So,” Dean says when they’re five minutes out of the warehouse and the speedometer is passing ninety, “Please tell me you did not let that imposter drive my car.”

*g*

“The other you was still a bitch.”

*snickers*

“Good to have you back, Dean.”

Dean glances to his brother, around the Impala and says, “Good to be home.”


Aww. :)

but after months of road tripping with the wrong Dean, he half thinks he’d like to get the know the right one.

Aww to this, too. :)

“There’ve been some disappearances a few counties up,” Sam tries. “I was thinking maybe we could, you know, check it out.”

Dean doesn’t look at him, but Sam can tell he’s smiling.


Good ending, with the AU boys back together and on the road not only to hunting, but also to reconnecting with each other.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much for such a detailed comment. This brought a HUGE smile to my face. What was fun about this story was not so much what was different in the AU versions, but how much was the same. As for the ending, well, every once in a while, I've got to be a sap (especially considering I kill people in 50% of my stories) and besides, that's what hit me (and everyone else in fandom) about that episode. That Sam and Dean weren't SamandDean and it made me feel a lot better to put them on that road.

Again, thanks SO MUCH for the comment. Glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Posted by [identity profile] iamstealthyone.livejournal.com - 31/10/07 21:15 (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

29/10/07 23:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] labseraph.livejournal.com
Whew! What a ride! Swapping Dean and watching each of them deal in their non-universe is a very interesting exploration. I love how in character all of the are and the interactions are seamless and believable. Excellent job!

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Every time I watched that episode, I wanted to see Sam with the other Dean like we got to see Dean with the other Sam and exploring that was a blast. So happy you enjoyed it.

(no subject)

30/10/07 01:36 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] azephirin.livejournal.com
Oh, really interesting! I especially liked that there was a reconnection at the end for alternate!Sam and alternate!Dean.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Yes, one of my few stories where everyone walked away happy. Glad you liked it.

(no subject)

30/10/07 01:38 (UTC)
impalalove: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] impalalove
Man, that was cool! Loved it! ^^

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks SO MUCH!

(no subject)

30/10/07 01:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mistojen.livejournal.com
here via [livejournal.com profile] crack_impala. I loved this! What an interesting twist on the episode! ...that last bit had me smiling really big. Guh, I love this so much :D

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Cool! I got recced! Thanks for letting me know.

So glad you enjoyed the story.

(no subject)

30/10/07 02:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] paraserpiente.livejournal.com
Oh, sad. But lovely. :D

(no subject)

30/10/07 02:56 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] stoopbeck.livejournal.com
Awwww! That made me all warm and squishy inside. :]

So... now you need to write the continuing adventures of the alternate Winchesters... because that would be totally amazing.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Alternate Winchesters won't be happening mainly because Nano will eat my life next month, but it's fun to think about isn't it? Oddly, I can see AU Dean hunting solo way more easily than I can see Sam keeping it up. The man sounded a little shiftless.

Thank you so much for reading!

(no subject)

30/10/07 03:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ukyoo.livejournal.com
(His real brother has been gone for four days three hours and forty seven minutes. Not that he’s counting.)

This reminds me of [livejournal.com profile] kroki_refur's fic The Crow on the Cradle (http://kroki-refur.livejournal.com/72426.html). They're completely different stories, but the phrase just caught me, and how both fic keep repeating it.

V. nice work. :D I let out this groan of awesome when I caught onto the plot. It was great.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
(I think I started reading that fic once, waiting until the fearsome WIP tag is gone to keep reading. It's good stuff)

Thank you so much for reading. The concept was so much fun to play with.

(no subject)

30/10/07 03:58 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] morbidmuse.livejournal.com
Oh, wow. This is a fascinating piece. I LOVE the way you wrote the four central characters (our Dean, our Sam, the alternate Dean and the alternate Sam). You did a great job with the similarities and differences and how they would reasonably react with one another. And the ending is just perfect!

*saves to memories*

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you! The dynamics were so much fun to play with. I'm just glad I managed to work it without having to tag everything. real!Sam touched AU!Dean's shoulder. That would have been annoying.

(no subject)

30/10/07 04:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] resounding-echo.livejournal.com
Not only did it end happily, it ended doubly happy! Our AU boys finally found each other. :big smile:

This was a really engaging piece, concept to execution. Thank you for sharing.

(no subject)

31/10/07 19:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for reading. I'm glad you liked the happy ending!

(and OMG ICON LOVE!!)
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