Dean was angry. Always angry. Sam had stabbed him in the back and the world was going down the toilet. He refused to speak to Sam, refused to acknowledge him except when he had to. Never spoke fondly of him or about him. He didn't care what look Sam had on his face. It didn't matter. Sam deserved everything he got and more.
Dean woke up in an unfamiliar location. Except that suddenly it was. He sat up, turned to the bed next to him, and narrowed his eyes at a nine-year-old Sam. He suddenly understood what he needed to do. He needed to force Sam to understand that he couldn't just get away with dooming the world.
Dean stood as the motel door suddenly was off its hinges. A shapeshifter, he remembered, that was after Sam. He stood there, pondering about whether this little Sam deserved to be left to fend for himself or not, but the reminder of Sam decided it for him.
The shapeshifter lunged at Sam. Dean let it. It fell short of reaching the little boy, who jarred awake and trembled. Sam scrambled to his feet and tried to take refuge behind his brother. Dean refused to move to assist in protecting Sam. When the shapeshifter moved forwards, Dean stepped out of its way. Wide, terrified, betrayed eyes focused on Dean's as Sam was grabbed. Dean didn't care. Sam deserved it. All of it. And more.
John kicked down the door a few minutes later. The shapeshifter had scratched Sam to pieces. Dean was perfectly unmarred. John shot the shapeshifter in the heart and grabbed Sam. "THE •••• DID YOU DO, DEAN?!!!!!!" John demanded.
Dean smiled smugly. "I taught the brat a lesson. How's it feel to get stabbed in the back, Sammy?" Dean chuckled. Sam began crying and burrowing into his dad's arms.
John was not amused. "The •••• did Sammy do to deserve any of that?" he snarled.
Dean was not in the slightest put off. "Kid stabs me in the back and causes the apocalypse in the future, but I can't do anything about it. So, since I have an opportunity to show him how it feels, I decided to use it."
Suddenly, Dean was back in his present. Gabriel was standing in front of him, looking gravely disappointed. "So you think if you had stopped protecting Sam when he was little, the world would be a better place. Is that it?" Gabriel asked coldly.
"Well obviously." Dean scoffed.
"Then I'll show you what would have happened then." Gabriel muttered, then raised a hand.
Dean was suddenly in a motel room with himself. There were two beds. "Hey, he told me you were coming." alternate Dean said calmly.
"So this is what would have happened if I'd stopped protecting Sam?" Dean asked, peeking out the window.
"Yeah, works out great, huh?" alternate Dean said bitterly.
"So where's Sam?" Dean asked, glancing around.
"Committed suicide age 18." alternate Dean intoned, sitting on one of the beds.
Dean's eyes widened and he dropped onto the other bed. He would never have let that happen. This had to be a mistake. "How the heck did he do that?" he asked accusingly.
Alternate Dean narrowed his eyes at his counterpart. "I saw it happening. Every day I saw it happening. I didn't catch right away, of course. Didn't pay enough attention to. But all of a sudden he was depressed. Always slumped over, eyes on the ground, avoided contact with me all the time, never tried to start a conversation. I knew the signs. Teachers had a whole presentation on it and everything. But I had no idea what to do. Then Sam stayed home sick one day. I tried to talk him out of it, tried to talk dad into letting me stay home 'cause dad was heading out too, had to get something to another hunter. But dad dropped me off at school. I got home, found Sam on the floor. Drug overdose on top of being beyond wasted. Took every pill he could get his hands on. And there was nothing I could have done. It had been so long since I'd really given a crap that I didn't remember how to be a big brother." alternate Dean admitted finally, heaving a weary sigh.
Dean felt sick. Now that they had been said aloud, he realized Sam had shown some of them. Maybe all of them. "What about dad? Is he still alive? And is there an apocalypse anyway?" Dean pressed.
Alternate Dean gave a low, sad chuckle. "Dad was worse off than me. He tried to save Sam. Tried his hardest. It's why he'd started sticking around so much. When he came home and found out about Sam that evening, he hung himself. I had given up caring for so long I didn't remember how to. So I just went on. But hey, no apocalypse, right? And besides, not like I need anybody around." alternate Dean shrugged.
Dean couldn't understand anything beyond the fact that this version of him was alone. All the time. "Did he ever talk about killing himself?" Dean asked tensely.
"Yeah. I heard him mention it to Bobby a few times. And dad once. It's what got dad to start sticking around."
Dean nodded once. His mind was focused more on how he could fix his relationship with his brother, because now that he thought about it Sam had been talking about killing himself a lot lately. And he guessed he was extremely lucky to remember how to be a big brother. Even though he had been determined to never forgive Sam for his mistakes. That was all it was, a massive mistake.
Dean was suddenly back in the motel room with his little brother. Sam was huddled in bed, feigning sleep. Dean could tell. "Sam?" he asked quietly.
Sam sighed and sat up. Dean suddenly wondered if he really did know what to do. But it was already too late to back out. "Yeah?" Sam asked tiredly, posture folded in on itself.
"Sammy, I know I've been mad at you for a long time now. I know-"
Sam shook his head. "I deserve it. I betrayed you. But I kept waiting for you to do what you said you would."
Dean paused, trying to think of anything he might have said he would do to Sam, but for the life of him he couldn't remember even talking to Sam. "I-I don't know what you're talking about. What did I say I would do to you?" Dean asked.
Sam fished out his phone. "You all but said you were gonna kill me if we saw each other again." Sam answered, playing a voicemail that Dean recognized as having been sent by him the day Sam went to kill Lilith. Dean listened, and was immediately assaulted by his voice, loud and angry and full of hate, calling Sam a monster, a vampire, and saying that he was done trying to save Sam. This wasn't the voice mail he'd sent his baby brother. These were words he could never, would never, say to Sam. Not for anything. How could Sam think this came from him?
Suddenly, Dean understood. He had reached up to grab the amulet, only to remember having thrown it away. Dean felt sick with disgust at himself. He remembered not having the energy to care as he turned and left that room. But now that he was trying so hard, he remembered the broken look on Sam's face. Sam had given that amulet to him, back before the •••• hit the fan, as a sign of his love towards his big brother. Dean had never taken it off. And then he found out about Sam's mistakes, and he had given it to Castiel. And then when he learned it was useless, he had dumped it. Sam had been punished so severely for an addiction he was /born/ to suffer from. Sam had tried to reach out, tried to ask for help, and Dean had left him to deal with it alone.
But how could Sam have thought Dean could work up the nerve to kill him? Dean didn't take long to find an answer. And it wasn't one he was happy to acknowledge. Sam had been called both a monster and a freak by almost everyone around him. He had been raised to believe that all monsters should be killed. It was all starting to make such awful, perturbing sense.
"Dean? Y-you okay?" Sam asked timidly.
Dean snapped back to the present and realized his prolonged silence had probably made Sam nervous, at the absolute least. "•••, Sammy, I've been such an •••hole to you." he lamented, throwing his arms around his little brother. Sam blinked in surprise, joy, and fear. "That voicemail isn't the one I sent you. I swear. The one I sent you, I was trying to apologize for acting like dad and trying to let you know I forgave you. I'd never say I couldn't save you. Never say I wanted to kill you. Never could." Dean paused as another horrifying realization struck. "Is that why you went in there? To fight Lilith? Were you planning not to make it?"
Sam ducked his head into Dean's shoulder, suddenly sobbing. Dean did his best to soothe his languished brother. When Sam had gotten it mostly under control, he replied, "I thought maybe I could die taking out the demon that took you away. I owed you that much at least. Then you wouldn't have to kill me or be afraid of her. I could go out doing the right thing. But I was wrong. And I failed everyone." Sam was notably struggling to keep from breaking down against his brother again.
"Sammy…" Dean said sadly, cupping the back of Sam's neck. "I've been mad at you for so long, and then I find out it wasn't even your fault. I'm just…I'm so sorry."
"Where were you earlier anyway?" Sam mumbled.
"Your angel decided I should see what would have happened if I had stopped caring about you when I was fifteen." Dean mumbled.
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"I met myself, he was in a motel room with two beds in it. So I asked him where you were. He told me you killed yourself at age 18. He had forgotten how to be a big brother, so he didn't know how to save you. And you just slipped through his fingers. Dad started taking an interest again, because even he could see it was getting bad. He had to leave to deliver some things to another hunter, the other me was forced to go to school. You stayed home sick. When they got back, you were dead. You'd taken every pill you could find and drank well past legal limit of alcohol. Dad turned around and hung himself for leaving your side." Dean explained forlornly.
Sam cuddled in close to his big brother. Dean was upset. Dean was upset that in some bizarro universe, he hadn't cared about Sam, and had lost what was left of his family for it. Sam had needed comfort for ages, and right now Dean needed to care. So Sam accepted the comfort just the smell of his brother supplied and allowed Dean to take comfort in their closeness.
Gabriel smirked and turned to his own little brother. "Told you I could fix this one." he said smugly.
Castiel nodded. "I never said I doubted your ability. I simply said I could not."
Gabriel chuckled a little. "Yeah, well, you wanna give 'em some actual privacy or are we gonna just keep staring at them?"
"I believe it would be best to give them some time to themselves." Castiel said, squinting slightly at the two hunters. "I hope this is a lesson neither of them soon forget."
"Me too." And with that Gabriel took off with Castiel following right behind him. The two angels took turns picking activities until either hunter called them. Balthazar joined at one point early in the morning and not long after they were wreaking havoc on unsuspecting cupids.