The moment Naomi flaps off, Dean’s mind is immediately in a panic.
“Cass, zap me back to Sam! Now!” He’s already dialing Sam even as he yells at Cass. He's not letting Sam go. Ever.
“Dean, I can’t. Heaven is my home, and I need to fix it, at any cost.” Cass can’t see past his own worries. All he knows is he has to fix things; Sam made his own choice, and Cass can't let anything steal his focus.
“Cass, I couldn't give two shits about heaven! Sam is going to DIE. You still fail to realize my little brother is everything to me! You and the angels are nothing but a bunch of dicks, and I've just decided. I'm completely done with helping you, on ANYTHING. Take me to Sam RIGHT NOW or so help me I will make it my personal vendetta to rip out every damn angel’s wings myself.” Dean’s mind is so lost in the need to get back to Sam, before he's too late, he's practically vibrating with anger.
Cass has known Dean long enough to just nod and touch his shoulder, landing him right at the church’s front door.
Dean hears Sam’s voice shaky and speaking Latin then silence and as he throws open the doors. The first thing he sees is Sam, about to put his bloody hand over Crowley’s mouth.
“STOP!” Dean walks toward Sam as he looks up, sweaty and shaking uncontrollably. He looks as if he could collapse at any moment, arms glowing with a heavenly white light. The shock of Sam’s appearance and Crowley crying and whispering prayers is enough to make him stop walking. This is like a minefield and the hairs on his neck are standing on end. His brain is screaming to grab Sam and run, but his gut is warning him to be careful here.
Sam, upon seeing Dean walk in, is utterly confused at the older hunter’s objection. Sam's so close to their end goal, he feels so full of purpose and he knows how much he needs to finish this. Dean wanted this so much before now, what could've possibly changed his mind now, right when they’re so close to being done with demons forever?
"You have to believe me, Sam. Metatron lied to us. Finishing this will kill you."
Sam looks at Crowley, at his bloody hand, at how he's less than a second away from having all the demons on Earth sucked away.
Then Sam looks back at Dean, only saying one word, "So?"
Then Sam points to Crowley, "Look at him! Look how close we are. Other people will die if I don't finish this!” Sam looks at the love of his life and can only see his future. He needs to finish this task, with every fiber of his being.
"Think about this for a minute, Sammy. What have we learned since starting the trials? Pulling souls from hell, curing demons, hell, ganking a hellhound! We’ve gained enough knowledge on our side to turn the tide here! But I can’t do it without you.” Dean's fighting to stay calm, but he knows he can't let Sam finish this, demons or no demons. Sam's as skittish as a horse. If Dean can get close enough to touch him, he knows he can make this all stop.
“You can barely do it with me. You think I screw up everything I try. You think I need a chaperone, remember?” Tears fall down his face as he recalls his confession before starting this trial.
“Come on, Sammy. That’s not what I meant.” Dean's immediately hit with guilt, now that he can see how Sam actually took that.
“It's EXACTLY what you meant. You wanna know what I confessed in there? What my greatest sin was? It was all the times I've let you down.” Sam is filled with this holy purpose, but also with doubt about a lot of things as he admits this, and he watches as Dean's face falls.
Dean’s mind is immediately thrown back to when he first talked to Sam after the first trial.
“Cause, you know, we could find another devil dog. You could tag out. I could snuff the son of a bitch.”
“Look, we get too far down the road with this, we can't go back, and it'll be too late for me to jump in.”
“Don't forget, eloping is still an option. We could just find a small chapel in town and just get it over with.”
Dean hadn’t really paid attention then, because he was in protection mode, but now, his mind keeps bringing up the image of Sam’s faced etched in sadness, as if Dean didn’t believe he could do these things himself. He sees Sam’s face when he spoke of eloping and how hurt he had looked. His heart starts breaking, at realizing just how much he's hurt Sam.
He comes back to the present as Sam continues.
“I can’t do that again. What happens when you've decided I can't be trusted again? Who're you gonna turn to next time instead of me? Another angel, another vampire?” Sam's voice is filled with so much anguish as he watches Dean's face fall as he absorbs Sam's words, and is immediately hit with another flashback.
When Dean had introduced Sam to Benny, and Sam had looked at them as if Dean had said Sam was not enough.
He thought of all the times in those first few months they had fought about Benny.
“Benny's a vampire. And any hunter worth his salt isn't gonna let one just walk around freely. So I had Martin keep tabs on him. And right now, it's looking like I made the right call.”
“Every relationship I have ever had has gone to crap at some point. But the one thing I can say about Benny – he has never let me down.”
“These are innocent lives we're talking about, Dean. You're willing to risk that on Benny's word alone?” “Damn right I am.”
The fighting was about trust, but Sam had fought as if he'd thought Dean had fallen in love with someone else.
He sees the time the Specter had possessed him, and he had unloaded all his pent-up anger about purgatory and hurt at Sam.
“Mistakes? Well, let's go through some of Sammy's greatest hits. Drinking demon blood, check. Being in cahoots with Ruby. Not telling me that you lost your soul. Or how about running around with Samuel for a whole year, letting me think that you were dead while you're doing all kinds of crazy. Those aren't mistakes, Sam. Those are choices!”
“Yeah, I might have lied, but I never once betrayed you. I never once left you to die.”
Even more painful was when Dean told Sam,” Benny has been more of a brother to me this past year than you've ever been! That's right. Cas let me down. You let me down. The only person that hasn't let me down is Benny.”
He hadn’t meant a word of any of it, but he saw Sam’s face; he'd been angry, but at the same time, he'd believed every single word, without question.
Finally, Dean sees Sam when Sam finally confronted Dean about Benny once and for all.
“What do you want to hear, Sam? That I was wrong? Fine. I was wrong. Okay? But if you'd have just heard me out, if you'd have trusted me, all of this could have been avoided.” “You didn't want me to trust you. You wanted me to trust Benny, and I can't do that.” “Right. Okay, well, then, what the hell do we do now?” “That depends. It depends on you. On whether or not you're done with him.”
Looking back on it, Dean can now recall the stress on his face, how hard it was on Sam to hit Dean with that ultimatum.
He can see Sam’s face when he had left with Cass earlier that day, instead of staying to help. His heart burned with regret and the need to keep Sam with him instead of letting him slip away further than he already has.
“Do you know how it feels to have your brother just…” Sam finally can’t hold back all the self-loathing he has that he has held on to for so many years.
“Hold on. Hold on! You seriously think that? Because none of it, none of it is true. Listen man, I know we have had our disagreements. Hell, I know I have said some things that have set you back on your heels. But Sammy, come on. I killed Benny to save you. I'm willing to let this bastard and all the sons of bitches that killed mom walk because of you. Don't you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you! It has never been like that, ever!”
Dean takes another step closer, reminding Sam, “You promised me you were going to live. You swore that you were going to be the one to drag me to the altar.” Dean needs Sam to feel how much he loves him, how much he NEEDS him.
“It’s too late Dean. I thought I could live through this. I really did. But I was wrong. WE were wrong. I'm gonna die. This thing inside me, it's burning me up from the inside. I'm a walking corpse. It's never going to let me survive this.”
Sam looks down at his glowing arms, tears falling to the ground. He wants nothing more than to say he can survive this, and they can have their wedding just like they wanted. But the drive to finish this and prove he can be the hero of this story are too great, possibly even greater than marrying Dean.
“No, Sam. I'm not letting you sacrifice yourself. If I say you're gonna survive, then you're gonna survive.” Dean steps towards Sam again slowly, the need to touch Sam making his hands vibrate with need.
“We don’t have a choice here.” Sam’s fading the more time goes on between starting the ritual and finishing it. He doesn’t know how he can hold himself together like this for much longer.
Dean finally manages to close the distance and pulls out his handkerchief, wrapping it around Sam’s cut hand. He slowly reaches up to put his hands behind Sam’s neck and look him dead in the eye.
“Marry me.” Dean's practically staring into Sam’s soul, swears he can see the glow there, along with the spark and love for Dean Sam's never been able to hide from anyone, especially not Dean himself.
“What?!” Sam gasps, shocked. He looks back into Dean’s eyes and sees what he always has; pure love and devotion, and in that devotion, he can see for himself Dean is absolutely serious. Sam has no idea how to wrap his mind around how Dean can possibly think they can both do this and still make it out of here alive.
“You heard me. Marry me. Right here, right now, in this ugly ass church.” Dean cracks a smile, hoping to get Sam to laugh.
Sam looks around, sees all the dirt and abandoned items. It's the exact opposite of what he wants to get married in, and Sam has to turn his head away from Dean's intense stare.
“Look at me Sammy. Please. I need to you do this with me.” Dean grips him a little tighter, pushing all his love at Sam in a huge wave.
“Dean, the trial. I can’t just…” Sam's trying so hard to resist, but he can't deny he's beginning to open up to the idea. Maybe it's the only way to get this to happen for him, to fulfill his promise to Dean before the end.
“Sam, stop. None of that matters right now. Forget about everything else, and do this here, with me.” Dean can’t stop, not when he's so close to getting them to their happily ever after.
“Dean I don’t…” Sam feels like he should be putting up more of a protest, but his heart is screaming yes.
“No, Sammy. All I need, right here, right now, is you. All that matters is us, and our wedding. I need you to see that. I’m begging you.” Dean lets the panic creep into his voice because he knows Sam’s nature to help will win him over.
Sam looks at Dean, really taking in his face. He sees all the things he's always loved about Dean; emerald green eyes that shine the way he swears only Sam can make them, his cocky smile that always makes Sam’s heart skip a beat. In understanding this is all Dean wants, he suddenly realizes, more than being a hero or ridding the world of demons, he just wants to be Dean's husband.
Resolved, Sam takes a couple of deep breaths. Looking back down at Dean's hopeful gaze, with tears spilling out of his eyes, Sam nods, not trusting his voice.
Dean lets out the breath he'd been holding while waiting for Sam's answer, and moves even closer to Sam, so their foreheads touch. Sam reaches around and pulls Dean close to him, resting his hands on the small of Dean's back. They take a moment to compose themselves, hearts pounding at how close they are to being bonded in love, and life. The touch of each other’s skin is enough to make them breathe in unison as their hearts match in speed, their skin tingling where they touch. It's always felt right to them when they have touched before, but now, it's as if they're a push away from being joined as one.
Dean looks into Sam’s beautifully heartbreaking eyes; this is the most important moment of their lives and he needs Sam to feel his words, to know the weight of the meaning behind them.
“Do you, Samuel William Winchester, take me to be your husband, through the end of days, and through the afterlife; to watch my back and hold me close when I am hurting; to bring me booze when I need to forget, bake me pies and never tell me I’m getting fat; keep me sane when the world falls apart, and no one else can understand me; and put up with me saying and doing dumb things? Do you promise to love me when I'm nothing but a cranky old man, chugging Viagra to keep up with you?” Dean started with a grin, but by the end he has tears falling, as he knows that Sam is the only one that has always been there for him. He needs Sam to know how beneath all the snark and sarcasm, he knows just how much Sam is there for him, and by extension how much that truly means to him.
“I do.” Sam croaks out as tears of his own fall down in streams.
“And do you, Dean Winchester, take me to be your husband? Through the lowest of times and the happiest, should we ever have any? Will you join me in this journey through the back roads of this earth; stay with me to guide me and hold me up when I am weak and weary; lay with me under starry skies and watch the universe spin by? Will you keep me safe when I don’t know how to; hold my fragile soul together when I am lost?” Sam watches several different emotions play across Dean’s face. He knows Dean will never stop protecting him, but Sam needs Dean to be with him in the new foundation of their lives he wants them both to build on.
Dean’s practically glowing with love as he responds; he couldn't shove it down even if he wanted to.
At first it looks like that's going to be it, but then, Sam's surprised when Dean speaks again.
“Now's the part where we exchange vows. Me first, cause I need to get this out.”
Sam can't speak, not after their I dos, so he just patiently waits for Dean to continue.
“Sammy, here and forevermore, I vow to be your partner and your equal through every bump in the road so far. I vow to protect you, but also give you the room to grow and be your own protector. I vow to never give up on you, no matter what goes on, or who tries to turn us against each other. Death is only a pause, and even if it should become permanent, I will always be with you. It was in heaven we discovered our souls are meant to be together, and we know we are much stronger together. No matter what has been thrown at us, we have come back to each other every time. It's you and me, come whatever. I know I can be hard to live with, and I am always amazed at how you love me anyway. I can’t promise we will never fight, but I can promise we will always make up after. Nothing is perfect in this life, but I vow to you I will make it the best I can, for you, forever.” Dean feels so raw and open when he can let his emotions out, he's never felt so vulnerable, but this is for Sam. Sammy deserves to know how much he means to him, discomfort be damned.
Sam's completely choked up at hearing Dean's vows, and has no idea how he's going to follow it up. But then, suddenly, the words come to him. With a start, Sam realizes he's been waiting his whole life to say them, and before he knows it, they're pouring out, laced with more emotion than he's ever let himself express in his entire lifetime.
“Dean, I vow that you will never need to be the only one to carry the burdens of this job and life alone ever again. I will be there to remind you that family always has your back. I am the one you can count on to prank you when you need a little humility. I will make sure you always get your pie and not bring you cake unless it's asked for. I will show you with my actions how much I love you every day, so that one day, you will see the amazing hero you are to me. You pulled me from the fire when I was a baby, and have protected me ever since. I want you to know that no matter what, I will always be by your side. I have made mistakes, and the fact that you love me even more despite them, is what makes me know you are the only one I will ever need.” Sam loves Dean, and they both have baggage they regret, but in this pure moment, there's not a doubt in his mind they can both be free of it, together.
In perfect synchronization, they move in unison to join their lips in a soft but searing kiss. The moment their lips touch they know, for the first time in their lives, they are truly whole. Their souls touch, tethering themselves to the other, never to be separate again; they move closer to each other as their bodies touch. Time ceases to exist, the kiss and their souls bonding together the only things that matter in this moment.
But then, Sam feels a change in his body, and pulls back just enough to find his arms have stopped glowing with the Word of God. He looks at Dean wide eyed and happy for a moment, when Sam's whammied with an unbearable pain as his body gives out and he collapses. Dean panics and lifts Sam up, half carrying, half dragging him out of the church. He starts cursing and praying for anyone, anything, to help him.
He gets Sam as far as the car, before they slip and fall to the ground, right into the wet mud.
"I'm gonna be a cooking fiend while my husbands on the mend. You're gonna get all fat with a face full of zits from all the fatty foods I'm gonna be stuffing you with. Complete with all the pies we can eat, we're not gonna know what to do with them all. And yes, you are going to make a full recovery. I won’t accept anything less.” Dean’s playing smug, but seeing Sam collapse like that definitely has him scared.
The sound of thunder and the sight of fireballs falling from the sky prompt them to look up. They see one fall nearby and they realize the angels are falling from Heaven. It's so massive and beautiful, Dean just has to make a joke here, anything to try and lighten the mood.
“Would you look at that. How many people get to brag they had angels falling on their wedding day?” Dean knows this means trouble, but a hurt Sammy is his priority. He just made a vow to always put Sam first, he's not about to break it now.
“Did you just call me your husband?” Sam whispers weakly, with a grin. Sam loves hearing it, and hearing it from Dean makes him feel so proud to be the one to get Dean to say it.
“Well of course I did. You are my husband now, after all. We just got married, remember? You better get used to it too, 'cause I'm never gonna stop.” Dean gives Sam a once-over, trying to figure out what level of panic he needs to be on. Sam looks weak but happy, and that at least makes Dean glad they did this.
Sam gives a weak smile as he says,
“I like the sound of that.” and pulls Dean close and kisses him softly; his strength is fading fast, but he tries to put as much passion as he can muster behind it, before his body finally gives out on him.
Dean leans into the kiss, wanting more, as he feels Sam go limp in his arms, their lips parting.
Dean takes a moment to contemplate his next move. Sam is gonna live, no matter what. A hospital seems like the best idea, but how close is the nearest one, and how bad off is Sam, really? Dean gently gets Sam laid out in the passenger seat and prays to Cass for help. He doesn’t hear a response or see Cass appear, so Dean decides he's gonna have to do this alone.
Dean pulls out his cell and calls for the nearest hospital and floors it. He doesn’t pray much, but he is sending up everything he has to any angel or anyone that can help them. Sam looks like he's getting worse, but they will have a honeymoon, come hell or high water. Dean knows that magic like this doesn’t go away easily, and if the angels were worried for his safety then it has to be bad.
Dean remembers the feeling of their souls merging, and hopes that means he can help Sam in some way, because they are connected. As he pulls up to the ER drop off, he takes a deep breath. Now is the time to focus. Dean kisses Sam’s forehead one more time before several people pull up a gurney and begin to settle Sam onto it. This is going to be the fight for Sam’s life, and Dean will do anything to save him.