Sam offers a different solution to the problem of the Mark of Cain. Dean isn't on-board with it, but Sam makes him see the positives.
"Loyal, dogged Sam..."
Sam didn't share Dean's dread of the Grim Reaper and after no more than a dismissive glance at the black-clothed being, his eyes sought out his brother's.
But Dean stood unmoving, not even questioning Death's proposal of 'Banish one and kill the other.'
"This is his solution, reap me then send you off to outer space?" Sam asked scornfully, addressing his big brother.
"He didn't say outer space. Just another plane of existence..." Dean corrected. "... but yeah. It's the only way, Sam. With the Mark I'm too much of a danger to humanity."
"And where exactly? What kind of place is it?"
Dean's voice lost a little of its certainty.
He shrugged. "Does it matter, Sam? Somewhere I can't do any harm, where there'll be only me."
Sam snorted his disapproval. "And that's all he can come up with?"
"No. " Dean explained. "I could pass the Mark onto someone else like Cain did with me, so keeping the lock secure. Only then could Death remove it from my arm, but there's no way I'm gonna curse another person to save my own ass."
"That definitely sounds better than sending you off among the stars," Sam said, pushing up the sleeve of his shirt and baring his fore-arm.
He held it out towards his brother.
"Pass it on to me. I don't mind being alone. I've been without you so many times before, I can deal with the loneliness better than you, Dean.
Look, this is your chance for a life, bro. I know it didn't work out too well with Lisa but you could try again. Leave hunting, find a girl, have kids, friends.
Without me to continually look out for, you'd be free. No freaky little brother to mess things up."
Sam could feel the tears building, threatening to flood his eyes, but he pushed them back. This wasn't the time. He had to stay strong for his big brother.
Dean had raised him, nurtured him, protected him, loved him. He wanted to give something back. He wanted to do this for his brother.
"You won't be alone, Dean. You still have people you can call on, like Castiel, and even if he goes back to heaven, you'll make new friends.
Then if you want to keep hunting, there's no reason you can't find another partner, maybe a younger kid. Take him under your wing, teach him the ropes. Make him a Man of Letters to keep the Legacy going."
But Sam had held out as long as he could. Now no barrier could hold back the tears that were sliding unwanted down his cheeks, so he jerked his out-held arm, urging Dean to share the Mark.
Although Dean was still under the maleficent influence of the curse, Sam caught the softening of his eyes as he contemplated his little brother.
"I can't do that Sammy. Do you really think I could rid myself of the Mark by passing it to you of all people?"
"Dean... I want this. Please. I want to do this for you."
Death, who had silently watched the little tableau, decided it was time to intervene.
Though Death wasn't privy to the Winchesters' intimate sentiments, he wasn't ignorant of the unbreakable bond that the two brothers shared. After all he'd been witness to the incredible lengths they were willing to go to for each other.
He was Death, his power such that only God could challenge him, but he'd never seen similar devotion embodied in two humans such as the Winchesters shared.
That level of codependency was highly dangerous, even to himself.
His droning voice interrupted the interminable eye-contact between the two siblings where everything that needed to be be said was being communicated; companionship, trust, undying devotion, sacrifice, love.
"If you want to take on Dean's burden, that is commendable Sam, but you do understand that Dean will then be the one to die. He," Death observed. "Is no less 'dogged' than you when it comes to family."
His eyes two slits of animosity, Sam turned on him.
"No!" he growled. "Dean gets to live. He won't try to find me. I'll make him promise. He gets to live a full life before retiring to a condo in heaven!"
In response, Death's own eyes grew hard.
"You must take me for a fool, Sam Winchester! Whichever of you disappears, the other will demolish everything in their path to retrieve him. The deal on the plate is the only one I will consider. It is indifferent to me which of you bear the Mark, but the other must die."
The Grim Reaper held out his scythe. "It is time Dean."
The elder Winchester gripped the proffered weapon and approached his brother.
"Much as I'd give anything to prove him wrong, his way is the only one. I'm not giving you the Mark, Sammy. You've suffered enough.
God only knows what one hundred and fifty years of torture at Lucifer's hands must have been like. If anyone deserves heaven, you do little brother..."
But Sam wasn't having any of Dean's self-sacrificing bull-shit.
"You are not going to be condemned for all eternity alone in some back-water dimension. If this is the only way, then I'm coming with you!"
"What! No!" Dean countered emphatically. "The Mark would make me turn on you eventually and I'd end up killing you. That is if old age doesn't take you first."
"Then share the Mark with me. We've shared everything, Dean, good and bad. We can share this too."
Sam felt his lips curl up in an ironic smile. "I'm perfect for the job, previous demon experience is right there in my CV., after all."
Sam could see Dean wavering. Above all, his big brother feared being alone and to Sam, Death's solution was the worst torture that could be inflicted on his sibling.
"I mean it, Dean, " Sam repeated, his eyes morphing into the puppy-dog mode his big brother had always found hard to resist.
"There's nothing I wouldn't do for you, though I know you've never really believed me on that. Well this is my chance to prove it. We share the Mark, we're both immortal and neither has to be alone again. I'll always have your back."
"No, you're crazy, Sammy. I couldn't do that to you!"
But the streak of stubbornness that had allowed Sam to survive until now kicked in, and he grabbed his brother's fore-arm.
"I want this Dean. Wherever you go, I follow. And..." he added more for Death's benefit than anything else. "...Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I'd stop looking!"
He turned a threatening glare on Death, who kept silent, believing every word of what the younger Winchester had hissed.
If anyone could use the resources of heaven to get his brother back, that was Sam Winchester.
"Perhaps Sam is right,"" Death enunciated diplomatically. The Winchesters were a danger to Creation. Best get rid of them!
"The Mark cannot be destroyed, pain of the Darkness being freed. With Sam's solution, you will both be together and the Earth, hopefully, will keep on safely turning!"
Sam's fingers dug into the flesh of Dean's arm. "Do it, Dean. Share the Mark!"
The primal urge that had possessed Dean since his brother was born to keep him safe and by his side, kicked in, and before he knew it, a twin red raised tattoo appeared on Sam's arm.
Sam smiled as if Dean had given him the best gift in the world. "Now it's you and me forever Dean. Nothing can hurt us or keep us apart. And where we're going it doesn't make any difference if we're good or evil.
And Dean, instead of regretting what he'd just done, returned his sibling's smile.
When side by side they stepped out into the dimension Death had chosen, a myriad riot of colours greeted them. So different from Earth, yet strangely enough neither of them felt any nostalgia.
"Does this place have a name, Sammy?"
"I dunno, Dean."
"Well then," Dean smirked. "I guess we get to name it. How does Winchesters' World sound?"
"It sound good," Sam answered, his smile wide and sunny. "It sounds real good."