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The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time

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What Still Remains

What Still Remains (The Green Cooler Of Conversation)

Fic Title: What Still Remains (The Green Cooler Of Conversation)

Author: smalltrolven

Pairing: Sam/Dean implied

Rating: Gen, Wincest implied

Characters:  Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester

Word Count: 2,100

Synopsis:  There it is again, the Green Cooler of Conversation! Right in the middle of everything.  Representing the Impala even when she’s not there.  Being used for more than one purpose, keeping the beer cool and giving Dean someplace to prop up his feet and be comfortable enough to talk.  But most especially reminding them that some things can and do last in a world where they’ve lost just about everyone and everything but each other.

Warnings: Set during 7.12 Time After Time,

Author Disclaimer:  I own nothing but these little ol’ words.

Read here on AO3


It’s when they are dragging all the essentials into the condemned looking house from the car-of-the-week that Sam realizes something.  He knows he’s not all there all the time, but this seems like maybe it might be important.  Maybe something worth sharing with Dean.  “Hey Dean?” he yells into the dark, windowless hallway.

“Yeah, what?”  Dean replies from the other room where Sam can hear him rooting around trying to find a non-broken piece of furniture they can use.

“I was just wondering, do you know how long we’ve had this cooler?”

 “Hell, I don’t know Sam, I think it’s probably been around since I was in high school.”

“Huh.”  Sam answers quietly, as if already onto thinking about the next non-sequitur he can offer to the conversation.

“Why?”  Dean pokes his head around the doorframe, just checking to see where Sam is in the room.

“Just, I was thinking, since we don’t have the Impala anymore, at least for now anyways, this is the only thing we’ve got that’s been around as long as her, except for Dad’s journal.”

“Huh. Guess you’re right.”  Dean walks in carrying two old chairs and sets them up next to each other in front of the cooler under discussion.

“Well I was just thinking of what it represents. To us.”

“What like metaphorically?”


“Dude, I do read, god that gets old.  Yes I know what metaphorically is, continue before I get too bored and fall asleep or something.”

“I was just thinking that this green cooler has always been with us, it’s here even though the Impala isn’t, and I was thinking of all the memories I have about it.”

“Been going through your memories again Sam?”

“Yeah, I don’t have much else to do when you’re driving, and it beats dwelling on the Hell memories you know?”

Dean sits down on one of the chairs he’s managed to find, opens up the cooler, fishes out two beers and hands one to Sam, “Here have a beer.  Tell me about some of these memories.”

Sam takes the beer and sits in the rickety chair next to his brother, their knees touching even though there’s lots of room, “What I was noticing was that this cooler has been with us when we’ve had a lot of important conversations.”

“Really, like what?”

“Well, when you were going to Hell and you decided to teach me how to take care of the Impala, remember that?”

“Yeah, yeah I do, of course, I think I even sat on the cooler while you worked on the car.”

“And when we were at our old high school and the ghost had gotten me in the nuts, you were giving me a cold one to ice myself and telling me you were going to “rip his lungs out!” just like you did about the bullies in high school that bugged me.”

“Hah, I guess I did used to say stuff like that didn’t I?”

“Yeah, you did, all the time.  Thanks.”

“For what?”

“For trying to get me to stick up for myself in school.  It was worth it. And if you’d just fought all my battles for me I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to.”

“Uh, sure, you’re welcome I guess.”  Dean shifts, a little uncomfortable with this praise, and puts his feet up on the cooler.

“You got any memories of this cooler Dean?”  Sam copies Dean and puts his feet up next to his, knocking their ankles together companionably.

“Yeah, I thought of one, remember after I got out of jail and you’d dusted the fairies, we were sitting there in that cornfield, and it was like the first time we’d sat on the Impala since you were back from the Cage and drunk a beer together, except you didn’t take one from me.  And I really knew it wasn’t you right then.  Especially when we talked about whether you wanted your soul back or not.  Christ that was one scary conversation.”

“How so?”

“Just, I didn’t know what you were going to do next, it was so hard to predict, because you weren’t you, and I kept getting fooled that you were and then “bam” you’d do something completely opposite of what I’d guessed.  That and I wasn’t sure if I could even make you take your soul back.”

“I’m glad you did.”

“Me too.  Wasn’t much of a choice really. Soul-less you was not a safe guy to be walking around the world unescorted you know?”

“From what I remember, I’d definitely have to agree.  He felt like you were choosing to kill him just to get me back, and he didn’t understand why.”

“Course he didn’t.  He didn’t have feelings so he couldn’t have understood.”
“Why, were there feelings involved?”
“Duh, of course there were.  I wanted you back, and out of Hell, and I wanted him gone.  That enough feelings for you?”

“I guess.”

“What you want all the details Sammy?”

“Sure, if you want to tell them to me.”

“This is going to require another beer, move your feet.”  They both move their feet off back to the floor, he lifts the lid of the green cooler again and grabs two more beers out, handing one to Sam.

“What do you want to know?”  Dean asks, slumped over a little, holding the beer loosely between his legs, knee back to being firmly in contact with Sam’s.

“Uh, I guess I want to know how you really figured out that I didn’t have a soul, before Cas told you.”

“Well, it was an accumulation of things, at first I chalked it up to us having been apart for a year, but when I thought about that for very long that never made any sense to me, that you’d have left me thinking you were in Hell for a whole year before contacting me.  Really it shouldn’t have taken more than that, but you’d convinced Bobby, and maybe I’d gone a little soft or something during the time I was with Lisa and Ben.”

“I remember that he came and saw you that very first night and watched you through the windows of Lisa’s house.  You were drinking a big glass of whiskey at the dinner table and had the most lost and sad look on your face.  He didn’t know what that meant though.  Or what you meant to me.  He had the memories I had, but he didn’t know what they meant without having feelings. So he left.”

“Man, really?  You were right there that first night?  If I’d only seen you, everything would have been so different.”

“What would you have done?”

“I’d have left with you that night, gotten a motel somewhere so we could celebrate, and hopefully I would have noticed the missing soul thing quicker than a year and half.  Then you’d have had less time in Hell.” (I wouldn’t have had to miss you for a whole damned year) “God Sam, I wish it had gone like that instead.”

“Or Cas could have told you that he brought me back.”

“Yeah that would have been handy information, the bastard.”

“C’mon now Dean, he was just trying to win his war with Raphael, trying to save the world like we taught him to.”

“I know, but he screwed us over. Big time, he left your soul in the Cage all that time, and he didn’t tell me he’d brought you back part way, and he hurt you when he broke your Wall, and all that, it’s not something I can just forgive and forget.” (he almost took you away from me)

“Ok, ok, I get it.  I’ve made my peace with what he did to me, and I realized that for the most part his intentions were good, just like mine were when the whole Lilith/Ruby/Apocalypse thing was happening.  So I could identify a little with him, his fuckup was on a whole other scale though, but still, there’s a lot that’s the same with what we did.”  (please forgive me)

“Sam, you’re nothing like him, cut it out.”  (you’re the only one that matters)

“I’m serious Dean, I really am.” (how can you forgive me?)

“I know, but you’re seriously wrong.  There isn’t anything you did that I can blame you for anymore, a lot of it was my fault anyways, and it just isn’t the same as what he did.  Not at all.”  (I don’t care what you did as long as you’re still here with me)

“I think we should drop it, we’re not going to agree on this.  All of it is could woulda shoulda anyways.”  (I’ll never stop asking for your forgiveness)

“Fine back to the cooler then, I remember you always wanting grape soda and keeping some in the cooler with mine and dad’s beer.  Kept you off my neck when you were emo-teen.”  (God I Loved You So Much Almost Couldn’t Bear It)

“Thanks for doing that Dean.”  (Thank You For Being The Dad I Needed And Being My Brother Too)

“Naw, just self-preservation man.”

“No, it’s a pattern is what it is.”

“A pattern?”
“Yeah, it was something you always did, finding things out that I liked and then trying to make sure I had them whenever you could manage.  You always were doing that, the whole time when you were raising me.” (making sure I always knew I was loved)

“Well of course I did, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re raising a kid.”

“I know, but how did you know to do that?  ‘cause I’m pretty sure Dad wasn’t like that with you, so you didn’t learn it from him.”

“I just wanted to make you happy I guess, made looking after you easier and more fun for me if you were happier.  So I always tried to pay attention to what worked, it didn’t always work though.”

“I’m sorry I was such a tough kid to raise.”  (I always loved you so unreasonably just like now)

“You really weren’t that tough Sammy, I was just too young to know how to do it right.”

“You made me happy Dean.”  (You always have You always will)

“Made you happy? I don’t make you happy now?” (That’s all I want to do is make you happy) Dean acts as mock-affronted as possible, trying to see if he can get a rise out of Sam, but it doesn’t work, he stays in serious mode.

“Yeah of course you did, you do.  It’s just different now.  There’s a lot more we’re dealing with than making sure there’s cans of grape soda in the cooler.”

“What like the apocalypse and Leviathans and all?”

“All that but the other stuff too.”

“The hallucinations?”

“Uh huh.  There just isn’t a level of happy to be found while those are still happening.”

“Wish I could help you with them Sam.”  (wish I could take them all on, I deserve them not you)

“I know you do Dean, I wish you could too.  Just gotta get through it, you do help though, you know.”

“I do?”

“Yeah, of course, I guess you’re my constant, I can always find you when I get lost.” (you’re what I come back for, the only reason I bother)

Dean’s been twirling his knife around, playing with it, it falls off his lap and nicks some paint off the cooler.  He picks it up and quickly carves his initials into the top and hands the knife to Sam.  “Here, your turn.”


“Do it, carve your initials, just like we did in the Impala.  You were saying this cooler is like the Impala somehow, so make it more like Her, get both of our marks on it.”

Sam thinks about it for a second and carves S.W. next to Dean’s D.W.  “There, happy?”

“Delirious.” Dean grins at him, a real smile, not one of those ones he’s been trying to fake lately.  And it feels good for a second there, like it’s supposed to when he’s hanging out being happy with Sam.

Sam rubs his fingers over the four letters and looks up at Dean with a smile big enough to engage those dimples that Dean’s been missing more than he’d realized.  “It really is a good cooler isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I’m glad we’ve still got it.” (glad I’ve still got you)


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Wow! I love the concept of the green cooler of conversation. It's one of those things that sits in the background and I never connected the dots of it's significance this season but it is so right. I love the spoken conversation versus the unspoken words, this is the sub text we all add in our minds when we are watching. The initials at the end...just aw, warm fuzzies. Thanks for sharing.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, that green cooler kept catching my eye, and I had to write about it. Glad the unspoken words match your added subtext too,I sometimes wish they had it on subtitles or something...

Awwww, boys :) I love their unspoken conversation beneath the spoken, and the way they (and we) attach such significance to the precious few things the boys carry with them through time. Nicely done!

Thanks very much, your comment made my day!

I really enjoyed this. Great job!

Hey thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

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