Category: General, Action, One-shots, Missing Scenes, Tags
Warning: Contains spoilers for Season Ten up to and including 10x03 Soul Survivor
Tagline: "So, I'm just gonna go grab my brother some cholesterol. And then I'm gonna get drunk." Sam Winchester, Episode 10x03 Soul Survivor.
Total Word Count: 6919
Total Chapters: 1
Story Banner: Chasidern
My furry little plot bunny bit me repeatedly after episode 10x03, and I put this together, sent it off to my beta who was almost beside herself with joy, then thought of a hundred things I should have added to it, so sat down and tweaked the whole thing before resending it to my ever-so-patient beta.
So here it is - final editing done, but as I'm a chronic tweaker, all mistakes are mine because I just can't stop fiddling with things.
Many thanks to my super team: the incomparable ziggyuk for her magic editing, and the award-winning Chasidern for another pretty damned spectacular banner.
Thanks also to the website Forever Dreaming - http://foreverdreaming.org/ - for the transcripts of the episodes, from which I got the dialogue quoted in the story. I usually get my transcripts from Supernatural Wiki, but they haven't put up any for Season 10 as yet.
Making no profit out of this - just playing in Kripke's lovely sandbox with his pretty toys for the sheer pleasure of doing so.
The transition from sleeping to wakefulness began gradually, followed by a startled jerk as he lunged upright to stare wildly around.
It took a few seconds to recognise where he was, but then the familiarity of his surroundings cut through the initial panic, grounding him in reality. He was in his room. He was alive. He wasn’t a demon anymore.
Home – he was home.
Slowly, Dean’s racing heart settled back down to its normal rhythm. Looking around the room again, he drank in its surroundings – the weapons display on the wall, his record player and precious stack of vinyl albums, the scattered photographs. A take-out bag stood on his desk; its bright fast-food chain emblem spotted with grease that had seeped through the paper from the contents within.
There was only one thing missing that he could see – and that was one overly tall, hovering younger brother.
Dean inhaled slowly, and just as slowly exhaled, forcing himself to keep calm. Said little brother had been the first thing he’d seen when he’d come back to himself down in the dungeon. His whole body still humming from the effects of the sanctified blood, he’d watched wordlessly as Sam and Cas had approached the chair to which he’d been tied. The obligatory holy water test had been carried out, which Dean had passed with flying colours. Then he’d been freed, helped to his feet by Sammy who’d been unable to wipe the faint smile of relief from his face, and Castiel whose countenance still bore traces of worry and wariness.
After being assisted back to his bedroom on legs that felt like stretched rubber, he’d been allowed to take a shower and clean himself up. Sam had hovered outside the bathroom door the whole time, waiting for Dean to emerge, before shepherding him back to his room.
Splintered memories of his time as a demon kept coming back to him – flashes of rage, snatches of conversation; none of it good. With each one came a stab of remorse and shame, especially over the previous few hours. And he had no idea what to say to Sam now that it was all over.
Surprisingly, though, he’d found that despite everything that had happened, he was hungry. The moment he’d expressed the craving for food, Sam had volunteered to go on a supply run after making sure that Dean would be okay while he was gone. Dean had reassured his brother he’d be fine, and shooed him out the door with a mixture of trepidation and relief. On the one hand, he needed the time alone to absorb the events of the last few hours, but on the other hand he was afraid Sam might decide not to come back....
But he had eventually returned; bulging bag of food in one hand and a tray of extra large sodas in the other. Cas, after ensuring both brothers were really okay, had headed out with his mystery female, leaving the boys to their meal.
Sitting in silence on Dean’s bed, the Winchesters munched their way through burgers, fries and onion rings, until Dean had declared his stomach couldn’t hold any more. Sam had dutifully collected the leftovers, piled them back into the bag and left it on the desk – just in case his big brother changed his mind.
And then Sam had left him alone with his thoughts. With still not a word said about the harrowing ordeal of de-demonising him. Uneasy, Dean had lain down, memories and feelings whirling around in his mind until he thought he would go crazy trying to sort it all out. Thankfully exhaustion had won out, allowing his sorely abused body some much needed rest, and his troubled mind some peace.
But now he was awake and the memories crowded in on each other, competing for attention like a pack of hungry wolves.
“Your very existence sucked the life out of my life!”
“Which one of us is really a monster?”
God, Sam... Sighing heavily, Dean scrubbed both hands over his face. It was time to man up and face the music.
Finding his sibling was his first priority. As hard as it was going to be to face the kid – the man – Dean’s big brother instincts flared strong and bright. His demonic self had flayed Sam with the cruellest words he could dredge up, noting with dark glee each hit on his brother’s all-too-fragile psyche. It was a miracle that Sam had actually stuck around after the cure, instead of packing his duffle and getting as far away from Dean as possible.
“I tried to get as far away from you as possible.”
He really, really needed to find Sam. Right now. He had to fix things between them. Had to make sure Sam knew it had been the demon talking, not him.
Sam’s room was the obvious starting point. Pausing in the doorway, Dean scanned the area, but no gigantic little brother haunted the austere living space. As a matter of fact, it looked as though its owner hadn’t inhabited it for quite some time. The bedclothes were militarily straight, a few books squared off neatly to the edges of the dresser they rested upon. One lone tee shirt, light grey with stiffened patches of rusty red at the right shoulder and sleeve, lay abandoned in a crumpled heap near the door.
Dean picked it up, thoughtfully fingered the bloodstained cloth. Here lay a clue to that wounded shoulder his demonic self had so callously mocked. By the look of the tee, the injury had been a lot worse than Sam had made out. But then, demon-Dean hadn’t really given him much of an opening to come clean about it. With a grimace, Dean dropped the garment back onto the floor and turned to walk down the corridor.
“Come on, Sammy! Let’s have a beer – talk about it. I’m tired of playing. Let’s finish this game!”
Nausea churned in his gut. Angrily he forced it back down. He didn’t have the time or patience to deal with his own reactions right now. Moving determinedly through the Bunker, he checked the bathrooms, generator room – wincing at the sight of its splintered door – and the storage rooms before directing his steps towards his brother’s favourite haunt – the library. The queasiness tried to reassert itself again when he found the book-lined Sammy-haven empty.
Signs of long habitation, however, were evident everywhere he looked. Opened books lay scattered the length of the table, empty coffee cups and whiskey glasses shoved carelessly to one side of a cleared workspace containing Sam’s cellphone, a notepad covered in the younger Winchester’s spidery handwriting, half a dozen blunt pencils and a cheap Bic pen snapped in half, its contents staining the polished wood surface. A rumpled pillow graced the nearby couch, with a single blanket trailing half onto the floor. It appeared that this was where Sam had spent his time when he wasn’t working to find his brother and bring him back from the darkness.
“Listen to me, Dean! We were getting close, okay? I know you’re still in there somewhere.”
Even though he’d witnessed it so many times during their lives, Sam’s laser-focussed pursuit of a goal still had the power to impress the elder Winchester.
Dean slowly made his way down one side of the table, across the end, and up the other side. Turning the pages of random books as he passed, he scanned the information they contained, lips tightening in sympathy for his sibling and the frantic search Sam had undertaken.
“’The Lore’. Hunters. Men of Letters. What a load of crap it all is.”
His heart ached. Over the words he’d used to lash out at his brother, over the delight his demon-self had taken at each wound he’d scored. It even hurt over Sam’s dogged – desperate – determination to locate the wayward Winchester, and save him from himself.
“What happened to you being okay with this?”
He should have known. He should have seen through that tough facade that Sam had worn after the whole Gadreel-possession mess. And he should have realised that one lousy handwritten note wouldn’t stop his brother from moving heaven and earth to track him down. His demonic side had been way too cocky, too sure of itself to care. Too full of itself to care, he ruthlessly corrected himself. The human part of his soul cringed at the memory of how cavalierly he’d treated people, how much of a buzz he’d gotten out of trampling all over them like so many insects beneath his feet. He could still see the diner waitress’s tears and hear her parting words about deserving what he’d just said to her.
Dean’s eyes lost their focus as his thoughts turned back. Hell, he couldn’t even remember her name...Sasha – Tasha? Tahlia? Tracey? Ann Marie – that was it! Blonde – hot. Broken, he remembered grimly. Even more so after her little encounter with Dean Winchester, demon esquire. She’d probably shoot him on sight if he went back and tried to apologise for what he’d said, how he’d used her and cast her aside like so much trash. And as for trying to explain that he’d been a demon at the time...
Yeah, so not gonna happen. Ever.
Thoughts of the roadside diner waitress led him to that psycho kid Cole, and he had to forcibly wrench his attention back to the important matter at hand. Everything else could wait; even some nutjob with an arsenal and a long-standing grudge. Sam was his priority. He had to find his brother. Had to make sure Cas was right – that Sam really didn’t want a divorce after their latest crap-show. Had to look into the kid’s eyes and reassure himself that they could come back from this and still be brothers.
Sighing, Dean headed out of the library, past the empty kitchen and down to the firing range. The huge space was devoid of life, paper targets hanging limply from their clips. One had been shot to pieces, the holes concentrated around the face and heart, and Dean bit his lip at the destruction. He didn’t need a label on the tattered remains to figure out who in Sam’s imagination he’d been shooting at. The whole thing screamed ‘Crowley’ as if it had been painted on the target in three-foot-high neon letters.
“I chose the King of Hell over you.”
Sam had blamed Crowley for Dean’s disappearance – that much the demon king had told him during their sojourn together. He’d seemed proud of it, gloating over ‘the Moose’s overly-emotional reaction’ to the news that Dean’s body hadn’t been stolen and possessed as he’d first assumed. And Dean had merely laughed and told Crowley to let Sam try, expecting the kid to fall on his ass in the attempt.
With Crowley practically daring him to do so, Sam had wasted no time in coming after them like a bloodhound, following the trail the demon king had laid down. Only to be almost taken down by some dumbass Army recruitment poster-boy.
Dean had to will himself not to cringe in shame at the memory of telling the psychopath to go ahead and gank his baby brother.
He’d really have to get to the bottom of that whole situation, including how the hell Cole had managed to get the drop on Sammy and take him down. That wounded shoulder wouldn’t have helped – and Dean reminded himself yet again that he needed to be told just how Sam had gotten hurt to begin with. But to do that, he had to find the kid...which was proving more difficult than he’d first envisaged.
“Where are you, Sammy?”
Trudging back to Sam’s room, Dean quickly checked the contents of his brother’s dresser and wardrobe. Sam’s small collection of jeans, shirts, tees and jackets still hung or were neatly folded in drawers; nothing seemed to be missing. His empty duffle lay flat at the bottom of the wardrobe, a spare sling for his injured shoulder folded neatly on top of it. And Dean recalled seeing Sam’s shaving kit in one of the bathrooms down the hall.
“Okay, so you haven’t packed up and left home, you’re not downstairs, or in the library with that big geek head buried in a book. Think, Dean, think. Where else would he go, if he was hurtin’ and wanted some peace and quiet, but not too far in case he thought I needed him?”
Acting on impulse, he strode rapidly to the garage, flicking the wall switch as he stepped into the cavernous space. In the centre sat the Impala, gleaming beneath the overhead lights; a rare and beautiful black pearl sitting proudly amongst the lesser gems.
“Oh, Baby. You are a sight for sore eyes.”
A smile tugged at Dean’s lips as he approached the Chevy to run one hand lovingly over her classic shape from the trunk to the driver’s side door. Opening the door, he leaned in, the fresh scent of pine coming to his nostrils.
The car was spotless, inside and out. His brother’s work, no doubt about it, because Dean remembered the filthy state that he’d left his best girl in. And Sam had done it all while Dean had been asleep. The kid apparently hadn’t wanted his big brother to be reminded of how badly he’d treated the silent member of the family.
“It’s just a car, Sam.”
“It’s just a...car. Wow. You really have gone dark.”
“I’m so sorry, Baby, I am. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. A tune-up, a little lube, maybe a new polishing cloth – nothin’ but the best for you.” Sliding behind the wheel, Dean caressed the dashboard with gentle fingers. “So, Sammy gave you a shampoo and a sponge-bath, huh? Don’t go enjoyin’ his attention too much – you know how jealous I get.”
He glanced into the rear seat – there was no sign of any litter anywhere. Even the empty candy wrappers that always seemed to work their way under the seats had been cleared away. The little green plastic soldier was still wedged in the ashtray, he was relieved to see. But the ugly dark marks where he’d been handcuffed to the armrest and struggled against his bonds had been buffed out, along with all the food, coffee, and other stains that had soiled the upholstery.
Dean pursed his lips – the less remembered about that long, tense journey back to the Batcave, the better.
“So where’d he go, huh, Baby? Where’s Sammy? He okay?”
A search of the garage, including the vehicles parked along one side, failed to turn up his missing Sasquatch. With a frustrated sigh, Dean returned to the Impala to lean against her polished side. Scrubbing one hand across his chin, he squinted at the lights, mentally reviewing the Bunker’s floor plan.
There was one place he hadn’t looked as yet. But surely, after the events of the last few hours, Sam wouldn’t have gone there.
Not after everything he’d said, what he’d done. What he’d attempted to do...
He swallowed hard. “Don’t be in there, man. Don’t...”
Slowly, almost reluctantly, Dean made his way out of the garage and back through the labyrinthine tunnels. His steps faltered as he neared room 7B, but he manned up and pushed open the door to the archive room. Its overhead light was on, illuminating rack upon rack filled with information and artefacts. At the rear, the hinged shelves stood wide open to reveal the dungeon beyond. The light reached only to the chair with its dangling restraints – the space behind it in deep shadow.
As Dean drew closer, he spotted the faint outline of a boot protruding from the darkness. A very familiar boot – attached to a very familiar leg. And his gut finally settled, only to begin churning anew when he stepped around the chair to find his brother huddled in the dark with his back against the wall, head hanging almost to his chest.
Dropping to his knees, Dean reached out a hand, hesitated, and finally placed it gingerly on one bent leg.
* * * * *
The bottle was empty.
Sam stared at it, befuddled. He was sure it had been half-full a minute ago. Frowning, he shook it, and then placed it carefully beneath the sturdy chair. Rearranging his long legs, he leant back against the wall and heaved a put-upon sigh.
It seemed like miles back to the kitchen, and their stock of booze. He honestly didn’t think he’d make it that far before collapsing, whether through alcohol or sheer exhaustion, or both.
But he still didn’t think he was anywhere near drunk enough yet. Pity. He should have brought more whiskey with him. Or tequila. Or some damned thing.
A faint giggle spilled from his lips and he quickly clapped one hand over his mouth to prevent another escaping. So not funny, and yet, it was. It really, really was.
But he couldn’t let himself give free rein to the laugh that wanted to bubble up his throat. Because seriously, if he started, then he didn’t think he could stop. Like, ever. He’d just keep laughing and laughing and screaming and crying and screaming some more and maybe crying some more...
Yeah, okay, that really wasn’t funny – okay, maybe a little funny. Maybe it’d be funnier with a little more tequila.
A snort broke free despite his best efforts. Huffing in annoyance, he doubled his efforts to get himself under control, mentally patting himself on the back when he finally succeeded.
Yeah. He could keep his shit together. No problem.
“Oh. Ooh. Is this you manning up?”
“Yehhh, th’ss me mnnnn’nnn up.”
He had to keep his shit together. He just had to. If he lost it now, then where would they be?
If he thought about...no, he wasn’t gonna go there. That’s what the booze was for. For not goin’ there. And so far it was working, right?
So...here he was. Drunk. And Dean was upstairs. Asleep. All good so far. His brother was back, he wasn’t a demon any more, and he was only a few floors away. Good, right? Had to be.
“You notice I tried to get as far away from you as possible? Away from your whining, your complaining.”
Maybe there was one more mouthful of whiskey left. Nope, empty. And so was – no, wait... Tilting the tequila bottle up, he drained the last few drops, spat the worm back inside with a disgusted grimace, and set it down gently alongside the empty whiskey bottle.
“Maybe it was the fact that my mother...”
He really shoulda brought more booze down here with him.
Reaching up with unsteady hands, Sam tugged at his hair until the traitorous thoughts sank back into the murk of his subconscious.
But they wouldn’t stay there, and he knew why. Because maybe – just maybe, they held a ring of truth. And he always had to face the truth, didn’t he? Wasn’t it supposed to be better, or some friggin’ shit?
Was it just demon talk? How much was the demon part of his brother trying to inflict a mortal wound just because that’s what demons do? And after all, who better to go for the jugular than his own family? Who else knew all of Sam’s deep, dark secrets, his fears and hopes, dreams and failures?
“Maybe it was the fact that my mother would still be alive if it wasn’t for you.”
There. It was out. Right out there for everyone to see. Well, kinda. Funny – having the truth come out was supposed to make people feel better. Sam sure as hell didn’t feel any better. As a matter of fact, he felt ten times worse than when he’d heard it from Dean’s mouth during the cleansing ritual. It had hurt like a dagger to his heart then – now it cut clear through what was left of his soul.
Was it the demon? Or was that what Dean really believed, buried down deep and festering away in the darkness born of a lifetime of fighting, and being touched by, evil.
Would his mother have lived if it hadn’t been for Sam? The Yellow-Eyed demon wouldn’t have had a reason to come to the house that night if there was no Apocalypse-starter lying in the crib. She wouldn’t have been pinned to the ceiling and burned alive right before his father’s eyes. Sam wouldn’t have been fed demon blood, wouldn’t have caused the trouble he’d caused by having that tainted streak inside of him. Dean wouldn’t have gone to Hell, or Purgatory, or died...again and again, over and over and over.
Okay, so...yeah. Maybe it was true. Maybe the demon inside Dean wasn’t lying.
Maybe he really, really needed to get off his lazy ass and go get some more whiskey.
Maybe if Dean woke up, he’d go get Sam some more whiskey so he could stop the memories from drowning him, and drown in spirits instead.
“...tired of babysitting you or always having to yank your lame ass out of the fire since – forever.”
Huh. His hands were shaking.
Fascinated, he held them up before his eyes to study the tremors rippling through his fingers. Must be some kinda weird aftershock thing, he supposed. Adrenaline crash or something.
“You think I’m just gonna sit here like Crowley, getting all weepy while you shoot me up?”
No, he admitted silently to himself. He hadn’t thought that. He’d hoped that. But he hadn’t seriously thought it, not after the struggle he had just getting Dean cuffed, back to the Bunker and down into the dungeon, then secured in the chair ready for the ritual.
“...what I’m gonna do to you, Sammy....well, that ain’t gonna be mercy either.”
His brother had broken loose and hunted him through the Bunker – through their home. If Cas hadn’t appeared when he did...
Sam swallowed hard, forcing back the alcohol which was threatening to reappear.
“...just enough demon left in me that killing you ain’t no choice at all.”
And Dean would have killed him; without hesitation, without mercy, and without an ounce of regret. Sam had seen it in the black, soulless eyes just before Cas had grabbed him. He’d seen his death as surely as if it had played out on the big screen TV in his room.
Yet even then he couldn’t raise a hand in deadly force against his brother. In self-defence, yeah, no problem. Although how much of a defence he could have put up against even Dean’s lowered demonic powers was anyone’s guess. Sam hadn’t fared too well against a mere human while his right arm was locked in this damned sling, albeit a human killing machine bent on practicing his arts on Sam’s big brother.
Ruefully he fingered the fading bruises on his face. Cole was another hurdle for the Winchesters to get over – as if Dean’s demon-ness wasn’t enough.
Demon-ness – huh. That was kinda funny. In a really weird way.
“...just enough demon left in me...”
Hmm. Maybe – maybe it wasn’t Dean’s darkest thoughts exposed by a demonic wish to cause as much damage in a short time as possible. He’d have to ask his brother when he saw him. If he was still conscious. If Dean came to look for him.
“...as far away from you as possible...”
Maybe Dean had already left again. Gone to rejoin Crowley and keep having a good time with his new best buddy. His latest replacement for the little brother who was never good enough.
But no – the way he’d looked when Sam had said was going on a food run. The expression in those too-wide eyes, the silent plea to stay, the naked fear that Sam wouldn’t want to...
Cas had told Sam quietly before he’d left that Dean had asked whether Sam wanted a divorce, and that the rescued hunter had been worried about the answer. Inadvertently, Sam’s lips twitched upward in a half-smile. Like that was gonna happen. Like he’d be comfortable letting his brother out of his sight for the next – for the next lifetime. Or lifetimes. Whatever. Nope, Dean was stuck with him. They were like those conjon – conk – connect – those twins.
No...no, he wouldn’t leave. He couldn’t. He was so damned relieved to have Dean back. Because he’d been so crushed when his brother had died in his arms, so broken when he’d had to carry Dean’s body back to the Bunker and lay it down on his bed...
Idly he wondered how many more times he could watch his big brother die without shattering into so many pieces that it would be impossible for him to be put back together again. How many times could he carry Dean’s corpse home, lay the lifeless body down, bathe the blood from ice-cold skin with his own tears, without giving in to the crushing grief that begged him to put a bullet in his brain and follow Dean to wherever he had gone.
A tear welled in each eye, shimmered for a moment on his lower lashes, then slowly trickled down his cheeks. Startled and ashamed, Sam dashed them away with the back of his left hand. So not gonna happen. He wasn’t gonna give in to this now. If he’d managed to hang onto his shit the whole time Dean was missing, presumed dead and hijacked by some lowlife demon, he certainly wasn’t gonna lose his shit now that Dean was safe and well and sleeping upstairs.
What did they think he was – a giant girl? Please.
He snorted in disgust at his momentary weakness. Slumping further against the wall, he stretched out one leg and considered his boot in the gloom, wondering whether he had the coordination to kick himself in the ass. Silently, he decided it wasn’t worth the effort, before drawing the limb partly up. From there his gaze rose almost reluctantly to the dark bulk of the restraining chair looming directly in front of him.
There. Right there. That was where it all happened. That was where...hell, if he went down that track, he was sure to lose his shit big time.
“We know how to cure demons. You remember that?”
“You really think those are gonna work?”
“For whatever it’s worth, I got your blood type.”
“For all you know, you could be killing me.”
Yeah, that had been a tough one. He’d begun the ritual in fear – not for himself if Dean got loose, not for whether the cure would work on someone who’d been turned as Dean had, but if his brother would survive the ritual. Whether he’d die at Sam’s hands while Sam was desperately trying to save him.
“Winchesters – do-gooders...fighting the natural order.”
“I could be killing my brother.”
“Who cares what you meant?!”
He’d soldiered on – because he couldn’t think of anything else to do. Cas had said the sanctified blood was the only way to cure Dean. And he couldn’t just let his brother go and be a demon, not without fighting for the human inside. Dean would have done the same for him...wouldn’t he?
Of course he would, Sam scoffed at himself. Dean had, time and time again, put himself on the line for Sam. Yanking his lame ass out of the fire...
No, he wasn’t gonna go there. There wasn’t enough alcohol in the whole Bunker to allow him to go there.
So, somewhere else, then. The Mark of Cain. Cain – the Mark of Dean. Nope, not going there either.
“Off-limissss!” Sam airily waved his good hand, almost smacked himself in the face with it, and huffed.
Crowley. Yeah, let’s go there. Thass a good one.
“You can’t stand the fact that he’s mine.”
“Yeah – right.”
Never. Dean Winchester was no one’s pet – least of all that jumped-up crossroads demon pain-in-the-ass Limey son of a bitch.
“Dean Winchester completes me, and that’s what makes you lose your chickens.”
He hadn’t lost his chickens. He still had every single one. And he knew just what he intended to do with them. “Gonna take m’ ch’k’n’s ‘n shove’m’ up y’r Limey ass, beaks ‘n all. Sonnn’ bitch.”
The mental image made him chuckle for a moment. But he quickly sobered, recalling his promise to kill the demon king. Kill him dead. Sounded melodramatic, but Sam knew what he meant. Dead, without a hope of resurrection. Ever. And the messier he could make that death, the better he’d like it. And when Crowley’s steaming, rotting corpse was lying at his feet, maybe then he’d consider the slate to be clean.
Handing an out-of-control Dean over to his brother to be cured didn’t make them square, not by a long shot. It was Crowley’s doing that got Dean into that whole mess in the first place with the Mark of Cain. Sam fully intended to get revenge for what had been done to his brother to help win Crowley’s battle with Abbadon. And if there was one thing he was good at, he ruefully admitted to himself, it was getting revenge.
The fallout, however, wasn’t always so good. As a matter of fact, it was downright...
Nope, not going there either, he decided with a wobbly nod. That was banned. Banned, banned, banned. A no-fly zone, right in his own head. He huffed in amusement at the thought.
A hesitant step sounded in the outer room and he stilled, his inebriated mind whirling. Here he was sitting in the dark, defenceless, his only weapons two empty bottles, while a demon prowled the halls. No, wait – it wasn’t a demon...was it? Hadn’t he cured...he’d been so sure...
Damn it, he couldn’t think straight. Maybe he shoulda swallowed the worm.
Eyes. It was in the eyes. He would never forget those eyes. Sorrow-filled green eyes. Lifeless green eyes. Hate-filled black eyes. Eyes taunting him, raking him coldly from head to toe, judging him – and finding him sadly wanting. Eyes, eyes, eyes – he couldn’t escape them. Not ever. Full of contempt, accusation, even hate. No, that wasn’t right – they – they were...they were...
The steps moved closer. He could hear breathing now, a little ragged, but a rhythm he’d been attuned to all his life. If he concentrated hard enough, maybe he could hear that well-remembered heartbeat, too. He let his head sag forward, listening.
A shuffle of footsteps, a quickly indrawn breath, and then the faint breeze of displaced air as something crouched beside him. He felt a touch, feather-light, on his thigh, and it took all his willpower not to strike out in self-defence. Better to wait, to pick his moment. His busted wing and all – bad angle for the demon to be coming from. It’d make him strike from an awkward position. Still, maybe he’d take it by surprise...
That familiar, husky voice. It was Dean. Not a demon. Not anymore. Dean. His big brother. His best friend. His – his – whatever he was. But those eyes...if he looked, what would he see? Black or green? Love or hate? Judgement or understanding? Condemnation or forgiveness?
God, he was so wasted...
“Sammy? Hey, man, look at me. Sam?”
Well, damn it. Now he had to look.
Slowly, he raised his head, just enough to peek sideways through overlong locks that had fallen partway across his face. Green eyes met his gaze; concern, worry and relief making them shine like beacons in the darkness.
“Hey, man – you okay?”
Dean sat back on his heels in surprise. One swift glance took in the two empty bottles, and he cupped his hand beneath Sam’s chin to raise the heavy head. Bloodshot hazel orbs stared at him from the shadows, the pupils dilated in the dim light.
“Ah, Sammy.” With a sigh, Dean released Sam’s chin and shuffled closer, settling on the floor next to his inebriated sibling. “Been a crazy day, huh?”
Glancing sideways, Dean studied his brother critically for the first time since becoming human again. Sam was noticeably thinner, especially in the chest and shoulders, indicating that the younger man had lost muscle mass. Possibly from his injury and inability to keep up his workout routine, but Dean suspected that Sam also hadn’t been taking care of himself lately, given the amount of food still left in the pantry and refrigerator.
And given the evidence in the library of that relentless search...
“Whatcha doin’ down here, man? You okay?”
The bloodshot eyes blinked, as if their owner couldn’t quite understand what he was being asked. Or perhaps, Dean reasoned with a touch of anger at himself, maybe Sam couldn’t quite believe his concern was genuine.
Dean forced himself to grin. “Is that a question?”
Sam blinked again, obviously confused, and the elder hunter tried again. “Sammy, what’re you doin’ down here in the dark?”
“Yeah,” Dean nudged one of the empty bottles with the toe of his right boot. “I can see that.”
This time the grin didn’t have to be forced. Seriously, seeing his little brother high on pain meds or liquor never got old. “I asked, because I wanted to know what you were doing down here getting drunk.”
“Oh.” Sam shrugged his good shoulder. “’S good a place ‘s any.”
“Yeah, not really, bro. I could think of a hundred other places I’d rather get wasted.”
Sam merely grunted. He resumed his contemplation of his boots, but couldn’t help shooting sidelong glances at his brother. The elder hunter sat without speaking, his gaze unfocussed, lines of exhaustion and strain still visible on his pale, freckled face.
“Y’ sure y’kay?”
“Me? I’m good, man.”
Disbelief flickered across the younger man’s unshaven face.
“Trust me, Sam – I’m okay.” Dean looked his brother in the eyes, almost flinching at the depth of emotions he found there. “Just – kinda tired. You know? Kinda wouldn’t mind getting wasted myself.”
Dean stiffened, dreading Sam’s next words.
“Coulda killed you, man.”
A sigh escaped the older hunter’s lips. “Well, you didn’t. You brought me back.”
“Don’t go there, okay? It’s over, it’s done. We’re good.”
For one brief moment, Sam became surprisingly lucid. “Are we?”
Dean searched the young-old features, seeing the concern that mirrored his own. And probably the same fears, he realised, holding the younger man’s gaze with his own.
“I think so, yeah. At least – we will be. I guess we kinda got a lot to talk about first, though. I don’t think we can bury it down deep this time, dude.”
That was an understatement if he ever made one. They had a ton of stuff to talk about – just how dark Sam had gone in his search for his brother, what Dean had done while being a demon, the fallout from the ritual, the fact that Dean still had the Mark of Cain and what its effect would be. Yeah, they were so gonna have to talk about all this.
“Wha...now?” Sam blinked in consternation. He so wasn’t up for such an in-depth conversation right now.
Unexpectedly, Dean chuckled. “No, dumbass, not now. Later, when you’re not completely plowed.”
A grin hovered around Dean’s mouth. “Well, there’s one thing we can talk about now. That busted arm of yours. How’d you get winged, man?”
“Y’ awreddy asked me that.”
A slight shuffle had him sitting sideways, and he reached out to gently clasp the sling-encased elbow. “I know I asked before, but – now that I’m back to being me, I’m gonna ask again. And this time I want a real answer. Who winged you?”
Bleary eyes blinked at him from behind a curtain of unruly chestnut hair.
“What happened, Sammy? Who did this?”
“Threw me ‘cross room. Cas – Cas...he – he din’t – he wasn’...wasn’...”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll ask Cas about it next time I see his feathered ass. Is it broken?”
“Dislo – dissss – disl’ated.”
Dean’s eyebrows shot towards his hairline. Unfastening the buttons of his brother’s shirt, he eased away the flannel, then the soft cotton tee, revealing a fresh scar on Sam’s shoulder. “Surgery? To put your shoulder back in? Was it dislocated or separated?”
“We’re so gonna talk about this. Tomorrow,” Dean added firmly as his brother shot him a worried look. “When you’re sober enough to give me a straight answer. Okay?”
He didn’t bother waiting for confirmation, but straightened Sam’s shirts and patted his chest. “So, uh – you gonna spend the night down here? Kinda uncomfortable, dude.”
Sam merely shrugged again, gaze turning back to the empty chair. Dean nudged his outstretched leg with one foot.
“Hey. Come on, man. Let’s get you upstairs, huh? We both could use some sleep. Got a busy day tomorrow.”
A puzzled frown wrinkled the wide brow. “What? Why?”
“Well, for one thing, we gotta go buy a new door.” Dean felt the heat of a blush stain his cheeks, and hoped it wasn’t too visible in the heavy shadows. “And I’m gonna need your help to swap it out.”
“Yeah, really. Dude, come on...” About to make a smartass remark, Dean abruptly sobered. He dropped his head briefly, then raised it to lock gazes with his sibling. Sam stared back, his eyes almost black in the dim light.
“Hey, I – uh...what you did.” Dean swallowed hard. Stuff like this had never come easily to either of them, despite Sam being all emo and crap, he thought ruefully. But harsh words – cruel words, had been spoken, and he had to make sure that Sam wouldn’t continue to suffer the wounds of demon-fuelled lies. “Comin’ after me and all, cleanin’ my baby up...”
“Y’ m’ broth’r,” Sam slurred, as if that explained everything. And for the Winchesters, it did.
“You never had a brother...”
Slowly, Dean got to his feet and stretched out a hand. When Sam grasped it, he tightened his fingers until his brother looked up.
“And you’re mine,” he stated huskily, putting his whole heart into the simple statement. He only hoped that Sam wasn’t too buzzed to read the unspoken message and understand the rebuttal of those hated word-weapons.
From the way the hazel eyes glistened with moisture as he helped Sam to stand, it seemed that the kid received the message loud and clear.
“Let’s get you upstairs, huh? I think we’ve both kinda had enough of this room, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I don’t guess – I know. Come on.” Grasping Sam’s good arm, Dean drew it across his shoulders and guided his sibling’s shambling steps up to the main floor.
As they passed through the library, Sam made as if to sink down onto the couch. With a shake of his head, Dean scooped up the pillow and kept walking.
“No you don’t. Bedtime means sleeping in a bed, not on a freakin’ couch that’s too short for those giraffe legs of yours. Come on, keep those feet movin’.”
Finally reaching the sleeping quarters, Dean guided his drunken brother into the room, lowered him onto the mattress, then tossed the pillow towards the head of the bed. Drawing the covers back, he then bent and swiftly pulled off Sam’s boots, ignoring the slurred protest and the hand that weakly tried to shove him away.
He straightened, eyes narrowing as he studied the sling and restraining straps holding Sam’s right arm locked to his chest. Finding the buckles, he undid the contraption before sliding it off and then tenderly cradling the damaged arm. He then helped Sam strip down to his underwear and slide beneath the covers. Folding the injured right arm, he eased a spare pillow beneath Sam’s elbow for support.
When he straightened up, he was surprised to find the bloodshot eyes fixed on his face.
“Y ‘kay? Dean? Y ‘kay?”
Dean sighed heavily, then moved to sit on the edge of the bed. “I’ll be okay, Sammy.” He tried to raise a cocky grin, and felt pride that he managed at least a half-hearted one.
Murmuring something completely unintelligible, Sam tried for a reassuring pat but missed Dean’s shoulder entirely. The flailing hand slid down the elder Winchester’s arm, coming to rest somewhere in the vicinity of his hip. Two long fingers hooked into the belt loop of his jeans and hung there, as if trying to anchor Dean to the spot.
The significance of the gesture wasn’t lost on the shorter hunter.
“Hey, uh – Cas – he suggested maybe...maybe we could use some time off, you know? Some ‘we-time’. Not a bad idea, huh? What say we find a lake, kick back, have some beers, sit in the sun for awhile. No hunting – just you and me hangin’ out. Sound good?”
Sam mumbled a faint assent, fingers twitching in Dean’s belt loop as if to reassure himself that his brother was still there. He sighed, nestling his head deeper into the pillow. A faint snore issued from his partly open mouth a few moments later.
Dean cracked a fond smile. “Yeah. Sounds like a plan.”
He sat in the darkness for a long time, listening to the soothing cadence of Sam’s breathing, and being so damned grateful his brother had ignored that stupid note.