Sam was sitting crosslegged, an awkward position for a man with legs long like his, on the bed in Bobby's panic room. It had been pushed up against the wall, and Sam was sitting upright, the back of his head resting on the cold metal. His eyes were shut, his skin shining and wet with sweat, and his breathing was ragged. He was exhausted.
But Lucifer wouldn't let him sleep. He couldn't remember when he slept last, how many hours he'd been in there, alone but not alone. Bobby and Dean had run into town when Sheriff Mills called them about a problem that was a little beyond the scope of the Sioux Falls police department. Sam had insisted that they go. But after the last time, when they had left him on his own and Dean eventually found him shooting up an empty warehouse… He had also insisted they lock him in, just in case.
Even with Dean or Bobby around, Lucifer was testing Sam's limits, egging him on, desperate to get him to pull the trigger. But it was easier to tune him out when Sam could look up at his brother, watch him do whatever he was doing, which lately more often than not was looking at Sam with unveiled concern. Sam's stomach knotted angrily as Satan's voice cut through his thoughts and tore away the images of Dean he was clinging to so fiercefully.
"I keep telling you, Sam. You know how to get out of this." His voice was soft and close and he could feel Lucifer's breath hot on his ear. Sam turned his head away, keeping his eyes shut, refusing to see him. He'd been through this enough times already to know the Devil would only be miming at him some way that he could end it all: a gun at his chin, a rope around his neck, a blade at his wrist. "Saaa-aaam?" He continued, sing-song. "If you don't want to talk to me, I'll have to find another way to amuse myself."
Sam shuddered at everything that came to mind, all the ways Lucifer had hurt him before. While there had been a physical element to his torment, Sam couldn't say that was the worst of it. Lucifer seemed to know Sam inside and out; every memory, every bad choice, every failure was brought to the surface and thrown back in his face. Every disappointment, every selfish thought, every time he had ever fallen so hopelessly short of the big brother he admired and constantly let down, the Devil made sure he remembered. Lucifer nurtured seeds of doubt and self-hate into a forest and it was threatening to consume him.
So instead, Sam didn't respond at all. He wouldn't acknowledge Lucifer if could help it. He dug in his nails and held on for all he was worth. Over and over in his head he told himself it wasn't real, that he wasn't with him, that he was safe and alone, that Dean and Bobby would be back soon, that Dean was expecting to find him there. For every moment he almost believed the Devil was right about him, he wasn't ready to disappoint Dean again.
His hands were sitting lax in his lap, the left bandaged from when he cut it on some broken glass the week before. Not that it mattered now. The gauze was completely soaked through with fresh blood and the stitches had been mangled. Sam had spent much of his time in the panic room crushing and pinching at the wound in an attempt to stay grounded and turn down the Devil's soundtrack. His right hand was bloody too, particularly under his nails, which he'd been using to press and dig in more sharply. Underneath his listless, aching hands, the mattress was glistening and dark with a growing stain. His hands twitched, uncooperative, when he thought about reaching for the wound again.
"C'mon, Sam. I'm BORED!" Lucifer whined, and yelled suddenly. Sam was flung up and off the bed, his limbs thrown out by the force of it, and his body slammed tight against panic room wall. It was as if Lucifer had him ziptied there, binds cutting into him at the ankles, wrists, and throat as if he was a child's toy kept on display in the box. Sam could barely choke out a sound and quickly he was becoming lightheaded, losing feeling in his extremities. Gasping, he looked to his left hand and tried desperately to close his fingers into a fist, dig his nails into his palm as best he could.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," Lucifer added a tsk-tsk-tsk with his tongue against his teeth, chiding the younger Winchester. He tilted his head to the side and looked up at Sam as if he felt badly for him, his bottom lip pushed out as he pouted rather dramatically. "We should really just chat more…"
Everything tightened and Sam could feel his hands and feet, sharp with pins and needles, starting to fade away beyond the pain of the invisible fastenings. As the one at his neck began to plunge him into darkness, he wanted nothing more than to call out for his big brother.
"Sam? Sammy!" Dean had barely turned the knob on Bobby's front door before he was yelling out to Sam. It had taken much longer than they'd anticipated to help Jody with her problem and subsequent clean up. 13 hours they'd been gone, or as Dean was consumed with thinking, 13 hours he'd left Sam to wrestle with the Devil. By the time Bobby, who'd been following Dean up the porch, crossed the threshold into the house, the elder Winchester was nowhere to be seen, panic having brought him at least halfway to his brother already. He'd tried calling Sam the whole way back from town to say they were coming home and he had never gotten an answer. Needless to say, urgency expedited their drive back to Bobby's.
Dean still hadn't heard a peep from his brother as he practically slid down the wooden staircase into the basement. The pit of Dean's stomach was tight and heavy, sinking like a rock as he came to the door of the panic room.
"Dammit Sam," He growled low and quiet to himself as he fumbled with the locks. Swinging open the rusted door with all its' creaks, he stopped frozen in his place as he took in the sight. "Jesus, Sammy…"
His brother was slumped back on the bed, legs folded open and crossed awkwardly in front of him. His head was tilted back against the wall, and a trail of mostly dried blood was visible from behind it. He was pale and there were beads of sweat on his skin, which must have been cool as he was noticeably trembling and covered with goosebumps. And his hands… Dean's breath hitched in his chest when he saw them. Palms up in the space of his lap, Sam's hands were a bloody mess. His right hand was still rigidly clamped down on his left despite his questionable level of consciousness.
Dean impulsively ran his hand roughly over his own face, rubbing hard at his eyes as it came down, and then tried not to throw himself at his little brother.
"Sammy, hey, hey, I'm back," He crouched down in front of the low bed, his knees leaning on it in order to be level with Sam and brought his hand up to cup the edge of Sam's jaw. He didn't respond. "Jesus, Sam, please, little brother…" He gently nudged Sam's face and grabbed at his shoulder with his other hand. Sam came to with a violent shudder but his limbs, heavy, didn't move. It looked like it took effort and caused him hurt when he righted his head and let his eyes find Dean.
"Dean…" Sam's voice was weak and hoarse. He closed his mouth and swallowed hard, wincing. Dean tried to smile at his brother but he could feel his eyes were close to spilling over.
"Shit, Sammy. You're a mess… We gotta… I gotta get you cleaned up, all this blood…" His eyes were darting all over Sam, trying in inventory the damage and assess how best to move him. "Jesus…" Dean stood back up and moved to the door so he could yell to Bobby to get some hot water running.
"Sammy, hey, yeah, you gotta uh, you gotta help me out here. I'm gonna get you upstairs, okay? Just, here, yeah." He kept talking as he moved, calm and encouraging despite the tremor in his lower lip and the wetness at the corners of his eyes that betrayed how he was really feeling. He half crawled onto the bed, one leg up as he leaned Sam forward and slid his arm across his back. He braced his brother against his shoulder and tightened his grip on Sam's far side as much as he dared to make sure was ready to take on his weight. Sam groaned as Dean posed him.
"Okay, little brother, on 3, ready? One, two, and up…" Dean stood up with as much force as he could from that position and managed to get Sam on his feet. His brother gasped sharply as Dean shifted him and tugged his one arm down over his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Sammy. Hey, c'mon, you gotta walk with me now."
"Okay, Dean," Sam barely managed a whisper. His head was heavy and swimming, throbbing at the back, so he let his face fall into the crook of his brother's neck where at least it wasn't moving. Dean was surprised to feel Sam take on a little of his own weight as they slowly started to make their way to the stairs.
It was a long journey, and by the time they made it out of the basement, and Dean could hear the water running upstairs, Sam was almost spent. Dean was sweating with the effort of lugging around his giant baby brother and wishing he'd taken off his jacket before starting. When they got to the bottom of the next staircase, Dean tried to tug Sam more tightly across his shoulder because it felt like he was starting to slip.
"Sammy? You still with me?" His brother's face was still tucked in at his neck so he couldn't look down to see it. Sam, unanswering, was going limp.
"Shit, shit, shit," Dean was going to be overwhelmed with Sam's increasingly dead weight and was trying not to let him take them both down to the floor. "Bobby? Bobby, some help please! Now!" Dean yelled out, rushed, and was relieved to hear the thumping of Bobby's feet moving quickly towards the stairs.
"On my way, kid," Bobby was at his side in a moment and they were easing Sam down to the ground.
"Watch his head, Bobby," Dean cautioned. "It's pretty banged up."
When Sam was all the way down, completely out of it and resting on his side, Dean stood, stretching his back and shedding his coat in one quick movement. Bobby was surveying Sam, shaking his head.
"He looks terrible," his stated sadly, voice gruff. It was an understatement. Sam's face was so drained of colour that his brother found it hard to look at him. The back of his head was dark and his hair was matted with drying blood. The thighs of his jeans and the front of shirt were in a similar state from blood that Dean assumed came from his hand, which would need new stitches by the looks of it.
"Yeah, Bobby," Dean snapped, terse. "I can see that." Dean's tone was more biting than he meant it to be. But the sight of his baby brother in this messed up state really wrung him out, and worse, he couldn't stop thinking about how he shouldn't have left him in the first place. If he had let Bobby handle things on his own, Sam wouldn't be in the state he was in now. He should never have let him talk him into going. He couldn't help but wonder if he would ever manage to do right by Sam.
Bobby pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at Dean a moment but then his expression softened immediately. He could read the guilt on Dean's face clear as day, and it killed him to see it there. He knew his boys well enough to know and forgive Dean's tendency to deflect his emotions this way.
"Let's get him up, then," Bobby calmly continued. Between the two of them they managed to manhandle Sam up off the ground and more or less drag him up the stairs. Sam didn't bear any of his own weight, and didn't say much either, except maybe breathing out 'Dean' occasionally, barely audible. They propped him up in the bathroom, half-sitting on the edge of the counter and leaning back against the wall. Dean was still close, supporting him as he slouched there. Thanks to Bobby, the bath was hot and ready, steam rising and starting to fog the edges of the small mirror. Dean kept one hand on Sam and with the other grabbed the towel and set it in the sink. As he turned on the tap to wet it, he turned to Bobby.
"Bobby, thanks, but uh, I got it from here, y'know?" He gave Bobby a pleading look, as if asking Bobby to leave would somehow let Sam retain some dignity despite needing this level of attention. As if it mattered between these hunters, this family, who'd seen each other through every wringer you could imagine and many more that you couldn't. Bobby nodded anyway, not necessarily in agreement, but knowingly. This wasn't his first rodeo with the Winchesters.
"I won't be far, if you need me. Just holler." They exchanged grim looks and Bobby nodded again, closing the bathroom door behind him.
Dean turned off the tap and using his one free hand, pressed the soaked towel into the wall of the sink to squeeze out some of the excess water. He turned his gaze to his brother.
"Sam? Sam, you're gonna need to wake up a bit, here…" He needed to get the wet towel to his brother's face, try to rouse him enough to let Dean undress him and get him in the tub. His forehead was still on Dean's shoulder, his open mouth pressed loosely against his chest, breathing warmly and dampening his brother's shirt. Dean sighed as he realized how much he needed both hands for this. He took the wet towel and slid it over the back of his brother's neck. The cool shock had the desired effect and Sam stirred against him.
"De… Dean?" Sam managed to lift his head off of his brother's shoulder though his face contorted somewhat with the effort. Groaning, he brought the back of his right hand to his rub at his eye then cradled his head there, steadying it.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean smiled weakly. "Take this okay? I'm gonna get these clothes off you, try to get you cleaned up." He handed the wet cloth to Sam to use on his face, to keep him awake enough that he could use both of his hands more freely.
"'K, Dean," Sam answered into the cloth, shifting his weight to sit more on the counter and lean less on Dean. His wounded left hand hung limply at his side.
Dean quietly made as quick work as he could of Sam's clothes. He gently rolled the blood-soaked tee shirt up his brother's stomach and gingerly lifted each arm out, one at a time, pulling and stretching the fabric to accommodate the awkwardness of the movements, and finally slipped it, very carefully, over Sam's head. Sam's shivering increased almost instantly while Dean tossed the shirt into the corner of the bathroom. Dean couldn't guess how much blood his brother had lost while he was gone but shock was obviously long settled in at this point. He undid the button of Sam's jeans and took down the zipper, unflinchingly tugged the blood-soaked pants down from his hips and crouched to help him get his feet out, one at a time, while Sam pushed the knuckles of his left hand into Dean's collarbone to help him keep his balance. Dean was nonchalant about Sam's nakedness, focused completely on the tender task at hand as he stood back up and took back the cloth, setting it on the counter.
"Gotta get you in the bath, okay? Here, lean on- yeah, I got ya, here we go…" Sam had looked at his brother pitifully, trembling with cold and weakness, and moving as if through molasses to get his good hand on Dean's shoulder before turning towards the tub. Dean kept a deathly tight grip on his brother's arm and side as he lifted his leg into the bath and started easing in, aware it would likely bruise, but desperate not to let him slip or fall. As Sam's body folded into the perfectly hot water, he let out a long, anguished breath that bordered a moan. Crimson swirls immediately appeared in the water as it moved around him, dissipating and tinting the bath various degrees of copper. Dean was glad for the size of the old clawfoot tub; it wasn't the average bath that could comfortably fit a grown man, much less a sasquatch like his brother. Sam's head was resting on the edge, turned to one side to avoid putting pressure on the gash buried somewhere under all that bloody hair. His eyes had closed.
Dean sighed deeply, taking the moment to stretch again and move without the weight of his broken brother sinking onto him. Just getting him into the hot bath, Dean swore Sam had more colour than he had a moment ago. And certainly he was no longer trembling, now warm and resting, the buoyancy giving his muscles a break. Dean took the folded up step ladder that was tucked behind the bathroom door and set it next to the bathtub so he could sit on it. He reached in for Sam's left hand and gently swished it under the water to encourage all the blood to continue melting away. More or less clean, Dean lifted it out to inspect the stitches. Many of them were ripped and sitting awkwardly in their places, some had sunk deeply into the flesh of his hand, and in some places the wound had been freshly opened and was gaping. Sam had really done a number on it. 13 hours. Dean growled inwardly, ashamed and angry with himself.
His eyes fell on the ground next to the tub where Bobby had, obviously thinking ahead, placed a bottle of whiskey and his med kit. Dean didn't hesitate to open the bottle and take a generous swig, the welcome, familiar burn in his throat giving him a moment of relief despite the fact that he was knee-deep looking after his brother after having abandoned him. Replacing the bottle on the ground he reached for the the wet cloth on the counter and decided, first things first, he'd clean up whatever Sam had done to the back of his head and see how bad it was. Slipping Sam's hand back into the water, he scooched closer to that end of the bath on the step ladder and started gently pawing at the matted mess of Sam's hair. Sam, who had been quiet up to this point, groaned.
"Sorry, Sammy, it's gotta be done. I need to see how bad it is, arright?"
"I know, Dean," Sam's voice was soft but stronger than it had been since Dean had come home. The hot bath was obviously doing him some good. "S'ok, it just, hurts." His eyes were still closed but Dean saw him wince with the pressure Dean had put on his wound. The water was darkening with all the blood Dean was tugging out of Sam's hair with the cloth. When the matting was finally cleaned out, Dean very carefully parted the hair here and there looking for the cut and found it eventually. The gash itself was small but there was already visible bruising spreading out around it. Head wounds, even minor, did tend to bleed a lot, but Dean was far more concerned about a concussion now when the evidence was suggesting that Sam's head had been so forcefully put into the wall. He frowned at the sight of it.
"Sammy?" Dean looked seriously at his brother, who was opening his eyes very deliberately to try to look back at him.
"Yeah, Dean? Is it bad?" Sam's voice was small with worry, no hunter ever wanting to end up in hospital if it could be avoided.
"Not the cut but it looks like you hit it pretty hard, buddy… How many fingers?" Dean held up two fingers in a peace sign. Other times when he'd done this in the past Sam would huff and roll his eyes at him but not today. It was as if Dean could see his brother's eyes coming to focus on his hand.
"Uh, two," he was right, but it sounded suspiciously like a question.
"And where are we?" Sam closed his eyes again before answering.
"Uncle Bobby's upstairs bathroom." That one he answered easily and Dean's next breath was easier for it, too.
"All right." There were things he wanted to ask next but wasn't sure if he should. "I'm uh, gonna look after that hand of yours. Might as well. While we're here."
Dean fished Sam's hand out of the water again and rested it palm up right thigh. He reached for the medkit, well stocked and surprisingly clean and new when compared to the rest of Bobby's things, which like him, tended to be worn and often dusty. He set it open on the ground in front of him to dig for scissors, a needle, and thread. "Sammy, if you uh, want some whiskey before I start in..?"
"Nah, Dean, it… it's uh, better this way." Dean stopped what he was doing and looked at his brother, expression grave as he understood Sam's meaning: it would help keep Lucifer at bay. He let his eyes pinch shut as his chest did tightened. The thought of his brother suffering this way… Was the he with them now? Did he keep his eyes closed only to keep from seeing Lucifer standing behind Dean? Was the Devil messing with his little brother's head even now, as Dean tried to be gentle and reassuring? Dean took a deep breath and shoved those thoughts, those aches, aside to focus on patching up Sam instead.
Dean gingerly used scissors the scissors to work at removing the older, now disfigured stitches from Sam's hand. His brother was mostly quiet as he worked, his breath changing its rhythm or catching depending on what Dean was doing at that moment, if the threads he tugged at were sticking or coming out readily. When all the damaged stitches were removed, Dean set in replacing them with new ones. They'd sewn each other up countless times before, hell, they'd even sewn on themselves when it was necessary, but there was something about this time that had Dean awfully shaken up. He paused often, giving Sam's hand a break, taking easy pulls of the whiskey, and trying not to look too long at the rusty coloured water. Maybe he was more tired than usual, or maybe it was this stuff with the Devil, his brother's memories of Hell bringing back his own. Maybe it was how he felt so damned responsible, and by extension, like such a failure. He couldn't keep at bay all the things he did wrong, all the times his baby brother who, still these days looked at him with those damned eyes of his like he actually was something, ended up broken on account of his inability to be a better brother.
"Dean?" His brother's voice broke into the hurricane of his thoughts, calming the storm where it raged. He had obviously gotten a little lost in his head, as he had the bottle of whiskey midair, halfway to his lips, and the thumb of his other hand had been unconsciously rubbing at Sam's wrist which was still resting on his leg. Blinking, he set down the bottle and gave his head a little shake, kneaded his free hand into his eyes.
"Yeah, Sammy? Sorry. Just, uh, got lost a minute." Sam had been looking languidly at his brother but his eyes narrowed now with concern, and they seemed alight.
"Dean, you okay?" Dean let out a sad laugh. After everything he'd been through Sam was asking about him.
"Am I okay? Yeah, Sam, I'm uh. Yeah." He dragged his hand down his face again. It was a tell Sam knew inside and out. His brother was hurting.
"Dean, listen-" Sam tried to shift his position and while the water made it easier to move his body, his head disagreed vehemently, forcing him to stop and find stillness again.
"Sammy, hey, just. Just stay put, okay? You look like you've had the shit kicked out of you, arright?"
Sam let out an audible breath as he stopped moving that Dean recognized as frustrated defeat. The elder Winchester grabbed a couple percocet from the medkit and cleared his throat as he brought his hand to his brother's face.
"Here ya go, kiddo. Better get something in your system or we'll be boned getting you out of that tub." Sam peeked at Dean's hand through barely opened eyes. He closed them, resigned, and opened his mouth so his brother could let them drop in. He winced a little as they went down. After Sam rest a moment in silence, Dean resumed the work on his brother's palm. When it was all stitched up, he dug around for a roll of gauze. He couldn't help looking at Sam's face, almost peaceful despite the state he was in, as he started wrapping his hand. He didn't to push him but he had this persistent inclination to try and understand what Sam was going through, if he could relate, if he could help. Not to mention he'd already very quickly put a significant dent in the bottle of whiskey at his feet.
"Sam… What. Uh, what happened to you, man? In there, in the panic room."
He closed his eyes with regret as soon as he let the words pass his lips. He cursed at himself for asking, thinking the last thing Sam needed was to explain himself, especially since Dean knew he didn't have a great track record for having these conversations without getting angrier than he meant to. Talking about how he felt, about how Sam felt even, it just wasn't in his catalogue of strengths. But the words had been put out there now, and they were hanging heavy in the air between them like the warm thickness of the steam that still filled the room.
At first he didn't think Sam was going to answer him. He didn't show signs of hearing the question. Then he opened his eyes and stared, somewhat distantly, at the corner farther from his brother. Dean could see that his eyes were glassy.
"Dean, it. It's not. He doesn't try to convince me it's not real anymore. Not like before the warehouse, where you showed me I could use this," he rocked his bandaged hand where it sat out of the water on the edge of the tub. "He just… Still looks real, and he… He, uh, mostly taunts me. Says things, y'know? He, uh. Yeah. He mostly. Tries to convince me…" Sam's voice had tapered off into the quiet. Whatever he was battling with in his head at the moment, he didn't look peaceful anymore and for that Dean was kicking himself. The room felt so dense with the heat coming off the water but it was still. So very still, uncomfortably still, and Dean let it go a moment, two, three, before he encouraged Sam to continue.
"Yeah, Dean. He, uh. Makes me want to kill myself. When I ignore him too long, when I refuse to... That's when he hurts me. Or, whatever. I, uh. I don't know, Dean. It feels real when he's got me all strung up and he's choking me and then it's gone. When you're here. I don't know. I just. I'm, uh, glad you found me. When you did."
Dean stared, expressionless, at his brother. Sam was blinking forcefully, taking deliberate breaths, and a couple tears had rolled from his eyes down past his ears and into the bloody water. Dean's own heart was so tight in his chest again and threatening to burst it was all he could do to keep himself even somewhat composed.
"Sammy, I… Uh-" He started to forage for words, anything that would make sense to say then, something his brother would need to hear, but Sam cut him off.
"Dean. I just. Please, can I. Uh, wanna go to bed, Dean."
Dean blinked his own eyes, then, though a single tear managed to escape and slide down his face.
"Yeah, Sam. Of course, man. Uh, here, okay? Slowly, 'k…" Dean, not knowing the words but knowing the actions, was quick to move at Sam's request. He pushed aside the medkit and step ladder, and took his brother's good hand in his own. With his other arm, he helped Sam lift to standing, getting hopelessly drenched as his brother was staggering under his own weight without the help of the water to lift his body and he had to lean on him. He steadied him as he stepped out, carefully, and Dean grabbed an old robe off the back of the door to feed his brother into and wrap around him before he could get too cold again. A bit woozy from the percocet but a little stronger than before, Sam was swaying but stood more or less on his own while Dean patted down his arms and rubbed his sides into the tightly tied housecoat like it was a towel and he was drying Sam off when he was very small.
Sam let Dean steer him out of the warm bathroom and through the cool, dark outside to the bedroom at the end of the hall that had been the boys' since they first stayed at Bobby's. Flicking on the desk light as they passed it, Dean said a silent thank you. Bobby'd gone ahead and remade the bed with lots of clean, heavy blankets, and they were thrown open to make it easy for Dean to just guide Sam onto it and tuck him in like a taco. There were bottles of water and more percocet on the desk.
"Thanks, Dean…" Sam was so quiet, Dean almost didn't hear him. Looking down at him, he almost said good night, almost went to leave. But. I just. I'm, uh, glad you found me. When you did. Instead, he sat on the edge of the bed.
Sam had opened his eyes again, languidly, when he felt Dean's weight bring down the outside of the mattress. He looked up at his brother.
"When you said, uh… Sam. You don't. You don't buy what he's selling, do ya? I mean, uh. You don't actually-" He stopped, feeling overwhelmed, not sure he could bring himself to really say what he was asking.. Looking at Sam now, the face of his baby brother that he'd been caring for his entire life, he could see it in his eyes. Sam, looking straight up and having brought his good hand to sit on his forehead, had started to cry while Dean was talking. Dean felt something shatter in him and his breath caught on a sob. "Sammy, no, man. But, how- I mean, you can't, I-"
Sam cut him off by shakily.
"Dean, you. You can't understand. He just, he's got the time, and uh, and all the fuel he needs. I just. He makes me wonder if you wouldn't be better. I mean, all the things I've- the times I- And you." He tried to catch up with his tears. "You just might be. Better off without me."
Sam's eyes were closed again. He couldn't bear to look at his big brother and know what a disappointment he was. He wished he wasn't saying these things or crying these tears but the exhaustion and the percocet made him feel a little out of control.
Dean was beside himself, trying to breathe. What Sam was saying, it's how he felt. How could… It didn't make sense. Dean worried constantly about letting his brother down and here Sam… Well, Sam felt the same way and worst of all, the Devil was using it to manipulate him. To make him- Dean couldn't even let himself finish the thought. He wiped his eyes into his thumb and forefinger and tried to find his voice.
"Sammy, listen, I, uh. Woah. Look, look at me okay. Can you. Can you sit up, a sec. Please," his voice was quiet and croaked a little as he tried not to plead with his brother. Sam was still in tears, but sniffling, and with great effort, he couldn't help but do as Dean asked and, careful of his head, still swimming, and his hand, still aching, propped himself up so he was hugging his knees. His back was against the wall.
"Listen to me, Sam. We, uh. We've been through a lot. Okay, I mean, stuff… Hell, no one else has to live what we've lived through. No one else," Dean's mind is racing, aiming for some composure but floundering over everything - everyone - they've lost in their lives. "And this, this is, uh. It's hard, Sammy. But. We've got each other, okay? I can't. I couldn't do this without you. You gotta stay with me. You gotta. Fight it, okay? Always - Promise me. Promise me, you'll always keep fighting. I. I'll promise to. You and me. Okay? Lucifer, angels, freakin' leviathans, whatever. I can't do this alone. I need you, Sammy. We gotta keep fighting. Together."
By the time he finished speaking he felt raw as if he'd been punched in the gut, but he had recovered control of his breathing despite his very wet face. Dean didn't know where the words came from, but overwhelmed as he was seeing Sam like that… He couldn't stop them.
Sam, wet-faced too, was nodding at Dean. All that time listening to Lucifer go on and on… He couldn't believe then that he had ever even thought- About Dean, how could he? He was everything he needed and all of the devil's words were fading into nothing in the face of his big brother.
Dean could see that what he said had gotten through to him. His brother's tears, which before had been stifled and silent, now were choking and loud but with obvious relief. Dean let out his own shaking breath, beyond relieved himself, and took Sam in his arms as they sat there.
"Okay, Dean," Sam's response was muffled into his brother's shoulder. "I promise. We'll keep fighting."
Dean couldn't bring himself to let Sam go right away. He held his brother to him, letting them both calm down, unconsciously rocking a little, falling into memories of when he would sit on the edge of the bed and hold his brother after a nightmare or if Dad had been away too long. Eventually, he did let Sam go, easing him back down to his pillows and instinctively tucking the blankets around him. "We're gonna get through this, Sammy." He said it quietly, almost to himself, as he stood. He was pretty sure between the percocet and everything else his brother was out before the bed had finished adjusting to Dean's having vacated it. He knew it could be - it was going to be - a very long road. And hell if he knew how best to help his brother tell the Devil where to stick it, but he did know what they'd been through so far. And he knew Sam. And as long as they kept fighting, they'd get through it. Together.