Title: Streets of Philadelphia
Summary: Dean wakes up to a bruised and battered Sam chained to his bed. Everything seems to point to Dean being responsible, but there are things that just don't fit; old wounds on Sam's body that were never there before and how he acted like this wasn't the first time. He dreams of memories of him hurting his brother, but they aren't his own. Abused!Hurt!Sam - Caring!Protective!Dean. Re-write of Abusing Forgiveness.
Chapter Warnings: spoilers up to 5.01
Credits: This story prompt originally belongs to an amazing fanfiction author pen-named authoressnebula, but it was taken up and written by another equally excellent writer who goes by purplehairedwonder. So, all the credits for this plotline idea go to them. Read 'The Cancer Inside' by purplehairedwonder, as that was the story that brought this story and 'Abusing Forgiveness' into birth.
The link: s/7275937/1/The-Cancer-Inside
The silence in the car was the furthest thing from comfortable and easy, a far cry from the companionable quiet that used to settle between them before the terrible events of the past year, before Ruby and the angels came between them and drifted them apart, before the demon blood-drinking, before Dean went to Hell and left behind a grieving, desperate younger brother spiraling downwards and wide out of control.
And at the very end of it all, like a domino effect, the chain of all these occurrences led Sam to set Lucifer loose and effectively doom the world to Hell. Just the cherry on top of the pile of all of his other screw-ups.
It had begun with him misplacing his trust in a demon. He fed on her blood and became greedy for the rush of power and the high it brought, listened to her when she twisted his mind into thinking that he was going to be able to save Dean by committing those horrible deeds, that he was doing everything for the greater good, when underneath it all, her intentions had not been towards the greater good in any way. Rather, it was entirely for the opposite, for the apocalypse to reign over the Earth. He had inadvertently doomed all of the people on this planet merely due to his own arrogance and stupidity.
And all of it could have been avoided if he had just done the one thing he should have, so obvious and clear now that he couldn't believe how blinded he had been.
If only he had trusted and listened to the one and only person he had always trusted and listened to, who had always had his back and had always had his best interests at heart, none of this would have happened. If only he had listened to Dean, things would have gone a lot differently and in a far better direction.
Except he was too proud to see it then, so out of his mind from the drugging effects of the demon blood, from the need for vengeance that he had sought on behalf of his brother. He had wanted to kill Lilith, had wanted to see the life drain from her eyes for setting those hellhounds loose on Dean, for the way she forced him to watch as his brother got shredded to pieces by invisible claws and jaws on that table.
Even after Dean returned from hell by the courtesy of heaven, despite their non-altruistic reasons, he couldn't let go of his thirst for revenge, and by that time, he was already in too deep. His blood addiction had already reeled him in to the point of no return, even if he had falsely believed at the time that he could go back, convinced himself by the help of Ruby that the ends justified the means and that he was only doing it for the right.
And so, he continued in secret instead, lied to and hid it from his brother. He was discovered a couple of weeks later, and he had seen the fear in his brother's eyes and the flinch when he raised his hand to a demon behind him, had seen the disgust and wariness that later took its place as he looked at him like the monster he truly was. He almost couldn't stand it.
Later on, after seeing what became of the Rugaru they had hunted, seeing himself in Jack Montgomery, he decided to stop. Another hunt, however, with the elderly magicians made him see things in a different perspective, and so he returned to his concealed antics in the dark of the night.
He had believed Dean was too damaged and broken after what he suffered in Hell at the hands of Alistair, and had wanted to take over the role of the stronger one. He couldn't quite tell if this desire was tainted with his egotistical obsession with the sense of power and control (rather, an illusion of it, because he realized now that he had never been more out of control, more powerless than he was under the influence of his addiction) in that year from chugging down demon blood or if it was out of a pure, genuine wish to take the heavy load off from his brother and allow him the time and space to deal with forty years worth of trauma.
In his mind, it had always been the latter, but these days, it was hard to trust anything he told himself. Not after everything that had happened the past year. He told himself many things and they all ended him up at setting the world to fire.
He didn't understand at the time that, on top of the memories of four decades of endless, unimaginable torture, he was only adding to the insurmountable issues on his brother's plate.
At the time, he couldn't understand why his only family had locked and abandoned him in that panic room, left him tied up and screaming from the agonizing cramps and the torturous hallucinations. When he held his big brother down and almost choked the life out of him in that hotel room, when he heard him declare the loathsome words he had once heard his father tell him before he walked out the door anyway, he had still resented him for trying to stop him from saving the world, and possibly even more so, for refusing to be at his side the way he always had.
Before he went into the convent, he began to have second thoughts and considered asking Dean for another chance, so that he could go in there with the one person he really wanted to do this with, come out of those doors winning the war with.
And then he heard the voicemail.
And he decided that it didn't matter anymore if he came out at all.
When he saw Lilith's blood taking the shape of a symbol that signified Lucifer's rise, he finally understood why he had deserved everything. Everything from Dean's wary, disgusted glances to getting locked up in the panic room to the voicemail.
And now he was here. Now he was staring at a brother who couldn't really stand him anymore. When he looked at him nowadays, his cold eyes were only full of underlying distrust and disgust (and maybe some hatred too). He tried to keep it all hidden, Sam could tell, but he saw it anyway.
He saw it in the way his gaze changed whenever he caught sight of him. He saw it in the way he didn't care to talk to him much anymore about anything besides business, besides hunting and monsters and the end of the world (understandable, of course. Who'd want to argue about the best action or thriller movies of last year when they had a planet to save, especially with the person they had to save it because of in the first place). He saw it in the way he brushed off any of his attempts at any sort of physical contact, as if, perhaps, his touch repulsed him or made him uncomfortable (they were the same hands that he killed with and the same hands he drank demon blood from and the same hands he set the world to fire with, so of course. Of course).
Things were always tense and awkward now, even with obstructions of doors between them. Spending almost all day feeling uneasy and on edge just got exhausting and left him hollowed out. Still, Sam figured it could be a lot worse. He sure as hell deserved a lot worse than what he was getting from Dean right now.
And what he really deserved was what Dean had promised him in that voicemail he sent right before he went in to kill Lilith, right before what he had hoped would be his end, because it sounded like a far better fate than what would be waiting for him if he did get out, better than having Dean hunt him down and put a bullet or a knife in him like he was just another monster.
And because what did getting out safe and alive matter if the only person who promised to save him had given up on him?
It was a confirmation, of how too far he had gone and that he couldn't go back anymore, not to the person he used to be and not to Dean. It solidified his belief in the fact that he had become the very thing he was so terrified of becoming two years ago, when his father told his brother to kill him if he couldn't save him.
For whatever reason by the time Dean had reached him, he had seemingly changed his mind about doing just that, hence he was still breathing and alive. It didn't exactly make sense since starting the apocalypse should have intensified the abhorrence he heard in his voice on the phone and given him more of a reason to do it, but he supposed he shouldn't be complaining.
In the parking lot of a hospital, Dean had made what he had already known, the way he felt about him now, clear.
It broke something inside of him, despite knowing it already. Hearing it from Dean himself had truly hit it home that he hurt him so bad that he felt Sam could no longer be trusted anymore, couldn't be forgiven. Yet, more than anything, he was resigned. He was defeated. He accepted it and he understood it, because Dean had every right to feel this way about him after it all. He had vowed to himself that he'd dedicate and put everything of him into earning that trust and forgiveness back.
With the depth of the sickening guilt and shame and remorse he felt, sinking down into his chest and into his gut like stones, he knew he'd do whatever he had to, take and give whatever he had to to make it up to him.
"Home sweet home," Dean muttered sarcastically as he stood in the threshold. He proceeded to stride forward, dropping his duffel bag beside his bed.
The room they were residing in was no better than their usual predicament. Cobwebs made their home all over the corners of their painted walls, bed-sheets that had a weird scent to them and have definitely been unwashed for months at the very least, dotted with strange, suspicious stains that colored the ugly-textured carpets. Sam placed his duffel bag down at the foot of the bed and sat down on the hard-as-rock mattress. The heavy smell of the toilet a few feet away traveled up his nostrils, urine and faeces mostly, and he was almost a hundred percent sure that they cleaned the bathrooms once or twice a year at best. The motel fan that hung above them kept creaking, as if it was about to fall down on top of them any minute.
Home sweet home.
He heard the door slam shut. Sam looked over to find that he was alone in the room now. He knew Dean was going off to find the closest bar and drink himself to the point of passing out. He would wait up until the middle hours of the night, whenever the bar closed, for a text to tell him to 'not wait up' or if it didn't come, he would have to go and pry his brother off the bar stools, the bartender frustrated and impatient at his brother's refusal to depart. He would say, "one more drink and you're gonna have alcohol poisoning, Dean," or something else along those lines as he forcefully dragged him away. Dean would tell him to fuck off and to stop putting his hands on him (and Sam's hands would feel heavy again with the weight of their sins) except Sam knew that if he'd let go of him, Dean would just trip and fall and maybe break something of him that wasn't already broken yet.
And well, that was pretty much what happened.
Dean jerked away sluggishly. "G-get… get offa me 'fore I sock you in the face." he snapped, words running into each other. Sam felt those words crawl inside his skin, magnify the heaviness of the dirt in his veins, in his body. "Don' touch me."
It had been two months.
Two months since he killed Lilith and set Lucifer loose and the distance between them that had been growing further and further became cemented. Two months of Sam drowning in his shame and guilt and sorrow, in his desperate need to compensate for his terrible deeds, for his betrayal. Two months of him trying to apologize and Dean ignoring and dismissing them, acting fine when every night he would leave their room to bury himself at the bottom of a bottle to numb himself to whatever emotional anguish he felt.
And Sam was tired. Sam was tired of watching his brother slowly kill himself over what he had done to him, over what became of them, over all of their issues.
He grabbed Dean and spun him around to face him. "Dean, I get it, okay? I get it. I hurt you. I screwed up. And I can't… I don't know what to do to make it up to you." He had been trying, as pathetic as his attempts were. He had been the one running out to get all their meals. He had been doing all the laundry work even when it was Dean's turn. He had been finding them hunts every day without any downtime because that was what Dean seemed to want and need. He had been letting him take first showers even if he ended up with all the cold water in the end. He had been working his ass off trying to research on the apocalypse and to find a way to stop it. None of these things he did would ever be enough, he knew that, but they were all he could do and he didn't know what else there was. "And I don't know if anything I do can ever make up for them. I know you're trying to get away from whatever you're feeling, but you can't… you can't keep doing this to yourself. It's going to kill you."
Dean tugged his arm away. "Can do... whatever the 'ell I wan't, Sssam. That's wha' you did the whole ye'r. Guess s'my turn n-nooow, huh?" He threw his arms out, a mirthless, mocking smile on his lips, and then swayed back a few steps. Sam grabbed his arm and pulled him straight. He didn't withdraw this time, perhaps either due to his intoxication and the knowledge that Sam was his best support right now or because he couldn't be bothered to physically push him away anymore. "'Least all I'm doin' is ch-chuggin' whiskey. Wanna know wha's worse, Sssam? Bein' addicted t'-demon blood."
The words were a stab in the heart. Yet, he felt like he was finally getting even a fraction of what he deserved.
"I should have listened to you. I know that, Dean."
"Y'finally realized aft-after you sent th' world t'hell." Dean rasped out a dry chuckle.
"Said I was sorry, Dean," Sam said, soft and contrite. He exhaled slightly, glancing away from the eyes that were ablaze with anger and hurt when it became too much.
Sam had known this conversation was going to strike a nerve, but he started it, and he had to tell Dean the things he wanted to even if he wouldn't remember them tomorrow, and Dean needed to spill all the shit he was keeping in, needed to take it out on the person who put it there in the first place.
"F-fat load'a good thaaat would do, huh?"
"No...no, it wouldn't. But I'm trying to fix this. I'm going to fix this, okay?" Sam swallowed, his eyes and his throat burning. "I'm going to make it all up to you, I swear."
Dean usually woke up at nine on his normal mornings. On his hungover mornings, he got up a couple hours earlier, usually at around six, so Sam went out just as soon and grabbed breakfast and steaming coffee for the raging headache his brother would be dealing with when he woke up.
He looked for a case at the desk while he waited for him to. There was once a time when he would have smacked Dean's leg into consciousness just for kicks, but now there was too much that had happened, too many betrayals and bad decisions and shitty things that were more his fault than anyone's, between that time and now. Dean could barely handle him touching him, so he didn't think it would be taken well anymore, didn't think he had that kind of place in Dean's life anymore where he could get away with pulling shit like that. So he waited instead.
But the hour hand passed to seven and then eight and then nine, and still, Dean remained asleep.
And then Sam realized he hadn't moved an inch from his position in all this time. He remembered, from the very muted, vague and subconscious observation that he hadn't yet connected the dots with until now, that he had come back to the exact same sight of his brother that he left the motel to, and never saw any change in him the entire duration since his return.
He slid out of his chair and walked over to him. Dean's chest was rising and falling just fine, his breathing regular and normal. There was no change in the pallor of his skin. He didn't seem to be in any sort of pain or discomfort. Sam knelt down and touched his forehead. Optimal temperature. He placed his palm against the side of his neck and felt his pulse, thumb brushing back and forth as gently as feathers. Steady and strong. It was a testimony to the fact that something was really wrong here that Dean didn't even stir all throughout this checking process, let alone twist his wrist behind his back and put the knife under his pillow against his throat. Dean was a light sleeper with the quickest instincts Sam had ever known, better than his own, possibly even better than their father's.
Yet, he remained motionless and in deep slumber today, completely oblivious to Sam's examining hands.
Something was extremely wrong here.
"Dean?" Sam mumbled. He grasped his shoulder and shook him lightly. Dean didn't react, not a single twitch in his body or a shift in his features at the motion. He hoped that this was just an unusual day in which Dean slept a bit too heavily and soundly (which he supposed his brother needed these days), and he just needed to put in more effort (even if the inexplicable bad feeling in his gut indicated otherwise). He tried again. "Dean." He shook him harder. Dean only moved along with the jerky movements, limp as a ragdoll, but there was no willing movement of his own.
His hands withdrew momentarily. His stomach clenched painfully as the bad feeling deepened in its pit. He blinked, frowning. He grabbed both of Dean's shoulders and shook him, "Dean!"
Still no reaction. He touched Dean's neck in order to reassure himself that his brother's alive once more, that his heart rate is normal. He swallowed hard, his own heart rate speeding up to a hammering in his chest. His lungs felt tight and his throat felt choked, his palms sweaty. He couldn't understand what the hell was happening, couldn't think of a reason why Dean was in this comatose state. He wasn't hurt, hadn't had any sort of head injury for a long while. His vitals were optimal and completely normal. There was no sign of unwellness or sickness, of any physical issue.
They haven't been dealing with any djinns lately, and they were the only creatures they've heard of that had the ability to do something like this. There hadn't been any signs of one in this town, at least. So if not that...
Was it angels?
Could they do that? Did it have something to do with them forcing Dean into giving Michael his consent to take over his body? Into letting him become what Dean called his 'meatsuit'?
What was the point of it? What was this meant to do and how was it supposed to help them convince Dean into doing what they wanted?
He raised himself to sit beside Dean's prone form on the bed, hands shaking as they balled up the sheets tightly.
Where would he even start with fixing this?
This wasn't a very familiar predicament to them. They've never dealt with angelically-induced comas before, if that was even what it was.
He felt the same nauseating worry and fear overcome him, rippling through his body. He leaned over and snatched his phone off the night table, pressed speed dial two with the thumb of his other hand and lifted the phone to his ear. It rang thrice before it was answered, the familiar gruff voice too much of a relief to hear. It eased the tightness in his chest just the slightest bit.
Sam swallowed. "Bobby…"
"What'd you boys get into this time?"* Bobby asked with a knowing sigh.
Sam almost smiled, the barest flicker of one, at how well Bobby could read him from a single word. He glanced down at his hands, inhaling tremulously. "Dean… he's…"
It seemed to take him a bit too long to be able to continue, to be able to think through the foggy haze of his panic and anxiety and gather the words. "What's goin' on, son? Spit it out."*
His breaths were coming out slightly heavy and short. "He's not...waking up, even though everything's fine with him. I don't know when it started or why it's happening or what's doing it to him. I-I think it might be angels b-but I'm not sure. I don't know what it's doing to him and I don't know how to make it stop and I just-" The fear began to make his voice tremble and crack, couldn't keep it as steady as he was trying to and he stopped, taking a deep breath. His vision blurred slightly and he blinked. "I don't know what to do, Bobby…" He sounded like a lost and scared little boy, and as much as he hated it, he felt like one in that moment, his big brother too sick and shaky and pale from fevers, his hand clutching Dean's tightly and his eyes burning and big as he asked his father in a whisper, "Is De'n gonna be okay?"
"It's alright, boy. We'll fix him up. You just get him here, okay?"
Sam blinked to clear his sight, nodding once, twice. "Ye-yeah...okay, Bobby. Thanks."
"Don't mention it. Now you get both your asses here quick."
A small smile tilted the corners of Sam's mouth, the aching terror in his chest dissipating slightly.
He hung up the phone and glanced down at Dean, at his smoothed-out, peaceful face. He looked like he was sleeping, but it reminded him too much of when he was dead (after Sam slid his eyes shut and cleaned off all the blood from his body and stitched him up carefully as if it would matter and changed his clothes), so still and unreactive. Dean was always moving, always restless, awake or asleep (especially these days). It didn't look right at all for him to be so unmoving, so lifeless.
He wrapped his lanky fingers around Dean's wrist and let the throb of his pulse ground him into reality.
"I'm here," Sam whispered to him in the silence of the room, soft and comforting even as his chest felt too small and tight for his heart. "I'll make you okay again, you hear me?"
Author's Note: Hello! The story I wrote previously was: s/7905865/1/Abusing-Forgiveness
You may notice the writing is awful. Hence, I wanted to do justice to a brilliant story idea, one with so much potential for angst, brotherly love and healing, now that I've improved somewhat as an author.
I hope you liked the chapter and will stay tuned for the next! If you have a moment to spare, let me know what you think.
Title is taken from Streets of Philadelphia originally by Bruce Springsteen, but I love The Fray's soft cover of it. I might change it though at some point in the future, if I ever find one more suitable, but for now, the lyrics go pretty well with this story. If you're interested, do check it out!