Title: A Bright Light On the Heavens
Author: "Solus Nemo"
Summary: "I wish I had been blind, so I couldn't have seen the look in his eyes." One-shot, kind of songfic-ish.
Author's Note: Spoilers for "Asylum", so don't read it if you haven't seen the episode yet. This is my take on what might have been going on inside Dean's head as Sam pointed the gun at his face. Sorry for all the italics.
Disclaimer: Someday I hope to write a few screenplays for some of my favorite television shows when I'm not cranking out novels or poking around inside criminals' minds, but that day is not today. The only thing I own that can even be connected to Supernatural in any way is a growing obsession with it. Warner Brothers holds all the papers for the show, I do not. This story is fictional from first word to last – but if the pattern holds up with the writers I'm sure part of this idea of mine will be stolen. Also, the title and lyrics I'll sprinkle through the story come from my favorite Rammstein song, "Mein Herz brennt".

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"Nun liebe Kinder gebt fein acht
ich bin die Stimme aus dem Kissen
ich hab euch etwas mitgebracht
hab es aus meiner Brust gerissen"

("Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I have brought you something,
I ripped it from my chest")

Sammy had been right about the rock salt, it really did hurt like hell.

It had been like one of those Hollywood movies, the kind of film that rejects every single rule of physics and writes up its own. When the ghost possessing Sam had used his finger to pull the trigger, one of my childhood dreams had come true: being in one of those cheesy, absolutely absurd but downright fucking cool western movies. The force of the shot when it met my chest sent me careening backward into the one of the sanitarium's rotting walls. Naturally – because it would ruin the effect of the moment – Sam didn't move an inch in any direction, something that Newton surely would have a hissy fit over. But I crashed through that wall anyway, into good Doctor Ellicott's secret chamber, and landed on the moldy tile floor with a bone rattling thud.

It wasn't the most pleasant experience of my life, being knocked through a decaying wall into a room where a doctor performed horrific experiments on his patients, but looking back on it it had been one of the best of that night. I mean, between being locked in a wing of an asylum chasing after a couple of stupid kids and being violated by an MD more insane than the people he shoved picks into… going through a wall is like dunking for apples, rotten apples with razor blades and worms in their hearts but apples all the same. That got me thinking, lying there on the floor with a raging fire of pain in my chest, about Sam, about how we had dunked for apples once when he was a kid.

He must have been around nine at the time, but he's always been tall for his age so maybe he was ten. Anyway, it had been the weekend before Halloween and Dad – like always for that time of year – had gone more ghost busting crazy than usual. He had been telling Sam and me for weeks about how we weren't going to any parties that year, just like all the other Halloweens before it, about how we were going to do much more important things: hunting, for one. Poor Sammy had been so upset, always looked like he was two seconds away from crying every time something even remotely Halloween party related came up, and I felt real bad for him.

I've always loved my Dad, but that moment in particular made me want to be like any other teenager. Teenager's, most of them at least, like to defy their parents by going off and doing things they were told not to do. This teenager snuck his little brother off to his elementary school's Halloween party. I knew it was a bad idea, that I'd get punished until my thirtieth birthday if we ever got caught, but Sammy was so unhappy. Just once I wanted to make him feel like a normal kid, wanted to aid him in having a normal night before I hit that part of the road that taught me about Kill or Be Killed. I had felt that turn fast approaching, so I told Sam to fake being sick (had even made a pot of vomit for him to spew out of his mouth) and told Dad I'd stay home and babysit. I hadn't been lying when I told my dad that I knew his case was important, I've always known that if people like him weren't walking the streets too many innocent people would be dropping like flies. But I had to do something to make him walk out that front door, and kissing ass is usually the best instigator available.

So when Dad finally did leave, I had helped Sammy out of his Fraggle Rock pajamas and into something more appropriate. When he was in his favorite pair of jeans and t-shirt, I waited for him to brush the vomit stew out of his mouth (it really had been that disgusting, what with the whatever-the-hell-it-used-to-be from the back of the refrigerator in there) and then we walked the little way to our night of rule breaking freedom.

"Mit diesem Herz hab ich die Macht
die Augenlider zu erpressen
ich singe bis der Tag erwacht
ein heller Schein am Firmament
Mein Herz brennt"

("With this heart I have the power
to blackmail the eyelids
I sing until the day awakes
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns")

I remember thinking how fucking stupid that Halloween party was, how pathetic the decorations were and how lousy the activities had been. I remember walking into the gymnasium of Sammy's elementary school, holding his hand because he never liked to wander around large crowds without any form of father/brother contact, and getting a vile taste in my mouth. I had scowled, looking around at all the runny noses and all the small shoe sizes, but Sam had grinned. His face had positively lit up bright enough to warn sailors of jagged rocks, and that made everything all right.

For Sam I had bled my wallet dry buying him tickets to the games and food to eat, four weeks of my measly allowance down the drain. For Sam I had plunged my hands into small boxes filled with grapes and over-cooked spaghetti and Barbershop Dustpan Surprise, for Sam I had make-believed being thrilled by it. I had gone through a haunted house for Sam, a very sad haunted house made of cardboard boxes and painted by the kindergarteners and infested with not-so-scary people dressed unconvincingly as the things that go bump in the night. For Sam I had acted being elated when he spilled cranberry juice all over my pant leg, had tried my hardest not to punch that history teacher in the nose for coming up behind him like that and making him drop that black and white cup with the jack-o-lanterns painted all over it. For Sam I had not hung myself using one of the many purple streamers hanging from the rafters when some of the other eighth graders had seen me.

By the time Sammy had won a goldfish I knew would die in a week (it was four days, actually) that I would be stuck caring for, by the time he had dragged me to the far side of the gymnasium, I was beyond being pissed off. I had been humiliated by the cool kids, had emptied my wallet over the stupidest things imaginable, had a stain in my jeans that wouldn't ever come out, and had goo on my hand that seemed keen on attracting every speck of dust and trash in the world. But Sam was still beaming brighter than a lighthouse and that made everything all right again.

There were a hundred people in the gymnasium around the time Sam took me to the apple dunking station, a hundred screaming-laughing-coughing people crammed into a space littered with craptastic play stations and the smell of bad grapes had been in the air. That wasn't what had bothered me so much, nor was it the fact that Sammy had only let go of my hand once all that night – it was the metal pail the apples were in.

Never have I been a germaphobe, but something about seeing a container in which everyone and their grandma's shoe maker had dipped their mouths into set me on edge. Back then I had thought you could get an STD simply by someone breathing on you, so you could imagine the nightmarish thoughts going through my head at the time. But Sam was elated, jumping up and down like a sugar fiend just pumped full of Peeps, so I had gruffly handed over our last ticket and walked over to the bucket of germs.

It had been a woman who was in charge of that play station, Sammy's music teacher though I have since forgetten her name. She had been the one to suggest that Sam and I race for the apples, that whoever got the most apples in a certain amount of time would get a prize. Now, the last thing I wanted was another thing to hold in my grubby, sticky hand, but I had agreed. The way Sam had looked at me, his eyes shinning with a life I had never seen before, would have made be say yes to absolutely anything.

So we had settled down on our knees in front of the gigantic pail of water and apples, mostly all whole but a few bitten off chunks still floated around in the foggy H20. I remember wanting to ask about health codes, about how something like that could possibly have been a legal thing to do, but the way Sam had shaken my arm in excitement shut me up. I couldn't break the kid's heart, tell him no and walk away and find somewhere where I could throw up in peace.

I had rolled my eyes when Sammy's music teacher told us to "go!", had grimaced and dunked my head into the water in search of a lousy stinking apple. I was gagging under the water when I bit into a piece of fruit I had cornered against the wall of the bucket, was totally disgusted when I pulled my head out of the water to throw the apple by my side. I remember Sammy was giggling at me, told me he had gotten one before me and that he was winning.

Dripping all over my brand new sweatshirt, that's when I smiled smugly back at my brother and told him "That's what you think!" Together we went back after those damn apples and, like a flick of a light switch, I was actually having fun. Sammy and I had tied at three apples apiece after a few minutes of splashing around like blind fish, eventually laughing too hard to keep our faces underneath the water for a very long time.

Sam had shoved me playfully (in retaliation for me splashing water all over him) when I heard a very angry voice thunder my name. Still on my knees I had turned around, slipping a little on the wet floor, and saw Dad standing at the head of the apple dunking line with his arms crossed. He had looked worse than angry, he had screamed of disappointment.

"Sie kommen zu euch in der Nacht
Dämonen Geister schwarze Feen
sie kreichen aus dem Kellerschacht
und werden unter euer Bettzeug sehen"

("They come to you in the night
demons, ghosts, black fairies
they creep out of the cellar shaft
and will look under your bedding")

Dad had told us firmly that we were going home, that he had been worried sick when he had come home to not find us in our beds. He had walked over to Sammy and I and stood us up by our arms, one of ours in each of his hands. Honestly, I was terrified of him in that moment and that's about when I realized I never wanted to defy him again. It wasn't because I was afraid of what he might do to me, but rather because I had never seen him so hurt and let down before. It was like Mom had died all over again, something I knew he didn't need to feel.

Sammy and I were still tied at three apples apiece when Dad dragged us out of the gymnasium, making my brother cry because of the tone of voice he was using. He was snuffling, really, when we walked through the building with the prizes and random junk we had acquired throughout the night, but he burst out with the tears and whining sobs when we got to the car.

I remember feeling like crap, like total shit, having to see Sam like that. It was like I had raped those couple hours from him, had taken away the only time in his life in which he had ever felt like a normal kid. I had been backed up on that notion when we got into the car, buckled up in the backseat with Dad still explaining to us how he had thought we'd been kidnapped in the front.

The look on Sam's face when he turned to look at me is still in my mind, nailed in there for all of eternity. I won't ever forget how his face was shadowed in the dark pockets between street lamps as we drove home, how he had to sniffle because his nose was running, how his chin was quivering when he told me, "I hate you, Dean. This is all your fault and I hate you!"

Lying there on the floor of the secret operating room, watching the now grown-up Sam step over the wall fragments to join me, I felt just as sick to my stomach as I did that night on the car ride home. Like I think constantly when going back to that memory, like I pray for now when seeing myself on my back in that room in my dreams… I wish I had been blind, so I couldn't have seen the look in his eyes.

I knew it wasn't the real Sam who stood looking down at me, I was fully aware that something had taken over him and caused him to fire that rock salt bullet at me, but I was filled was black despair in spite of that. Something about seeing him hold that old gun, something about how flat and dull his eyes were, made me feel hopeless and lost. Looking at Sammy in that state he was in, it was like watching him leave for college all over again. I understood then how Dad had felt that night I ran off with Sam to the Halloween party, how he must have been simultaneously mad and heart-broken. I knew how Dad must have wanted to crawl into a hole and die from all the emotion bombarding him at once, like a bucket of water had been dumped on his head.

I hated how defenseless I felt, how I was gambling with my life by not being able to do anything. My back was throbbing with pain, I had hit my head in the fall, and my ass hurt so I couldn't have sat up to talk to the ghost possessing my Sam. My Sam, the skinny geek staring down at me and looking straight to my soul. I wanted to believe that my Sam was in there somewhere, behind the evil doctor possessing him and fighting to get out, I needed to believe that. But I couldn't see it anywhere in those eyes of his, all I could find was anger, and that frightened me.

Redemption, that's what I wanted as I laid there like a wounded animal in front of its hungry predator. I wanted to be able to go back in time and do everything different with Sam, change every last thing so that maybe it wouldn't have to have been like this. I thought that if I had just accepted him after that night he told me he hated me, that if I simply hadn't been so mean and cold to him, he wouldn't have shot me with rock salt.

Maybe if I hadn't treated him like I had the night he told me he was leaving he wouldn't have had so much anger and pain in his eyes as he stared down at me with the gun in his hand, if I had done anything at all. Maybe if I had hugged him, congratulated him, instead of silently watching Dad kick him out of the house Sam wouldn't have looked at me with murder written all over his fractured soul.

"Nun liebe Kinder gebt fein acht
ich bein die Stimme aus dem Kissen
ich hab euch etwas mitgebracht
ein heller Schein am Firmament
Mein Herz brennt"

("Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I have brought you something
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns")

Things have never been the same between Sam and I since that car ride home when he was ten. He had been angry and hurt because of what I had done, sneaking him off to that Halloween party and getting him in serious trouble for it, and I had been angry and hurt with him for wanting to go that damned party. I had badgered him for weeks about it, how I wouldn't have gotten grounded if he had just agreed to stay home and learn a few spells after Dad got home from his hunting trip. I had wanted to tell him, too, that I hated him for what he had said to me in that car trip, but I never did. I had a lot of time to brood, being grounded until I was thirty, and so I aimed to excel over my brother. My way of getting back at him was to become the perfect sibling, the one who never needed to ask questions, the one who never broke the bow during bow hunting lessons, the one who never made Dad upset.

I had never stopped to care about what all that might have done to Sam, not anymore. He drove a knife into me that night long ago and I'm worthless enough to have never forgiven him. I should have, he never would have let the spirit of Doctor Ellicott control his trigger finger if I had just forgiven him, but I had been far too hurt. God, if I had just been happy for him then maybe he wouldn't have pulled the trigger twice.

It had been the night of the meltdown, when I found out that Sammy was leaving.

Usually I never got the mail, I had always saved that for someone else, but it had been catalog day and I wanted to see what new secret Victoria had added to her vault. I had been in luck, she was having a lingerie sale (which meant lots of beautiful, scantily clad women), but I had placed it at the bottom of the mail pile after I noticed the letter to Sam from Stanford University, mixed in with the bills and junk mail.

Sam had never mentioned college to me, but it hadn't been like I never knew about his studies. He always worked hard at getting good grades, that's what most normal people do after all, and he had mentioned going into law every now and again. It had always been shaded, though, those observations; watching Law and Order, posting a test he aced on the refrigerator, things like that. Dad had always chosen to act like he was blind to Sam's world, he didn't want to face the fact that he might lose one of his sons alongside his wife. Me, on the other hand, I never said anything about it because I didn't want to acknowledge that my little brother was going somewhere, making something of himself. I was a twenty-two-year-old still living at home, my life wasn't much of anything. So I had slipped the letter in my Victoria's Secret catalog and walked into the house, acted like I had never heard of a place called Stanford University.

I had set everything down on the kitchen table, divvied up into little piles for each member of the household. Because I had been the only one home at the time, I had taken the milk carton out of the fridge and a bag of cookies from the cupboard, had settled down at my designated spot at the table and ate handsful of bite sized cookies and washed them down with swigs of milk straight from the carton – it was almost through with anyway, I had just been doing my part.

I still don't know fully why I did it, hid Sam's letter from him, but I've always guessed I was jealous. Here was the little boy who raced for apples with me, here was the kid who had told me he hated me and that it had been all my fault he had gotten into trouble, and here was the man going off the college. College, no doubt to get away from me, to forget about me, to let the memories of us rot away in a locked toolbox at the base of the sea.

Might not have been true, those rationalizations, but that day while I flipped through my catalog and fattened up on cookies I had thought them to be the holy gospel. My mind had been racing with reasons as to why my Sammy wanted to abandon me, the real reasons he wanted to go away to that fancy college, and I couldn't stop it. I was stewing in that chair, becoming more and more agitated with each tick of the second hand on the wall clock, and I had felt like I was going to burst when Sam walked into the room at quarter to three in the afternoon.

When I watched him enter the kitchen I suddenly understood why he had been acting so weird the few weeks before the letter arrived. Sam had been expecting that letter, each passing day more anxious to get out of the house and away from me, from Dad. I hated Sam for that, loathed him for actually wanting to leave me all alone. I wanted that letter to say he hadn't been accepted, that Sammy just wasn't good enough, and I had been yearning to hand the letter to him just to see the look of rejection on his face when he read it.

I wanted to pull out that Stanford letter, the crisp white envelope with the University seal in the upper left-hand corner, and I wanted to shove it in Sam's face. It was all I could do not to scream at him, to say "Dad was right all along, you're just not good enough and you never will be!", to hurt him like he had done me all those years ago in the back seat of the car. But I didn't, I couldn't.

Sam had looked so pathetic as he flipped through his pile of mail, even peeled through Dad's just in case I had missed something. He might have noticed me staring at him over my magazine, the colorful bras sprinkled with chocolate chip cookie crumbs, but if he had he's never mentioned it.

"That's it for today," he had said limply. It was like all the life had been sucked from him, like he was a balloon without air.

I had raised my head to look at him, brushing crumbs from a blonde model's chest. "Were you looking for something in particular? A letter from your girlfriend? Oh, I'm sorry." I had laughed, "What girlfriend?"

The letter was like the Tell-Tale Heart, beating at me from the order form page.

I watched as Sammy's shoulders fell, as he shook his head and sighed. He dragged his feet out of the room, backpack slung over his right shoulder, much like the vapor transmission of the boy who had walked into the kitchen not four minutes before.

"Sie kommen zu euch in der Nacht
und stehlen eure kleinen heißen Tränen
sie warten bis der Mond erwacht
und drücken sie in meine kalten Venen"

("They come to you in the night
and steal your small hot tears
they wait until the moon awakes
and put them in my cold veins")

I might have held onto that letter for days, months, even years like I had planned on doing. But I had woken up at three in the morning that night from restless sleep, nightmares and the ten-year-old Sammy's soggy words radiating through my skull. I hadn't wanted to rape another chance of normalcy from my Sam again, so I had gotten out of bed and trudged outside in my briefs to shove the Stanford letter into the far reaches of the mailbox. Sam found it the next day, and that was when I broke him.

Though I had put the letter back in the mailbox, I had still been begging to the gods for it to have been a rejection letter. I didn't want Sam to leave, I had wanted him to be stuck at home miserable with me for the rest of his life. I had hoped that by staying, the old Sammy would come back to me, the one who had never told me he hated me with that much anger and disdain in his voice. Sadly for me and Dad, good for Sam, he had gotten into Stanford on a full ride scholarship.

I had been sitting on the stairs that afternoon, looking out the decorative windows on either side of the front door for the best seat in the house to Sam's never found rejection. It had been 2:43 on the nose when I saw him come up the road, walking because we had lived so close to the high school, and stop in front of the mailbox. He had pulled down the lid so slowly, with this look on his face that made me think there were poison arrow frogs living in the metal box in place of letters and postcards and catalogs and magazines.

Sammy had pulled out the usual stuff, rifling through it with a great sense of urgency, and the look of disappointment on his face nearly killed me. But I was still hoping for the rejection part of the Stanford letter.

Sitting on the third stair from the first floor landing, digging my right shoulder into the posts of the handrail, I had watched as Sam bent down to look deeper into the mailbox, saw him reach his hand in and pull out the letter, saw the light burst from his face as he saw the stamped return address. I could have laughed when he ripped the letter open with one arm pinned to his side to keep the rest of our mail from falling to the ground, but the smile on my face disappeared when Sam only got happier the deeper into the letter he went.

He had never closed the mailbox lid, had never stopped to wipe his shoes off on the welcome mat, didn't even close the front door all the way when he came into the house, even dropped all our mail onto the foyer floor. Sam had been yelling, saying "I got in! I did it, I got in!" over and over again. From my vantage point I had seen him as he ran into the living room to interrupt Dad, pouring though his journal on the couch.

"Dad, put that aside for a second. I have to tell you something and you're never going to believe it!"

I remember sitting there, still leaning against the handrail, as Dad looked away from his studies and to his youngest son. "You can tell me, finally, what all this means?"

Sam's happiness had faltered for a moment when he realized Dad had been deadly serious, not joking around like some other fathers might have done on a different world long ago. "Well, no. I can't. You know I can't." And Dad had looked away. "But I have better news, Dad, outstanding news. You're going to be so proud of me, Dad, so proud."

He had sighed. "What's that, Sam?"

My Sammy had grinned, waving the letter in the air. "I got into Stanford, Dad. They accepted me! I've been waiting for this letter for so long, Dad, and I almost thought it wouldn't ever come, but it did! A full ride scholarship, Dad, aren't you happy for me?"

But he wasn't, that is he never showed that he was. Dad never looked up from the notes in his journal, but I remember how his hand was shaking ever so slightly, frozen in midair just as he was about to turn the page. "Now, why would you want to go and do that, Sam?"

"What?" Sam's smile was gone for good then, replaced by the all too familiar hurt frown.

"Sam, why would go off to college when you have everything you need here? Your family's here, we can teach you more than Stanford could ever wish of teaching you. You have so many important things to do here, you literally mean the world to people who need your help. Now put the letter away, Sam, and come help me with this."

It had been like a train wreck; you want to look away but human nature simply won't let you.

"No."

Dad had looked back to him, face sterner than granite. "No?"

All the years of being heckled, of being told what to do and how to do it, had come to a violent head that night. And I just sat there. Sam had finally stood on his own two feet, had finally told Dad just how he really felt about everything – "You know what, Dad? I wish you had died instead of Mom! I wish you had burned and not her! I'm leaving and I'm never coming back, and don't you think you can stop me! Why couldn't you have ever been normal, why couldn't you ever let me have a life?" – and I just sat there.

"Nun liebe Kinder gebt fein acht
ich bin die Stimme aus dem Kissen
ich singe bis der Tag erwacht
ein heller Schein am Firmament
Mein Herz brennt"

("Now, dear children, pay attention
I am the voice from the pillow
I sing until the day awakes
a bright light on the heavens
my heart burns")

But after all I've done to him, after all the wounds I've caused, I love him. In a way that was why I screwed up so many times, I loved him too much and didn't want to do without him. Because of that I've never known what exactly to do, it's not like there's a handbook for this kind of stuff, and Sam clearly hates me for that.

Lying there on the floor, like a sheep waiting for the slaughter, all I could really do was look at my Sam and see what a mess I had made. I know he blames me for it, making him the way he is, so I might as well come out and say it. I might as well admit it, I certainly couldn't turn my back to it back there because it might have been broken.

So all I could really do was think about my life with Sam, all the fucking things I had done to it with too many good intentions at heart. I loved my Sammy a little too much; I wanted him to be happy even if only for an hour and fifty minutes, I didn't want to have to function without him because, really, without my Sam I'd just be a walking corpse.

I don't know exactly what he said to that therapist in order to get information about this hospital, if he even said anything at all, but I'm sure if he did it was mostly the same as what he told me as he pointed the gun at my head. In response to all he told me, since I know I won't ever be able to say it to his face: it's not like I mean to do all the things he hates me for, it's not like I want him to hate me, but you try loving someone as much as I love him and see where that leads you.

Dad won't answer my calls (was it really him who gave me the coordinates, after all it wasn't me who called Sam down to the basement), Mom is gone, so all I've got left is my little Sammy. Seeing him there, standing before me with that look in his eyes, I knew I never really had Sam in the first place. I'm sure I did, for a half a second at least, but over the years my efforts of keeping him with me have blown up in my face. For all I've tried to do to have him remain by my side, for all the idiotic stunts I've pulled, they've only manage to drive him away from me.

I remember when Sammy used to tell me everything, when he'd talk cartoons with me over our breakfast cereal and when he'd cheer me on the loudest in his baby talk at my T-ball games. I remember when he used to tell me all about his bad dreams, something that's most likely forever lost in the woodwork now.

One thing is for sure, however, throughout all my doubts and what-ifs. I never should have handed him that gun.

Sam still hates me, he still blames me for everything that's ever happened to him in his life, and it had been evident in his eyes. I had told him that he wouldn't kill his brother, his own brother, had asked him if he could… and he did. Sammy would murder his own brother, twice if he had to, and even though I had taken the bullets out of that gun he killed me all the same.

"Mein Herz brennt"

("My heart burns")