Summary: Dean's torture at the hands of the demon in 'Devil's Trap', seen from Sam's POV
Disclaimer: The characters and situations portrayed here aren't mine and I'm not making any money off them
Spoilers: Devil's Trap
Author's Notes: Thanks to Angela for getting me hooked on this show and inspiring me to write my first Supernatural fic, and for her hugely helpful and insightful beta reading services.
The moment Dean made the wisecrack about the monologuing – which was not particularly funny, under the circumstances - the demon turned its attention from Sam to his brother, just as Dean had intended. Sam cursed under his breath. He could see what Dean was trying to do, but hell, did the guy always have to be such a goddamned hero?
Sam took the opportunity to put all his remaining strength into an attempt to break free of the force that pinned him to the wall. Muscles strained until he was panting from the effort, but he was unable to budge even an inch. Whatever this demon was, it was as powerful as anything they had encountered, and he was helpless against the force it was exerting.
His futile struggles had been unobserved; the demon's full attention was on Dean.
"That's all part of your MO, isn't it. Masks all that nasty pain. Masks the truth."
Sam let his head fall back against the wall, drained by his desperate struggle, hearing the taunting words coming out of his father's mouth, in his father's voice. "What truth?" he asked himself, just as Dean asked the question aloud. Probably not the best plan; it was obvious that the demon was just trying to get a rise out of his brother.
"You know, you fight and you fight for this family, but the truth is they don't need you."
Like hell. Without Dean, they wouldn't have a family, a fact that had begun to dawn on Sam over the past few months.
"Not like you need them."
That got Sam's attention. He glanced at Dean and was surprised to see something in his eyes – something that looked suspiciously like acceptance of an unwelcome truth he didn't want to face. Sam knew how much value Dean put on their family; it was a constant bone of contention between them that Sam intended to go back to his new life when this was over. But the demon's implication that his family was Dean's life, that he had nothing else to live for - surely that wasn't true?
"Sam? He's clearly John's favorite. Even when they fight, it's more concern than he's ever shown you."
Now, that was a downright lie. Of course it was. If anything, Dean had to be their father's favorite. He was, after all, the one who had helped him chase down every lead, followed him down every blind alley for too many years. Yet for a fraction of a second Sam saw a raw pain in Dean's eyes, and in a sudden moment of enlightenment he knew it was because his brother thought the demon was speaking the truth. Deep down, in a place closely guarded by that tough, single-minded exterior, Dean really believed that Sam was his father's favorite. And in some strange way, it explained a great deal about his brother that Sam had never understood.
Dean's whole life had centered around fighting evil. Sam's had, too, until he'd chosen to break free and go his own way, at least for a little while. He had never fully understood why Dean didn't - or couldn't. Now, seeing the pain in his brother's eyes, he began to understand.
The mask was down for only a fleeting second, but long enough for Sam to see into his brother's soul. A second only, then a muscle in Dean's cheek twitched, his lip curled and the familiar cocky expression was back in place. The words had clearly hurt, but Sam knew his brother wasn't about to give the demon the satisfaction it sought.
Then, like night follows day, a wisecrack followed.
"Yeah, I'll bet you're real proud of your kids too, huh? Oh, wait, I forgot. I wasted 'em."
Brave words in the face of danger, yet that was Dean. He wouldn't back down. He wouldn't flinch. Sam could see that it was going to cost him dearly, and he was equally sure that Dean knew it too, for as the demon lowered its head, Dean tensed and his jaw squared in anticipation.
The demon looked up. Yellow orbs blazing with hatred had replaced their father's brown eyes. They regarded Dean silently for a moment, and Sam swallowed, gripped by a fear for his brother stronger than any he had known before.
When Dean screamed, the sound sent a shockwave reverberating through Sam. Dean never screamed. He heard himself shout, "Dean!" but his brother was lost in a world of pain, face contorted in agony, and to Sam's horror, blood began to pour out of his body, soaking through his black T-shirt in a river of red.
Desperate now, Sam renewed his futile efforts to pull free. He caught sight of the gun on the table just as Dean looked up, his face a mask of agony.
"Dad. Dad… don't you let it kill me!"
He ground out the words in a tone that hinted at sheer desperation, and at that moment, Sam knew that Dean was afraid, afraid that this time it was the end for both of them.
Sam willed his father to break free from the demon's control, although he knew that there was little chance. For a long moment, nothing happened. Then Dean threw back his head and screamed again. Sam heard his own voice echoing the anguish in that cry as he shouted his brother's name. Dean was breathing fast now, his screams fading to breathless grunts as his body was slowly torn apart.
Sam dragged his eyes away from the sight, trying to choke back his own anger and fear and concentrate all his thoughts on the gun. He could move it – he had done this before. It should be a piece of cake. All he had to do was concentrate. He poured all his energy into the effort, and for a moment thought it moved a fraction, but it was useless. Maybe his newfound power had deserted him. More likely, the demon's own power was blocking his.
He looked back at Dean and saw that blood now dribbled from his mouth. It hit him then, harder than a physical blow. In moments, his brother was going to die. He could see that Dean knew it too, for he forced his head up and looked his tormentor in the eyes. His voice, when he spoke, was little more than a pained whisper.
There was so much pain and despair rolled up in those few words that Sam's heart bled and he cursed his own helplessness. He knew that it was just a matter of time before the demon turned its attention back to him, but somehow, in this moment, that didn't matter. All that mattered was Dean and his pain and his attempt, despite the pain, to connect with his father, to stop them all from dying.
He cast a glance at his father. Dean was right. Their only hope now was that he would break through the demon's hold, justify the faith Dean had in him and show that he loved his son enough to fight for him.
The demonic glare was still fixed on Dean and nothing happened for a long moment. Sam saw hope fade in Dean's eyes then they drifted shut and he slumped, unconscious yet still held upright against the wall like a broken marionette.
"Dean!" Sam was conscious of the note of sheer panic in his tone. There was no response from his brother and as the demon bowed its head, Sam screamed "No!", sensing that this was the end. The demon was going to finish it. Dean was going to die.
A feeling of hopelessness washed over Sam as the demon raised its head, and he barely registered the incongruity when all it said was, "Stop." His attention was focused on Dean and he watched a drop of blood fall from his brother's mouth to splatter on the floor below. It felt like one of his nightmares. Their lives had been in danger so many times before and they'd come through somehow. Until today. Until this moment.
In that split second, as he saw Dean's lifeblood seeping away, Sam finally understood that there are more important things in life than vengeance. If by some miracle he were able to break free and destroy the demon, he would get the revenge he had been seeking. He would be able to go back to college, to the life he had left behind. But it would all be meaningless because without his brother in it, it would only be half a life. Without Dean, he would be half a person.
This time, the words fully registered - desperate words, filled with pain and spoken in his father's voice. Sam's breath caught in his throat. His father had broken the demon's control. John Winchester's love for his son had done what no amount of holy water could have accomplished.
All at once Sam was free of the force pinning him against the wall. He knew what he had to do. He had been given a chance to save his brother, and a fighting chance was all a Winchester had ever needed.
Without hesitation, he summoned his remaining strength, lurched forward and lunged for the gun.