Ephiny63, Ash8, Ster1...Thank You.
Everyone who reads...Thank you.
Hopefully you all will continue to enjoy this little ditty.

Wild wolf free17's the lovely lass I remain indebted to.

The last chapter...
Double POV ahead
Some bare male skin ahead
Some Angst ahead
OoCness combined with grade school writing ahead


Vicissitudes:
Views

by Sade Lyrate

There was weariness in his bones, aches echoed in every part of his body. It would have been so very easy to slip back into the warm, dreamless darkness he'd barely left if not for incessant pressure on his bladder.

Sam opened his eyes lazily, let them adjust to the twilight shades of the city bleeding into the room.
Reluctantly he shrugged off the covers, rose up to sit on the bed, the change not something his whole body agreed on. Biting back a groan, he leaned on his hands for a moment.

Yeah, definitely never drinking again...

His head letting him live, he got up to his feet. Dean was out cold on the bed a few feet away, fully clothed, oddly twisted, as if he'd nodded off in mid-thought. Breaths shifted, sleep-easy, one arm off the bed.

Neon lights from the outside spilled in through the curtains, slicing the night up. The mobile on the nighttable suggested the midnight was still quarters away.

As quietly as he could, trying to keep the fabric from scratching the burns, Sam padded into the bathroom, drew the door closed behind him before turning on the lights.

Pale man flashed on the silvern surface of the mirror and was gone.

Sam relieved himself, the brands around his wrists glaring up at him, not allowing the night before to be a dream.
Letting his sweatpants hang low on his hips, off the lowest burns, he washed his hands, his face, sank down onto the edge of the tub, raised his wrists to get a better look.

They looked bad in their variegated shades, the texture of the rope imprinted into his flesh, fiber bites nearly black against the blues. Nothing bad enough to need dressings, but sore to touch, far worse to associate. Something he sure as hell would keep covered up until no trace remained.

The bruising around his ankles was slightly lesser, the rope burns maroon.

Everything downstairs felt okay, despite the knee, the memory that made him still resist the urge to curl up in pain.

Throbbing around his waist, stretch on his chest made his breath hitch as he straightened. He hesitated, fingering the hem of his t-shirt. He'd avoided the sight of the marks, the lonely wave of a taper scorching his cornea every time he closed his eyes.

Just get it over with.

Collection of curses slipped through his mind as his fingers curled, drew the worn cotton off over his head.

Smooth-edged splotches scattered over his abdomen were pale red, the ones at his waist angrier, rubbed raw by the sweatpants. He hadn't thought there would be so many. More worrisome by far, though, was the fact that he couldn't remember receiving the small scratches running down his ribs, the hickey next to his navel. Granted, his memory was shoddy if only thanks to all the alcohol, but still...

All these during the exorcism...?

His gaze slid over the line following his sternum, the dark crown around his right nipple, his fingers hovering above the damage. Dean had probably done what he could, but there was only so much one could do about burns.
First degree, his mind murmured, second, his fingertips brushing over small blisters where the flame must have touched the skin.

He stepped to the mirror, turned his head to see a couple more love bites faintly flowering there. His face looked haggard, his hair a mess, and though his head still complained, his tongue felt a bit off, he thought he looked worse than he really was. Every mark on him was superficial; a couple of days spent resting and all of them would be gone. With the way their life was going, he'd be sporting new ones before these faded into memory anyway.

All things considered, he'd gotten away easy.
Something he remembered he wouldn't have believed then, tied to that bed. Dean had saved him from a lot of things he preferred not to think about.

...even after everything.

Not that he wasn't grateful.
He'd acted like a spoiler little brat, taking off in semi-righteous anger, gotten himself in trouble. By all logic, he should have fished himself out of it by himself.

The answer to how Dean had found them, though, had to wait with all the others.

Absentmindedly Sam brushed his teeth, grabbed his shirt off the floor, turned off the lights, sneaked out to the foot of his bed, his bags. Going by feel, he pulled out a shirt with sleeves down to his knuckles, tried to don it without touching his spotted chest.

Dean was still asleep, hands under his pillow.

Running a hand through his hair, Sam walked to the kitchenette, downed several mouthfuls of water before the bedsprings warned him.

Dean had turned, eyes wide, frozen upon the other bed, body tense.

Sam bit his lip, unable to quieten his conscience.

"Don't know if it matters or not, but..." His voice sounded still rough even to his own ears. Dark eyes snapped upon him, relief chasing terror in the depths. "You promise not to pick up Dad's more endearing qualities, I promise not to go off on my own."

It was enough for the guilt to caress his heart, memories bitter with reproach.

Every time he left, the blade cut too close to home.

He cleared his throat, stopped the train before his thoughts reached Stanford and the scars Dean didn't talk about.

"I mean...I'm sorry I left. I'm sorry I clocked you. I'm sorry I got so angry. But most of all I'm sorry it took you months to tell me."

Dean had clambered up, squinted eyes locking on him.

"Sam...can I wake up before you start with the verbal onslaught?"

The wariness from before and contempt, both of which Sam had more than half-expected, were absent, weariness blurrying the voice.

"Hey, this morning you were the one anxious to hear all about my little night out. And you promised."

"What, you're seven now?" Wakefulness eased in, Dean stretching, yawning. Then sharp gaze found Sam's again, eyed the glass in his hand. "And next you'll try and tell me you've wolfed down something more than liquid and it isn't crawling back up?"

He shrugged in answer, leaning on a counter. Food wasn't anything he felt really drawn to yet, even though his stomach felt emptier than it had in a while.

"So what will it take to wake you up and tell me why you thought breaking out the whole arsenal was a good idea? The salt? The crucifix? God knows what else?"

Dean was quiet for a moment, sizing him up before speaking again.

"I'll take a shower, there're some sandwiches in the fridge, and if you don't pull Batman on me again, I'll tell you all I know about your lack of taste in partners."

Sam rolled his eyes at that, laying the glass into the sink.

"Well, considering I'm with you most of the time..."

A bunched, tossed shirt was the only answer he got as Dean vanished into the bathroom.

Feeling the grin creeping to his lips, Sam flung the ball onto Dean's bed. The hum of the shower joined soon enough the noises from the outside as he eyed a sandwich critically.
Dean was a stubborn jerk, and he'd clam up and pretend nothing had ever happened until Sam acquiesced to his conditions. The way things were, it would probably be easier that way.

He nibbled at a piece, walking to the table ruled by a duffel bag. Beside it lay the Beretta, neon caressing the metal, mother of pearl.

Something cold clenched inside him as he touched the gun.

Just where it laid before.

It was loaded, the safety turned on, but the memory, the rosary, the salt...

Fuck.

-:-

The water had awakened him, brought his mind up to speed again. Dean stepped out of the bathroom, combing back his still moist hair with fingers. Sam stood beside the table, head bowed, eyes upon something in his hands.
Nothing betrayed acknowledgement as Dean froze.

No.
It's okay...it's okay...

"You were really going to do it." Quiet, indiscernible, gaze on the gun.

I could not.

The tenseness slipped around him like a favourite jacket.

"Sam..."

For a moment, Sam didn't move, long fingers caressing, curling around the weapon.

"You thought you'd failed?" Still quiet, still refusing to look up. "That I really went off the deep end?"

"John-boy thought he could save his precious little baby boy if he just kept Sammy away from 'bad influences'..."

Almost carelessly Sam tossed the firearm into the bag.

"...you think he meant us?"

"So what did I do?" Challenging, the hazel dark in the dimness, Sam looked at him. Plea hid behind fear, restless fingers finding the sandwich, beginning to break small pieces off it as he sat down on a chair, back ramrod straight.

Dean shrugged, sat down on the bed, eyes lingering on the other man after he turned on the bedside lamp.
He couldn't come up with any excuse to avoid it anymore. The best way seemed to be quick about, get it over with, move on as fast as possible.

"Think baby brother'll wake up for the show?"

"All I know is that...after I grabbed your stuff while you freed yourself, Duane made us meet nice Mr Wall, you blacked out, Duane got up and continued like nothing had happened, filling me in on all the 'fun' I'd missed."

Sam's fingers stopped, curled into a fist.

"Didn't know li'l Sammy had a thing for his own kind, did'ya, Dean?"

Dean turned his eyes away, the helplessness of the last couple of days licking his insides, relishing the memories in a candle-dusk snare.

"Bet none of you guessed just how screwed you'd be before the end of the day..."

He took a deep breath, Duane's deaddeaddead, nails nipping his flesh, glancing back at Sam who seemed to find his sandwich the only thing worthy of his glare.

"Then, all of a sudden, you're staring at him like...Galactus at Pyro or something, you know? And the demon left him, just like that, snuffed out. You dropped like a rock, I grabbed you and left. After that I just...waited."

For a long moment, Sam just sat there, sleeves pulled high, jaw leant against his clenched fists, eyes staring straight ahead.

Please, Sam...

He couldn't go into details, because that would mean repeating all the crap Duane seemed to have been full of, recalling too vividly the way there had been worn wood against his skin instead of cold concrete for a blink.

"Before...before you came, I...started reciting an exorcism." The voice was odd, the words hushed as they were drawn out. Mirthless chuckle touched the end, heralded the following. "Just...couldn't think of anything else. Figured it was worth..." Sam dropped his hands, shook his head. "Nothing."

He looked at Dean again, eyes bright.

"I don't remember how far I got, but...you think maybe I finished it?" Unvoiced, plain as pain, was fear, Or if...

It was terrible to see how small someone as big as Sam could make himself appear.

The way he twitched as Dean's hand landed on his shoulder didn't really help either.

"Did you put in a side order of fireworks?"

It took a moment for the puzzlement to pass, long enough for Dean to drop on his knees, lock eyes again.

"Sam...I don't know what happened. I don't know why it got shredded just because you stared at it but that's the way it looked like. I just know that I've been here for the last day, wondering whether you'd wake up or someone just wearing your skin." The eyes darkened, Sam started to withdraw, Dean's fingers biting into his flesh. "But it didn't. You're Sam, just as much as before."

"So I can kill with my mind and it's okay?" Bitter and dark, so much more than any coffee Dean had ever downed.

He held the gaze, stormcloud crackling with bolts of electricity replaying in the back of his mind, taunting him as if all the answers they needed were in its depths. Sam couldn't be blamed for any of that.

Drinking himself silly, that easily, but the way the night had ended...?

"Sam. No. You exorcized and killed a demon. Duane's dead because I shot him."

The hazel eyes, nursing hurt like a treasure, searched his before Sam shook his head, joyless chuckled rippling off his lips.

"You ever wonder what our lives would be like without...all this?" He asked then, gesturing at the room in general, voice quiet.

"Sometimes." That much was true. Going the way of What if just had the tendency of ending with a bottle. "But if wishes were fishes..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know..." Tired now, the voice accompanied a shrug, Dean's fingers slipping off Sam's arm.

An awkward silence, the younger man absentmindedly rubbing a thumb over the marks on his wrists, lost in thought.
Dean licked his lips, shifted to a crouch.

"Sam...did he hurt you? I mean..."

Confusion met his gaze anew before breaking down into amusement, Sam raising his coloured wrists.

"Dean...what you see is what you get. I'm fine. Nothing a couple of days off curious paths won't fix."

No lies, nothing but easy honesty this time. Question of trust, and with Sam breathing, alive, whole in front of him, it was so very easy to believe.

"What about Meg, then? What has she to do with any of this?"

Sam swallowed at that, turned his eyes back to the half-eaten sandwich.

"I think the same demon possessed Duane."

"We exorcized her, Sam."

"Maybe someone in Hell likes her. Maybe whatever keeps them there's growing weaker. Maybe she was fast. I don't know, but I swear it was her. The same mannerisms, similar phrases...different host."

Same urge to get in your pants...

Another pause, broken by Sam's sideways glance at him, voice quiet, tentative.

"You really think it's gone?"

He patted Sam's leg as he rose, answered.

Doesn't matter. Never going to lay a finger on you again.

"Yeah, I think so. I also think we should take a break. Stay still, rest, take it easy...you know?"

Sad eyes followed him, the smile on Sam's lips gentle, betraying a decision.

"Dean, no. The Demon isn't going to rest. Neither am I. Not as long as there's something I can do about all this. I need to find out what's going on, even more than before. I need to know what's going on with me."

Dean looked at him.

You're really going to do it, then? See this to the end, whatever that may be?

If he pressed on, he'd only end up with one more family member lost to the Demon.

So in the end, he only nodded.

Hell or high water, didn't really matter.

-FIN-


Author's Notes:
I'd just like to admit that I don't have any problems with drinking and would like to keep it that way, so any and all curiosities concerning my depiction of a (post-)hungover Sam are pure guesses.
The decision to change the POV in the middle of a chapter was because Duane kept whispering in my head all sorts of things only Dean was privy to...

I decided I really didn't want to solve all the issues the Boys have with each other, just the ones I heaped on them. I wish I succeeded.
Hopefully this ending was worthy of the build-up. I really should have given them something physical to beat up, though.

Thank You, every single one who's read this drivel, every single one who has left comments, encouraged the bunny.
Now I'll return to the shorter tales and to brooding over another multi-chapter story...:)