A/N: So, this is the prequel to the previous chapter. Some people were curious about how Dean got the way he was and I was curious as well and so I wrote it.
It wasn't even a week that Dean was gone. But for those five days he was nowhere to be found and there was no way of contacting him and no one had any idea where he'd gone, least of all Sam. The moment Ellen called him with a possible sighting, Sam was in the car (the Impala because Dean had just upped and left it, which scared Sam more than Dean leaving in the first place) and driving faster than he ever had before.
Once he got there it wasn't hard to find Dean, not when you knew where 'there' was. Crossroads, fucking crossroads. Up until that moment Sam would have said that he'd give anything to not have this destiny of turning evil set out before him, but that wasn't true. There was one thing he wouldn't give and fuck if Dean hadn't gone and given it.
Sam rushed to the back of the old shack that stood by the crossroads. God, he'd pushed Dean too far, he shouldn't have asked him to kill him, he'd asked Dean to kill him. As if Sam would have been able to do the same for Dean. Who was he fucking kidding? He kicked the door open and it was like his worst nightmare.
Dean lying in the centre of the dusty floor, blood leaking from his nose and mouth and what the hell had he done? What had he driven Dean to? He ran over and collapsed to his knees beside his brother, shaking him and calling his name and please God just let him wake up, let him open his eyes.
Dean's eyes opened, blinked in confusion for a few moments while Sam hovered over him and then Dean grinned. Teeth red with blood, it didn't look right on Dean but then he was sitting up, still smiling, wiping away the blood and it was like he hadn't even left.
"Hey there, Sammy, how're you feeling?" and Sam had spluttered and choked on his reply as tears of anger and relief streamed down his face because after all that, and finding Dean like this, Dean couldn't be acting so normal.
"Dean, what did you do?" and Dean had grinned blindingly, just bare traces of blood left on his teeth and slapped one hand on Sam's shoulder.
"I took care of everything." It took Sam a while before he was able to get himself back under control to reply.
"You made a deal didn't you?" Dean smirked and squeezed Sam's shoulder.
"Nothing we can't handle," he said, using his hand on Sam's shoulder to help himself up. Sam didn't push any further because five excruciating days without Dean were still fresh in his mind and the last thing he wanted was to fight.
He helped Dean back to the car and they booked into a motel and everything went back to normal. Dean was fine and safe and happier now that he was convinced Sam had nothing to worry about, that he wouldn't have to be killing Sam any time ever. Everything was good.
Then Bobby called, demanding to know if Dean was as much of a dumbass as the rumours were saying. Sam tried to reassure him, using all the lines Dean used when Sam got curious.
"What did he trade in, Sam? You've got to find out." Sam had wondered that but Dean had always avoided the question. Sam pushed, wanting to know, deserving to know exactly what Dean had done but Dean refused. And last time Sam had pushed that hard Dean had disappeared for five days and Sam had found him bloody on the floor of an old shack next to some crossroads.
"He's fine, there's nothing wrong with him that I can tell." Bobby's exasperation was clear from the tone of his voice.
"He's traded something in, Sam, you've got to find out what it is, before it comes back and bites you in the ass." Sam knew he was right, knew that what Bobby was telling him was only common sense, but he was happy as he was. Dean was happy the way it was. Sam had learnt not to reach for the perfect life or aim higher than it was possible to achieve so maybe this was as good as it was going to get. Sam didn't want to risk that, things were almost back to the way they were before Dad died now that Dean had this huge weight off his shoulders. Sam couldn't bring himself to jeopardise that, a part of him hoping vainly that if he didn't know about what Dean had done, it would just go away.
He asked about it less and less, and didn't push so hard. He allowed Dean to distract him from the point and turned a blind eye when Dean waved his question off. He so wanted to believe Dean when he said everything was going to be fine.
But then Dean started to change. Or maybe he had been changing all along and Sam had only just noticed. Dean had never been a great believer in manners of any kind, nor was he ever a great user of empathy, but he'd changed. Sure Dean could be an asshole at times but never so consistently, never disregarding other people's feelings quite so readily.
It got to the point where Sam couldn't take Dean in to question the victims' families and friends; Dean had to wait outside in the car or otherwise out of sight until Sam was done. Dean had agreed to it with surprisingly little bitching.
Sam began asking about the deal again, asking but never getting an answer. He didn't even get half-truths or downright lies any more, just an affectionate smile. Sam got really freaked out when he finally lost it and yelled at Dean, saying things he really didn't mean and didn't feel, but Dean hadn't got pissy or yelled back, he'd smiled serenely as though he didn't want to be anywhere else and wouldn't give this moment up for the world. Dean's lack of reaction had shocked Sam into silence. Please, God, whatever Dean had given up, don't let it be too late.
He phoned Bobby, pleaded with him that there must be something they could do. He wanted Dean back the way he used to be and he was scared shitless that Dean was going to change more, become completely unrecognisable. Bobby said he'd try to come up with something and that Sam should keep him updated on Dean's behaviour. Any big changes.
That very same week Sam was talking with an old couple in their house. He was 'thinking of moving in just down the street' and asking them about the neighbourhood when there was a knock on the door. Mr. Jenkins excused himself and went to open the door, while Mrs. Jenkins poured him some more tea. Then shouting came from the front door, all too familiar shouting. Sam rushed out to find Dean with a knife to Mr. Jenkins' throat. He looked up when Sam arrived.
"Sam! Thank God!" Sam paused to take in the situation, the look of fear on Mr. Jenkins' face, Mrs. Jenkins' screaming in his ear. Dean's smile looking so out of place when he was threatening an old man's life. Sam barrelled him out of the door towards the car. Dean came along easily now Sam was with him. Ten minutes of driving passed silently before Sam had worked through his thoughts enough to be able to say anything.
"What the hell was that, Dean?" Dean smiled at him, always Goddamn smiling. But Sam's glare chased the smile away and Dean looked away like a child caught doing something he shouldn't have.
"I didn't know where you were," he said in a small voice.
"Bullshit, Dean! You knew I was in that house. I was only gone ten minutes!"
"They could have done something."
"They were in their eighties! They couldn't have done anything!"
"I wasn't there."
"For good reason! You were going to slice that man's throat open, you were going to kill him!"
"He wouldn't let me see you."
"What the fuck has gotten into you, Dean?" the smile crept back onto Dean's face. Sam wanted to punch it off.
"Then what's going on? What did you trade?"
"It'll be fine." Sam had given up arguing that point. Nothing was going to be fine until they had this fixed. Even if they had to fix it against Dean's will.
He called Bobby that evening, told him what had happened. Bobby went silent for a long moment, before saying that Sam needed to see the demon that had done this and see if there was a way of getting it undone. Back to those crossroads and that shack.
If Dean had realised where they were going, he didn't show it. Even when they pulled up at the place that was burned into Sam's memory, Dean didn't bat an eyelid, just looked to Sam and followed him, watched him.
Sam was glad for it when the demon came to him in the body of a young slip of a girl, barely fourteen. She took one glance at the two of them and laughed.
"I was wondering when you'd turn up. I suppose you want that undone?" she nodded towards Dean, who was pointing a gun directly at her forehead, ignoring the fact that shooting the girl wouldn't stop the demon.
"Yes," Sam said, the hatred barely concealed in his voice.
"Oh Sammy, you missed the boat on that one!" Sam tried to hide the lurch of his stomach even as the colour drained from his face. "I couldn't stop it now even if I wanted to."
"What did you do to him?"
"I'm afraid that's between me and him." She turned towards Dean, "Didn't decide to tell him, then?" Dean cocked the gun in reply. The demon smirked then turned back to Sam. "I'll tell you this for nothing, though: it can't be undone, it's gone too far."
"You're lying," growled Sam, barely keeping it together.
"That would be convenient wouldn't it? But no, sorry, you're stuck with it." Of course, she didn't look the slightest bit sorry to be delivering this information. She stalked closer and Dean came up closer behind him. He felt trapped, caught, between the Devil and the deep blue sea. The demon reached out to touch him but drew her hand back when Dean growled, actually growled like an over-possessive dog. The demon gazed up at him through her eyelashes, out of that young and impossibly innocent face, "You'll just have to put him down." Her lips quirked, knowing exactly how likely that was to happen. Why wasn't Dean saying anything? She was suggesting that Sam kill him, why wasn't he saying anything? "Or, you could just live with it." She grinned and backed off slightly.
"I'll give anything, please, just change him back to the way he was." Sam was begging and he knew it but he didn't have anything else; he'd run out of options.
"Sam," she said indulgently, "That's a very tempting offer, but like I said, I couldn't do anything even if I wanted to. You're just too late." She tilted her head with a thoughtful expression and then continued, "You know, I've been thinking; this has got to be the best deal I've ever made." The girl threw her head back with an agonised scream and the demon poured out into the air and drifted away into the night.
"No!" yelled Sam after it, "Get back here! You get back here right now and tell me how to undo it!" Sam yelled endless obscenities into the sky, joined with the poor terrified girl's screaming. Dean put the gun away and pulled Sam to face him, wiped at the tears Sam didn't realise he was crying and whispered small, soothing things that he would never have dreamed of saying a month ago. Sam pulled away, he couldn't bear to be near this Dean, who was so different in so many ways. This Dean who didn't give a moment's thought to young girls sitting crying in the dirt and who wouldn't back off, didn't know the meaning of personal space.
Sam made his way to the car and shouted at Dean to do the same, and to bring the girl with him. To his dismay, Dean did just that, wrestled her into the back seat kicking and screaming. Sam realised then and there, watching from the drivers seat as Dean knocked the girl out with the butt of his gun to stop her struggling, that Dean didn't care for anyone but Sam now. If anything got between him and Dean, Dean would kill it, no matter who or what it was, if anything threatened Sam, Dean would kill it. Dean was just as dangerous as the things they hunted now, to everyone but Sam.
Sam put the car in gear and drove. Dean was silent in the passenger seat, sending worried glances at Sam from time to time. Sam realised with a jolt that Dean didn't understand what was wrong. Dean didn't understand what was wrong about manhandling a girl into the car like an unruly slab of meat, what was wrong with holding a knife to man's throat or why any of these things would upset Sam. Did he even know he'd changed?
They left the girl on the steps of the police station, hoping she'd be fine. At least Sam did. He couldn't handle any more bad news today, this week, this life.
Sam tried to keep himself together when they arrived at the motel, thought that perhaps he could at least wait until he was in the shower before he broke down but he never made it that far. He collapsed onto his bed and cried, grieving for the brother he knew. He stiffened when Dean lay down next to him and he tried to choke the sobs back. But Dean's warm arms came around him and Dean's voice rumbled in his ear and Dean's breath was on the back of his neck.
Sam turned to face Dean. He pulled his head back to look in Dean's eyes and saw nothing but love. They were Dean's eyes. They didn't belong to some monster that needed to be put down. They belonged to his big brother, who was always there to love and protect him and they made him feel safe. He curled forwards and put his head against Dean's chest, breath hitching and vision still blurry.
His head fit under Dean's chin just like it always had done when they were little. And just like when they were little, Sam took comfort in Dean just being there with him and for him. He held tight to Dean, clutching at the last remnants of his brother because something had been taken from Dean, something vital was missing, but for the moment Sam could ignore it. Dean was still his brother, nothing would ever change that.
For real this time.