What We Have, We'll Hold

Summary

'There is nothing I wouldn't do for you.' Just how far will Sam go to save his brother? Two souls. One fate. No option. Post AHBL 1 and 2. Part 1 of 3.

Disclaimer

I do not own anything Supernatural related apart from pics with Jensen from Asylum, a signed photo of Jared and some DVD's. That and an obsession um enthusiasm of epic proportions…

Author's Notes

This is dedicated to Geminigrl without whom my stories would be littered with random punctuation and awful grammar - She really is the most wonderful Beta and easily the most patient woman in the world! Thank you, Gem; this would be a far poorer tale without you. Moreover, a belated Happy Birthday!

It goes without saying, any mistakes are all mine unfortunately!

Thanks also to Catbeist and Sifi for their tremendous support and for making me smile on those hard days!

Lastly – a special mention to SpikeLover7 whose one-shot, 'Numbers', inspired me to try my own take on the numbers game… thank you SL7 for the inspiration and the permission to play with numbers too!

Warnings

Post All Hell Breaks Loose fic – if you haven't sent the Season 2 Finale and do not wish to be spoiled, go no further!

Rated T to be safe for the occasional naughty word, a wee bit gore, and angst.

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Chapter 1

It had been a year to the day since Sam had discovered he had died at the hands of Jake. A year since the man had severed his spine and left him broken, a marionette with his strings cut. Left him to fall into his brother's arms and die there. His killing stroke a mortal wound on both brothers.

Twelve months since he had been unknowing brought back. Brought back by a brother who should have known better, did know better but despite everything had refused to let his brother go.

365 days had passed since his brother had sold his soul for him. For him. And then begged him not to be mad at him for it. Not that Sam was; terrified for his brother, yes, devastated that a bargain had been made for something pure in place of something tainted. But never mad.

8760 hours had lapsed in attempt after attempt to destroy the Crossroads Demon. They had tried traps and incantations, they had bastardised exorcisms and twisted every ritual and charm they could lay their hands on, but all had been in vain. The Demon would not be fooled twice and had refused Sam's own offer one desperate night the week before, her mocking words, "you cannot sell what is no longer yours to trade, Sammy" still haunting him.

525,600 minutes had been lost in fruitless search for a way to release his big brother from his deal with the devil. His laptop destroyed in a fit of rage only hours earlier. What use was all of that information if it could not be used to save the one person in the world he had to, the one person who he could not fail and who did not deserve his failure?

31,536,000 seconds over in the blink of an eye.

If he could just remain focused on the time that was lost, he could ignore the fact that what he was losing was something that more precious.

Dean…

Sam's breath hitched and it felt as if every moment of the last twelve months was bearing down on him all at once, crushing his soul, drowning his spirit.

Could you actually drown in time? Perhaps if he did, would that break the deal for Dean?

He stood at his brother's back. Not wanting him to be alone, unwilling to leave despite every single cell in his body screaming for him to turn away, not wanting to witness what was to come. But wilful son of a stubborn father, he stayed. He swore he would have his brother's back, and come hell or high water, he was not moving.

Dean felt the warmth of his brother at his back and almost unconsciously tilted against him.

He needed Sam here, but he also needed him to be as far away from what was to come as possible. He had tried to send Sam away the night before, but Sam had simply looked at him with eyes dark and unyielding. "I'm not leaving you, Dean." His brother's voice had been husky with emotion, heavy with words that should be said but would not be. "Don't ask me to do that."

Sam had tried to get him out of the deal, God he had tried, and his refusal to let him go, his decision to fight with everything he had, his absolute determination never to give up, to find a way out for them both, gave Dean the strength to face this moment with resolute calm.

He would be lying if he said he wasn't scared. Christ, he wasn't suicidal; he didn't want to die. But he didn't regret what he had done either. To do that would be to regret his brother was alive, here and now, and that was something the older brother could never do. He didn't want to go to hell, he certainly did not want to leave his brother to continue this fight alone, and especially knowing when the end did come they would still be apart. Despite Sam's fears, Dean knew that Sam's final destination would not include even a hint of sulphur or flame. But since when the hell did the Winchesters ever get what they wanted?

It had been Dean's choice to come to this place for his time of payment, back to the original spot where the deal had been made. They may not be able to get out of the deal but like fuck were they going to hide and wait for her hounds to find them. They had faced every evil in their life head-on and this would be no exception.

He glanced over his shoulder to see his brother's drawn face. In this past year, Sam had seemed to age ten. His features were haggard and drawn from far too little sleep and far too much pressure. Shoulders once strong and erect were now bowed under the strain. Dean had accepted that the deal may have been irreversible when he had made it - he was far from stupid. But he had not anticipated that Sam would find out so quickly, nor the effect it would have on his brother.

He was finally realising that his brother loved him as fiercely as he loved him, that he was needed in his brother's life, that he was wanted, cherished, loved….

The strength of his brother's belief in him still astonished him now. Sam's eyes weary and pained were still intense with a fire that was his alone. A ferocious protectiveness that Dean knew existed but had never recognized now tried to shield him from the dark that threatened to infect his soul.

He would die today, but Sam would never let him go.

The thought both warmed and terrified him. He looked closer at his brother's eyes and noticed a new determination and focus there.

"Sam?" he whispered in growing concern.

His brother's face became even more pinched and whitened impossibly further.

"She's here…"

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The two brothers now stood side-by-side within a circle of goofer dust and salt that Sam had literally glued to the ground in the dead centre of the crossroad. No wind was going to disturb this baby, Sam grinned humourlessly. They might not have been able to break the deal, but no one said they were going to make things easy for the demon. Or that they had completely lost hope just yet; they still had a few tricks up their sleeves.

They were hunters and were not about to go meekly or quietly. Sam couldn't believe in anything less.

Ravenous growls filled the night air and wind began to whip dust around the circle. Deep imprints of immense clawed paws paced around the perimeter.

The crossroads demon strolled casually towards them…"Dean…fancy meeting you here…my, doesn't time fly when you are having fun?" The red-eyed demon grinned maliciously. "Oh and you brought me a gift. You shouldn't have."

The raven-haired woman looked the two brothers up and down lasciviously, her tongue brushed contemplatively across her lips as a regretful sigh escaped her. "Still, a deal is a deal, I suppose. You'd best stand back from your brother, Sammy, would hate for you to get covered in entrails – my pets are such messy eaters. After all, you have enough blood on your hands as it is."

Sam flinched momentarily before dipping his hands into his pockets and casting out a powder-like substance at the paw prints surrounding them. There were pained howls and then, suddenly, three hellhounds become visible. Hate-filled crimson eyes glared at them and putrid breath blew across the two young men past teeth a sabre tooth tiger would have been proud of. Their fur was matted with blood and putrefying flesh, maggots crawling from there eyes and ears, before disappearing into their panting maws.

"I'm not sure that's an improvement, Sam," Dean muttered.

"Patience, young Padawan."

"You're referencing Star Wars now?" Dean asked incredulously. Sam smiled briefly as he pulled out a shotgun from behind his back and almost casually fired at the nearest hellhound.

It let out a startled yelp and backed up a step, looking in confusion at its mistress.

"You shot my dog!"

Dean pulled out his own gun and blasted a hound that had tried to flank them.

"You are up to date with your tetanus, right Sam?"

"Yeah, because lockjaw is my main concern right now," the young hunter commented wryly.

The crimson-eyed demon snarled and narrowed her eyes as her hounds continued pacing just out of reach of the guns. "You know you cannot keep this up forever, don't you boys? You're only putting off the inevitable."

Sam raised his gun once more as the crossroads demon approached them. "I wouldn't do that Sam. You'll kill the sweet girl I am currently occupying, not to mention piss me off. And the problem with goofer dust is that yes, it works for my hounds for a while, but at the end of the day, no one tricked your brother into this pact. It's all fair and above board and …"

Her arm whipped out and with surprising strength yanked Dean from the protection of the circle and tossed him towards the hounds. She continued without even pausing for breath, "…it has absolutely no effect when I am collecting on a legitimate contract."

With anticipatory growls, the hounds turned their attention to the fallen brother and lunged.

They stopped abruptly with anguished yowls as if tethered by an invisible leash and turned their heads to the demon.

"What is wrong with you? Kill him." She snarled.

The hounds shook their heads and whined.

She looked down at Dean and saw confusion quickly replaced by fearful understanding, his head whipping around to a now empty protective circle. His brother stood directly behind the demon, his brow furrowed in concentration, his wide, almost-black eyes fixed on the hounds. Sweat beaded his brow and trickled down the side of his face and his chest heaved in obvious exertion.

"Sammy, no." Dean whispered, terror at what his brother was attempting causing his heart to pound painfully.

The crossroads demon whirled on the youngest Winchester. "What did you do?"

"Annul the contract." Sam growled, his voice causing a shiver to creep down Dean's

spine before setting in his stomach. He sounded cold, dark, sinister.

"Why should I?" The demon seemed genuinely puzzled.

A cold smile lightened the young hunter's features in a mockery of his customary warmth.

"Because if you don't, those pets of yours will be having you for dinner."

"You wouldn't risk the host." The demon sneered; however, the sneer faltered at the cold indifference on Sam's face.

"I don't care about her one way or the other. Annul the agreement and you are free to leave."

"Your brother's soul is bought and paid for. He's mine." The Demon's hand flew out and pinned the elder brother to the ground. She stalked closer and pulled out a wicked-looking blade and held it to Dean's throat.

"Sam, don't." Dean called to his sibling. Sam froze and with obvious effort, his face cleared and the last of the warmth in his gaze faded to a cold fire. He nonchalantly strolled to the surprised demon; his long fingers gently caressed her face. She stiffened.

"No, sweetheart. He's mine."

The red-eyed woman screamed.

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A/N – Mwa hahaaaaa…

Coughs…that evil laugh will take it out of you!

Hope you have enjoyed this so far – please read, review, and let me know what you think!

All three parts are already written so no long delays, I promise!

For anyone waiting for When Angels Fall cough Clarice cough lol - the last chapter should be up soon – thank you so much for your kindness and patience.

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Lol…

Thanks for reading!

Dream