AN: This is supposed to be set after 4.02. So spoilers up till that point and ignorance from that point on, though I wouldn't say it classifies as AU. And the usual disclaimer applies, I own nothing.
His Flesh Upon Him Shall Have Pain
"But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn."
He's slouched against the rim of the tub and the toilet, starring at the bottle of whiskey in his hand and the six-pack next to him, thinking about how good his chances are - if Sammy'll break in for a midnight leak or if he's got the privacy of this shithole bathroom to himself long enough to get the kind of drunk he deserves.
He's got an angel's hand print tattooed to his arm, stuck there for who knows how long and he's a little bit freaked. And it's not the kind of freaked that some Zeppelin and the arid smell of exhaust can fix. It's the kind of freaked that he knows isn't going anywhere, the kind that's going to sit with him and haunt him and make him consider.
Four months is how long he'd been away. And Sam is the reason why. He doesn't need help in remembering where. But now suddenly he's not there; suddenly he's here instead, sucking down the oxygen of a free world, feeling wind on his face and aches in his bones. Because of an angel. Because of God. And he's not sure how long this one lasts, what kind of commitment he's tied to while he's wearing the handprint of something that is arguably divine. But that's not the question that he's trying to avoid, that's not what's got him thinking about his own problems in a dingy bathroom with enough booze to take a soak in. He's wondering why. Because Sam has been his why for everything. It's always been easy like that, clear cut: Save Sam.
So yeah, he's a little bit freaked that now it sounds a lot more like Save the World. Because that's never been his purpose, that's never been his why. He doesn't know how to deal with his importance in any fashion, much less on such a grand scale.
He slides the fabric of his t-shirt up, curls his fingers over the mark and takes a swig of whiskey with his left. It's raised and red, looks angry as fuck and if he stares at for too long it starts to burn.
His mother's touch is phantom. He remembers there being goodnight kisses and gentle caresses but he can't feel them anymore, can't remember what they felt like – imagines only that they felt good.
Back before it all, before his soul was claimed, before his body was broken and repaired, before he wore "Good" like a scarlett letter, there'd been the djinn and his dreamworld. It'd all been in his head, a hallucination of paradise, the only kind the Winchesters ever seem privy to. And there he remembers her cradling his head, lending motherly care to his hard face bristled with stubble. He remembers seeing it, he remembers the action of it but for the life of him he doesn't remember her touch.
He wipes the pad of his thumb against his bottom lip and the rough stubble on his chin and jaw, curves it around his face until it rests at his neck -- so that he's sitting with his head bowed, starring at the dirty tile wondering how something he barely remembers can haunt him so relentlessly.
He still remembers his dad's moments of gruff, physical reassurance. The hard slaps on his back for a job well done. The clipped swipe at the back of his head when his teasing crossed a line. The tight grip on his shoulders when John was trying to tell him something important: You screwed up. I'm proud of you. Hell, he even remembers a hug or two.
But the last touch, the slight scrape of skin over a whisper that should never have been said, is what's left fresh in his mind.
He's been told he's got issues, especially concerning his father. It took some dream root, a shotgun and a more outwardly emotional version of himself to force Dean to confront those.
But just because he's confronted something doesn't mean it's gone.
Sam is what he knows. What he remembers. What he gets. His purpose and his penance, and the only stable thing in his life besides the Impala.
He knows the worried scramble of Sam's hands over his body, trying to keep him awake or alive, trying to ascertain injuries that lie hidden to the point that Sam can never know them. He knows the blow of his brother's fist and the motions of being stitched back together by those same hands.
Dean's taken plenty of his own swings at Sam in his lifetime. Mostly because of betrayal. Because betrayal at the hands of his brother is the worst kind and when he lashes out and his fists meet his little brother's flesh, guilt swarms. It swallows him and ties him to his anger in a cyclic fashion.
But he's never left a scar. He's never left a bruise that didn't heal on his brother. There's never been any physical damage that had to be scarred over. There was always enough healthy skin, enough youthful energy to close the wounds he left.
Dean's marked. He's marked by the power of something he doesn't quite believe in. Something he's borderline terrified of.
He wants the mark to be of his family, he wants that imprinted on his soul. He wants their touches to last, to reach over time and reach into death. He wants that to be what rescues him. Not this.