I Will Do Everything I Can To Keep You Safe

"God, I don't know what I feel like eating this morning," Dean mutters as he opens the plastic menu after we sit down at a booth in the diner across the street from our motel. "I'll ask my buddy Jack," he jokes and takes a quick swig of the malt liquor from a small flask before quickly tucking it away again.

I don't acknowledge or even smile at my brother's attempt at humor, still quite traumatized about what he told me yesterday while parked on the side of the road to take a break from driving. Did he want me to forget that he told me about it? Are we really back to pretending? Now that Dean confirmed to me that he's been drinking and having relentless nightmares because he does remember everything about his time in hell…that the months were like decades of horrible torture of his body and mind…I don't know what to say or what to do. He couldn't even look at me when he told me…

"They uh…sliced and carved…and tore at me in ways that you…until there was nothing left. And then suddenly I would be whole again, like magic, just so they could start in all over. And Alistair…at the end of every day, every one, he would come over and make me an offer. To take me off the rack, if I put souls on. If I started the torture. And every day I told him to stick it where the sun shines. For thirty years I told him, but then I couldn't do it anymore, Sammy..."

I remember him pausing here as his voice began to break.

"I couldn't and I got off that rack. God help me, I got right off it…and I started ripping them apart. I lost count of how many souls. The things that I did to them...".

"Dean, you held up for thirty years, it's a lot longer than most people would've," I said next, fighting back the tears myself.

Dumb thing to say, I know that now. I should have known that it would've have made him feel any better. Maybe worse if he thought I was patronizing him. Then he began to cry. It's always so hard for me to see Dean cry. Not just because he's my brother and I love him. I don't know if he understands that I want to protect him as much as he wants to protect me. I remember him next shaking his head and rubbing his face before continuing.

"How I feel? This…inside me? I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy, I wish I couldn't feel a damned thing."

"Hey!" Dean says with a kick under the table, effectively startling me back to reality.

"What?" I ask.

"I said Jack and I have decided to go for the 'Sunny Side of the Plate' omelet, bacon, and toast combo. What're you having?" Dean repeats.

"Nothing," I answer flatly as I look out the large plate glass window. I feel like throwing up, but Dean doesn't need to know that.

"Why? You have a bad night? Can't be half as bad as mine," Dean jokes again before taking another swig from his flask.

I startle again, as I actually I did have a really bad night…a nightmare that seemed so real that I woke up in terrible physical pain and it scared me so bad that I had to rush to the bathroom to really throw up…but the look on his face assures me that Dean doesn't know how closely he hit the mark. Could I really do it? I begin to replay the nightmare over in my head again, wondering if someday I might get desperate enough...

I look from Uriel to Castiel, but not at Dean. I don't have to. I already know he doesn't want me to do this.

"After it's done, where will I go?" I can't help but ask the brown haired angel.

Castiel stays quiet, avoiding my gaze now. Uriel, looking suddenly as if he's suppressing a smile, speaks instead.

"You know the answer, boy."

I do know the answer. That I was never destined for heaven.

"If you do this, I'll just make another deal for you!" Dean promises in a last ditch effort to get me to change my mind.

It doesn't work.

We all know that no demon would ever even talk to one who is protected by angels.

"If you do this, I won't help you anymore!" Dean yells at the pair.

That doesn't work either.

We also all know that Dean would never let the world fall to the damned.

When my brother is finally quiet, it's my turn to smile.

"It's okay, Dean. You'll finally be free," I tell him before nodding.

The anguish in Dean's yell almost makes me sorry. But someday he'll understand. Someday he might even agree. In exchange for allowing them to take my life, Uriel has promised to take from my brother all of his memories of hell and that he will never again know that place. Apparently demons are not the only ones who make deals. It is my gift to my big brother who has given so much for me that I can never pay him back. I had to do this. Not only for my brother, but for the world. God had Castiel save him after all.

When darkness begins to push out the light, like black ink spilling onto white paper, I lose the ability to stand, and feel Dean catch me and ease me to the floor. I feel no pain, silently thanking Castiel for that, but I can feel Dean's arms holding me as he begs his angels to stop. I'm only mildly surprised when I realize that I am crying. I know that momentarily I will know hell and there will be NO way out for me.

"Sam!" a thousand voices yell my name in unison.

It is time.

I look around but it is still too dark to see where they are coming from. I am aware that I cannot move my arms or legs and anxiety and adrenaline begins to swell inside of me.

"We have been waiting for you. Welcome home."

The voices suddenly surround me with deafening laughter. Needlessly I close my eyes in an effort to mentally prepare myself for what I know is coming next. I yell as my arms and legs are yanked so tight that I'm sure I'm being ripped apart. Instead I'm assaulted with bone crunching punches, skin slashing whip lashes, and deep penetrating knife stabs. My yelling quickly turns to screaming but their laughing is still so loud that I can't even hear it when it does…

"Well, you gotta pick something, Sammy. We're not stopping again for awhile and I don't want to hear you whining in my ear that you're starving to death," Dean says before smiling again at me.

I focus on my brother's face for a moment, finally realizing what seemed so familiar about his smiles this morning. Dad used to smile like that too, the kind where it never reached his eyes. Although my brother would probably never admit it, those memories of hell are slowly killing him. The nightmares, the drinking…he's losing himself to it and I won't allow it anymore. I vow once again to save him if it's the last thing I do. It's all my fault anyway. All of it. I WILL do everything I can to keep you safe, Dean,…even if it means resorting to extreme measures like in my nightmare.

"Yeah, okay, Dean," I answer as I open my menu. "Whatever you want."

Thanks for reading and reviewing. I hope everyone had a great holiday. My New Year's Resolution? To finally finish the rest of my stories!