Price. There was always a price to pay. No such thing as a free lunch, and as Winchester Sam should have known that at the get go. Hell Dean warned him from the beginning, long before he had ever taken that first step, their father had taken extreme measures to keep his youngest from paying the price he was currently paying. But Sam hadn't listened, felt that he was doing what was right, doing what needed done, and he had accomplished the goal. He had taken out Lilith. Used the powers that Ruby had helped him cultivate, that Dean had tried to keep him from using, and Castiel had threatened to smite him for using, and taken the bitch out. She evaporated right out of her meat suit, simply destroyed. But with her, a piece of Sam had been destroyed as well.
Another morning was peeking over the horizon, and Sam watched the yellow and oranges blend together and pour through the window masked slightly by the aged drapes. Dean stirred in the bed next to his and he threw his covers off and hurried to the bathroom, hell had made Dean an insanely early riser. Even with Lilith gone, even with most demons gone or in deep hiding, Dean still wasn't right, Dean still didn't sleep right, didn't talk much about anything anymore, and especially after that last fight, after he saved that last seal, after he saw Sam do…after he saw Sam's eyes.
He took a deep cleansing breath, got into the shower and scrubbed, like he was trying to scrub away his skin, trying to scrub away the infection that was demon blood just below the surface. It never came off, that blood, it never ever came off of his hands, his face, anywhere. And when he looked in the mirror, he saw it, every single time, his eyes gave him away, told the world that he had demon blood, because what he did, what he had to do to save Dean, to keep him out of hell, to keep them from having to do this when they were 60, changed him, brought the blood to the surface and allowed all to see, allowed his brother to see, allowed him to see.
He dried and put the towel around his waist, and went to the sink and pulled out his contact lens case and began the process of becoming human again, or at least putting on his mask. He inserted one brown lens, and then the other, and then looked at himself in the mirror. It wasn't right, it would never be right, but anything resembling blue or green looked worse, and there were no such thing as hazel lenses that looked real enough, or didn't change enough with the bright yellow backing to make them look even more demonic than what he was now stuck with, so brown it was. And the brown looked alien in his face, but this was part of the price he had to pay, part of his soul that had been eaten and destroyed by the demon.
He brushed his hair, got dressed and went into the bedroom that he and Dean shared while they were at Bobby's. Dean was sitting up rubbing the sand out of his eyes. Sam was thankful his hands were covering his face; it was still really hard to look at the nasty scar that ran along the side of Dean's face, which Alistair gave him before Sam could save him. "Done with the shower?" he asked his voice still thick with sleep. Sam swallowed thickly and nodded, and then finally vocalized:
"You leave any hot water." Dean tried, he really tried to keep things normal, but things would never be normal again, they both could pretend, Sam could cover his eyes, and Dean could have plastic surgery to attempt to repair the last indignity he had to suffer at the hands of his demonic torturer, but it didn't erase the ones that were inside, it didn't erase the scars on their relationship, their friendship, their souls. Nothing, short of a miracle would fix that, and it made Sam's heart heavy, and he was afraid that if it got any heavier that it would turn completely to stone, and make him like the things they hunted, and with his new found powers, it really wouldn't be a stretch.
"Some." Sam said and tried to smile, he hoped his brother saw a smile, but he was afraid that it looked more like a grimace. Dean forced himself up out of the bed and brushed past Sam and into the hallway to get his own shower. Sam ran a hand through his hair and sighed.
Sam ventured downstairs and Bobby was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee and reading a book.
"Coffee is ready if you want some." He said casually. Sam nodded and got a cup for himself and sat down next to the elder hunter. "I was thinking."
"Oh that's never good."
"Shut up you idjit." Bobby said with an eye roll and watched a small smile tug at Sam's mouth.
"What were you thinking Bobby?"
"I think you and Dean need to sit down and work on writing out how the seals were saved."
"I don't think so."
"Hear me out boy."
"Dean won't go for it."
"Dean won't go for it, or you won't go for it."
"I don't think we need to do this to Dean. I mean, he doesn't talk about his time in the hotbox…"
"I ain't suggesting that he start talking about Hell. I'm suggesting that you two write down what you did that saved the world from hell overtaking Earth. That doesn't include talking about his torture."
"No, but he saved that last seal by distracting Alistair, allowing him to torture him. Don't you think that's the same thing?"
"I think Dean's okay with that torture, I think Dean's okay with the fact—"
"Maybe you guys should just ask Dean what Dean is okay with." Dean said as he entered the kitchen. "Coffee done?" he asked. Both men nodded. He took a cup off of the drying rack and filled his cup. "What are we talking about?"
"Bobby thinks that we should write down how we saved the seals." Sam said as he watched his coffee cup.
Dean leaned up against the counter, crossed one boot clad foot over the other, and took a sip of the brew and nodded. "I think that's a smart thing."
"Really?" Sam's head snapped up.
"Yeah. What if they try it again in a couple hundred years Sammy? God knows I would have loved a how to manual for this." He said and took another sip.
"You don't want to talk about your yellow eyes." He interrupted. Sam froze.
"No. That's not it."
"Whatever you want to think Sammy. Just don't blame it all on me. I think it would be a very good idea. You type faster than I do, so it would be best for you to type it. I think." Dean said.
"You seriously think this is a good idea?"
"I do Sammy. I really do."
"Cut me up like a Christmas goose. He's back in hell, not coming after me any more. I think it would be a good idea."
"See Sam," Bobby said.
"What else do we have to be doing right now Sammy? Huh? I mean, we are just hanging here waiting on a hunt, or real life to come and smack us upside the head. Either way, we aren't doing anything useful. I think this is a good idea. I'm gonna go for a run, you think about it, and when I get back we can start working on this."
"Want me to go with you?" Sam asked.
"Nah. If I'm gonna do this, I need my head clear. I'll be back." He said and was out the door before either said anything.
Bobby took a sip of his coffee and smirked. "Told you so Sam." Sam glared at his coffee. Why did Bobby know his brother better than he did now?
Bobby stood and put his cup in the sink. "Maybe this little adventure can help you two get back on track." Bobby said and put a hand on Sam's shoulder briefly before he left the house. Sam watched him go and contemplated Bobby's words, and suddenly he sort of wanted to do this.
In the living room, the windows open allowing the breeze into the house on a warm South Dakota day, Sam was seated poised in front of the keyboard starring at a blank word document. Dean was walking back and forth wearing a hole in Bobby's floor.
"Where do we start?" Sam asked.
"I don't know. I haven't written a paper in over 12 years." He stopped pacing and his brow crinkled. "Or is that over 52 years? Do we count hell years?" Sam turned to his brother confused. That was the first joke his brother had made about his time down under. That walk must have done him well indeed.
"I guess we just start talking."
"Hell I don't know Sam." Dean said and threw his hands up in the air, they came to rest on his hips. "Why don't we just kinda write chapters on each of them and put them together later." Sam nodded.
"Sounds good." And write they did. Dean talked about everything he had learned about their parents and grandparents, Sam filled in information about Ruby, and what it was like to be one of Yellow Eyes' special children, and that led them to writing about the other special children they had encountered, which led them to Sam's death, the devil's gates, and then to Dean's deal. Everything always seemed to come back to Dean's deal, and usually that was a touchy subject with both of them, but now, now they were writing away, talking about the attempts to break a demon deal that had a condition of no weaseling.
"Well, Hell isn't what everyone thinks it is." Dean started without realizing what he was saying. "I remember being a Hell Hound's chew toy, and then I was suspended above this green something, like oblivion, and they had put these huge meat hooks in my shoulder and side, I mean like huge, the one in my shoulder touched my cheek when I moved, and then they had like nailed these chains into my wrists and my ankles." He smiled slightly. "They were nice enough to leave me clothed, and only rip my jeans a little to get the chains inside my ankles. God that hurt. I was like drawn and quartered kinda." Sam stopped typing and looked at Dean. This was the absolute first time he had ever mentioned that. "I think they did that as sort of the initiation. The next day I meant Alistair. God what a son of a bitch." Dean said as if he were talking about one of a thousand things they had killed over the years. "Sammy…..you aren't typing." Dean said and startled Sam out of his daze.
"You've never said this much about hell."
"If it will help some other hunter. If it will keep someone from selling their soul. Then why not. No one wants to have all of your weight supported by hooks inside of your body."
"But you didn't have a body. I had it."
"It felt like flesh and bone. That reminds me. Meg. That whole flesh, bone and fear thing. Start a new chapter, we'll come back to this, Meg. We need to talk about possession, and you can handle that from the inside, and I can handle that from the outside." Sam started a new chapter document and they continued to go on and on. This went on for days, weeks, and finally a whole two months passed and they finished up the book, five hundred pages later.
Sam put the last period in the document and leaned back against the chair. "We done?" Dean asked.
"Yeah. I think we're done."
"Wow. We're done. That's everything we know?"
"About the seals and demons."
"We know a lot." Dean said as he took a seat next to Sam and looked at the page count.
"Unfortunately." They both looked at the computer screen in awe. Five hundred pages was a lot, and they had even skimped on some of the less important things. So much had happened, so much had changed. Dean looked at Sam, and wondered not for the first time, if they would ever end up being brothers again.
"Sam. We okay?" he finally decided to ask.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, after hell, we both were different. Lots of things were different and most of that was us. We were wrong, we were in weird head spaces. But now, with the demons gone, are we back to being SamnDean?" Sam looked down at the computer and then looked at his brother, looked at the long scar running down his face and then he thought about the eyes that were being covered up by contacts.
"A lot has happened Dean. I'm not the same person I was."
"Neither am I. But does that mean we can't be brothers?"
"No. I just don't know…"
"I don't want you to hide from me Sam." Dean blurted.
"I'm not hiding from you."
"You wear those contacts and hide your eyes. There was a time you didn't hide anything from me."
"If you think that it will remind me of Yellow Eyes and then my time in hell, I won't lie, it will, but it will also remind me of what you did, against my orders, against God, against hell to save me. Sam. I'm proud of you for what you did."
Sam felt tears sting the backs of his eyes. "What? Dean. I used my powers. I used them so much, so big, that my eyes are…are…"
"An interesting color."
"I look like a fucking demon!"
"You look like someone who sacrificed something for a loved one." Sam looked up into his brother's eyes.
"I just can't Dean."
"Well, I hope one day you can. Because I never want you to hide from me. Even if it just your eyes. You shouldn't hide from it either. You survived. You saved my life. You kept me from going back to the pit, you helped me save the world from the freaking apocalypse. I think you should look at that as a badge of courage, of honor. That's how I'm looking at this." He said and indicated his cheek. He shrugged. "Some scars are just gonna be visible." He pushed out of the chair. "I have to get out of here. I need to stretch out my legs. Catch you before dinner." Sam nodded and watched his brother leave and he considered his words. Sam spent so long trying to be normal, trying too hard to be just like every one else, he had never embraced the things that were different about him and made him unique. But when he thought about it, even though he had never accepted his differences, Dean always had, Dean never judged him, never thought of him as a freak, no matter what Ruby and other demons had said to convince him otherwise.
Dean got back for dinner, greasy and sweaty. A small detour took him under the hood of a car for a woman who was stranded on the side of the road.
"Smells good Bobby." He said as he washed his hands.
"Sam made it. Said it was something he used to fix while he was in college." Dean wiped his hands then opened the lid of the skillet and relished the smell.
"Where is geek boy?"
"Changing shirts. He managed to get something all down the front of his shirt. Your brother for all of his grace with a gun and knives is klutzy in every other way." Dean laughed.
"Yeah, feet have always been too big for his body. Always have, and probably always will."
They were putting everything on the table when Sam came down and sat down in his seat.
"You figure out that you shirt wasn't a nap—" Dean stopped when he looked at Sam. His eyes were yellow, they were the eyes he had earned saving his brother. It took everything Sam had to keep the contact, Dean gave a small smile and a nod and continued, "napkin?"
"Yeah." Dean laughed.
"Feet are not meant to be tripped over. You use them to walk Sam. I taught you that many many moons ago." Sam smiled and then laughed as Dean started telling stories about what Sam was like as a child and Bobby correcting Dean on some of the finer points of the stories and Sam looked around the table. The three of them were family and family accepted you, they accepted your scars because they were a part of you, and you were what was important to them. And for the first time since his eyes changed, he looked each member of his family in the eye and realized that they still loved him, despite his short comings, despite his eyes, despite his disobedience. They were back to SamnDean.