Title: Light Bringer

Rating/Warnings: M for language and gore. Dark!fic. Unbetaed.

Pairings: Eventual Sam/Dean. Possible Sam/Dean/Castiel.

A/N: My foray into a new fandom.I'll be crossposting this at LJ, and hopefully at the sammessaiah community if that's any clue to this fic's eventual plot.

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"You may call for peace as loudly as you wish, but where there is no brotherhood there can in the end be no peace."

-Max Lerner

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One of Sam's earliest happy childhood memories, unsurprisingly, centers around Dean. Sam estimated he was about four years old the first time his big brother taught him the right way to lay a salt line. It was harder than one would think - Dean wanted him to lay the salt perfectly straight and even, with none wasted or out of place. The task was difficult for a four-year-old's limited motor skills, and years later Sam could still recall how the granules stung his skin.

"No, Sammy, you can't just dump it all at once - you need to put it down a little at a time. Like this." Dean took the canister, cupping his small hand to guide the amount of salt pouring from the spout. At eight, Dean's motions looked much more practiced and graceful than Sam's did. The littlest would probably have been more envious if he understood what the point of the whole activity was. Sam wasn't dumb - he'd seen the older members of his family salting the doors and windows, but he didn't know why. And if there was one trait he possessed in spades, it was his curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

"What's the point, Dee?" His habit of shortening the boy's name never failed to rankle him, and Sam took advantage of that fact as often as possible. Dean huffed, his cheeks blowing out.

"It's important stuff! For protection. Dad'd be teaching you, but-" he cut himself off when Sam flinched slightly, both of their gazes darting unbidden to the ragged man on the sofa. Neither missed the hollow rattle in his snore or the empty bottle of Jack Daniels littering the cheap motel tile.

Sam didn't miss Dean's own ragged sigh the boy turned back, handing him the salt canister.

"C'mon, Sammy, try again."

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"Tibi se cormeum totum subjicit,

Quia te contemplans totum deficit.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur;

Sed auditu solo tuto creditur..."

Dean was nine the first time he told Pastor Jim he didn't believe in God. The pastor's look of shock and slight pain passed quickly, giving way to a quiet psuedo understanding.

"You may not believe in him, but God will always believe in you, Dean."

Dean looked away, not happy even with the warm sun streaming through stained-glass windows and his brother singing contently among the pews. The boy didn't hold back his snort, Jim's words sending an echo through him from years past. Angels are watching over you, Dean. But Mom was wrong. If angels watched over him, if God believed in him, Dean and Sam wouldn't be here. Mom wouldn't be dead and Dad wouldn't be gone all the time. Dad wouldn't come back to their cheap motel rooms to drink himself into a stupor while muttering about finding the killer and ending all the evil in the world.

If angels watched over them, Dean wouldn't know how to draw a perfect circle with a straight-edged star inside, he wouldn't know any Latin, and he wouldn't have a handgun with silver bullets tucked into his waistband. If God believed in him, Sam and Dean wouldn't be in Pastor Jim's empty church as the day faded into dusk waiting for Dad to return, blood-spattered and most likely with a bottle in hand.

The silence stretched between them as Dean refused to respond. Jim sighed, rubbing his beard with one hand as he stared down at the boy. Dean didn't like it when anyone stared at him, even Pastor Jim.

"Everyone believes in something, Dean. If not the Father, what do you believe in?" his words were kind and slow, but Dean could imagine the condescension they hid. Still, the man's heavy gaze forced him to consider the words. The boy looked around, hoping the church could provide the answer he'd never had before.

"Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:

ut, te revelata cernens facie,

Visu sim beatus, visu sim beatus,

tuae goriae...tuae gloriae..."

Sam's nose was still stuck in the hymn book a few pews up, but Dean knew he wasn't reading it - he'd memorized Adore Te Devote long ago. The little boy's head bobbed as he swung his legs and his hair seemed to shine in the streaming light of the evening. Sammy looked like a little angel, a cherub, and Dean wished his brother could stay that way forever. In fact, Dean could almost bring himself to pray for it... He looked back at Jim.

"I believe in Sammy."

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Dean failed his baby brother for the first time when he was ten. "I told you not to leave this room, I told you not to let him out of your sight!" Dad's words burned into him sending him into a backward stagger, and Dean knew from experience that they hurt worse than any drunken physical blow. He'd almost gotten Sammy killed for a measly hour of gaming. He was a pointless failure.

Dad had given him an order that Dean disobeyed, and the consequence was Sammy sobbing in the next room after a near brush with death. Protecting Sam from the world was his only task... Dean didn't know what he'd do if he lost Sammy - Sammy was everything.

A week later Dad stood in the doorway of another hotel in another state, staring down at Dean with one pair of hard cold eyes and two words. "Protect Sam."

Dean didn't flinch from the look, didn't respond to the silent accusation hurled his way. He just nodded.

"Yes, sir," dropped from his lips as quickly as a cadet called to order by a drill sergeant, without hesitance or deep thought. The door slammed behind John, but Dean's narrow shoulders stayed knotted as he sank to the dingy couch beside Sammy, whose eyes were fixed resolutely on the television.

"Yes, sir," would become the most oft-repeated words of Dean's life. Neither protest or disobedience would ever be considered again.

Because Dean would do anything to keep his brother safe.

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Sam knows Dad won't be back for Christmas, but he asks anyway. When Dean speaks he can almost believe him, because his brother lies for them both. Sam has to cling to that some nights, when the wind howls outside and Dad has passed out on the bed, as good as leaving Dean and Sam alone again for all the comfort or company he offers. That seems to be most nights when he isn't out...doing God know what.

Sam's mind drifts back to that leather bound stack of paper hidden under his mattress. Dad had left it behind for the first time Sam could remember, and the boy could resist a peek.

It was amazing how accepting an eight-year-old's mind can be when he finds the key to explaining the entirety of his fucked up life. Of course, he doesn't phrase it that way when asking Dean about it. "Are monsters real?"because his big brother would freak out about him knowing that language, completely ignoring the constant spout of cuss words from his own ten-year-old mouth. Dean's frantic denial really does nothing to convince Sam. Why else would they put salt on every door and window? Why did they have to know how to sharpshoot with guns bigger than their little-boy hands, and how to melt silver into bullets they never saw put to use? When Sam pulls out the journal, he can't contain his smile when Dean finally, finally admits the truth. Sometimes he wants Dean to lie, but Sam really needs his brother to tell him the truth this time.

Sam gives him the protection amulet - because he knew the moment Bobby gave it to him it would never make its way into Dad's hands. After all, Dad's not the one here with Sam. Dad's not the one who needs protection when he won't protect himself.

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Dean dreads telling Dad that Sammy knows...about monsters, at least. He expects Dad to explode, to yell at him for letting Sam find out about the fiends they'd worked so hard to protect him from, never mind it was Dad's fault for leaving the journal behind.

But Dad doesn't. He just fixes Dean with an appraising eye, then nods. "Good. It's about time you boys got hunting anyway." Dean's jaw drops and he stares at the man almost as if he's never seen him before. Because that was the last response Dean expected, and definitely the last one he wants.

He's been hunting with Dad before, when Sam could be left at Bobby's or Pastor Jim's for a few short hours while he burned some bones or banished a poltergeist or two. But Sam hadn't known about monsters until two days ago. Dad couldn't possibly mean... Dean's stomach twisted.

"You don't want Sammy...you don't mean for him to hunt, do you?" his words are mangled a bit when they leave his mouth. Dad's brow furrows.

"Yes, Sam is going to hunt. You're both old enough for it now, and Sam is quick on the draw. I've held you both back too long."

The twist in his stomach becomes a lurch when unanticipated rage wells up within him. "Sam's only eight, Dad!" he shrieks.

Dean's never talked back to his Dad before, but it feels damn well justified now. Dean's only job since he was four has been to protect Sam, and what Dad's telling him now goes against all his instincts. He sees what hunting does to people. Hunters like Bobby and Jim and Dad. It wrung them out and took all the life from them until all anyone could see was tiredness and sadness and anger. Dean knew that would happen to him someday - it was what he was born for - but Dean would never let that happen to Sam. He didn't want the innocence to fade away like yesterday's chalk on the sidewalk.

Not to mention Sam could - no, would get hurt eventually. Maybe even killed. And that was not something Dean would ever tolerate. Dad was glaring at him.

"Don't argue with me, Dean. Pack up your things, we're going to Virginia tomorrow."

Dean hisses, slow but loudly, like a strangled snake, and fights to keeps his voice down. "No."

Dean's close enough to see Dad's pupil's dilate in shock. It's the first time in nearly three years that he's disobeyed a direct order from Dad. Then his face assumes the anger that Dean expected when they first spoke - a deep furrow in his brows as Dad's face flushes red. "What did you say?"

He jerks his shoulders straight, trying desperately not to be cowed by his father's dangerous tone. I will not budge. "No, sir. I can't let Sammy go hunting. I- I won't let you destroy him like that! I won't let him become like you-" and suddenly Dean knows he's gone too far, because Dad's face is a mask of blind rage and his fist is clenched and pulled back like he wants to hit him. He stops.

"G-go ahead, hit me!" Dean shouts, daring Dad. Because Dad's hit him before - a drunken fist in the one or two times when Dean's mouth got too far ahead of his brain and John was bleeding inside and out - but never sober. Before this they could both delude themselves with the thought that John's anger at the world and at his sons were just the effect of the alcohol on his breath.

But now Dad's sober and angry and his twelve-year-old son stands defiantly before him with the never ending mantra of hit me, hit me goddammit! playing in his head. Dean knows if Dad hits him now he'll be too wracked with guilt (just like those other two times) later to even mention this argument. Sammy will be safe from their vengeful destructive quest, and all Dean has to pay with is a split lip and black eye. It seems more than a fair trade to him.

Dean waits for the fist to fly. And waits. But it never comes, and after a few tense moments he watches Dad's hands unclench visibly and all the rage seep out of his body until all that's left is a face of cold, unfeeling stone. The man steps back, plucking up the sawed-off from the table before heading to the door. Dean stays frozen, not yet comprehending what happened.

"Be ready to leave by 0700 tomorrow."

John slams the door, leaving Dean and Sam - who secretly watched the entire encounter from the room where they thought him asleep - all alone again.

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It's wrong. It's sick and so horrible but Sam can't look away because it's his fault. The familiar smell of gunpowder on his hands does nothing to comfort him now- it's glaringly overwhelmed by the smell of blood drifting fresh and still hot to his nostrils.

Sam can't drop the handgun - such a small thing compared to the sawed-offs he'd wielded before when Dad took him and Dean out on the routine salt-and-burns. But this is far from a ghost hunt. So far off the that Sam had been told to "stay by the Impala" while Dad and Dean dashed into the woods. This is his first real hunt, and all Sam wanted to do was make Dad and Dean proud of him. So he killed a fucking werewolf when it rushed him from the trees, somehow evading the bullets of his family. Are you proud?

Sam's hands, once so sure and so steady when he had been I'm-going-to-piss-my-pants scared, shook so violently that the boy could finally release the gun. He dropped the firearm like a live cobra, but Sam's eyes were fixed on the body of the werewolf, dead and illuminated by the wan light of the full moon.

"How do you kill a werewolf, Sammy?"

"Silver- silver bullets, right?"

"Got it in one, kiddo."

Only one shot to fell the beast...Dean and Dad would be back at any moment, dashing back to protect little Sam, the boy who'd already saved the day. His brother would check him all over, chiding the eight-year-old meaninglessly just to feel better about having left him alone.

The boy under the moon with the bullet wound in his head couldn't be a year older than Dean.

Sam fell to his knees and puked in the grass.

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Sam hadn't looked up to see Dad's nod of approval when they got back, but he apparently did hear the grunt, because Dean saw him flinch. Dean knew better than to think Dad didn't notice the upchuck on the grass beside Sammy, but the man didn't mention it. He merely turned to salt and burn the body of the werewolf turned back human. Dean felt another rush of hot anger. Dad was ignoring Sam's pain in favor of the hunt, and that did not fly in Dean's book.

Sammy shivered and clung to Dean when he approached, but didn't cry. The boy's breath came in disturbing rasps that made him want to growl.

"Shit," Dean muttered. "C'mon, Sammy." He half dragged, half carried Sam back to the Impala, bundling the little boy into the backseat. It took some convincing to get him to let go of his jacket, Dean managed somehow. He picked up the gun that Sam used. He'd seen the despair in Sam's eyes when he looked at Dean. Sammy wasn't meant to be a killer, Dean was 100 percent sure. His little brother was gentle and kind to others. Sam shouldn't have to see the blood and all the fire and death that came with their family.

A small silver handgun had just destroyed his brother's innocence forever. And for the second time in his life Dean felt a prickle of true animosity for the man who'd put them in the position where Sammy was hurting and it was impossible for Dean to protect him.

Curled in the backseat with Sam, Dean glared at the back of John's head all the way to Arizona.

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Somewhere along the line, John or Dean made a mistake. A horrible, grave mistake. Dean would reflect on it years later and wonder if maybe he'd drawn the warding sigils wrong, or if Dad had done a bad job of covering their tracks. Whatever they'd done, whatever the source of the problem, nothing stopped the nasty from finding them outside the motel on the way back from the burger joint.

Dad was out hunting some revenant two towns away, and had deemed it unnecessary for the two boys to tag along. Sam and Dean were stuck in a dingy motel in Nowhereville, Ohio for three days straight.

Growing boys of ten and fourteen in a sigil-protected motel were no match for a demon with an agenda a patience built of centuries.

When Dean spotted her, she looked like an evening jogger taking a rest on the lonesome bench near the parking lot. A rather long-legged, tan jogger. Suddenly Dean paused in his admiration, his eye catching details only a trained person could see. He caught Sam's shoulder, halting his little brother's quick stride.

Her pastel tank-top and white shorts indicated a regular Arizona jogger, but Dean had never seen a female jog without shoulder-length hair tied - the woman's brown hair was loose and tidy. On top of that her Walkman was empty, the headphones around her neck. That alone was only a little strange in itself.

"What-" Sam asked, trying to shrug off Dean's grip, but winced when Dean dragged Sam behind him. The lady had brushed her hair to the side, attracting Dean's sharp attention to her hands. The under-nails and cuticles were crusted with a red-brown color that he knew all too intimately.

"Ah, shit," the teen spat, his gaze jerking along an empty road. No potential witnesses. Again, shit.

The woman saw them and rose, a beatific smile spreading across her face. It looked marvelously out of place set against hard beetle-black eyes.

Dean sucked in a breath. A fucking demon! They were supposed to be legendary, something very few hunters came across in their lifetimes. She radiated a fatality that left Dean frozen, hyper aware of Sam's sudden deathgrip on his shirt.

"Ah, little brothers Winchester," she said, her voice silken in a manner he might have appreciated more if he weren't so scared shitless. Dad had never talked about what to do when faced with a demon. If he and Sam lived through this he was really going to have to remedy that. If.

"W-what do you want?" he wasn't proud of the way his voice cracked, but hoped it was distracting enough to hide the way his hand crept toward the gun tucked in his jacket pocket.

The demon cocked her head at him with a surprised grin. "You don't know why I'm here?" Dean stayed silent and still. That was enough confirmation for her, apparently. She laughed, voice crackling across his skin. Ugh. If he'd had any doubt about her nature before, the way her laugh raised his hackles was confirmation of the that's-one-evil-bitch­ assumption. She stopped laughing abruptly, almost as if she'd read his mind. "Well truth is I'm not here for you, little Dean Winchester," she smirked. "I'm here for the bitty boy king behind you."

Dean's hand closed around the gun, but he stopped in shock. "Sam?"

The talkative demon smirked again. "Yep. Turns out someone on this plane has sunk his claws into your brother, Deano. Sooo, hand the boy over and we won't have to watch Azazel bring the Earth down around our ears, hmm?" She took a little step toward him and paused. Dean watched, not understanding what she was talking about but knowing what she intended - there was no way in hell he was letting her lay one blood-crusted hand on his brother. A moment later she seemed to lose patience and her strained-cheerful expression darkened to match her cold eyes. "Give me the boy, Dean, and I promise you'll live through it."

The teen finally unfroze, whipping out his gun with the ease of years of practice. "Back off! I'll never give you Sammy. Leave before I shoot you!" Sam made a strange noise behind him, but before Dean could react to it the demon chuckled again.

"Fine," she raised a hand.

Then Dean was flying.

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Sam knew the drill when dealing with the unexpected - stay behind Dean, draw as little attention as possible and let him deal with it. He was trying his best, really, but something nagged at him.

He knew she was a demon; Sam could feel the raw oily power rolling off her. He also knew that the only weapons they had were two pistols loaded with silver bullets and a couple of knives. And knew - but didn't know how to tell Dean how he knew - that none of them would work on this demon. So for a moment he hung back, silent and scared of what was coming.

Then Dean's shirt tore from his grasp and Dean went flying across the concrete.

"Dean!" he shrieked, trying to run after his brother, but the demon was already on him. Sam choked as she lifted him by the throat, his feet dangling several feet above the ground.

"It's just you and me now, Boy King," she purred, grinning as Sam clawed at her hands in his struggle for air. Dean, help me, Dean! Then she jerked as two deafening gunshots rang out. For a moment her grip loosened and Sam dropped like a stone. He lay gasping for breath even as she turned. Dean's face was a bloody mess from scraping the pavement, but he'd kept the gun. Sam gasped, the nagging feeling increasing into a pounding headache.

"Stupid boy! Your little brother will watch you die!" she screamed at him, all composure lost with a glance at her blood-covered front. Sam wanted to warn him to run away, but the sudden pain in his head nearly blinded him. She flung out another hand and Sam heard Dean's anguished scream. Never in his short life had Sam heard Dean scream like that.

It hurt Sam somewhere deep down to hear Dean in such pain. The boy felt like his body was pulsing with the absolute, irrevocable need to save his brother, to spare him from the agony the demon was inflicting on him. Something in him clicked, crashing hard between the need to save Dean and stop her.

Everything snapped into ultra-focus. Sam watched every instant in sharp detail as he dragged the woman off her feet with a flick of his hand, taking in her surprised face with anger. This demon had hurt Dean and she was going to pay with her life, whether his tiny pistol worked or not. Sam was on her in an instant, and in another his hands were wrist-deep in her ribcage. Sam didn't notice the red blooming over him, or the demon's screams. He just wanted to stop her.

Bright light erupted under her skin and there was a crashing sound, then silence. Sam jerked his hands away, letting the mangled corpse fall to the concrete. Her torso was torn and unnamable parts were no longer where they should be. Looking at her, Sam was reminded again of his first kill. He glanced down at his hands dripping crimson, and for an instant confusion filled him. The little boy couldn't quite understand what had happened. Something very important, certainly. He'd never been able to do this before.

Sam looked up when he heard footsteps. Dean. He'd saved Dean? Good.

But then he realized how Dean was looking at him and his previous confusion and anger gave way to fear.

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Dean stared on numbly for a small moment. "Sam?" his voice sounded more an accident than a word.

"Dean, you're okay!" Sam's own voice was trembling, and staring at him longer made the teen feel something peculiar. Like panic, but muted. Sam looked on the edge of a breakdown, himself.

"Your eyes are black," he meant to not say, but it was said and he couldn't reel it back. Because Dad told them that black was the color of demons, and hence, evil.

Sam apparently had the same thought at the same instant.

"Dean, please," Sam's ink-black eyes were full of tears and his small, pale hands suddenly clutched at Dean's shirtfront, staining it red. "Please don't tell Dad - I don't- he'll kill me…Dean?"

Sam's eyes were stained a horrible demon black and blood coated his arms and shirt in an array of gore and other terrifying, unmentionable secretions. If there was a picture of a child monster anywhere, it resembled Sam.

Dean stared at the boy, too shocked and too torn up and too horrified by what he'd just witnessed to speak. Sammy had just ripped a demon apart using apparently similar powers, and Dean didn't know what to say. Fear, anger, and denial passed in in an instant, leaving Dean's mind frozen in a wasteland of emptiness, all his thoughts focused entirely upon his brother - even though a cog in his mental wheel felt thrown out of line and all he could see was the entrails of the woman and the dark smoke as it melted through the cement beneath their feet. Dean was bruised and rotten and mired in terror. He struggled to block it out, to regain a sense of normalcy and balance, but to little avail.

He grabbed at Sam's hand, numb to the blood and other substances that covered it, wrenching the appendage from his shirt and pulling Sam away.

"C'mon, Sam. Gotta get you cleaned up before anyone sees us," Dean's voice came out in a crackle, and he didn't look down to see Sam's eyes fade to green or his brow crinkle under the pain of Dean's cruel brush-off and the matter of his request for a promise unfulfilled.

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Dean handled the knife, spun it in his hand, flipped it. He stood up and sat down again. He paced, trading gazes between the clock that announced the late hour and the form of his slumbering brother on the grubby motel bed.

Dean stared and pondered, but couldn't bring himself to do anything - he was torn between two sides that made up the entirety of his being. One was the side of John Winchester, his father, and the man who'd taught him that all the supernatural boogies in the world were an evil that must be exterminated - the man who'd taught him to never, ever trust a demon. Dad had told him never to turn his back, but to run as fast as he could. Demons were meant to be exorcised. Period.

The other side was Sammy, Samuel Winchester; his little brother to be protected with Dean's very life, to be shielded from the horrors of the world. And his little brother was a demon, one of the Dark beings that Dean remembered being trained his whole life to hunt and exorcise. Demons were supposed to be implicitly evil.

But this was Sammy, the boy who Dean had practically raised, who looked up to him and admired him. Dean wasn't always the sharpest nail in the coffin, but he understood the sacrifice Sam had made today in revealing his nature. Jesus, what was he supposed to do? He'd never heard of anything like this in relation to demon possession. His brother had never been affected by salt, or a muttered "Christo," or holy water or anything else.

Dean sank on Sam's bed, studying the slow rise and fall of the boy's chest and his mussed brown hair. He looked human, and didn't all demons? But this was Sammy. Despite his new knowledge, Dean could sense nothing otherworldly about him. Just his brother, looking small and innocent as always. Ink-black eyes flashed in his memory...the eyes of the black-haired woman mixing with Sam's. Black, the color of death and darkness and shiny beads. Like night, or round shining obsidian stones.

"If you're going to do it, do it."

Dean jerked, his eyes flying to meet Sam's now open green orbs. His eyebrows drew together as he stared at Dean. Sammy looked so small against the bed, wrapped up in a worn blanket and nothing but a t-shirt and boxers. Dean's mouth hung open and he sucked in a breath but could find no words, no way to explain why he was staring at Sammy in the middle of the night with a glittering knife in his fist.

But Sam already knew. "Whatever you're going to do, do it. Throw me out, exorcise me, kill me! Just, stop looking at me like that, Dean. I can't... I can't live knowing my brother hates me."

His words struck Dean hard, feeling like a kick to his gut. What was he thinking, threatening little Sammy like this?! Something inside him still cried "protect Sam!" But in the same instant a voice so remarkably like Dad's rang with harsh words. "Demons are pure evil."

Warrior's instincts had Dean flinching, on the defensive as Sam suddenly launched himself at him. Dean stumbled, thrown back onto the other hotel bed as his brother moved faster than he'd ever seen, pinning the elder to the mattress under his small weight and enormous strength. Sam's hands clenched at his collar.

And his eyes were black. "Does this make it easier, to see what a monster I am? What I th-think I've always been? Please, Dean..."

Warmth drizzled onto Dean's hand and he suddenly realized that his knife was biting into Sam's neck, breaching the surface of his thin skin. Dean lay stunned, his eyes transfixed on the sight of the oozing red blood. I cut the demon.

He felt the tremor atop his chest, realizing a moment later that Sam was shaking, his hands quavering so badly he was almost unable to keep his grip on Dean's collar. I cut my brother.

Dean's eyes widened, and the fourteen year old's gaze snapped to meet Sammy's endless black. The demon boy was crying. I-I cut Sammy…

And for the first time, Dean could still see his ten-year-old brother in that tremulous gaze, with the soft face and pleading, heartbroken expression that Dean gave into every time. This was still his brother - the little brother who'd just revealed a dark part of himself to save Dean's life. Suddenly he couldn't believe he'd even contemplated killing-

Dean yanked the knife away, crying inwardly as Sam flinched, expecting a death blow. He dropped the knife.

Dean surprised himself with the ferocity of his embrace of the younger boy, pulling his brother to his chest, uncaring of the mess or the tears. "I-I'm so sorry, Sam. I didn't mean- I didn't want to hurt you… I won't- I won't, Sammy. I won't tell. I'll protect you, I promise." And for a moment Dean couldn't tell which one of them was crying anymore from utter relief.