"Let the Devil catch you by a single hair and you are his forever."

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SINGED

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The light is fading now, Sam's hand still clutching Dean's jacket and shirt just as Dean's fingers are twisted up in his, clinging, anchoring them to each other. It used to always be like this, just them, just Sam and Dean, Sam and Dean, not even Sam and Dean and Dad, because Dad was never a part of this anchor, not really. There is only Dean in Sam's eyes, in Sam's life, Sam's world. There has only ever been Dean.

And that does not change even after everything else begins to—change—coiling in Sam's gut and outward, molding him anew. Dean has let go and stepped forward before it even really begins, before Dean has the chance to see or feel how Sam is becoming more than Sam now, transforming in the last dull gleams of that fading light.

"Nothing happened," Dean says, staring at the blood smeared floor with barely any cracks in it, barley any sign that something came up, got out, became free, "Why didn't anything happen? Shit," Dean scrubs a hand down his face, "You don't think he came up somewhere el—"

Dean cuts off, the word on his tongue simply stopping mid-completion, as if someone punched him hard in the gut. The real answer is simpler. All Dean did was turn, look back, meet Sam's gaze, and his sentence was gone.

Sam does not understand at first why looking at him has silenced Dean, because the change in him does not feel strange or foreign, to the contrary, it feels like being fixed, like pieces of him were missing and have finally been fit back into place.

He thinks it is his eyes, perhaps, that are causing Dean to look at him with such fear, stock-still save a deep shudder that makes the elder Winchester look so young, and small, and vulnerable. Sam cannot see his own eyes, but he knows they are no longer hazel. They are not black or mottled yellow. They are not white like Lilith's. They are molten fire.

"Sammy…" Dean croaks, leaning back like he wants to run but unable to actually move.

"It's alright, Dean," Sam says, a smile curving one side of his mouth, pleased to hear his voice so resonant, "Everything's alright now." Sam wants to touch him. Dean. He wants to feel the sweat and salt and warmth of Dean's skin, hold him, show him that it really is going to be okay. He has missed his brother so very much.

As soon as Sam takes the meagerest steps closer to Dean, Dean is no longer unable to move. He back-peddles so fast he nearly stumbles over Ruby's body, correcting course then only to almost collide back against Lilith in front of the alter. Then he is moving around the alter and up those small steps, fumbling for his gun.

"Dean," Sam says in what he thinks is a calm, soothing tone, though his voice ricochets throughout the chapel, "Don't be afraid. It's me. It's only me."

Another shudder wracks Dean's body. "You're not Sam," he says, aiming his gun steadily, his hands always steady no matter how afraid he is. He stops moving, just up the steps, and even though his hands aren't shaking, his knees quiver and give him away.

"It's me," Sam assures him, not ceasing his slow progression toward Dean, "It's me. I missed you, Dean. I'm so sorry for everything. For hurting you the way I did. Please. Please, I just want to—"

"Stay away from me!" Dean yells, aim shifting, centering on Sam's forehead.

Sam smiles, because he knows better, has always known better, even when he asked Dean to make that promise so long ago now. "You're not going to shoot me, Dean. You could never shoot me. Come here. Come here, Dean. Put it away." It is not an order—though the sheer breadth of Sam's voice makes everything sound like one now—but merely a plea from one brother to another.

Of course Sam is right that Dean cannot shoot, and the gun begins to lower, not because Dean trusts Sam, but because he is defeated and does not know what to do. His arms drop and the gun slips from his fingers, clattering down the steps.

Dean is defeated. Dean looks defeated. There are tears in his eyes, something so rare that Sam is awed by them, wants to touch them, wants to brush them away before they can fall.

He keeps moving forward, ascends those few steps fluidly, and is soon standing before Dean only inches apart. Dean is shuddering consistently now, but not moving away, not fighting this anymore or railing against Sam. Dean is complacent because it is Sam, and they have been through too much together, fought for far too long.

"Dean," Sam says again, tenderly, the utterance a soft, whispered hiss between them, "I've missed you so much. I love you. You know I do. Please forgive me." Although Dean does not respond, his eyes shimmering wet, he does not say 'no' either, and Sam is grateful for that, grateful. He reaches out to touch Dean finally, his fingers smoothing across Dean's stubbled cheek.

Sam sees the smoke and smells the burning flesh before Dean has even begun screaming.

"Dean," he pulls his hand back, seeing the bloody red left in his wake, "Dean, I'm sorry." He reaches again, grabs Dean's shoulder, and a new scream keens out of his brother, Dean finally fighting, trying to pull away, desperate to get away.

Even knowing what his touch is doing to Dean, the pain it is causing him, Sam cannot let go. He pulls Dean in against him instead, even as Dean is struggling, and sinks slowly to the floor.

"Please, Dean. Please forgive me," Sam speaks into Dean's hair, kissing his temple. Sam's lips sear Dean's skin as surely and painfully as his fingers did, as if all of him is molten fire, not only his eyes. And it continues to burn through Dean even when his hands move and he pulls his lips away.

Holding Dean in his arms, tight against him, there is nothing else for Sam to do, so he trails his fingers across Dean's face, down his neck, burning Dean more and more with every touch. Dean's screams are deafening even though he is quickly losing the ability to fight through all the pain.

The skin on his face, on so much of him, falls away, blood pooling, seeping, tissue peeling and unraveling to the muscle and bone beneath. Dean's clothing is smoking, crackling like ashes, and Dean's hands are clutching at Sam like they had when Lucifer's light was still blinding. But touching Sam at all is making Dean's fingers bleed and sizzle.

There is blood all over Sam, freely flowing from his brother. Soon there is nothing left of Dean's face at all but red and white gore, Dean's eyes huge and unprotected, but untouched, so they stare, proving that Dean is still alive but in so much pain he can no longer move or scream.

Sam has not stopped pleading with Dean to forgive him throughout any of it, unwilling to let Dean go even for a moment. Dean is his and will be his forever. He knows this, believes this. He also knows that he can make this better.

Grabbing Dean's face—what's left of it—Sam's fingers sink in to the bone, forcing Dean's bare eyes to focus despite the pain and shock and horror. "It's okay, Dean. It's okay. I'll make it okay," he promises, and then smiles reassuringly, "You're going back to Hell now."

A bloody gurgle chokes out of Dean's throat, the skin of his neck melted down to tendons.

"Don't be afraid," Sam says, "They won't dare touch you. I'll keep you safe, Dean. I'll find you a new body. A better body. One that won't burn. I'll shape it so it looks like you. Always like you. Dean. My Dean. And then I'll bring you back. And we can be together. That's all I want, Dean. That's all I want."

Sam kisses what were once lips, now only blood and bone and teeth, licking at the tangy taste with his tongue. He feels Dean convulse, resisting, knows Dean is repulsed by this, but that will change. As even the bone melts under Sam's touch, and Dean's shock and pain fade into death, Sam knows that will change. He will make it change.

He picks up the gold pendant he once gave Dean for Christmas, all that remains in a boiling pool of blood after Dean died and returned to Hell, and puts it on, smiling. Dean will love him. Dean will be with him, beside him. And even if all the world burns at his touch, Sam and Dean, together, will remain.

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THE END

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A/N: *twitches* When someone's heart is broken, sometimes something happy can make them feel better again. Despite my wonderful husband's best efforts to thus cheer me up last night, nothing seems to be able to shake me from just how awful a day yesterday was. So I went the other route, fighting pain and suffering with more of the same, or rather with deflecting it onto someone else. Sorry, Dean. You know I love you.

I'm guessing I won't get to that bonus demon smut I promised, because the muse is on hiatus, but I will do my best to write more Incubus soon. *loves you all*

Crimson