A/N: So I realize this is crazy belated as a chapter 2 to coda to the end of season 4 when we are now in the middle of season 6, and I doubt I will write anymore of this, but I had the file completed sitting on my computer forever waiting for some sort of end that I decided could stay as it was. This is a direct second part to the first chapter that snaked out of me several months ago. I always intended to go even more wincesty here, but after talking with the ever-lovely deangirl1 and reading through this again, I think I like it where I stopped.
Please review if you read, and thanks for checking this out! I know I've been MIA while working on original work, but I will be back soon with an update on Incubus, the book. As for the Silent Hill fic...oh, I know I NEED to go back to that a YEAR later now, but time will tell.
Dean is gasping in air like he might never breathe again. He can still feel his skin burning, the awful heat and pain as his flesh falls from his bones like wilting leaves and he bleeds and screams against Sam.
He is screaming and screaming and screaming with the horror of it, the awful truth of Sam's promises and perversely pressing lips to what remained of his face. It is all so tangible, so consuming, even as Dean bolts up in bed so fast that he feels nauseous from the momentum.
He is shaking, trembling throughout every inch of his body, certain he must be nothing but chattering bones until he touches and clutches at himself and finds skin.
He hasn't been reduced to charred flesh and pooling blood. He is whole. He is alive. He is safe. In some nameless nondescript motel, he is safe, that familiar setting that he is so used to waking up to.
Dean takes in a few more deeper breaths, afraid that he might be mistaken and any moment the pain will surge up again. It was just a dream, he tells himself, running one of his still trembling hands through sweat-soaked hair. His mind is hazy and he cannot quite remember where he is or what he and Sam were doing before that awful nightmare took him.
He could really use a drink.
"Sam?" Dean calls out. The bed beside his is empty, but the sheets are rumpled from use.
Dean looks around the room and sees that the light in the bathroom is on, shining at him from beneath the door. He doesn't know what time it is. The room has no bedside clock and he has no idea what has become of his watch, so Sam is either taking a piss or already up getting ready for the day.
"Sam!" Dean calls a little louder, tipping his legs over the edge of the bed and trying to gather the will to stand.
He slept on top of the covers again. In his clothes. He can't remember the last time he had a normal night's sleep.
"Sammy, are you deaf!" Dean finally pushes up from the bed, feeling sore and achy all over, which doesn't surprise him considering his dream.
He just wants to see his brother. His brother. Not the monster from his nightmare.
"Sam!" Dean calls one more time before he is pounding on the bathroom door, "Are you in there? I need…I need to see you," he admits somewhat awkwardly, not sure how else to express his urgency, "Are you...are you okay in there?"
There is still no reply, no sense of movement or sound of running water. Dean tries the knob, too frantic to wait, and feels the knot in his stomach grow tighter as the unlocked door pushes open.
The light is on, but there is no one inside. No Sam.
Dean can't focus. He can't remember what motel this is. The last thing he remembers is that damn chapel and burning alive by the altar. He remembers Sam with those molten eyes, Lucifer's eyes, and before that…killing Ruby, being too late to stop Sam, Castiel's concerned face, the Green Room, Zachariah, the truth, the awful, awful truth.
But that can't all be real. If it was real, how could Dean be in a motel now? There has to be something from before, before his nightmare started, some sense of reality. Dean knows he is only half awake, walking in a daze, and that is why the dream feels so real. But it isn't real. It can't be.
Dean crosses to his jacket slung over a chair on the other side of the room. Sam's duffle is sitting right next to his on the floor, Sam's jacket is tossed over the other chair, Sam's laptop is on the damn table. Sam has to be somewhere.
Pulling his cell phone from his jacket pocket, Dean calls Sam's number, but a roar of static blares in his ear before there is even a real dial tone or the sound of ringing. He practically throws the phone away to get rid of that sound, his cell flipping closed and going silent as it tumbles across the carpet.
Something isn't right. About the motel. About anything.
Dean grabs his jacket, slinging it over his shoulders as he moves for the window. He parts the drawn curtains, seeing that it is sunny outside, at least noon if not later, and the Impala is parked pristinely out in the lot with a handful of other lesser vehicles. The scene is almost too calm, especially with not a single soul in sight on the sidewalks or streets.
If Dean can't call Sam then he will have to find him.
Dean opens the motel door without much thought, ready to walk out into the sunshine, but stops dead before he can even cross the threshold.
There is no sun. No Impala. No motel parking lot. Only barren land that is not land at all but flesh stretching as far as Dean can see. Everything is made up of blood and bone with a choking stench of human decay that hangs so heavy in the air Dean can barely breathe.
He is in Hell.
He is back in Hell.
Dean is certain he is imagining it. Those images used to come back to him so often. Even a glance at Sam or Bobby or Cas and Dean would see blood dripping down their faces before he came back to himself. But he always came back to himself.
Now he stands shaking in the doorway of a motel that does not exist, clenching his eyes shut and opening them again in hopes that the vision of Hell will go away, that it is all just in his head, another part of the dream haunting him into the waking world.
But it doesn't-go away. The horrors of Hell are bare before him. The racks, the landscape like the insides of rotting bodies, and the demons doing their work with such careful glee. They do not bother to hide in the shadows, though the shadows are many. They torture and taunt and humiliate for everyone to see.
There is a demon only yards from Dean's not-there doorway, looking terrible the way demons truly look. Human but not. Flesh but not. In pieces and yet somehow put back together to be whole, with the same black eyes they would have topside and snarls on their horrible faces.
The demon stops what it is doing to the poor though no doubt deserving soul it has been shredding on its rack, and turns slowly to stare at Dean.
It might have been a man once, though it was hard to tell in Hell. It was hard for Dean to remember that he was a man or even human when he had been the one in place of that demon, doing the same terrible work.
The demon smiles at him, almost familiar, and Dean wonders if it is someone, something he once knew. It leaves the soul on its rack and begins a slow pace toward Dean, beckoning to him with a gnarled hand and a dull jagged knife.
Dean is shaking and shaking again, maybe even screaming though he is too overwhelmed with fear to really know.
He is in Hell.
He is back in Hell.
Just as Sam promised.
"No, no, no, no, no..."
Dean starts a sudden backpedal into the room, leaving the door open and the strange unreal portal to Hell still visible. He stumbles in his haste, landing hard on the carpet, but does not stop, scrambling away until he is wedged between the bed that should have been Sam's and the wall. He can barely hold his knees to his chest with how much he is shaking.
He knows hiding will not save him, remembering all the times he was let go, allowed to run, to hide, just so he could be caught again after having the fleeting hope of reprieve from the pain. But even though he knows that demon is coming for him, he cannot face it, he cannot look up and watch Hell come for him again, so he huddles and hides, pressing his face into his thighs, chanting...
"It's not real, it's not real, it's not real..."
Dean gasps at the sound of his name from a familiar voice. Sam's voice somewhere nearby. There were voices sometimes, he remembers, tricks to make him think he was rescued when it was nothing but demons with parlor tricks.
"Dean, it's okay. It's okay," Sam's voice says again, so like Sam, so comforting and concerned, not horribly resonant with power the way it had been as Lucifer.
The voice is close to Dean now, so close.
Dean doesn't want to look up, doesn't want it to be a trick.
A hand on Dean's shoulder, strong, solid, and not at all burning jars Dean out of his tightly balled seclusion. He gasps again, his head snapping up as his blurred wet eyes land on Sam. His Sam, worried, and hazel-eyed, and crouched right there in the small space between bed and wall just like Dean.
"It's okay," Sam says again, "You're okay. Did something happen? You don't look hurt. Let me see you." He is demanding and motherly at the same time, grabbing Dean's arms and trying to get him to stand with just the right amount of firm authority that Dean wants to listen to him.
"I'm not...hurt, I was just..." Dean shakes his head, hating that his voice is trembling like his body and his cheeks are wet. He lets Sam unfold him, pull him to his feet, and feels a rush of relief fill his body just being in Sam's presence. "I'm okay, Sammy, I...think it was a nightmare, and I just...I couldn't wake up. But it's not real, right?" he clutches at Sam's shirts more tightly than he normally would, those familiar layered shirts, "You're real, Sammy, right? I'm not back there. I'm not-"
"In Hell? Of course you're in Hell, Dean. I told you that's where you would go."
Dean's throat tightens and the air catches in his lungs like smoke.
He had to have heard Sam wrong.
"It's okay, Dean," Sam says with a tender smile that looks somehow off, "They won't dare touch you. I told you that too, remember? If one of them did I would destroy them on the spot. I'll keep them all away, I promise." He gestures to the door that is still open, and Dean can see Hell, not a vision or a dream, but real.
That approaching demon is closer than it had been before, but no longer smiling. It slinks away like a wounded dog, further and further from the door.
"You see," Sam smiles wider, "They're at my command, Dean. I will never let them hurt you. You can be safe here until I find you a new body."
Dean is too stunned to move, too stunned to even let go of Sam's shirts as he clutches tighter and stares wide-eyed at his not-brother.
It isn't his brother. It's Lucifer. It's the Devil in his brother's skin.
"No..." Dean says, feeling fresh tears streak down his face along the tracks already made, "No, Sammy...no."
Finally, Dean is able to let go of Sam's shirts, but he is trapped and can only move back into the corner by the bed. He flattens himself there, still shaking so hard he is exhausted from the effort.
Cas, Ruby's death, Lilith's death, Lucifer rising quietly in Sam instead of bursting forth the way Dean had envisioned, it was all real. Dean melting beneath his brother's touch was real. Being in Hell right that moment was fucking real!
"No, no, no..." Dean chants again, wanting to slide down the wall, but Sam stops him. Sam places both of his hands on Dean's shoulders and forces him to stay up.
"D-Don't...touch me," Dean tries to shrug Sam off, knowing that the only reason Sam's touch no longer burns is because Dean is already dead, in a body he imagines of his soul but that doesn't really exist. The motel doesn't exist either. Nothing does. Only Hell.
"Dean, it's okay," Sam says, "It'll be okay. I promise."
"No! Don't fucking touch me!" Dean yells, pushing Sam away as hard as he can with the flat of both palms to Sam's chest.
His brother, not-brother, stumbles back, looking hurt, wounded that Dean would push him away.
Dean shakes his head. "You're not Sam. You're not my brother. Stop taking his fucking form! You're not him! You're not him..." Dean wants to finish sliding to the floor, but he doesn't. He crawls over the bed, watching Sam the entire time as he moves quickly to free himself from the corner. But that also brings him closer to the door leading out to the true form of Hell, and it is difficult for Dean not to fear that too.
"They won't touch you, Dean, you'll see," Sam says, "Don't look out there. You can stay here. I've made it safe for you here." Sam waves a hand at the door and it slams shut, closing out Hell again at which Dean cannot help but sigh relief, however brief a sensation. "I'm not going to hurt you, Dean. I would never hurt you."
The lie of that fills Dean with fury and it is enough to dull some of his paralyzing fear. "Never hurt me?" he repeats venomously, "You killed me! You saw what your touch was doing to me and you touched me more! You burned me into nothing! You sent me to Hell!" He screams the words, with only the bed between them. He wants to hit Sam, over and over again, until he knocks the Devil out of him.
It hurts more that the eyes looking back at him are Sam's eyes, hazel and down-turned and so distraught with apparent shame. "Dean," he says mournfully, "I...I'm so sorry. It was too late. Once I touched you that first time it was already too late. Even that one touch would have killed you, but it would have been slow and…and horrible. I just wanted it over quickly for you. If I had known what my touch would do, I...Dean please," he moves forward, which shouldn't be possible because the bed is there, but it isn't there, because it isn't real, and Sam is able to walk right through it.
"Don't," Dean manages, though it is all he can say. When he backs up his thighs hit the edge of the other bed, and he cannot figure out how to escape.
"Please, Dean," Sam says again, moving through the bed until he is inches from Dean, "I don't want anything from you. I'm not asking anything of you. This is all I can do to make up for the things I've done. Please, let me do this. Let me make it up to you, Dean. You can stay here, you'll be safe, you can have whatever you want. And when I find a body that won't burn I'll bring you back, just as I promised."
It is all too terrible to believe, to listen to. Dean flinches when Sam reaches out close enough now to touch him, and Sam does, he touches Dean's cheek tenderly the way he had tried in the church. Dean doesn't burn. Because there is nothing left of him.
He shakes his head at Sam, but does not move further away or knock Sam's hand aside. He craves the touch as much as Sam seems to crave giving it, because the assurance that this is somehow still Sam is the only thing keeping Dean sane and yet how can he believe any of what Sam…Lucifer says.
He focuses on what he can understand, on what he knows is wrong. "And how are you going to get me a body Sam? Find some poor soul like Jimmy who could bear the touch of an angel, and send them to Hell for me? You know I'd never allow that."
"No, Dean, of course not," Sam says, his hand lowering and his brow furrowing with disappointment that Dean would even think such a thing, "I'll find an empty body. Or like Ruby, a coma victim about to pass, and then it will be yours, only yours. I can change its shape, you'll see, and it will be your own body but stronger. Don't you want that, Dean? So we can be together?" His eyes are large and puppy like, Sam like, and Dean is not sure he knows the difference between what is real and what isn't.
"What…what if that isn't where it ends, Sam?" he says, "What about other people? Can you avoid ever touching someone else? What kind of life do you want for us? What does Lucifer want? What if-?"
"Dean," Sam says, and he is smiling again, reaching up with both hands to grip Dean's arms and squeeze reassuringly, "It's just me. Not Lucifer. Not…not really. At least not how you're thinking. I'm in control. I have all this…power, but it's just me, I swear."
Dean is already shaking his head before Sam has finished speaking. "You're not you. Not only you. This isn't like you, Sam. Overprotective of me, sure, even when I'm the one who's supposed to be protecting you, but not…not…whatever this is," he gestures at Sam meekly, at the room, his personal little corner of Hell, "You can't expect me to believe that it's all just you, and that you want nothing more than to have me up there with you alive and we'll just go on like nothing's changed. Everything has changed, Sam. How can this be something good? We spent a year trying to prevent this!"
Sam is not quite as quick with a comeback this time. His hands drop away from Dean, his face twisted with emotion that seems entirely built on anguish, not anger. He looks as though he is honestly thinking about what Dean is saying, questioning his own words and motives for the first time. His mouth moves as if he is going to speak, but no words leave him.
He sits suddenly on the end of the bed he had walked through and it is solid beneath him.
"I don't feel different," Sam says to the hands in his lap, "I mean, I know I'm different, but…I still feel like me. I don't think I'm being manipulated. This is what I want. What I want. Am I not…me…?" His final words come out small, boyish, and Dean is moved with pity for what is still his brother.
Part of this person before him is still Sam, Dean just isn't sure how much, and that scares him. "Sammy…" he says, sitting down beside his brother with deliberate caution. He is grateful that the door is closed since he would be facing Hell directly if it had remained open. "I'm scared out of my mind here, okay? Mostly of you."
Sam looks over at Dean from his slouched position. His eyes are wet. And still hazel.
"You can look at me with those eyes," Dean says, "But I remember what they looked like in the church, what you did to me, and you weren't…remorseful. Not the way my Sammy would be. I don't know what to believe. I think you're in there, but it's not just you. There's something else, Sammy, something that's not right, and it's never gonna be normal like this. You burned me into nothing just by touching me."
"Dean," Sam cringes, and tries to reach for Dean as he has so many times, only this time he lets his hand drop back to his lap, "I…I'm so sorry. I never meant to do that to you. Maybe…I just need to learn to control it. If I could control this…power, then…then we could…" Sam trails as he looks back into Dean's eyes.
Dean knows he looks skeptical. He is skeptical. There is some evil thing inside his brother. And it has brought them both to Hell.
Something seems to break in Sam, some more solid part of him that is still him, and his eyes fill with moisture. Dean isn't even entirely sure if Sam is physically here in Hell with him, body and spirit, or if this is just some projection he is capable of, but the mere image of his brother in tears still undoes Dean as if Sam was a little boy again.
"Sammy…" Dean reaches out, as Sam had reached for him.
"I…I'm so sorry, Dean," Sam says again, and he is falling into Dean, letting his body become dead weight that crashes and clings and seeks safety in Dean's arms.
Being able to hold Sam after everything is just so…needed. After their fight before Sam left to go with Ruby for the last time, when Sam had all but killed Dean and he was still just Sam then, being actually killed by his brother later so horribly and painfully only to wake up in Hell…Dean just wants the comfort of the embrace to erase it all, as much as Sam seems to want that too.
Dean's arms wind around Sam's larger body with Sam's face pressing into Dean's shoulder, and they hold each other. It is like so many other times in their lives when they didn't embrace but wanted to, so beaten neither could stand it, in some horrible little motel, with monsters on their doorstep, only this is so much worse because they are in Hell, Sam is the Devil, and Dean is dead.
There is no normal for them after this. Not even their rare brand of normal.
"Can we just…" Sam practically sobs, wet against the skin of Dean's neck. He doesn't finish what he wants but starts to fall back on the bed, taking Dean with him.
Dean understands, remembers long nights without Dad when they were just kids and so alone it hurt to breathe in the same room with only each other. Sam would crawl into Dean's bed without asking or saying anything, and Dean would let him, Dean would pull him in close, and somehow they would sleep, wrapped up in each other.
Dean helps Sam lie back, helps them both scoot back on the bed and lie down, side by side curled into each other and barely fitting in the tiny single. He wonders if Sam could make the bed larger just by willing it, but doesn't ask. He wants the almost uncomfortable closeness. He wants Sam pressed against him because it feels like Sam, not Lucifer with some agenda yet unknown.
"It's okay, Sammy. It'll be okay…somehow," he says, and he wants to believe that, even though he knows it is impossible, "Maybe…maybe we can take it one step at a time, keep ahead of what Lucifer might try to do, try to make you do, and it can be okay. Just us, right? Just us…"
"Yeah…" Sam sniffles, barely audible, "Just us."
See you next ficcie!