Hell in a Meatsuit
Disclaimer: They aren't mine. Obviously. Darn it.
Beta'd: By Muffy and Carocali with special thanks to Phx. Thanks girls, for helping me through the rough spots! I played with this a great deal after they read it, so any remaining errors are mine and mine alone!
Time Line: After 5.03, spoilers abound – actually post 5.04 (which hasn't aired so it only includes spoilers available in the previews). I am actually spoiler free!
Definite AU: I know this isn't how it is going to go down, but if I ran the zoo…
"Storm's coming, and you boys, and your daddy, you are smack in the middle of it."
One minute Sam was sprawled on the bed, desperately researching a way to stop Lucifer from making good on his promise that Sam would be his next vessel, the next, he was catapulted into pitch darkness. Five years of memories that weren't his, yet could be no one else's, slammed into him, buffeting him down to his knees, well, if he had knees. Sam had no clue what had happened, but he seemed to be locked inside himself with – oh, God. Him. Lucifer.
And he was on fire.
He was burning, fire and pain, a constant companion. It had been so long since his existence had been anything else that he couldn't even remember what life without it had been like. The air was redolent of sulfur, the ever-present evil, once dormant, raged without mercy. He screamed as the pain increased in tempo, not even trying to hold back and be strong and defiant like he once was.
There wasn't anything left to give.
And then, as happened on occasion, the fire and pain disappeared leaving him gasping for breath. Twin pinholes of light filtered through the pitch black and he knew what it meant. His brother was nearby. It was the only thing that simultaneously brought relief and fear. He heard a voice, familiar somehow, and he cocked his head to listen.
"Dean, a pleasure to see you," Lucifer said pleasantly enough, in a voice Sam finally recognized as his own.
No! You promised!
'Samuel, look around. See what you are condemning him to? Is your brother to be treated without mercy?'
The light grew, until Sam could see, out past the darkness into the world. The sun was bright, but the world? He sobbed.
"Sammy, I know you're still in there somewhere."
Sam crumpled, his spirit crushing impossibly tighter. Dean sounded so sad and resigned.
"Oh, he's here all right, but you know how it is, Dean? A year for you - a lifetime in Hell."
You said you'd leave Dean alone!
'Do you see, Samuel? He won't kill you; he won't be a vessel for my brother. He still has faith.'
A hand gently stroked his hair. Odd, because he knew it was only in his mind, his real body was being used by Lucifer. It almost felt the way tenderness and compassion used to, but Sam knew better.
'Yes, he does. Poor Dean, don't you think it would be better to let him rest?'
You said you would never lie to me. You promised if I let you in, Dean wouldn't be hurt!
Sam remembered the day it happened. It was the only option he'd had left at his disposal. Cornered by blood-thirsty hunters, pursued relentlessly by Lucifer, unable to find the Colt, Sam had been fresh out of hope. He'd made the only choice he had left, doing his best to protect Dean from paying for his sins, a deal, like every Winchester before him.
A loud sigh that rang of exasperation echoed around him, fingers tightened cruelly in his hair.
'So I did.'
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Dean snarled.
He could see the anger on Dean's face, the hard lines, but something was off, missing. A metallic glint caught his attention, the Colt. Lucifer was wrong, Dean had been busy and he was ready.
Please, Dean. Please, please, please.
'He won't, child.'
"You know what it means, Dean." Lucifer's tone was cloyingly sweet, deceptive, even as the words were the opposite.
Dean's conflicted green eyes came into clear view when Lucifer stepped closer, stopping to look down at him.
"If he's really in there, then you know he'd never want this."
The Colt was lifted into view, held unwaveringly by Dean's steady grip.
'He won't, Samuel. It's a bluff.' Lucifer sounded so sure of himself, and why not? He was strong, he held all the cards.
"You have to kill me, Dean, or I'll kill you."
Sam laughed, it was hoarse, desperate, almost maniacal sounding. He laughed so hard his body laughed in spite of Lucifer's control.
"I'm sorry, Sammy."
I love you too, Dean.
You forgot one thing. He promised me first.
He felt the bullet enter his skull, lightning bolts of electric pain even before he heard the muffled retort of the Colt firing.
Sam sat up, huffing for breath, fingers gripped tightly in the sheets. His eyes darted around the dark motel room. A nightmare, not real. His eyes fell upon Dean in the other bed. Not a nightmare, memories.
Memories of a future that hopefully would never happen, a future he'd been sent to without warning and then back again just as abruptly. Dean had said it was the angels, Sam was pretty sure he hated angels, especially the fallen variety. It was hard to hold onto faith when everything screamed you shouldn't. He'd been Lucifer a scant few hours ago, locked inside his own body with the ultimate evil, the unwilling tyrant of the apocalypse.
Dean sat up, switching on the light. "You okay?"
He tried to answer, but he was having a hard time catching his breath. It had been so long since he'd been able to breathe without sulfur and fire burning his lungs. Remembered fear of oily evil permeating every available space inside him caused him to gasp, his chest heaving ineffectually. They had to stop Lucifer. All the devastation, the loss of life, the sheer inhumanity – they couldn't let it happen.
His eyes widened in panic as the tight bands across his chest constricted harder. Black spots danced in his vision. He felt a warm hand on his back gently rubbing small circles of comfort. God, he was pathetic.
"Breathe, Sammy," Dean said, softly. "You can do it."
He sucked in a deep, raspy breath. Nodding jerkily, he moved one hand from the sheet to Dean's t-shirt. If he was going to be pathetic, he was going for gold. "Sorry. I'm sorry."
"It's okay, you're okay," Dean said, patting his back one more time before moving away slightly, giving him room to breathe. "We're okay."
They were okay. Eight hours earlier Sam had been huddled in his bed, knees drawn up to his chest, trying to work through a confusing and paralyzing slide show of memories. Lucifer dangling Dean's life in front of him, his surrender, the years of torment, Dean finally setting him free and then---simply waking up in bed. Gray t-shirt, flannel sleeping pants, alone in his own skin, and he couldn't quite get his brain to catch up.
Dean had burst through the doors only a few hours after that with a wild tale of traveling to the future and of seeing his future self kill Sam. Sam's whispered thanks of sincere gratitude had not been kindly received. Dean had been livid with the realization that Sam had also been transported to the future, but inside his own body, experiencing everything as Lucifer did.
Then Dean had told him about a phone message.
The phone message. The most colossal 'screw you' the angels had delivered to date. If they'd only realized that avoiding a painful confrontation with each other was keeping them from learning a pivotal truth, things would have been different.
Dean wouldn't have continued to believe Sam had heard his message and hadn't cared enough, or trusted him enough, to pick up the phone and call or wait for him. Sam, for his part, wouldn't have continued to believe Dean thought he was a monster, a freak beyond saving, and he would have known he still had a brother.
He would have had hope.
Sam glanced over at Dean, seeing only his brother, just Dean, for the first time in a long time.
Things were different and they wouldn't end up five years in the future with Dean killing him to rid the world of Lucifer. They had their heads on straight now, they knew where they stood. At each other's backs, Winchesters against the apocalypse. Together, the way it always should have been.
"Yeah," he huffed out finally. "We're okay."
Dean smiled, moving over to his own bed. "Go back to sleep, Sam."
Sam nodded, exhausted past all reason, and laid down. Dean was here, it was okay to go to sleep now.
Dean could feel Sam's eyes on him, watching him. Not that he blamed his brother. Every time he closed his eyes, a part of him believed he'd wake up in the future again, left with only one option to save the world.
He scrubbed a hand down his face. Seeing the future Dean kill Sam, well Lucifer, but Sam right along with him, had been devastating. Learning that one simple, well-played card by the angels had created two entirely different views of what had gone down the night Lucifer was freed, neither of them true, was earth-shattering.
The truth, as always, lay somewhere in the middle, both of them too angry and hurt to see it.
God, he'd missed Sam.
He'd tried lying to himself, he'd tried palling around with Castiel, he'd tried letting Sam go. It hadn't felt right, not ever, but he'd almost convinced himself for awhile. Almost.
The embittered, lonely soldier of a man he was in the future hadn't been a fun realization either. Alone in ways he had never envisioned, the Dean five years from now was angry, resentful, and tragically devoid of any happiness.
Bobby was gone – easy pickings, tortured and murdered while Sam and Dean were off fighting separate battles.
Sam had been the next to fall. Dean didn't know how or when it happened. Sam hadn't been able to talk about it yet. He did know that his brother suffered inside his own Hell while Lucifer had his hand on the wheel.
Castiel, ever an angel, had not only been cast away from heaven, but when he landed, he landed hard. He'd been run over by the sins of humanity truck and turned into a shallow, pot-smoking, womanizer who fought by Dean's side, but didn't fill any spot in his heart.
War was hell, this one literally, and the future was something to be avoided at all costs. The biggest kick to the teeth had been Lucifer playing the phone message for him. I play it for him every once in awhile, when he misses his brother.
Bastard. Using Sam's body wasn't enough for Lucifer, it seemed. Like all creatures intoxicated by power, he wanted complete submission and dominance.
Zachariah had been the final blow. He'd still been reeling from seeing himself kill Sam when that smarmy angel had shown up, hench-angels in tow, as sanctimonious and arrogant as ever.
"This Dean, this is what the world will come to if you continue to rebel. Is it worth it? All these people for you?"
"What's the problem, Chuckles? I obviously killed Lucifer without any help from you guys." He swallowed hard, trying to hide his horror. He'd just watched Sam die, by his own hand.
"At the cost of humanity," Zachariah said, "because you foolishly thought you could do it on your own, and all these people lost their lives. You need us. The world needs us, Dean. Like it or not."
"You're right about one thing, Z. I can't do this on my own."
"I'm glad you see it our way." Zachariah turned to the two angels next to him.
"I didn't say that." The angel turned back towards Dean. "I need Sam."
"Your brother has his own destiny."
"Not the one you want for him!" Dean growled.
Zachariah shook his head. "Not the one you want for him either. He made his choices."
"With a, how did you put it, 'push in the right direction?'" He strode up to the angel, unafraid, bolstered by the fact they needed him to be a vessel for Michael. "I'm not helping you. You put me back where you found me and then my brother and I will stop this together."
"Foolish, after everything that's happened; you think the two of you are somehow stronger than all of this?"
Dean pursed his lips, nodding. "Ah, let me think about it – yep."
"Unbelievable." Zachariah leaned close, his eyes penetrating into Dean's soul. "And you'll just forgive him?"
"Yeah," Dean met the angel's stare unwaveringly, "and I'm hoping he'll forgive me." The angels were once again underestimating them. Of course, he would forgive, and gravitate towards, his brother. He had a lifetime of loving Sam to counterbalance whatever crap they wanted to dish out.
Zachariah's condescending grin fell off his face. "You will help us, Dean. We will convince you." The angel waved his hand and in a flash of light Dean found himself inside the Impala.
Dean smirked, tilting his face upwards. "Not a chance in Heaven!"
After that, he'd called Bobby and high-tailed it to Sam as fast as the Impala would go. When Sam didn't answer the door, he frantically picked the lock. Dean found his brother huddled in the darkened room on his bed.
He should have known how bad it was when Sam didn't acknowledge him past a wild-eyed look, as he strode into the room and straight to the table. He had played the saved message and all his hopes that it had been a trick from Lucifer dashed. There was no way he could ignore Sam's flinch as the message played out exactly as Dean had heard it in the future.
"Son of a bitch!" The phone had hit the wall shattering into a myriad of jagged pieces.
That reminded him. He owed Sammy a new phone.
Dean glanced over at Sam, catching sight of the hazels sliding shut. He couldn't blame his brother for being reluctant to close his eyes. Maybe they should both stop pretending it was going to happen. They could climb into the Impala, get some coffee, start heading for Bobby's to check up on him. It would be better than feigning sleep when all he really wanted to do was talk to Sam, find out what he'd missed.
What little he knew, was bad enough.
Sam had been in the future too, inside his own body, Lucifer's vessel. The muscles in Dean's jaw jumped remembering how Sam had thanked him, with such gratefulness in his voice, for shooting him with the Colt.
"You wanna head for Bobby's now?" he asked, voice gravel-deep from lack of sleep.
Sam immediately opened his eyes, propping his head on one arm. "Yeah, I do."
"First crack at the shower?" he offered.
"Yeah, thanks," Sam said with a smile. He walked a bit unsteadily, as if he didn't quite remember how, gathering toiletries and clothes. Dean could see his hands were shaking. It was probably the shock of resettling back into his unoccupied skin or maybe it was emotional overload. Whatever it was, Dean knew Sam was strong and he'd bounce back, they both would.
A flash of his future self pulling the trigger on the Colt, the bullet tearing into Sam's skull, a bloody, messy end to their brotherhood, caused Dean to swallow hard, blinking back a tear. He glanced over, making sure his brother hadn't noticed.
"Keep the door open a crack," Dean said.
Sam's brow wrinkled in confusion at the request, but he didn't protest, just nodded an affirmative before disappearing into the bathroom.
He was glad Sam hadn't asked. Admitting you were afraid to let your little brother out of your sight for fear he'd simply disappear seemed a bit too pathetic to say out loud.
Dean packed the Impala, took his turn in the shower, and they headed out. He cranked the stereo when Thin Lizzy's classic song, 'The Boys are Back in Town' came on the radio. He smiled, looking over at Sam who returned the smile with one of his own. He belted out the first verse, pleased when Sam tentatively started singing along with him.
He and Sam might be crazy. Two fragile, mortal humans fighting to save the world, but screw the angels, and the demons, Dean knew where he belonged and how this war would be won - standing beside his brother, together, just like they were always meant to be.
The Winchester brothers were back and both heaven and hell had good reason to be afraid. Things were going to get tough from here, as supernatural beings with unheard of power ran amok, tougher than they'd ever been.
But Dean had everything he needed right here.
He had Sam.
Special thanks to all my Supernatural friends, Dean Fans, Sam Fans, and Equal Opportunity Bi-Bros who, like me, want nothing more than to see the boys reunited as brothers. Ya'all know who you are.
Thanks to everyone, for reading.