Title: this is my body (broken for you)

Disclaimer: not my characters

Warnings: spoilers for 6.7

Pairings: either wincest or just a very close brotherly bond, up to you

Rating: PG

Wordcount: 1140

Point of view: third

Notes: written in about twenty minutes after watching "Family Matters"


Sammy is eight years old and crying, blood welling on his palm. Dean knew he was too young for this, but Dad said it was time. Dean had been even younger when Dad taught him how to clean a gun.

But knives aren't guns. Guns can't hurt unless loaded; blades can cut anytime. And now Sammy's bleeding.

Dad's out on a hunt. He'll never know if Sammy wasn't the one who scrubbed and sharpened the blade. Not until Sammy's hands are unsure on it, and then Dean can take the blame. Say he forgot. Say he just wanted Sammy to be a kid for a little longer.

Dad already has one soldier. He doesn't need another. Sammy should get to keep his innocence.

But he said he wanted to help, and Dean told him Dad's order, and Sam insisted on doing his part. On scrubbing the blood off Dad's knife, on sharpening the blade. So Dean showed him how and Sammy tried.

Sammy's hands are so small. They tremble. They slip. The blade slices his palm, so deep, and blood spills out.

Dean's fault. He puts pressure on the wound, washes it out in the sink, bandages it, and then holds both of Sammy's hands in his and promises everything will be alright.

And Sammy, he just looks up at Dean with sweet, trusting eyes, and believes him.

o0o

He's dreaming, of course, but there's a dark hall with a door at the end. He bypasses Azazel and Lilith and Alistair and Ruby to get there, Uriel and Zachariah, and the vampire alpha with hungry eyes.

He rests his palm on the door, and for a moment, blood oozes between his skin and the wood, but then it's gone and he breathes, utterly terrified to go forward. Whatever is on the other side will change things again. And he's so tired.

His palm is bleeding again. Blood dripping on the floor, against the door, and all the monsters of his past are lapping it up, taking their share.

And as he stands there, watching Alistair smirk and Azazel laugh and Ruby smile and Lilith lick his blood of her fingers, as Uriel and Zachariah dip feathers in his blood, as the vampire alpha says told you so, child, he realizes that his blood does not belong to them. He owes them nothing. They have stolen and deceived, demanded and forced, manipulated and maneuvered to get their way.

He turns his back on them, wraps his fingers around the knob, and opens the door.

o0o

Sammy is dead in his arms. That is wrong and unacceptable and will not last.

All Dean has is his soul, so he trades it for Sammy's life.

A year is forever if it means Sammy is alive.

o0o

On the other side of the door is a cage of white-hot light and stardust. An angel, once the brightest of all, stands in the middle and asks, come for what you lost?

Cupped in the angel's hands is a tiny speck of sunshine.

This is a dream. It must be.

The angel smiles down at his hands, at the light held there, and then he looks back up and says, if you can tell me the name, I'll give this to you and you're free to go. I'll cede all claim.

He stares at the speck of sunshine, straining to remember. He knows this. He's sure he knows this.

And the angel waits.

o0o

No matter what else happens, the important thing is this: he stands in front of Sam.

Sam chooses Ruby, Sam kills Lilith, Sam is destined to say yes to Lucifer, Sam has some crazy plan that involves saying yes to Lucifer, Sam shoves Lucifer far enough back to jump into Hell—

Dean promised to let go. To let all deals end here.

Sam's gone, Castiel's left, and Bobby returns home.

Dean goes to Lisa and Ben, and something vital is missing. His baby brother is beyond reach, in Hell with Lucifer, and there is no way for Dean to get him out.

And so Dean keeps his promise, living a life that feels half-alive.

o0o

He stares the light until his eyes water, until the light fills his vision and burns, and there it is. There it always was.

Lucifer, he says, give me back Dean.

And the angel smiles, stepping up to the edge of the cage, to the sizzling bars, and he says, of course, Sam.

Lucifer reaches through the bars, Dean's soul cradled in his palm.

Sam's palm is bleeding as he takes the sunshine from the MorningStar, and Lucifer says, be careful, Sam, don't get burned.

And Sam pulls Dean's soul close, and it's shining and soaks through his skin, warming him, filling him to the brim.

He looks back to Lucifer. I'm the one he'll never burn, Sam says. Then he turns and throws open the door.

o0o

Whatever is wearing Sam's skin is not his brother. Dean has seen every shade of Sam, every variant, but this one is new.

This one lets a vampire turn Dean. This one has no compassion.

Sammy was always compassionate, even just after Jessica, when he lost his patience with helpless civilians. But he still protected them, when it came down to it.

This Sam would probably feed the helpless civilians to the wendigo.

Castiel says Sam has no soul. It was left in Hell with Lucifer.

Crowley says he took Sam's soul when he pulled him from the cage.

The alpha vampire says that Sam would make the perfect weapon, the best monster, because souls always get in the way.

Dean looks into this Sam's eyes after Samuel leaves. Sam's letting him call the shots. Listening to him.

Sam chose him.

And Dean, Dean will stand in front him and find Sammy again.

o0o

He's awake. First time he's slept in over a year. Since blinked his eyes open to see sky over his head, instead of a cage of light and flame and stardust.

He's awake and he's warm and he's listening to Dean breathe, slow and steady, trusting him enough to sleep in the next bed.

And he feels, fuck, he feels so much. It's all back, regret and pain and fear and love love love, Dean, love.

He's awake. He's back.

And when he starts to cry, out of sheer relief, Dean rolls over, wakes instantly, and is kneeling by the bed, saying, "Sammy?"

Sam just pulls him close, burrows in, and whispers, "Yeah."

o0o

Sammy is eight and bleeding, Sammy is twenty-three and dying in Dean's arms, Sammy is lost and broken, and Sammy is back, Sammy is right again, and Dean will never let him go.

Always and forever, come Heaven or Hell, Dean will stand in front of him and Sam will bear his soul.