CATEGORY: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Horror
WORD COUNT: 2321
DISCLAIMER: Supernatural, its characters and situations, are copyright Eric Kripke and Warner Bros. Entertainment (The CW). No infringement on, or challenge to, their status is intended. This piece of fiction was written strictly for the entertainment of other fans, and I am gaining no form of compensation for it.
MORE DISCLAIMERS: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual places and locations, is purely coincidental.
Criticism and feedback of all kinds is welcome. Anonymous comments welcomed and encouraged, too. :)
WARNINGS: minor language, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide
NOTE: from redrum669's prompt on sharp_teeth: Dean left without a word, just to see if someone cared. He hoped someone would give him a reason not to use the gun and the bullet he brought but slowly but surely the battery on his phone is dying and he still hasn't gotten a single call from anybody.
SUMMARY: Even demons need a pick-me-up every now and then. It's just his luck that those Winchester boys taste so damn good.
He took his job seriously, and he took great pride in his work. Collecting the souls of the Damned from Earth and dragging them down to Hell was a great responsibility, one that he was honored to have been given. There'd never been a shortage of humans willing to throw their souls away, and lately, business had been booming. He'd spent more time on Earth in the past year than he'd spent in centuries.
It wasn't that he wasn't grateful for the overtime, but he was killing for a vacation. He needed a diversion, something to entertain himself, if only for a day.
One of the benefits of his job was that he could feed off of those Damned who weren't quite ready to be tossed into the Pit just yet. Despair had an amazing natural flavor, but through the millennia he'd learned how to season it to absolute perfection. A sprinkle of hopelessness, a dash of grief, mixed together with a generous helping of loneliness and self-loathing, and the taste became so sweet that he couldn't resist it.
And these two, these brothers, were a feast. He'd feed well before the night was out.
He didn't remember where he'd been before, and he couldn't summon the energy to care. He didn't even really know where he was, but that didn't matter either. Just another motel room, no different from the last or the thousand that had come before. The same stiff shag carpet, same heavy drapes, velour bedspreads and smoke-covered wallpaper that he saw in every town in every state he'd ever been in. There'd only been two things that had ever made him think "home," and neither of them were there.
He'd lost one of them six months earlier; the other he'd walked out on four days ago.
He just needed to know that someone cared. He'd thought that someone would look for him, that someone would care enough to at least call and ask where he was. But there'd been nothing. Not a word, not a text message, not a phone call, not a fist pounding on the door – nothing.
So he sat on the floor, with his back pressed into the corner and his knees pulled up in front of him, staring at the blank wall across from him.
The gun was heavy in his right hand, the bullet lighter in his left. Both of them were exactly where they'd been for hours, ever since he'd looked down at his phone and realized that the charge was almost gone. His only possible connection to the world he was leaving behind was dying, dying just as surely as he soon would.
And no one would care. No one would notice. No one would miss him, mourn him.
The phone beeped its last warning, and he slid the bullet into the magazine.
Sam pulled against the invisible force that pinned him to the wall across the room from his brother. He'd been stuck there for hours, watching Dean slip further and further away, unable to break through whatever had taken control of him. He'd fought with every ounce of strength he had, screamed until his throat was raw, cried and begged and cursed and threatened, but nothing was working. Dean was lifting the gun in his trembling hand, and all Sam could do was watch.
He'd heard Dean muttering to himself – about their father, about his promise to him, about the days that had passed since they'd been in that room. It was the last that convinced Sam that whatever Dean was seeing, it wasn't the abandoned warehouse they'd been hunting the demon in, the stark concrete walls and floor of the room they'd been attacked in. Sam still hadn't seen whatever it was, but it could only be the demon that they'd been tracking.
Sam knew what it was, knew who it was, knew its damn name, but didn't know if it would matter.
If Dean pulled that trigger, nothing would matter.
"Find me, Sammy," Dean whispered. "Please find me."
"I'm right here," he answered, even though he knew it was futile. "God, Dean, I'm right here. Look at me. Hear me. Please."
The taste was almost too rich.
The despair in the room was so thick that it dripped from the walls, coated the floor, clung to their skin like clothing. Two brothers who would do anything for each other – the youngest watching, helpless, as his older brother gave up on life completely, and the oldest sinking even deeper into the Pit with every beat of his heart, convinced that his little brother didn't care if he lived or died.
He licked his lips and closed his eyes in pure ecstasy.
It had been so easy to lead them here, so easy to set this tableau in motion. The oldest was so close to the edge, even without his help, that it hadn't taken more than a slight push to send him over. And the younger, so full of anger that turned so quickly to fear when he realized there was nothing he could do to stop his brother's fall.
He hadn't fed this well in centuries.
It was just too much. All of it. It was too heavy. He'd been struggling to carry it for twenty-three years, and he just couldn't do it anymore. His father's last words had been the sledgehammer that shattered Dean's soul. He'd always thought he was doing good, that he was saving people from evil, but when it really, really mattered, he couldn't save anyone.
He hadn't saved John. All he'd done was lay there in that hospital bed, weak and crying from fear, while his father walked out and traded himself for his son. No, he hadn't saved John; he'd condemned his father's soul to burning in Hell for all eternity.
How could he save Sam when everything he touched turned to shit? Every decision he made was wrong, every person he met betrayed him, everything he'd ever believed was a lie. He'd been sinking so far for so long that he didn't think he could reach the surface again if he tried, and he couldn't convince himself that it was worth the fight.
How could he save Sam if he couldn't save himself?
He was too weak, too worthless, too weary to keep fighting. He couldn't even stand up straight anymore. The burden that had been put on his shoulders was more than he could carry. He'd thought that maybe Sam could help him, could hold him up for just a little bit longer, but he'd been wrong about that.
He'd always known that Sam was better off without him, and now it looked like Sam knew that, too.
The phone went completely dark, and he closed his eyes as he pressed the barrel against his temple.
"Don't you do it!" Sam screamed. "God damn it, Dean, don't you do it! Don't you leave me!"
Tears of fear and frustration streamed down his face, and he didn't even care. He was going to watch his brother kill himself, watch him put a bullet through his own brain, and he couldn't stop it. No matter how hard he cried, no matter how loud he screamed, Dean couldn't hear him. He had to break through the barrier that the demon had erected around his brother, had to find some way to cross it.
"Let him go!" he screamed at the demon. He had yet to see it actually manifest, but he knew it was there. He could feel it in his mind, pawing at his emotions like a hungry tiger.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on the feeling, on the sensation of the demon touching his mind. He didn't pull back from the evil he felt there; if anything, he embraced it. He could use it – he knew he could. "I will fucking kill you! I swear it!"
"You can try," the disembodied voice answered.
Sam opened his eyes and saw the cellphone that sat on the floor at Dean's knee. Dean had been staring at that phone for hours, mumbling about wanting someone to call, but Sam had heard it beeping out a warning about the battery for over an hour, and he could see that the screen had gone completely dark.
It didn't matter, though. It couldn't. Sam knew exactly what he needed to do, and he knew exactly how to do it.
He never engaged his prey, but this was just too delicious. Every word out of his mouth only served to deepen the youngest's anger and desperation, and even though he'd always been taught not to play with his food, in this case he found he just couldn't resist.
"Can you feel it?" he asked. "Can you feel your brother losing what little faith he has left? Can you feel him slipping away from you?"
"Leave him alone!"
"His entire life is built on protecting those he loves. How exactly is he meant to deal with knowing that he has killed or will kill them all? That is quite a burden for anyone to bear, but for one so young and so convinced of his own unworthiness, it is going to prove impossible."
"Do you know how close he already was when he got here? How many times he has thought about this, even without my help? How many times he has imagined himself lifting that gun, or dragging that knife up his arm, or swallowing all those pills you keep in your bag?"
There was no answer, and he smiled.
"You have never known just how little he values himself, have you? You have never seen it in his eyes, even though it is there, clear as the noonday sun. You are his world, you are his life, you are the reason he keeps fighting when he would have given up. You have such power, you could save him from anything. And now, in his mind, you have thrown him away."
He felt it building from nowhere, filling the emptiness in the room with its rawness, and he stepped back. Electricity shimmered up and down his arms as the emotions he was sending out toward the older brother were intercepted and mutated. Instead of the pain, hopelessness and despair that had been flowing across the room, waves of hope and faith and love rippled. He knew in that moment that he'd been right about the youngest having power.
He just hadn't understood how much.
His finger was starting to tighten on the trigger when he heard it.
It was ringing. After waiting for so long, after all hope had fled, it was ringing.
He looked down at the display screen of a cellphone he'd thought long-dead. His hand shook more than it had before, but he didn't lower the gun as he whispered the name he saw there.
Sam was off the wall and running to Dean's side before he fully realized what he'd done. He fell to his knees, wrapped his hand around Dean's, and pulled the gun away. He'd expected a struggle, but there wasn't one. The second Dean felt Sam's hand touch his, he simply let go.
Dean collapsed into his arms, shaking from emotion and exhaustion, and Sam wrapped his arms around him as tightly as he dared.
"It's okay," he said. "I'm here. I've got you."
"Found me," Dean whispered brokenly. "Sammy... came for me..."
"Always," Sam swore. "I'll always come for you."
"So will I."
Sam glared up at the shadow that had manifested in the middle of the room, pulling Dean more tightly against him and shifting slightly to shield him from it.
"You can't take him now," Sam spat. "He has to be damned by his own hand, or you have no dominion."
"Are you so sure of that?"
"I know you, Mephistopheles," Sam growled.
"I am impressed," the demon said, and Sam thought he really did hear admiration in its voice. "You are correct. He must damn himself to Hell, and you have stopped him from doing that. I cannot collect him now." The shadow started to fade, taking the voice with it. "But I will one day. I promise you that."
And then it was gone.
Sam was acutely aware of the way Dean was trembling against him, unaware of everything that had transpired and possibly still seeing whatever delusion Mephistopheles had trapped him in. He tightened his arms around his brother again, buried his face in his hair, and kissed the top of his head.
"It's over, Dean," he said. "It's gonna be okay."
"What... what happened? Sam, what'd I... what'd I do?" Dean stiffened in his arms and pushed away. His eyes were impossibly wide, and they darted around the room frantically, stopping only when they fell on the gun that Sam still held in his hand. "What did I do?" he cried out.
"Nothing. You didn't do anything." Sam leaned down and pressed the palm of his hand against his brother's face, forcing him to look him in the eye. "You didn't do anything," he repeated. "It wasn't you."
"What the hell... what was that?"
"It doesn't matter what it was," Sam answered. He pulled Dean back into his arms and held him tight against his chest. He was both shocked and comforted by the fact that Dean, instead of pulling away again, gripped his arm tightly in response. "It's gone, and it's not coming back. Never."
Mephistopheles would never hold dominion over his brother, because there was no way in hell that Dean would ever sell himself into Damnation. And even if if was too much, even if Dean did someday collapse under the pressure, Sam would be there to hold him up. When it mattered, when it really mattered, Sam would always be there to stop him.