Dean gets drunk the first night he shares a motel room with Sam.
He does it on purpose too, not like all the times over the past few months when he went to the bar, planning to have a couple beers and ending the night passed out on the steps of Lisa's back porch. No, this is like all the nights before those, the nights that began with him staring down a bottle of dark liquid like it's the pit of hell, and end with him feeling as closed to swallowed as he can get.
It's for the same damn reason, too. It's because of Sam.
And that pretty much sums of his life. If someone wrote his biography (for real, not that sappy girly crap Chuck churns out) it would probably be titled Dean Winchester: Because of Sam.
For the past year he's been getting shitfaced because Sam was dead, Sam was lost, Sam was gone. Now he's doing it because Sam's alive, Sam is back, and Dean is no where near sure that Sam is actually here.
It's the little things more than the big things. Sure, Sam is willing to use babies as bait and hang out with creepily resurrected family members last seen possessed by the demon that screwed over most their lives, and oh, yeah, run around hunting things for a fucking year before feeling the need to stop by and tell Dean hello. But Sam went to Hell, and he went with the freaken devil inside him, and Dean gets that is going to seriously mess someone up.
But the way Sam no longer folds his clothes before putting them in his duffel, or the way he smiles at the waitress in the diner like he wants to fuck her or eat her or maybe both (and it's anyone's guess as to in what order), or the way his eyes don't crinkle anymore when he smiles— those are the things that are really starting to freak Dean out.
So he gets wasted, quickly and brutally like he's been taught to do most of the important things in life. Sam doesn't say anything, just sits at the table staring at some massive old tome like he's communing with it. And hey, for all Dean knows, maybe he is. He cranks the volume on the TV to see if Sam will notice, and even settles on some stupid nature documentary thing for a full minute, but it's in vain. Sam doesn't look up from his book or hardly even blink, eyes flicking back and forth so fast it almost looks like he's having a seizure.
Eventually Dean gives up and turns the TV off, thinking back to the desolate shack where Samuel and all those other douches were holed up, and wondering when was the last time Sam watched television.
The room is blurry and spinning by the time the bottle slips from Dean's hand. It hits the floor at the same time his head tilts back and hits the headboard, and the synchronization strikes him as particularly profound. He looks over to see if Sam has noticed, but Sam still hasn't moved.
"Fuck, Sammy," Dean says, and there is a tiny rational part of his brain that knows he shouldn't be saying this out loud, but the much larger part that's happily soaked in alcohol outweighs it. "What they'd teach you in Hell? How to be an asshole?"
Sam looks over at him at last, and Dean almost wishes he didn't. His eyes are blank and empty, like the patches of the sky where there aren't any stars.
"You spilled," is all Sam says, and if Dean's limbs didn't currently weigh several pounds each he might go over there and punch him.
"So what?" In Dean's mind, the words aren't this angry, but somewhere along the way to his mouth they rot and get bitter like fruit left out in the rain. "It's not like you care. I've seen the way you've been living. Did climbing out of the pit make you forget you're supposed to be an obsessive compulsive neat freak?"
"No," Sam answers, and Dean jumps because Sam is suddenly sitting on the opposite bed. And maybe Dean shut his eyes for a few minutes because his eyelids feel as heavy as his limbs, or maybe Sam knows how to teleport now. Dean is two seconds away from asking him when Sam says, "I remember everything."
"What?" There's a stain on the wall behind Sam that's moving and shifting, and if Dean squints hard enough he can tell it's flames. He stops squinting though, because it's making his head pound.
"I remember everything." Sam is buzzing now, a low and dangerous sound like a hoard of bees about to attack. "I just can't feel it."
"You're not making any sense, Sammy." Dean stretches out his hand, trying to touch his brother, maybe poke him and say do you feel that, bitch? but the gap between the two beds has grown by several feet and he can't reach. His hand remains suspended in the air, supported by the energy building around Sam.
"You know, there was a time when I woke up every day feeling a little less human." Sam's voice is muffled like it comes from underwater. Dean sits up to get a better look at him and sees liquid running off the ends of Sam's hair and out from underneath his fingernails. The room is too dark for Dean to be able to tell if it's water or blood. "I hated that feeling more than anything. But Hell took it away."
"Hell made you feel human?" Dean knows he isn't following, knows there's some big piece of the puzzle he's missing that makes the whole damn thing make sense. He looks down at the floor and finds it has become glass, jagged cracks splitting it into a dozen jagged parts. The only reflection he sees is his own.
"Hell made me feel nothing." The cracks in the glass are filling with liquid, Dean's spilt alcohol and whatever it is that's pouring off Sam. They overflow suddenly, spitting and burbling like mud near a hot spring. Dean returns his gaze to Sam who stares back, mouth now leaking the same vicious substance as the floor.
"I feel nothing, Dean," Sam says, like this is what's important. "I remember everything. I remember Dad and Jess and you and everything we did before I went to Hell, and everything I did while I was there but… I don't feel anything about it anymore.
"You want to know the ironic thing?" Dean is laying down on his bed again, and Sam is sitting over him, clean and dry now and looking far older than he has any right to. The book he was reading from before is open on his lap, the words reflected up onto his face like a thousand tiny scars. "I think I should be sad about it, but I can't even feel that."
Like a film that's being run through a projector all wrong, Dean sees several images of Sam. There's the tiny baby Sam, big eyes and little hands always reaching for something, then the adult Sam, champion of the weak, the crier and the hugger and the let-me-hand-you-a-tissue-and-let-you-drown-in-the-irresistibility-of-my-puppy-dog-eyes-er. And then there's this Sam, the cold creature with the empty eyes and something worse than blood on his hands.
"So when you look at me?" Dean asks, but he isn't looking at Sam, he's looking at the ceiling. It's pitch black and heaving, and Dean wonders if it's the ceiling at all, or if he's actually looking at the night sky. It wouldn't be at all surprised if he's seeing straight into Heaven, broken and ugly. "You just… feel nothing?"
"You're different." Sam shifts, and the reflection of the ink from his book runs off his face and drips onto the bedspread. Dean flinches when the cold wetness begins to seep into his side. "When I look at you…There's something there, just out of reach. It's one of the reasons I stayed away for so long."
Dean says "Sammy" and reaches out again but Sam has stood up, looming like a mushroom cloud, head tilted back so he can stare at the sky and all the missing stars.
"It was nice, for a while, not to feel anything." Sam's voice is cracked glass like the floor, perfect and smooth except for the places where it's not. "When Lucifer was in me it was— it was too much. He took up so much of me, and I don't know how much I got back. But when I came out on the other side, and he was gone, it was like… like I was empty." Sam rotates slowly on the spot, a wind-up toy locked in place. "And I wanted it that way."
Dean shuts his eyes because Sam is making him dizzy and a little sick, and he doesn't want to throw up because there is already enough of a mess in the room. When Sam speaks again, he's sitting next to Dean on the bed once more, and his voice sounds almost normal but the words he's muttering are in a language Dean doesn't want to recognize.
"What the hell," he slurs, sticking out a hand and finally connecting with his brother. Sam is cold like a statue taken away from the sun. "That's not latin."
"No, it's Enochian." Sam pats Dean's hand like he's just been taught how, formal and awkward.
"You speak Enochian now?" Dean opens his eyes to find the room is spinning again, but Sam is sitting perfectly still.
"Yeah." Sam smiles, small and sharp like a cat that's just snapped the brittle bones of a bird between it's teeth. "Lucifer left some things behind."
The room goes quiet and dark, and Dean thinks he might have closed his eyes again. Sam's fingertips rasp over his wrist in the touch that checks for broken bones or torn stitches. It feels far more normal than anything else has so far. Sam's voice swims through the darkness, so soft and small Dean's not entirely sure he hears it at all.
"Sometimes I'm not even sure he's left at all."
Dean rolls onto his side because he can't take a statement like that, real or imagined, in other way than a physical blow, straight to the gut.
"What does it mean?" he grinds out, mouth full of the acrid taste of bile that isn't so different from sulfur. "What you said in Enochian?"
Sam makes a soft sound that Dean refuses to accept as a laugh, fingertips moving to pass over the pulse in Dean's neck, skittering and pricking like insect legs.
"Go to sleep, Dean," he answers.
"That is not what it means," Dean starts to protest but the darkness drops over him and he's gone before he finishes the sentence.
When he wakes up the next morning, he has the hangover from Hell and Sam is sitting at the table, pouring over a book. Dean sits up and scrubs at his eyes, glaring at the bottle of alcohol lying innocently on the non-mirrored floor, blaming it for the fucked up dreams he had last night. And maybe he's still a little drunk because when he raises his head the words that come out of his mouth are, "Sam, do you speak Enochian?"
Sam looks up from his book, and his eyes aren't hollow or dead or anything. Dean could almost swear to it.
"Dude," Sam says, and that's normal too. It doesn't fall flat, doesn't feel out of place. "What?"
Dean shakes his head, trying to clear the lingering images of his dreams, then stops when it makes the bed lurch and the wall tremble. Dean checks the ceiling to see if it's still black. It's not, it's just ordinary shitty-motel beige.
"Did you sleep?" he asks.
"With your drunken snoring?" Sam makes a gesture that could mean "yes" or it could mean "no" or it could mean "the devil ripped out a part of my soul and I'm not too concerned with getting it back."
"Okay, well." Dean isn't touching that. He can't. "I'm going to go shower."
"Make it fast." Sam returns to his book, pen skimming over the pages like fingertips over a pulse point. "We've got things to kill."
It isn't until several days later that Dean finds them in Sam's duffel. He's rooting through the canvas bag, looking for the holy oil Sam said was in there, when his hand touches something that crinkles and he pulls that out instead.
The pages look like they've been torn from a large and old book, and it's so unlike Sam to show anything but the utmost reverence for any form of literature that Dean is momentarily too stunned to comprehend what he's looking at.
Slowly, the faded black symbols on the pages sink in. Dean has seen these before, in other ancient books, on the handles of glowing silver blades, on the x-ray of his own ribs. These pages are in Enochian, and they have Sam's handwriting all over them.
One phrase in particular catches Dean's eye. Sam has underlined it in heavy red pen, the only spot of color on the whole page. In the margin, above a dark stain that looks relatively fresh, Sam has written in the same violent strokes,