Pairing: Sam/Dean (Wincest)
Rating: R (sex, language)
Warnings: Hell-based trauma
Summary: Sam gets his soul back on a Monday.

Note: For etrix. Canon compliant through 6x10, "Caged Heat," then goes AU.
Revision: 5 January 2016

they said it was the fall of man


Sam gets his soul back on a Monday. He doesn't stop screaming until the following Sunday, six days of creation and the seventh of rest, and the damn parallel isn't lost on Dean. Dean and Bobby empty the panic room in the basement of all sharp objects and need Castiel's help to strap Sam down. Dean thought he'd been pretty much numbed to, well, everything, really, but Castiel's calm is the only thing keeping Dean from clawing down the walls.

Dean spends the week alternating between the whiskey bottle and a chair outside the panic room door. He finds things to do on the Impala, which is already as sweet and smooth as when she first rolled off the line, and he becomes the newest ghost in Bobby's house, shadowing doorways, turning pages of old books without reading them and rarely saying more than a few words at a time that are usually just variations of, "Want more coffee?"

He tries hard not to think about it. Eighteen months, a week, and three days is 182 years and 182 days, and goddamn if Dean doesn't hate himself for thinking it but maybe, maybe this isn't the right thing to do. The withdrawals from the demon blood had nearly killed Sam but there are far worse things than death, and Dean hopes like hell – no. Dean bites the inside of his cheek and isn't sure if it's a laugh or a scream of his own trying to claw out of his throat.

So when he's standing in the middle of Bobby's library, knowing he went in there for a reason he can't remember, and the screams go quiet, the silence is nearly as piercing. He's running down the stairs before Bobby's even out of his chair and carelessly yanking open the heavy iron door.

Sam's staring up corpse-like at the slowly revolving ceiling fan. Dean's heart stops dead, his mind the blank white snowstorm of a television tuned to the wrong station, but then he sees Sam's chest hitch and his world turns Technicolor again.

"Sammy?" he whispers. But Sam doesn't react, just keeps breathing shallowly as though there's a heavy weight on his chest. Dean reaches for him with a shaking hand, hears Bobby say from the doorway, "Dean, I don't think," and ignores him.

It's surreal. On the outside Sam looks whole, if underweight, because the intravenous tubes donated by an EMT friend of Bobby's were the only way they could get sustenance into his body. His wrists and ankles are bruised from the restraints, but inside is nearly two centuries' worth of Hell and Lucifer and, Christ, Dean isn't – he can't – he isn't sure he can do this because god knows he still dreams of Hell himself, still wakes up in cold sweats with his own shredding screams. He almost, almost, wishes that Sam was still that cold empty shell.

Sam stops screaming on a Sunday, and then it's a week of absolute silence.

At least when he was thrashing in the restraints, he was moving. Now Dean has to shift him every few hours so his skin doesn't start turning red and sore, but at least he can remove the cuffs. Dean drags a cot down and sets it up beside Sam's and spends hours at a time just lying on his side, staring at the profile of his brother's pointed nose and chin, the hollows of his cheeks, the hazel-green eyes set at a fox-like slant that never came from Mary or John. When Dean's not in the panic room, he's in Bobby's junkyard, aimlessly screwing around with the scraps.

Sam still doesn't sleep. He blinks, slowly, but he's lost so far inside his head that he might as well be unconscious.

Castiel visits at one point. "Is he in there," Dean asks, but Castiel doesn't respond. He just stares at Sam with narrowed eyes before suddenly disappearing in a hush of feathers.

One night, Dean wakes up to whispers. The only light in the panic room is a small lamp over the desk by the far wall, the shade tilted down and away so the light is dimmed. His gaze immediately lands on Sam, and it takes a moment to realize that the silhouette of Sam's mouth is moving, just a little, thin lips barely shaping his exhalations.

Sudden adrenaline nearly makes Dean fall out of his cot, but then he pauses, listens harder. Cnila, he hears. Teloch, tatan, vpaahi. Saisch, saisch, saisch. Sharp consonants, long vowels. Even if he doesn't know what it means, Dean's heard Castiel speak Enochian often enough to recognize it. It's the first time Sam has made a truly human sound, but it just makes Dean's stomach turn. Lucifer is an angel, too.

The whispers last until dawn. Dean doesn't go back to sleep, and the moment he can see the grey of dawn through the ceiling, he gets up and disappears into the junkyard for a while.

On a Tuesday, Sam turns his head and looks at Dean. Dean's heart skips a beat. He says, "Sammy," but Sam just closes his eyes and doesn't respond.

After that, Dean rarely leaves the room. He doesn't want Sam to turn over and find empty space.

Eventually he's able to get Sam to sit up. The IV remains, trailing from the bend of his elbow like a long, thin snake. Moving Sam feels like posing a doll with cold porcelain skin, muscle sharply defined because the body's lost weight it already couldn't afford to lose. All those miles of strength and sinew have been pulled and wrenched out of recognition.

Every few days Dean gently pushes Sam upright and has him sit on the edge of his cot, feet on the floor. Sam hasn't made a sound since those whispers. Dean tries hard not to think that Enochian is probably the only language that his little brother has heard in decades, longer than Sam ever lived as a person, and just runs the wet sponge over Sam's skin and says anything that comes to mind. The leaves are turning again. Bobby's gonna have a hard time keeping them out of the car engines. Sam's eyes follow Dean's movements. It's instinct, not awareness. Dean decides to take it as a good sign anyway. Cas comes around sometimes, even though he's still kind of a dick. We've gotta take him out to a bar, get some humanity back in him if we have to shove him into the goddamn bottle. Sam doesn't disagree.

The water runs down in warm rivulets, following curves and hollows of bone and the silvery lines of scars. Dean used to have the most, but then he came back from Hell fresh and smooth as the Impala's waxed hood and now Sam's the one that shows where all the pieces of himself have been sewn back together. It's strange and wrong and makes Dean feel like years practicing take care of Sammy didn't mean shit when it actually fucking mattered.

Sam's hand slides limply onto his knee. Dean is sitting sideways on Sam's cot, facing him, one leg bent in front and the other foot on the floor, and he stops breathing when the weight of Sam's long fingers registers. Neither moves, and Dean finally finishes with the sponge bath, straightening the plaid button-down and loose sweatpants in which he'd dressed Sam. Sam lies back down without protest or acknowledgment, but the faint heat that bled through the knee of Dean's jeans and lingers is enough to rekindle a little hope.

Another twelve days and Sam's started to eat. They take out the IV and Dean is so relieved that he smiles a little for the first time in months, even if Sam can only handle thin broth for the time being. Bobby soon adds a little beef fat and vegetables overcooked into mushiness. Dean has to feed Sam by hand but Sam will eat with only a little prompting, will sit up and lie down at a gentle push. Dean remembers that kid – the youngest, the most invisible, the one who never had a say in what they did or where they went – who grew up defining himself by his independence, but when he brushes back the hair falling into Sam's face, all he sees is a blank face and blanker eyes.

Getting him to stand is more difficult; he leans heavily on Dean and shuffles jerkily, like he's forgotten how to manipulate a physical body. It's creepy and Dean has to force himself not to start cataloguing all the creatures that can possess humans, but they're able to manage a small circle around the two cots before Sam starts leaning so hard Dean can hardly hold him up.

Bedpans are an uncomfortable business that Dean handles dutifully, doesn't complain.

One day Dean lifts a spoonful of broth and a chunk of mushy carrot and Sam's hand lashes out, gripping Dean's wrist so hard that he presses bruises into thin skin. Dean hisses as the spoon drops from his numb fingers, spilling broth over Sam's lap, but Sam doesn't appear to notice – his eyes are fixed on Dean's, present and aware and, Jesus, there are rings of yellow around pupils that have narrowed to pinpricks. Dean swallows the reflex to fight back and holds himself very still, ignoring the slow grinding of bone.

"Micam adoian de Satan," Sam's voice cracks quietly. "Saisch."

"Sure, Sammy," Dean says, and hopes he didn't just, like, affirm something positive about freakin' Satan.

"Saisch," Sam repeats, because apparently being trapped with two of Heaven's most powerful angels must have burned the English right out of him.

"Saisch," Sam says for a third time, as though it were an invocation, which would be just peachy. And maybe Dean's imagining it, maybe he's projecting his desperation or whatever, but the word just rolls right off Sam's tongue, rich with things so complicated that Dean can't even begin to pick it apart.

Dean takes a chance and says, "Saisch," and it doesn't roll off his tongue so much as stumble drunkenly, but Sam's eyes are tracking the movement of Dean's mouth like Dean is sharing a secret over the roof of the Impala, still reeking of the smoke and blood of a hunt, still bowing under the weight of Heaven and Hell and all the pain of being in between.

Sam's other hand comes up to press the pads of his middle and pointer fingers against Dean's bottom lip. Dean's head twitches back and Sam pauses, watching him closely. He reaches out again, and this time Dean lets Sam run his fingers over Dean's lips, across the arch of his cheekbone, up the slightly crooked line of his nose as though Sam is memorizing his features all over again. Dean stares right back into eyes ringed with thin yellow.

Then Sam's hand drops and the other releases Dean's wrist, both of them falling to rest limply in his lap. His head lowers, hair obscuring eyes gone distant again.

Dean suddenly realizes that he's been holding his breath. He lets it out in a soft whoosh and pins up a smile over the hollowness. "C'mon, kiddo, naptime."

Sam doesn't resist the push against his shoulders, just settles back and returns to staring at the slowly-revolving ceiling fan. Dean manages to keep his retreat up the stairs to a brisk walk.

Sam wasn't the only brother Dean lost that day, but Dean would make the same choice over and over again. Maybe it makes him the worst sort of person, but it's not he hasn't been sacrificing pieces of himself for Sam their whole lives anyway, so, nothing new there.

That night, Dean dreams. He's standing in a dark place, vaguely lit by a reddish glow along the soft, amorphous walls. It smells like old blood and rot, and the walls aren't walls at all but oddly shaped horizontal bars, like being trapped in the curl of someone's bony fingers. Though it's so quiet it's oppressive, the spongy floor under his feet shudders rhythmically as though someone has cranked up the bass to eleven.

There's a dry rustle behind him, but when he spins on his heel, tensed for a fight, there's nothing except more of the same, the dim red glow and, farther beyond it, blackness so intense it hurts his eyes. His heart is beginning to pound, his skin starting to crawl. He thinks about climbing the bars, but when he looks up there's only piercing darkness.

He pats down his own clothes and doesn't find anything useful. Gritting his teeth, Dean approaches one wall, notices that the bars are actually pinkish-white and thick, rounded like enormous ribs, and when he pokes at one of them it's slick and smooth and warm to the touch. Sigils that look suspiciously like Enochian are carved deep into the surface.

"Sam?" he tries, but his voice comes out flat and muffled. "Sammy?"

He hears the rustling again, and this time when he turns, he sees piercing blue eyes and pearly fangs snapping at his face

and he wakes up, barely managing to catch himself on the edge of his cot before cracking his skull on the cement floor. His gaze automatically shoots towards Sam, and he has to catch himself again when he sees the unexpected shine of Sam's eyes fixed on him in the lamplight.

"Hey, Sam," he manages, and his voice echoes normally, the adrenaline leaving behind a shake in his hands. Sam doesn't react, of course, of course he doesn't, and Dean should've expected that, but damn it. "I just had this crazy dream. Don't suppose you'd know anything about that, would you?"

Sam blinks slowly. Dean's about to get up and find a whiskey, but then he hears a quiet, "Micam adoian de Satan."

Dean manages a sick smile and tells himself that, hey, at least it was a response.

"You've gotta consider that Sam…that he might not be coming back, son."

"Don't say that, Bobby," Dean rasps, fingers tightening around his coffee mug. It's seven in the morning and it's been spiked with that whiskey. He still isn't sure he did the right thing, telling Bobby about the scarred bones and suffocating darkness.

"You remember what it was like coming back from Hell," says Bobby. "You're still dealing with it, and don't you look at me like that, boy, I ain't deaf or blind. I know you've still got nightmares, and that ain't a criticism, just the facts. I don't think it'd be too crazy to think that maybe this was one of Sam's."

Bobby's watching him sidelong as he fries up some bacon on the stove, but Dean doesn't look at him. He drowns hooks and chains and Alastair's curved blade of a smile in the coffee, in the memory of suburbia that seems far less real than whatever he'd seen last night. He remembers Azazel saying that the blood he'd fed little baby Sammy was just the key to the lock on what potential talent was already there. He's tried calling Chuck, figuring a prophet would know something; all he got was a woman's voice telling him the line's been disconnected.


"Yeah, I hear you, Bobby." Appetite gone, Dean pushes away the plate of half-finished eggs and toast and drains his coffee as he stands. He microwaves a bowl of broth (and maybe eating the same food for weeks at a time will be enough to make Sam snap out of it, it'd certainly work on Dean) and ignores Bobby as he tromps down the stairs to the basement.

It's been two months since Sam got his soul back and Dean's been talking at Sam until his throat is sore. Always in English, recounting old hunts and older memories of what it was like to be little kids forced to rely mostly on each other in all the most unhealthy, tangled-up, crazy ways.

At night, Dean dreams of that old-blood-and-rot room. Prison. Whatever. Wonders if that's where Lucifer kept Sam, and then he ends up puking in the bathroom because maybe Bobby was right, maybe Sam is making him see those things. Who knows what that time in Hell had done to his powers, even if the soulless version of Sam had never shown any sign of having them. But nothing happens in those dreams after that first night: no rustling, no fangs, no eyes so blue they remind him of Castiel.

Sam is beginning to meet Dean's eyes more and more often. He watches Dean move around, Dean's fingers wrapping around the handle of a spoon, the flex of muscle in his arm as he helps Sam stand up. His stare will flick up to Dean's and hold his for a long moment, then flick back down to watch whatever Dean is doing like he's memorizing the way a soul is supposed to move inside a body. There's no way Dean is ready to try getting Sam up the stairs, so he drags down an enormous aluminum basin from the junkyard and fills it with hot water with a long hose running from the nearest faucet. It's crude and Sam has to scrunch up to fit, but at least it's a step up from sponge baths.

On a Saturday, with Sam's knees pulled to his chest in the hot water, Dean drops the soap. There's a smart-ass comment on Dean's lips before he remembers that Sam isn't going to roll his eyes and sock him on the shoulder for being disgusting. Except the soap never hits the floor; instead it hovers like some weird little UFO, like a ghost had somehow gotten into the panic room and was playing airplane. Dean watches it rise and then drop harmlessly into his outstretched hand, but when he glances at Sam, his brother is still staring at the small scar on his left knee he'd gotten when he was eight years old and Dean pushed him off a stump.

"Um," says Dean. "Thanks, Carrie."

Sam doesn't move.

After Sam is lying down again, Dean does a thorough clockwise circuit around the room to check for anything pointed, edged, or breakable, and then does it again counter-clockwise. Sam's powers are dangerous enough on their own. No need to make them a loaded gun.

Castiel comes back and says, "I believe Lucifer may be inside Sam."

Dean's gotten good at not freaking out when Castiel appears out of the woodwork six inches away from his face, but now he's finding it hard to move at all.

Castiel frowns. "Dean. If Lucifer is inside Sam, we may have to take measures."

"Measures?" Dean repeats, hearing threat to Sam. "The hell does that mean?"

"That will depend on the nature of Sam's relationship to Lucifer."

"You're not going anywhere near him."

"Dean," Castiel says patiently, and there's even a note of sympathy there, which means that either Castiel is relearning humanity or this whole thing is way worse than it already is, "I have no intention of hurting Sam as long as Lucifer remains caged."

The gun pressing into the small of Dean's back is an empty gesture but still reassuring. "Sam's been repeating this word, something like 'saisch.' What does it mean?"

Castiel tilts his head, brow creasing slightly. "He's been speaking Enochian?"

"Yeah, I dunno, it's like getting only the Spanish stations on the radio."

Castiel just looks thoughtful and refuses to answer.

In the end there isn't much Dean can do. After the soap incident there have been others, little things like floating spoons and, once, the light bulb exploding in the desk lamp. Certainly nothing on the scale of ending the world (again), but still. He leads Castiel down to the panic room and stands too close, too still. Sam's in his usual position, flat on his back and staring up with half-lidded eyes. When Castiel steps across the threshold, his stare slides over without his head turning.

"Sam," Castiel says softly, arms loose at his sides and unthreatening.

"Amma oiad," murmurs Sam, and there's an echo to his voice that tinkles like glass and purrs low as a lion. It sounds wrongand makes Dean's skin crawl.

Castiel's quiet for a long moment, head tilted again and expression intense. "Niiso, Sam," he says finally, "bagle de saisch."

Laughter, harsh and unexpected, thunders in the back of Sam's throat. "I olora ol cnila od doalim."

That tone is crawling over and around Sam's own voice. An invisible punch to the sternum sends Dean flying back against the wall, his head striking the iron panels hard enough that his vision sparks red and black, and he thinks he hears Castiel hit the wall but that might just be the ringing in his skull. Sam is sliding to his feet, moving somewhere between serpentine grace and inhuman, mechanical jerks, shirt open over his chest and the sweatpants threatening to slide right off his bony hips.

"Sam," Dean gasps. But Sam is fixated on Castiel, and Castiel lets out a long, low moan even though Sam hasn't moved.

"Micam adoian de Satan."

Castiel breathes, "What is your name?"

"Micam adoian de Satan," Sam repeats. His voice has grown thorns and frost.

"What is your name?" Castiel demands again as something crunches inside his vessel's chest. Blood wells up over his lips.

"Micam adoian de Satan!" Sam snarls, hand cutting sharply through the air. The desk explodes in a flurry of cheap wood paneling and papers, taking out the little desk lamp entirely, and the gesture some manages to cut a long, shallow scar into the wall that puts shifting a wardrobe years ago to shame.

"Tell me your name!" Castiel commands a third time, words warped by the blood in his vessel's throat. It makes Dean's head ring harder, probably would've shattered windows if there'd been any, and Sam's hands fly up to cover his ears as he falls hard to his knees. The overhead light explodes and the remaining bright pieces of sunlight cut the deep shadows past the open ceiling fan.

Through the flashes burned into his retinas Dean sees a darker shadow rising behind Sam's crumpled body, crawling across the floor and up the walls. The force pinning him up abruptly disappears and Dean's stumbling on numbed legs, moving across the panic room on sheer will to drop in front of Sam and catch his wrists.

"Sam, hey, Sammy, s'okay, not gonna leave you, you're safe," he says, force of habit, and he pulls Sam's hands away from his head. In the stark light coming through the ceiling he can see something dark sliding down Sam's rough palms – blood, he thinks, running from Sam's ears and down his neck, and he ruthlessly swallows the panic. "Sam, can you hear me? Say something, kiddo, c'mon."

Sam sways in place, suddenly as small as Dean had ever seen him, and he croaks, "Dean?"

"Yeah, Christ, it's me, you're safe," and Dean pulls him against his chest. As his hands reach the sharp points of Sam's shoulder-blades, however, they feel like they've been doused in freezing-cold kerosene. Sam shudders and pushes his face hard into Dean's collarbone.

"Cas?" Dean says in a raw voice. "What the hell just happened?"

Behind him he hears Castiel's footsteps approach, a little unsteady. Castiel coughs and spits blood to one side. "That wasn't Sam."

"What do you mean?" Dean doesn't need to ask. It should've been over, the Apocalypse derailed, Sam's mutilated soul back in place, Heaven too wrapped up in its own affairs to bother with two now-useless human vessels.

"Lucifer is still inside him."

Dean gets Sam to his feet and back to the cot with Castiel's help, trying not to stumble over his brother's nearly-unconscious deadweight or the wings, motherfucking wings, black as ash and casting long shadows over the walls. Blood streaks Sam's neck, seeps from the corners of his eyes like they're in Stigmata and Sam's the possessed girl scrawling scripture all over the walls.

"I believe my presence aggravated Sam's condition," Castiel explains as he lets Sam's arm slip off his shoulders.

"Yeah, sure," says Dean. Sam's sitting on the edge of the cot and pressing his forehead into Dean's stomach, white-knuckled hands fisted in his shirt, and Dean has a punishing grip on the nape of Sam's neck. There'll be bruises under Sam's hair in a few hours. "Remember talking to me like I'm five? Let's try that again."

"I can feel Lucifer inside of Sam now." Castiel's watching Sam with an inscrutable expression. "I don't know how Sam is keeping him locked down, but it explains a number of things."

"Of course it does," Dean mutters. "So what do we do? And if you say that we have to put Sam back in the cage I swear to god – "

"You misunderstand me, Dean. I think Sam is the cage."

And suddenly Dean remembers a prison of rot and blood and flesh, pulsing with a human heartbeat and trapped by living bone. Hell is like…well, it's like Hell, Meg had said so long ago, even for demons. It's a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear, and Dean remembers the soft, wet give of muscle as he sliced into it mercilessly, the tearing of skin and the rivers of blood that flowed from his hands and turned the brimstone black under his feet. Dean remembers the serpent that had lunged at him from where it's coiled around Sam's heart.

"He was saying, 'Behold the face of Satan.' Forcing him to name himself was the only way I could think of to remind him of who he is."

"Saisch," Sam whispers, his breath hot and damp through the weave of Dean's shirt, and Castiel translates sadly, "'Brother.'"

It's a goddamn knife to the lower spine with an extra twist and Dean wants to cry, or laugh, or kill something. He doesn't do any of that, but if his hand tightens any further he might snap Sam's neck.

Later, Dean breaks one of the Enochian sigils so that Cas can do his thing and fix the overhead light and desk with a glance, and he spends the rest of the night lying on his side beside Sam and staring back into solemn, far-away eyes.

The wings don't go away. They're the same suggestions of light and darkness that Castiel's are, that all angel wings are when the angels die and scorch the earth. They stretch and shorten like normal shadows depending on how the lamp is angled towards Sam, and they don't appear any more substantial than a whisper, but when Dean reaches out, he feels the burning cold of a window that's been frozen in a North Dakota winter. The feathers part around his fingers like an oil slick. He tries to touch them as little as possible when he helps Sam stand, walk, lie down, whatever.

Sam watches him silently, and if he's not speaking, well, at least he isn't yelling in Enochian anymore. Something's been broken and Dean has yet to see if that's a good or bad thing, so he acts like nothing's changed.

He's started giving Sam soft bread and thick gravy and skimmed milk, and he manhandles Sam into the makeshift bathtub, although it takes some creative maneuvering with the goddamn wings. Small, repetitive exercises and the increasingly rich diet is slowly bringing back a little muscle, making Sam less startlingly gaunt and more just underweight.

Bobby takes one look at the wings and mutters a heartfelt curse, and if he draws a few more devil's traps and Enochian sigils in strategic locations around the house, Dean can't blame him and is too tired to even try. Bobby hasn't thrown them out – hell, he's been feeding and sheltering them for months and a lifetime, he's been more of a father than Dad ever was.

But this thing with Sam? It's a tiny life carrying a tinier life through a fire. It's Sam's first word being Dean's name and kicking each other at night in the same bed, Dean teaching Sam to ride a bike and Sam giving Dean his favorite toy when Dean got terribly sick, two little kids driving their dad crazy with their ability to share secrets without words and John honestly worrying that Sam would be more fluent in Dean than English. It's changing diapers and motel rooms and schools and radio stations. It's blood and pain and betrayal and love, when each one has literally had his hands inside the other's body because sometimes the monsters hunt the hunters, too.

Dean sits at the desk while Sam lies sprawled on his belly on one of the cots, shadows still rising from his broad shoulders, and against all better judgment Dean asks, "You remember Broward County, Sam? Florida, Mystery Spot, trickster that turned out to be a freaking angel?"

Sam's face is turned in Dean's direction, head resting on crossed arms, but he doesn't respond.

"You said you lived, like, a hundred Tuesdays or whatever and I died each time. But that's not all, is it? Something else happened."

Dean grew up as the adventurous one, sex and drugs and rock n' roll, but Sam – Sam was always more secretive, more watchful, more ruthless. Dean would beat up the kids who picked on Sam, and the leather jacket and mocking grin were usually enough to make assholes think twice. But if anyone ever tried fucking with Dean from a distance ("Look at him, gonna end up in the system some day, should put those cocksucker lips to good use"), it would only last a day or two before the assholes suddenly shut their trap, refusing to meet Dean's eyes. Those were the times that Dean never found blood on Sam's knuckles, but there'd be something satisfied, something cruel, in his eyes that Dean would pretend not to see. Never did find out what Sam ever said or did.

So when Dean has the benefit of hindsight, he thinks about Sam having his whole world die in his arms Tuesday after Tuesday and feels as cold as Lucifer's wings. Maybe he's been doing Sam a disservice all these years by thinking Sam never needed Dean as much as Dean has needed Sam. Sam's always been better at keeping calm until he very suddenly isn't, and then not even Dean is safe in the aftermath of Hurricane Sam, and if Sam was ever made to feel powerless…

"What did you do, Sammy? How far did you go when – " Dean stops, the unexpected revelation tasting bitter. "That's how Ruby got to you, you son of a bitch, you…nothing's ever too far for you, is it? And she knew that. Goddamnit, Sam, you and Dad, I swear – "

"Saisch," Sam breathes, and Dean storms out of the panic room before he punches his brother in the face for being as fucking fucked up as Dean. The hell of it is the fact that Dean wants to believe (should want to believe) that it's the demon blood that's been poisoning Sam's veins almost his whole life (but part of Dean is horribly, terrifyingly, guiltily pleased that, when it comes right down to it, it's all Sam).

Sam's reluctant now to let Dean out of his reach. He doesn't say anything, of course, doesn't really protest, but he's slow to let go of Dean's arm or shoulders and the shadows of the wings will start moving in ways that don't match up the angle of light. Dean gives up and just pushes his cot against Sam's, and every night he ends up with his ridiculously tall little brother trying to curl against his chest like he's five again.

And every night, Dean dreams of a cavern made of carved ribs and pulsing heartbeat and the thick, heavy sense of Sammy.

What do I do, Sam, he says. I don't know how to fix this.

Days pass. Maybe weeks. Dean's lost count, but the leaves have already fallen and it gets cold enough in the metal-lined panic room that Bobby sets them up with a few floor heaters and a couple extra moth-eaten blankets. Dean isn't blind to the helplessness he sees in Bobby's expression. Even if Dean was willing, and he's not, damn it, but even if he was willing it's not like they can leave Sam in a hospital while the Devil is taking up residence inside him like a maggot. They can't kill him because Castiel's right and Sam appears to be the lock to Lucifer's prison, and at this point Dean would sooner let the goddamn Apocalypse restart anyway.

Dean stopped counting after 182 years and as many days. He thinks it might be Sunday.

Sam's gotten strong enough to circle several times around the room, which is a relief because Dean's going stir-crazy. Bobby stands back when Dean leads Sam out into the basement, not bothering to hide the shotgun in his hand but keeping it lowered, his hold loose and relaxed. The wings still flicker over the walls as shadows, but Sam stands up a little taller, lifts his head while the arm he has around Dean's waist tightens painfully. It occurs to Dean that Sam might've thought he was in another prison, trapped in the same place for god knows how long surrounded by salt and iron and sigils.

"Dean," says Sam for the second time. His voice is low and raspy from disuse but human, and his eyes follow the contours of dusty storage boxes and the stairs without going blindly distant.

Dean has to clear his throat a few times. "Hey, Sammy. We're at Bobby's, remember?"

Sam turns his head in response, blinking slowly at Dean but aware, and Dean is just a few breaths away from crying. When Sam is Sam again, Dean is going to beat his ass for putting him through all these girly moments.

Dean wakes up to a hand sliding under his shirt. He's gotten used to Sam's sudden need for constant contact, but this is new and unexpected and understandably somewhat unsettling.

"Sam?" he manages groggily, his left side pinned to the joined cots by Sam's warm weight. Sam is braced on one elbow, face pressed into the curve of Dean's neck, with a broad hand spreading long fingers over Dean's sternum. The desk lamp is just bright enough for Dean to see the silhouette of insubstantial wings slithering up the walls to touch the ceiling.

Sam presses himself all along the side of Dean's body and moves his hand to cover Dean's heart. Dean's left arm is trapped, so only his right hand is able to close around Sam's shoulder and hold him still. "Sam, what're you doing?"

Sam suddenly sits up and swings a leg over, settling himself on Dean's thighs and leaning forward with one hand at the side of Dean's head and the other still pressed over his heart. Dean tries, "Sam, we've done a lot of things, but this isn't one of them," except Sam's always been an argumentative little shit and doesn't flinch. Dean's tall but Sam's taller, all lean lines and long legs. Dean's never had anything other than softer, curvier bodies under his own and his hands hover near Sam's hips, ready to fight back. Sam's gaze is sharp in the fox-like slant of his eyes that never came from Mary or John. There's no flash of gold, just the intensity of having Sam completely focused on him.

"Sam," Dean tries again, but Sam's tilting forward, pressing his cheek against Dean's, the flicker of his eyelashes soft against Dean's face before a warm tongue licks right up the bare skin behind Dean's ear. Incest, his mind screams, wrong, this isn't what Dad meant by 'the family business' and I'm sure there's a joke about Kansas in there somewhere, but then he hears Ash saying, Y'know, soulmates, and his own echoes in a shitty abandoned house ages ago, Sammy? Am I dead? Is this Heaven?

This deep purr that Dean feels against his chest rumbles out of Sam as something pushes inside his head, like a finger stroking the vault of his skull. He starts to twist under Sam's weight before he takes a breath and forces himself to relax.

Of course, that's when his vision goes up in flames.

It's worse than the prison inside Sam's ribs, worse than Alastair's work room and the rack and the screaming. It's worse than Hell, which is so inimical to human souls that just existing there is agony. What Dean thought was fire is actually a cold so deep that it could burn the thoughts right out of him, just as the light is so bright it could sear the personhood out of his tiny, tiny soul.

Then it's just his brother, his dorky kid brother who could solve crossword puzzles in pen since he was twelve. For a moment, the knowledge of what it's like to have visions shred his mind blows through Dean, leaves just as quickly. He knows what it's like to never have had even a four-year-old's memories of a home. He feels caged by someone else's mission he doesn't understand, a life in which its one constant is a brother that could leave and never come back so easily, a future that isn't his own, and the realization that no matter how hard he tries to be good he will always, always be wrong. He tastes abandonment and fury, terror and desperation, heartbreak and a love so deep it can crack the earth apart.

Do you see, Lucifer burns into him. I wanted freedom, and I dared to love my brother more than I loved my father. Don't you know, he laughs, and god, god, it burns, all the good intentions in Heaven and earth simply pave the road to Hell.

Dean comes back to himself sweating and panting so hard he's lightheaded. Sam's watching him with so much goddamn emotion in his expression that it's both humiliating and validating, and Dean is going to need to be so, so drunk if he ever finds out what Sam must've seen in him, and he's going to need to be so, so drunk to forget the feel of Sam's hands hot against his skin and the taste of Sam's mouth against his. Dean's getting hard in his jeans because he is, apparently, still enough of a sick, black-eyed son of a bitch not to care that the warm body screwing around on top of him is also the other half of his family, and the pressure of Sam's cock against his through their clothes has him curling up and wrapping his arms around Sam's shoulders.

The wings have never been more than a shadow cast by something invisible to human eyes, but when Dean's hands just happen to fall where wings are usually assumed to sprout it's like he's plunged his hands into ice water. He gasps with the shock of pins and needles poking ruthlessly at his skin, letting something that feels like pure sin and power into his veins, and that's it, that's all she wrote as Dean comes with a long, deep groan pressed into Sam's throat. Sam's hips keep rolling as Sam's voice pours Dean, mine, saisch, mine into Dean's ears, and even though it's already starting to hurt, Dean figures that loving Sam has always been the most painful thing he's done anyway and just pulls him closer.

The days have only a few hours of actual sunlight too weak to melt the frost on the yard when Dean starts to notice things, like knowing when Sam is going to reach out for him before he actually moves, and the soup spoon sliding towards him when it's slightly out of reach, and the lamp dimming at night so he doesn't have to get up and turn it off.

It isn't often that Dean gets fooled by Bobby's crotchety asshole show and he figures that Bobby has been worrying over them, probably gotten sick of them, too. But one morning, Dean suddenly knows that even though Bobby is outright frightenedfor them and maybe a little bit of them he's still staying up late into the night, working steadily through book and bottle. On the few occasions that hunters show up on the stoop with an eye for Winchesters and Bobby drives them off with his trusty shotgun, Dean can tell that (most of) the hunters actually think they're doing the right thing in tracking down the brothers who almost broke the world.

"Dude, I think your mojo is, like, bleeding into me," Dean tells Sam. "Quit it."

Sam glances at him from the cots, then goes back to the drawing pad and pencil that Bobby had rustled up for him, the pad braced on his crossed knees. It looks like he's drawing a chicken or a house or, knowing him, a dog or something, what the hell ever, Sam could be playing Pictionary with himself for all Dean knows. Seven-year-old Sammy had actually done that once, doodling all over the paper napkins filched from diners with one eye closed, and whenever one of those napkins had crossed the line of duct tape separating Sam's Side and Dean's Side of the backseat, Dean would ball it up and throw it at Sam's head, which naturally made Sam cry and Dad threaten to leave them both on the side of the road.

While Dean is standing there, reminiscing like he's a soccer mom with empty nest syndrome, Sam starts shaking. Dean nearly has a heart attack before he realizes Sam is laughing – silently, of course, just huffs of breath, but that's definitely some goddamn laughter. When Dean asks, "What's so funny?" Sam balls up one of his drawings and throws it at Dean's face, and Dean watches its pitiful flight end at his feet thinking that Sam must've caught the memory and Dean's too done with everything to have that heart attack.

"What did I tell you about whammying me, bitch?"

"Jerk," Sam croaks.

The word is rusty as nails and sounding like it hurt just as much coming out of his mouth. Dean just – he just can't. He sits down hard against the wall by the door and just fucking loses it.

The pencil and notebook clatter to the floor as Sam slides off the bed and slinks over to sit beside Dean and do his damndest to wrap his giant body around Dean. It's awkward as hell but, you know what, Dean's earned some cuddle cred after taking care of his little brother with a mild case of Satan. He's wiped Sam's ass and listened to the creepiest fucking mutters at night and now knows what it looks/sounds/tastes like when his little brother comes all over him. He's earned this and everyone can go fuck right off.

This sets off a fresh round of hysteria when he realizes that incest is practically the least of his sins and he's more freaked out by not being freaked out, except…it was worse when Sam was this thing of pure 'id' that just wanted to fuck or kill everything. Worse when Dean realized Crowley had lied about everything, worse when Sam didn't stop screaming until his throat was so torn he started choking on blood, worse when Sam just stared blankly into space. Worse when Dean held a pistol to his brother's skull to put him out of his misery, Old Yeller style, but was too selfish to pull the fucking trigger.

"I'm sorry, Sam," he says, voice cracking, "I'm so fucking sorry, I should've, I don't know, figured out a way to fix this. My goddamn job."

The pencil rolls a few feet across the floor and the desk lamp protests squeakily as it shifts a few inches. Sam's tucking his face like he always does against Dean's neck and tightening the circle of his arms around Dean's torso. They're five and nine again and Sam's just had a run-of-the-mill nightmare, or twenty-five and twenty-nine and it's Dean's last night and he can't bring himself to deny Sam his touchy-feeliness. Do you think I wouldn't do the same for you, Sam once said. I'd do anything for you. End the world. Be the face of Satan.

It takes even longer for Dean to notice that the wing shadow things themselves have disappeared. Doesn't know what it means, and he'll ask Cas the next time he shows up, but until then he'll find a way to make it work, take it one day at a time. Nothing's okay and he's not sure Heaven or Hell will take them anymore, but fuck it. Fuck it. Maybe they broke too much shit and never got it all put back together quite right, but as long as he's got Sam around to provide the bitchfaces with…yeah, okay, with the occasional cuddle, then he'll take it.



= blood
= death
= wormwood
= wings
= brother(s)
Micam adoian de Satan
= behold the face of Satan
Amma oiad
= cursed of God
= come away
Bagle de saisch
= for your brother
I olora
= (he) is man.
Ol cnila od doalim
= of blood and sin