Title: Whisper to Spark
Author: gleefulmusings (formerly xanzpet)
Fandom: Supernatural, Season One AU.
Characters: Sam and Dean Winchester
Warning(s): This story deal with the immediate aftermath of rape. There is no assault scene, but sensitive readers or those for whom this might trigger a reaction should probably avoid this. Other warnings include those for language and for shifting perspectives (primarily from third-person omniscient to first-person for Dean).
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lyrics, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Snippets of dialogue may be incorporated from the original canonical episode(s) and belong to their respective authors/creators. The original characters and plot are the property of the author(s). The author(s) is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended, nor should any be inferred. No profit is being made.
Summary: An irrevocable act makes an indelible mark.
Dean rolled over, panting, the cheap carpet covering the floor beneath him making his skin feel like it was crawling with ants.
After catching his breath, he sighed, rolled again, and sat up, before scooting back toward the clean white wall behind him. Once he made contact, he squirmed as the dry, cool plaster began to leech the sweat from his clammy skin, a minute lull as his thoughts struggled in vain to make sense of what had just happened.
The salt of unshed tears began stinging his eyes and he welcomed the pain, refusing to blink or will it away, though he still denied himself release. He tilted his head back, popping a few cervical vertebrae in the process, as his eyes restlessly roved across the ceiling, wishing he was pressed up against it, hoping the flames might finally come for him. Maybe they could burn away the shame. He couldn't imagine anything else would.
Involuntarily, his eyes closed for just a moment and even that fraction of darkness, of the total absence of light, terrified him. He snapped them open. He swallowed heavily as he felt a new sheen of moisture break out across his upper lip, the scent of cheap scotch wafting up into his nose and cloying his throat, causing his stomach to roil. He wished he could vomit, but even that was denied him. His body refused to extend even that slightest mercy, and he was grateful, for he was undeserving. Why should he be allowed to purge any of the hurt owed him, of the sickness he had brought upon himself and meted out this night?
Heart in his throat, breath hitching, he forced his eyes to follow the chemical command of neurotransmitters and his gaze shifted to his prostrate brother, lying on the floor just before him. Dean stared blankly at Sam's splayed thighs, at the blood and the...pooling between them. He forced his ears to listen to the quiet, raspy inhalations, even as his mind replayed Sam's deafening pleas in an endless loop of mockery and judgment. His nostrils flared as the scents of blood and semen, smells which should never be mixed, assaulted his nose.
Dean shook as he watched Sam slowly begin to move, just a twitch at first, then random muscle spasms, as if the body was struggling to remember how it worked. His brother's respiration quickened and Dean recognized that shock was setting in. He knew what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to fetch a blanket, something to cover Sam and keep him warm. He had been trained in first aid for as far back as he could remember. There was no cut he couldn't clean, no injury he couldn't dress, almost no wound he couldn't stitch.
He sat and stared.
He winced at the tiny groan which escaped Sam's mouth and, as his brother lifted his head, Dean could see more blood dripping from it, more...of the other. He shifted, drawing his left knee up ever so slightly, but Sam had somehow been alerted to the virtually soundless movement. Another peal of silence rang out across the room as both ceased breathing.
Seconds passed, maybe minutes. Dean wasn't sure. How many seconds were in a minute? One Mississippi, two Mississippi. Mississippi had one more syllable than Missouri. They were both states which began with 'm' and ended with 'i'. Missouri was a psychic. She didn't like him, but she loved Sam. Dean felt so close to Missouri right then.
Sam coughed and rolled on his side, and Dean could see muscles all but screaming in protest, rippling and twisting, Sam's hands like claws. He watched as Sam opened his mouth and flinched when he heard the mucus gathering in his brother's throat, a collection of snot and tears and screams. When he tried to spit them out, Sam choked and then gasped as his trachea tried to adjust to the fact that it was no longer being squeezed in half. With concerted effort, he made his arm bend at the elbow and brought a hand to his mouth to wipe away the liquid bolus, flinging it across the room from his fingers before wiping his hand on the carpet. He coughed again and managed to bring himself into a halfway-sitting position, his chest heaving with the effort.
The sulfurous yellow of the courtyard streetlights filtered through the wide-slatted blinds, and Dean could see the blood crusted behind Sam's ear, the hair damp and clinging around his head as if pressed down by an invisible weight. Dean thought of thorns.
Sam coughed again and the staccato sound, like ricocheting bullets, echoed off the thin walls which enclosed them, had trapped them.
Nowhere to run, Sammy.
"This didn't happen," Dean heard Sam roughly whisper, voice raw and broken. "We won't ever speak of it. It didn't happen."
Dean watched as Sam hoisted himself to his knees, his eyes dropping as Sam began crawling toward the bathroom, grunting and groaning every torturous inch. He sensed Sam trying to haul himself to his feet, using the doorknob for support, and heard his brother release a small scream as he fell back to his knees. He then heard Sam moan, a pathetic keen which lanced into the warm butter that was Dean's heart.
As Sam crawled across the tile floor, Dean imagined the rough edges of the ceramic cutting into Sam's bruised, battered flesh, the divots of grout digging into his skin. He heard the slap of hands on porcelain and knew Sam had been reduced to using the toilet as leverage to get himself on his feet.
Suddenly, the doorway was flooded with the bright white light, almost pure in its radiance, of the bathroom's overhead fixture. Dean wanted to blink, but someone had glued his eyes open. Sam loomed on the threshold, his shadow stretched out ten feet before him, distorted.
"This didn't happen."
Dean heard the door shut softly and the lock click into place. He somehow managed to close his eyes once he heard the shower roar to life.
Dean didn't know how he had ended back up on his bed. Who had turned on the light?
He was glad someone had, glad most of the shadows had been chased away. There were still a few, lingering like cobwebs about the room, taunting him, waiting to ensnare him. Said the spider to the fly.
There was vomit on the floor. Was it his?
The air had turned humid as steam poured forth from beneath the jam of the door to the bathroom, where Sammy was now safely locked away from him. The scent of wilted jasmine hung heavy in the air, it's sickly-sweet perfume making the stench of musk and terror even more revolting, more suffocating; somehow, even more shameful. He knew the thin bar of soap the motel provided wouldn't be enough to wash it away.
Sam smelled like sandalwood, with just a hint of cinnamon. He shouldn't smell like jasmine. Jasmine was for Savannah and funerals. Jasmine was for little old ladies and young girls who didn't know better. Jasmine was oppressive and overwhelming. Sam was subtle and should smell accordingly.
Dean wondered what he smelled like. Probably brimstone or maggots, something evil or dead. Evil Dead. Sam liked that movie; it made him laugh.
He pictured the blood and sweat and come and tears sluiced away from Sam's body by the pulsating spray of water and swirl down the drain, into the sewers, and carried out to a treatment plant, where it could be purified. Sam was pure. Even after everything they had seen, had done, Sammy was so pure, so innocent. Why had he wanted to take that from him? Or had he just wanted some of it for himself?
He supposed it didn't matter anymore.
The sound of the water was like the ocean, the surf drawing back before crashing over rocks.
Catch me if you can!
He could determine every step Sam made in the stall from sudden interruptions, of water not hitting the bottom of the fiberglass tub. Soon, the sound began to peter off and Dean figured Sam had sat underneath the showerhead, the violent water pounding down upon his head, plastering his hair to his face.
Sam's sable locks darkened when wet, gleaming like beaver pelt, simultaneously reflecting and absorbing light. So much hair, so heavy and thick, but soft, always so soft, like Mom's hair, except for the color.
Everyone loved Sam's hair, no matter how much Dean and Dad teased him about needing to get it cut. Dean imagined Jess's fingers had always been running through it. Dad used to pet Sam's hair, as if his son was a puppy. Good boy, Sammy. Sit. Stay. Mind your brother. He knows best.
Dean sat on his bed, staring at the wall, at the indentation six-and-a-half feet above the floor which promised they wouldn't get back their security deposit. He cocked his head and gazed at the stains which would never wash off and would have to be painted over; at least two coats, he reckoned.
Blood was supposed to be red, but dried blood was brown, like lightly scorched earth.
Sam had a big head. It had made a big hole where Dean had slammed it into the wall over and over and over again until Sam had almost lost consciousness, until the fight had all but left him, though he had still fought. Dean felt sickened by the pride he took in Sam's determination to fight. He could still hear the sickening thuds, the sounds of jarred bones cracking into drywall. He flashed on the dust, flecks of cheap industrial white paint, showering gently down atop Sam's head like snowfall.
On the floor, beneath the hole, were the remnants of Sam's pajamas. They were blue and had fluffy white clouds. The seams had screamed when Dean had torn them from his brother's body. He really should get up and get them, throw them away, salt and burn them. Sam wouldn't want to see them again, wouldn't want to remember all the times Dean had made fun of him for wearing them, even though Dean knew that they had been a gift from Jess, that Sam had taken them with him when Dean had come for him in Palo Alto, because Sam had insisted they smelled like her and that way she could be with him; and no matter how many times they had been laundered in the past year, Sam still said he could smell her when he put them on.
Jess had smelled, according to Sam, like heather and lemongrass; a crisp, gentle sweetness which enhanced his own woodsy spice. Dean had called him a fag when he said that.
There was blood on the rug. The carpet was that which could never decide its hue, if it was taupe or ecru or eggshell; something not white but still white. It had been dirty, but now it was stained, kind of like a soul. This stain wasn't brown, though; it was pink. The blood and semen had mixed together and created a color and consistency vaguely reminiscent of Pepto Bismol. Heartburn, nausea, indigestion; upset stomach, diarrhea. Dean hated jingles.
He turned and looked out the window to his left, carefully avoiding the face reflected back at him, because that couldn't have been him. He couldn't have done this, not to anyone, and never to Sam.
Tight. Sammy was so tight. So tight it had hurt both of them.
He noticed the line of salt atop the sill, gently shimmering under the light. It had protected his brother from everything but him.
It didn't happen, Sam had said.
An hour later - one Mississippi, two Mississippi - Dean's heart nearly exploded as the door to the bathroom unlocked and Sam emerged.
Any other time, he would have kidded his brother about spending so much time behind a locked door. The water had stopped running a while ago, though not before Dean had been sure there was no hot water left. What had Sam been doing? Right. He had heard the retching and the toilet flush several times. Vomiting. That sounded like a good idea. Dean could really go for some barfing right about now.
Sam's stomach must be empty. Dean wondered if he should go get some food, because he didn't want Sammy to be hungry. He was supposed to take care of Sammy. Sam was so tall and had such a big appetite. Was there a diner around? Sam liked bacon cheeseburgers, but only with extra mayo. Hold the onion. No pickle, thank you. Having it his way.
Sam could never get enough food, ever since he was a baby; and though he now had those broad shoulders and the sculpted chest and the abs of steel, though the coltish legs had developed into pure lean muscle, you could still see every rib, as if it was the one part of him which had never finished the transition through puberty. Sam was ticklish there, where his ribs were. Dean used to torture his brother with tickles. He sometimes still did when Sam was being particularly annoying and girly. He really shouldn't have punched Sam in his ribs.
He surreptitiously glanced from the corner of his eye and watched Sam grab the pair of old, worn jeans he had been wearing earlier that day. His gaze narrowed in on the bruises which had blossomed along narrow hips. Fingerprints. They looked inky, fresh. They were small, but more offensive than the fist-shaped ones scattered across Sam's back, where Dean had pushed him into the floor and held him down. Why had he done that again?
He wondered if Sam's chest had rugburn. The carpet was so filthy. Why was Sam lying down on it? Oh, so he could get dressed; so the bed would hide him. So Dean wouldn't see him. Why didn't Sam go back into the bathroom? Was it haunted now? Too much jasmine?
Wait, what had happened?
He then watched as Sam pulled a wife-beater over his head, followed by a t-shirt, then a long-sleeved thermal, and finally a sweater. Layers, always layers. Sam was always cold, but could never explain why. Did he use them to hide? What was he hiding? His body? Something else?
Sam had so many secrets.
It was colder here than in California. California was where Jess had died. It was where she had built a home with Sam, and Dean had taken him away from that, away from her. Sam had always wanted a home. Sam was Dean's home. And a dog, Sam had wanted a dog. Dad would never let them have a dog because, back then, most motels wouldn't allow them, and they wouldn't have been able to afford to feed a dog. Dean had wanted a cat. Cats landed on their feet. Cats didn't eat that much, and they purred when happy. Much better than wagging a tail. Stupid dogs.
Sam hadn't put on his socks. His big dumb Sasquatch feet were bare. It made him look vulnerable. Dean thought he should get Sam a pair of socks. What if his feet got cold?
He looked down at his lap as Sam crawled into the other bed, grabbing the remote and flipping on the television, it's eerie blue-white light flooding into the room, the sound of canned laughter making Dean's ears bleed. Had he really laughed at Sam? Laughed at his tears? But hadn't he always?
Sam began rapidly surfing through the limited channels the motel provided. Not much of a selection. Lots of reality shows, which weren't even reality, because they were scripted and always edited. Dean had been a fan of The Real World back when it was still cool, though he had never told Sam, even though Sam probably wouldn't have laughed at him.
Finally, Sam settled on an old cartoon. Thundercats. Ho.
The brothers continued to sit in silence, watching the television, but not seeing it.
Another hour later, the pretense of sleep long abandoned, Dean heard Sam begin to stir on his bed, not in his bed. Sam apparently didn't want to get under the covers. Maybe so he could get away faster if something came for him?
Helpless but to look over, Dean watched as his brother drew himself up and sat Indian-style, staring blankly ahead at the television, which had been muted a while ago.
"You're all I have," Sam quietly and suddenly said. "Mom is gone, Jess is gone, Dad is who knows where. You're it."
Dean felt bile crawling up this throat. It burned the back of his throat where it splashed his tonsils and it tasted like rotten eggs.
"I lost everything in the fire. I didn't finish the semester and my scholarship has been rescinded. They only let you defer a year. I don't have my degree. Law school isn't an option now. I have nothing but this. This is all I know how to do, and I can't do it alone."
This didn't happen.
"I," Dean croaked, "I..."
"Don't. Don't say anything. Don't apologize. Don't say the word I know you're thinking. This isn't a Lifetime movie," Sam spat. "I wasn't...you didn't...I'm not some victim. I won't let myself be. I'm Sam. I'm not..." he waved his hand before him, indicating that place on the floor at which Dean knew Sam was staring, though Dean could no longer bring himself to glance at, "I'm not that. That's not me."
"Okay," Dean whispered.
"Things have to change," Sam continued.
Everything already had.
"You have to swear to me, swear on Mom's life, on Cassie's life..."
"Swear this will never happen again. Ever."
Acid rolled in his stomach. "I swear."
"I took some aspirin. I'm pretty sure I have a concussion, so I can't take anything stronger." Sam paused. "You'll have to watch me, make sure I don't fall asleep."
"Okay." Watching Sam was what Dean did best.
"If I do, wake me up immediately. But don't touch me." He heard the shiver, the fear, in Sam's voice; the fear he had put there. "Throw a pillow at me or something, but don't touch me."
"I...I need...I need to know that you've never...that what...didn't happen...will never not happen again. To anyone."
"And it never happened before?"
No, never. No.
No no no no. No, Dean, please! It's me! It's Sam! Don't you know it's me?
Dean had known.
Sam cleared his throat. "Do...have you always been...protected? Do I need...should I go to the hospital? They have medicine there."
Bleeding Christ hanging off the cross. How could I have done this to you?
"I've always used something."
But not tonight, because I wanted you to feel all of me.
"I'll help you with the credit cards," Sam said. "From now on, wherever we stay, I'll see if there's work I can do around the motel to get extra cash. Whenever we can afford separate rooms, that's what we'll do."
"Don't ever speak of Jess to me again."
I wish I could have saved her for you, Sam. I wish it had taken me instead. So close, you were so close to getting out. How could I have dragged you back into this? Why didn't I understand? Why didn't I listen when you tried to tell me? Because I'm the Good Son. Because I wanted you with me. Because I don't know how to be me without you. I tried so hard for so long and I always fucked it up. And now that you're here, now that I have you, I've fucked it up beyond repair.
"We won't tell Dad. Ever."
Because it didn't happen. Because Sam was afraid for Dean, that John would kill him. And he probably would. Dean should call his father.
"No matter what, I..."
Please don't say it. I don't want to hear it. I don't deserve it.
"...I trust you when we're out there...hunting."
Because you have to, because that's how we were trained, but you shouldn't. You were my prey tonight. And I caught you, didn't I?
"Everything else...that will take time. I don't...it will never be what it was, it can't be, but we're still a team. We have a mission. That comes first."
Please kill me.
"I, uh, would you please open the window?" Sam whispered. "It's...close...in here."
Dean nodded mechanically - a gesture he knew Sam wouldn't see, because Sam wasn't looking at him, hadn't looked at him even once during the...what didn't happen - and drew himself up on his knees, throwing open the sash. Not too much, couldn't let Evil get in the room to hurt Sam. Grains of salt stuck to his hands. Why didn't it burn? It should burn.
Dean heard the palm of one of Sam's hand slap the skin of his face and knew his brother was trying to choke something down. Sam had choked when Dean had...
"Look," Sam sighed, "I know I don't have any right to ask this..."
I would die for you. I should die for what I did to you. I love you so much, Sammy. I'm just so sorry.
"...but could you please go take a shower? You smell like...like..."
Like you. I smell like your blood, our blood. You're Abel and I'm Cain. Remember when Dad taught us the Bible, Sammy? It was just a story, wasn't it? Remember how we had laughed, because it just sounded so lame? Brothers don't do things like that to one another, not really. How could I have done this to you? Cain. Dean Cain. He was Superman. I'm not Superman. I love you, Sam.
"Um, did, did you hear me? It's okay if you don't want to..."
Dean heard the desperation in Sam's voice, so afraid he was pissing off big brother and that he would suffer for it, that he would be punished. He knew Sam wasn't just frightened; he was terrified. Sweet Christ, what had he done to his brother? Sam had never sounded as scared of John as he did of Dean right now.
I'll never do that to you again, Sammy. I'd cut off my dick first. I'd let Meg have me. I'd put the Colt to my head. Never again.
He kicked his legs over the bed and rose to his feet before silently floating toward the cheap, nicked dresser upon which sat his duffel. He needed a change of clothes; he didn't want to come out of the shower and have to dress in front of Sam. Sam should never seem him naked again, shouldn't be reminded of what Dean's body could do to him; had, on some level, wanted to do to him.
I just wanted to be with you, but not like that. What have I done?
Oh. Was he still naked? Well, that was embarrassing. He should do something about that. What had he done with the clothes he had been wearing?
He was taking too long. He could tell that Sam was getting nervous. Dean grabbed the entire bag, and darted across sitting area and into the bathroom, quietly shutting the door. No loud noises. He didn't want to spook Sam.
Scent of Sam. Everywhere. All over the bathroom, drying on the still-slick tiles. Pinkish residue at the bottom of the shower.
I've spilled my brother's blood.
Dean looked at his hands. Where was the blood? Shouldn't there be blood on them? It felt like there was. Blood smelled like iron; but didn't they use iron to kill evil shit? Or maybe it smelled like copper pots, the old ones he remembered Mary having. Hadn't Sam written a paper on that in tenth or eleventh grade? Blood on the hands. Hamlet? Macbeth? Lady Macbeth. At least she had had the grace to kill herself.
Dean wanted to follow her example but he couldn't, he couldn't leave Sam alone, no matter how much Sam hated him, would probably always hate him. Dean needed to hang around, to make sure no one or nothing would ever hurt his brother the way he just had. That nothing would hurt him again. He would never let anyone hurt Sam again. That was supposed to have been his job all along.
Dean realized that Sam hadn't spoken his name since It hadn't happened. He glared in the mirror at his reflection.
Who are you?
He leaned over and vomited into the toilet. He then turned the shower on full-blast. Hopefully Sam wouldn't hear him cry, because he knew he didn't deserve tears, not even his own.