they said it was the fall of man
SPN || R - sexuality, madness and weirdness || Sam/Dean || 7,900 words || general S6 spoilers
Sam gets his soul back on a Monday.
- Dedicated to etrix because she gave me a Christmas shiny. \o/
Sam gets his soul back on a Monday. He doesn't stop screaming until the following Sunday, and the irony isn't lost on Dean.
Dean and Bobby empty the panic room in the basement of all sharp objects, and they need Castiel's help to strap Sam down. Dean thought he'd been pretty much numbed to, well, everything, really, but the angel's inhuman calm that had so irritated him these last several months is suddenly the only thing keeping him from screaming right alongside his brother.
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 in as fine a state as possible for a forty-something-year-old car. He becomes the newest ghost in Bobby's house, shadowing doorways, turning pages of old books without reading them, rarely saying more than a few words at a time and 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 Christ, Dean hates 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 were far, far worse things than death, even if Sam without a soul been one scary-ass motherfucker and Dean hopes like hell – no. No, not 'like hell,' and suddenly he's having to bite back something that could as easily be tears as laughter.
So when he's standing in the middle of Bobby's library, knowing he went in there for some bullshit reason but he can't remember what it was, 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 yanking open the heavy iron door, who the fuck cares if he gets slammed with some infernal power, and Sam's staring up corpse-like at the slowly revolving ceiling fan. Dean's heart stops like time suddenly froze, 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 ribcage.
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, Jesus fucking Christ. Dean isn't, he doesn'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 cries lodged like stones in his throat. He almost wishes that Sam was still that cold empty shell, except that would mean his soul was in a hole in the ground and that'd be worse. Goddamn catch-22s.
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 an almond slant that never came from Mary or John. When he's not in the panic room, he's in Bobby's junkyard, fucking around with the scraps under the pretense of work but not actually doing much more than shifting things around.
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 the angel doesn't respond, just stares at Sam with narrowed eyes before suddenly disappearing in a rush of bird's wings.
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, tilted down and away so it's 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, and even if he doesn't know what it means he'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, although the IV remains, trailing from the bend of his elbow like a thick white vein. It's posing a doll with skin nearly as hot as a furnace, muscle sharply defined because the body's lost weight it already couldn't afford to lose. That six and a half foot wall of strength is faded, pulled and torn until he's barely 'Sam' anymore.
Every few days Dean gently pushes him upright and has him sit on the edge of his cot, feet on the floor. Sam hasn't made a sound since his midnight whispers and Dean tries hard not to think that Enochian is probably the only language he's heard in decades, just runs the wet sponge over his little brother'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, but it's nothing human, just animal behavior. 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 a baby's bottom and now Sam's the one that looks like the canvas of a macabre artist. Which is entirely strange, and backwards, and makes Dean choke a little because it means he failed, left Sammy alone and wasn't fast enough, smart enough –
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 softened, over-cooked vegetables. Dean has to feed Sam by hand but Sam will eat with a little prompting, will sit up and lie down at a gentle push, and while it's a vast improvement on the days of screaming that left Sam's throat torn up and bleeding, it's painful, somewhere between the lines of helplessness and awareness. And it's the lack of awareness that leaves a bitter taste in the back of Dean's mouth, the way Sam's long bangs tend to fall over his eyes and, when Dean brushes them back, the way Sam just looks through him like a window. (To the soul, Dean thinks, but it really isn't funny.)
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 as fuck and Dean forces himself not to start cataloguing all the creatures that can possess humans. 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 but Dean handles it dutifully, doesn't complain, because in comparison Sam's continued not-Sam-ness is worse.
One day Dean lifts a spoonful of broth and a chunk of mushy carrot and Sam's hand lashes out like a striking serpent, gripping Dean's wrist so hard that he leaves finger-shaped bruises. 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. Trained instinct wants him to break the hold and counter, but Dean shoves it down and holds himself very still, ignoring the grip that's starting to grind the bones in his wrist together.
"Micam adoian de Satan," Sam says softly, voice cracking from abuse. "Saisch."
"Okay, Sammy," Dean replies calmly, as though these aren't the first conscious words Sam's said since getting back his soul. As though he hadn't just heard the title Satan tossed in there like a party favor.
"Saisch," Sam repeats, and goddamnit but the next time Dean sees Castiel he's going to sit the angel down and make him teach Dean fucking Enochian. Almost two hundred years of being trapped with two of Heaven's most powerful angels and English must've been burned out of him, Latin too (and Sumerian, because the kid was a fucking overachiever), and probably the elementary Spanish he'd taken as a freshman in college.
"Saisch," Sam says for a third time, as though it were an invocation (just what Dean needs), and maybe Dean's imagining it, maybe he's projecting his desperation or whatever, but the word rolls off Sam's tongue like a lover's name, rich with things so complicated that Dean can't even begin to pick it apart.
It's entirely possible that it means something evil or is even a celestial 'fuck you,' but Dean takes a chance and repeats, "Saisch." It's awkward and the syllables don't fit his mouth like they do Sam's, but Sam's eyes are tracking the movement of his lips like he's explaining the meaning of life. Maybe he is. Maybe the whole reason God created the universe and then walked away like a motherfucker can be summed up in a single word.
Sam's other hand comes up to press the pads of his middle and pointer fingers against Dean's bottom lip and, whoa, what the fuck. His head twitches back and Sam pauses, watches him closely with a piercing stare the way he hasn't since he was four years old and utterly fascinated with Dean's every move. He reaches out again, and this time Dean lets Sam run his fingers over his 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. It makes Dean self-conscious, so he stares right back, hiding how disturbed he is by the yellow rings in hazel-green eyes.
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, and Dean suddenly realizes that he's been holding his breath. He lets it out in a soft whoosh and musters up a smile that he hopes looks less fragile than it feels.
"C'mon, kiddo, naptime," and Sam doesn't resist the push against his shoulders, just settles back and returns to staring at the slowly-revolving ceiling fan.
Dean barely manages not to run up the stairs. He keeps it down to a brisk stride.
Sam wasn't the only brother Dean lost that day. But Christ, Dean can't help but be grateful (not to God, never that asshole, but to something, anything else) that it was Sam who came back. It makes him feel like the worst sort of person to admit it, but that doesn't make it any less true, and it's not like he hasn't been sacrificing pieces of himself for Sam his whole life anyway.
That night, Dean dreams. The act of dreaming itself isn't anything worth mentioning, not since it's been so intense these last two and a half years that he manages only a few hours of sleep a night anyway, but this time he knows it. Lucid dreaming, twelve-year-old Sam had once explained excitedly, convinced that it was the first step to astral travel and therefore maybe fewer hunts that left his dad and big brother in literal stitches. (That kid had a strange mind, capable of both intuitive brilliance and utter blindness.)
Dean is 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 with some unnamed, instinctual fear, the paranoia of being watched making his skin crawl. He thinks about climbing the horizontal bars, but when he looks up there's only piercing darkness and no sign of escape.
A quick pat-down tells him that he's completely unarmed. 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 as flat as in a soundproofed room or a thick pillow. "Sam?"
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, relieved to hear his voice echoing normally even though his body is tensed for action, unused adrenaline making him shaky. 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. Jesus fuck. Dean's about to get up and find a whiskey, one of the many things of which Bobby never seems to run out, 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, but if anyone asks, it's always five o'clock somewhere. Under normal circumstances he probably wouldn't have bothered to tell Bobby about his dream, but this is Sam.
"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's too busy trying not to think about hooks and chains and Alastair's curved blade of a smile, things that had been blunted by the sheer mind-numbing normalcy of life with a beautiful woman and a great kid in middle-class suburbia. 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.
"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 that 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. Dean tells himself that there's already been a marked improvement in Sam's condition (ha), but it still feels like his world has been narrowed down to just the two of them, Bobby hovering on the periphery but everything else shut out and away. Awkward calls to Lisa, the few surviving Campbells, Crowley, they all only existed in the fevered hallucinations of Hell-broken men. He even tries calling Chuck, figures a prophet might have an answer, but a voice recording tells him the line's been disconnected.
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. The most unhealthy, tangled-up, crazy thing, Lisa had said, unaware of just how horribly right she was.
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 was 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 or using them. But nothing happens in those dreams after that first night. No rustling, no fangs, no eyes so blue they remind him of Castiel.
More and more Sam is beginning to meet Dean's eyes. 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. 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. 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. Seriously, and 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 gross. Except the soap never hits the floor; instead it hovers like some fucked-up little UFO or like a ghost managed to catch it, except no ghost could get into that fortress of a panic room. Dean watches it rise and fall harmlessly into his outstretched hand, but when he glances at Sam, his brother is still staring at his bent knees as though the small scar he got at eight years old, when Dean got mad and pushed him off a bike, holds some kind of esoteric answer.
"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. He pauses. "You're not wearing that fugly trenchcoat." Well, it's a trenchcoat, but it's now a medium brown.
Castiel blinks. "Dean, did you hear me?"
Dean heard him. But since when did angels even think to change their vessel's clothes?
"If Lucifer is inside Sam, we may have to take measures."
"Measures?" Dean repeats, hearing threat to Sam. "What the fuck kind of measures?"
"That will depend on the nature of Sam's relationship to Lucifer," and hey, at least the angel's remembered something about human tact, if only a vague shadow of it. There was no outright mention of smiting, after all. Or an I told you so.
"You're not going anywhere near him."
"Dean," Castiel says patiently, and there's even a note of sympathy there, give his feathered ass a Scooby Snack, "I have no intention of hurting Sam as long as Lucifer remains caged."
Dean feels the handle of his gun pressing into the small of back, and it's reassuring, even if bullets don't even faze angels. He can't help stalling. "Sam's been repeating this word, something like 'saisch.' Do you know what it means?"
Castiel tilts his head, brow creasing slightly. "He's been speaking Enochian?"
"Yeah, I dunno, it's like trying to tune into a radio station but the only ones you get are in Spanish."
Castiel frowns, gaze turning inwards thoughtfully.
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 hovers, forgetting his own rules on personal space and violating Castiel's.
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," the angel says with more gravity than usual, arms loose at his sides and about as unthreatening as a multi-dimensional wavelength of celestial intent can possibly be. Dean hovers a few steps behind and to the right of Castiel's shoulder, unconsciously biting the inside of his cheek.
"Amma oiad," murmurs Sam, and there's an echo to his voice, as though someone were whispering along in concert. There's a bone-deep sense of wrongness and it 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, thundering in the back of Sam's throat. "I olora. Ol cnila od doalim."
That deep, whispering undertone is still there, crawling over and around Sam's own voice. A force like a 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 in a bizarre combination of serpentine grace and inhuman, mechanical jerks, shirt open over his chest and the sweatpants threatening to slide off his 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," and the angel breathes, "What is your name?"
"Micam adoian de Satan," Sam repeats. The dark undertone has grown thorns, ripping apart any pretense of humanity in his voice.
"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 Dean can see a long fresh scar cut into the iron wall. To think that telekinetically moving a wardrobe was once impressive, and Dean can't help the snort of helpless, hopeless laughter.
"Tell me your name!" Castiel commands a third time, words warped by the blood in his vessel's throat. The unnatural strength of his shout makes Dean's ears ring, 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 stubborn will to drop in front of Sam and grip his wrists.
"Sam, hey, Sammy, s'okay, not gonna leave you, you're safe," he says without thinking, not like he hasn't been saying that his whole life, 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 has to tamp down 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, wraps him in his arms as though Sam were five years old again and waking up from a nightmare. As his hands reach the sharp points of Sam's shoulder-blades, however, his fingers hit something hard covered in a layer of smooth softness, like velvet stretched over the armrest of a wooden chair. Sam shudders and pushes his face hard into Dean's collarbone.
"Cas?" Dean says in a raw voice. "What the fuck just happened?"
Behind him he hears Castiel's footsteps approach, a little unsteady. He coughs and spits blood to one side. "That wasn't Sam."
"What do you mean," except Dean knows exactly what Castiel means and can't accept it, doesn't want to. 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."
Castiel does his thing and fixes the overhead light and broken desk with a brief glance. 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, trailing limply along the floor. Blood streaks Sam's neck, seeps from the corners of his eyes like they're in Stigmata and Sam's the possessed chick scrawling scripture all over the walls.
"I believe my presence aggravated Sam's condition," the angel explains as he lets Sam's arm slip off his shoulders.
"Okay," 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 one of Dean's own hands is wrapped around the nape of his brother's neck. There'll be bruises there 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, brows slightly furrowed. "I don't know how Sam is keeping him locked down, but it explains a number of things."
"Of course it does, except when it doesn't."
"I don't understand you."
Dean doesn't even bother. "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, um. Well, it's like Hell, said Meg, 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 in his nightmares and knows that Lucifer's coiled around his brother'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's frown deepens as he translates, "'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.
The wings don't go away. Dean thinks that once upon a time they might've been white but now they're darker than the Impala's paint job, the feathers matte as though absorbing light. Sam has to lie on his side or stomach, letting them drape like heavy curtains, and Dean hates touching them. They're an oil slick under his hands, the feathers parting around his fingers like water and then clinging to his skin like filth.
Sam watches him silently, and if he's not speaking, well, at least he isn't yelling in Enochian anymore. It's like something broke, some kind of dam, but Dean isn't sure yet what was released. If it keeps on rainin', the levee's going to break.
So Dean 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 to lift the wings clear of the sides without twisting something. Small, repetitive exercises and the increasingly rich diet is slowly bringing back a little muscle, making him 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 in strategic locations around the house, Dean pretends not to notice. Bobby hasn't thrown them out, hell, he's still providing food and shelter and protection, and besides, this is between Dean and Sam, just like always, and fuck the world. Just – fuck it, fuck Heaven and Hell and destiny. People think they get it, Bobby's you think I don't miss Sam either, even Lisa and her my sister and I are close too, but it's like someone standing on the edge of the ocean and calling it a lake. What they think they see doesn't even begin to approach the reality, the whole paradigm of the goddamned universe, and maybe it's twisted and sick and unhealthy but fuck it. The love and the lies and the sacrifices, it's sewing up your brother with your hands in his flesh, it's hating one another because you love him so goddamned much it's like dying in slow motion.
It should've fucking been over.
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 wings rustle with a sound like restless murmurs. Dean doesn't want to think about whether or not that's more than a metaphor. He 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.
And every night, Dean dreams of a room made from Sam's ribs and the beating of his heart. Nothing tries to rip him apart, and now that he knows what this is and isn't panicking he's surrounded by the sense of Sam. But the same thing that had given Sam's voice that undertone straight out of The Exorcist remains, angry and bitter on a level that only a fallen angel can manage.
What do I do, Sam, he says. I don't know how to fix this.
Days pass. Maybe weeks. He'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.
182 years, 182 days and Dean's stopped counting. 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 drag along the ground, leaving twin trails of blackness that dissipate almost immediately, but Sam stands up a little taller, lifts his head while the arm he has around Dean's waist tightens painfully. It suddenly 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, and the urge to beg forgiveness is almost overwhelming.
"Dean," says Sam for the second time since Castiel demanded his name. His voice is low and raspy from disuse but purely 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 before he can respond. "Hey, Sammy. We're at Bobby's, remember?"
Sam turns his head in response, blinking slowly at Dean but present, aware, and Dean couldn't stop his grin if he tried.
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 it makes him somewhat nervous.
"Sam?" he manages groggily, his left side pinned to the joined cots by Sam's warm weight. His brother is braced on one elbow, face pressed into the curve of Dean's neck, with a broad hand spreading long fingers over his sternum. The repaired desk lamp is just bright enough for Dean to see the silhouette fanning over them like an umbrella, and Christ it's Sam's fucking wings, flared wide as an eagle's. Between the low light and their utterly unnatural appearance it's impossible to pick out individual feathers.
Sam presses himself all along the side of Dean's body as though trying to cover as much surface area as possible, hand moving up to cover his 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?"
The lack of verbal communication has never been so frustrating. Sam suddenly sits up and swings a leg over, settling himself on Dean's thighs, 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 the headstrong little brother and doesn't listen. Dean's tall but Sam's taller, all lean lines and long limbs, and it's intimidating when he's used to softer, curvier bodies underneath his own.
Sam's gaze is sharp in the almond slant of his eyes that never came from Mary or John. Dean really, really hopes that the flash of gold he sees in hazel-green irises is just a reflection of the lamp, and yeah, his brother's always been rather intense, but he still can't decide if it's a blessing or curse when he's the sole focus of it.
"Sam," Dean tries again, but Sam's tilting forward, pressing his cheek against Dean's, the flicker of his eyelashes soft against Dean's skin, and Dean has the inane thought that bleeding from his ears obviously hadn't affected Sam's balance if he's able to manage that position with the weight of those wings. Sam rakes blunt nails down Dean's chest at the same time he licks the soft skin behind his ear, and Dean would've instinctively thrown him off with a jerk of his hips if Sam hadn't just settled more heavily. 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 voice saying, Sammy? Am I dead? Is this Heaven?
There's a rumble deep in Sam's chest that Dean feels against his own and something…pushing at his head, like a finger stroking the inside of his skull. Castiel once said that demon blood made the vessel stronger, except Sam hasn't had any of that in ages and Azazel had said there'd been potential before he ever got into that nursery, and he's not sure which is worse: That this is coming from Lucifer, or coming from his brother. He feels the pressure prodding gently but firmly against his mind, his fucking mind, but he forces himself to relax because, at the bottom line, this is Sam.
It's how you can see the real world while also daydreaming, the mental eye versus the physical, and on top of the gloom in the panic room he can see a panorama unfolding like origami in reverse. It's worse than the prison inside Sam's Enochian-inscribed ribcage, worse than Alastair's torture chambers that had inspired Himmler himself, and this, this must be Lucifer, who birthed Sin and convinced the first humans to let in the darkness and love each other more than they loved God
but then it's just his brother, his dorky kid brother that could solve the New York Times' crossword puzzles in pen since he was thirteen. Dean feels disconnected from his own body, recognizes Sam's weight and touch as only vague things on the edge of perception. Parts of himself he'd never known existed are opening up and for a moment he knows what it's like to have searing visions, but then the knowledge disappears again. He tastes the terrifying freedom of discovering yourself on your own terms, tainted with the bitter regret of leaving behind the person that had been your world for so long, but then it slips from his mental fingers. He drowns under the weight of half-losing your sanity to grief and self-loathing at not being able to save your brother, and then he surfaces again.
He comes back to himself wrapped in the heaviness of Sam's love and guilt and anger and want. He could probably figure out what Sam saw in him but he doesn't care, he doesn't have anything to hide anymore because there isn't much further to fall. His nerves feel exposed, body sparking where Sam's skin presses against his, and he can't remember the most widespread human taboo anymore when Sam tilts his hips forward. Dean's hard, achingly hard, because it's the only way his body knows how to translate everything, and the pressure of Sam's cock against his own has his spine bowing upwards and his hands sliding up and around Sam's body. When his hands hit the base of Sam's wings, he goes nearly blind with the sensation of thick, syrupy sin spilling under his skin.
Sam's leaning on his elbows now, one hand cradling the curve of Dean's skull and his lips moving against Dean's throat as he rocks his hips in long, rolling motions. Whatever he's whispering slows the spread of Lucifer's poison, turns it into something heady but not suffocating, and the pull and drag of Dean's jeans against his cock is rough to the point of hurting but he can't care. He's half out of his mind and anyway loving Sam has always been the most painful thing he's done, so he just tightens his fingers around the cold, smooth feathers and drags his brother closer.
When he realizes that Sam is whispering Dean, Dean, mine, saische, always mine, Dean comes so hard in his jeans he nearly blacks out.
Each day has only a few hours of sunlight when Dean starts to notice things.
He knows when Sam is going to reach out for him before he actually moves.
The soup spoon slides towards his fingers when it's slightly out of reach.
The lamp dims at night without him touching it.
When he's upstairs in the kitchen, he's always been able to see Bobby's worry, but now he knows that Bobby is also frightened for them and maybe a little bit of them, yet still stays up until dawn looking through books to find a way to help Sam, lies through the act of a crotchety old man on the few occasions hunters show up looking for the legendary Winchesters. The first time he really understands everything he's doing for the brothers, Dean throws his arms around Bobby the way he hasn't since he was a kid going to visit 'Uncle Bobby.' The man looks at him like he's lost his mind, which is probably at least a little accurate, but Dean doesn't explain and there are no accusations of chick-flick moments, so maybe Bobby understands after all.
"Dude, I think your mojo is, like, bleeding into me," he tells Sam. "Quit it."
Sam glances at him, but just goes back to the drawing pad and pencil that Bobby had rustled up for him. Drawing's always been one of the few things Sam sucks ass at, but it keeps him occupied in the real world. Still no talking, but that's okay, Dean's been working with less, after all. He pictures the backseat of the Impala and the line of duct tape John had put there after too many arguments on whose side belonged to whom, and Sam is suddenly shaking. Dean nearly has a heart attack before he realizes it's laughter, laughter at the memory, and. Fuck. This is. Of all the things that have happened it's this, this whatever-it-is, that makes Dean land hard on his ass and, just, lose it.
The pencil clatters to the floor as Sam slides off the bed and crawls over like an enormous cat – winged cat, Dean thinks hysterically, and he should be allowed a minor breakdown after months and months of taking care of his Devil-possessed Enochian-rambling little brother, damn it. Sam sits behind him and wraps himself around Dean as best he can, wings arched over them like a canopy, and for the third time says quietly, clearly, "Dean." Dean thinks that this is the most physical contact he's had since childhood outside the bedroom. Which sets off another round of hysteria because, holy fucking Christ, he's had his brother on top of him, more than once, and sometimes beside him, he's had his brother's jizz on his goddamn skin, heard the hitching of breath and the stutter of heartbeat that is totally not okay for a sibling to know about the other except he can't honestly, sincerely regret it. Which is almost worse.
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 physically couldn't anymore, 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. Had the sneaking suspicion that it wouldn't be that easy anyway.
"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 job to protect you."
The pencil rolls a few feet across the floor and the desk lamp protests squeakily as it shifts a few inches. Dean's not sure when the shadow created by the covering of feathers disappears, but 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 wings themselves have disappeared. Doesn't know what it means, but he'll ask Cas the next time he shows up. 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, when the levee breaks they'll make their own unhealthy, tangled-up, crazy corner of the universe.
Cnila = blood
Teloch = death
Tatan = wormwood
Vpaahi = wings
Saisch = brother(s)
Micam adoian de Satan = behold the face of Satan
Amma oiad = cursed of God
Niiso = come away
Bagle de saisch = for your brother
I olora = (he) is man.
Ol cnila od doalim = of blood and sin