title: His Soul to Keep
characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, Ruby, Bobby, Lilith
genre:gen, (hard-gen Sam/Dean)
warnings: dark fic, horror, hallucinations, dub-con soul-binding, gaslighting, Sam Winchester on demon blood, show-typical violence; the opposite of angst with a happy ending
story summary: Dean’s deal is coming due soon. When he finds out from Ruby that Hell will turn him into a demon, he refuses to accept it, even though he can already feel pieces of his soul starting to crumble away. Sam is his only anchor to the world, and Dean finds it harder and harder to leave his side.
Written for the spneldritchbang. Big thanks to my beta wetsammy !
DEAN (JANUARY 2008)
“Every demon I’ve ever met. They were all human once.”
Dean listened to Ruby, considering; demons lied, it was in their nature. Unless the truth hurt worse.
“And before you ask, the answer’s yes. Same thing’ll happen to you,” Ruby said solemnly, and even though Dean wanted to rail against her, what was the point? She had nothing to gain from telling him this, so why had she?
He headed back to the motel room, determined to keep to himself, to feign exhaustion so he could head right to bed and turn his back to Sam before he caught on to how shaken Dean was. Sam was broken up enough about this whole mess. He didn’t need to know about this part too.
But when he got back to the room, Sam wasn’t even there. He’d probably gone to get new toothbrushes or something. Theirs had gotten pretty rank, truth be told. Dean’s barely had bristles left.
It gave Dean a chance to freak out in private for a few more minutes, to shower in water that felt both too cold and too hot. When he came out wrapped in a towel, with a carefully neutral face, Sam was back, and just as unsettled, if not more so, than Dean.
“Where’d you go?” Dean asked, not, What’s wrong? like he really wanted to.
“To get some air,” Sam answered, shucking off his shoes and flannel.
You okay? “Crappy day, huh?”
Sam nodded grimly, and got under the sheet, turning his back to Dean.
“Night, Sammy,” Dean said, and he didn’t say another word, because he wouldn’t be able to keep his voice steady. God, he hated this. He hated himself for what he’d done, for what his deal was doing to Sam. But even if he’d had a chance at a do-over, he’d make the same choice. It was worth it, all this pain, everything. Sam was alive, and that made it all worth it.
It still sucked, though.
The morning after, Dean still refused to accept what Ruby had told him. Ruby was a demon. She was lying. Except, Dean knew she wasn’t. There really was no way out, and he was going to Hell, and it was only a matter of time before he ended up being just like her. A demon. A thing to be hunted.
“It won’t happen to me,” Dean said to himself. “I won’t let it.”
There wasn’t anyone around to hear him, Sam had gone out for provisions. It was a good thing too, because overnight, Dean’s resignation had turned into a simmering rage, and he had to let some out, now. He paced, tempted to punch the wall, but threw a punch at the mattress instead, frustrated. It didn't help.
Sam came back with bacon and egg sandwiches and Dean managed to give him a smile, staunchly ignored the heartbroken look in Sam’s eyes, and kept them from even talking about yesterday by pointing out every suspicious looking thing he saw in the paper. They found a case soon enough.
Dean couldn’t stop thinking about it—his fate, the outcome of his upcoming time in Hell. His soul's trajectory became more and more of a certainty. And after Jeremy and the dream-root, every time Dean shut his eyes, all he could see was himself with black eyes, mocking him and his fraying hope for salvation.
That other him was cruel and soulless and inevitable. And if that was who he was going to become, what if he got out? Then it’d be up to Sam to put him down.
He’d have to talk to him about that. Soon. Sammy if I ever come back, you’re gonna have to kill me. Dean could barely stomach the thought of saying those words to Sam. But he’d have to.
It was a cruel irony. His father had told him he might have to kill his brother, and now he had to give the same speech to Sam.
Sam would refuse, but Dean knew he’d do the right thing, if he had to, if it really came down to it. Sam always did the right thing; he was their moral compass. He wouldn’t let Dean become a monster. He wouldn’t.
After Broward County, things got worse. Dean’d been planning to talk to Sam about it all. To tell him what he needed to do, what he had to promise to do. More than that, he had to tell him to keep going. Ruby had been right about that part too: Sam had to be ready to fight on alone, without Dean.
But something had happened to Sam at that Mystery Spot. He’d told Dean some of it: the time loop, the Trickster, but something else had happened. Something Sam wouldn’t tell Dean, and whatever it was had left Sam with a heaviness he couldn’t seem to shake anymore. These days, he always had bags beneath his eyes, a stiffness to his shoulders, and a wariness in him that never ever faded. Sam seemed permanently changed—older, like he’d gone through months of unimaginable pain, while Dean remembered nothing.
And as the days passed, it grew harder for Dean to talk to Sam, not easier. He wasn’t sure why. It was like the looming deadline had made him even more of a coward than he usually was. He could barely look Sam in the eyes anymore, without wanting to fall to his knees and weep, let alone tell him to be his executioner.
Then Bela set them up, and Henriksen dragged them to jail.
They were sitting ducks. Shackled in a cell with a whole horde of demons heading for them. That was new.
“They’ve never come for us before, “ Dean mused. “It’s like we’ve got a contract out on us or something. You think it’s because we’re so awesome? I think it’s because we’re so awesome.” Sam didn’t answer, but Dean kept his mask of confidence plastered on as thick as he could manage. He didn’t want Sam to see him lose his cool, and he absolutely wouldn’t give Henriksen that satisfaction.
The night went to shit pretty fast. And then there was Ruby with her abso-fucking-lutely brilliant plan to sacrifice a virgin. But then again, she was a demon. The worst part was that Sam seemed to be considering it. Dean talked them out of it and they did his plan instead: trapping all the demons inside to do a mass exorcism.
They saved nearly everyone, including Nancy the virgin.
Well, for a few hours, anyway. By the time they got back to the motel, Lilith had paid a visit to the police station and killed the survivors. Ruby showed up at the motel Sam and Dean had holed up in for the night and flipped on the tv, made them watch it all on the news; Dean's stomach turned at the sight of all the smiling photos: Nancy, Henriksen, all of them dead.
“After all your crap about the sanctity of life," Ruby gloated, "turns out my plan was the one with the lower body count.”
Dean wanted to snap back at her but was at a loss. Sam looked just as horrified, swallowing silently with his arms crossed over his chest,
“Why’s Lilith have it out for us so bad?” Dean mused out loud.
“Like I said, she sees Sam as competition. Those were her cronies that came for you both tonight. Everybody else at the station was just collateral damage.” Ruby paused, letting the horror of that sink in fully.
“Plus,” Ruby said, moving a few steps closer, “she already staked a claim on you, Dean. Maybe she wanted to collect early.”
“Yeah. She holds your deal. She holds all the deals.”
Dean felt sick. That attack on the police station was personal, meant to show them how futile their efforts had been. Like Dean didn’t already feel terrible enough. He was already damned, but now other innocent people were paying for his deal too.
“How long have you known, Ruby?” Sam asked, voice low and dangerous. He’d dropped his arms to his side, fingers in his right hand flexing and curling.
“I suspected. But I knew if I told you—you two yahoos would’ve gone in half-cocked and Lilith would’ve peeled the meat from your pretty, pretty faces. You’re only going to get one chance to take her down. You need to be ready.” She kept her eyes on Sam like she was challenging him
Dean staunchly ignored the part of him that agreed with her and focused instead on his own anger that his brother kept trusting this demon. But once Ruby left, Sam’s shoulders drooped and he looked so damn miserable, Dean couldn’t keep his anger stoked.
Instead, he turned the lights down, gave Sam first shower as a peace offering, and planned on telling him some stupid-ass joke when he got out. But the second Dean settled back on the motel bed, he fell asleep, pulled under by exhaustion. In his dreams, he was running, chased by a black-eyed version of himself through a forest of leafless knotted trees and dried cracked earth, through dark hallways that stunk of sewage, through graveyards full of open gaping holes. He knew distantly that it was just a dream, but no matter how much he struggled, he couldn't wake up.
Dean woke up late, head still heavy, like he could easily sleep for another three hours. Or days. But he didn't want to—he knew what was waiting for him.
He did a mental once-over, checking his thoughts, going over his most important memories. Hell is forgetting, Ruby had said. So Dean was determined to remember and keep remembering. If he started now, maybe it’d be easier once he was down below.
Eyes still closed against the early morning light, Dean set to work projecting the movie-reel of his memories, his top twenty—not all good, but important to him: Mom’s smile when she hung his art on the fridge; holding baby Sam in his arms as their house went up in flames; the fireworks that Fourth of July; Dad telling him he might have to kill Sam; the weight of Sam collapsing in his arms after Jake had stabbed him; Dad’s face when he came back from the dead to help them kill Yellow Eyes; the kickback of the Colt in his hand; Sam asking, How long did you get?
The sun had been fully up for a while, and when Dean finally forced his eyes open again, he noticed the other bed was empty. Sam came in seconds later with a bag of breakfast—the smell of McDonald’s hash browns seeping into the room to fill the air.
Dean used to love that smell. Part of him still did, but the other part that was always thinking about his impending eternity of pain and fire, couldn’t help but imagine skin in a deep fryer and how that would smell. He plastered on a smile though, and shone it at Sam, full force. “You went all out, huh?”
“All I could find. Not much around here.”
“What, are you kidding? This is the breakfast of champions.”
Sam sat down across from him with an oversized coffee. “You sleep okay?”
“Like a baby,” Dean lied. Sam caught his gaze, and held him there, captive. He looked healthier, Dean thought, more color in his cheeks than he'd had of late. As Sam stripped off his jacket, Dean couldn’t help but notice how broad his shoulders had gotten. He’d avoided really thinking about it. Sam getting taller than him was something he’d only begrudgingly accepted a few years ago, but this—this filling out or whatever it was he was doing, was highly unfair.
Of course, Dean reminded himself, it wouldn’t matter soon. So what if Sam was built better. Dean wouldn’t even be around to compete with him.
“Don’t let it get cold,” Sam said, snapping Dean out of his reverie. “Those things taste like shit when they get cold.”
“Nah, that’s fries. Hash browns are fine cold.” Dean reached for the bag Sam was holding out, fingers brushing against Sam’s. He felt a prickle run through him, down to his wrist, like his hand had been asleep.
Sam looked at him, curiously for a second, like he’d felt it too, but the tingling stopped just as quickly, and Sam said, “Dude. Cold deep-fried food is disgusting.”
“Whatever.” Dean bit into the hash brown, enthusiastically. “They are way better hot though.” The fried potato was in fact piping hot, hot enough that his first bite burned his tongue. But Dean didn’t let it show, didn’t even flinch, keeping his smile going for Sam.
“Whoever this Lilith is,” Bobby said, heavily, “she really knows how to hide.”
Dean shifted the phone in his grip as he squeezed his eyes shut. He wasn’t gonna let it get to him. They’d given Bobby Lilith’s name in the hopes he could track her down.
“I thought I was getting close a couple of times, but it’s like she’s got a signal blocker or something. There’s plenty of demonic omens, but I don’t know which one is her. There’s too many running loose right now.”
Dean winced inwardly. They’d tried to stop that, too. The Devil’s Gate. “Thanks anyway, Bobby. If she gets sloppy—“
“You and Sam’ll be the first to know,” Bobby said solemnly.
They didn’t hear from Bobby again for weeks. Instead, Dean got a call from Dad.
They'd found a case where people were getting phone calls from their dead loved ones. But Dad on the other end of the line, saying Dean’s name—it seemed almost too good to be true.
“Dad?” Sam asked dubiously when Dean told him.
“I know how it sounds," Dean said, "But what if it really is Dad?” Logically, Dean knew it couldn’t have been Dad, but then Dad had crawled out of Hell before to save them. Why not now—to save his son? “What happens if he calls back?”
"It's not him," Sam said. "It can't be."
Dean knew Sam was right, but he couldn't stop thinking about it, because it felt like hope—real tangible hope—for the first time in months. If Dad was really calling him from beyond the grave, then Dean had to listen. No matter what Sam said.
“I know a way out for both of you…” Dad told him when he called back. "I know where the demon is that holds your deal and an exorcism that'll kill it."
Despite Sam's protests, despite him begging Dean to wait for him, Dean left, Dad's promise too important to ignore. But as he drove further away from Sam, that hope turned sour. He felt on edge, jittery without Sam by his side, less tangible with each passing mile, like Sam was the only thing keeping him solid.
When he got to the address Dad had given him, Dean put his unease aside and his plan into motion. He painted a Devil's trap on the floor under the throw rug, got his holy water and exorcism ready and waited. He didn't have to wait long.
But something was wrong: the guy wasn’t strong like a demon. Dean thought back to that fight with the big bad wolf guy that the comatose little girl had driven to violence, and it clicked. He’d been played—by some monster pretending to be Dad. This wasn’t a demon, there was no spell to kill a demon, and Dean was still going to Hell
Dean drove back, hands shaky, pulse racing. There were fine fishing line threads tugging on his insides, reeling him in—back to Sam. Once he hit the highway, he pressed down on the pedal even harder, picked up the pace as much as he could without begging to get pulled over.
His hands were still trembling by the time he pulled into the motel parking lot, and hurried back into their room. They didn't stop shaking until Sam came back moments later, but when he saw Sam's face, how dejected he looked, Dean's heart dropped like a stone. He felt awful. “You were right, Sammy, it wasn’t Dad.”
Sam sat on the bed across from him and pulled off his boots, but didn't say a word.
“Sam, I’m sorry.” Dean stood there awkwardly, before sitting down next to Sam. “I’m staring down the barrel of this thing, you know? Hell—for real, forever.” He cleared his throat, forced himself to go on. “I’m scared, Sam. I’m really scared.”
“I know,” Sam said, ever so quietly, and his chin was quivering.
“I guess I was ready to believe anything.”
“It’s okay to believe there’s a way out,” Sam said, but he still wouldn’t look at him.
Dean grabbed for Sam's hand, desperate to get his attention—not wanting to bring him to tears, yet unable to not offer some modicum of comfort. And when their hands touched it was like a circuit had closed. A wave of desperation overcame him, he had to make Sam understand. “But Dad’s not gonna get me out of this. Nobody is. I have to get myself out.”
“No, you don’t,” Sam said, turning towards Dean, “You can’t. But I can. And I will.”
Dean couldn't help himself, he huffed out a bitter laugh. It was a sweet sentiment, but it was also ludicrous. Sam was as powerless as he was. “Sam, I know you’re gonna try but—“
“No,” Sam snapped. His eyes held a ferocity that made Dean flinch, despite himself. “I’m gonna do a hell of a lot more than try, I—“ he clutched Dean's hand, painfully tight, “—I will get you out of this, Dean, I swear. You have to believe me. Please,” and the heat from his grip spilled up into Dean, his own icy fear melting in the face of Sam’s iron determination.
And just like that, Dean did. Despite himself, despite everything. He believed his brother. “Okay. Okay, I believe you.”
Sam looked at him and nodded, but Dean kept holding on, until Sam finally gave him a weak smile back. And Dean couldn’t stop staring, traced Sam’s features with his mind, committing every last detail to memory: his lips, his eyes, the little twitch in his jaw when he was trying not to cry, the fine golden streaks in his hair. Dean’s chest ached and he felt like every cell of his was reaching for Sam, trying to pull him closer, trying to comfort him. Sam had to be okay. He had to be. Otherwise all of this—everything Dean had gone through and everything that was coming—was for nothing.
When he had finally satisfied himself Sam was as calm as he was going to get, Dean let go of his hand and stood, dizzy and weak-kneed. His equilibrium was all out of whack. This emotional rollercoaster was definitely worse than the grim acceptance he’d had a few days ago. But if the cost of apathy was losing Sam in all the ways that mattered, then it was better to hurt. Better to suffer through with paper-thin hope. After all, he only had to make it another two weeks.
Dean woke up well after sunrise again, head heavy with sleep. It annoyed him. He’d thought, with the sand in his hourglass running out, that he wouldn’t sleep as much. He certainly didn’t want to. But he was sleeping more than he had in years. Thankfully, it was a dreamless sleep. He’d been having enough nightmares while he was awake these days.
He caught glimpses of wrongness every time he looked in a mirror: an emptiness in his eyes, like he was losing pieces of himself. He started searching for flecks of black amidst the green but never found any. They were there though; he was sure of it, could feel the little pinpricks of Hell’s claim pushing their way out.
The bellowing of hounds was all around him. All the time. Far away enough that he knew they weren’t coming for him just yet, but they were there. Watching. And sometimes, when he looked at people, he saw their faces distort—mouths turning black and cavernous, eyes hollow and empty, something festering in their veins: their sin on the verge of leaking out through their pores.
He never saw it in Sam though, which was a comfort. Sam was nearly the opposite: his insides were shining, his face a source of calm, and Dean found himself drawn to him—like he needed to be close to him. His insides felt itchy when Sam wasn’t there, and when they were apart for more than a few minutes he felt a low-grade panic build that got stronger and stronger the more time passed.
Once, when Dean went out to get dinner for them, with the intent of getting burgers, he made it five miles down the highway and couldn't go any further. It physically hurt him to be this far away from Sam; hurt was putting it mildly—it felt like there were hooks digging into his flesh, pulling on his heart, screaming at him to go back. So he turned around and went to the pizza place at the three-mile mark. It was stupid, Dean told himself, as he gulped in breaths, trying to calm himself before heading back into their room.
The moment he laid eyes on Sam, sitting on the ratty couch in the motel room, the pain vanished. Now he just felt empty. He had to touch Sam, so he brought the pizza box over, clapped him on the shoulder and sat next to him, their legs pressing against each other while they ate. Sam was gracious enough not to comment on it, or make it weird, and Dean was pitifully grateful for that.
Deep inside he knew why he couldn’t stand to be apart from his brother anymore, why he had to be in contact with him to feel marginally okay. Sam was his only real, constant connection to this world. The only one who’d really notice when he went away.
Every time Sam smiled at him, it was like sun hitting his skin: warm and healing and everything he wanted. Sam watching him with those steady, unflinching eyes made him feel whole. Less like a hollow echo of a man and more like a person.
They ate in companionable silence and Dean decided he wouldn't go out by himself anymore. Every moment he had left, he wanted to share with Sam.
Those moments passed way too quickly, and before Dean knew it, he had less than thirty-six hours left on his deal and no way out.
Mirrors had become unforgiving. When he looked in one now, his eyes were barely his own anymore. He could see the void in them, feel Hell calling him home. The green of his irises looked darker and darker until he decided to stop looking altogether.
He focused instead on Sam, tracing his features over and over, like a compulsion, like if he only looked hard enough he could burn Sam’s image into his mind and cling to it when he was in the Pit.
They were about to settle in for the night, and Dean was seriously considering slipping into Sam’s bed after he fell asleep, just so he could feel whole one last time, for a few more hours.
Then Bobby called, and said he’d figured out where Lilith was.
They drove to New Harmony, Indiana, a McMansion neighborhood with near-identical houses. The house Lilith had claimed was easy enough to find on account of the corpses littering the lawn. They split up, Sam heading inside, Dean and Bobby doing perimeter sweeps. Dean would go in when Sam gave them the all-clear signal. A voice in the back of Dean's mind—muffled and strained—protested, saying they should have gone in together, but when Sam had suggested his plan, it seemed perfectly reasonable.
Dean made it nearly the whole way around the house when he found Ruby, waiting a few feet from the door. Beneath her skin he could see Hell—writhing darkness undulating in her flesh, making her borrowed features ripple. “Ugh,” Dean said.
“Nice to see you too,” Ruby said with a frown.
“I just never realized how ugly you really were.”
“Nice. That how you greet all your friends?”
“You’re not a friend.”
“Yeah sure. Whatever. Lilith’s inside. So is Sam.”
“You waiting for something?”
Dean looked up when he heard a knock on the window. Sam’s all clear. “That.” He headed for the front door, Ruby on his heels.
The house looked cleaner than he’d pictured, except for the two murdered people—grandparents probably—at the dining room table. They’d been having a feast made entirely of desserts from the look of things. Their faces were frozen in shock.
“Sam?” Dean called out. The house was oddly quiet. Sam came down the steps, and his eyes went immediately past Dean.
Dean turned to look over his shoulder, following Sam’s gaze. He was staring at Ruby. Glaring at her, with palpable hatred.
“That’s not Ruby,” Sam said.
"What?" Dean backed away, looked her over again, narrowing his eyes. "You’re Lilith, huh? No wonder you look so damn ugly."
A woman came down the stairs behind Sam, with dark hair and a familiar smirk, and Dean saw through her skin too—she was a demon, but less twisted, far less horrifying. Ruby.
“Traitorous bitch!” Lilith said, stretching out her hand as she took a few steps closer. Ruby hurtled through the air, crashing against the wall. Dean would've been happy to see that any other day, but just now he flinched and even felt a flash of sympathy. They needed all the help they could get.
"Still think you can save your brother?" Lilith asked Sam.
"Yeah," Sam said, steadily. "I do." He even sounded like he believed it.
The clock struck twelve and Dean's heart lurched. "Sammy," he started. Goodbye. I love you. I’m sorry. You’ll be fine without me. If I come back, if I turn into something I’m not, you’ve gotta— There was so much he wanted to say. But Sam didn't look frightened at all. He looked ready for a fight. And his eyes, the wrong, bilious color of them, left Dean speechless. Hell’s hallucinations had full hold of him now, even Sam was marred by it, Dean’s damned soul tainting the world in shades of evil.
The hellhounds’ growls were all around Dean, but they were far too close, far too real to be just in his head. Their presence was a stain on reality, an oppressive weight crushing his lungs, making it harder to breathe, impossible to think. And then he saw one around the corner—a hulking mass of darkness with glowing red eyes. A beast made of the void. It was wrong for it to be here. It didn't belong in this world. A second one came behind the first, hatred oozing from its maw like drool.
“Sic him, boys,” Lilith said, and the hounds lunged.
"Dean!" Sam shouted and threw him a knife. Ruby's knife. Dean caught it just before the closest hound flew into him. It knocked him on his back and Sam cried his name again. The rabid beast slashed Dean’s side, and he cried out in agony as its claws scraped his ribs. The hound reared back, almost like it was being pulled away. Dean sliced the dagger upwards, stabbed the beast in its chest with all his remaining strength. It let out a yelp, its eyes sparked and then it crumbled apart into foul-smelling ash.
Sam called his name again, as another hellhound lunged, and Dean wanted to go to him, wanted to throw off the hound and fight, but he was too weak and they'd lost. This was the end. He was going to Hell. He was leaving Sam, all alone, and he was so sorry. Lilith threw him a wicked smile, and then everything went black.
When Dean came to, his head was throbbing, and his side was—bloody but not nearly as bad as he'd thought. It gave a distant sort of ache, blissfully numbed like he’d been dosed with Percocet. He was still on the floor, Sam was kneeling next to him—Sam who looked anxious, and exhausted and relieved.
"Sam..." Dean’s eyes fell on the clock and the big hand was on the three. It was after midnight. “Lilith, did you—?”
Sam nodded, eyes glassy, but shining. “It’s over. She's dead. You're not going to Hell.”
Dean's heart filled with a swell of gratitude, love and pure adoration all in one. He drew Sam into a tight, desperate hug, buried himself in Sam's hold and didn't care that he was crying. It was 12:15 am, and he was still alive. Lilith was dead, and he was still alive. Sam had saved him.
Sam hugged him back, just as fiercely, and didn't say another word.
But he didn’t have to. His touch, the strong, steady beat of his heart wasn’t just a comfort, it was everything. Sam grounded Dean, as he pulled him in, and the world steadied and became whole again. No more hounds howling, no more demons on his tail, Dean was safe, he was alive, they were together.
Finally, when he'd composed himself as much as he could, Dean pulled back, looked Sam in the eyes—those gentle, endless eyes—and said, "Thank you, Sam." Then, trying his best to keep his voice steady, he added, “Good thing we had the knife.” He looked at Ruby, standing with her arms crossed a few feet behind Sam. "Thanks for that."
“Don't mention it,” Ruby said, watching Dean curiously.
She looked normal to Dean now. He couldn’t see a thing beneath her human shell.
Part of Dean wanted to know more about what had happened, how exactly Sam had gotten the upper hand, but that part was small, dim and unimportant in the radiance of the joy he felt at being alive.
“Come on,” Sam said, gently pulling Dean up by his good side. “Let’s get you fixed up.”
“This?” Dean laughed, glancing down at the bloodied gash on his side where the hellhound had torn into him. “Merely a flesh wound.”
“Yeah,” Sam said, “still needs to be cleaned.”
“Fine. But I’m—“
“No way you’re driving,” Sam cut him off. “You can drive tomorrow.”
“And the day after that. And the day after that…” Dean gave him another smile and followed him out the door.
“I’ll get rid of this mess,” Ruby said, as the door closed behind them, and she barely sounded bitter about it.
Dean fell asleep five minutes after they got on the highway, and he didn’t wake up again until the middle of the night, when he found himself in bed, cleanly bandaged and in fresh boxers, with Sam lying by his side.
It should’ve bothered him: the intimacy of it, the way Sam’s arm was draped over Dean’s hip. They’d done this before, when they had no other choice. In a tent, in the back of Dad’s truck, but not when there were other options.Dean understood though. For all the turmoil he’d gone through, it must have been even worse for Sam—the fear of losing Dean, of not being able to save him.
But Sam had saved him. Dean put his hand over Sam’s, threaded their fingers together, and a flush of warmth ran up his back, a soothing heat emanating from Sam’s heart, like Sam was the only light, the only fire in a world gone cold and grey.
Dean closed his eyes, and fell easily back into contented sleep. Nobody was chasing him, he didn't feel any fear or impending dread. All he felt was safe, and whole. He had the rest of his life ahead of him, and Sam by his side, and he didn't need anything else.