amypond45: (Angsty Dean)
Title: If I Leave Here
Author: [ profile] amypond45
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Rating: Explicit
Word Count: 5,100
Characters: Sam, Dean
Summary: Dean's been hit in the head on a hunt (again) and finds he's suffering from memory loss that's a little, uh, selective.
Warning: Wincest, sibling incest
A/N: Written for [ profile] smpc


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amypond45: (Default)

Title: Take the Long Way Home
Author: [ profile] amypond45
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Rating: Mature
Word Count: 24,509
Warnings: Major character death (doesn't stay that way, no explicit descriptions); mentions of rape and torture in the past; strong language
Summary: Sam finds a way to "fix" demon!Dean, but there's a catch. He has to kill him to do it. And as horrible as it is, Sam does it because it's the only way to get his brother back. The good thing is, Dean comes back "normal." The bad thing is, he turns demon again after six months, and Sam has to kill him again to get him back. Long story short, this is one vicious cycle, not just because of the killing and dying thing, but because every time Dean comes back "normal," he's really pretty damaged and doesn't remember a thing about what happened before. Can Sam find a way to stop the cycle before it's too late? Before Dean becomes so damaged there's nothing left to bring back?


amypond45: (Default)
Three days before the end we return to the bunker. Cas pops in to check on us, leaves again. He's trying to find signs of angel activity, looking for God again. All the angels went home but he's stuck here, and it's lonely for him. I assure him he's welcome to hang out with us as much as he likes, and that seems to please him.

He's such a dork.

I appreciate his presence though. It takes the heat off this thing that's looming between Sam and me. We've managed not to talk about it till now, but suddenly Sam can't stop referring to it, making comments out of the blue.

"We need to rehearse," he tells me, all nervous and jumpy.

"It's a single gun-shot, Sam," I remind him curtly. "Point blank, straight into the brain. Not much chance of missing."

"There's always a chance," Sam's eyes are wild, he's starting to hyperventilate. "My hand could shake. I sweat. The gun could slip."

"So shoot me again," I sigh, so not wanting to talk about this.

Truth is, I don't want to think about it. It scares the shit out of me. I don't want to die. I don't want Sam to suffer yet again as he watches me die.

I hate my life.

We agree to do it in my bed. If he manages the angle right there shouldn't be much mess. My brain should absorb the bullet. Then he can just leave my body there till I resurrect.

I make him promise to burn my body if I don't come back within three days. It's always three days when he kills demon!me, so we have to expect it'll be the same.

I have a terrible feeling he's just gonna let me rot. The three days will go by and he won't be able to let go.

I take Cas for a drive, just long and quiet in the car along a back-country road, listening to the comforting rumble of the engine. I find a spot we can pull over, look at the view. Cornfields and sky forever.

"I need you to promise me something," I tell Castiel, and he nods solemnly. "If I don't come back after a week and Sam isn't letting me go, just get him out of there. Don't let him kill himself. Don't let him sit there drinking and not eating and not sleeping until he dies."

I close my eyes, trying to shut out the image of Sam sitting over my dead body, drunk and dying.

"You got me, Cas?" I turn to him, look him straight in the eye. "Don't let him die."

"Dean, he cannot die," Castiel assures me. "There is nothing on this earth now that can kill Sam. When you're gone, he will go on indefinitely. If you don't resurrect, Sam will be alone. Forever."


"Wow," I breathe with a shake of my head. "Great bedside manner, there, Doctor House. Thanks for the comforting words."

"I am only stating the facts," Castiel frowns, clearly not understanding my sarcasm. "However, I doubt very much that the Mark will allow you to die permanently, so your concern is groundless."

"Oh it is, huh?" I glare. "Cuz last time I looked, Lady Luck had pretty much checked out of the Winchester Motel. About forty years ago, as a matter of fact.. So the way I see it, this thing going off without a hitch seems pretty unlikely. I need to plan for contingencies.

"So what I need from you, Castiel-oh-all-knowing-all-powerful-recently-resurrected-dork-twit, is your promise to look after Sam, no matter what happens to me. Can you do that?"

Castiel lifts his chin, and for a moment I think he's angry, but then the corners of his mouth curve upwards just a little, and he nods.

"I can do that," he agrees.

I nod, clear my throat, nod again.

"Good," I say, more relieved than I expected to feel.

I fire up the engine, turn on the tunes, and we don't speak again as we drive back to the bunker.

But I got what I needed from him, and I feel fairly confident he won't let me down.

The night before, our last night, Sam wants to stay in a motel. He doesn't want to try to sleep in the bed where's he's going to kill me.

I can't blame him.

So we get in the car and drive, find a decent place near Omaha, with a pool and an ice machine and a little kitchenette so we can eat in and watch t.v. and sip our beers. It's just like any night, I tell myself. It's like a hundred other times after a hunt when we come back to the motel to shower and sleep, maybe have sex, maybe just lie quietly together, feeling lucky to be alive.

He's taking the first shower as I write this, sitting propped up on the queen-sized bed closest to the door. Tomorrow we'll drive back to the bunker, I'll put this journal away in the drawer next to the bed with the rest of the records of my past lives, the lives of that clueless guy who spent his useless, meaningless existence trying to figure out who the hell he was and never quite getting there. Never really knowing.

Well, I know now. I remember everything, good, bad, and horrifically terrible. And I gotta say, as lives go, it's probably not the worst.

I have Sam. And Castiel.

When people like that love you, you can't just ignore that like it doesn't mean anything.

I do, but that's because I'm an asshole.

Being loved by Sam is a gift. I don't accept it lightly. I wish I could tell him that, but I can't.

He'll find this journal so he'll know.

He knows anyway.

So Sam, if you're reading this, I guess Luck was on vacation. Again. Sorry about that. Guess I'm gone for good.

So this is the last thing I'll ever say to you, and it's in writing cuz you know me and I'm not one for talking about how I feel.

I think I probably said it before, but just for the record, I'm proud of us, Sam. Despite everything bad that's happened, we done some good. Sometimes we did some bad things, but we did what we had to. And overall, it was a good life because I had you, Sam. Best day of my life, the day you were born.

So if it means anything, don't forget you were loved, Sammy.

You were always loved, little brother.



My name is Sam Winchester.

I feel like an idiot writing that, but Doctor Parker says I need to start a journal as part of my therapy, and I should start by writing the things I know about myself.

At the moment, I don't know very much. I was in a hunting accident, apparently, and I managed to shoot myself. The bullet lodged in my brain, nearly killing me, and I've been through two surgeries and was in a coma for a few days. I have no memory of this, or of anything before this, and Dr. Parker says that's normal with a traumatic brain injury. She thinks I have a good chance of recovering some memories, but it may take awhile. I've also lost the use of my legs, but with physical therapy, I should be walking again soon. There's nothing physically wrong with my legs, but my brain doesn't think I should be walking for now so I can't.

So, starting with the things I do know, apparently I was brought in to the hospital by my brother, who was understandably upset. He's been with me the whole time except when I was in surgery, and he's the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes yesterday.

My brother.

Now, I know that's who he says he is, and I believe him, but when I first opened my eyes yesterday and saw his face, my brain whispered the craziest things and my body responded in the weirdest ways.

He was asleep in the chair next to my bed, his eyes closed, long eyelashes resting on freckled cheeks, full, lush lips slightly parted, head tipped back, exposing a strong neck with a couple of days' growth of scruff.

The rush of pure pleasure at seeing him was unexpected, to say the least. It was like everything was suddenly okay, like somehow nothing else mattered. In my sleepy, not-quite-conscious waking moments, looking at this man was the most meaningful thing, like every answer to every question was there in him, in his beautiful face.

Then he opened his eyes, and the world fell away.

For the split second before his eyes met mine, before understanding dawned there and he realized I was awake, we just looked at each other, and it was like the universe re-aligned itself with us at its axis.

And then he saw my eyes open and looking at him and he was suddenly on the bed with my face in his hands, murmuring my name and crying and kissing me, my cheeks and my forehead and my lips --

He can't be my brother.

The way I feel about him is a little overwhelming because I don't actually remember him at all. It's just feelings. Powerful, consuming, confusing feelings. Love, anger, frustration, lust, more love. My soul is literally bursting with feeling for him. But at first all I could do is stare at him, my brain trying to pull actual memories from deep inside as he's saying things to me that make no sense:

"You did it, Sam, you fixed me. You did it."

Then his expression turned angry and demanding.

"You stupid son-of-a-bitch," he scolded me. "What were you doing? Why did you shoot yourself, jackass? You could have died. What the hell were you thinking?"

I wasn't understanding him, couldn't remember how I knew him. Maybe I said,

"I don't remember. I don't remember you."

He stopped abruptly and stared at me.

"You don't remember anything?" he asked, and I shook my head.

That's when I realized my head was bandaged, and when I put my hand up to touch it I found no hair. They must've shaved my head when they did the surgery.

I'm immediately struck with an overwhelming wave of grief and loss, and all I can think is, "My hair!" like it had some kind of magical power or something. Like I'm Samson from the old story and without my hair I'm powerless and weak.

Which I guess I am at the moment, so maybe that makes sense as a literary allusion.

I must've gone to college. I must've been an English major.

"It'll grow back," my brother said, shaking his head as he lay his hand over mine, relief winning out over the anger in his handsome face.

It's been two weeks since I wrote in this thing. Life has kind of gotten in the way.

Dean and I are a couple. The brother thing was just so he could have access to me in the hospital. It took me exactly no seconds to figure that one out, but I was relieved when he agreed to my suggestion, although I have to admit he didn't look exactly happy about it.

"We're not really brothers, are we?" I asked after we'd been making out for nearly ten minutes straight that first evening.

He pulled back and looked at me, frowning, and at first I thought he was going to argue. But then his face got a little sad and he lowered his eyes, shook his head.

"You really don't remember," he stated simply, his voice low.

I slipped my hand along his cheek, caressed the stubble there, tucked my fingers into the hair on the back of his neck.

"I remember this," I breathed. "My body remembers yours." I slid my thumb along his full bottom lip, slick with my spit. "I remember I love this. I love you."

The minute I said it I wished I could take it back. His eyes flickered up to mine, and there was a wounded look there, like I've just told him something terrible, like I hurt him.

Damn, I think. Maybe we don't talk like this to each other. Maybe I've never told him I love him.

How is that possible? I obviously do. I obviously love this man more than life itself. Why would I never tell him?

Now it's two weeks later and I'm still trying to figure us out. We're obviously in love, but there are other things about our relationship I can't understand.

For about the four-millionth time, I wish I could remember something. Anything.

Dean answers my questions, fills me in on our life before, and everything he says makes sense, even if the details don't sound familiar. He's a mechanic. I'm a former pre-law student from Stanford University. We met on a shared tour of duty in Afghanistan, where we both saw some serious action. We've been together ever since, traveling around mostly, picking up odd jobs here and there.

Everything he says sounds right, but I get the feeling there are things he isn't telling me.

Then there's the weird guy in the trench coat.

He started dropping by right after I woke up. I heard Dean arguing with someone in the hall, sounding really angry, going on and on in a fierce whisper about "Where the fuck were you?" and "He almost died, you stupid ass-hat!"

"Dean?" I called, and the whispers stopped dead.

Another second went by before Dean stuck his head in the door, raised his eyebrows at me.

I still haven't gotten used to the flutter in my chest whenever I see him. It's in my gut too. It's all over. My body craves his and it's almost unbearable sometimes.

"Yeah?" he said, then glanced at something behind him.

"Who are you talking to?" I asked, and he sighed, came all the way into the room so the person behind him could step inside.

Meeting an old friend is supposed to help jog memories, but Castiel is a complete blank to me. I can't remember ever seeing him before, and I had none of the passionate sense memories that flooded me when I first saw Dean.

Cas is just a guy.

Dean was so weird around him I wondered if they had had some kind of relationship, maybe before he met me. Or maybe he cheated on me with this guy. Maybe that's why Dean seems so uncomfortable when Castiel is in the room with me. Because it's still happening, whenever Castiel drops by, and they still whisper together in the hall sometimes, not realizing I can hear every word.

Not that anything they say makes sense to me.

They argue a lot about fixing me, which apparently Dean doesn't want Castiel to do. I get the sense Castiel is some kind of faith healer. I wonder why Dean is so adamant about not letting Cas do whatever it is he can do. I mean, it can't hurt, can it?

One night, when Dean and I are alone, I bring it up.

"Why don't you let Castiel fix me?" I ask.

Dean looks up from the book he's reading -- some novel by Tom Clancy, I think -- and stares blankly at me for a minute.


"Why do you not want Castiel to do whatever it is that he does to try to help?" I say. "I think it hurts his feelings."

Dean frowns, considers for a minute, then shakes his head.

"He's all right," he says. "You'll be fine. We don't need his help."

I ask about Castiel. Apparently he was in Afghanistan with us. Apparently he was a chaplain and now that he's state-side again he's gone back to his accounting business.

No wonder I don't remember him at all. He's really, really boring.

I've been doing physical therapy for my legs and I'm almost standing on my own. They have me use my arms to move along between the parallel bars, and I can scoot myself up and down the hall with a walker. My arms are getting quite a work-out.

Not that they need it. I have heavily muscled arms, and I obviously work out a lot. It makes me wonder about Dean's body. He covers himself in layers of clothing, but the thought of seeing him naked takes my breath away.

My physical therapist shows Dean how to help me up, how to get me going with the walker. They're planning to send me home at the end of the week, and Dean will need to care for me for awhile as I train myself to walk again. We practice getting me in and out of bed, and it's almost comical, the way he curses my "freakishly long arms" and calls me "octopus" and "princess."

Then he gets his hands on me and it's all I can do not to grab him and pull him backwards onto the bed, slide my hands up under his shirts and kiss the smirk off his full, pouting lips.

One day I just do it, and he grunts and mutters against me before he surrenders, just melts into me, lets me kiss him and touch him until we're both dizzy with need. We're rutting against each other and he's got his hand under the waistband of my sweatpants when we're interrupted by Castiel, who seems to appear out of nowhere.

"Dean," he says, his eyes heated, and I just know it now. I can see it, even if Dean can't. The guy is in love with Dean.

"Damn it, Cas," Dean growls, pushing himself off the bed -- off me -- reluctantly, irritably. "What? Huh? Just -- what?"

"We need to talk," Castiel says darkly, and I watch Dean as his face changes, the irritation clearing as he gets Castiel's meaning. He flicks a glance at me, and so help me God he looks guilty, and now I know he's hiding something from me.

"Okay," he says to Castiel. "Let's get a cup of coffee."

I grab his wrist as he starts to move away, and he turns back to me, green eyes wide and guileless again.

"Don't go." I sound whiny, but I don't care. I need his reassurance right now. I need to know he's not going off with this guy and leaving me.

He looks startled for a minute, then frowns.

"Not going anywhere, Sam," he promises, his voice surprisingly deep, his expression serious. "Not gonna leave you. Just getting some coffee, okay? We'll be right back."

And just like that, I'm sure. Just like that, I know in my soul he loves me. There's nobody else for him. I have his heart.

Thank God.

On Friday we go home.

Or at least, we go to this beautiful mountain cabin by a lake that takes about an hour of driving down a dirt road off the main highway to reach. It's obviously out in the middle of nowhere, and as soon as the car stops we sit and stare for a minute, taking in the beauty of the setting, the isolation, the abandoned look of the little house.

This is obviously not our home.

"Come on," Dean says finally. "Let's get you inside. Then I'll unpack and fix us something to eat."

The ground is rough, unpaved, so we don't even bother with the walker. Dean comes around to my side of the car and helps me out. I pull myself up and lean heavily on him, move my legs one at a time and manage to make it to the front steps that way. Dean curses a few times, struggles with his arm tight around my back, his other hand pressed against my chest to prevent me from pitching forward. We're both a little winded from the effort, so I sit down on the steps while he goes back to the car for the walker.

The air is fresh here, even if the porch is a little dusty. I have a feeling the house will be full of dust, and I'm not wrong. It hasn't been lived in for years, as far as I can tell, but I don't question it. I sit on the couch while Dean unloads groceries, gets the propane hot water heater up and running, checks the septic and the well. There's a wood stove for heat, but we don't need it yet. A gas-fueled generator runs the lights, and as it starts to get dark Dean gets that up and running, then grins proudly as he flicks on the light switch.

Dean grills a couple of steaks and pulls a bottle of wine out of a bag and opens it, pours it into two paper cups and hands one to me. We sit close at the table, so our knees knock together as he raises his cup in a mock salute. The moment is heavy with meaning, and I can't quite get past the lump in my throat to salute back, just stare into his beautiful eyes and wonder how I ever got so lucky.

Dean reads my mood, smirks a little as he lifts his cup.

"To us," he says, and I grin despite myself, feel my cheeks flush as I raise my own cup, tap it lightly against his.

"To us," I agree softly.

Later, after we've eaten and he's cleaned up and checked all the house systems again, while I watch in helpless fascination because he's obviously avoiding me and it's funny somehow -- finally he stops in front of me (I'm still sitting at the table) and says,

"Come on. Let's get you to bed."

He's not looking me in the eye, and even when he lets me pull myself up on him, then lean heavily against him again, he doesn't look up.

So I twist my body around so we're chest-to-chest and take his face in my hands so he has to look up at me and --

Damn. From this angle he's so stunning I can hardly breathe.

I lower my eyes to his mouth, lean in, my heart speeding up and my whole body shivering with anticipation.

When our mouths touch it's electric, desperate. I'm instantly hard and needing more, and I can feel his response; I know he feels the same.

So when he pulls away, gets a hand between us and gently but firmly pushes himself back, tearing his mouth away with a shake of his head, at first I'm confused and surge forward, chasing him, trying to recapture his lips.

But he's shaking his head, stepping back.

"No, I can't -- I can't, Sam," he mutters apologetically, looking anywhere but into my eyes.


I can feel the confusion like a glass of cold water poured down the back of my shirt. I thought I understood. I thought this was what he wanted. I thought he brought me here, to this romantic get-away place, because we were finally going to --

Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I wanted this. I hadn't questioned him partly because I wanted it so badly. I didn't want to break the spell or whatever. It felt like if I could just go with whatever he was doing -- bringing me here to this place which was obviously not our home -- which could mean anything: Maybe we don't really live together? Maybe we've never had sex and this is a new thing between us? (no, that's not right -- I'm fairly certain we've had sex before. My sense memories are absolutely convincing on that point) -- if I could trust him enough, maybe he would let me have this. Maybe he would give me what I needed from him.

But I knew it wouldn't work. I knew I couldn't get that.

Because what I need from Dean isn't just sex, or some romantic get-away week at an abandoned cabin in the mountains.

What I need from Dean is -- it's --

Everything. I need everything. He's everything.

"Marry me," I blurt so suddenly it startles us both. His eyes flick up to mine and hold them in shocked silence, and I'm so overwhelmed by what I've just said all I can do is stare back at him, mesmerized by how deep the green goes. I feel like I'm sinking, down, down, inside a warm, green ocean with powerful waves and wrenching currents and he's with me.

Then he gives a little shake of his head, rolls his eyes and hunches his shoulders.

"Fuck, I can't let this go on -- " he mutters, and I grab his shoulders, hold for dear life so he looks up, startled again.

"Yes," I insist fiercely. "Yes, you can, Dean. I love you. I need to be with you. I need to spend the rest of my life with you. I can't live any other way -- "

I'm babbling, on a roll, scared to death that if I stop he'll leave. Or laugh at me.

Instead of either, he puts his hand up, presses his fingers against my lips.

"Okay, Sam, that's it," he says when I stop, distracted by his warm, smooth skin, the intimacy of the gesture sending another stab of lust through my gut. "You need to know something about us. You have to believe me when I tell you this, okay? Because it will sound crazy to you, but you need to trust me."

I stare at him, heart pounding, sick with curiosity and dread. I know I need to know the truth, but it terrifies me, although I have no idea why it should. I'm afraid of the secrets he's keeping; I'm terrified that the truth will destroy us, take away this fragile thing between us.

Dean closes his eyes a minute, clenches his jaw, steeling himself for whatever it is he's about to say.

"We really are brothers, Sam," he says finally, opening his eyes to stare fiercely into mine. "This thing between us has been here since before you were born. We're -- " He pauses, rolls his eyes again, scrubs a hand over his face, then looks up at me again. "We're brothers. You get me?"

I stare, looking for the joke, waiting for him to smirk or laugh or admit he's putting me on.

He's looking at me with a frank openness that doesn't look at all like lying.

"What are you talking about?" I argue. "You said we were hunting buddies. You said we met overseas."

Now he looks away, scrubs a hand over his face again, nods shortly.

"Yeah, I know that's what I said," he says. "I lied. I'm actually pretty good at that."

He's got a wide-legged stance going now, with his hands on his hips, like he expects me to start swinging and he wants to be ready.

I'm still not making sense of his words. They don't make sense.

"But we -- You and I are obviously -- Are you saying that this thing between us -- "

I wait for the horror. I wait for the shocked disgust.

It's just not there.

Surprise, yeah. Why lie? Why would he double-down on that lie? What's he gaining by telling me the truth now? If we're fucking -- and now I realize we've been fucking since we were kids, probably -- how does it help to bring me out to this cabin in the middle of nowhere to tell me?


I should be shocked. I should feel like throwing up. I should want to run, get as far away from him as I can run.

Something tells me I probably already did that, at least once, and it didn't work out so well.

Because I'm in love with him.

Hopelessly, tragically, desperately -- like every bad tragic romance in history -- every forbidden love -- every stupid story of star-crossed lovers --

And I'm pretty sure he feels the same way, so --

We're a fucking cliche.

I'm still standing next to the table, one hand on the chair-back to steady myself, absorbing the truth and the immensity of his revelation, and it's just okay. I'm okay with it. It's obviously something we came to terms with years ago, so it's not like some new thing. However it started -- and I'm pretty sure now it started when we were pretty young -- it was resolved a long time ago. We're still together. We figured it out.

So -- why are we here again? Why is he telling me this now?

"Dean," I lift my eyes to his, watch him cringe a little, like he expects me to hit him.


"It's okay," I say. "Whatever this is between us, and I believe you when you say we're brothers -- it makes sense, actually. And maybe there's something wrong with me that it doesn't change a thing, but -- it doesn't change a thing, okay?"

I'm willing him to believe me now, because he's got that skittish look again and he's shaking his head a little.

"I'm still in love with you," I try again. "I still want to be with you. Hell, if it was legal to marry your brother, I'd still want to marry you."

"Sam -- " Dean puts his hand up, lets it drop, glances at me, looks away.

There's still something he's not telling me. It's more than just the brother thing. Now that he's got that off his chest he's feeling guilty because there's more to the story.

The story of us is weirder than incest.

"That's only the tip of the iceberg, isn't it?" I suggest slowly, and I can see from the guilty glance and the way he shifts his feet awkwardly that I'm onto something. "There's things you're not telling me -- about us -- that are crazier than what you just told me."

He scrubs his chin again, nods shortly.

Suddenly it's like the room pitches, like the floor is heaving and I'm standing on the deck of a moving ship. I grab the edge of the table because I'm losing my balance --

And he's right there, arms fast around me, keeping me on my feet, catching me before I fall.

I wrap my arms around him, pull him in hard against me, bury my face in his hair, his neck, breathe deep.

He lets me hold him like that until the vertigo passes, until I'm steady on my feet again.


Suddenly it hits me. Not like a memory, more like an epiphany. The thought just pops into my head and I know it's right.

I pull back a little, so I can look into his face.

"Castiel -- " I start, feeling shy and awkward suddenly, unsure that my thought really holds water but needing to share it. "He can fix me, can't he? Restore my memories."

Dean lifts his eyebrows in surprise, searches my eyes for something.

"Yeah," he nods finally. "He can."

"And my memories -- You think I'd be better off without them, don't you?"

Dean's eyes go wide for a moment, then he frowns.

"You're a freak, Sam," he says. "You and your psychic mojo. What, are you reading my mind now?"

I shake my head.

"No, I heard you two talking in the hall," I admit matter-of-factly. "I'm just now making sense of what you said. So that's right, isn't it? You don't want me to have my memories back."

Dean pushes away from me again, muttering.

"It's not like it's gonna make that much difference," he says. "I can tell you what you really need to know. I just figured it might be -- Some of that stuff -- Damn it, Sam, we've seen a lot of shit, okay? We've been through hell. I didn't lie to you about that. What we've seen -- sometimes I wish I could forget. And you're getting a chance to start fresh here, without all that baggage. You and I can make our own memories, starting today. We don't need to go back and relive all that crap."

"And you can live with me this way," I say, needing him to confirm it. "You can live with me not remembering our shared past, all the things we did, all the people we knew. Because you realize it makes me a different person. I'm not the Sam who shares that history with you. If I never recover my memories, you've essentially lost your brother. You do understand that, right?"

He looks up at me, wide-eyed and beautiful, and I know he hasn't thought it through, it's just his instinct, it's just his gut telling him to protect me from the horror of our past life.

I cup his face and lean in, kiss his soft lips, and he lets me, melts against me as I taste his mouth, languid and gentle and slightly tentative.

He pulls back after a moment, looks up at me.

"I think I can live with that, for now," he says. "I kinda figured we needed the break, and maybe -- maybe now's as good a time as any. We've got plenty of time to take on the world again, after, when you're walking again. You okay with that, Sam?"

I trust him so completely it scares me. I probably shouldn't. I don't know what deep instinct in me makes me believe in him so completely, but I do. It's probably the same instinct that makes me love him so much. He's my anchor in the storm, the center of my universe, and I never want it to be any other way.

"Yeah," I breathe. "I'm okay with that."

* *
We take our sweet time getting undressed, getting into bed together, fucking each other's brains out. It's more athletic than it has a right to be, especially since I'm flat on my back the whole time, or sitting up while he straddles me, taking me all the way with the most gorgeous look on his face -- like he's punishing himself and loving every minute of it.

I get the sense our lives are like this -- the pain is just below the surface, but we have these moments of respite, these times when we can take pleasure from each other, and somehow that makes it almost bearable.

Afterwards, as he's lying in my arms with his cheek on my chest, stroking circles on my belly, turning his cheek once in awhile to press kisses along my skin, I have this sudden thought that maybe he's getting something out of the differences. Maybe my not being the Sam he knows -- the Sam who has all those memories of our life together, all the things we did -- maybe it's a relief to him. Maybe there's things in our past he wishes he could forget, and having me not remember gives him a little peace.

Which suggests that our life together is pretty messed up.

But if I can give this to him for awhile, if we can have a break from whatever craziness or tragedy we're used to living together -- It's the least I can do for this brother, this lover, this man who has obviously given everything to be with me. I don't have to know it all right now. I don't need to figure everything out. As long as we're here together, now, the world can just go on without us.

For awhile, anyway.


amypond45: (Default)
I fix breakfast while Sam fills Castiel in on the past ten years. Castiel keeps glancing at me, and it's obvious he's getting the whole immortality thing and it's freaking him out a little because the last time he saw us we were both fully human. Or at least Sam was. Now we're so obviously something else, and that's got him a little worried.

Then the memory thing comes up again.

"Okay, let's do it," I say, trying to project more bravado than I'm feeling.

"Seriously?" Sam protests. "Do you even know what you're asking, Dean? Do you really want to remember all the things you did when you were a demon? You want the weight of all those memories of things we did before that happened? All the people who died? Dean, you don't remember Dad, you don't remember Mom or Bobby or Lisa and Ben or --"

His big brain is spinning with all the possibilities.

"Oh my god, Dean, if somebody could wipe my memories of all those times you died -- all the times I've had to kill you -- if I could forget Jess and Dad and Madison and Sarah and all the things I did when I was Lucifer -- and Kevin -- "

"Sam, stop," I put my hand on his chest to get his attention because he's starting to hyperventilate and I need him to get it together. "Listen to me. We're trying to break the cycle of this thing, right? We know what happened the last nine times we went through this. We couldn't fix it."

Sam nods, looking so shattered it's all I can do not to stop and gather him up in my arms and spend the next few weeks in bed.

But that's not gonna get the job done, so I try again.

"So the way I figure it, we have to do something different. We have to drill a new hole."

He nods, glances at Castiel.

"That's right," I agree. "Things are going differently this time already, so that's good. Now we have to keep heading that way. We have to try to shake things up. Now, I didn't get my memories back before, right? I never got cured of my amnesia?"

Sam sucks in a breath, looks away from me and tightens his jaw.

"Right?" I prod, and he finally nods, reluctantly, still not looking at me.

"Okay then," I step back, let my arms swing, turn to Castiel. "Let's do this."

"Dean," Sam grabs a handful of my shirts, and now I get why we wear so many layers. "Last time this happened -- remember? Well, I know you don't remember, but it's in the journals. You wrote it down 'cuz I told you. After I came back from the pit, without my soul, and then I got my soul back."

I stare at him, frowning. I know exactly what he's talking about; my brain goes right there, to that time in our lives when Sam was a recovering amnesiac himself.

It wasn't pretty.

"Yeah, so?" I challenge. "That was you. I'm telling you, I can handle this."

I'm not at all sure that I can, of course, and I don't really mean to make him feel weak. I know how brave and strong he is.

But the truth is, I'm feeling scared. And my way of dealing with scared is to get defensive and mouthy and not-very-nice-to-my-brother. That's Dean's way, anyhow, from what I've read.

Who do I think I am again?

Sam's looking into my eyes, a dozen or so expressions flitting across his handsome features, and I resist the urge to kiss him.

Damn him anyway.

He finally tears his gaze away, releases me with a huff.

"Okay, whatever," he mutters, and I feel my face smirking. It's like Dean's in here, just waiting to come out. Maybe I'm just doing what he wants. Maybe I'm possessed.

Okay, that's enough.

I'm on the edge of freaking out, but I'm damned if I'm gonna let Sam see that.

Because I really, really need to do this thing. I need to get my memories back. I know in my gut that's where the clues are, that's where the leads are to fixing this thing.

And we have to fix this, because otherwise Sam is gonna die. He's gonna burn himself out. He can't keep doing this and I can't keep letting him do this and that's all there is to it.

"Let's do it," I say to Castiel, and he nods, a little reluctantly maybe, and with a glance at Sam, who is walking away, then turning back with a wave of his hand, dismissing us, giving Castiel his permission.

I've out-Winchestered my own brother.

I'm dimly aware of Sam standing in a corner of the room with his hands on his hips, frowning at me sideways as Castiel moves closer, putting his hand up to touch me.

I close my eyes as his fingers make contact with my forehead, and for a second nothing happens.

Then the floor gives way and I'm rushing through space at a million miles per hour, flooded with waves of emotion that aren't mine, covered in blood that isn't mine, slugged in the gut over and over in the same place until I'm beyond pain, beyond rational thought, beyond life itself.

The memories are full of feelings, goddamn it. Wasn't expecting that.

Mom burning up, my first shame-filled moments of discovering I'm in love with my baby brother, my father's disapproval and anger, his death and knowing it's my fault, he died for me and I didn't deserve it because I'm a failure, I'm so fucked up inside with lust and need and not measuring up --

My greedy relief at getting Sam back, guilt because he had to leave his "normal" life to come back to me, his girl dying -- my fault because I couldn't protect him and his normal life --

Sam consumed by the same obsessions our Dad had, vengeful, angry, souped-up on demon-blood --

Sammy dead in my arms.

Oh god.

The grief is too much. Normal people can't even understand how it feels to have your world ripped away from you like that.

And of course I do something stupid to fix it, because I'm impulsive and I can't go on without Sam.

But it means I have to leave him, have to spend forty years in Hell and leave Sam to fend for himself, and it's my fault he goes dark-side, it's my fault that demon bitch gets her claws in him --

My fault the world almost ends. Everybody dies. Ellen and Jo and Ash and Bobby.

My fault Lucifer rides Sam into the pit, stays there for-fucking-ever, at least twice as long as I was in Hell, before Death brings his soul back.

Death, my old friend.

I was Death, for a day. Sucked at it, of course.

Purgatory, with Cas, with Benny.

Benny. I killed Benny to save Sam.


Sam dying from the trials.

I let an angel possess him to save him, to keep him alive, because I can't exist without him.

I love -- I love Sam. I love him so much I would end everything to keep him with me. I would let everyone die, again, to have Sam beside me.

So now I'm paying for my greed. Now I'm an evil son-of-a-bitch because I loved Sam too much. I kill people without remorse, without feeling anything at all. I'm the demon I was always meant to be, the creature from Hell without a heart, without a soul.

And I'm killing my brother a little more every day -- a slow, painful, horrible death where he has to keep killing me to keep me alive. To get me back only to watch me turn evil all over again.

The screaming in my head doesn't start or stop. It's one long continuous wail that's been going on for all eternity and will keep going endlessly into the future, long after I'm gone.

But for now it's making my throat sore, filling my senses with sound and fury and more sound, rattling my bones.

My bones are all that's left of my body -- I should have died years ago, when Sam took me to that stupid faith healer. That should have been the end, right there. I should have died and Sam should have burned my body, scattered the ashes, burned the damn car so I couldn't come back and haunt him.

The sound is deafening, it's why I lost my voice in the first place, because I couldn't stop screaming. Screaming for Sam.





It's been a week since that happened.

A week since the walls came crashing down and I remembered everything.


Now Sam says I have to write again. He says if I write I'll be able to focus better.

I told him to fuck off.

I think I passed out right after it happened, because I don't remember hitting him. Punched Sam square in the jaw -- nasty right hook -- but he just took it.

Tough bastard.

He and Castiel were bending over me when I came to, lying on the floor with my head pounding like somebody was beating on it with sledgehammer.

From the inside.

Sam's jaw is red and swelling, his eyes full of concern.

"Fuck," I mutter, closing my eyes.

"Dean?" Sam's voice is soothing, feels so good on the open wound of my soul. "How do you feel?"

"Fuck -- you," I croak, because my throat is sore from screaming.

Sam nods, satisfied.

Smug little bitch.

"He's okay," he says to Castiel. "He's himself again."

"How can you be sure?" Castiel sounds confused. "All he's done is scream and curse. Twice."

Sam nods again.

"He's Dean," Sam says simply, and it makes me smile inside. My brother knows me.

Sam slips his arm around me to help me sit up. I do, but I push him away, bat at his hands.

"I'm fine," I say hoarsely. "Stop with the mother-henning."

I pull myself to my feet, bat his hands away again when he reaches to help me. I'm dizzy, swaying a little like I've had too much to drink. Sam reaches to steady me and I let him for a minute before pushing him away, not ready to admit how much I need his support, or how much I crave his touch.

I don't deserve it. I don't deserve HIM.

"How are your memories, Dean?" Sam asks. "What do you remember?"

I'm still rocking on my feet a little -- the floor is swaying, not me -- but I manage to throw a little frowning glance at him.

"Everything," I croak, then try to take a step, just to move away from him. His heat.

But I stumble so he's right there again, hands on my arm and my back.

"Water," I whisper hoarsely, knowing he'll have to stop touching me if I give him an order.

"Of course," he murmurs, and just like that he lets me go, heads into the kitchen like a shot.

That's when I realize we're in the library.

How did we get here?

I look at Castiel, but the angel is just looking back with that inscrutable gaze of his.

"What?" I demand. "Did I grow horns?"

Sam comes back with the water, puts his hand on my back as I drink, 'cuz he can't stop touching me. He's standing so close I can feel his breath on my cheek.

I step away, gulping water until the glass is empty.

"How do you feel?" he asks again, and I hand him the empty glass, look up at him, then over at Castiel.

"Awesome," I say. "Fuckin' awesome."

I duck away as he reaches out to touch me again, and he flinches like I've taken another shot at him.

I know I'm being a dick, but I can't give in to the urge to curl up in bed with him right now. Not when there's real work to do.

"So Heaven's closed up? You're stranded here?" I say to Castiel, who lowers his eyes with a single nod.

"Not that I mind," I add, and Castiel raises his eyes again, looks stupidly hopeful. "I could use your help."

"Why?" Sam asks. "What's the plan?"

I try to look up at him, try to meet his eyes, but I just can't. Not with what I'm about to tell him.

"You have to kill me, Sam," I say, steeling myself for the devastated look I know he's gonna be giving me in just about three-two-one -- yep, there it is.

"What? What are you talking about?"

I shift my feet, square my jaw.

"I knew all along," I say. "Well, demon!me knew. The memory loss was partly his deal. So I wouldn't know what I had to do to reverse the curse." I grin a little grimly at my own rhyme: "Reverse the curse. Awesome."

"Dean -- " Sam can't help himself. Just has to argue.

"Demon!me is a dick, Sam," I interrupt before he can start whining. "He knew all along the way to fix things. He was working against us, trying to find a way to stay demonic for good, get back to the way things were before you got Hephaestus to create the curse in the first place."

I look up at him, flash him a proud smile.

"Nice work, by the way."

"Wait -- you know how to fix it?" Sam says, stunned. "How?"

"I just told you," I frown at him. For such a big brain, Sam can be so dumb sometimes. "You have to kill me. Only it has to be in this form, before I turn into my demon self again."

Sam has his hands up, like he can stop me from making him kill me. Like I would.

"No," he shakes his head. "Oh no no no no. No way. You can't ask me to do that."

"Why not?" I demand. "You do it all the time. You're getting good at it too, Sam, I gotta say. Last time around it only took you three months to find me. No hesitation, clean blow, I didn't even know what hit me."

Sam is staring at me like I have three heads or something.

"Dean -- that's different," his voice is a tortured whisper. "You -- when you're a demon you -- you're not yourself. I can almost tell myself it isn't really you. I -- Dean, it kills me to kill you, even demon!you."

Damn it. Now he's got tears in his eyes.

God damn it. I knew this wasn't gonna be easy. Who am I kidding?

"Listen to me, Sam," I gotta get him to understand, gotta get through to him before the waterworks start. "You do this thing, it's over. You hear me? It's all over. No more demon!me. No more killing. And you have to do it, Sam, you know you have to stop demon!me. I'm a monster. I kill without remorse, I don't care about anything, I'm an evil, soulless thing, hell-bent on chaos and destruction. And I hurt you. I -- "

Goddamn it. Goddamn memories.

I clench my teeth, determined to stay focused, not let the horror well up in me, spill over.

"I can't let that happen again, Sam," I grind out. "You have to do this, or -- or I'm gonna do it myself."

It was the first time, right after the curse, and I will spend the rest of my miserable existence atoning for that. For what I did to my beautiful baby brother.

"It wasn't you, Dean," he chokes out. "It's okay -- "

"No, it is not okay, Sam!" I yell at him, because getting angry is the only way to keep from crying. "And I mean what I say. If you don't kill me, I will do it myself."

"Oh, like that worked out so well the last time," Sam chokes out a laugh that's already bordering on hysteria.

"That's right," I growl. "We'll just be back where we started from, you get me? Me without memories again. You having to kill me again. Is that what you want? Because I see what it's doing to you, Sam. I know what it would do it me if our places were reversed, and it's not okay, you get me? It is not okay."

"Dean -- " He's reaching for me again, and I put my hands up to stop him, turn to Castiel.

"Tell him," I growl. "Tell him he has to do this."

Castiel has been watching us -- good for him! -- and his face is a mask of angelic sorrow.

I should hit him too, put a big ol' bruise right there on his perfect left jaw.

Damn him.

"He's right, Sam," Castiel says. "The only way to break the curse is for you to kill Dean in his current form. Only you can do it, and you have to do it before he turns into a demon again, or the cycle starts all over, with demon!Dean having full knowledge of what has come before, meaning he will know we had this conversation. He will take steps to prevent this happening again."

"I can't kill my own brother," Sam sobs, desperation and misery so stark in his face I just can't look at him. I stare at the ground, glance up at Cas. I put my hands on my hips and widen my stance so I look tougher.

It doesn't help much, but I can pretend with the best of 'em.

"You must," Castiel says gently. "It's the ultimate blood sacrifice. The ancient ritual of death and resurrection. Shedding the blood of the god so the land may heal."

"I'm not a god," I say irritably, and Castiel shakes his head.

"Perhaps not, but you are immortal now. You both are. You're not fully human anymore. So the comparison holds. In ancient times, creatures like you and Sam were seen as gods."

"Well fuck that," I mutter. "I still poop just like everybody else. I still sleep, I eat, goddamn it!"

"Not when you're a demon, you don't," Sam reminds me.

"Well fuck that," I say again. "All I'm saying is I'm still half human. And Sam's all human. He's just not aging at the moment."

"Dean -- " Castiel shakes his head. "Sam is bound by this curse, just as you are. Curing you of your demon self will not change that. You will still have the Mark. You and Sam will still be bound."

"What the hell does that mean?" I demand, because demon!me never considered this -- never thought beyond the cure that would end him. All he wanted was to prevent it from happening. Demon!me wanted to be permanent!me, with no transformation back into almost-human!me. Demon!me hated Sam for that -- for figuring out how to keep me at least partially non-demon. Demon!me let Sam know exactly how much he hated it, as a matter of fact --

Not thinking about that.

"So even if I do this thing -- and I'm not saying I will -- not saying I can -- " Sam's really trying here, and I try to look encouraging, probably only manage to look constipated. "Even if I kill him when he's in this form, that doesn't change the basic fact that he's got that stupid Mark of Cain, the thing that made him this way in the first place. That doesn't stop."

"That is correct, Sam," Cas agrees.

"So what's to prevent this from happening again?" Sam demands, almost wailing, the poor kid. "What's to prevent him from recklessly getting himself killed like he did before and turning back into a demon? Permanently this time? Do I have to go back to Hephaestus and bargain for his half-humanity again? Because I have to say that's not exactly a trip to Disney Land. Plus I'm pretty sure I've outworn my welcome there. And I really, really don't want to pay the same price twice."

He looks away from me when he says the last thing, and I know he's thinking about the innocent blood he spilled as a way to get in the door with Hephaestus, and that is just not okay. Sam suffers when he kills, he really really suffers, and I would save him that pain and anguish with every last ounce of strength in my stupid-ass body, I swear to god-or-whatever I would.

I will.

"I think you know the answer to that, Sam," Castiel says, and I look up at him in surprise.

"What?" I demand. "What the fuck am I missing?"

Because it sure seemed like a lose-lose situation here for Sam with no way out unless I could get myself killed permanently.

Which doesn't seem to be in the cards, thanks to the damn Mark of Cain.

Sam and Cas are staring at each other like they know something I don't, and they're afraid to tell me. Or like there's something going on between them and I'm not in on it.

Which is really, really not okay.

Then Sam looks down, breathing out a long sigh, and Castiel turns to me.

"Sam gave the blade back," he says.

I blink as cold water floods my veins.

I know exactly what he means, but I need him to spell it out.

"What? What are you talking about?" I glare from one to the other of them, playing stupid, which of course neither of them buys. They know me too well.

Sam's still staring at the ground so it's Cas who puts his ass on the line.

"Sam gave Hephaestus the First Blade," he explains. "It belonged to Hephaestus in the first place, so Sam was simply returning it. It was part of the deal Sam made to get your humanity back. The Blade is gone, Dean. There's no finding it this time, no using it ever again. Hephaestus won't give it back, and without it you're not a Knight of Hell anymore. You're just the man with the Mark."

Which explains Crowley's not being here, explains why demon!me has been killing every demon he can find. My demon self could be useful, I'll say that for him.

But the Mark isn't just a tattoo on my arm. I rub it thoughtlessly for a minute before I realize what I'm doing and stop, look up to see Sam and Cas staring at me.

"The Mark's not gonna let me have an apple-pie life, Sam," I say, like it needs saying. "I'm never gonna be just the guy with the Mark. It wants what it wants, and it ain't exactly subtle about it."

Sam nods.

"I know that," he says softly. "We'll figure it out."

He takes a deep breath, looks at Cas again.

"You're sure about this?" he asks. "I kill Dean now, he never becomes a demon again? I never have to kill him again?"

"The sacrificial magic is always most powerful when it's a family member," Cas nods. "You know that. Isaac and Abraham. Cain and Abel. Ceres and Persephone. And you and Dean are more than just family, so your magic is very powerful indeed.

"That said," Cas takes a breath, lets it out slowly. "There is no guarantee that this will work, of course. Just a strong -- hunch."

He says the last word with a glance at me, like that's supposed to mean something.

"So you're saying your knowledge about this isn't all-powerful and all-knowing," I clarify dryly. "You're just Angel Cas having a hunch."

"I would say that my several millennia of knowledge and understanding of the universe counts for something," Cas answers matter-of-factly. "And I have learned to trust my gut from a very good teacher."

He gives me that impenetrable gaze of his, and I stare right back blankly, because I know what he means but I need him to think I don't.


So now it's been a week, and I'm starting to go stir crazy again.

Sam won't do this thing until the last possible moment, and I can't force him to because it's hard enough for him. He thinks with our luck it won't work and he'll lose me permanently. So I can't take away what could be our final weeks together.

It's fuckin' morbid though. He cuddles and cries on my shoulder at night and I am getting so sick of this shit.

I just want to do it and get it over with.

Sam tells me to start writing again, so I do. I work out, I practice my exercises, I play pool with Cas and beat him every damn time.

Sam finds us a lead on a nest of vampires and we take them down. It feels fan-fucking-tastic fighting side-by-side with my brother again. It feels like we're invincible. Like there's nothing we can't do as long as we're together.

Getting back into the game is good for Sam. He quits drinking, sleeps better. We stay out on the road for a week, just following leads, doing small jobs to rid the world of a few more bad guys. Sam and I are in sync again, moving together, finishing each other's sentences and knowing exactly what the other one's thinking so the job goes down smoothly, for the most part. Best of all, Sam stops mothering me, stops worrying that I'm gonna get hurt all the time. He trusts me again. Lets me be his big brother again, the one who's always supposed to look out for him.

I catch him looking at me when we're driving one evening, and the look on his face is as close to contentment as I've seen him look for a long, long time.

And unbearably sad.

I fuck him slow and deep that night, let him spoon me after, smash his face into the back of my neck as I hug his tree-trunk of an arm against my chest.

amypond45: (Default)
At the diner in the morning I grab a paper off the counter, check the date.

June 9, 2024.

It's been ten years.

My brain supplies the math without a conscious thought. Sam watches me looking at the paper, watches me lift my eyes to his. I put up both hands, fingers spread wide.

Sam sighs.

"Yeah," he agrees softly. "It's been ten years."

The waitress brings coffee, takes our order. I glance around the diner, looking for obvious differences, but there's really nothing. The customers look the same -- working class men in flannel and work-boots, a few tough-looking women, a little girl in ponytails. It could be 1954 or 2014. Middle America just doesn't change.

I glance at the newspaper headlines. Conflict in the Middle East, trade talks with China, birthrate crisis in Japan, immigration problems everywhere. Pretty much familiar news.

Chicago Cubs win again.

Well, that's new.

But mostly, same old same old.

The food arrives and Sam digs in. I watch him as he eats, looking for grey hair, age lines in his face, his hands.

I've already looked closer at his face -- last night -- than I probably should; I've already answered my own question.

Sam hasn't aged. He's still young, no signs of middle age anywhere.

I grab the pad and scribble, push the words across the table.

Sam reads, looks up at me, swallows his food. He shakes his head.

"No, Dean," he says. "We don't age. At least as far as I can tell. It took awhile for me to be sure, and I get why you don't age -- you're immortal because of the stupid Mark. But me -- I guess because we're bound by this life-and-death cycle. It puts us outside time or something."

–How long?–

My hand is shaking as I write, and when Sam looks down he doesn't answer right away. I shake the pad under his nose, glare at him.

He sighs, turns away, doesn't look at me when he answers.

"I don't know," he says finally. "Hephaestus made it sound like this would be it. We're stuck this way until -- well, at first I figured it would continue for my natural lifetime. But then when I realized I wasn't getting any older -- and of course you don't get older -- In order to hunt you I have to stay young and strong, obviously, so there's that."

I lean back in the booth, turn away from him to look out at the parking lot. The cars are old, beat up and dusty. A few pick-up trucks. The Impala stands out like a prize stallion in a corral full of cow ponies.

We hit the road again right after breakfast, but this time I'm driving. I'm never gonna not drive this thing again. Sam can navigate, tell us where to go, but that's the way it is from now on.

To his credit, Sam accepts it when I demand the keys, doesn't even argue. Smiles a little, like it makes everything more normal and he likes it that way anyway.

He's the little brother, after all. I'm the boss of this outfit; he can be the brains.

We listen to mullet rock on the car's cassette player and Sam doesn't complain, although I have a pretty good idea he doesn't like mullet rock. I'm still pretty indifferent to it, but it's growing on me. It suits my new image of myself as a bad-ass-mo-fo who lives at least part of every year as a Hell-raising master demon.


When we stop for lunch and gas I find a cassette copy of the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed in the truck-stop cut-out bin, add it to our collection. Sam rolls his eyes, making me so warm inside I almost throw up in my mouth.

I'm definitely feeling something for this dude. Not just lust, either, thank god.

It's almost dusk when we pull into Lebanon, Kansas. Sam directs me to a little grocery store so we can pick up supplies, then out into the countryside, down a barely-used side road to the nondescript hole-in-the-ground we apparently call home.

It takes me a minute to adjust when we get inside, park the car in the massive garage, then climb the stairs into the living quarters.

Holy shit.

"Yeah, we live here," Sam answers the look on my face, moving ahead of me with the grocery bags, leaving me standing in the middle of a huge room with tables and chairs and books. "This is the library. In here's the kitchen."

He returns a minute later, pointing down a long hall.

"Bedrooms are down there. You've got your own room, Dean. Go see if you can find it while I fix us something to eat."

I follow his directions and start opening doors in the hall, peering into dark, dusty rooms. Some have beds, but nothing that look familiar. Finally I open one that has guns mounted on the wall over the bed, a framed photograph of a little boy holding a baby on the bedside table.


The room is clean and neat, bed made, everything in its place. I wonder if that's who I am -- Mister Neat Freak -- or if Sam did this after I left last time.

I think back to Sam's wet towels all over the bathroom floor at the motel, to the books and papers scattered all over the tables in the library.

No, I'm definitely the Felix Unger of this Odd Couple. Sam's Mister Messy.

I sit down on the edge of the bed, look around for anything familiar. I pick up the photograph, stare at it, willing myself to remember being that long-haired four-year-old, awkwardly clutching his baby brother.

Nope. Nada.

I lie down on the bed, cross my arms and my ankles, sink into the crazy foam mattress, imagine lying here listening to music, or waiting for Sam to come to bed.


I check out the bedside table, find headphones and an iPod, put them on and lie down again, turning on the tunes.

More heavy metal. Loud.

Sam sticks his head around the door frame, raises his eyebrows at me, mouths something I can't hear because of the damn music.

I pull off the headphones, squint at him, reach for my writing pad.

–Do I ever listen to anything besides metal?– I scribble.

Sam shakes his head.

"Doesn't mean you have to keep on listening to it, though," Sam says. "I mean, you've got a chance to reinvent yourself here. You can kinda do what you want, seems to me."

He shrugs. "Hell, Dean, if I suddenly woke up without my memories, I can tell you I don't think I'd mind so much. There are a lot of things I wouldn't mind forgetting. You're getting a real opportunity here to improve on your own past. Do it differently. Start fresh."

I think about that as I follow him out to the kitchen, sit down at the table while he serves me pork and beans from a can with a piece of toast and a beer. It makes me smile.

"What?" he demands, frowning a little at his own plate as he sits down with me.

–Not much of a cook, are you?–

"You always did the cooking," Sam sulks, stirring his pork and beans around for a minute before dropping his fork and reaching for his glass of water.

I glance around the kitchen, take in the dirty dishes piled high in the sink, on the counters.

–And the cleaning too, I'm guessing?– I suggest.

"I've been a little busy hunting you down, Dean," Sam snaps. "Then getting you back. Then trying to find a way to break the fuckin' cycle so we don't have to keep going through this forever and ever. So yeah, washing dishes doesn't exactly make it to the top of my to-do list these days."

I nod, dig in to the sad little meal, keeping my eyes on the food.

"We'll start your physical therapy tomorrow," Sam promises. "And the speech exercises. Need to get you talking again."

I nod. Now that we're "home," the future seems like an abstract concept. If I just turn into a demon again in a few months, what's the point?

–I want to know everything,– I write on my pad. –Tell me what I've missed.–

"Tomorrow," Sam promises.

–No, Sam, now.–

Sam huffs out an exasperated breath.

"I can show you everything. All our years of hunting together, all the crazy things that have happened. It's all available on-line, maintained and updated regularly. It's not going anywhere. Just leave it for tomorrow, okay?"

–Our life history is on-line?– I stare at him.

"We're internet-famous," Sam nods. "There were a series of novels written about our lives years back, and this group of fans is still writing about us. Fan fiction, mostly, but some actual reporting of our activities. They monitor and report on things that sound to them like it might be us -- sometimes they're dead on, which is scary."

–People believe this stuff?–

Sam shrugs. "Some do. Not enough to make it a problem. It's just a hobby for these people, I think. They get together sometimes. Supernatural fan conventions."

–Do they know about this demon thing? The Mark of Cain?–

"There've been some rumors. Speculation. Sometimes something you do gets into the local news, and they pick up on it. You're not exactly all shy and reserved when you're in your demon form, Dean."

–I must be easy to track, then.–

"Sometimes," Sam agrees. "You like to tease, I think. And you're way over-confident. Cocky."

He looks down, stirs his beans.

"Sometimes you come after me," he says. "To scare me off."

I'm stunned. What?

–Do I try to kill you?– I write.

This is just so weird.

Sam smiles a funny, wry little smile that pierces right through my chest, into my heart.

"I think you tell yourself you can take me," he says. "But that never ends well for you. I have some kind of special powers where you're concerned. You can't kill me, and if you get too close I always get the upper hand. It's the way this thing is designed."

I shake my head.

–Do I remember?– I ask. –When I'm a demon, do I have my memories back?–

Sam nods, looks away, afraid to meet my eyes.

“Yeah, pretty sure you remember everything. You like to taunt me with shared memories of us. It's part of your nature."

–Cruel bastard.– I comment.

Sam cringes, hunches over and hugs himself briefly, and I fight the urge to touch him, offer comfort.

–I'm sorry, Sam.– I write. –I sound like a real asshole.–

He shakes his head, straightens up in his chair, looks me in the eye.

"It's not you, Dean," he says. "It's not you."

I'm not so sure it isn't more me than I am right now, but I don't say that. I can see how painful this is for him. I can't imagine losing the most important person in my life, the way he has. It's a kind of tragedy I can't imagine experiencing.

He gets up, clears our dishes, directs me to the bathroom.

The plumbing in this place is amazing. I take the longest, hottest shower of my life (or at least that I can remember) then slip on a tee-shirt and boxers. I find an old bathrobe hanging on the back of the bathroom door and put that on with some slippers, head back to the library.

Sam's hunched over a table, reading a dusty book. There's a pile of dusty books next to him, and I reach for the one on top, read the spine. Faber and Faber's Encyclopedia of Ancient Myth Volume 16. I flip the book open and a puff of dust rises up, makes me cough.

Sam looks up at me, his eyes red-rimmed.

He's been crying.


His nose and cheeks are flushed red too, and that's when I notice the whiskey.

I gesture at the bottle, pantomime drinking, and he nods.

"Help yourself," he says, so I do, grabbing a glass from the kitchen, pulling a chair up and settling in it with my pad and pen.

–I don't think I can sleep until I know everything,– I write.

He nods slowly, then pulls his laptop out and hands it to me.

"Knock yourself out," he says softly. "Let me know if you have any questions. I'll be here all night, most likely."

–We're gonna figure out a way to fix this, Sam.– I write. –I promise.–

He reads my words, lifts his eyes to mine. They're full of unshed tears.

"I know, Dean," he says. "You always tell me that."


I get up, take the laptop and my glass of whiskey, head back to my room to read.

Four hours later I'm still reading. This shit is just too crazy. It's not all the crap, all the supernatural monsters and the fighting and killing and the angels and the saving the world from the fuckin' apocalypse that gets to me in the end.

It's us.

Sam and I dying for each other. Our dad dying for me. Our mother dying for Sam. All our friends -- Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Rufus, Kevin, even Gabriel the archangel. Dying for us.

What's a little unbrotherly love in the face of all that dying?

I carry the laptop back to the library, put it down on the table in front of Sam.

Sam looks up at me, his eyes still red-rimmed, cheeks still flushed. He's finished over half the bottle.

I tap his hand, then put my hand on his shoulder.

–Come on,– I gesture. –Time for bed.–

He face floods with relief, and he lets me haul him to his feet, lead him down the hall to my room. I'm not thinking right now, just going on instinct, my head so full of the story of our lives it's like I'm still inside that world, like this is happening to that other guy. That other Dean.

I close the door, turn toward Sam, slip the bathrobe and tee-shirt off so he's got the idea, stand there waiting for him to make the first move because I have no fuckin' idea how to do this and he does. Well, I've got some idea, just not with him.

He looks so shattered, so desperate and sad and needy, so I smile a little, open my arms to him and give a little shrug. -What the hell, right?-

Suddenly he's right there, his hands on my face, and I get a close-up of his hazel eyes and long eyelashes before he's leaning down to kiss me.

His lips are soft, just the way I imagined. His huge hands holding my head steady are warm and gentle. I put my hands on his hips, just to anchor myself, kiss him back, tentative at first.

But my body knows his, responds to his with such wanton abandon it's goddamn embarrassing. I'm harder than I've ever been, desperate and greedy in two seconds flat, and I don't need memories to know exactly how to touch him to make him moan and beg.

It's rough and hard and needy and over way too soon. We lie naked and sweaty and breathing hard on the bed for awhile, staring at each other silently. He can't stop touching me, and I keep thinking it's his big, strong hands that kill me.

"I'm never gonna stop trying to find a way to save you, Dean," Sam promises, his voice a hoarse whisper. He strokes my face gently, then leans in for another kiss. I taste myself on his tongue and it makes me hard again, so we go another round, slower and not quite as desperate this time.

I fall asleep with his arms around me, spooning me, his lips on the back of my neck. It's the safest place I've ever been, and I know this even without memories. I'm struck again by the irony that this is the man who kills me. My brother. My lover. My murderer.

Gonna figure this out, Sam, I promise him silently as the blackness of sleep pulls me down.

When I wake he's gone. My phone says it's 4:00 a.m. so I lie awake for a minute, thinking he'll be back. When he doesn't return I haul myself out of bed, put on my shorts, bathrobe, and slippers, pad down the hall to the library, where the lights are blazing.

Sam's hunched over the table, reading. He's into the whiskey again, and this time the bottle is almost empty.

I know he can hear me coming up behind him, but I lay my hand on his shoulder carefully, just in case. From what I've been reading, I get the sense that Sam Winchester is one dangerous motherfucker with a hair-trigger temper, and when he's on his game his reflexes are positively lethal.

He tenses just a little when he feels my hand, turns his head but doesn't look up.

"Hey," he says, and I slip my hand into his hair, cup the back of his skull and lean down, place a solid kiss on the side of his head.

He looks up at me with a wan smile as I move around the table and sink into the chair opposite. I pick up the bottle, raise my eyebrows pointedly as I slosh the remaining shot or two.

"Yeah, so I drink," Sam murmurs bitterly. "You can't even remember what a light-weight I used to be."


I stare at him for a minute, torn between the desire to jump his bones again and the desire to haul him up and kick his ass.

Yeah, right. Out-of-shape me, still recovering from a coma, thinking I could take on this weapon of a man the size of a small mountain.

This is how that other Dean must've felt all the time when it came to Sam, I think. The affection for his little brother warring with the constant frustration at what a self-involved pain in the ass he could be.

–You need to drop the whining, dude– I write on my pad. –Everybody's gonna think I'm just fucking you because I feel sorry for you.–

Sam stares at me after reading that.

"Are you?" he challenges. "Was that -- what we just did -- some kind of pity thing?"

He stares a minute while I shrug, smirk a little.

"Goddamn it, Dean," he huffs. "You are such a bastard sometimes. Even when you don't remember what an asshole you used to be. How is that even possible?"

I pick up the bottle again, hold it up next to my face and wiggle it back and forth, waiting for his explanation.

He sighs finally, shaking his head.

"Okay," he resigns himself, even manages a little tired smile. "I get it. I'll stop wallowing. You're right. What am I doing wasting the time I have with you crying into my wine?"

I nod, sit back and put the bottle down, reach for paper and pen.

–How long do I have?–

He looks at the words, flinches.

"About four months, give or take a few days," he answers. "You were in a coma for a little over a month, then two weeks of rehab, so it's been about two months since the last transformation."

He lifts his eyes to mine.

"It's not long enough," he says grimly. "We never have enough time to get anything accomplished. Mostly we waste the time chasing leads, researching, ending up with nothing. And each time, your recovery time is longer, so there's less and less time to get anything done."

I shake my head. Doesn't matter.

–You keep notes?– I write. –You know what we've already tried? You have an idea what we should be looking for this time around?–

Sam nods.

"Yeah, I keep notes. You do too. I have all your notebooks – "

I stop him with a sharp gesture, scribble furiously.

–What? You have my notebooks? From the other times?–

He reads, looks up, nods. He's frowning a little.

"Yeah," he says slowly. "But they're not exactly helpful, Dean. You start from scratch each time, so your notes are mostly a lot of rehashing of stuff that's happened before. It always takes you awhile to get up to speed."

He looks away for a minute, like he's thinking, then adds, "Although the period between your physical recovery and your mental recovery is getting shorter," he frowns, thinking again, then shakes his head. "But that doesn't count because your physical recovery is longer each time. At the rate we're going, you'll be spending your whole six months in a coma within -- well, I'd say within the next five years."

I shake my head. –Are you sure?– I write, then scratch it out. Of course he's sure. He's got some kind of super-brain and if he has a mathematical equation worked out to explain why I'm getting exponentially more brain dead, then I trust that.


Which sucks, totally.

So I concentrate on the other thing he just told me.

–Can I see my notebooks?–

Sam blinks at my note, shakes his head.

"Why?" he asks. "They're not gonna tell you anything, just waste your time. There's nothing helpful there."

–I'll be the judge of that,– I write. –They're my notebooks.–

He looks at me with that helpless kicked-puppy gaze of his, and I'm suddenly feeling cornered.

"Why, Dean?" he says again. "It's just you going on about yourself, re-learning who you are, who we are. You never recovering your memories. Never making any sense of things."

–You've read them,– I accuse, and sure enough, he goes red, looks away, tries to avoid my eyes.

–Sam, those are MY notebooks,– I write. –You need to give them to me. NOW.–


He gives one more long sigh, then shrugs.

"They're in the bedside table in your room," he grumbles. "You always ask. You always read them. It never makes any difference."

I get up, stomp past him, cuff him lightly on the back of the head as I pass.


He's got some nerve looking through my private stuff. I would never let him read this journal.

It's been over a week since I wrote in this thing.

It's been a long, hard, depressing-as-hell week since I could stand to open the pages and make the effort to make sense of this crazy, violent, monstrous existence I have to call my life.

After I read those other journals, those documents of other lifetimes, I felt like giving up. Or maybe throwing up. Both. I had to admit, Sam was right. Reading that stuff was a complete waste of my time, and my time is short as it is. Reading my pitiful attempts to make sense of things in other times was just damn discouraging, not to mention demoralizing.

It's enough to make me want to kill myself. Just end it all right now.

Of course, I did that, the third time. After reading the first two journals, I just picked up one of these guns, loaded it, and stuck the barrel in my mouth.

I know because Sam told me the next time around as a way to try to prevent me from reading the damn journals in the first place. And I wrote it down in the fucking journal, of course.


All suicide accomplishes is a speedier transformation into the demon, of course. And since it all happened right here, Sam came running and found a helluva mess.

I look around my room, at the walls and the floor and the bed, imagine them splattered with blood and brains and gore.


So suicide's out.

Not the Winchester Way anyway. Too weak. I gotta be tough and face this thing. That's what the real Dean Winchester would do. Figure out a way to overcome the odds and fix this.


Well, I ain't him, but I can make an effort, for Sam's sake if not for my own.

Cuz who the hell am I really anyway? I'm not the guy who was raised from Hell by an angel.

Who, by the way, died in the first round trying to save me. Gave the last of his grace trying to cure me and fuckin' died.

We are so fucked.

Apparently the rest of our old friends are dead too, according to the journals. Jody Mills, Garth and his werewolf family, even those dorky ghost-chaser guys. Charlie Bradbury may still be alive, but she's been lost in Oz with her girlfriend for the past ten years, so who knows? My old friend from Sonny's Home for Boys died a few years back of cancer, so at least that wasn't my fault.

I've left Ben and Lisa alone, and as far as I know they're still out there somewhere. Thank god for small favors.

Our lives are unbelievably sad and lonely. And now we're caught in this horrible time-loop thing like a bad nightmare version of Groundhog Day. Or that crazy thing that happened to us all those years ago before I went to Hell the first time, where I kept dying every day and then the day reset so poor Sam had to watch me die again.

Sam's the one who has to remember everything, and my death is worse for him now because he has to be the one that kills me. I don't know how he can keep functioning. He drinks like a fish, beats on me when we wrestle, fucks with a terrible desperation and then collapses and cries all over me.

Something's gotta give.

I've been working out, sparring, practicing my moves, target practicing. The first day after I put these journals aside I told Sam I wanted to get back out there, do the hunting thing. Do what I'm obviously trained to do.

He just stared at me, shook his head.

"Dean, you can't hunt," he said. "You've been in a coma. It'll take weeks of training to get you into shape again."

–Okay, so let's start. Now.–

He just stared at me, and I knew what he was thinking. By the time I'm ready to hunt, it'll be time for me to go dark-side again.


amypond45: (Default)
He's back within the hour with Chinese take-out: Garlic Beef with fried rice and egg rolls for me, chicken and broccoli with steamed rice for him. He doesn't look at me as he sets the food down, then pulls out a six-pack of local microbrews. I haven't had a beer in -- well, I can't remember, obviously, but I really, really want one, and it goes down so good and cold I'm already reaching for another before he notices, frowns at me.

"Slow down, Dean," he says.

I shake my head at him and take a long pull on the beer.

We eat in silence. I'm waiting for him to tell me what the hell's going on. He seems to be avoiding the issue, not looking at me, pretending he's so hungry all he can look at is his stupid-looking health food.

Finally he gets up, looks around for something, finds the t.v. remote and sits down on the edge of the bed, flipping on the t.v.

I watch him for a minute in disbelief.

Really? He's not gonna talk about the salt thing and the weird dirt thing and the trunk full of weapons? Really?

Well, fuck that.

I get up, cross in front of him so he can't see the t.v., gesture angrily.

He looks up at me for moment, annoyed, and I shake my head, scribble on my pad and thrust it in his face.

–No fuckin' way, pal. You tell me what the fuck's going on. Now. Or I walk out that door.–

That last is a bluff, and he knows it, damn him.

–Did you bring me out here to kill me?– I scribble wildly. –Are you some kind of psycho serial killer?–

He looks up at me, opens his mouth, shuts it again and shakes his head.

"No, Dean, I did not bring you out here to kill you," he lets out a long breath. "You and I – we're hunters, man. We hunt things. Bad things."

I stare at him, uncomprehending. Hunters? But what's with the salt and the dirt and that goddamn arsenal, then?

And what the hell does he mean, "Bad things?"

–Are we bounty hunters?– I write.

"No," Sam shakes his head. "The things we hunt aren't human. And we kill them. We don't take them in for money. Although sometimes I think that might make more sense."

I stare at him, uncomprehending and feeling like he's doing it deliberately. Making me feel stupid.

–So they're animals,– I write. –Big game. Predators.–

His mouth twitches in a small smile, but he looks away, which means it's a joke to him, what I'm saying.

"Not exactly," he says.

–Bears? Cougars? Wolves?–

He shrugs.

"You're getting closer," he acknowledges.

I am so done with this shit.

Before I think about what I'm doing I've got him up against the wall, hard, shoved there with his shirts in my fists and my face in his, glaring at him, shaking him.

He looks surprised, stares at me keenly for the first time in a long time, and it feels good to finally have his full attention.

But then I realize how close we are. I'm aware of my thigh pressed between his legs, against his crotch.

I shake him one more time, then back off, whirling away from him and grabbing my pad.

–Quit fucking with me.– I write, thrust the pad angrily into his face. –I need to know what the hell's going on.–

"I know you do, Dean," Sam sighs. "I just think it would be easier if I could show you. Tomorrow when we get home. This isn't something you can just make any sense about without some context."

–Try me.–

If I could hiss, I would. Sam is being beyond annoying. He's being a total pain in my ass.

Sam's shaking his head.

"You'll just think I'm crazy," he says. "And I really don't need you running out that door right now. Also, talking about it trivializes it. And believe me, what we do is not trivial. Or simple in any way. Or normal, for that matter."

–Tell me, goddamn it.–

Sam lifts his eyes, looks into mine for a minute, and I do my best to hold his gaze, not let it make me melt with need and desire and something even more profound.

"Okay," Sam shifts his feet, puts his hands on his hips, licks his lips. "You know all the stories you heard as a kid, about bogeymen and monsters under the bed and in your closet? Ghost stories? Well, not you personally, you don't remember your childhood. But you've heard of those things, right? Ghosts, monsters, werewolves and vampires?"

Suddenly I know. I just know. It's not like I have a sudden memory of anything specific. I just know in my bones that this is what we do. We hunt those things he's talking about. We've been doing it forever, since we were kids ourselves. We hunt them, and then we kill them.

"Are you hearing me, Dean?" Sam presses, 'cuz, I'm staring away from him, at a corner of the room, trying to process this weird feeling of just knowing what he's telling me is true. "You're not freaking out on me?"

I snap my eyes up to meet his, fiercely scribble and hand him my pad.

–Don't you dare think I can't handle this. You were holding out on me, damn you. Lying to me. Goddamn mechanic, my ass.–

Sam sucks in a breath, raises his eyes from the pad to my face, puppy-dog look back.

I snatch the pad back, scribble furiously, shove it in his face again.

–We hunt evil. We kill it. I get it.–

He raises his eyebrows, lets his arms swing wide in a helpless gesture.

"How can you just accept that so easily?" he asks. "Damn it, Dean, here I was thinking all the time that maybe you weren't gonna remember. Maybe you wouldn't have to live that life any more. You could finally have some normal ––"

–Obviously our lives are pretty far from normal, Sam.–

–And I don't remember. I just know.–

Sam stares, then shakes his head.

"Those goddamn instincts of yours," Sam says. "It's like a sixth sense or something. Like some kinda psychic mojo."

Now it's my turn to stare, because when he says that, it's like something itches inside my head. It's like there's something I'm supposed to understand but I can't quite see it. The thought that pops into my head makes no sense whatsoever and is completely and utterly terrifying, beyond what I've just learned about us. And I'm not ready to think too deeply about it, so I don't.

So now it's my turn to avoid conversation, and Sam accepts that, thank god. Just lets me get ready for bed, then takes over the bathroom like a goddamn octopus.

The thought nags at me, just won't go away, even when Sam comes back into the room and climbs into his own bed, reaches up to turn out the light.

"Night, Dean."

I raise a hand and give a little wave, blankets pulled up to my chin, turned away with my back to him so I don't have to watch him fold his long, lanky, well-muscled frame into the tiny twin bed.

I can't sleep.

I lie as still as possible for awhile, listening to Sam trying to make himself comfortable in the other bed. He tosses and turns, then goes still for a few minutes. Then turns over and huffs out a breath.

"Dean? You still awake?"

I lie as still as I can, still turned away from him.

"Dean, I can tell you're awake. I know how you sound when you sleep."


"What's wrong?"

So many things, pal, I think. So many things.

"Come on, man, talk to me."

Yeah, right. Like I would if I could.


Damn it.

I turn over, sit up, turn on the light, grab the pen and pad off the nightstand and scribble on it, thrust it toward him, all in one movement, fast and hard.

He looks at the pad, then up at my face, and there are tears in his eyes, damn it, but I don't look away.

"I don't know, Dean," his voice is choked. "I don't know if we're human anymore. Sometimes I think – after what happened to you – "

I grab the pad back, scribble furiously.

–What happened to me? Cuz it weren't no car accident.–

"No," he agrees, his voice a hoarse whisper. "It wasn't a car accident."

I shake the pad for emphasis, demanding.

He keeps his eyes lowered for another minute, and when he raises them to mine they're coated with tears.

"Please don't make me tell you," he begs. "Not right now. Let's get home first, where it's safe. Then I'll tell you everything. I promise."

I shake my head again, turn back the page on the pad to the one where I already wrote NOW in all caps. Hold it up to him with a little shake.

Sam runs his hands through his hair, screws his face up in an expression of such agony I can't stand it.

I reach out, brush my fingers across his cheek in a gesture I mean to be comforting but which is way more intimate than I intended. It feels so natural I don't even want to think how many times I must've done it in the past.

And the way he leans into my hand -- yeah, been there, done that.

His eyes are closed and he's taking slow, shaky breaths, leaning his face into my hand, so I leave it there for a minute, rub my thumb along his cheekbone, watching him steady himself and take comfort from my touch.

When he opens his eyes again I pull my hand away. He nods.

"Okay," he says. "Okay, Dean."

He takes a deep breath.

"You were lost," he says. "I had lost you. You weren't coming back. It wasn't Crowley, wasn't Hell, wasn't even angels and God. It was the Mark. The fuckin' Mark of Cain."

I watch his face as he talks, lost in his story, hazel eyes still shining with unshed tears, hair mussed and sticking up in places.

"So I learned everything I could about that Mark," he goes on. "How it twisted your soul till there was nothing there. Nothing to save or bargain for, nothing to cure. I knew it made you immortal, kept bringing you back when you died. I followed the history of the thing all the way back to its origins, to the fiery kiln where the First Blade was forged. Below Hell, the underworld that existed before Lucifer and the angels."

He pauses, looking up at me for a minute to be sure I'm following.

I'm not, really, but I'm listening. I'm waiting for the things he's telling me to make sense. I have some crazy faith that they will, eventually.

He nods.

"I found a guy who could help," he says. "One of the gods of the old pagan underworld. The Greeks called him Hephaestus. The Romans called him Vulcan. He was a blacksmith, forger of all sorts of ancient talismanic artifacts and weapons, including, as it so happened, the First Blade. After the re-ordering of the pagan gods, he got a job making weapons for Heaven. And Hell."

–You went to this underworld to meet with this dude?–

Sam nods.

"Yeah. Don't ask how I did it -- there were spells and incantations and I had to kill a lot of innocent people to create the offering that led me to the door, and it's not exactly something I'm proud of, Dean. But I did it."

I'm stuck on the "killing a lot of innocent people" part, feeling my mouth drop open in shock.

He won't look at me, seems to know what I'm thinking. Just barrels ahead with his story.

"So Hephaestus said yeah, he could release you from the hold the Mark has on you, but only for six months out of the year. For six months you could come home. We could live our lives. Your soul would be whole and healthy again."

Sam looks up, the hope and love so plain in his expression it takes my breath away. It's my turn to look down, to look way from the naked emotion in my brother's face.

How can I ever live up to that? What did I ever do to earn that kind of love?

"But at the end of the six months, you're Demon!Dean again," Sam goes on. "You're back in the pit of your own private Hell. You're the evil son-of-a-bitch I'm supposed to hunt and kill."

He's clenching his fists, throws his head back like he wants to scream, lurches to his feet and begins to pace around the room, suddenly wired and full of a terrible, frenetic energy that actually scares me.

"And I do, Dean," he chokes out, turning to me, standing there in his tee-shirt and boxers, shaking, muscles tensing, jaw working furiously. "That's the sickest thing about this whole thing. I have to hunt you. I have to hunt you and kill you so you can come back to me, broken and bloodied and brain-damaged -- "

He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes.

"I'm the only one who can do it, see. The only one who can kill you. And I do it because -- because if I don't, I lose you forever. And I can't live with that."

Watching him standing there, suffering and miserable, I'm suddenly on my feet, taking the steps to reach him and gather him into my arms, pulling him against me.

He stiffens for a split second, surprised, then collapses into me like a drowning man, his long arms wrapping me up, leaning down so he can press his chin into my shoulder, turning his face into my neck and hair, breathing deep.

I start patting his back, then I'm clutching his shirt in handfuls, hugging him against me, our bodies not quite flush because he's so freakishly tall he has to lean down to put his head on my shoulder.

I wish I could say what's going through my head.

-– It's okay, Sammy. Just let it go, brother. It's all right, I've got you.–

The words are there, deep inside me, beyond thought or memory or understanding, and I'm letting go of all conscious thought for the moment so I can listen to them, respond to him, this strange, beautiful man in my arms.

But he seems to hear my thoughts, squeezes my back and shoulder, presses his face into my neck so that I feel wetness against my skin.

We stand there for a long time, till Sam's breathing slows, till his body stops shaking with sobs. I run my hand up into his hair, cup the back of his neck and knead the muscles there gently until he pulls back a little, and I'm cupping his cheek again, running my thumb along the perfect cut of his cheek.

He smiles a little, eyelashes still wet with tears, eyes red with crying. I nod.


His eyes fall to my lips as I mouth the word, linger there, so I clear my throat, deliberately take a step back.

He lets me go, reluctantly, and I turn away from him so I can reach for my pad and pen.

–Not gonna even try to understand everything you just said,– I write. –But I know in my gut you did your best. You did what you had to do. We'll figure this out.–

Sam stares at me, lips parted, long arms hanging loose, and I realize I'm physically fighting the urge to gather him into my arms again. To soothe his furrowed brow and kiss his soft lips and give him everything he so obviously needs from me. Only from me.

But I can't. I still barely know him, even if my body feels completely familiar with him. I still can't give him what he wants.

Not yet.

"I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this, Dean," he says now, voice cracked and broken. "To have you back -- it's everything. But you come back a little more damaged every time. Hephaestus says the memory loss is part of the way it works. You come back up the River Lethe, so you forget everything each time. At first I thought that was a good thing. You don't remember all the things that happened while you were a demon. Believe me, that's a good thing. But you don't remember us either. I have to spend more and more time just getting you to trust me again. To trust US."

A demon, I think. I'm a demon.

So I'm not human.

I knew it.

–Sam, I need to know. How long has this been happening? How long since I was just me?–

Sam's face crumbles again as he reads my note, like I've punched him.


He shakes his head.

"A while," he says, his voice barely above a whisper. "It's been awhile, Dean."

I nod. Years, I think. It's been years. That's the only answer that makes sense.

None of this makes sense.

Suddenly I'm bone tired. Suddenly I don't think I can stay on my feet another minute.

I sink down on the bed, put my face in my hands.

Sam shifts his feet nervously.

"I know it's a lot to take in, Dean," he says softly. "Just take all the time you need. I don't mean to pressure you."

–Yeah, you do. Demanding little bitch.– I throw the pad at him and he catches it easily.

A tiny smile turns up the corners of his mouth as he reads.

"Jerk." His smile widens a little. It's the ghost of a grin I used to tease out of him pretty regularly, I'm guessing.

We look at each other for another minute, and it feels warm and familiar and I'm so sure it's everything he's said it is, this thing between us. I'm as certain of that as I can't remember anything specific about it. And it's inevitable, I guess, that I'll be kissing those lips one of these days and feeling all that warm, tan skin on mine.

Just not tonight.

–Need to sleep,– I gesture, pulling the covers back so I can slip under them again.

He watches me another minute, till I wave and turn my back to him, curled in a ball on my side with the covers pulled up to my chin again.

"Night, Dean," he says softly, leaning down to turn out the light. I hear the sheets rustle as he climbs back into his own bed, then waves of exhaustion crest over me and I'm out before I can form another coherent thought.



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