Word Count: 9378.
Warnings: Spoilers for season 6, this is a what if take on what might happen when the wall goes.
Summary: No matter how often Dean is told deals never work, he still can’t help but make one final deal to protect Sam when the wall breaks.
Disclaimer: As before I herby renounce all claims on these men (and boy is Dean happy about that), I stood at the crossroads clutching a bag full of souls (The office staff won’t miss them) the demon said “Look for the last bloody time if I won’t give you Jared and Jensen there is no way you’re getting your hands on Sam and Dean either now bugger off!” These wonderful creations belong to Eric and now Sera takes care of them .
Notes: I know this will be Kripked or Sera’d to hell and back but I wanted to try my hand at the how far would Dean go to protect Sam when the wall breaks? And then what would Sam do to take care of Dean. As always many thanks go to my awesome betabigj52 , who has made this readable.
Dean watched as Sam sleep lay sleeping on the motel bed. Since Sam’s soul had been returned to him he slept more than Dean remembered him doing in a long time. He drank in the sight, but all the while he did Death’s words of warning about the wall in Sammy’s mind whirling round and round.
He also heard the words of Crowley, Castiel even RoboSam about the state of the soul he had pushed to be returned. Now Dean was faced with a dilemma. What he could do to prevent Sam scratching at the wall? Deep down he knew there was no way Sam could possibly not itch at the things he had done during that past year and a half. So if he couldn’t stop Sam slowly demolishing the wall, then he would have to ensure Sammy’s well-being when the wall finally gave.
Taking one last look at his brother, Dean slipped out of the motel room. He found an old disused warehouse earlier that day while they had finished up their hunt and now it would serve his purpose perfectly. Dean carefully laid out what he would need for the summoning, and he began. Summoning any Supernatural being was dangerous, but to call up the angel who wanted nothing more to kick your ass all over the state? Dean smirked, nobody could ever accuse him of being the brightest but this monumental act of stupidity might just save Sam’s life.
The familiar whisper of wings came while he read the incantation. Balthazar leant against a post with an amused expression on his face, “Well, well, Dean Winchester, my least favourite mud monkey. What can I do to you today? I’m feeling in the mood for a little light smiting.” Balthazar took a slow step forward.
Dean raised his hands in surrender, “Listen, I know you’d like nothing more than to fuck me over, but how about a little deal?” Dean gave his best winning smile.
“A deal with you? Dear lord! What on earth does Castiel see in you? Michael’s sword? More like Michael’s pen knife. You have nothing I want Dean, except to see you grovel in the dirt, choking on your own intestines.” Balthazar raised his hand.
Dean started to speak quickly, “As much fun as that is, and believe me, I already know what that feels like. It’s about the wall Death put up in Sam’s head. I want to protect him when it crumbles, and I think you’re the guy who can help me with that little problem.” Dean licked his lips nervously as Balthazar stopped and looked at him incredulously.
“Why on earth would I want to do that, Dean? Even if I could, why should I help you?”
Dean straightened his back and smirked, “Because if I’m right about this and you can do what I want, then being Sam’s soul mate means I’ll be in for a world of pain when it happens. I promise you can have a ringside seat to watch. How does that grab you, Balthazar? You make sure all those nasty memories get pumped into me instead, and you get to eat popcorn while I fry.”
Balthazar couldn’t help the delighted smile that spread over his face, “Oh, you really are priceless, Dean. It might be just enough for me knowing you are disintegrating because you ignored all the warnings? How about I just leave you to sit, holding poor little Sammy’s hand?”
Dean shrugged his shoulders, “Because if that happens, I promise I’ll put a bullet in him before I let him go through even one hour of that. No way is he suffering anymore because of me. So, come on then, Bal, what do you say? This way there’ll be plenty of pain coming off Sam as well - two for the price of one. Can you do it? Or am I just talking to a bag of hot air with wing envy because your brothers are all kicking ass.” Suddenly Dean found himself being slammed back against the wall. He gasped in pain as he felt Balthazar’s fingers wrap tightly round his throat.
“You arrogant little shit. You really think you can cope with what Michael and Lucifer did to your brother in the pit? You, who broke after only thirty years on the rack? Oh Dean, for that alone it will be worth watching you get ripped apart. Be back here tomorrow night, and I want you to bring something.”
Balthazar let go and Dean crumpled to the floor. He desperately tried to draw air into his burning lungs until finally he had his breathing under control. “Listen, it’d better not be Bobby’s blood ‘cause no way is that happening. I may be his favourite but I think he might not want to be a donor this time.”
Dean flinched a little when Balthazar knelt by him, it was then he saw a small vial in his fingers. “No Dean, not Bobby’s blood, but I will need some Sammy juice, and when you’re here tomorrow I’ll need yours as well.”
Dean took the vial, “Why do you need blood from both of us?”
Balthazar stood up and moved away from Dean, “What I’m attempting, Dean, needs extra juice, so blood it is from both of you, and I’ll let you know what you need to do when the time comes. Don’t be late tomorrow.” With that a breeze blew through the room and Dean knew he was alone.
The next evening saw Dean sitting, waiting for the fallen angel; he’d managed to get Sam’s blood easily enough. Sam had been injured on the hunt and while Dean had been changing the bandage, he accidently re-opened the wound; while he’d worked on it he’d collected the blood. Now he sat, looking at it. He was calm and for the first time in a long while he felt as if he was finally walking on solid ground. He could do this for Sam; it was his job to protect his little brother. “I’ve let you down so many times, Sam, but I swear I won’t let this happen to you, not on my watch.” Dean became aware of a presence behind him.
Balthazar was watching him, and there was the familiar half-smile, “Well, that’s all very touching. Shall we get on with this? Only I have seven...no eight, very friendly young ladies waiting for me back at the ranch. Have you got what I asked for, Dean?” Dean handed over the vial, “Of course you’ve got it, and I’ve never met anyone so willing to throw themselves in the pit for their brother. Hand out, Dean, I need your blood.”
Dean held out his hand and winced when Balthazar produced a silver blade and ran it the width of his palm. He watched the blood drip into the vial until finally Balthazar deemed he’d gotten enough. He put the stopper back in the vial and shook it. Balthazar’s eyes glowed and the blood inside the vial did the same. Dean wrapped his hand in a handkerchief, his palm throbbed.
“Shit, Bal, did you need to nearly cut my hand off for three drops of blood?” Dean watched the blood soak into the material. Shit! He’d need stitches in that. God knows what he’d tell Sam.
Balthazar just smiled, he reached out his hand and healed Dean, “No, you’re right, I didn’t need to but I enjoyed it. Now that was a freebie plus I get to keep a little tag on you, for when this goes down. Besides, I don’t think you’re going to want Sam to know what’s going on, do you?”
With that, Balthazar threw the vial up in the air. Dean desperately reached out and caught it, he looked at the angel, bemused, “That’s it! You get our blood and microwave it? Kind of anticlimactic, to be honest. So what do I need to do if the wall goes?”
Balthazar smiled at Dean, he wasn’t about to tell the human it had taken nearly twenty-four hours of serious magic and work for him to ‘microwave’ that blood, but letting Dean imagine it was easy would make what was to come all the sweeter, “What can I say? We angels just love the drama and theatrics. As for what to do when the wall goes is very simple. You have to let the wall start to break, you’ll know when, Dean. Once that happens drink the blood, then call my name.”
“Why will that trigger the spell?” Dean looked at the vial in his hand.
“It won’t but I want to be there when you get torn to shreds, plus I’ll bring popcorn. I do enjoy being entertained. Oh, if I were you I’d try and be somewhere secure. So if you can be at Bobby’s, that famous panic room of his will come in very handy. Be seeing you, Dean.”
With that he was gone and Dean unwrapped his hand. He looked down at the new shiny pink scar that ran the width of his left palm, sighed and stood up. He’d done everything he could think of to protect Sam. Now all he could do was hope the vial was never needed.
Several months passed by and Dean felt as if, for once, the gods were actually smiling down on them. The hunts had been going relatively well for them, as in they hadn’t trigged another Apocalypse once, and Cas was now talking to him again, even if only in short growls. Then, as always with Winchester luck the other shoe dropped. They had gone up against a trickster in Wisconsin. Just before the little bastard had died he’d grabbed Sam and whispered something to him.
No matter what Dean tried he couldn’t get Sam to tell him what had been said, but Dean had become hyper vigilant of Sam after that. He began to ask Dean more questions about the time he couldn’t remember and Dean just knew with a heavy heart that Sam was scratching desperately at the wall.
Finally in a shit heap of a motel room, thankfully enough not too many miles from Bobby’s, Dean had found Sam staring in the bathroom mirror at himself. “Come on, Sam, you ain’t that pretty. I got the looks in this family, remember? Besides, I need to use the head. Come on, a little privacy here.”
Sam turned and looked at Dean, and his blood ran cold. Sam’s eyes were unfocused and glassy; he looked at Dean as if he were seeing him for the first time. Dean moved towards him slowly so not to alarm him. “Come on, Sammy, what’s the matter, dude? You’re freaking me out here. Have I got something caught in my teeth? ‘Cause staring at me like that just ain’t cool.”
Sam grabbed Dean by the arms and Dean bit his lip because Sam’s nails were digging in hard enough to draw blood. “Dean, no, you can’t be here. I don’t believe it’s you. Lucifer, you bastard, you promised you’d leave him alone if I let you do what you like to me.” Dean’s breath stuttered in his chest no....not now! Then Sam spoke again, “It’s Michael, isn’t it? You’re doing this; leave him alone, you bastards, he’s been through enough.” Sam’s voice had gotten louder and more panic stricken. Dean managed to struggle out of the iron grip Sam had him in and carefully led him to the bed. He pushed an unresisting Sam down onto it and fetched his phone from his jeans pocket.
He hit Speed Dial No 2 and after only a couple of rings a welcome voice answered him. “Hi Bobby, it’s Dean. Listen, I hate to do this to you but me and Sam need a favour urgently.”
“Sure kid, what’s up? I thought you two were taking a little R & R after the last hunt. What do you need?” Bobby sounded relaxed and Dean hated that he was about to turn his world upside down.
“Bobby, I need you to set up the panic room. The wall is starting to go so I’m bringing Sam straight in. I’m just so sorry, Bobby.” Dean heard the sharp intake of breath from the older man.
“Dean, just get him here safe and I’ll get things ready and hit the books to see what I can do. You call Cas for help? There was a silence, and Bobby was about to repeat the question when Dean answered him.
“No, not yet. I thought it might be easier to try and get him once we’re with you. See you soon, Bobby and thanks again, man.” Dean hung up then he knelt in front of his brother.
Sam was looking around, lost, then he saw Dean. He gave his brother a weak smile, “Hey man, sorry I zoned out there. What’s going on? Was that Bobby? Have we got another job?” Sam was with him again but Dean didn’t know for how long.
He took a deep breath and nodded towards Sam’s duffle bag, “Yeah, we got another gig, sorry dude. Listen, you pack up and I’ll get us checked out, ok? We’ll hit the road in ten.” He held his breath, waiting to see what Sam would do. He stood up and started to pack. Dean moved swiftly, he would get Sam to Bobby’s and then he would drink the blood. He’d tell Bobby what he’d done after it was too late.
They made Bobby’s in record time. After they had pulled out of the motel car park Sam had started to whimper and clutch his head. Dean had broken just about every traffic law and possibly the laws of physics to get them there. Dean leaned on the horn of the Impala and Bobby came running out to meet them. He looked up from where he was helping Sam out of the car, Bobby’s face was strained. He looked at Sam clinging to his brother, and slowly shook his head “Shit, I’m sorry, Dean, but we always knew there was a chance this would happen. Come on, let’s get him inside and downstairs.” The two men helped the youngest Winchester in the house.
Dean placed Sam onto the couch, looked at Bobby and smiled, “It’s gonna be ok, Bobby. He can beat this, I know he will. I’m just gonna get down to the panic room to check everything’s ok.” Bobby was so busy watching Sam, he never saw Dean slip the vial from his pocket.
“Dean, have you called Cas yet? Because if he can make it now would be the time.” Bobby knelt in front of Sam to help calm him.
Dean looked heavenwards and decided now would be the time to say goodbye to Cas, “Cas, if you’re there I...Sam needs you. The wall is crumbling, and we don’t know what to do. If you could just come down I’d be grateful.” Dean had just finished his plea when Cas brushed brusquely past him.
Cas gently touched Sam’s face, his own a picture of concern. He spoke without ever looking at Dean, “You were warned of the consequences of your actions, Dean, and now Sam is suffering because of them. What would you have me do? Kill him because you lack the courage or sit with you and watch him suffer.” Dean bowed his head, accepting the blame the angel placed on his shoulders.
“No, I just want someone to watch over him for a little while, and Cas, I’m sorry this happened. You’ll never know how much I’m sorry. But if you want to know if I regret springing Sam’s soul from the pit, then I don’t and I’d do it again. I’ll just be in the panic room. Take care of him for me, please. By the way, thanks for everything, man.” With that, Dean was gone.
Bobby had only been half listening to Dean as he spoke; both he and the angel were struggling to keep Sam in place. It was then Dean’s words hit home, “Shit Cas! Get down there now! That idjit’s up to something.”
Cas stood, and just as he was about to go he asked “Why do you think he’s up to something, Bobby?”
Bobby turned a worried face to the angel, “Because he just said goodbye to us! Now git down there.”
Cas turned Dean’s words over in his mind and he disappeared. The moment Dean had said his goodbyes to Cas and Bobby he’d opened the vial and drunk the blood. He’d felt it burning and twisting through his veins; now he had to get to the panic room before it was too late. Dean practically fell down the stairs as the fire from the blood engulfed him. He was relieved to see Bobby had left the door open. By the time he reached the room he was crawling - the pain was excruciating. Dean threw himself over the threshold of the room and he uttered one word....‘Balthazar’
The air shimmered and the angel appeared. He looked down at the man curled up on the floor, his face contorted in agony, “My, my, Dean, that was quicker than expected. Does it hurt yet? Are you beginning to understand what my brothers are capable of? I expect you’ll have time to appreciate just what they can do.”
“Balthazar, what are you doing here?” Castiel was shocked to see his errant brother down by Bobby’s panic room. He turned to see Dean on the floor of the room, writhing in agony. Just then he heard the sound of footsteps.
Sam hurtled downstairs, “Dean...Damnit Dean, what did you do?” Sam was yelling at the top of his lungs. He pushed past the two angels without a pause and ran towards his big brother. As he reached him in the panic room Sam fell to his knees and pulled Dean into his arms, holding on tightly. He whispered again, “What did you do? I felt the wall crumble and the pain started and then it was gone. What did you do?”
Dean’s eyes flickered open - they were bloodshot and didn’t seem able to focus, but he knew that Sam was there. He smiled up at his brother, and said, “Sammy, are you alright?” Dean’s voice came out in a wrecked whisper.
Sam answered softly, “I’m fine, Dean.” Hearing those welcome words Dean gave up fighting and let his eyes close.
As Dean went limp in his arms Sam realized that Balthazar was down in Bobby’s basement. His head snapped up and he glared at the angel, “And what the fuck are you doing here?” Sam demanded.
Balthazar produced a bag of popcorn from his pocket, “It’s like this, Sam. It was part of the deal Dean made to protect you when the wall gave out. He gets all your pit memories in glorious 3D high definition and I get to watch! How could I turn down that deal? I just hope your brother is as entertaining as he promised. Don’t worry, Sam, he won’t be lying there all floppy for long. I’d enjoy the peace and quiet while you can.” With that a chair appeared and he sat down. He looked up at Castiel and offered him some popcorn.
“Castiel, how are things going in Heaven? Are you sure you can afford the luxury of being here? It’s not as if you can do much to help. But if suffering is good for the soul then Dean should be about ready to join our ranks by the time this is over.”
Castiel glared back down at Balthazar; he looked over to Sam, “I’m sorry, Sam, but he’s right. This is the calm before the storm.”
“Cas, isn’t there anything you can do for him? Please, you can’t just let him suffer like this.”
Balthazar yawned and stretched, “Sammy, dear boy, your precious Cas can’t help. This is my deal and if he interferes then...well, put it like this - do you think Dean wants to wake up and find your brain deep fried extra crispy after everything he’s going through? Could you really do that to your poor brother?” Balthazar’s mock sympathetic tone grated on Sam’s nerves. He looked over to Cas and by the expression on his face Sam knew there was nothing he could do.
Sam looked down at the still figure in his arms. Dean was so pale he had no colour at all and, although he was unconscious, his face was anything but peaceful. It was contorted in pain and terror and Sam felt as if a hand had reached into his chest and was crushing his heart. It should be him going through this and not Dean; Dean had suffered enough for him. Sam did the only thing he could, “Ok then, bro, let’s get you comfortable, shall we?”
He ignored Balthazar’s mocking laughter as Sam carefully picked Dean up and gently placed him on the cot in the centre of the room. “Hey Bobby, I think we should get Dean out of these clothes and into....” Before he could finish Dean curled up and vomited. Sam hurriedly got out of the way. He gently rubbed Dean’s back and muttered “That’s it, man, you’ll be fine.”
Again laughter from outside the room, “Oh Sam, you humans are just so precious – ‘You’ll be fine.’ If he’s lucky he’ll puke his insides out and die sooner rather than later...oh, and Sam, I’d hold fire on those clean clothes just for a little while.” Sam looked puzzled until he heard a whimper, then he understood what Balthazar meant.
Bobby came down to the basement with clean sweat pants and T-shirt for Dean. Sam slowly removed the soiled clothes. He’d gotten some warm water and was gently bathing Dean, “Come on, dude, you need to wake up. Do you really want me to wash you like this? Dean, please say something! Open your eyes tell me to lay off the goods” Sam pleaded with his brother to just acknowledge his presence. But Dean remained silent as Sam finished bathing him, and re-dressing him.
Dean lay on the cot. There was no movement except for the slight tremors that ran through his body and the continual motion of his face and every so often Sam heard soft whimpers and moans. Sam saw the torment Dean was going through. There were no walls up to protect Dean now, no game face. It was all stripped away and it was slowly killing Sam to watch Dean like this.
From outside came a bored yawn, “Dean, you’ve let me down. I really was hoping for so much more fight from you, not just lying there, whimpering. Where is the Winchester fire now? Perhaps I should’ve left you holding Sammy’s hand instead. Well, it’s been fun, Sam, but I really must be going now. Places to go, people to see.” As Balthazar stood up and brushed the remnants of the popcorn off his clothes Dean began to writhe and flail on the cot.
Balthazar’s face lit up with a smile, “Well, it looks like things are about to get interesting. I’m sure that little redhead in New Orleans will keep it warm for me.” Sam turned back to his brother; Dean’s eyes were open but there was no sign of recognition within them.
Sam reached out and held onto Dean’s shoulders and was shocked at the heat pouring off his body, “Bobby, we need something to cool Dean down, he’s burning up.” Then Dean started to scream, it was loud and raw and full of unspeakable agony. Dean arched up off the cot and it took all of Sam’s strength just to hold him down, and still the screams rang out in the panic room.
Sam just wanted that terrible sound to stop; it was almost as if Dean didn’t need to draw breath, the sound just kept tearing though him. Bobby ran into the room with the cool water and cloths and took one look at Dean struggling in his brother’s arms, “Sam, we gotta restrain him before he hurts somebody or himself.” Sam glanced over, distracted, and in that moment Dean managed to twist up and get free of Sam’s grip, pushing him over. As Sam fell backwards, Dean bolted off the cot. He crawled into the corner of the room, still screaming and now he curled up into a ball and cowered away from the two men. When Sam got back to his feet and reached out for him he flinched away from the gentle touch.
Sam stepped back and looked over at Bobby, “What the fuck do we do? How long can he scream like that?” The sound was driving Sam mad and he needed it to stop. It had to be hurting Dean, no one’s throat could take that kind of abuse without damage.
“I don’t know, kid, this is all new to me. Do you want to try and git him on the cot?” Bobby was standing by Sam, watching Dean, his heart breaking for the trembling figure in the corner.
“I don’t know. Maybe we should wait for a while and just keep watch on him?” Sam dragged his fingers through his hair at a loss with what to do. Still the screams rang round the room. Sam sat by his brother and pulled him close, wrapping his arm tightly around the shaking shoulders. Dean seemed not to be aware of Sam’s presence. The screaming had diminished and now he keened softly to himself. To Sam those soft sounds were even worse - it was the sound of a heart-broken child, lost and frightened.
From outside came an irritated sigh. Sam couldn’t help the wry smile that spread over his face. “Sorry Balthazar, but I can’t move Dean. If you’d like to come in here and watch, you’re more than welcome.” They heard muffled cursing from outside and Bobby grinned at Sam.
Finally after hours of sitting by Dean‘s side, he let Bobby lead him out of the room. Bobby closed the door and mercifully it muffled the sounds from within. Dean still whimpered and shivered, but apart from that he seemed quiet enough. Sam was just snatching a few moments rest with Bobby on watch when he was awoken by Bobby yelling, “SAM....GODDAMNIT SAM!”
Sam bolted downstairs to the panic room, Bobby was struggling with Dean. He was fighting wildly and his T-shirt was covered in blood. Dean flailed in Bobby arms, his elbow catching Bobby in the mouth, “Shit Bobby, what happened? He was quiet and now this?”
Sam managed to catch Dean’s flailing arms and drag him away from Bobby. The screaming had begun again, and it was hoarse and rough from the constant hours of abuse his throat had suffered.
“Git on him on the cot, Sam. We got no option but to restrain him now.” Bobby reached over and took one arm and Sam held onto the other. They were forced to drag Dean to it as he kicked, screamed and dragged his feet. For the first time since his collapse Dean spoke, “No...Please no...Anything but that...Alistair!! NOOOOOOOOO!” Sam shot a wild-eyed look at Bobby.
“I know, kid, but ya got to remember it ain’t Dean’s first time in the pit. Looks like he’s getting double the dose. I’m sorry. Now make sure those cuffs are on tight. Remember, this is Dean.” They had managed to get the thrashing figure down on the cot. Sam once again pinned Dean’s shoulders down and this time Bobby fastened the cuffs round his wrists. Then Sam held the kicking legs while Bobby strapped his ankles down.
Dean continued to thrash on the bed, fighting the restraints; it was then Sam found the cause of the blood. “Bobby, what happened to his arms? He looks like a fucking hell hound’s been at him.” Dean’s arms were covered in deep grooves. Sam moved closer and gently picked up one of his hands. He carefully prised open the clenched fist and under Dean’s finger nails was blood; he dropped to his knees and stroked his brother’s sweat-soaked hair. “Oh God, Dean, I’m so sorry. I’ll get you cleaned up now, shall I?” With that, Sam stood up and walked out of the panic room.
Bobby watched the young man leave; he turned his eyes to the writhing figure on the bed. He suddenly felt old; ancient, in fact. He should’ve been prepared for this. Ever since Dean had found out about Sam’s soul being trapped down in the pit there was never any doubt what Dean would do. That he would do anything to protect his younger brother from further suffering. “Ya had to go and do it, didn’t ya, kid? Ya threw yourself back in the pit for him, you’d have thought once was enough.” Bobby sat on the edge of the cot and rested his hand on Dean’s shoulder; he bent forward and whispered to him. “I don’t know if you can even hear me, Dean, but you gotta fight this. I don’t think Sam will survive losin’ you again. So, come on, Winchester, you gonna leave Sam all alone here? Please son, I don’t want to lose you either. I’ve buried you once too often already.”
Sam walked back in with a bowl of hot water, antiseptic cream and bandages. He knelt by Dean and slowly began to clean the self-inflicted injuries, “When did he start this, Bobby?” Sam asked as he gently bathed Dean’s arms with a cloth, and cleaned under his fingernails as best he could. For some reason that blood bothered him, as it bore witness that things were so bad Dean was prepared to injure himself.
As Bobby answered him Sam kept on working. Everything had been fine until twenty minutes ago then Dean had begun frantically scratching his arms. He’d done a lot of damage before Bobby had managed to restrain him and call Sam. Then they heard the familiar whisper of wings. Without turning, Sam called over his shoulder. “Just the fuck the hell off, Balthazar. I don’t give a crap about Dean’s deal with you,” his tone was bitter and helpless.
“Good morning, Sam, I just wanted to see how Dean was. I can leave you if want.” Sam turned to see Castiel framed in the doorway, his face a picture of concern and worry.
“What! Damn, I’m sorry, Cas, I thought you were Balthazar again. As you can see he’s not doing so good, but at least the screaming has stopped. I really don’t suppose there is anything you can do? Heal him maybe?” Sam’s tone was desperate.
Castiel shook his head, “I’m sorry, Sam, I don’t think I can help. These injuries are unique and from the soul - the only person who can help Dean is Dean. He needs to wake up soon otherwise he will fade away.”
San had continued to clean and bandage Dean’s arms as Castiel spoke. He looked over at the angel. “What do you mean ‘fade away’?”
Again came the whisper of wings and from behind Castiel stepped Balthazar, “Sorry Sam, I may have forgotten to mention to your brother that what happened in the pit will affect him physically as well as mentally. You know, high fever, wasting away to nothing; I’m guessing he only has around seven days at most. Possibly less, considering it was Lucifer and Michael down there, having a bitch fit. It’s something of a side effect being caught in the cross fire of two pissed-off Arch Angels. Don’t ask me why that happens. It just seems your human bodies are a little too fragile when we get to play with them. I only did what Dean asked me to. Can I help it if he never asked about side effects? Ahh good, it looks like we’re getting to the good stuff now. Move aside, Castiel and let me see.”
Before Castiel could respond Sam strode out of the panic room and slammed Balthazar against the wall. The angel grinned at him. “What are you going to do, Sammy, kill me?” He taunted the young man.
Castiel answered him, “Balthazar, I would not taunt Sam. He once promised me he would find a way to kill me and I must admit I believe him, so tread lightly, brother.” Castiel laid his hand on Sam’s arm and pulled him away.
“Cas, what can we do? There’s gotta be something, please?” Sam pleaded with Castiel, desperation plain in his eyes.
“Sam, all we can do is wait and hope that Dean is strong enough to find his way back. Now you need to be strong and take care of him. I’m sorry I called him selfish. I know that I could never have let one of my brothers suffer in the pit for Eternity. Dean was just doing what he thought was best for his brother.” Cas awkwardly patted Sam’s shoulder while glaring at Balthazar to remain silent.
Sam drew in a deep breath, “Bobby, you hear that? Right, we got work to do. We’re gonna have to keep him hydrated, and start trying to lower the fever. I gotta get him to wake up; I’m not letting him slip away from me.” Bobby was already moving past Sam. Castiel followed the older hunter and Sam just knew that soon they would have all the supplies they would ever want.
Balthazar sat down again and began to watch the twisting figure on the cot, “Nice scratches, I do hope he left those beautiful eyes of his alone. I want to see the light of hellfire dancing in them before he dies.” Sam gritted his teeth and ignored the mocking voice as he went back to Dean’s side.
Bobby returned and they set up a drip to keep Dean hydrated, Sam stared down into his brother’s pained face. There were dark circles under his eyes, and it was then he realized that his cheek bones were more prominent. He looked up at Bobby, startled by this sudden change. “Crap, kid, it looks like Balthazar was fucking right. God knows how long he’s got before his body gives out.”
Sam rested his hand over Dean’s heart and he felt it was racing like a train. It was true then, Dean’s own body was turning on him, betraying him, and whatever was happening in his mind, his body mirrored the abuse. Sam again felt the heat that poured off his brother and how his body was racked with tremors.
Sam sat back and rolled up his sleeves, “Right, we need to try and get your temperature down, Dean. Feel free to help any way you like, bro.” Bobby handed Sam a cool damp cloth and Sam gently began to wipe down Dean’s face and arms, and then came the bags of ice. They were placed around Dean at strategic points, backs of knees, armpits, groin and Sam lifted his head and placed one behind his neck.
Dean moaned at the icy sensation and Sam just gently rubbed his arm, “Come on, Dean, I know you can feel this, and I know just how much high fevers hurt you, you get hypersensitive skin and you shake so hard your teeth rattle. Come on, Dean, you don’t want to end up lying here, naked, because wearing clothes hurt. Do you really want Bobby laughing at your scrawny chicken legs again? Please Dean, wake up! I’m prepared to beg, dude, don’t make me do that. You hate it when I beg.”
After a while time held no meaning for Sam. He just kept replacing the melted ice packs and changed the drip, but all the while he kept some form of contact with his brother, either by the gentle bathing down of fevered heated flesh with the cool cloths, or talking softly to him.
Sam’s eyes felt gritty and his voice was hoarse from almost constant talking, streams of memories and nonsense - anything just to let Dean know he wasn’t alone here in this room. Again Bobby had forced him to get some rest; he promised to continue taking care of Dean in his absence. Sam was lying on another cot Bobby had brought into the panic room and now he lay looking over at his brother. It had only been three days since the nightmare had begun, but already Sam could see the devastation the wall’s demolition was inflicting on Dean. As Balthazar had promised Dean was fading away. He was losing weight and the clothes that had fit him so well now hung off his frame. There were bruises on his pale skin from where the cuffs had to be tightened to ensure he didn’t slip them off and other bruises were appearing now, sickly yellow and green tinged, making Dean look even more fragile than he was.
His breathing was shallow now, almost as if it was too great an effort to draw deep breaths. Dean looked exhausted. Sam could tell he wasn’t resting; he didn’t think Dean had had a moment’s respite since the wall had broken, but still Dean clung onto life. It was as if somewhere deep within all the pain he was enduring he was still fighting. Sam suddenly sat up. That was it! Dean was trying to find his way back, now it was up to him to bring Dean home.
Sam stood up and walked over to Bobby; he rested a hand on the older man’s shoulder, “Thanks Bobby, I’ll take over now.” Bobby slowly stood up, his body stiff from remaining in the same position for such a long time.
As he hobbled to the door he turned to Sam, “I’ll git ya some fresh water and a new drip. Son, I hate to say this but I ain’t sure how much longer we got. He’s getting weaker, Sam; I don’t think there is much fight left in him. I’m sorry but it might just be time to get him comfortable and let him slip away.” Bobby watched as Sam stared down into his brother’s face; he didn’t expect an answer. After all, he’d just told a Winchester to let his brother die. He was lucky to be walking out of there, let alone get a response.
Sam sat down by Dean and started the familiar routine of gently cooling Dean’s over-heated skin. He deftly moistened dry, cracked lips and as he worked he spoke softly, “Bobby tells me it’s time to let you go, Dean, but I’m not ready to, man. I know you can hear me, Dean. I think you’ve done enough now, don’t you? It’s time to let me look after you. I want to hear you bitch at me for mother henning you to death and I mean to chick flick you to within an inch of your life. You don’t deserve this. Come back, Dean.”
Behind Sam came the familiar and annoying sound of mocking laughter. Sam ignored Balthazar, both he and Bobby had become very adept at doing that over the past few days. “Oh, bless you, Sam. You don’t think he deserves all this suffering. May I remind you who broke the first seal? If he hadn’t been so weak you would never had to take the swan dive with my brothers, you just remember that.” At those words Dean twisted harshly in his restraints, Sam flinched when he did that. The abuse his wrists and ankles had suffered meant they were bandaged and now Sam saw fresh blood seeping through the white material.
Sam slowly rose to his feet and turned to face Balthazar. Bobby was coming downstairs and he heard what was happening. He took one look at Sam and muttered something. Just then Castiel appeared, ready to stop Sam from getting himself killed if he tried to attack Balthazar.
“Ok, so he broke the first fucking seal! The deck was stacked against Dean from the start down there. You laid siege to Hell, but you were never meant to get to him in time. After all, I’m pretty sure the archangels were rooting for the grand smack down, weren’t they? And Cas, you were the one who told Dean he was fated to be the one who started the Apocalypse and the one to end it. For Christ’s sake, they sent Alistair, the grand duke of Hell to fucking torture him. And don’t give me John Winchester refused Alistair’s deal for a hundred years speech. Because you know what? I don’t believe that dad was offered the same deal as Dean. Demons lie remember!
The angels needed a vessel for Michael that had been tempered in the fire. Forty years being tortured will do that, and I know the last ten he was wielding the razor, but believe me, that would’ve been just as bad for Dean. Gabriel told us it had to be a battle between brothers; I don’t think a father and son would’ve cut it for you guys. And if it hadn’t have been for my poor, weak, broken brother, Lucifer and Michael would’ve laid waste to the world. What do you think made me fight back? It was for Dean. Lucifer was killing him and no way was I gonna let that bastard do that.
And then after my body got yanked out of the pit and RoboSam dragged him back into this life, what did he do? Once he realized RoboSam had no soul he made another deal with Death to get me back! What the hell did any of you do? Nothing! You were prepared to let me rot and he tried to make sure there was a wall to protect me from what happened in the pit. Did the angels do the same for Dean? No, he was left to just drag himself through the shit, and none of us, me included, helped him as much as we could’ve. We all just expected him to carry on. Well, not anymore. I intend to get him back and look after him, so Balthazar just shut the fuck up and let me look after my brother.” With that, Sam turned his back on the astonished figures outside the panic room.
“Well shit!” Bobby breathed in awe and Castiel looked at him and nodded in agreement.
“He’s right, Bobby. We sat in judgement and offered no help. Dean did the only thing he could think of to help Sam and all we did was blame him for being weak.”
Balthazar was open mouthed with shock and anger. How dare that mud monkey speak to him - an angel of the lord - like that! “Oh yes, your poor brother with his martyr complex and desire to sacrifice himself for everyone, especially his precious Sammy. Well, you know what your hero said to me, Sam, when I wanted to leave you a drooling mess? He said he’d put a bullet in you rather than watch you suffer. What a hero.” Balthazar crowed. Sam slowly turned back and looked at the angel. His face was a blank mask, not an emotion visible.
“Oh, don’t tell me I broke that Winchester as well! These two saved the world? Somebody please tell me how they managed that.” Balthazar threw his hands up in frustration.
Bobby watched Sam’s face and he slowly edged out of the way of the stairs. He reached forward and grabbed Cas’ sleeve. Cas glanced at Bobby, puzzled, but he let himself be pulled level with the hunter.
Suddenly Sam ran out of the panic room. He barrelled into Balthazar, knocking the surprised angel against the wall. He tore upstairs at high speed; they could hear the sounds of Sam rummaging around and then came the sound of returning footsteps. Again Sam was running at full speed; he flew into the panic room and crashed to his knees. He frantically tugged at the restraints that held Dean in place. Once they were off, Sam lifted his brother off the cot. He held Dean against his chest, his gut clenched at how light Dean was in his arms. His head lolled back against his shoulder then Sam folded down and sat on the floor. His back was against the cot and Dean was pulled tightly to his chest. Dean’s head fell forward and his breathing became even more laboured.
Sam gently reached out and placed Dean’s head against his shoulder once more and then he put his right hand behind him and pulled out the gun he’d fetched from upstairs. Sam spoke softly to the man cradled against him. This was his last hope; he had no other way of reaching his brother now.
“Ok then, Dean, this is it. I can’t take watching you hurt like this anymore. You told Balthazar you’d kill me rather than let me suffer. You know what? That’s a really great idea. I can’t take watching you die again, dude. I’m gonna end it now, and then do you know what I’m gonna do? Then I’m putting this gun to my own head and I’m gonna follow you. Where do you think I’ll end up, Dean? I mean, if killing my own brother won’t be bad enough, we all know what happens to suicides. So it’s back to the pit for me. Do you think Michael and Lucifer will be pleased to see me again?”
Outside Castiel went to step forward but Bobby just shook his head. Balthazar stood watching, puzzled by what was happening, “I really thought those two had more fire than this. Instead they’re just going out with a whimper.”
“It just shows you ain’t ever played a Winchester at poker. The only thing they know is how to bluff when they ain’t got a damn thing in their hand. Dean played you, Balthazar. You ought to know there is no way he’d ever hurt that kid, so he was never gonna put a bullet in him. Come on, Dean, stop ya brother from doing something stupid.” Bobby was willing Dean to respond to Sam’s threat.
Dean laid unmoving his arms; Sam rested his forehead against Dean’s. He took a deep breath and released the safety catch, pulled the hammer back and placed the gun under Dean’s chin, “Goodbye Dean, I’ll miss you. Say hi to mom and dad if you find them.” It was then he felt a weak twitch in Dean’s muscles. At first he thought it was just a spasm, and then slowly a hand moved. Sam held his breath as Dean struggled weakly to try and stop him.
“Nooo....Sammyy don’t...don’t you fuckin dare...you hear me!” The voice was weak and faltering but to Sam it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever heard. He threw the gun on the cot and wrapped both arms round his brother. They sat there, Sam softly crying against his brother’s shoulder. Dean heard a sound and he lifted his eyes to where Bobby, Castiel, and Balthazar stood. Bobby was smiling happily, Castiel was relieved and Balthazar looked like he was about to explode. Dean gave then a weak smirk and let himself be held by Sam.
“What just happened? Surely he knew Sam was bluffing.” Balthazar was spluttering,
“It’s possible Sam wouldn’t have pulled the trigger, but there was no way in Hell Dean would take that chance. That boy went through Hell for family and Sam would do the same. You really don’t get us mud monkeys, do you, Balthazar. Well, excuse me, I better go and turn the bed down in my spare room. Sam will want it for Dean.” Bobby beamed at the angels and turned away and walked upstairs.
Back in the panic room Sam had stopped crying. He was just about to pick Dean up and carry him upstairs when that rough voice croaked “Thank God for that, Sammy, you were getting my T-shirt all wet.” Dean coughed when his throat dried. Sam got them back to their feet, picked his brother up and walked out of room.
The next few days passed in a haze for Dean, all he knew for certain was every time he was awake Sam was there. He was either changing his bandages or encouraging him to try and eat. He’d lost a lot weight and god he just felt so weak. All he could manage were protein shakes and after one memorable exchange when he’d offered to shove the shake where the sun didn’t shine, Sam had relented and gone out and brought him enough chocolate ice cream to rot the teeth of an entire school.
If Sam wasn’t force feeding him, he was sat in the room reading or talking non-stop to him. Dean drifted in and out of consciousness, and there were times he’d woken up in Sam’s arms, with Sam looking terrified that he was about to check out on him, “Dude, stop with all the hand holding, I ain’t going anywhere any time soon.” He looked up into Sam’s frightened eyes and he gave his brother a small smile and there was only one way to thank his baby brother for everything he was doing, “Bitch.”
Sam smiled in return, “”You’re welcome, jerk.” Sam got up and left the room to get him yet more food.
As Dean lay resting the sound of wings filled the air. He opened his eyes slowly and saw Cas sat on the edge of the bed, “Shit Cas, I thought we’d had the personal space thing sorted out! Are you talking to me now?” Dean’s voice was still weak.
Cas looked at the figure in the bed. He cocked his head to one side and studied the hunter. Dean’s green eyes were even more haunted than before, but there was a flicker of defiance burning within them that almost screamed out the challenge to ‘give it your best shot’ as he knew Dean would say. “Come on, Cas, I know I’m pretty but I ain’t that pretty.” Dean smiled at the angel when he said that.
“I’d ask how you are Dean but I can see you are still suffering the after effects of what you did. What did you hope to achieve with that deal?”
“Come on, Cas, you gotta know that. It’s my job to protect Sam and this was the only thing I could think of. You were right. Sam’s soul was a mess, but you know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat because Sammy’s back and he’s safe. So, come on, then, tell me ‘I told you so’ because, believe me, I ain’t up for running at the minute.” Dean’s voice trailed away; even that small outburst seemed to have weakened him. His eyes closed and he shifted to ease his pain a little.
Just then the bedroom door opened and Sam walked through, carrying a tray. It was loaded with a large bowl of ice cream and what looked like half a pie on a plate. He spotted Cas and the smile he’d been wearing became guarded on seeing the angel.
“Hi Cas, what are you doing here? Is there a problem?” Sam sat down beside Dean and placed the tray on the bed. He frowned when he saw his brother was asleep. He reached out and gently touched his forehead to check he wasn’t suffering from a temperature again.
Dean frowned at the touch and muttered, “M’fine Sam.” before he drifted off to sleep again
Cas watched the moment between the brothers; Sam looked at Cas and smiled, “You want to know why he did it, I made Dean promise me that he’d leave me in the pit. When he saw that I was back…god it must’ve been like all his birthdays had come at once. Then just imagine the finding out that ‘Sammy’ was still missing, it would’ve killed Dean to just leave me in the pit. Then being his usual mule headed self he decided to mount a rescue mission, to hell with what would come back. All he knew was he had to get Sammy back and the rest would fall into place. After that his deal with Balthazar was a small price to pay, so there you have it Cas I’m here and well because my jackass, mule headed idiot of an overprotective brother refused to let me go. And I wouldn’t have him any other way.” Sam gave the sleeping figure a fond smile.
Cas looked bemused, “I don’t understand. I thought that Dean put himself through this to stop you remembering what happened with my brothers.”
“He did, but Dean was so concerned that I didn’t suffer he forgot that if he’s my soul mate then I’m his. Dean got all of my pain but I kept the memories, and believe me, Cas, when your brothers decide to sit and talk about the universe it’s fascinating, especially the subject of Purgatory. Every so often they forgot I was in the cage with them, and they reminisced about the old days. It’s been a great help for Bobby and the research into the mother of all. So, perhaps the wall was meant to break. I just managed to dodge a bullet, thanks to Dean.”
Sam paused in what he was saying and sat, watching his brother’s chest rise and fall, relieved that he was still able to. “You know what, Cas, if I could I’d change places with him in a second. He’s been through Hell for me twice now, and I promise you Cas, never again. All I can do now is take care of him until he recovers. It’s gonna take some time with everything he’s been through and I’m not taking him for granted again.” Sam fell silent and once again his hand strayed to Dean’s chest. He sat and felt the reassuring thump of Dean’s heart beneath his finger tips.
Cas stood up and he reached out, gently pressing his fingers to Dean’s forehead. Dean gasped softly and suddenly his colour improved and the dark circles disappeared. “I have healed Dean as much as I’m able to, but he still needs to rest. If you need me, you or Dean call and if I’m able, I will come.”
As Castiel prepared to leave, a quiet voice halted him, “Likewise, Cas. You need us, just you call and we’ll be there. After all, that’s what friends do for one another, right? By the way, Cas, thanks for everything.” Dean opened his eyes and gave Castiel a smile. Castiel nodded in acknowledgement of Dean’s words.
Sam’s face lit up when he saw that smile. It had been over a week since he’d carried Dean out of the panic room, and he’d been worried sick about his big brother. He’d barely been able to drink the protein shakes Sam had made, he’d been so weak. Sam had even had to help Dean hold them while he bitched about being poisoned.
“Sam, is that ice cream and pie I can see before me? Well, hand it over, dude, I’m starving here. Or do you think I need to lose more weight?” There was a light in Dean’s eyes Sam hadn’t seen in a long time. Sam picked up the tray and placed it on Dean’s lap. Dean picked up the spoon and started to demolish the food in front of him. Sam sat back, happy to see Dean regaining some of his zest for life; he didn’t imagine that any of Dean’s problems were gone.
Sam had stayed in this room night after night while Dean had suffered nightmares; he’d held him when he’d cried out in pain. But it looked like Dean was finally finding his way back to being himself and for that Sam would be eternally grateful. And if one day Dean asked if he remembered Hell, then he would tell Dean the truth and that, thanks to him, it meant they stood a chance against the latest monster that wanted to destroy them all. But more than anything, he would tell his brother that together they would find a way to overcome whatever stood in their way.