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A Season In Hell : Part Two : The Mourning After

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Chapter 1: One Beating Heart

In a house there is a room; in that room there is a floor. On that floor there are two bodies with only one beating heart between them, one drawing breath. One living in this moment, the other torn and lifeless—Sam isn’t sure: which one is he?

He stands over his brother. He hears the sound of rushing air, white noise, and beyond that the rasp of quickly-drawn breaths; his own. Okay, so he’s the living one and the pain that comes now chokes him and threatens to stop his heart. For one agonized, mad instant he wants that, to be ushered after Dean into the darkness, then his capacity for coherent thought is drowned in a tidal wave of pure agony, sharp, clear, and cutting as a diamond.

Dean is beautiful and dead and Sam falls to his knees to cradle Dean's head on his shoulder, puts both arms all the way around Dean to pull him close, and the blood still seeping from Dean's shredded chest —though his heart no longer beats— spreads and bathes him with hot, sticky redness. Sam twines his legs with Dean's, molds himself along Dean's body, and wails like a baby, with abandon and without any consciousness of ego. There is only the pain, and Dean's body. Dean's green eyes are open and staring; just before the end, his eyes had widened in horror, as if he had seen beyond some awful door to what awaited him. There is the full knowledge of Hell in Dean's death-stare, and the pit that opens in Sam's stomach must match, for depth and agony, any that might await doomed souls beyond death.

There is not much thought in Sam's mind, only pulsing waves of painful disbelief. He can't believe he failed. Winchesters find a way. They always find a way, and Sam didn't realize before now just how deeply he had believed that he would save Dean, even until the final second when Dean had recognized Lilith lurking within Ruby's host body and cried out a warning. Too late, Sam sees, all too late. What a fool he’d been.

The floor creaks, and Bobby is there. He does not make the mistake of trying to pry Dean out of Sam's arms, only places his hand on Dean's head and weeps. Sam's tears flow so thick and fast that he is blinded, the world is only a wavering mirage that dips and sparks in shades of gray. Behind him somewhere there is screaming, and he remembers that this is some family's home, that he is lying in their dining room, a place where they have celebrated birthdays and holidays. The blood will never wash out of the soft carpet where Sam lays, and the wooden floor has drunk the blood irretrievably deep into its grain.

This all scans in a place at the back of Sam's mind where a piece of him always stays separate and distant and sane, telling him now that he must get up and see to it, that there is so much that must be done, and it will not do for itself. This small part of him is what has him pick himself up off the floor and grip Bobby under the elbow to support him, bring him to his feet. This small part that tells him that the police are most likely on their way, and they must not be allowed access to Dean's body. Above all else, above all things, Sam must protect Dean's body. Because…somewhere there is a thought forming. Because…

His body moves, shuts out the unimportant people at his back, the parents of the possessed girl, their shrill voices asking questions, demanding explanations. Sam bends and lifts his brother's body. Dean. Just a very small part of him pilots his body like a great, ungainly ship navigating an ice-locked channel with one oar and a flashlight.

The rest of his mind is busy slamming repeatedly into a very high wall lined with vicious spikes and thorns where he is torn to bloody pieces and yet keeps gathering himself to charge again.

Dean is beautiful in Sam's arms, curved lips softly parted, staring eyes like chunks of green jade. It is a shame to let Bobby close them.