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Go see all the beautiful art at the art masterpost here.

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The box, the box, the box. 

 

It was all he could think of, there wasn’t anything but the box. No other solution but the damn box. He couldn’t lose Dean to the thing, not again, not like this, and not so soon after the last time. 

 

Sam stared across the empty space between them in the Impala’s front seat, trying to imagine how hard it must be to hold an archangel locked-down for this long. He had struggled himself just those few minutes getting Lucifer into that hole in the ground. Now that he thought of it, should Dean really even be driving?

 

“Maybe I should drive, huh?” Sam asked, before they’d left Donna’s cabin.

 

Dean answered, “Nah, driving relaxes me, you know that. It makes it easier to keep Michael on lock-down if I have something else to focus on. Thanks for worrying though, Sammy. I’ll let you know when it’s your turn. Maybe by the time we get to Sioux City, okay?”

 

Sam didn’t answer, just got himself situated in the passenger seat, and started in on observing his brother as Dean drove.

 

The unfamiliar noise of the rented trailer bouncing along behind the Impala interrupted his thoughts. The trailer was carrying the box that Dean had made, well, the coffin really. That was what it would be if his brother used it as planned. Dean had made himself a goddamn coffin, using the directions that Death herself had given him, along with the idea that it was the only way to keep the world and all of reality safe from Michael’s plan to undo it all. Sam knew Billie had her own motivations for “helping” and he wasn’t sure whether Dean’s blind acceptance of her plan was a good idea at this point. She was still Death after all.

 

He hadn’t even known that Dean knew how to weld, much less make a box like this, something so arcane and powerful that one hadn’t existed for millennia. And his brother had gone and made one, out of freaking scrap metal, and pure stubbornness. It bounced and bumped behind the Impala, taunting him with its presence. Reminding him of how Dean had planned to leave him, without a real goodbye or any type of explanation. It still stung, even though they had just hugged it out so thoroughly back there. No, it more than stung, it hurt, much more deeply than he wanted to admit to himself, and Sam didn’t want to let that go. He knew that he needed to hold onto that emotion, he would need it to fire up the drive to solve this puzzle they were stuck in, to find some way to save his brother from an eternity as an archangel’s vessel stuck in a box at the bottom of the sea. 

 

They had always ‘figured it out,' that was practically their family motto, or at least what they told each other when they were staring down the next apocalypse or big bad. He had the resources of the Men of Letters at his fingertips. There had to be something in all of that arcane information he’d missed before. There must be some avenue that he hadn’t pursued. There were plenty of darker things he had skipped over, knowing that they would basically be akin to performing black magic. Maybe he needed to consider that route again. There could be a way, maybe someone else could—Rowena.

 

He pulled his phone out and texted her.

 

Sam: I need you to look something up in the big bad book

 

Rowena: Well hello to you too, Samuel. What makes you think I still have it?

 

Sam: You’re still alive and answering me. It’s for Dean. He’s holding Michael prisoner in his mind, and it’s not going to last much longer. We need something that’ll get him out. Dean made a Ma’Lak box to hold Michael.

 

There wasn’t a reply for several agonizing minutes. She was either laughing her head off or actually searching for what he needed. Or both at once, Rowena was a pretty good multi-tasker. Finally, his phone dinged with a reply.

 

Rowena: Any spell that’s going to control an archangel is going to need a lot of mojo. Specifically…King of Hell level.

 

Sam: What are you saying? I need to be the King of Hell to do a spell?


Rowena: Precisely my dear, I’ll send you the particulars in an email. Having the Ma’Lak box made and ready will make this much easier. Ta.

 

Sam put his phone away and scowled out at the lights of the small farm towns scrolling past his window. He replayed the fight with all the demons he’d had earlier that year, when his mom, Cas and Jack had all heard the demon, Kipling, basically asking him for the right to assume the throne and be King of Hell, as if it had been up to him. To his utter shock, it turned out it really had been, the demons had all been scared—of him. And he’d told them all…what had he said, something about how there wasn’t going to be a new King of Hell ever. And if any of them wanted the job they had to come through him. What had made him say that? And why had they listened and obeyed? 

 

He hadn’t wanted to think about it too closely back then, he’d been much too focused on finding where Michael had taken Dean’s body and getting him back in one piece. But maybe that response from the demons meant that him taking on the role of King of Hell wouldn’t be so hard. He looked over at Dean, considering how his brother would take it. He thought about how far he’d gone before, saving Dean back when he’d been a demon himself. Would this be too far, would it make Dean run the other way once he was rid of Michael? 

 

“Who’re you texting at this time of night?” Dean asked in between two of the songs on one of the worn-out Led Zeppelin mixtapes he favored for night driving. Misty Mountain Hop faded out and there was a long enough space for him to ask a question before Kashmir blared out. Dean turned down the stereo, which meant he really wanted to know, wasn’t just making idle conversation.

 

“Rowena, I…uh, got her looking into some stuff on the case,” Sam said, knowing that he couldn’t bear to lie to Dean, not after what they’d said to each other just a few hours ago. 

 

“The case as in me, well, Michael in me and hopefully out of me sooner rather than later,” Dean said.

 

“Uh huh, definitely a whole lot sooner right? There’s some possibilities she’s checking out for me,” Sam said.

 

“She’s really on the Scooby team now, huh?” Dean asked.

 

“Seems like it…most of the time. The way I look at it, she’s just one of our resources, but one that we have to keep an eye on.”

 

“Wonder if it’s because of what Death told us? You know all that crap about Rowena’s death coming at your hands or whatever.”

 

“Maybe, she might want to keep a close eye on me, or who knows, she might have a death-wish for all I care.”

 

Dean didn’t say anything to that, just abruptly pulled off the highway in Le Sueur, one of the small towns outside of Minneapolis. His brother found a Valu-Inn with unerring prescience like it was his superpower, or maybe he just had all the highway exits memorized at this point.

 

They unloaded and Sam tried not to look at the box. But they’d had to park under one of the parking lot’s brightest sodium lights. The box glimmered with that something extra that magical objects tended to have. Or maybe it was something that he could see. 

 

He growled at it after Dean started walking towards the motel building. “You’re not getting him, you hear me. He’s mine, and you’re not getting him,” Sam finished growling at an inanimate object and felt pretty silly, but it helped him put on a game face in the motel room where Dean was watching him pretty closely. This always happened after they had emotional, fraught moments, Dean got super observant and touchy. It was annoying and familiar and suddenly very dear and precious. This was what he would have lost, this was what he had to take care of and protect and jealously guard. It was just his—and no one else’s.

 

He folded himself into the arms that Dean opened up once they’d dropped their bags and closed the door behind them. He put all his attention into soaking up his second hug of that day. It must be pretty dire if Dean needed the connection, or thought that he did. Hell, maybe they both needed it.

 

“I know you said we’d figure out a way, and I love you for it, you know I do. But don’t hurt yourself for me, promise me, Sammy?” Dean asked, his lips smearing his plea against the skin of Sam’s neck.

 

Sam struggled internally for a long moment, not wanting to lie or brush off his brother’s request. “I’ll only go as far as I need to and no further to save you. I promise, Dean.”

 

It took a long time to let Dean out of the hug, his brother seemed just as reluctant as Sam felt. For the millionth time, Sam wished that it wasn’t such an unusual thing, to show physical affection to each other. They only had each other at this point and that didn’t seem like it was going to change any time soon. It was going to take him a while to get over hearing that his brother loved him. How sad was that? 

 

Rowena’s email came through while Dean was in the shower. Sam was glad because he wasn’t sure of how his reaction looked on the outside. Inside he was completely falling apart at reading what she had to say.

 

Samuel,

The spell you can cast is rather simple, but as I said earlier, requires enormous mojo. Officially assuming your prophesied role as King of Hell (see the third page of Kevin’s notes on the demon tablet, paragraph fifteen for directions) will essentially make you into a demon, which then will allow you to possess your brother. This means that Dean’s anti-possession tattoo will need to be scarified first. One slice through the entire design will do the trick.

 

Once that bit of bloody work is done, and you are inside of him (haha), you will have to perform the spell to take over control of what happens to Michael. I’m guessing that Dean will resist your efforts and that there will be a battle within Dean’s mind to convince him to release Michael. That’s the bit that’s unclear to me, you may even need to battle Dean himself, it’s hard to predict what will happen. My advice is to have Dean describe it to you, how exactly he’s keeping Michael locked up, so you’ll know before you go in. It will be hard but I believe that if it is at all possible, you two will be able to get the job done.

 

We will need a vessel for Michael’s grace to occupy, and they will need to be ready and willing (ie give consent or have previously given consent to an angel)  and waiting in the Ma’Lak box. I’d imagine this will be the hardest bit for you.

If your angel and I are there, we should be able to contain Michael long enough to get the box sealed up in time before he manages an escape.

 

I’m on my way to Lebanon and will see you soon.

Ta,

Ro

 

Sam read it all over again and tried to imagine it actually working. There were a lot of moving parts to her plan, but it seemed possible. Rowena’s faith in them was probably misplaced, but it helped that she was on their side (at least for the moment). She was right that getting Dean to talk about how he was holding Michael prisoner might be the hardest part. That and lying to him about all the rest of it, him having to become not only a demon, but the actual King of Hell; possessing his own brother; throwing Michael into some poor unsuspecting person that had to stay in the damn box forever. He had to lie about all of that, and that was going to suck, big time. He heard unusual noises from the bathroom, was that breaking glass? He leapt up in alarm, crashing through the bathroom door.

 

Dean was crouched in the corner against the tub, naked and wet from the shower, one fist red with his own blood, the mirror over the sink in pieces all over the floor and counter. Sam crunched through the glass and wrapped a hand towel around Dean’s bloody hand. “You okay, Dean?”

 

He didn’t respond, didn’t even move, only his lips were in motion, repeating the same silent words in an endless loop. Sam hoisted him up and carried his brother out of the bathroom, not wanting Dean’s bare feet to pick up any glass.

He bandaged up Dean’s knuckles and dressed him in a t-shirt and sweats, and tucked him up in bed before Dean even said a word or acknowledged his presence. Sam was about to get up from sitting on Dean’s bed when his brother’s words broke the silence.

 

“He almost got out,” Dean said. “I almost fucking screwed it up and let the bastard out. Something about the mirror…”

 

“But you stopped him. How are you even doing it, Dean?” Sam asked, feeling shitty for asking when Dean was at such a low. But he needed the information so he could make Rowena’s plan work.

 

“I’ve got him locked up in a walk-in refrigerator in my bar, Rocky’s. It’s a perfect setup, Sammy. You’d love it, Pamela works there, and I only serve my favorite beer, there’s pool tables and I win all the bar fights, it’s awesome.”

 

“Pamela, huh? She still want a threesome?”

 

“Hah, I forgot about that, that was a few years ago, huh?” Dean asked with a sly smile that showed he hadn’t really forgotten.

 

“So Michael’s locked in a refrigerator in your bar? What kind of lock is on the door?” Sam asked.

 

“Just the usual kind that goes through the door handle mechanism, like a big steel pin that slides in, I guess. Nothing fancy, it’s a real heavy door though. He’s been smashing his body against it and screaming 24/7.”

 

“God, that sucks,” Sam said, feeling sympathy for his brother’s situation out of his own memories of possession and gaining control. “I remember when Crowley and Gadreel were in my head, at some point I was able to throw them both out. You told Crowley our password, and he said it to me, and that’s when I knew what to do. It was all a matter of my will.”

 

“Well, I’m willing Michael to stay in, at least for now I’m managing to. That’s why I made that box you know, not because I want to be a hero or check out on you early or any other story you’ve spun up to explain it to yourself.”

 

“You do know me,” Sam admitted.

 

“I just know there’s a limit to how long I can keep him in there.”

 

“For now, I’d say, stay away from mirrors I guess?” Sam offered.

 

“Yeah, you’re gonna have to cover all of them in the bunker when we get back like we’re in mourning or something.”

 

“The take-home point from that is that I’m not in mourning, thanks to you changing your mind tonight. Thanks, Dean, for giving me a chance to find a solution.”

 

“I’m sorry it had to come to that,” Dean said, shaking his head, “it’s not something I wanted to do, lie to you about something so…uh, final.”

 

“I get it though, I do. Been there, done that, all of that shit, right? You know your own limits and you were just doing what you thought was best, what Death told you was the only way.”

 

“And tell me again, why it is we aren’t believing her? I mean, she is Death after all.”

 

“Yeah, exactly, and she never lets us forget it. It’s not that we aren’t believing her. More like she doesn’t always know how things will turn out, no matter how many of those books she has on her shelves. Remember, we’ve surprised the hell out of her and the original Death a bunch of times at this point? So I’m just saying, let’s add another one to the list.”

 

“You’re really gonna do it, you’re gonna figure a way out of this, aren’t you?” Dean asked, his voice gone quiet, with something very much like pride in it.

 

“I am, you’re damn right I am, and then we’ll move on to the next thing like we always do,” Sam said. He stood up from Dean’s bed and moved around the room getting ready to got to sleep if he could. After reading Rowena’s email, it was maybe going to take a bit longer. Imagining himself taking on Crowley’s former role was a bit beyond his normal.

 

“You okay, Sam?” Dean asked in that patient big-brother voice he used when he was the most worried.

 

“Yeah, just thinking about some of the stuff Rowena and I were just texting about,” Sam said, figuring that at least some of the truth would help him sound more believable at this point. The real lying and hiding would have to begin soon enough. He crawled into his own bed and leaned over to turn out the light. “Good night, Dean.”

 

Sam didn’t sleep much, mostly because he was hearing Dean struggle and fight over in his own bed. He was woken up more than a few times during the night because Dean was first gasping in terror, then yelling, “No!”  

 

The prospect of having to lie to Dean about something so major was making him the most worried. This kind of lie might go into the unforgivable category in his brother’s books. Sam wasn’t sure he could stand the consequences of that happening. But he knew this was the only way and he had to take care of Dean, just like his big brother had taken care of him all his life. That much he owed him, and it wasn’t like Dean hadn’t lied to him about major stuff. The most recent example being the Ma’Lak box for instance. 

 

After hearing Dean struggle all night and the whole broken mirror thing earlier, he knew it was up to him to make the decision and just live with it. Dean wasn’t in any position to make the call in this situation. That was okay with Sam, he’d do what needed to be done. And just deal with the consequences later. A real W.W.D.W.D. (What Would Dean Winchester Do) moment if there ever was one, right? 

 

****

First things first, once they got back home, Sam searched for where they’d ended up storing Kevin’s tablet translation notes. They turned out to be on the bookshelf in the room Kevin had lived in back then. Was it really five years ago already? He found the binder they’d filled with all the other angel and demon tablet related translation material and checked the specific passage that Rowena had mentioned in her email. At some point, she must have copied Kevin’s notes to have given him such an exact reference point, because there it was in black and white on the page right where she’d said it would be found.

 

Easy peasy as pumpkin pie, all he had to do was to cut through his own possession tattoo, and then say the words: I Am The King of Hell! The only hard part was that he had to be in Hell when he said it. Luckily there was a list of ways into Hell a few pages later into Kevin’s notes. The few that they already knew about were listed, along with several new ones. He chose the one that seemed easiest to pull off without Dean noticing.

 

He stared around the empty room, the one that Kevin had used to live in, and wished their prophet friend was still here. Would he interfere with this crazy plan, or would he be helping? 

 

He texted Rowena before taking the biggest gamble of his life.

 

Sam: I’m going downstairs, be back with a crown I hope

 

Rowena: Good luck, Samuel, not that you’ll need it. You were born to be a king. I’ll see you in a few hours.

 

Sam: If you beat me back here first, act casual with Dean, I haven’t told him anything

 

Rowena: So it’s the secretive route this time, now is it? That’s fine, you know him best.

 

Sam: Don’t tell him, I want it to come from me

 

Rowena: I’ll see you soon.

 

Sam tucked his phone away and pulled out his pocket knife, he flicked it open, unbuttoned his shirt and cut through his tattoo. He gasped at the pain, and then read the travel to Hell spell out of Kevin’s notes before he could talk himself out of doing what needed to be done. There was a tug and pull as if he were being turned inside out and pushed out through the holes in a salt shaker. He didn’t have time to scream or react. In the next instant, there were several demons in his face demanding to know who the fuck he was. 

 

Sam pulled himself together, all the pieces were still there thankfully, and stood up to his full height, squaring his shoulders.  

 

“I am Sam Fucking Winchester, and I Am The King of Hell!” 

 

The words echoed in the room, ringing and repeating in Sam’s ears. An enormous cloud of red smoke enveloped him out of nowhere, buffering him from anything that was happening, the redness of the smoke seemed to attach itself to him, at the level of his each and every cell. The red was taking him over, intertwining itself with him. He could barely breathe or think or be—and then he was more, he was The King. 

 

Yes, there were horns (Hellboy would be jealous).

Yes, there were wings and claws and even a tail with a barbed pointy end. 

He was enormous and he was just what he’d never wanted to be, a demon. All the way down to his last cell, his last neuron, all firing with the powers of Hell. He could feel all the souls of the damned screaming out in terrified joy, welcoming him as their new King.

 

The demons that had been mobbing him all gasped in shock and recognition, a few of them dropped to their knees, a few scrambled out of the room, the rest milled around and looked confused. Crowley hadn’t been kidding about the relative dumbness of demons.

 

“I’ll be back in a few minutes, until then, the demon Meg is in charge, and if you can’t find her, then just talk amongst yourselves.” 

 

Sam said the words of the travel spell backward and felt himself explode outwards like a breaking light bulb, coming to in a sprawl on the floor next to Kevin’s old bed. The binder was still there, open on the bed, the clock read about two hours after he’d left. He heard Dean calling his name.

 

“Sammy? Where the hell are you?” Dean’s voice faded down the hall.

 

Sam tucked the binder of Kevin’s notes back on the shelf, turned off the light and closed the door behind him. He folded up his handkerchief and pressed it against the fresh blood on his chest, buttoning up his shirt to hold it in place. He didn’t feel any different on the outside, (no horns, no wings, no claws) but inside was a roiling mess of conflict, a literal battle between good and evil going on in his guts. He leaned against the tile wall and shut his eyes, going deep inside himself where he usually didn’t let himself wander, he found the parts of himself that would be on the side of taking over the reins of Hell. He’d hidden them well from himself, but they were still there and ready for action.

 

“It’s only temporary, I swore I’d go just as far as I had to, this is only until we get Michael secured, so don’t get used to it,” Sam told himself in an urgent whisper.

 

He went to find Dean and hoped he would be able to keep his new royal title and demon status hidden from his brother. “Dean?” Sam called down the hall, he could sense right where his brother was, could feel his warmth, could hear the rhythm of his beating heart, but he had to put on the show of still being just a human.

 

“There you are, I was looking all over for you. Ready for dinner?” Dean asked.

 

“Is that what smells so good? What’d you make?” Sam asked, wondering if he’d even be able to eat. Had Ruby ever eaten anything besides french fries in front of him or more importantly, Crowley? He’d seen Crowley drink whisky, and take human blood, but did he eat?

 

“Kitchen-sink casserole, we were down to leftovers,” Dean said sounding like he was apologizing.

 

“Hey, thanks for cooking, I should be pitching in more while you’re—you know dealing with that,” Sam said, pointing at Dean’s head.

 

“Nah, cooking keeps my mind occupied, just like driving, so it’s all good. Eat up, huh,” Dean said gesturing at the food on the table in front of them.

 

Sam dished up the portion size he normally would and tried to smell the casserole on his plate. The scent of the potatoes and meat and vegetables were mostly covered up by the scent of the red smoke that still lingered in his nostrils. It was a permeable barrier, but it didn’t let much through. Sam wondered if he’d be able to learn to control that.

 

“You’re not going to be King for long, remember?” a voice inside his head sharply reminded him.

 

“Right, right, of course,” Sam silently answered while he forked up some casserole. It didn’t taste awful, it didn’t taste like much of anything. He chewed and swallowed and tried to make the appropriate appreciative yummy noises. Dean didn’t seem to notice, he was probably too focused on keeping you-know-who locked up.

 

*****

 

Later that night, Sam was tossing and turning in bed, just on the verge of giving up on getting any sort of decent nap, while waiting for Rowena’s arrival, when he heard a familiar flutter of wings. 

 

“Cas, you’re here?” Sam asked, surprised to see their visitor.

 

“Yes, I sensed a disturbance in the Force,” Cas said. “Your majesty,” he said with a bow.

 

“You know?” Sam asked, slipping out of bed and re-making it, putting off having to look his friend in the eyes.

 

“Yes, Sam, you might as well be wearing a neon sign over your head, it is plainly obvious. I assume there must be a compelling reason for you to assume the destiny you’ve fought against your entire life, which is why I am here.”

 

“Thanks…uh, I’m glad you are. Yeah, there’s a good reason, it’s part of our plan to save Dean without throwing him in the ocean in the Ma’Lak box for eternity.”

 

“Our plan? Is Mary involved, or Jack?”

 

“No, just Rowena, and you…I hope. The plan is to possess Dean, that’s why I had to take over in Hell, the instant demon status. Once I’m in control of Dean, I’m going to let Michael out.”

 

“Why would you let him out? Why would Dean let you?”

 

“He’s not going to let me do anything. I’m going to have to fight Dean for it, I know that. But once I win, you and Rowena are going to lock Michael in the box.”

 

“I don’t see how we can trap his grace in there, Sam. I don’t think it’s possible.”

 

“Cas, no—that’s why you have to do something for me, for Dean. For any of this to work we need a vessel for Michael’s grace to possess, right?”

 

“I believe so, yes, the box will not work on the un-contained grace of an angel. There has to be a human soul and body holding it to this plane.”

 

Sam stepped over to his desk and picked up his stack of research notes. “I need you to go back to Kansas City and get the woman, the vessel that Michael was using. I found her at this hospital, she’s in a coma, barely alive. From what I could find out, she’s a lot worse off than the vessel Raphael had taken, remember that?”

 

“She’d likely be beyond my ability to heal,” Cas said.

 

“That’s what I thought. I’d go get her myself, but she wouldn’t survive a four-hour car trip. But if you can bring her here, it might work.” 

 

Sam handed Cas the paper he’d written the hospital information and the poor woman’s name. Darlene Ray, come on down. 

 

“I can, and I will, Sam, for you and for Dean,” Cas said. 

 

“We need her here tonight, she needs to be in the Ma’Lak box by the time Dean’s kicked Michael out.”

 

“I will not fail you,” Cas said, nodding with that solemn face Sam had always found the most reassuring.

 

“Can you explain it to Jack? I haven’t had a chance when Dean has been around,” Sam said, knowing that was a terrible excuse, he just hadn’t known where to even start. 

 

“I will explain it to Jack, yes. I think he can likely help us. Good luck, Sam,” Cas said, poofing out into nothing but the sound of rustling feathers. 

 

To Sam’s new demon eyes, it was a lot more complicated than that, he could see Cas change and expand into his true form, tear a rip in the world, just like the ones that Jack had made. His enormous towering several-headed friend stepped through the rift that sealed behind him with a sound of flesh being torn. It wasn’t something he hadn’t ever wanted to see, he clicked his eyes back to human vision and hoped they’d stay there.

 

His cell rang with a text from Rowena, she was here, it was time.

 

Now to get Dean.

 

******

 

“What the fuck, what in the fucking fuck-all is this, Sam?” Dean yelled as Sam came towards him with the silver knife in the shower room. 

 

Sam clicked his eyes over to demon black and smiled. “This is the rest of the plan, Dean. This is how I’m saving your ass.” 

 

Sam took a few steps toward Dean and feinted left, then slashed with the knife towards Dean’s bare chest. Dean’s towel fell to the floor, and caught one of his feet, the knife slashed through the skin of Dean’s cheek instead of his chest. Sam grabbed his brother as he fell, barely protecting his head from hitting the tile floor and quickly sliced through the tattoo as he gathered Dean’s naked body to his own. 

 

“This is for you, Dean,” Sam said, staring down into Dean’s shocked eyes. “I swear it is, just like I promised, I’m going only as far as I have to go to save you, and no farther. I’m going inside you now, help me battle him, okay? We’ve got a plan, but you have to let him out. Remember, I’ll always be there.”

 

Dean struggled against him, blood-slick skin sliding and catching with delicious distracting friction. “No, Sammy, please, I can’t, I won’t!”

 

“I’ve done it before, had the King of Hell and an angel in my mind, you’ll be fine, you’re just as tough as me, if not tougher, right, big brother? C’mon, just let me in, and help if you can while I’m in there.” Sam turned his soul into the demon smoke, red and bright as Crowley’s had ever been and swarmed through the air flying up into his brother’s nose and open mouth. Had that been Dean screaming? Did it matter?

 

*****

 

Where was he? He struggled to recognize the place, it seemed like every other roadside dive bar they’d ever been in, but it was much too clean. He saw the neon sign behind the gleaming wooden bar: Rocky’s Bar. Oh yeah, this was where he needed to be, here in Dean’s bar, the place where Michael was being kept in the locked refrigerator room. Sam walked along the edge of the room towards the refrigerator, trying to stay inconspicuous. 

 

So this was the place where Dean’s memory of Pamela worked, where she wiped the bar counter clean every hour on the hour whether it needed it or not. Here she came, looking sassy and hot, smiling and chatting with Dean who was slicing up lemons. Dean hadn’t spotted him yet. Sam could see that Dean was happy in here, content even. He could hear him chatting with Pamela about knowing that his brother was out on an easy hunt with their angel friend, that he’d be coming back soon. Sam was glad that Dean finally had a place to rest, to just be, and enjoy himself with no guilt or worry. He just wished he could remember why the door to the refrigerator room was locked.

 

Something slammed against the door he was leaning against with surprising force—Michael.

 

His hands were on the lock, fingers seizing the pin and he was about to move it up and out of the mechanism when he was knocked to the floor. Dean pinned him, hands above his head.

 

“Sammy, what the hell are you doing, that door stays locked, you know that,” Dean said.

 

Sam found he couldn’t quite click his eyes to black in here, or use his demon powers against Dean because his brother was in control in his own mind. At least he was…for now. Sam would have to use something else to get to him. 

 

“Why are you wearing that?” Dean asked, still holding him pinned to the floor. Sam could feel the leather thong around his neck, the weight of the small brass amulet on his chest.

 

Sam wriggled his hips trying to escape, to get into a position where he could flip Dean. All that managed to do was rub them together in a very distracting manner, the matching hardness of his brother was unmistakable for anything else. 

 

“Was going to give it back to you,” Sam said, pressing his hips up into Dean’s, enjoying the way his brother’s mouth dropped open in surprise and sudden desire. Dean’s eyes fell to his lips and Sam licked them slowly. He was surprised at himself, but he shouldn’t have been, he was a demon now. And demons didn’t care too much about little societal details like manners and incest and so on.

 

Dean leaned down close to him and lightly brushed their lips together. “Who says I want it back?”

 

“Me, I know you do,” Sam said, finally able to flip them, he had Dean’s hands over his head. And this must have been what Dean wanted because it was Dean’s mind, his control, his wants and desires running the joint. Sam kissed him hard and demanding and Dean melted beneath him, going liquid and soft, letting Sam move him around, take him over. “I know you want it back, Dean. Because I know that it means everything to you.”

 

Dean surged up and flipped them once more, their bodies slamming against the refrigerator door. They both could feel Michael battering at it, but neither of them cared. “Can you feel it, Sammy? How much I want you?”

 

“Yeah, god, Dean, I never thought you did too,” Sam admitted. “never thought you’d want this as much as I do."

 

Michael slammed against the door again.

 

Dean moved his hips and Sam groaned with the pleasure of his brother’s weight grinding into him. “Want it, Dean, please.”

 

Their clothes were off and Dean was kissing him, stroking both of them together, Sam guessed it was because this was all in Dean’s mind, and that was how he wanted it to go.

 

“Sam, I don’t want to come this way.”

 

“Want you in me, Dean, please,” Sam begged a second time.

 

It was happening all so fast, Dean was inside of him, flexing and pounding and thrusting, hot and slick and perfect. The amulet bounced on Sam’s chest with all the movement. He managed to take it off and when Dean leaned down to kiss him, he slipped it over Dean’s head.

 

Dean lost all sense of rhythm at that point, going at Sam hard and fast, the amulet bouncing on his chest now.  “Love you, Sammy, love you so damn much,” he said, one hand on Sam’s cheek.

 

Sam turned his head and pressed a kiss into Dean’s palm, he looked back up at Dean, the man he loved more than anything, more than the world, more than his own life. He’d become a demon, the King of Hell for him, to save him, this had to work. “Love you too, Dean, more than anything.”

 

They came almost simultaneously, both groaning out the other’s name, and the momentary loss of Dean’s grasp of control over things gave Sam a chance. He spoke the words of the spell Rowena had given him, his full demonic power channeled into the words. It blasted the lock from the door and Michael was pushing against it. Sam used his demonic strength to hold the door long enough for them to get dressed. 

 

“What the hell did you do, Sam?” Dean yelled.

 

“Took over Hell, I’m strong enough now to handle him. You gotta trust me, Dean,” Sam said, standing strong in front of the door. “Let him out, I have a plan. Poughkeepsie, remember—I’ll always be there.”

 

Dean nodded and grimaced, the door flew open and Michael rushed at Sam. In that moment, Dean tackled Michael, coming in hard from the side and crashing him into the wall of beer bottles. They all crashed down, breaking into shards and glass powder. Sam spoke the words of the spell again and Michael’s body froze.  Dean wrapped himself around the strangely dressed and stiff form that looked like his twin. 

 

“Do it now, Dean,” Sam said.

 

“You promise, Sammy?” Dean asked, tightening his hold on Michael who was stirring.

 

“Yes! Hurry!” Sam shouted, alarmed that Michael was going to escape Dean’s arms.

 

Dean scrunched up his face in concentration and then they were out of Dean’s mind and back in the bunker’s shower room. The water was still running hot, the blood still running from the cut in Dean’s chest. 

“Rowena!” Sam yelled.

 

“We’ve got him, Sam!” Cas shouted.

 

Sam let go of Dean, laying him down so his face was out of the stream of water and ran towards the storeroom where they’d set up the Ma’Lak box. He could hear Rowena and Jack talking in a language he didn’t immediately recognize. He could see that the box was closed and Rowena and Jack were projecting power to seal it permanently. He could see the blue-white light of Michael’s grace trying to escape, there was a hole they weren’t sealing. Sam pushed his demonic power out towards the hole and pushed and pulled and tugged the molecules of metal to close up. They could hear the screams of the woman that Michael now possessed as she battered her body against the inside of the box. 

 

“Did it work?” Sam asked, panting from the effort of running and expending all of his demonic energy.

 

Rowena nodded at him, Cas stepped in to prop up Jack.

 

“Jack, why did you use your powers, I thought we talked about that?” Cas asked. 

 

Jack smiled at him, weak and depleted. “It was the right thing to do.”

 

“Hell yes it was,” Dean said, now dressed and holding a blood-soaked towel to his chest.

 

Sam stepped towards him and Dean held up a hand, stopping him in his tracks.

 

The expression on Dean’s face said it all, but he still said the words. “No, you said, Sammy, you promised me. You said you’ll always be here, and you’re not you. You’re something else.”

 

Sam stood up, tall and proud, unfurling his wings, displaying his horns and claws and roared with all the anger and pain that had helped him become the thing he’d struggled against his whole life. He saw red, literally, the red smoke, the demon-ness or whatever it was poured out of him and he raced towards Hell. He reformed himself there, right in the throne room. The demons gasped with surprise and fear. 

 

“I have returned,” Sam said, his voice boomed and echoed with power. The crowd of demons crouched and groveled before him in a seething crush of bodies.

 

“I pronounce Meg to be the ruler of Hell, I renounce all claim to the throne,” Sam said with finality. 

 

He saw a lone figure make a mad rush out of the crowd to ascend the throne, she battled and threw demons aside. Finally, the familiar form of Meg was seated upon it, holding one hand up and stopping all of the demons in their tracks. 

 

He saw her wide gleeful grin from across the room. “Say hi to my unicorn, Sam!” 

 

He heard her shout, but instead of stopping to reply, he said the travel spell words backward, and Sam—just Sam, went home. He went back where he belonged. Where he’d promised to stay.

 

“Sammy?” Dean asked with a trembling fear that Sam couldn’t process at first. What was Dean scared about? His heart sank as he remembered, he’d shown his full demonic self. He tried to click his eyes over to black, and it wasn’t there anymore, the redness was all gone. He’d left his demonic self behind in Hell where it belonged.

 

“I’m just me again,” Sam said.

 

Dean pulled him in roughly, squeezing him in a hard long hug, not saying a word, but not needing to in that moment.

 

Sam dimly heard the other people leave the room and the door closing, it was just him and Dean now. 


“Why the hell did you do that?” Dean asked.

 

“That’s got to be the dumbest question I’ve heard in a long time,” Sam said.

 

“You promised me that you wouldn’t hurt yourself,” Dean said.

 

“I didn’t, well except for the cutting the tattoo thing. The King of Hell thing was temporary.”

 

“You’re an idiot,” Dean said.

 

“I went as far as I had to, and no further to keep you safe. That was what I promised you, Dean,” Sam said.

 

Dean let go of him and stood up. Sam could see Dean set his shoulders, that read as a frown and a rejection. “It was way too fucking far and you know it.” 

 

The door slammed behind Dean, and Sam was alone. Which was probably a good thing he vaguely thought as he passed out on the floor next to the Ma’Lak box. He dreamed about the bar in his brother’s mind, and what they’d done, what they’d been to each other. Even in the dream he still knew that it was what they’d been headed towards their whole lives.

 

****

 

Sam woke up the next morning, stiff and sore on the concrete floor. Someone had draped a wool blanket over him while he’d slept. He stared up at the Ma’Lak box, impressed all over again that his brother had made the thing. He couldn’t hear Michael bashing against it from inside, which had to be a good thing. Sam heard footsteps and the door opening.

 

“Sam, I’ve come to say goodbye,” Rowena said in low tones from the doorway.

 

Sam sat up with a groan and blinked at the light from the hall bleary and fuzzy. “Thanks, Ro, we owe you—again.”

 

“That list is getting pretty long, Samuel. I’m glad it all worked as planned. Now that the world is safe for a while, I’ll be off.”

 

Sam tried to smile and waved as she left. He slowly got up from the floor and stretched, reaching his hands up to brush the beams of the ceiling.

 

“Sam, I’m taking Jack to look at what might be a poltergeist in Indiana,” Cas said through the open door.

 

“Bye, Sam,” Jack said. “I’ll remember—all four directions. I’ve already made up the gris-gris bags.” Jack patted the pocket of his jacket and smiled.

 

“Bye you guys, thanks for the help,” Sam said, gesturing at the box behind him.

 

“We were glad to help, and we’re happy you’re yourself again,” Cas said.

 

“Am I?” Sam asked, “You can see that, right?”

 

Cas immediately nodded. Jack squinted at Sam, “You look like just plain Sam to me. I’m glad because King of Hell Sam was kind of a dick.”

 

Cas and Sam frowned at Jack’s language, but neither of them said anything, Jack was right. Jack walked down the hallway away from them and Cas leaned in to speak quietly into Sam’s ear.

 

“Your brother may have a harder time unseeing it. I tried to explain to him what you’d done, but I think he may need to hear it from you.”

 

Sam nodded, a yawning pit opening up in his belly at imagining that conversation. “I’ll give it a try, thanks, Cas.”

 

Cas’ hand landed on his shoulder and briefly squeezed. Then he was down the hallway towards the garage with Jack following close behind, eager for the hunt. Sam could hear the sound of the truck starting up and leaving as he walked into the shower room.

 

He stopped in mid-stride—there was the knife on the floor. It gleamed red with Dean’s blood which was also smeared in streaks across the tile. Sam sighed and got a towel and some cleaner and scrubbed at the marks until they’d been erased. He wished it was that easy to erase the pain of what he’d done, but he couldn’t regret it, not when it had saved his brother.

 

Done with cleaning up the physical evidence of the violence he’d done to his brother’s body and mind, Sam undressed and got into the last shower in the row. He ducked his head under the hot water and tried to stop thinking of what Dean and he had done together in Dean’s mind, and instead focused on how to get him to accept what they’d done.

 

As he entered the kitchen, he heard Dean before he saw him, fixing a new pot of coffee, Dean’s back was no longer taut with tension and disapproval which was a good thing. At least until he saw Dean’s red-rimmed eyes, puffy from crying. His heart broke at the vacant look on Dean’s face. 

 

“Dean, you okay?” Sam asked, leaning against the doorway, unsure whether to enter the kitchen or not. He wondered if he’d have to leave for a few days to let Dean have time to adjust. “Do you want me to leave, give you some time alone?”

 

Dean’s eyes flicked up to him briefly and then slid off like it was too much trouble focusing. His knuckles were white from the clenched fist around his coffee mug. Sam stepped forward into the room down the two steps, and Dean startled out of his daze, stumbling back up against the sink. The coffee sloshed out of his mug and onto the floor with a splat in the silence.

 

“Want some breakfast?” Dean asked in a monotone.

 

“No, I want…I need to talk with you first,” Sam said, pouring himself a cup of coffee and sitting down at the table. He was relieved when Dean seated himself across, focusing on his mug, sipping at the coffee slowly.

 

“Cas told me he tried to explain everything to you,” Sam said, hoping that would be a good opening to start this conversation.

 

“Yeah, it’s all good, we’re good, Sam. Don’t worry,” Dean said, still not meeting his eyes.

 

“I did what I did to save you, you know that right?” Sam asked. Dean’s hand went to his chest, pressing into the cut through his tattoo.

 

“You were a demon, Sam, the King of Hell, you cut me, possessed me, and pried Michael out of my mind. Yeah, I know you did it for me, and I’m glad you did, really I am.”

 

“Good, that’s good, so what’s wrong then?”

 

“I’m just—I can’t get over what happened in there, back in my bar, you know…” Dean said, his hand migrating up to clench at the back of his neck in nervousness before tapping at the side of his head.

 

Sam’s heart flipped, Dean wasn’t worried about the demon thing after all. “That’s the easy part, Dean.”

 

Dean looked up at him, surprise drawing his eyes comically wide. Sam smiled at him, slow and purposeful, putting the heat and desire he always had kept hidden under strict lock and key on full display. Dean matched him by slow degrees, and it was everything Sam had ever wanted to see on his brother’s face. He couldn’t help himself, he reached out and held the side of Dean’s face, his thumb rubbing gently against his cheekbone.

 

“What’s easy about it?” Dean asked.

 

“Everything, couldn’t you feel it, inside your head, how right it was? Meant to be, whatever you want to call it because I could, and I want to feel that every damn day from here on out,” Sam said, surprised at how straightforward he managed to sound.

 

“You do?” Dean asked.

 

Sam leaned over their two coffee mugs and the table, pulling Dean towards him with the hand still on his face and brought their lips together. He kissed Dean soft and slow, giving him time, until he finally responded, and then the relief was surpassed by the desire. It spun up between them so quickly, the coffee mugs were shoved aside, spilled all over the table, but Sam didn’t care, because Dean had somehow ended up in his lap, writhing and squirming for all he was worth against him. Sam didn’t want to ever stop or think about another thing, he just wanted this, the perfect weight of Dean against him, his warm lips and tongue, the caressing hands in his hair, on his skin. Dean was undressing him, and pulling his own clothes off before Sam fully came back to himself. 

 

“Welcome back, Sammy,” Dean teased, standing up to get his jeans slipped off. 

 

He grabbed something from the counter and came back, pleased grin on his face when he saw that Sam had gotten naked too. The clink of the olive oil bottle on the table and the shine of Dean’s hand disappearing behind himself woke Sam up the rest of the way. 

 

Sam watched, fascinated by the expressions on Dean’s face, the fleeting pain and then the open-mouthed lust when it got good. Sam’s hands were on Dean’s hips, his thumbs fitting into the top of his hipbones, pressing in hard. He was imagining, even hoping he’d leave a mark, but then Dean was climbing back onto his lap, stroking him with one oil-coated hand and sinking down slow and steady. 

 

There was a long pause where neither of them moved, they just looked deeply into the other’s eyes and searched for what they needed to see. Dean’s arms were linked around Sam’s neck, and Sam found he couldn’t hold back from moving any longer. Dean started to respond to Sam’s tentative thrusts with slow, deep circles, with an undulating squeeze deep inside, sighing with pleasure. 

 

Sam’s hands gripped Dean’s ass, kneading and pulling it apart, then squeezing his cheeks together. He needed more, more movement. He hoisted Dean’s legs around his back, and stood up in one fluid movement, walking a few steps until Dean’s back hit the wall. 

 

This position was much better, now he could move, he could thrust up with full power, it was everything right then, the noises that Dean was making, they were sounds Sam would never forget. The demanding, the begging, on and on as they finally possessed one another the way they’d always been meant to. 

 

This was even better, a million times better than it had been inside Dean’s mind. Because this was them, both of them taking what they wanted, what they needed. Finally, holding up the weight of Dean got to be too much so Sam walked them back over to the table and laid Dean out on it. Readjusting Dean’s legs around his hips, he thrust back in, deeper and harder, relentless in his pace, Dean screaming out his pleasure, grasping with hands wherever he could reach. He was begging for Sam’s lips. 

 

Sam leaned forward and kissed him, deep and hard, groaning Dean’s name into his mouth like the holy prayer of absolution it was. He heard his own name in the same tone and felt his heart break free from the confines of his chest, expanding outward and into Dean’s. It said yes and mine and finally. 

 

Dean lay on the table, olive oil and coffee smeared in his hair, looking like the most blissed-out, beautiful Dean that Sam had ever seen. “You are so fucking beautiful, Dean,” Sam said, one hand tracing the shape of his brother’s cheekbones, down the strong jawline and further down his neck. 

 

“No, you are,” Dean said with a soft grin that Sam realized he’d never seen on his brother’s face, not once in their whole lives together. 

 

Sam leaned down and covered his brother, still resting deep inside of him, wet and sticky, and kissed him with all the tenderness he could muster. “I’m so glad he’s gone, I don’t know how you managed it for so long, but I’m so glad it worked,” Sam said in the safe space between their lips.

 

“All I remember is you saying, ‘I’ll always be there,’ and I held onto it until everything cleared up and I could breathe air instead of water again,” Dean said, panting against the slick skin of Sam’s neck.

 

“I’m sorry about having to cut you, and all the lying too,” Sam said.

 

“No sorries now, clean me up and take me to bed, you beast,” Dean said.

 

“I’ll show you beast,” Sam growled, hoisting Dean back up onto his hips, carrying him up the steps out of the kitchen and all the way down the hall to Dean’s bedroom. Somewhere along the way, he’d finally softened enough so that he slipped out, and the mess trickling out of Dean was smeared all over him where Dean rested as he carried him. It was a beautiful glorious mess.

The End