Sam sits alone in his room.
Dean’s pistol is in his lap. A Colt 1911 with a pearl grip and a personalized engraving. A real beauty. It’s a fucking wonder they’ve been able to keep track of it all these years. Dean treats it like he treats Baby, like he used to treat Sam.
He picks it up, idly staring at the trigger, the safety, peering down the barrel into the darkness. If he holds it long enough, it will become warm in his hands.
If he fires it, even more so.
He isn’t exactly suicidal. He wouldn’t call it that. He just… he would be so much better off dead. Deserving in hell, reliving the sweetest moments in heaven. Maybe he’s a monster. Maybe he’ll go to purgatory and let the werewolves he’s slain consume him.
The grip is slippery in his palm. He must be nervous. Elevated pulse, increased perspiration. He just can’t actually feel it. It occurs to his body. He is not his body, not really. He hasn’t been attached to it correctly since Hell. He thinks maybe Cas made a mistake, or Lucifer held on too hard. Or Lucifer broke him. They’re all likely scenarios.
He sighs. He’s used to this routine by now, a weekly occurrence every time a barbed comment sinks too deeply into his heart. He knows Dean never really means it, Dean is hurting too, but his heart doesn’t get it. Sometimes he hates his heart. Wants to pull it out of his chest and salt and burn it.
He puts the muzzle of the gun to his chin, pressing hard enough that it will leave an indent. Hopefully a lot more than an indent, if he can get brave enough and not find a reason to weasel out.
His door creaks open, Dean barging in and making himself at home, looking at Sam’s bookshelf. “Sam, have you seen the-”
Dean freezes, halfway into the room, staring at Sam.
Sam meets his eyes.
He flicks the safety off.
“Sam,” Dean says again, but it’s hushed this time, and kind of silly. It isn’t really that urgent. Not whisper-worthy. He watches Dean’s adam’s apple bob up and down, like a sailboat on a wave.
“Why don’t you go back to your room,” he hears himself say, his voice quiet and monotone, and he barely remembers getting his lips and tongue to cooperate to form words. His brain isn’t a good listener anymore, too much dead matter. He’s all dead soul, dead heart, dead everything. Not even a magical wizard from Oz could give him anything to help.
“Sam, what…? No,” Dean starts out quiet, but is barking by the last word. “Put the gun down.”
Sam sighs again, shifting into a more comfortable position. If he aims his neck right, none of the splatter will hit Dean, only the bedspread. Easily to clean. He’s sure Dean would appreciate that.
He slips his finger onto the trigger.
Dean’s intake of breath is audible, even with the miles of space between them.
“Why didn’t I know?” Dean asks. “I thought you were happy?”
Sam shrugs. “I’m not anything,” he says, and by the silence that follows, he doesn’t think Dean really gets it. That’s okay. Dean won’t have to puzzle over anything else about him for much longer.
“Yes, yes you are,” Dean finally growls. “You’re Sam Winchester. You’re a hero.”
Sam, ever the puppeteer, marionettes the muscles in his face until they twist upward, curving into a smile. “No, I’m demon blood, I’m soulless, I’m careless, left you rotting, that’s what I always get told, right? Don’t even listen to me. I’m sorry. I forget sometimes. I’m fine.”
“Jesus christ,” Dean chokes under his breath, and when he takes a step forward, Sam jams the gun up higher, closing his eyes. Sending a message.
“Okay, I’ll stay over here, just--just don’t do anything, okay, please?” Dean’s voice cracks. Message received.
Sam’s hand is trembling a little. He’d try to get it under control but he’s too far above his body. An embarrassment, really. “No promises,” he says, letting his smile droop back to nothingness. Too much effort.
“Sammy, please,” Dean begs, his voice moving like Sam’s hands, a leaf scattering in the wind, “I know it sucks right now, but you’re so damn strong. Just make it through the night, okay? Then tomorrow, we’ll tackle that. I’m… I’m sorry I didn’t know,” Dean whispers, “you’re not any of those things you said. I know… I know I’ve brought up bad blood before but it’s gone, okay? I’m just. I’m just a scared fucking asshole sometimes, you know me. I lash out. But I forgave you a hundred years ago, you’ve only ever done shit because you thought it was right. I can’t say the same thing.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Sam says, “please leave me alone, I’ll be able to get it done if I’m alone, I promise.”
“I ain’t fuckin’ leaving you,” Dean hisses, running a hand through his hair. “Not ever again, not in a million years. Move into my room, kiddo. Bring the T.V. We can do movie nights again, does that sound good? You can put that cheese powder on your popcorn, you animal.”
Sam blinks. He readjusts his grip on the gun. His brain isn’t following Dean. Popcorn? If Dean wants his television, he can surely have it when Sam is gone. Why would Dean bother with moving it now, with keeping Sam around? There’s an easier solution. He’s got it right here.
Dean can have all of Sam’s things when Sam doesn’t exist.
That’s right, he forgot. The reaper, Billy, she will keep him away if he goes. She’s good.
“I have to,” Sam says, and swallows. “You heard Billy. This time no more accidents, no more getting dragged back, I can’t screw anything else up, can’t keep butchering you, making you sad and bitter. You can be happy.”
“Are you even listening to yourself?” Dean laughs, his voice thick and full of tears. “Sam, you’re not okay right now, I get it, okay? You used to get panic attacks, remember? I think this is like the opposite of that. Once you feel better you’ll realize you weren’t yourself.”
“Am I ever?” Sam challenges, raising his voice only slightly. “Aren’t I Lucifer, Gadreel, Meg?”
“No.” Dean coughs, wiping casually at his eye. “I told you, you’re Sammy. You’re not fucking them. You never were. You never will be again.”
“You don’t know that,” Sam’s voice betrays him. He doesn’t want to come into his body. He doesn’t want to feel. He doesn’t want to cry, be exposed, be pathetic. He wish he could go back to the space above the bed, let his finger just contract those few muscles. It’d all be over with. But his cruel mutant heart is dragging him back to his body with its pincers. “He’ll grab me, he’ll take me back, I won’t be me.”
“Aw, Sammy,” Dean sighs. “Sammy, don’t worry about it. I won’t let him. We’ll, we’ll get you tattoos, okay? An amulet? There’s gotta be something. He won’t be able to come near. And I promise you, I’ll kill him myself. I know it’s possible. He’s nothing anymore, and he can’t do shit to you. You’re so much stronger than him, you showed all of us that when you were sent back. So just put the gun down, Sammy. You’ll be okay.”
“I don’t like it when you don’t like me,” Sam whispers. “I know… I know I’m acting like a freak right now, but just let me do this-”
“I’m gonna stop you right there,” Dean buts in. “I like you, Sammy. I’ve never not liked you, even when we both had it rough as hell. Never. I’ve never hated you. You can curse me to tell the truth and I’ll say the same thing. You’re my best friend. I really, really like you.” Dean laughs. “Don’t make fun of me, ‘kay? But I--I like like you, Sam. Okay? I’m so fucking sorry I didn’t fucking say any of this shit earlier. Just come to bed. Put down the gun and come to bed, Sammy.”
“You like me?” Sam echoes, his fingers clenching and unclenching around the grip.
“Ever since Mom handed you over,” Dean says. “Now Sam, I’d really like my gun back. Can I have it back, dude? You’re making it sweaty.”
Sam blinks again, finds his vision is blurred and burning. Strange. He sees out of his eyes, no more third person view, begins to feel the reality of frazzled nerves again. He’s sunk back to his body and his mind and his heart, and he’s about to start fucking bawling if Dean doesn’t do something soon.
He bites his lip, his chin jutting out like he’s a fucking child and he lets a few tears fall. He holds the gun out to Dean and Dean has it in a flash, flipping the safety back on and shaking the bullets out of the cartridge. Dean walks over to him in a second, puts his arms around his shoulders, grounds him. Sam leans on him and closes his eyes. Everything is gone, but not in the bad way. He’s just tired. He’s just drained.
He just wants his brother.
Dean leads him through the hallways to his room and sets him down on the bed, bustling about. Dean has him change into sweatpants and a raggedy t-shirt that smells like Dean.
“Think you can stick to your side of the bed, sasquatch?” Dean asks, grinning, but there’s that cold fear there. Sam put it there.
Oh, damn. He smiles at Dean- a real one, he promises- and lets the dimples show. He tries to find something Sam would say. He is Sam. He is okay. Dean promised. Dean likes him. His brain just needs some rest.
“Not even gonna try,” he says, and Dean grins back.
He’s curled up with Dean murmuring things to the crown of his head, Dean’s arms secure around his body, keeping him safe, but not a cage. He can go if he wants to, he’s free.
He sleeps with his body and his mind and his heart all settling down, and he doesn’t have a single nightmare.