Pairing: Sam/Dean (Wincest)
Summary: "Maybe, there is a chance for all of them." A Season 6 coda.
Word Count: 2,938
A/N: Thanks to verucasalt123 for betaing! This fic contains massive spoilers for the finale, and is somewhere between a coda and a fix-it fic. Title is Latin for 'salvation.'
"Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person." - Tennessee Williams
Sam is still shaking.
Three days have gone by, and every step is a struggle, a fight for survival. Maybe the shaking will never stop. He waits, ready to fall again.
It's been three days since he collapsed to the ground and the world flashed in and out, stuttering images of Hell and Castiel in front of him, both at once. Three days since Dean rushed to his side and held him up, since Dean swore allegiance for the both of them, because it was the only way they would make it out alive. He doesn't think Dean meant it, but it was enough. Dean might have carried him back, after. He can't remember.
Every time Sam looks in the mirror, he expects to see burns. Every time he closes his eyes, Hell breaks through.
“Sam?” Dean asks, for the fifth time in two hours.
Sam forces himself to smile. “I'm fine, Dean,” he says. He takes a long drink and tries to set the glass down but his hands are shaking. Dean is there to catch it when it falls, and isn't that just the story of Sam's life, right there.
“Sam, don't,” Dean says finally. “I'm not a moron. You're not fine.”
“I will be,” Sam says, with a certainty he doesn't understand. “Dean, I'll--” He doesn't know what he means to say.
He wants another drink.
It's two in the morning, and Sam isn't asleep. Closing his eyes for too long is dangerous; he can't risk it. Not alone, not like this. He might not wake up.
When Dean crawls into bed with him, he's glad, on some level.
“Dean?” he asks, though he doesn't need to.
“Sorry,” Dean says, and his voice is hoarse. “I just—I don't know, man.”
“Yeah,” Sam says. He can fill in the blanks, read the unspoken worry and unasked-for need for comfort in Dean. He's been able to do that for a long time now, and with every memory restored, with all of his pieces together, as broken and jagged as they all are, it is so much easier to understand him.
“C'mere,” Sam says, and Dean goes. It's not cuddling. It's simply the certainty of knowing that he's not alone in the world, knowing that Sam is alive and breathing; Sam shows him by touch, and it's enough to shut out the darkness for a little while. Neither of them asks, “What are we going to do?” because there are no answers yet. There is simply now, and the terrifying uncertainty that surrounds it.
Sam can sleep that way, with Dean beside him. The past two days, he didn't sleep, and it was like having no soul all over again. This—this is better.
Dean goes to work on the Impala.
It's what he knows, a coping mechanism he learned long ago and refined after their father died. Sam just watches.
Their home, their world is different now. Nowhere is safe—or maybe everywhere is safe. Sam doesn't how to read the mind of a god, and he doesn't want to think of Castiel like that, so he doesn't try. He watches, still and silent, and Dean rebuilds what little of the world they know for certain.
Bobby hasn't said much to either of them, but he watches Sam, and he waits. He and Dean both keep waiting for Sam to crack again. They don't go near the panic room, but it's ready, if they need it.
Sam wonders, on the darker days, if part of Dean left the gun by Sam because he wasn't sure Sam could handle waking up. It's an ugly thought. Sam wouldn't—he knows he wouldn't, and there is some comfort in that, at least.
So Dean rebuilds the Impala and Sam rebuilds himself and Bobby gives them shelter from the storm.
Life goes on.
“Do you know what I did?” Sam asks. Dean is beside him again, and the night is still and quiet. Their voices feel too loud in the silence.
“Sam, it wasn't you.”
“I remember it, Dean. It wasn't like being possessed. I remember all of it. I remember why I did the things I did. There was this girl--”
“Sam, don't do this.”
“How can I not?” Sam asks, and in his laugh there are a hundred years of fire.
“It's alright, Dean.”
“Like hell it is.” Dean's voice is sharper than either of them expected and Sam flinches. “Sorry, just—Goddamnit, Sam.”
“You don't know what I'm capable of.”
“Well,” Dean says quietly, “that makes two of us. You remember when I--”
“When you got back from Hell,” Sam finishes, and it sounds so stupid put like that, so innocent, like Hell is a place you go on a field trip, like Hell is a vacation destination. People don't just get back from Hell. “Yeah, Dean, I remember. I'm not allowed to be bothered? You were.”
“This isn't a man-pain competition, Sam,” Dean says because he knows it'll make Sam smile, and it does. “You have enough shit to deal with already without trying to think about everything you did when you were walking around without a soul.”
“I killed people, Dean. Innocent people. Not possessed, not monsters. Just people. I thought they got in the way. They were...” He struggles for the right word. “Inconvenient. They made my job harder, so I got rid of them. How can you--” The shaking is starting again. “How can--”
“Sam,” Dean says, and kisses him.
The shaking stops. Sam stops, too. He holds himself perfectly still, and Dean pulls away, slow and silent.
They don't talk, after that, and Sam leaves the memories in the space of his own mind, as conflicted and fractured as that mind is.
Sam loves Dean. It's not something he's ever doubted, even in his worst moments. Even when everything about Dean makes him want to scream, he loves him. And he knows, deep in his bones, that what happened between them will only make that stronger, if it changes them at all. Loving Dean is like existing. It's more sure than existing, these days.
He doesn't have the words for Dean. He never has. But somehow, just Dean's presence is enough to keep him sane.
Sam waits. The days are long and the nights feel longer, and the three of them keep waiting. Waiting for something to happen, waiting for the world to come crashing down, waiting for a change. Sam keeps waiting for Castiel to come back and say, “I'm sorry, it wasn't me. I don't know what happened.” He thinks Dean does too.
It doesn't happen. Still, Sam has a dream, and he wonders. It might be his own mind, comforting him. It might be the real thing. He doesn't know.
In the dream, Castiel says, “I found my father. He—I don't know what I've done. I've done many things, things—I was arrogant. I was prideful. He told me, that if I want to be the new God, then I truly have to be better, and he'll take the burden back when I understand. He told me, when the world was young, sometimes the people he created didn't do as he wished, and sometimes he was angry with them. Sometimes there was righteous wrath. He didn't understand. He, in all his infinite wisdom, couldn't understand every complexity of the human mind sometimes, their ability to do things he would never dream of. Compared to him, I'm a child. I'm sorry, Sam. I have a great deal to atone for.”
Sam has a great deal to atone for himself, so he understands. He never kept a count of all the deaths, but he feels them weighing heavy on his heart all the same. It was him, and not him, but it was enough of him that the guilt is there.
He doesn't ask Castiel to fix his wall. He's done enough running from old memories.
They hunt, eventually.
A month goes by before the car is ready, before they venture out into the world again. A month spent hiding, spent praying that life will continue to go on. The hunt is exactly what Sam needs. He needs the distraction more than he ever has.
The cases are small and simple, and that is probably deliberate on Dean's part, but even so, when he drops the match into the open grave and Sam sees the flames, Dean is the only thing that keeps him still standing.
He takes Dean's hand in his own and feels like a child again. Dean doesn't let go.
In the past, Sam dreamed of Jess, swallowed by flames. Now, he dreams of his own face.
Nightmares have been a fundamental part of his life for a long time; these aren't so different from the rest. He can handle them.
On a hunt in Indiana, Dean is almost killed. A demon, a demon possessing a child, and Sam hesitates too long with the knife, hesitates and thinks of every body laying before him while, empty-eyed and empty, he strode on, uncaring, to finish his job. Sam hesitates for too long and Dean is pinned against the wall. The girl reaches out for Dean, ready to rip him apart, and Sam lunges forward without thinking, knife forgotten.
“No,” Sam says, and she skids backwards several feet, away from Dean. She tries to move. She can't.
All it takes is a touch. Sam's hand is on her shoulder and she crumples to the ground, black smoke pouring out of her mouth. Dean stares. Sam doesn't know what to say.
The figure on the ground stirs, after a moment. “What happened?” she asks, and Sam wants to know as badly as she does.
Hell changed some part of him. Maybe it changed all of him.
“I don't know how I did it,” Sam tells Dean, later. The two of them are lying in a single bed; they gave up on the pretense of asking for two queens months ago. His arms are wound around Dean, holding him tight to his chest, and the stillness of the night is only broken by the sounds of the highway in the distance, trucks rumbling by well after all the other drivers have left the road. “I don't know what it was. Maybe—another freak adrenaline thing.”
“Sam,” Dean says. “Is it from--”
Sam smiles a little, despite himself. “I don't know. Maybe. Honestly, I saved you, that's all I'm worrying about right now.”
“I know,” Dean says. They lie there, entwined in the darkness, and for a minute, it is enough.
Life goes on, as it always does. They bicker and tease and finish each other's sentences. Dean orders disgusting things at diners and Sam orders salads and they make faces at each other's plates. They share motel rooms and steal each other's deodorant and bang on the door when the other is taking too long in the shower and Dean calls Sam a girl twice a week. They are the same as they always were, and if Sam can hear the angels sometimes, and understand them as clear as if they were speaking English, then he doesn't mention it.
Heaven is calmer now; calm, but wary. He doesn't have all the details, and that's probably for the best.
Sam spends three days unconscious in a hospital, thanks to a hunt that went south and stayed there. Dean is sitting at his bedside when he comes to, worry lining his face, making him look years older than he is. He doesn't look like he's slept.
“Hey,” Sam says softly, looking Dean in the eye. “Hey, Dean, I'm fine, alright?”
Dean says, “I'm not losing you again. You know that, right?” Dean's hands are clasped around his own, and Sam would tell him it's a chick flick moment, but the sterile white of the walls and the painkillers coursing through him make it too hard to think, to speak. It hurts to keep his eyes open, and so he nods instead.
A nest of vampires, big but small enough that Sam could have taken them out on his own, back before he had a soul, when he had no qualms and moved like a striking cat, all predatory instinct. In their weakened state, the two of them—they aren't going to make it. He and Dean stand back to back, trying not to think about what Heaven will be like if they make it there. Sam tries not to think of the trail of corpses he left behind and hopes that he is judged by what his soul knows, and not his mind.
The room floods with light. Bright and blinding, painful in its intensity, and neither of them can keep their eyes open. When it fades and they can breathe again, they open their eyes. The room is empty.
Sam thinks of Castiel in his dream, talking about atonement, and maybe, there is a chance for all of them. They have no shortage of sins, crimes committed in Heaven, on Earth, in Hell, but maybe there is mercy somewhere, redemption ready for the taking.
He and Dean fall together.
Dean kisses him, late one night in Wisconsin, as snow and wind batter the windows and the chill air creeps in at every corner, heater running at full power but still not enough to take away the cold. It sears through Sam and he thinks of burning, but Dean is by his side, warmth and safety both.
He kisses Dean, Dean always and forever his protection symbol to ward off the world. One kiss turns into two, turns into three, until they are lying there, pressed full-body against each other, trading slow, deep kisses that feel like they have been a lifetime in waiting. Dean presses against him and for a moment all of Sam's thoughts flee his head. It's exactly what he needs: to forget, to not think. He needs no walls, no barriers, if he has Dean.
Sam tugs at his own shirt and Dean draws back, just watches him. The long, lingering gaze he gives Sam's body as Sam undresses makes Sam squirm, and he wonders if Dean has been waiting a lifetime to do this, too. Dean kisses him, worships like the devoted, kneeling before an altar, and when Sam says, “Can I?” Dean says “Yes,” and “yes,” and Sam strips Dean bare. This all-consuming fire between them is nothing like Hell. It is a little like heaven. Sam presses his palms to Dean's chest and slings a leg over his brother's, and they move together, rocking and slick, and burning with heat, and Sam hurts for how much he wants this, right now. He runs a hand down Dean's back and Dean shivers, pushes into the touch.
They're quiet, the two of them, because they need no noise in the face of this. They need no words, no sounds of encouragement, nothing but the certainty and solidity of their bodies coming together. Sam presses slick fingers into Dean, works him open sure and strong, and Dean is silent, red mouth open, dazed with lust. Sam pushes into Dean and Dean's body accepts him as easily as if this is the hundredth time, rather than the first, like they were made to fit. They move together, short sharp breaths, and the world batters at their windows, but Sam is so warm, and inside Dean is even warmer. Dean kisses Sam as he comes, kisses him and holds on, squirms as Sam keeps going, too much, too much, just enough.
“You know,” Sam says, in the darkness, “I loved Jess.”
“I know,” Dean says.
“I loved her, but—it was a normal kind of love. The kind you see in the movies. The kind that—just makes you happy. The kind that--” He can't find the words. “Normal, healthy love. And you—you're like... You piss me off all the time and you're always doing stupid shit, and I can't get rid of you. You're always in my mind. I think about you even when I don't want to.”
He doesn't say, “Being without you and having no soul felt the same.” Doesn't say, “I'd die for you. I want to die with you.”
That's codependency for you, he thinks.
They take on the world together, guns at their sides, and the car rumbles on sure and strong, rebuilt again but with every lingering trace of their shared childhood inside it still, with every memory they've had together.
A new case, a new town, and with each life saved Sam is healed, made better, given another chance to make right his wrongs. He still shakes, sometimes. The nightmares still come, but each day is easier than the last and Dean is there to hold him up when his own strength fails.
The world changes around them, slow but steady. There are more miracles, fewer conflicts, fewer monsters lurking in the dark. Sometimes, the cases have been finished before they even arrive.
These days, Sam prays, sometimes.