All One Can Find [Story&Art]

May 19, 2015 06:31

Title: All One Can Find
Author/Artist: soserendipity
Genre: SPN
Characters/Pairing: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester. Mentions of Castiel and Rowena. No pairings.
Rating: NC-17
Wordcount: ~4,500 words
Warnings/Spoilers: Blood, guts, and gore. Possibly suicidal ideation. Dark stuff. [Click for story-spoilery warning.]Major character death. Spoilers for everything until 10.22, to be on the safe side.

Summary: Dean lashes out in his MoC-addled, grieve-altered state of mind and Sam holds him to his words. Sam is a bit out of his own mind, at first, and out of other things, later. Blood, for example.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own ideas. No money made, no insult intended. This is purely fictional.
Author's Notes: For whatever reason, I thought that catching up with show at the weekend was a good idea. It obviously wasn't. Show is putting the boys through the ringer and something Dean said has stuck with me. I don't think he actually meant it (god, I hope not) but he said it and Sam looked so lost and so utterly devastated, I had to deal somehow. So this happened. It's raw and unbetaed and it might not make sense in parts. It's fractured and dark and stream-of-consciousness-like in others. Sorry.
On the other hand, fannish activity, so yay. Yeah, I'm a mess right now.

Um, you guys, do I call this thing an episode tag if it really only plays off one or two scenes?

Oh, also, I'm briefly mentioning that all the boy's friends read the Carver Edlund books and the online stuff, too. No idea whether that's actually true or just my head-canon, though.

Brother, first and foremost. That's what he is.

Strip him of the god-complex, the megalomania, the crazy-in-his-brain, the centuries of hell memories that gurgle up at night, threatening to drown him in his sleep, and that's what you get.

Underneath the thin smiles, the "I'm fine"s, the sleepless nights lately spent reading and facts-checking his way through the bunker libraries as quickly as possible; underneath the empty jabs at each other, the booze, the unshed tears, the weight of his failures. Underneath the guilt that, admittedly, has lessened a bit over the years whenever someone innocent bites it in their line of work; when he's been so close but not quite there, too slow, too weak, too whatever, arriving just in time to see the lights dim in another pair of eyes or another fugly rip someone to shreds just before he can sink his knife, his bullet (his mind) into them.

Wipe away the stench of the cage that still follows him wherever he turns, mute the echoes of a mind so vast, so cold and pure, that he's felt hollow ever since he dared to touch it. Rip off the external fixateur of angelic grace and the bandaids of pure Dean-wills-it-to-be-better which are all that keeps him going these days. Take it, take it all.


That's what is left, it's all one can find.

How did he forget?

Sam doesn't quite feel like himself. He's watched the flames flicker and die, watched the pyre fall into itself, has made sure the pile of burning embers didn't accidentally set anything else on fire. He's stayed, silent, alone, with Charlie, but it's like he's not even there, is his own private ghost. He feels lightheaded, darkhearted, heavy. Leaden limbs and gravedirt lungs and little boy lost. But that's not exactly news now, is it.

Sam hasn't felt like himself in a long, long time if he lets himself think about it. Which he doesn't because fine is his default setting and everything else is inconvenient at best. If he did, though, he couldn't even say when it started. This out of body, out of mind, out of sanity sensation. Maybe with Gadreel, maybe with Death's wall. Could have been the cage. Or the death-that-wasn't, the very first one. Maybe even November 2nd, 1983.

All he knows is that he's tried to make himself fit into different versions of his life, and that he failed at every single one. He did try, though. With naive childish admiration when he was younger and with grim determination later. He'd tried to find his niché, tried to be like Dean until it nearly killed him, to be enough for Dad until it was clear that that would never happen. Tried to ignore the ties to family, to be a steady appearance in other people's lifes until that whole illusion went up in flames and turned to bitter soot in his lungs. He tried to think just like Dad, for a while, after, which was surprisingly easy. But then the freak stuff started happening and suddenly he was the boy with the demon blood, the abomination. Lucifer's meat suit afterwards and ten gallons of crazy in a bucket after that. Those versions he didn't try all that much to excel at.

Pain in the ass little brother, though. The one with the bright future. Rebel with and without a cause. Been there, failed that. It's not like Sam doesn't know. It's not like he's proud of any of that.

In the end, none of it matters, though. None. What it comes down to, always, is Dean.

Sam's endless circling thoughts take him back to it over and over again like the newest brand of torture. Waterboarding would be less suffocating which he knows for a fact. Can't help it though. Charlie, dead. Dean, one loss richer. Sam, the always-failure. Dean, once again let down. Sam, the boy who lived. Dean, the one who's finally given all he has. Empty, angry Dean. Sam, ruiner of everything. Cas, still in danger. Charlie, fucking dead. Dean, suffering. Sam, at fault.

Sam's head is not exactly a happy place but he's earned every single one of his dark thoughts so at least there's that.

He's felt like this, before, too. Many times. Has even admitted to it, twice. The last time in that godforsaken church. Hasn't even been that long, he should be kinda used to it, he supposes. He really isn't, though. He feels raw, scraped open like skinned knees all over. Move and you break everything right up. Think and Dean bleeds to the surface.

Sam hadn't lied when he'd told Cas that he owed his brother everything. Not just in the literal sense, as in being gone without a certain regrettable demon deal. He'd have been dead without Dean's intervention, surely, but he would have kicked the bucket even before that, in countless hunts where larger-than-life Dean Winchester decided that faster reflexes entitled him to a most unhealthy disregard of his own well-being. But this is so much more than half a dozen flesh wounds and a one-time fix from hell. This is everything, somehow. Sam hates it when there's truth at the bottom of his crazy.

It hadn't really been some sort of epiphany, either. Sam's always been in Dean's debt and he's always been aware of it. Tried to run from it more often than not, but really, what's the point. Fish trying to fly and all that.

It isn't something he usually has to name, though. Makes the admittance sit like a stone in his gut. Everyone who knows them (knew them) is (was, god, fuck) aware of their history. Demons and angels had front row seats to the crap-fest that's been their lifes and everybody human - friends, family, dead now, all dead - had either lived through it with them or read those stupid books. So yes, everyone's aware of exactly how screwed up they are, how badly-madly intertwined, how desperate when it comes to each other.

Saying it out loud really shouldn't have unsettled Sam as much as it did. Maybe it's everything else, Sam's mind supplies, unasked, unwelcome, as he drives for the book and the witch. He wants to stop thinking, just for once, wants to stop knowing what he does, what he did, what he caused. Can't stop his brain from trying to make sense of this mess, though, not even when there's no sense to be made, when Charlie is dead and Dean beat Cas into a bloody pulp and Charlie is dead and gone. Sam only notices that he's crying when his vision's too blurry to continue driving.

Suck it up, he thinks, and if that sounds like Dean in his head, no-one cares.

A little later, Sam doesn't know how long, he doesn't really know much at all. He's pleasantly numb and being on autopilot took care of getting to the wretched book well enough.

Thankfully, he doesn't need any form of higher brain function to listen to Rowena yap on about how they had a deal and how utterly worthless Sam is - as a person in general and a hunter specifically. If he were able to think around the black pit that's opened up where his emotional center had been until recently, he might have laughed at that. Or maybe not. It's not as if he's been particularly well-adjusted lately. Now, he chokes on the bastard child of panic and hysteria - the funny though not funny kind - because this he knows, god, does he. If there's anything left that he's sure about it's that he's a massive fuck-up.

There's almost a serene quality to it. Knowing that everyone left can see you right for what you are. No need for pretense. Crowley despises him. Rowena couldn't care less if Sam turned into a magical toad. Cas. Well.

Cas has given him the blade. There wasn't even very much Sam had to say. He'd cleaned the blood off of his face, told the angel to save his grace. Had righted the broken nose and made sure cheekbones and jaw were badly bruised, not smashed. And he'd seen it, then, in the way the angel avoided his eyes, that Cas wasn't sure he could do it. Kill Dean. Save the world. That it really came down to Sam to find a solution. Now, for the one thing he couldn't afford to screw up. They'd always had crappy timing.

"I need to," Sam had finally choked out, not sure how to wrap the lie, how to mask his desperation.

But Cas had just nodded, gravely, once, and vanished. Had appeared a second later with the damned jawbone and grabbed Sam into a fierce hug. Said something that could have been I'm sorry or don't screw this up, Sam couldn't listen very well through the rush of blood in his ears.

He thinks he should feel more relieved, less weighted down. Now that he knows things will end soon. He really doesn't.

Sam snaps back to reality in the middle of one of Rowenas monologues. It's ridiculous how the witch tries to subtly push him. How she tries to gauge his breaking point when he's already shattered into a myriad of pieces, never was quite whole to begin with. Slice his skin and he'll pour right out of himself, cristalline specks of dust that'll simply float away with the breeze.

But now the witch has become excited, her tone a new level of excrutiating, and she's got it, she says, she found it.

"Do I have to kill him?" Sam asks although he already knows he won't do it. It would kind of negate his whole existence, he thinks, if he killed his brother now. Maybe he should. Maybe he should get the Colt or something stronger and end Dean and just see what happens. Whether Sam makes poof and is gone, because these days, it feels like Dean is all that still tethers him to - huh. Everything, really.

"No," the witch says, and looks at him a little unsure, "there's only one way to do it. Killing him won't do any good."

Rowena goes on and on about the spell and the potions and the consequences and Sam nods in which he hopes are appropriate places and doesn't know who to give a prayer of thanks to because he can't exactly let anyone know. No angels. Especially not Castiel. This is up to Sam.

Even more so now, when Dean finally, finally admitted it, has spoken out loud the truth Sam's been carrying alone for so long, ever since he learned about the life, since he heard about Mom, saw Jess burn, couldn't stop Dean being ripped to shreds. He's known it all his life and it only took 30 years of everyone around them dying for Dean to admit it, too. Now they both know it and Dean has said it and Sam doesn't know why it still hurts so much. He's known it for forever.

It should have been Sam who died. Should have been him all along.

It still makes him dizzy and weepy and weak in the knees. Makes him hate himself a little more every time he thinks about it. Get a grip, Sam tells himself while he's trying to make sense of Rowenas accent. It's quite simple, really. Clean cut. Dean doesn't just not want Sam anymore. Dean wants him dead.

Apparently, so does the witch. Big surprise.

Sam's seen the herbs on the table, knows that she's made at least one hexbag she intends to kill him with. Knows, too, that the whole kill-my-son spiel probably was part of some power play he didn't feel inclined to care about. He can't die now, though. Not yet. So he lies. With how out of it he feels, the lies line up surprisingly well. He tells her a tall tale about killing Crowley, about some new ritual, some old weapon. Not too many details, just enough to hook her back in. To make her hand over what she's translated of the spellwork so far. He'll be able to finish it easily enough with what Char- with what resources he has. Rowena even writes him a list of ingredients he'll need for the potions. She promises him it'll work out fine. Swears that this is the only way to break the curse and that after Crowley is dead, they'll all go their merry ways.

Sam's desperate, not dumb. When she speckles his face with the blood she coughs up, she looks astonished, of all things. Seriously, how did she think this would end? She's evil. It's what they kill.

Afterwards, he stops briefly to look at the body, asks himself if Dean has always felt this matter-of-factly about it. No wonder he kept telling Sam to stop overanalyzing everything. Monsters have to die, it really is that simple.

Sam gathers what he needs when he made sure the witch burnt to a crisp. He'll find everything else in the bunker. He just hopes Cas and Crowley will leave him be long enough. Just half a day, he begs of no one in particular. Just give him twelve hours and it'll be done.

When they meet, it almost feels anti-climactic. Sam walks up to the Impala not bothering to hide his presence. He doesn't know if he'll have to try very hard but he'll give it his best. This will be it, after all. Endgame.

"Leave," Dean says without turning his head, and he hardly sounds like Dean at all. But when Sam balls his fists, swallows down blood against the heart in his throat and walks right around, in front of the car, there's no black reflecting in the moonlight. Thank you, Sam thinks, thank you thank you thank you.

This part had been crucial. Non-negotional.

Removal of the Mark, yes. Curing the demon? No.

"Didn't you buddy up with Cas?" Dean asks in a tone that has Sam wincing on the inside. "Didn't you see what I did?"

Ah, Sam thinks. Here comes the self-loathing. Or the anger; it's hard to tell with Dean these days. Sam's not picky, though. He'll take either.

"I did," Sam says, slowly, before he swallows a little more blood.

"And didn't he tell you that next time I see you, there'll be no near miss?"

"He did," Sam says and very carefully, as not to startle Dean, grabs the bundle from where it's tucked into the back of his pants.

Dean goes very, very still. Stops breathing, if Sam had to bet.

"The fuck," Dean says and sucks in a harsh breath when Sam peels away the hexed piece of cloth. The jawbone shimmers in the moonlight like bone has no business shimmering, ever. It's almost beautiful.

"The fuck," Dean says once more, a little darker, and Sam fears for a moment that Dean's going to run, to leave him in a field in the middle of nowhere, sucking on the bloody mess where a few hours ago two of his molars were minding their own business.

"You come here to-"

"No," Sam says and angles the blade so the moonlight hits it just right, so the shimmering pulses over the weapon like a living, breathing thing.

"Fratrem meum," Sam says in a voice as low and steady as possible, and shucks a good measure of dried herbs and ground tooth over the blade, "voluntarie obtulit, in maximis tenebris cordis hora." In front of him, Dean's eyes go wide enough for Sam to see the whites.

"Me dedere eum," Sam continues, "usque ad consummationem temporis deperditum."

Dean opens his mouth to make a demand, maybe, or to insult, or to speak another devastating truth. But Sam pours the second helping of the potion over the blade and Dean's jaw just drops a bit further, not making a sound. Dean's eyes glaze over and all Sam thinks is, gotcha.

The blade, it sings.

Sam waits a minute, then another.

Dean doesn't move. He's perched on the Impala like he still thinks about bolting but Sam is almost sure that it's too late for that now. Almost.

Dean's fingers twitch and his eyes are so big that he nearly looks like he's fourteen again. Young and marvelling at the world, before everything has become darkness and death. It breaks Sam's heart to think of Dean's life as the bloody, mangled mess it is right now, to think of all his brother has given and sacrificed and never even let himself dream of. But the possibility that Sam can give something back, now, finally, makes the next steps easy.

Sam bows to one knee, knowing full well that he looks ridiculous, but he doesn't care. The stars and the moon bear witness to this. The Impala, too. None of them will mind. And he'd rather err on the side of caution because he has no idea if just handing the blade over will be "given freely and demurely" enough. Seriously. 13th century nuns.

Dean still doesn't move, Sam can't even hear him breathe anymore, not with the song of the blade hijacking his higher brain functions and he lowers his head a bit more and raises his hands a bit higher, the weapon cradled between his fingers nearly vibrating with undirected energy.

It's attuned to him now, irrevocably. Sam's made it his, has bathed it in herbs and holy water and blood. He's cut all the necessary symbols into his skin with it, has carved a space for it inside of him just below his heart, and the blade has nestled right in. It vibrates through his sternum and sings in his veins. It makes his jaw ache with phantom pain where he's pulled his teeth. The blade has sucked it all in, blood, bone and marrow, has mopped it all up, is as much Sam now as Sam is Dean which doesn't make sense except for how it does. They're one now, all of them. Curse and cure, rage and calmness, beginning and end. Hope, despair, love. Brother, blade, and brother.

Sam knows better than to pray but by everything he believes in, he wishes this will work.

He hears how Dean finally slides from the hood of the car, the dull thud the half-empty bottle of bourbon makes when it hits the grass. He doesn't dare look. Dean is all smooth grace and darkness, a night-time predator on the move. Sam doesn't have to see to know. He feels a sudden surge of pride and love and thinks again how this is the right thing to do.

The only thing. For Dean.

Sam fed the blade enough of himself that they're in tune now, the both of them. He understands the song maybe even better than Dean does. The blade, it craves Sam. It's starving for him. Dean makes a strangled sound and Sam does look up then, sees the same hunger that sings in his blood reflected on Dean's face. Not long now, Sam assures himself and can't bring himself to worry. If Dean makes it out of this human, maybe even alive, that's all Sam can hope for.

He can't look away again. He wants to know, has to have this, so he takes, as always. Takes for the last time what his brother gives without even thinking. Sam could cry with relief when Dean finally grabs the blade, point of no return, feels the two of them click together like magnets. Nothing could pry that weapon out of Dean's hands now. It's done. Sam bites back a smile when his brother's eyes flutter closed, when he lets out a groan as if he's bitten into the juciest burger ever, the sweetest piece of pie, the hottest piece of ass around.

This is how Sam wants to remember him. It's so astonishingly Dean, so good and true, and Sam's heart is full to bursting with love and thank you and home.

Then, things go quickly, like someone pushed the fast forward button and muted all the sound. That's probably for the best, though. He can hardly keep up with the visual.

He tries not to flinch as the blade goes in the first time. This one last thing he'll give his brother. No regrets, not about this. He knows where this journey will take him and he's still going to do it. The witch was reluctant about that particular piece of information but the book had been clear. A sacrifice made with full knowledge of the consequences. So Sam translated every last bit and he knows. Has made his peace with it, even. He's deserved to be put down for years and years. It's only right that Dean gets to do it. Lifesource, caregiver, deathbringer. Sam feels like they've come full circle, somehow. Knife to his gut. Honest way to go.

It's not just about the dying, really. It's what comes after that matters. But that will stay Sam's secret, he refuses to add that to Dean's burden, can only hope it'll work out the way he planned. He left the book where no-one but Cas will find it and the angel will destoy it, somehow. He'll have eons to figure it out. It's one of the few things Sam has written on the note, that, and a "please don't tell him, ever", and a "thank you for everything", although he owes so much more, atoned way too little. His final inadequacy. Still, it's the last thing Sam will ever ask of the angel and he knows Castiel will come through. Dean will never know.

First, though, Dean has to make good on his words. And he does, raises the blade and lets it sink down a second time, pain worse than before, does it again, even worse, small fires pooling together inside of him, pain and song and devastation. Murder, shame, and guilt. Blackness of soul, transferred into him.

And the song in his veins, it turns into liquid acid and he's being eaten up from the inside, bone muscle sinew all melting, all fire, and someone's screaming; muffled, raw, suffocated mewls like torture through seven inches of hard baked dirt and Sam knows first hand what that feels like, doesn't he.

His thoughts are swirling and his spine is trying to slowly crawl away and his brain is bubbling out of his nose. Air, air would be good, just, find his lungs first, they made a break for it with the rest of his insides, what all isn't his guts spilling forward into the cool, green grass. And he would make a grab for them, but there's a hand on his shoulder keeping him here, freezing him through the fire, and just how does that work, he wonders briefly. Is brought back to the now with the next slice of the blade, upwards motion, searing pain.

He can't keep anything of him to himself, can't stop the tears, the choking, blood and bile and blade everywhere, and his heart, his heart is beating overtime, is running ahead of everything else, trying to keep up with the rhythm of the song, no melody anymore, just beat after beat of battle drums, a call to arms, reverberating through his soul. He'd follow, he'd fight, kill, scream, do the blade's bidding if only he weren't being torn and hacked into pieces.

Isn't that fitting, he thinks, oddly detached, half a dozen stab wounds and he's falling apart like a used bookshelf gone rotten.

Sam still has somewhat of a speech to deliver, should tell Dean that he's sorry, one last time, one most important time, but he can't put his finger on the why. His blood is simmering and his tongue feels heavy and when did he lie down?

There are stars above.


Few clouds.

Moon. Trees.

Maybe he hurt his head.

Maybe more.

Shock, most probably.

It's really dark.

What are they hunting?

He should get up.

Suddenly, Dean fills his vision, startingly close, fuming, seething, bursting with black-blooded rage; the blade, the power, the evil lurking in the corners, the shadows flickering over Dean's face, it's like all of it snaps reality back at once, like a huge rubber band across Sam's chest. It hurts so bad. He whimpers.

Dean looks at him for a second, then. Another. Red-dripping blade held high, just looks. Frowns.

"Took you," Sam bubbles through the blood in his mouth, "long enough."

Because they've come so far, and it would be so typically Dean to finally wrangle back control over this thing when they're nearly there. To win the battle just to lose it later, big time. Sam won't allow it. He made his choice, he'll see it through.

"Thought you," deep breath, choking.

Dean's frown intensifies.

Nono, Sam thinks, nonono, and coughs up half a lung.

"Didn't have it, nngh, innyou, f-f-cker" Sam says, lightheaded, because hello puncture wounds and who the hell knows what all the herbs in those concoctions are doing to his synapses. Sam blinks, hard, and concentrates.

"All big talk no-" Sam doesn't even get to the real digs he's prepared. Dean's masculinity, the Impala, Dad. Bobby. Mom.

No need. The frown turns into a sneer and Sam can almost bodily feel the fury explode out of his brother. Maybe he does. The blade still sings, eerie choirs now, song of the dead, lyrics of old, of power, and it becomes sharper and more painful at the same time. Everything does. Sam loses a bit of time as he tries not to writhe. Can't try to get away, has to want it, every second, and he does, anchors himsef as much as he can, wants to have each moment, keep it, parting gift. Fingers scrabbling for purchase, digging into the grass, rain-wet soil, blood-wet, no matter, as long as it keeps him right where he lays. Pours every ounce of acceptance into this.

He wants this.

For Dean, this and more and everything. Again and again, the blade strikes down, rips through his soul, dices his guts, and Sam's not sure what hurts more, isn't sure what should.

"Dean," Sam wants to say, is sure he wants those last words after all, "It's okay," or "I'll be fine," or something equally untrue, but there's too much blood in his throat.

Too much blood. Ha.

Story of their life.

His left hand flops against something hard, a jerk of his eyes flits by a black shadow.


He's glad Dean will still have her. Will... he's tired.

No wonder. There are stars above him.

Huh. Sounds familiar.

Nighttime, that's for sleeping, Sammy.

Dean's head swims into view, wide eyes, dark freckles, no wait, is that blood?

Silence in his ears mutes out everything.

Light noise, dark noise. Star noise, maybe.

Shouldn't there be- something?

Dean's mouth is moving, "what," Sam reads, but then he blinks and blanks out for a moment.

He's cold.

Dean's here, with him, though, underneath the stars, and that's good, Sam hopes.

Dean can get the blankets.

It's really cold.

Maybe they'll sleep in the car tonight.

Edges blurr.

Stars dimm.

Night is setting.

His brother will take care of the why.

He always does.


That's what's left, is all Sam can find.




"Welcome, Sam" the morning star whispershatters through his mind, "welcome back."

Then, the pain starts.

[Latin...]The Latin should mean something like this: For my brother, willingly given, in the hour of greatest darkness of the heart. I give myself to him, to be lost until the end of time. Not sure I got that right, though.

fic:all_one_can_find, art:all_one_can_find

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