Even if he has nothing else left, Dean knows at the very least he still has this – he still has Sam, regardless of what shape he’s in. So when he’s sure that he’s prayed and no one has listened, he finishes the bottle of liquor and passes out face down on a bed upstairs, near the attic.
His sleep is dreamless and not restful; when he gets out of bed he makes strong coffee and drinks it black. He swallows four aspirin to deal with the headache and wishes there was something he could take to help him deal with what’s waiting for him in the basement.
He has to close his eyes and take a deep breath when he reaches the door of the panic room; the screaming has stopped, and Dean can’t figure out if that’s worse. Castiel is still standing where Dean left him last night and it doesn’t look like he’s moved at all, and Dean’s grateful for that, and hopes Castiel can see that in the way Dean looks at him because Dean doesn’t trust his voice enough to speak. Castiel nodded and left Dean to do this on his own.
The door is heavy but it swings open, and for a second Dean can’t breathe because he doesn’t immediately see Sam; his eyes sweep the room and find Sam lying on his stomach on the hard, cold floor, over near the corner of the far wall. Dean side-steps vomit and makes his way over and is relieved beyond all words to find a pulse, strong and steady, when he places his fingers against Sam’s neck. Sam stirs and Dean helps him sit up. There is a rag over by the bed, and a bucket of cold water; Dean dips the rag in it and goes back to Sam. He presses it to Sam’s forehead and wipes his face.
“That really you?” Sam asks and his voice rough, barely more than a whisper.
“Yeah,” Dean says softly. “It’s really me. Hallucinations don’t wipe the puke off your face.”
Sam nods, but doesn’t smile like Dean was hoping. The thing is, Dean has always known how to make it better, and this time he just doesn’t; he doesn’t know that there is a way to make it better, and if there is, he wishes someone, somewhere would clue him in.
“Come on, kiddo,” he says softly, sliding his arm under Sam’s to help him to his feet. Once Sam is upright, he doesn’t even take a step before he’s stumbling and falling into Dean, and Dean bears Sam’s weight just like he always has. “Take it easy,” he says quietly, looping Sam’s arm around his neck, helping him stumble along to the rickety, old twin-sized bed. It groans under Sam’s weight as Dean sets him on it.
Sam looks up at him, and it’s something painful and desperate, and Dean feels like he’s going to crack, crumble under the weight of it all. He’s not sure how much longer he can keep this up, not even sure why he’s keeping up at all anymore. Maybe it’s everything that’s happened in the last forty-eight hours, or maybe it’s just reality setting in, but it’s looking more and more like the only way to end all of this is to suck it up and just say yes. Right now, looking at Sam – who looks like a junkie coming down from the worst bender of his life – he really, really wants to do it. He’s not even sure why he’s resisting anymore.
“You think I’m a monster,” Sam croaks. Dean starts to protest, but the words don’t even leave his mouth before Sam cuts him off. “I can see it when you look at me. You don’t know what I am anymore.” There’s a long pause, a span of minutes where Dean doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know what’s true and what’s not anymore. Sam breaks the silence first. “I don’t know what I am anymore,” he whispers.
The truth of it all is right here, in this room between him and Sam, choking him. They are the only way to end this, to stop it before it goes too far, before half the planet is dead because they were two big pussies who couldn’t accept the fact they had to eat their pride. There are so many, many things that Dean has done that he isn’t proud of, that he wishes he could take back; then he remembers what the future was like, what he was like, and he doesn’t want to be responsible for all the death, for all the loss and the pain – he did that once, in Hell, and he doesn’t want to feel that ever again.
“I’m gonna fix it, Sammy,” Dean says, holding Sam’s face so Sam is looking at him.
“You can’t fix me,” Sam says quietly. He’s pale, paler than Dean has ever seen him, and there is sweat matting his hair to his temples. Dean feels helpless, squatting there in front of his brother, watching tremors wrack his body, knowing that the absolute worst of his detox may be over, but it’s not over completely. Sam will suffer more, will be down here for days, and Dean’s not even sure he can survive it; last time there was divine intervention, this time there was nothing.
Sam makes a strangled sound before dropping off the bed to the floor, landing on his knees and knocking Dean to the side. He plants his hands on the floor and dry heaves for a pair of minutes before he wretches up bile and blood. Dean puts a hand on Sam’s back to comfort him but Sam twists away.
“Don’t,” he chokes.
“Sammy,” Dean says softly. “Just… tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it. But I can’t…” Its Dean’s turn to choke because it’s no secret that Sam has always been, and will always be his biggest weakness. “But I can’t just sit here and do nothing.”
“Please,” Sam sobs and Dean feels it in his bones. He hates this, hates watching Sam like this. “Hit me, knock me out… God, kill me if you have to, just please… It hurts; just make it stop.”
The pain in Sam’s voice makes Dean’s skin break out in goosebumps, but he isn’t going to hit Sam when he’s like this, and he’s certainly not going to kill him. So he does the next best thing. He goes upstairs to Bobby’s medicine cabinet and gets a bottle of painkillers; he backtracks to the kitchen and gets a tall glass of orange juice. He doubts Sam can swallow the pills without puking them back up, so he gets a spoon and crushes them on the countertop until they’re a relatively fine powder and brushes it with his hand into the cup of juice. He stirs it up, making sure the majority of four pills he crushed is dissolved before heading back down to Sam.
This time, when he gets there, Sam is curled in a tight ball on the floor, shivering and mumbling to himself. Dean goes to him and gets him in a semi-sitting position, with the upper part of Sam’s body resting on his arm. “Drink,” he says softly.
“I can’t,” Sam whispers.
“I will force this down your throat if I have to,” Dean says to him. “You’re dehydrated, you have a fever, and I put some stuff in here to help you sleep… to stop the pain.”
Sam’s eyes are unfocused when he looks at Dean. “Are you going to kill me?”
“No,” Dean answers honestly. “I’m just going to make you hurt less, okay?”
Sam closes his eyes and nods. Dean brings the cup to Sam’s lips and tips it enough for Sam to get a sip. Sam grimaces and coughs, gagging hard. “Don’t,” Dean says. “Don’t you dare throw up, Sam.”
He watches Sam struggle to keep it down. He waits a couple of minutes, when it seems like Sam isn’t fighting so hard to not puke, and gives Sam more. Sam doesn’t gag this time. “That’s my boy,” Dean says softly.
It takes nearly fifteen minutes to get an eight ounce glass of juice into Sam. Dean gets him up onto the too-small bed, and sits down on the floor away from any vomit. He listens to Sam groaning and sobbing intermittently, until he’s quiet and Dean can’t hear anything but Sam’s uneven breaths. And when he’s sure that Sam is out, that the drugs he gave him have taken effect, he situates Sam on his side so that if he pukes in his sleep, he won’t choke on his own vomit and die. Dean’s pretty sure if that happened Sam would come back to haunt him just on principle alone.
Upstairs, Bobby’s still awake, wheelchair parked near the old kitchen table. He’s drinking scotch, and there’s another glass on the table waiting for Dean. He doesn’t say anything, and Dean’s grateful as he drinks his liquor down. He reaches for the bottle and Bobby grabs his wrist.
“How long are you going to keep doing this?” He asks, and Dean can see that his concern is real.
“As long as I have to,” Dean answers. But the truth is, he’s made up his mind; he’s only going to let this go so far, only going to let this get a little worse, and then he’s done. Then, he’s going to resign his post here, and let Michael take the wheel; maybe if he does things that way Michael can take Lucifer out before he can ever get near Sam.
“Boy,” Bobby says softly, shaking his head. “I’ve known you almost your whole life, and things ain’t ever been this bad.”
“They won’t be this bad forever,” Dean says, looking at his shoes instead of Bobby. “I’ll fix it.”
“You always do, don’cha?” Bobby says sadly.
This time Dean doesn’t bother pouring another glass; he drinks straight from the bottle.