Sam's never felt right in his skin.
(TW for Self Harm. Marked as a collaborative work because it started out as an anonymous writing work, but I don't know who the other author was to give them credit!)
It had been a while since he had allowed himself the sweet relief of a cool blade against his skin, drawing thin, intricate lines, cursed blood welling up and seeping out like crimson tears, flowing from his arm into the dingy water, swirling down the grimy drain of a sink or shower in a bathroom of another 'No-Tell Motel'. He had tried so, so hard to stop after Dean had returned from Hell, but eventually the siren-song of pain and release, the need to rid himself of the tainted liquid in his veins, the anger and fear and loathing and weariness bleeding out of him with his blood. It wasn't much, though. A few cuts here and there, discreetly bandaged and passed off as something he had acquired from a hunt. Not that Dean cared much anymore, not after all they had both been through. Really, he should have seen it coming when Dean finally snapped and told him that, if he didn't know him, he would wish to hunt him. He should have known his brother would feel that way, especially when he had gone so far off-base, off-human that he wasn't even sure what he was any more. Still, that didn't mean it stopped his brother's words from hurting like hell. That was why he was in yet another bathroom, hunting knife in shaking hand, pressing the blood-slicked blade to his skin and drawing another line, this one deeper than the others. It had started as his regular routine, but then morphed into something different, something dangerous and alluring that both scared and enticed him. After all, if he was dead, Dean wouldn't have to kill him, would he? Dean probably wouldn’t even find him - one of the angels (or maybe even a demon) would find him there, shredded arms and bloody knife, and would dispose of his carcass before his brother could see. Maybe that was a good thing. Spare Dean as much pain as possible. That was why he was doing this, right? Of course it was. With that thought in mind, he made another slash.
Dean's eyes flicked open, quietly swinging his legs off the bed as he reached for his gun under his pillow. Years of hunting hadn't done nothing for his intuition, and his heart started pounding as he glanced at the other motel bed and finding it empty. Sam. He calmed a bit as he noticed the bathroom light was on, but he kept his hand on the pistol as he made his way to the crack between the door and the wooden frame. His brother's back came into view, then this shoulder, then...Dean froze, staring at the blood dripping from Sam's wrists and disappearing from view as they fell into the sink.
The last slash he had made was a bit more vicious than intended, and he had to lean against the sink for support. He didn't want this to be quick. He didn't deserve this to be quick. It needed to be slow, painful, everything he deserved and worse. He felt a slight amount of guilt about ganking himself with his big brother in the other room, but hell, what was the point? Even if Dean found him, he'd probably be relieved; one less future hunt to go on. Aside from that, he doubted the angels would let Dean find him anyhow. Castiel or Gabriel would probably zap his body out of there after his soul had been taken to hell. There was no doubt he was going to hell, either, not after the things he had done. He'd deserve it, though, deserve everything they did to him and said to him, and he'd deserve worse. His only regret was that he hadn't written a note. He should have, at least to explain to Dean why he was doing this, why he had to do this, and that it wasn't Dean's fault. However, he didn't want to have to take the time to try to explain something that was too complex and too much to explain with just a few lines of wrinkled paper and a broken pencil. It was easier to just go - literally and figuratively- and leave Dean with the knowledge that he wouldn't have to kill his baby brother anymore; his baby brother had already taken care of that for himself.
Dean's world spun, seemingly to melt away as he focused on the blade in his brother's right hand, dripping with blood. Demon blood, but his blood. Sammy's blood. Chest contracting, Dean struggled to breathe, to move, to do anything, but he couldn't, staying put in one place as a deafening scream shook his mind, gripping his heart and squeezing. He recognized it as his own, but his mouth hadn't moved even as his brain shrieked in agony. No. No no no no no Sammy Sam Sammy no no please no. The crack in the door left a line of light painted on his body, catching the fear and panic in one eye. Sam, oh little Sam, playing with action figures, then bikes, then knives and guns as he grew under Dean's watchful gaze. Dean's brother. Dean's life, only reason for living, holding a knife to his wrist and cutting, letting his life ebb away with the blood. The gun finally fell from his loose fingers, clattering to the motel's hardwood floor. Dean didn't move to get it, all thoughts screeching to a stop as he watched the knife.
Sam started when he heard the unmistakable sound of metal clattering against hardwood. He hissed as the blade sliced deep into his skin and hurriedly pulled it out, holding it in front of him protectively as he allowed his mangled arm to hang loose by his side, streaming blood onto the linoleum floor, each trickle landing with a soft sound that send red liquid splattering across white tiles. He stared wordlessly at what little he could see of his older brother, eyes wide in pain and, for a brief moment, shock, before resignation took over his features and a small, bitter laugh nearly escaped his throat. Way to go, Sammy, he thought bitterly. Wait until Dean's about to kill you, then decide to gank yourself. Nice. Real nice. Smooth, even. Closing his eyes for a moment, he released a shaky breath, then looked up. "You don't have to now," he murmured, voice soft, gentle, as if he were soothing an angry animal. "I'm taking care of it, Dean. You don't have to kill me. Go back to sleep. It'll be over by morning."
Raw panic won over shocked stillness, finally sparking the adrenaline that it took to move his body, heart pushing it through his veins, to his fingertips, to his toes. Lunging forward, one thought ruled his mind. Protect Sam. It didn't matter that he had to save his brother from himself, it just had to be done, as much as Dean had to breathe, or eat, or sleep. The gun lay forgotten on the ground as he wrenched the knife--no no no Sammy why-- from the younger Winchester, letting it fall into the puddle forming on the ground as he grabbed a towel in the same fluid movement, eyes wide, chest heaving. He wrapped it around the bleeding gashes--oh god Sam please no-- pressing roughly over it. Just have to stop the bleeding. Let it stop. Incoherent sounds fell from his lips as he held tightly onto his little brother, blends of "oh god why" and "Sam no Sammy" choked out of his throat roughly.
Sam's eyes shone with fear as his brother charged at him, and he gave a grunt when the knife was snatched from him. What? Did Dean want to kill him himself? Make sure he was really dead? Get payback for all the years being forced to watch over a kid brother who was an ungrateful little bitch with demon blood inside him? If so, then why was his brother wrapping a towel around his arm, pressing down on the wounds in an attempt to stop the bleeding? Why was he muttering things that occasionally sounded like a question and his name. It didn't make sense. Unless...Unless Dean planned to heal him, patch him up, then kill him. Oh God, no. Please. That...That would be worse than hell. Being lulled into a false sense of love and protection when his brother really just intended to hurt him even worse, to kill him....God, please, no. That was worse than anything he could imagine, and he knew he deserved it, but he really, really didn't want it. So, he struggled. He used what little, fast-draining energy was left in him and struggled, trying to writhe away from the death grip his brother had on him. It was of no use, though; he couldn't escape. Feeling suddenly exhausted and realizing the battle was over, he slumped against Dean's side, either unable or unwilling to stand on his own any longer.
Dean tried to support his brother, but his knees finally buckled, and it was all he could do to keep them from crashing to the cheap linoleum. It was as if he was collapsing in slow motion, lowering the two of them so they were sitting against the cool bathtub, Dean's left hand still wrapped around the rapidly reddening towel, right arm cradling Sam. His voice broke many times as he crooned, and he moved back and forth slightly, swaying them side to side as he pressed his palm to wherever he could; feeling the heated skin of his little brother's neck, his shoulder, his face, arm still wrapped around his back. Oh God, Sam, why? It was his fault, it was always his fault. He did this to him. Oh Sam, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Blood was starting to soak between his fingers, coating his fingertips. His foot rested in the puddle, knife inches away from his toe as they sat, Dean holding Sam as tight as he possibly could. "Sammy, please. Why would you--I can't--without you--" Broken phrases poured out of his mouth, breath hitching, composure lost from the first second he saw the lines on Sam's arm. "I'm so sorry. Please. I'm sorry." He turned his face, pressing hard kisses into the mop of light hair, desperate.
Sam whimpered, pressing his face against his brother's chest as the increased pressure coupled with the change in equilibrium made his head pound. Symptom of blood loss? Probably. Either that or the demons were getting a head start. Either way, it hurt like hell - pun intended - and he needed it to stop, even if it was only to answer Dean's questions. Taking in a few ragged breaths, he choked, "D-Did it so y-you wouldn't have t-to." He knew he should be pushing his brother away now, not only because he needed to die, but also because if, by some miracle, he didn't die, he couldn't let Dean get so close that it would hurt so much more when his brother finally killed him. Vaguely, he wondered if there would be tortured involved, or if Dean would leave that to the folks downstairs. He really didn't want to know, or find out. "P-Please," he whispered, "d-don't do this. Don't s-save me s-so you can k-kill me. M's-sorry."
Each stuttered word pushed daggers through Dean's chest, feeling as if he was the one pouring blood all over the floor, not Sam. "Sam I could never--" the words 'kill you' wouldn't push through, and he swallowed, holding the younger Winchester's head to his chest as if keeping him there would keep Sam in one place, from drifting off. The realization that he could be holding a dying Sammy in his arms, again, sank it's fangs into his mind and his breath stopped. Moving his hand from the side of his brother's face, Dean let it join his left one, holding the ever-redder towel tighter against the torn skin. "Sam, I want you to stay here. Hold this and--and stay alive. Stay alive and don't move, I'm going to be right back, I need my cell phone." He kissed the paling forehead again as he sat up into a crouch, placing Sam's arm into his own lap. "Please--" Voice snapping, he broke into a sprint out of the room, returning only a second later with his phone to his ear. Dean knelt in front of Sam--darling little Sammy--as the line connected. The emergency operator buzzed in his ear. "It's my brother, he tried to-to--" Again, fatal words remained bottled up inside his throat. "Please, just come, I need an ambulance."
Sam, too dazed and pained to do anything else, did as he was told for once. Then again, he always did was he was told when Dean was the one telling him to do it. Sometimes. Maybe. Sorta. God, those lights were damn bright. Since when did stupid little motels get bright-ass lights? Not cool, stupid little motels. Not. Cool. Sam registered that he was incoherent now, that he wasn't making sense, even to his own mind. Did it matter? Not particularly to him, but Dean might be a bit upset. Well, more than a bit upset. Wasn't his brother always like that, though? Sometimes. Maybe. Sorta. Sammy numbly pressed the towel against his skin, cocking his head to the side as he heard a wet sort of squelch when he did so. A hysterical giggle escaped his lips as he repeated the motion, again and again, finding the noise utterly hilarious. Now he knew he had really gone off the deep end, but hey, he was about to take a swan dive six feet under and then some. Maybe a little diving practice wouldn't hurt?
Eyeing his brother’s mumbling mouth, panic-stricken, Dean sped through telling the operator the address of the motel and snapped the phone shut, returning to his previous place by his brother’s side. He snagged a fresh towel as he did so, removing the soaked one and letting it fall onto his leg, staining his skin. Sam’s blood. Oh god, he was going to throw up. How could Dean let this happen? He let Sam down, failed him. Jesus Christ how could he let this happen? “Sam, stay with me, please, just stay with me until the ambulance gets here. Just a little while longer.” Tears shaped along his lower lashes, threatening to fall on Sam’s gray t-shirt. “Oh God, Sam, why? How could you think I would ever hurt you?” But he could, and he had, knuckles still bruised from the time they collided with Sam’s cheekbone, tongue bitter with words he didn’t mean. “Sam, I am so sorry. Please.” He didn’t know who he was pleading with, Sam, or maybe God, wherever he was.
Sam struggled to hold his eyes open, blinking blearily at his brother and adopting a small, lopsided smile as he did so. “Shhhh,” he tried to soothe, “S’okay, De.” He wasn’t sure when the childhood nickname had decided to make an appearance, but hell, he was dying and Dean called him Sammy all the time, so fuck it. He had other things to worry about, namely, his brother. “Shhh. N’t y-your fault. Mine. All m-mine.” The smile wavered for a second, but he couldn’t let it fall. No. If it fell, his heart might just fall with it, and he couldn’t let his heart shatter just yet because that would make him dead, wouldn’t it? Or would it? He was fairly certain he’d had his heart broken before, but he hadn’t died then. Well, not fully, at least. With a small huff, he pushed those thoughts from his mind, forcing himself to focus. “D-Deserve this. D-Didn’t wanna make you have t’ kill me. S’okay, De. S’okay.”
Sobs wracked Dean’s body suddenly, his arms holding Sam’s slumping body close. “I can’t, Sam, not without you. Don’t make me do this without you. You know I can’t.” Heaving breaths broke up the words, and Dean pulled Sam against his shoulder again, trying to ingrain him into his skin, trying to keep him there, by his side. Each movement hurt, heart being crushed by some unseen force, lungs squeezed until they no longer functioned. “I can’t lose you again. Not again. Please, Sam.” His cheeks were streaked, droplets falling off his chin and onto his chest, leaving little spots on the dark fabric. “Sammy.” He ground out the name between clenched teeth. Not here, he pleaded to anyone who would listen. Not Sam. Anyone but Sam. Take me instead, I can’t live without him anyway. Lifting Sam’s arm so the blood flowed away from the gashes, the image of Sam lying on the linoleum, pale morning light filtering in through the door and reflecting off the scarlet blood in a circle around his body, seared itself into his brain, causing a fresh wave of sobs.
Sammy decided that if he was going to go, this was a really, really good way to do it. His smile never slipped as he was pulled against his brother’s warm form, nor did it slip when his eyelids slid closed from utter exhaustion. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t even slip when his heart slowed, then finally stopped altogether, growing cold and still and shattered in his chest as his final breath escaped smiling lips. It didn’t slip when the EMTs arrived, frantically pulling him away from Dean and starting to shock his heart back into doing its proper function. It didn’t slip when the medics pulled away slowly, shaking their heads at his brother, nor when Dean crumpled to his knees on the pavement. It stayed in place as they lowered him into the ground beneath the hand carved cross, and as Cas lay his hand on Dean’s shoulder before disappearing, leaving his brother staring down at the freshly dug grave. No one was around to see when it fell, when the world turned darker, only days later, when Dean Winchester turned his gun on himself, pulling the trigger.
Only then did it fall.