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Fic: The Light That's Burning Up Inside

May 22nd, 2009 (03:23 pm)

Title:  The Light That's Burning Up Inside

Summary:  Dean looks at the light and looks at Sam and wants to forget but can only remember.  Post 4.22

A/N:  I started a very angry fic post finale but as my emotions mellowed, I came up with this instead.  Given a beta by geminigrl11 , who helped the mellowness, and a once over by sendintheklowns , who is strikingly sane in contrast to me.  Also, Sam is awesome, isn't he?  We've got a fic exchange going on that's in the sign up phase for anyone who happens to agree.  You can check it out at summer_sam_love 

Disclaimer: Not mine.  Though, if they were, I promise Sam would get a lot more hugs.


Sam looks at him with wide, wet eyes, and Dean can see a thousand things in them, but only two words fall from his lips.  "I'm sorry," he says, and Dean has to believe him.  Has to believe everything, has to believe it's all Sam can offer as the floor splits open and light begins to flood the room.

He's grabbing Sam to leave and Sam's grabbing him to stay and Dean has to think they've been here before.  This a dance the universe plays with them, Winchesters and fire, Winchesters and death, Winchesters and the end of the world.

Dean looks at the light and looks at Sam and wants to forget but can only remember.


Dean doesn’t remember much about the night his mother died, but he remembers waking up to the sound of screams: his mother's, his father's, and something else, something deeper and sinister and terrifying.  He remembers padding into the hallway, heading for his parents' room, hoping to crawl into bed with them, find some comfort in their strong and loving arms.

But the house is almost shaking, reverberating with a sound Dean doesn’t recognize.  He’s too scared to cry, but he sort of wants to, and the hallway is filling with light.

A glow, bright and too bright, brighter than Sammy’s night light, but it comes from his little brother’s room all the same as it splits open the dim hallway.

And then his father is there, Sam in hand, and his dad forgets that Dean’s not big enough to hold Sam at all.  His dad sort of forgets everything, and tells Dean to go--fast and now even though Sam is awfully big for a baby and the stairs are very tall.

But the light flickers across his baby brother’s face and the trembling of the house shakes him to his very core and he wants to cling to his father but his father is already gone and Dean has no choice but to run.

One foot in front of the other, pounding down one step after another, Sammy gripped tight in his arms.  It’s hard work and it seems to take so long, but Daddy said now, Dean, go! like it mattered and Dean can’t stop now.

He doesn’t stop until he’s outside and looking back, looking up.  The light is bigger now, encompassing and huge, and Dean feels so small in comparison.  It looks like a hole has opened up and is trying to swallow the house in one big gulp.

Dean might have stayed there, Sam heavy and kicking in his arms, but his father comes from nowhere, scooping them up and whisking them away.  Dean can still see the white lights flickering across the lawn.

Years later, Dean doesn’t remember that night very well, but he remembers that part.  He remembers the light that seemed to fill every part of him.  He remembers he wanted to hide and he remembers the sound that seemed to drown everything else out.  He remembers the weight of responsibility, the power of fear, and the sense that nothing would ever be the same.

It’s not until Dean’s starting to drive away from Sam’s apartment in Palo Alto, twenty-two years later, that he remembers that.  And it’s just a moment, a phantom sensation, and he’s four years old and waking up in the middle of the night to the lingering sound of a scream he’s not sure he didn't dream.

He makes it to Sam’s room himself, this time, because he has no father here to stop him, and he can feel the heat of the flames that lick the walls of his brother’s room.

Sam’s on the bed, awake and thrashing and as helpless as a six month old baby.  He can’t move, maybe he won’t, and Dean remember the directive from years ago.  Take your brother outside, as fast as you can.  Now, Dean, go!

And in the flickering white lights, Dean can see the horror on his brother’s face, illuminated, captured, like a snapshot in time that Dean can’t and won’t forget.


Never again, Dean thinks.  Never again.  He puts a bullet in the head of the Yellow-Eyed Demon to make sure of that.  It is their endgame, and the fire doesn’t have to burn anymore, and they’re all safe.

Until a convent in Maryland.  The details are different, but it feels exactly the same.  There are two dead girls on the floor, one gutted, one just gone, and Sam’s frozen in horror this time, almost like a statue, as the light fills the room.

It's a moment of deja vu, like he's been here before, like he'll always come back here, no matter how hard he tries not to.  It's just him and Sam, that first order, and the painful wash of light that is too much to hide from.

Dean looks at the light streaming up from the floor and his heart almost forgets to beat.  This light is beautiful, but dangerous in its beauty.  Deadly in its approach.  So pure but so tainted, so whole that it could swallow them in one big gulp.

And it just might.

The walls are shaking and Dean feels his fear reverberating through him and he’s four years old and he’s twenty-six and he’s in Lawrence and he’s in Palo Alto and Dean has one job to do and even if he’s forgotten it for the last year and even if he wanted to give it up, he hears it all the same take your brother outside, as fast as you can, now, Dean, go!

Because the light is consuming, more than the others had been; it is everything.  The first light burned away his brother’s childhood.  The second light burned away Sam's dreams.  And this light is burning away everything good left inside his little brother.

Unless it is already too late.

But Dean can see the terror on Sam’s face, he can still hear the broken regret of the I’m sorry, and Dean curses himself for thinking that Sam might not be worth saving.

Sam’s not moving, but Sam doesn’t have to.  Sam can’t look away, but Sam doesn’t have to.  Dean started this; Dean started it in Hell and before.  He started it at a crossroads and he started it when he was too little, too late to save his brother’s life in Cold Oak.

He yanks, hard, fingers entwined in Sam’s jacket, forcibly hauling his brother across the floor.  Sam stumbles after him, tripping awkwardly over his own feet and almost falling in the process, but Dean doesn’t yield his grip.

Dean pulls and he pushes and he doesn’t stop until they’re outside, until the doors are closed behind them.  And even then, the light is growing, and thriving and Dean wonders if this is one tragedy he can’t outrun.

He has to try.

Sam doesn’t seem to want to, but Dean can’t focus on that.  Dean can’t focus on anything except getting out.  Because he can see it in Sam’s face, a look he’s never seen before.  Never ever.
Sam’s given up.

Not even in the grief after Jess.  Not even in the turmoil of their father’s sudden passing.  Not even when the directive was save or hunt.  Not even when the days of Dean’s one year were waning fast.  Not ever has Sam looked like this before, and it scares Dean more than Lucifer in all his horrifying glory.

It occurs to Dean that he helped do this, not just the apocalypse, but Sam.  That somewhere along the line he stopped seeing his little brother as a person and more of a duty, that somehow he let the idea of monster overshadow the inherent need Sam had.  He’s believed Sam would go darkside, he’s believed that Sam was a moron, a junkie, a betrayer, an insensitive bastard, a stone’s throw from monster, and in the glow of Lucifer’s piercing light, Dean can see his mistakes for what they are.

And there is a clarity in it, harsh and revealing.  Sam’s still staring at it, his body standing, though Dean’s not even sure how.  His brother’s arms are limp at his sides, his shoulder slumped and his jaw hanging open with his eyes open, unblinking, and broken.  And Dean knows Sam just broke the last seal.  He knows that all of Sam’s faith and efforts were horrifyingly misplaced.  He knows his brother helped kill Ruby, which could only speak to the depths of the betrayal Sam felt.

The depths of agony and despair. 

Dean remembers Hell.  He remembers the fires that wouldn’t stop burning, eating away parts of him until there was nothing left but raw and unedited emotion.

What he had found then, at his core, was that any duty was worth living for, be it saving his family or torturing souls.  Dean doesn’t believe in fate, but he believes in structure even in chaos, in following orders even when he knows they're not quite right.

The hell-light that exposes his brother tells a different story, though; one Dean wonders how he never saw before.  Sam, when all the pride and all the facades are stripped away, he’s still wishing for the right thing.  No matter the lies, no matter the monstrous habits, Sam’s intentions are good and pure, and he stopped at nothing to accomplish what he believes in.

Sam believed in Ruby, not because he loved her, but because he wanted to do the right thing.  Sam’s been selling his soul all year long, piece by painful piece, and even when Dean turned his back on him, Sam sold it anyway, because he believed it was right.

And there were demons working against him, and there were angels setting him up, and there was an older brother who had never stopped to see before now.

Not that Sam’s been right.  Not that Sam’s been good.  Not that Sam doesn’t deserve to be smacked upside the head.  But because it’s still Sam.  The kid who gave it all up for college.  The kid who turned his back on his dreams to make things right again.  The man who trusted a demon, defied angels, gave up his own brother, traded in his own soul because he wanted to save the world.

Dean can’t save Sam from failing.

But he can help Sam now.  Help Sam find the right thing, give Sam the courage to try, and Sam would save himself.

“Come on,” he muttered, pulling Sam again.

Sam shakes his head, and his eyes fill with tears and he looks into Hell’s growing light.

“We need to go,” Dean says again, more insistent, more desperate.

“I did this,” Sam says.  “I need to see it through.”

“No, Sam,” Dean tells him, begs him, yanking harder.

Sam stumbles toward him and then looks at Dean.  He just shakes his head.  “I have to stop him!” he screams, and defiance flashes, twisted with a rage so deep that it makes Dean cringe, but he doesn’t.  Because this is a rage he understands.  A human rage.

Sam’s still trying, after all.  Trying to do the right thing.  No matter what, no matter what cost. 

But maybe Sam’s not the selfish bastard.  Maybe Dean is, and tonight’s the first night he’s ready to admit it.  “It’ll kill you, Sam.”

“It’ll just spare you the bullet,” Sam shoots back, and the defiance on his face melts away, his features crumpling into tears.

The tension in Sam’s body fades away and suddenly Sam's almost lax, sobs racking his body with a ferocity that surprises Dean and almost takes Sam to his knees.  Dean scrambles to compensate as his taller brother nearly folds in half.  Sam would have hit the ground if not for Dean’s grip and Dean realizes something else, something more important.

Sam needs him.  There was a reason Sam asked Dean to go with him on the final run to kill Lilith, and clearly not because he thought Dean had the power to kill her, but because Sam wanted Dean’s approval.  Somewhere inside that massive six four frame, somewhere behind the powers and the demon blood, somewhere in the midst of the man who would defy God Himself to do what he thought needed to be done, was a little boy who just wanted his brother to tell him that things were going to be alright, that he was going to be alright.

Instead, Dean has assumed and he’s yelled, he’s punched and he’s threatened.  He’s ignored and he’s mocked.  He’s resented and he’s begrudged.  He’s locked Sam up and thrown away the key.  He’s thought at least he’ll die human and if he ever was my brother and he’s berated and he’s belittled and it wasn’t that Sam was right but it was that Sam’s always been his brother and that’s just not how you treat your brother.

They’ve both brought Hell on earth for the rest of humanity; Dean can only try to spare his brother this much.  Dean thinks maybe he forgot--somewhere between the deal and Hell and angels and demons, he thinks maybe he forgot what it was all for, what it’s still all about: family.

Dean doesn’t thank God for much, certainly not his angels and this thing called Armageddon, but he thanks God for Bobby, who never let him forget and for Sam, who Dean almost did forget in all the ways that mattered.

“If you stay,” Dean says, Sam heavy in his arms, the heat of Hellfire bearing down on them, “then I stay.  We die together, or we fight together.”

The words seem to get through to Sam, penetrate through the hysterics and the tears, and his brother turns his face up to Dean, and Dean can see the shadows play across Sam’s face and the hazel color of his eyes.  Sam swallows hard, and it looks like it hurts him to speak, “Why?”

“You’re my brother,” Dean says.

Sam shakes his head, forehead creased.  “Monster,” he croaks.  “You said--”

“Well, maybe that makes two of us,” Dean tells him, because Dean can remember the souls screaming in Hell.  He can remember selling his soul and not thinking about Sam when he did it, but thinking about himself. 

Sam shakes his head more vehemently, face contorted.

“Then we’ll both die,” Dean says, breathless, and he laughs.  “Seems like a hell of a way to go.”

“You have to go,” Sam says.  “Please.”

“Then you’re going to have to take me, little brother,” Dean tells him.

Sam’s breath catches, then releases in a sob.  He licks his lips, and for a horrible second, Dean worries Sam has given up altogether.  But Sam draws another breath, ragged and purposeful.  Then he nods, short and brisk.  “Together,” he says.  “We go together.”

“Okay,” Dean agrees, because that’s a deal he can live with, no matter what.  The light behind them is growing still, maybe encompassing the night, but Dean can't see any of that, can't see anything except his brother, and Dean wonders how long it's been since that was true.  “Together.”

It’s Dean who helps Sam to his feet, and he can feel his brother leaning hard into his shoulder, but when they move, they move as one, weary and broken, monsters and saviors.  They’re running from Hell and they’re probably hiding from Heaven, but for the first time in a long time, they’re working together and not against each other, and Dean has never felt stronger.


Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: tracys_dream (tracys_dream)
Posted at: May 22nd, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)

Man, that is so beautiful.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
broken together

I'm very glad you liked it. Thanks!

Posted by: Not Quite by Firelight (tahirire)
Posted at: May 22nd, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Sam - Shining

There is so much truth in here. The fire and the light, how it always comes back around, how Sam is still Sam, this is awesome. ♥


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)

After this season, I can't help but love Sam more than ever. He needs hugs.


Posted by: irishka1205 (irishka1205)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)

Beautiful. And just absolutely perfect. And absolutely correct in every single thing there.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)

I am very glad you liked it. Thanks!

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
Summer - ELAC

Now that's my idea of a season wrap up. The brothers, together, is what we've been craving all season. The series looks like it might head in that direction but I know better than to my pin hopes on that so thank you for sharing this with us.

The threads of light and fire throughtout are just marvelous. *sigh*

Sane? *looks around* *snorts* You're a funny gal!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)

Well, your sanity is only a relative thing to me :)


Posted by: supernaturalmommy (supernatrlmommy)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)

Again, you capture the brotherly dynamic so well, and Sam specifically. This season hurt so bad -- next season at least starts with the brothers together. And together, they can do anything, right?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
scarred for life

This season did hurt. Next season better fix it.

(We should catch up sometime...and talk about your story and my complete failure in regards to beta'ing.)

Posted by: supernaturalfun (supernaturalfun)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)

Posted by: arliss (arliss)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)

I do love how you've linked the destiny points in Dean's life with light, with flight, with saving Sam. I hadn't actually thought about that, and it makes a lovely, neat sort of sense.

Dean's belated but piercing insight on Sam is also welcome, and I think dovetails neatly with canon.

This is beautifully written, and I'm very glad I read it.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)

It's reassuring to know this seems to flow with what we've seen in canon thus far.


Posted by: medusafox (medusafox)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)

Awesome! A perfect tag to the season ending. I'm pinning so much on the hope we will see brother redemption in S5.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
alone again

S5 has a lot to fix--I am barely holding out hope that it'll get there.


Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Boys Broken

This was a glorious effort. A wonderful story with a terrific helping of intelligent meta. *Definitely* one of the best tags I've read for 4.22. Bravo!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
never alone

Somehow ep tags lend themselves to meta-ish thinking. Thanks!

Posted by: gidgetgal9 (gidgetgal9)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)

I've read some great tags to this episode and each one has made me feel better and given me hope for the brothers. Yours definitely falls in with the others. But yours also shines - the words spoken about the light- and the brothers are just beautiful! :0)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
after school limp

I'm glad this stood out a bit and that you enjoyed it. Thanks!

Posted by: orehime (orehime)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)

This is just wonderful! The best season tag I've seen. *mems* & *deliciousizes

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
bloody hero

I'm very flattered. Thanks!

Posted by: Nora Norwich (norwich36)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 05:39 am (UTC)
winchester bros serious

This was amazing.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
never desert you

Thanks so much!

Posted by: ilaria84 (ilaria84)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)


Posted by: annj_g80 (annj_g80)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
SN road

Oh... oh... oh... but... *sniff* oh...


So sad and yet so hopeful. Somehow, things are right again.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
pretty sam

I hope we see something like that in S5 or I may not cope well.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)

Aw, thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 27th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
christmas awe

Aw, man, if I was a writer on the show, things would be going MUCH differently...


36 Read Comments
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