Title: I’ll Always Be There
Warnings: None, except for spoilers, as the story is set in season 14.
Author’s Note: Not my characters, only my words. Written for the 2019 wincest_reverse bang. Thank you so much for the super helpful and quick beta work, wetsammy! Thank you so much sarasaurassex for the inspiring and beautiful artwork that sparked this whole story.
Summary: Sam does what it takes to save his brother from Michael’s possession. It might be too far, but Dean doesn’t get to choose this time.
The box, the box, the box.
It was all he could think of, there wasn’t anything but the box. No other solution but the damn box. He couldn’t lose Dean to the thing, not again, not like this, and not so soon after the last time.
Sam stared across the empty space between them in the Impala’s front seat, trying to imagine how hard it must be to hold an archangel locked-down for this long. He had struggled himself just those few minutes getting Lucifer into that hole in the ground. Now that he thought of it, should Dean really even be driving?
“Maybe I should drive, huh?” Sam asked, before they’d left Donna’s cabin.
Dean answered, “Nah, driving relaxes me, you know that. It makes it easier to keep Michael on lock-down if I have something else to focus on. Thanks for worrying though, Sammy. I’ll let you know when it’s your turn. Maybe by the time we get to Sioux City, okay?”
Sam didn’t answer, just got himself situated in the passenger seat, and started in on observing his brother as Dean drove.
The unfamiliar noise of the rented trailer bouncing along behind the Impala interrupted his thoughts. The trailer was carrying the box that Dean had made, well, the coffin really. That was what it would be if his brother used it as planned. Dean had made himself a goddamn coffin, using the directions that Death herself had given him, along with the idea that it was the only way to keep the world and all of reality safe from Michael’s plan to undo it all. Sam knew Billie had her own motivations for “helping” and he wasn’t sure whether Dean’s blind acceptance of her plan was a good idea at this point. She was still Death after all.
He hadn’t even known that Dean knew how to weld, much less make a box like this, something so arcane and powerful that one hadn’t existed for millennia. And his brother had gone and made one, out of freaking scrap metal, and pure stubbornness. It bounced and bumped behind the Impala, taunting him with its presence. Reminding him of how Dean had planned to leave him, without a real goodbye or any type of explanation. It still stung, even though they had just hugged it out so thoroughly back there. No, it more than stung, it hurt, much more deeply than he wanted to admit to himself, and Sam didn’t want to let that go. He knew that he needed to hold onto that emotion, he would need it to fire up the drive to solve this puzzle they were stuck in, to find some way to save his brother from an eternity as an archangel’s vessel stuck in a box at the bottom of the sea.
They had always ‘figured it out,' that was practically their family motto, or at least what they told each other when they were staring down the next apocalypse or big bad. He had the resources of the Men of Letters at his fingertips. There had to be something in all of that arcane information he’d missed before. There must be some avenue that he hadn’t pursued. There were plenty of darker things he had skipped over, knowing that they would basically be akin to performing black magic. Maybe he needed to consider that route again. There could be a way, maybe someone else could—Rowena.
He pulled his phone out and texted her.
Sam: I need you to look something up in the big bad book
Rowena: Well hello to you too, Samuel. What makes you think I still have it?
Sam: You’re still alive and answering me. It’s for Dean. He’s holding Michael prisoner in his mind, and it’s not going to last much longer. We need something that’ll get him out. Dean made a Ma’Lak box to hold Michael.
There wasn’t a reply for several agonizing minutes. She was either laughing her head off or actually searching for what he needed. Or both at once, Rowena was a pretty good multi-tasker. Finally, his phone dinged with a reply.
Rowena: Any spell that’s going to control an archangel is going to need a lot of mojo. Specifically…King of Hell level.
Sam: What are you saying? I need to be the King of Hell to do a spell?
Rowena: Precisely my dear, I’ll send you the particulars in an email. Having the Ma’Lak box made and ready will make this much easier. Ta.
Sam put his phone away and scowled out at the lights of the small farm towns scrolling past his window. He replayed the fight with all the demons he’d had earlier that year, when his mom, Cas and Jack had all heard the demon, Kipling, basically asking him for the right to assume the throne and be King of Hell, as if it had been up to him. To his utter shock, it turned out it really had been, the demons had all been scared—of him. And he’d told them all…what had he said, something about how there wasn’t going to be a new King of Hell ever. And if any of them wanted the job they had to come through him. What had made him say that? And why had they listened and obeyed?
He hadn’t wanted to think about it too closely back then, he’d been much too focused on finding where Michael had taken Dean’s body and getting him back in one piece. But maybe that response from the demons meant that him taking on the role of King of Hell wouldn’t be so hard. He looked over at Dean, considering how his brother would take it. He thought about how far he’d gone before, saving Dean back when he’d been a demon himself. Would this be too far, would it make Dean run the other way once he was rid of Michael?
“Who’re you texting at this time of night?” Dean asked in between two of the songs on one of the worn-out Led Zeppelin mixtapes he favored for night driving. Misty Mountain Hop faded out and there was a long enough space for him to ask a question before Kashmir blared out. Dean turned down the stereo, which meant he really wanted to know, wasn’t just making idle conversation.
“Rowena, I…uh, got her looking into some stuff on the case,” Sam said, knowing that he couldn’t bear to lie to Dean, not after what they’d said to each other just a few hours ago.
“The case as in me, well, Michael in me and hopefully out of me sooner rather than later,” Dean said.
“Uh huh, definitely a whole lot sooner right? There’s some possibilities she’s checking out for me,” Sam said.
“She’s really on the Scooby team now, huh?” Dean asked.
“Seems like it…most of the time. The way I look at it, she’s just one of our resources, but one that we have to keep an eye on.”
“Wonder if it’s because of what Death told us? You know all that crap about Rowena’s death coming at your hands or whatever.”
“Maybe, she might want to keep a close eye on me, or who knows, she might have a death-wish for all I care.”
Dean didn’t say anything to that, just abruptly pulled off the highway in Le Sueur, one of the small towns outside of Minneapolis. His brother found a Valu-Inn with unerring prescience like it was his superpower, or maybe he just had all the highway exits memorized at this point.
They unloaded and Sam tried not to look at the box. But they’d had to park under one of the parking lot’s brightest sodium lights. The box glimmered with that something extra that magical objects tended to have. Or maybe it was something that he could see.
He growled at it after Dean started walking towards the motel building. “You’re not getting him, you hear me. He’s mine, and you’re not getting him,” Sam finished growling at an inanimate object and felt pretty silly, but it helped him put on a game face in the motel room where Dean was watching him pretty closely. This always happened after they had emotional, fraught moments, Dean got super observant and touchy. It was annoying and familiar and suddenly very dear and precious. This was what he would have lost, this was what he had to take care of and protect and jealously guard. It was just his—and no one else’s.
He folded himself into the arms that Dean opened up once they’d dropped their bags and closed the door behind them. He put all his attention into soaking up his second hug of that day. It must be pretty dire if Dean needed the connection, or thought that he did. Hell, maybe they both needed it.
“I know you said we’d figure out a way, and I love you for it, you know I do. But don’t hurt yourself for me, promise me, Sammy?” Dean asked, his lips smearing his plea against the skin of Sam’s neck.
Sam struggled internally for a long moment, not wanting to lie or brush off his brother’s request. “I’ll only go as far as I need to and no further to save you. I promise, Dean.”
It took a long time to let Dean out of the hug, his brother seemed just as reluctant as Sam felt. For the millionth time, Sam wished that it wasn’t such an unusual thing, to show physical affection to each other. They only had each other at this point and that didn’t seem like it was going to change any time soon. It was going to take him a while to get over hearing that his brother loved him. How sad was that?
Rowena’s email came through while Dean was in the shower. Sam was glad because he wasn’t sure of how his reaction looked on the outside. Inside he was completely falling apart at reading what she had to say.
The spell you can cast is rather simple, but as I said earlier, requires enormous mojo. Officially assuming your prophesied role as King of Hell (see the third page of Kevin’s notes on the demon tablet, paragraph fifteen for directions) will essentially make you into a demon, which then will allow you to possess your brother. This means that Dean’s anti-possession tattoo will need to be scarified first. One slice through the entire design will do the trick.
Once that bit of bloody work is done, and you are inside of him (haha), you will have to perform the spell to take over control of what happens to Michael. I’m guessing that Dean will resist your efforts and that there will be a battle within Dean’s mind to convince him to release Michael. That’s the bit that’s unclear to me, you may even need to battle Dean himself, it’s hard to predict what will happen. My advice is to have Dean describe it to you, how exactly he’s keeping Michael locked up, so you’ll know before you go in. It will be hard but I believe that if it is at all possible, you two will be able to get the job done.
We will need a vessel for Michael’s grace to occupy, and they will need to be ready and willing (ie give consent or have previously given consent to an angel) and waiting in the Ma’Lak box. I’d imagine this will be the hardest bit for you.
If your angel and I are there, we should be able to contain Michael long enough to get the box sealed up in time before he manages an escape.
I’m on my way to Lebanon and will see you soon.
Sam read it all over again and tried to imagine it actually working. There were a lot of moving parts to her plan, but it seemed possible. Rowena’s faith in them was probably misplaced, but it helped that she was on their side (at least for the moment). She was right that getting Dean to talk about how he was holding Michael prisoner might be the hardest part. That and lying to him about all the rest of it, him having to become not only a demon, but the actual King of Hell; possessing his own brother; throwing Michael into some poor unsuspecting person that had to stay in the damn box forever. He had to lie about all of that, and that was going to suck, big time. He heard unusual noises from the bathroom, was that breaking glass? He leapt up in alarm, crashing through the bathroom door.
Dean was crouched in the corner against the tub, naked and wet from the shower, one fist red with his own blood, the mirror over the sink in pieces all over the floor and counter. Sam crunched through the glass and wrapped a hand towel around Dean’s bloody hand. “You okay, Dean?”
He didn’t respond, didn’t even move, only his lips were in motion, repeating the same silent words in an endless loop. Sam hoisted him up and carried his brother out of the bathroom, not wanting Dean’s bare feet to pick up any glass.
He bandaged up Dean’s knuckles and dressed him in a t-shirt and sweats, and tucked him up in bed before Dean even said a word or acknowledged his presence. Sam was about to get up from sitting on Dean’s bed when his brother’s words broke the silence.
“He almost got out,” Dean said. “I almost fucking screwed it up and let the bastard out. Something about the mirror…”
“But you stopped him. How are you even doing it, Dean?” Sam asked, feeling shitty for asking when Dean was at such a low. But he needed the information so he could make Rowena’s plan work.
“I’ve got him locked up in a walk-in refrigerator in my bar, Rocky’s. It’s a perfect setup, Sammy. You’d love it, Pamela works there, and I only serve my favorite beer, there’s pool tables and I win all the bar fights, it’s awesome.”
“Pamela, huh? She still want a threesome?”
“Hah, I forgot about that, that was a few years ago, huh?” Dean asked with a sly smile that showed he hadn’t really forgotten.
“So Michael’s locked in a refrigerator in your bar? What kind of lock is on the door?” Sam asked.
“Just the usual kind that goes through the door handle mechanism, like a big steel pin that slides in, I guess. Nothing fancy, it’s a real heavy door though. He’s been smashing his body against it and screaming 24/7.”
“God, that sucks,” Sam said, feeling sympathy for his brother’s situation out of his own memories of possession and gaining control. “I remember when Crowley and Gadreel were in my head, at some point I was able to throw them both out. You told Crowley our password, and he said it to me, and that’s when I knew what to do. It was all a matter of my will.”
“Well, I’m willing Michael to stay in, at least for now I’m managing to. That’s why I made that box you know, not because I want to be a hero or check out on you early or any other story you’ve spun up to explain it to yourself.”
“You do know me,” Sam admitted.
“I just know there’s a limit to how long I can keep him in there.”
“For now, I’d say, stay away from mirrors I guess?” Sam offered.
“Yeah, you’re gonna have to cover all of them in the bunker when we get back like we’re in mourning or something.”
“The take-home point from that is that I’m not in mourning, thanks to you changing your mind tonight. Thanks, Dean, for giving me a chance to find a solution.”
“I’m sorry it had to come to that,” Dean said, shaking his head, “it’s not something I wanted to do, lie to you about something so…uh, final.”
“I get it though, I do. Been there, done that, all of that shit, right? You know your own limits and you were just doing what you thought was best, what Death told you was the only way.”
“And tell me again, why it is we aren’t believing her? I mean, she is Death after all.”
“Yeah, exactly, and she never lets us forget it. It’s not that we aren’t believing her. More like she doesn’t always know how things will turn out, no matter how many of those books she has on her shelves. Remember, we’ve surprised the hell out of her and the original Death a bunch of times at this point? So I’m just saying, let’s add another one to the list.”
“You’re really gonna do it, you’re gonna figure a way out of this, aren’t you?” Dean asked, his voice gone quiet, with something very much like pride in it.
“I am, you’re damn right I am, and then we’ll move on to the next thing like we always do,” Sam said. He stood up from Dean’s bed and moved around the room getting ready to got to sleep if he could. After reading Rowena’s email, it was maybe going to take a bit longer. Imagining himself taking on Crowley’s former role was a bit beyond his normal.
“You okay, Sam?” Dean asked in that patient big-brother voice he used when he was the most worried.
“Yeah, just thinking about some of the stuff Rowena and I were just texting about,” Sam said, figuring that at least some of the truth would help him sound more believable at this point. The real lying and hiding would have to begin soon enough. He crawled into his own bed and leaned over to turn out the light. “Good night, Dean.”
Sam didn’t sleep much, mostly because he was hearing Dean struggle and fight over in his own bed. He was woken up more than a few times during the night because Dean was first gasping in terror, then yelling, “No!”
The prospect of having to lie to Dean about something so major was making him the most worried. This kind of lie might go into the unforgivable category in his brother’s books. Sam wasn’t sure he could stand the consequences of that happening. But he knew this was the only way and he had to take care of Dean, just like his big brother had taken care of him all his life. That much he owed him, and it wasn’t like Dean hadn’t lied to him about major stuff. The most recent example being the Ma’Lak box for instance.
After hearing Dean struggle all night and the whole broken mirror thing earlier, he knew it was up to him to make the decision and just live with it. Dean wasn’t in any position to make the call in this situation. That was okay with Sam, he’d do what needed to be done. And just deal with the consequences later. A real W.W.D.W.D. (What Would Dean Winchester Do) moment if there ever was one, right?