Title: T'is the season to be jolly
Author: *bright
Characters: Sam, Dean, Bobby, angels and demons.
Warnings: Darkish fic; torture and strong m/f sexual innuendo. Non-native ficcer, fic not beta'd.
Disclaimer: Me own nada.
Words: 9212
Author’s Note: Written for pizzapixie's prompt: Demons decide to force Sam into accepting Lucifer, first by threatening Dean, but Zachariah whisks Dean away. Dean knows the demons planned torture so he has to get to Sam. Much physical pain for Sam and emotional pain for Dean. Maybe Castiel to the rescue? At The Sam hurt/sick fic meme.
Summary: See prompt, and then some Christmasy stuff. Oddest fic I've ever written. O_o. I am so sorry for ruining a perfectly good prompt.


Sam felt the sense of threat increase with every breath he took. Something inside of him screamed this was all so wrong. They shouldn't be here, not like this, not now and not with the intel they had. And what little they knew about this hunt seemed to have been set up to lure them. Sam guts were screaming at him to get the hell out. Zombies keeping humans hostage in an abandoned hangar on a deserted Army base in the middle of nowhere? Nothing about this made sense to Sam but Dean was hungry for a new hunt. Hungry for something to keep his mind off all the other crap. Dean wanted to make a mark and save people. Sam was hardly one to object but even if Bobby had confirmed that a lot of people in a nearby town suddenly had gone missing, it just didn't feel right. Hadn't from the get go and still they'd driven for hours to get here. To a large clearing in the woods, close to the Canadian border. Nothing but darkness and one winding, holey dirtroad leading up to the rusty sheet metal building at the end of a frost cracked asphalt strip.

The wind whipped the condensed evidence of their exhales back in their faces, muted the sounds of the tweaking branches of the evergreens and penetrated their coats enough to chill them to the core.

“Dean, I don't know about this,” Sam declared while suspiciously eying the building in front of them. The wind bounced off the metal walls and made the construction emit muffled rumples, like it as a living, breathing entity.

“I heard that the first dozen times, Sam.” His brother threw him an irritated glance over his shoulder.

“You shouldn't be here, Dean. Demons want your ass but not mine. Let me do this alone.” Sam glared right back.

“Zombies, Sam, not demons.” Dean huffed and proceeded towards the door the bean of his flashlight had spotted. “Granted, the fuckers are probably your pals' doin' but there's no sign of demonic activity.”

“I just don't get -,” Sam started and was cut off by Dean's angry sneer.

“It's Armageddon, Sam, and you expect things to make sense? Let's just get into this shackle and check it out. Got the pole?”

The moment they entered, the door slammed shut behind them. In the dim light, figures appeared and walked up to circle them. Dean's flashlight starkly illuminated Meg, with a leer on her face.

“What the hell?” Dean breathed by his side and Sam just knew.

He knew Dean was in danger and that he only had a freaking knife, against a whole pack of SOBs, in his possession to protect his brother with. They were majorly screwed.

“What's this all about?” He asked before Dean had a chance to start an insult rant. That would so not work to their advantage right now.

“Samuel, finally,” Meg smiled. “Finally all to myself. Had to spend an awful lot of time in the pit before you decided to free my Lord and now I hear you're refusing to let him in?” She tilted her head and stepped up to stroke Sam's cheek with her hand.

Sam stepped in front of Dean, shielding him best he could. Dean let out an irritated sound.

“Then I hear you got it on with Ruby while I was in the pit?” Meg swatted his chin playfully.

“Holy Batman Sammy!” Dean snarled behind him. “You've got every skank wanting to get their scabby hands in your pants.”

Sam groaned inwardly and crowded Dean, making him step back. Sam heard the Colt click and froze. Six rounds would still leave at least ten black eyed bitches ready to tear Dean apart. Was Dean totally insane?

“Dean,” Meg spoke affectionately. “What do you think it'll take to have Samuel say yes? I can't wait because when Lucifer's in him, man, am I going to have some fun! You think fucking you up would help?”

It happened so fast that Sam reacted instinctively. The Colt fell from Dean's hand to the floor, a demon flung his brother to the wall, attempting to choke him and something exploded inside of Sam. Dean's flashlight had fallen to light up the unfolding scene . Sam witnessed the strangling, Dean's pained face as he fought for air and Sam leaped to snatch the Colt and raised his hand to pull the demon to the side before he extracted it from its host. It sent his heartbeat thundering and his nose bleeding. Sam felt his legs unsteady and he wavered for a second, collecting himself.

There was stunned silence at first and then the pack of demons were at his throat in an instance. He barely had time to tuck the Colt in the lining of his jeans. The headache had hit him like a brick wall and he didn't even see straight enough to take aim. Then Meg had him face down on the floor, the demonic power pressing him to the floor hard enough to rob him of air. She wheezed at him to fucking stop jerking them around. She sat on top of him, pulled Ruby's knife from his belt and slit the vein on his pulse open, telling him she'd bleed him out enough to become more manageable. All Sam could think about, while fighting for air, was that he still had the Colt, pressed between the floor and his abdomen.

The demons were pissed; kicking at his sides and growling about how Sam's freaking stunt would alert both the winged weenies and Lucifer to their whereabouts.

The pressure lessened and he was able to breathe freer. He filled his lungs with air, steeling himself for the next move from the demons. Sam's head felt like splitting open from his rapidly beating heart, he already felt weak from the blood loss and the strain it took to send the SOB to hell but he managed to get a glimpse of Dean, fallen into a sitting position by the wall, looking shocked. Sam didn't know if it was from the strangling or having witnessed his monster of a brother in action all over. Sam hadn't known he still had all that in him. He knew that the darkness inside hadn't left, never would. Now he was focused on keeping the demons occupied to give Dean a chance to flee the scene.

“Don't let him bleed out,” Meg growled, pushing his face to the pool of blood on the floor. “You know who won't be exactly thrilled about us helping out. Man's got some issue in the trust department. If we kill Sam and Lucifer has to bring him back, there'll be literal hell to pay. We're just gonna hurt him and his brother enough to get this destiny thing on a roll. We've waited long enough already.”

Sam clawed aimlessly at the hosts' pant legs, desperate to get free. He was rewarded with a thick soled shoe stomping down on his fingers and the dry sound of bones breaking under skin.

The pain barely registered anymore.

“He sent me back to hell and it wasn't exactly a joy ride,” one demon complained and Sam was jolted by another kick to the side that sent his vision momentarily blacking out from the blood coughing fit that ensued.

“We'll get ours when Lucifer gets his,” Meg growled. “Big picture, moron, big picture! Keep him alive so he can suffer. Killing him is not gonna help us. Lucifer brings him back and we'll be in the doghouse. We just need to make him say yes to receive our reward.”

“What the -.” The sole vanished and there was light, bright enough to sear through the thickening blackness blurring Sam vision fast. The steel of Ruby's knife clanked when it hit the floor.

Sam was sinking into some kind of murky water and wasn't really aware of what happened any longer. But he thought he heard the flapping of angel wings before he gave up and let himself drown in the darkness.

Dean's head had been orbiting reality without landing for a good while and his marbles finally clicked into place when the bastards from the pit took a long overdue hike. That's when he got really pissed.

Zach was toeing Sam to his side, reaching to get to the Colt.

“Hands off my brother, you two-faced low-life!” He was up on his feet and maybe two steps away from the wall when Zach wiggled his fingers and pinned him up against it all over.

“Dean, Dean, Dean,” the angel shook his head and looked down at Sam, who was bleeding and so fucking still on s the floor. “See? All this would not have to happen if you'd just say yes and get Lucifer while he isn't fully equipped, so to say. Look at what you did to your brother! You think the demons will stop at this? You know how they, well, convince people, don't you? Not pretty is it? I was just thinking if I ought to take Sam with us or leave him here? Kind of a dilemma. Of course, if I leave him, they will make the body weaken and it will work to our advantage, I think.” Zachariah made a theatrical face of pensiveness.

All Dean wanted right now was his hands around the smirking angels throat to slowly choke the living daylight out of him. Or something. “You just fucking let me get to Sam and I'll take care of him. Stop working that one brain-cell you've got left, Chuckles.”

The angel looked at him. “Manners, Dean. If I didn't know better. I'd think someone mixed up the entire vesselhood.”

“I'll fucking mix you up good if -.” The sudden swooshing and flapping had Dean instinctively cover his head.

Then he found himself sitting on Bobby's couch.

“What the hell?” Bobby's beer bottle took a brief flight before it crashed to the floor and Castiel just calmly straightened out the front of his Trench-coat.

Dean sprang to his feet and looked around to spot Sam. It wasn't like his brother was small enough to hide in a pocket or anything. And passed out and bleeding, he couldn't have made a run for it either. Which he might want to, considering what he'd just done back at the ramshackle. But there was no sign of the pain in his ass of a Sasquatch.

“Sam?” Dean inquired, dread starting to turn into a full out panic attack.

“Well.” Castiel, fiddled with the collar. “I didn't feel like taking Zachariah on right then and there, not with Lucifer probably arriving at any minute and -. ”

“You left him there?” Dean asked, voice trembling with anger. “You left Sammy to the wolves?”

“Wolves?” Castiel looked questioningly at him. “If I were Sam I'd actually prefer wolves to -.”

Dean took a swing at his savior.

He had forgot about the freaking angel force field! His fist connected with pure steel and he let out a litany of curses while cradling his hand.

“Excuse me, force of habit,” Castiel spoke, unfazed. “Would you feel better if I let you hit me?”

Dean just glared and Bobby rolled over the floor with an icebag in his hand.

“When you boys are done kissing and making up, would somebody fill me in on what the hell is going on? And yeah, I'd like to know what kind of a mess your brother's in this time. That kid's just an expert on getting his ass stuck in all the wrong places, ain't he?”

Dean snatched the bag from Bobby and draped it over his aching knuckles. “What'ya mean, where's Sam?” He threw the older hunter an accusatory glare.
“He's stuck back where you sent us, only your intel was crap. There were no fucking zombies holding civilians! It was an ambush, Bobby. At least twenty black eyed skanks showed up and they were all gunning for us.”

“What? Hold on a -,” Bobby started but was promptly interrupted

“Oh, I nearly forgot,” Castiel walked over to the kitchen table and fished around in his Trench-coat
pockets. “You may need this yet.” He laid the Colt on the table. “Unfortunately I couldn't get the knife.”

Dean stared, and for a moment, he contemplated slugging the angel all over. Who the hell cared about the Colt right now? Or Ruby's knife or anything else but Sam at the demons' mercy?

Bobby raised his hand to finally get a pipe in. “What you on about Dean? Where I sent you? You hit your head or just been spending to much time with Johnnie W?”

Bobby's incomprehension had Dean's marbles spinning. “Sam called you to double check, you called Sam back, didn't ya? Zombies, missing civilians?” His mouth was suddenly feeling dry.

Bobby tore his eyes from the angel and looked at him. Shaking his head when their eyes met. “I haven't spoken to either of you in a week and last time I talked to Sam, it wasn't about huntin'.”

The dread spread from the pit of Dean's stomach to his limbs and the ice-bag fell to the floor. “I – I need you car. Bobby. I gotta get to Sam!”

“Who's where, exactly?” Bobby inquired.

Castiel stepped in, letting Bobby know that he was at least two days away in human travel mode. He also had the courtesy to inform them that with those injuries and in that kid of temperature, Sam wouldn't last long. Their only hope was that Lucifer actually got to Sam and healed him. Or that Meg took pity on him since she at least had the power to fix herself up and probably would be able to do the same for Sam. If she wanted to.

Dean was going to kill the stone-hearted angel one of these days. But first he had to sit down because his knees were wobbling from pure, unadulterated goddamned fear for Sam.

Even Bobby glared at the feathery messenger with overt disgust.”Any other suggestions, 'cept giving Sam to the devil?”

Castiel sank down to a kitchen chair and pushed his hands into his pockets. “We wait for signs. There's always rumors when something big is going on.”

Dean pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.

Sam woke to Meg sing-songing his name. When he tried to get up, he found himself with arms spread, sitting chained to a brick wall.

“Hello, handsome,” Meg purred and scooted closer, right into his lap. The sudden warmth of the host's body pulled Sam fully into reality. Which, at the moment, was a very cold spot in hell, apparently.

Meg sat in his lap, her hands playing with his hair, the scent of sulfur pungent, like a cheap perfume that in the end just made you nauseous.

Sam looked over her shoulder; seeing only brick walls covered in rime. It was snowing, small flakes falling slowly, landing on the floorboards. He was outside and he had no idea where he was at. The roof over the porch that he found himself tied to, had fallen apart enough to show the pitch black sky above them. Sam found it rather sarcastic in a bleak sort of way. He wished he'd had some witty come back but it hurt to even breathe.

“I know,” Meg smiled at him, cupping his cheek in her hand. “Hurst like a bitch, huh? You did piss some of us off with your exorcising back there. Can't blame us, can you?”

Sam tentatively moved his hands to test the strength of the restraints. All his muscles felt stiff and uncooperative from the cold; still the pain that shoot through his left arm had him bite down on his lower lip to keep quiet.

“I can help you, Sam.” Meg kissed him and her lips burned like sulfuric acid.

“Just say yes and the pain and cold is gone. You're dying Sam, can you feel it? It's going to be slow and painful and you can't do a thing to stop any of it. Say yes and feel strong like you used to. Remember? When you were able to wipe any demon off the face of the earth and hell. Just like that.” Meg snapped her finger. “That felt good, didn't it? You can have all that, just say the word.” She twined her fingers into his hair.

“Whee's D'n?” It was hard to get the words out, his lips felt dry and stiff. The pulsating pain in his body hacked them off and made them sound like moans.

Meg let out a pearly laughter. “You boys are too cute. You'll never get it, will you? We have your asses now, and we won't let go. Not until you Sam Winchester, say the magic word and accept your fate. Then we'll let Dean go and I can finally get my way with this fine piece of meat.”

Sam looked at her, looked at the meatsuit, wondered who she had been and why she'd fallen prey to this abomination?

“Oh honey, don't give me that! Ruby used to brag about how good you were when she finally got her claws in you. How virile and ready you were. So needy to forget and tell yourself you were doing this all for Dean. How desperate for some warmth, for anything but the emptiness of not having your brother. Remember?”

Meg, with eyes as black as the sky above, leaned in and whispered to his ear: “The only thing that ever loved you was what you call evil, Sam. The only thing that ever truly wanted you were the outcasts like yourself, and my Lord. He does want you and you know what to do to stop all this. Don't you?”

The warmth of Meg's host, the hot air against his skin had Sam's eyes burning with tears. It would be so easy to let go right now, just bow to destiny and forever close his eyes.

Instead, he asked that one question again: “D'n?”

“Oh, Sam!” Meg scooted back and tilted her head to the side, a smile curving her lips. “Dean's being ripped to pieces by hellhounds right now. Piece by piece, just like before.”

The redhot wave of rage sent Meg off his lap and he wished, for all he was worth to get the demon out of that body and destroyed forever. With every fiber of his body, he concentrated on squeezing it out of the human host, at any cost. With gritted teeth, he held his eyes on the host's face, watching how the black slowly crept out between parted lips. Felt how strongly Meg was fighting him, how every muscle in his body tied up into knots and how his blood pumped faster through his veins. Meg's host looked terrified and Sam almost had it, he felt it with every painful beat of his heart, with every searing breath he took and he kept pushing on, with blood filling his mouth and running down his face. His body trembling from the effort.

Then Sam felt Ruby's knife in his shoulder and Meg was back in the blink of an eye.

“Told you to watch out with this son of a bitch.” The demon by Sam's side twisted the knife in further and Meg rose to her feet and let the sky fall in on him.

At 5 A.M Castiel flew up from the chair and stared off into nothing. “He's at it again!”

Dean lifted his gaze from his fourth beer. “Huh?”

“Sam, he's using his powers. But it's fluctuating, hard to pinpoint.” The angel closed his eyes and seemed to focus hard on something only he could see. Before Dean got another word in, Castiel was already gone.

“Goddamn it, Cas! You're not fucking leaving me behind! What the hell?” Dean got his hands on the vacant chair and flung it to the wall.

“Maybe he too wants some alone time with Sam?” Bobby sneered. “Would you quit trashing my house, you idjit?”

Dean didn't even bother with a come back, he got to the window, staring out into the dark. “Didn't even tell me where Sammy is!” He banged his fist to the window frame, hard enough to make the panes rattle.

“Well,” Bobby started and rolled up besides Dean. “At least we know he's alive and kicking, sorta.”

Dean snorted. “Alive to feel the pain? Great.”

“You rather have him dead already?”

Dean had to blink to hold back the silly tears that rose to his eyes. “I'd rather have him right here, pissing me off constantly. All broody and sullen or goddamned whiny bitch-faced, whatever he wants to be. Pissed off because it's close to Christmas and he hates Christmas. I'll take Sam right here, right now despite all the stupid stunts the jerk's pulled lately. I want him right here so I jab at him 'bout his girly bitching and his weird head full of all that useless crap he knows about. It's almost Christmas, Bobby! Things are supposed to be good and full of hope and fucking glory.”

“I know,” Bobby spoke quietly and Dean closed his eyes and leaned his forehead on the cold window pane. The one clear picture from the abandoned hangar wouldn't leave him alone. One scene kept repeating endlessly; Zach flipping Sam over with the tip of his fancy shoe. Sam's white face under the blood, the total limpness of his body and how his head lolled to the side without resistance. Like he were already dead. The blood from the wound on his wrist wasn't spurting any longer, it was barely dripping. Like Sam had already bled dry.

And Dean had been pinned to the wall, helpless.

He opened his eyes when Bobby drew in a quick breath. The lantern in the yard flicked on and the Impala materialized, shiny and intact . Dean turned on his heels and ran to the door, only to be stopped by Castiel, appearing in front of him.

“I got your car back,” the angel announced with a shifty look on his face.

Dean's heart shattered and the pieces sank to the pit of his stomach. There was a long silence with Castiel refusing to look at either of them.

“Any sign of Sam?” Dean finally spoke, his voice gruff.

Castiel shook his head. “He was gone by the time I got there. All they left behind was blood on the chains and footprints in the snow. I am sorry, Dean, I was too late to save him.”

Dean swallowed down the bile. “What now?”

Castiel looked to the tip of his shoes. “I go on a recognition tour. I hear demons are split in two factions and I have knowledge of the ones not exactly thrilled with what Meg is up to. I will find out more from them. I do not like consorting with the enemy but for you and your brother, I will. But you have to wait here. Remember, when I find Sam I need to know where to take him and I will not find you if you're driving around recklessly. So you wait.”

“Hey, you wait a goddamned -.” Dean found himself speaking to thin air and he turned around to Bobby.

The older hunter met his eyes before shifting his gaze back to the window. Dean could read the resignation. Bobby had never been a great fan of Cas or any of the angels. All Dean wanted was to get in the Impala and drive off in search of his brother. But Cas was right, he needed to stay put and wait right here. Even if it was driving him insane. Bobby didn't have to tell him it suited him just fucking right. This was what Sam he had lived for months on end. Sam with his fucking guilt for anything that had ever happened to round things off. Dean hated the fact that he had turned to a demon but right now, he'd hug any black eyed SOB that promised him Sam back. If it promised him revenge on Meg, he'd even take it to a movie and dine and wine it. He'd do just about anything at this point.

Not even having wasted one thought on his baby out in the cold just showed how off everything he was at this point. All he could think of was Sam, the white of his brother's face and Meg's sneer when she'd cut him with Ruby's knife.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets, like Sam always did and turned to the window.

Outside, dawn was streaking the sky with grayish bands of dim light. Like nothing at all was fucked up with the world.

Sam knew he was flat on his back, that it was incredibly hot and he still wasn't able to move one single muscle. And that somebody was calling his name. He didn't want to know anything at all, because every breath hurt and the surface under his back was scorching hot. Felt like it was burning the fabric of his shirt right into his skin.

Whatever this was, he didn't want to wake up and face it. Not this time.

It wasn't until fingers spread moist on his cracked lips that he decided to crack one eye open. The light was enough to make him groan. Just turning his head to the side sent pain throbbing throughout his body. He hadn't been totally aware of his position until the pain invaded him. Now he found out he was unable to curl in on himself to shield himself from the burning light and the heat. He was spread out like da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Renaissance demons, just his luck. Jessica would be proud that he remembered his sophomore art, a class he had signed up for just to be with her.

“You know you're no fun when you're half dead?” Meg leaned in over him, blocking the burning sun. am turned his head to the side and all he saw was sand. His eyes stung and he blinked to clear his vision but nothing changed. Sand and demons was all there was. This was probably not a vision. What was cooking his back was scorching hot sand. Normally, he may even have enjoyed this; a day on the beach. He realized that he was clearly going certifiably insane.

Meg's turned his face to hers. “And you're even less fun when you try your stunts. Sweetie, we could have so much fun and instead you go and have me punish you for being bad? And not in the fun way either.” She raked nails down his arm.

Sam closed his eyes.

“I had to fix you up enough to make you feel the pain. You like pain, dont'cha? Ruby told me you got off on scratching and biting. I'm guessing the blasting desert sun will make your day. Never been abroad before, have you? When you say yes to Lucifer, you can go anywhere you like in a snap. And have everybody you want serve you snacks and cold drinks.”

She giggled when she straddled him, digging her heels into his legs, hands on his shoulders. “We'll have to get rid of your tattoo later. It's hot and all but it's really like mocking me, isn't it? Remember how much fun we had that week?”.

Sam tried to move away.

“Uh huh, Samuel. I learned my lesson, I have enough friends to keep you pinned down forever. Of course, in this heat, your brain will boil soon. I'm guessing you're already starting to hallucinate and you're getting awfully tanned. Or more red like a cooked lobster. Poor baby, you really need to get some shade. You know the word to make everything all right, don't you, Sam?”

He tried to tell her to fuck off but what he managed was no more than a poof of air.

Her hair fell in Sam's face when she leaned in closer to whisper: “You know, my friends like to watch.”

She slithered down over his hips to sit on his thighs, proceeding to lay kisses on his obviously bare chest. Her lips burned like fire and she laughed at his garbled scream.

“Don't like branding, do you baby? You're hot, Samuel Winchester. I always knew that. With Lucifer inside you'll be invincible. You'll own the world. But you're too stupid to say yes and save you brother and yourself. Idiot.” She bit at his abdomen, hard.

Sam was fading fast. He didn't much care what was said any longer, he just needed to know one thing: “D'n?”

There was a long silence, too long to make much sense with a demon that enjoyed taunting far too much to ever shut up. He opened his eyes and looked at Meg's face. That was when it hit him. The bastards didn't have Dean. Dean had manage to escape! Whatever they did to him now didn't matter. Not as long as Dean was safe. And Meg may be good but this time her façade had slipped and he knew.

This time Sam laughed right in Meg's face. He laughed despite the ribs and the coughing. Laughed when Meg rose and put her sharp heel on his wrist to break the bones. He laughed until he coughed up enough blood to choke on it. He got lost in the red that slowly turned black.

On the third day, Dean finally managed to eat. After he'd chopped the hell out of some wood, imagining clobbering Meg's head in over and over until he reeked of sweat. The evening before he had spent on the yard, hollering for Castiel. It had left his throat raw and sore. He'd called the angel too many times to count and the cellphone was always reported to be out of reach. Dean would have Cas' hide for that too.

Bobby was parked by the phone, calling everybody he knew and trying to find out if they'd heard anything, without being too obvious. All hunters weren't crazy about his bro at this point, in fact, some may be inclined to arrange a party at the news of Sam Winchester being tortured by demons. Some may even be lining up to participate.

Everything was a fucking mess and Dean felt ready for the loony bin or even better, either that or hitting the road and just go looking. He needed to do something, anything except walking around and always freaking thinking about the missing. Even when he tried to actually accomplish something, he found himself seeing Sam on that floor, imagining Meg with her hands on his brother. The one time he had fallen asleep with his head on the kitchen table, he'd dreamed of Sam. Just that it wasn't his Sammy any longer. It was Satan wearing his brother, bitchface and all.

He'd scared Bobby half to death with the panicked ramblings when he woke up with a start. Bobby wasn't doing so good either, he wasn't talking much lately. With every demon spotting of fellow hunters, and there were a few due to the monumental mess they'd landed in, and no mention of Sam, Bobby just got quieter and more frenetic in his search for anything that would lead them to Sam. .

Sometimes he'd look at Dean like he wanted to prepare him for the worst and every time Dean stormed out into the yard and paced. He even considered taking it out on the Impala once, just to have something to rebuild if Bobby's fears came true. If Sam said yes, Dean was done with everything. If Lucifer took his brother, he could have the fucking world too as far as Dean was concerned.

On the evening of the third day, Cas showed up without Sam. Only news were that he had Crowley and his goons looking out for the missing brother.

That same night Dean took the sledgehammer and stood by his baby, wanting so badly to do some serious damage to eradicate the memories of Sam and him on the road. But then he remembered Sammy when he was just a toddler, all soft and cuddly, embarrassing the hell out of Dean while bouncing on the backseat, giggling and drooling. So fucking innocent.

Sam after Jess died, all twitchy and strung up, unable to wind down, except for some naps in the Impala for the first week. And Dean had driven slow enough to risk a parking fine, hoping Sam would be out for more than ten minutes at the time. Sam had been all kinds of crazy back then and Dean had truly feared for both his life and sanity. The blind hunger for revenge was a constant reminder of Dad and for the first time Dean realized how alike the two really were. Sam 's blank stare into nothing and the way he'd wake up, screaming Jess' name and fighting to get to her while she was burning on that ceiling in what had been Sam's home. Only place that felt safe was the confined space of his baby, where he could keep a close eye on his crazy ass brother.

Home. Impala was their home now. Not only his, but Sam's too.

Dean let the sledgehammer fall to the ground and blinked away tears.

Sam's woke from icy water hitting his face. Couching in reflex made his lungs threaten to climb up and really revolt. He sputtered and tried to spit the blood in his mouth, but he was so tired he just swallowed it instead. At least it was a fluid, even if it was majorly gross. Right now he was past caring about much of anything. He didn't even open his eyes when Meg gripped his hair hard and yanked his head back to tell him he looked sexy all bloody and torn.

Sam just made a mental note of rattling chains.

Refusing to look at his tormentor was apparently the wrong way to go because he was rewarded with another bucket full of icy water. Funny thing was that he didn't feel cold anymore. Chunks of ice trickled down his neck and he just wanted to sleep.

When Ruby's knife cut into the old wound on his shoulder, he finally opened his eyes.

“That's my pretty boy,” Meg purred.

Sam threw her a 'fuck you' glance before she let go of his hair and he was unable to even keep his head up any longer.

“Don't you want to feel good again, baby?” The demons let out low whistles when she framed his face in her hands and kissed his lips.

Sam shook his head and Meg twisted the knife in his shoulder before she pulled it out and let the egg rest against his throat. The added pain made his body twitch and that sent more blood bubbling down his his nostrils. It was so hard to breathe, so freaking painful to even exist.

It wasn't until Meg plastered her borrowed body to his that he felt how cold he really was. The heat of the host was something he hadn't even known he craved. The moment he felt it, his body started shivering and Meg stroke his hair and cooed.

“Shhh, baby. Say yes and everything will be fine. You'll be warm and held; loved like you should be. You'll be allowed to sleep in peace, no more pain. I know you want to, Sammy, just say yes.”

The childhood diminutive that should be Dean's and Dean's alone, pissed him off enough to unsettle the powers he still felt alive and kicking inside of him. He opened his eyes and Meg got jolted away from him, her hands flew up in protection when the first sings of black started to seep out of the host.

He'd known the other demons would get to him before he did any real damage and the fist that found his face broke his concentration enough for Meg to come back, angrier that ever. She spit and scratched at his face. Cursing him for alerting the higher powers all over and Sam smiled. He smiled at the small victory while another fist to his chin pulled the curtain down.

Dean was half asleep when he was pulled up by his arm and his coat was shoved at him. He finally got it together when he found himself at the ruins of a brick building. It was cold and Castiel was already painting the angel deterrents on the wall.

“Get Sam! I don't now how long this will keep the Prince of Darkness out so get your brother now! He's right there, behind the wall!”

Dean stumbled over his own feet in his hurry when he pulled his coat on and got the flashlight from the pocket. Turning the corner, he stopped cold in shock.

The roof had caved in and Sam was hanging from chains on the wall. The cuffs dug into his wrists, his head hung low, his hair was matted and he was dripping wet. Dean had no idea if he was alive or dead.

“Jesus, Sammy,” he breathed and ran the last steps to his brother. Sam was so cold and heavy when Dean used his own body to lift him up enough to relieve the pain from the hanging alone. Dean realized that both of Sam's shoulders were probably dislocated and that was the least of the troubles. His face was white and felt waxy to the touch, the pulse on his neck was barely there, so slow and erratic. Dean had no idea what to do and the panic had him desperately clutch on to Sam, trying to give hims some warmth. Some reason to keep fighting.

He took all the weight when Castiel made the cuffs spring open and Sam just fell onto him.

“He's loose, Cas, zap us away, now!”

Next thing he knew, he was on Bobby's kitchen floor, still clutching the Popsicle his brother was turning into. Cas was standing bent double, breathing hard and mumbling about vanishing powers and being all 'zapped' out.

Bobby's hand closed around Sam's wrist and the older hunter inhaled sharply in shock. “Get him into the shower, Dean, now! First thing we need to do is warm him up.”

Dean didn't wait for Cas to get his breath back, he rose and dragged Sam over the kitchen floor and into the bathroom. Bobby was right behind him, telling him what to do and Dean was grateful because his brain had shut down.

“Put him in the corner, Dean, we need the water to reach as much of him as possible. Try to get him all under the spray. Lukewarm water, don't want to shock him and make him flatline on us. There's not much pulse to speak of anyhow.”

Dean let the water rain over Sam, holding his hand on his brother's neck to stabilize his head that kept lolling to the side while his arm kept Sam's bent legs up and under the water. Sam was barely breathing and Bobby was barking orders at Cas.

It felt like forever before Bobby told him to move so he could control the temperature. The water got warmer but Sam didn't react, it wasn't until the water was nearly uncomfortably hot that Sam started shivering and Bobby thanked God.

Bobby ordered Cas to pull the clothes off Sam and Castiel suddenly seemed to develop an acute shyness. He fumbled and Bobby cursed him. Dean just held on to Sam, keeping him steady despite the tremors while Bobby turned the water off and Cas blanketed Sam in towels.

The first sign of actual life was Sam coughing pitifully and Dean wiped bloody snot from the corner of his mouth and looked up at Bobby.

The older hunter looked a hundred yeas old and shook his head “He needs to go to the hospital Dean. I can't do anything more for him, neither can you. He's gonna die, Dean. He's not breathin' right and I can't believe he's lasted even this long.”

Dean was up on his feet in an instance. He ordered Castiel to start up the Impala, drive his baby to the door and goddamned if he scratched her.

“Don't forget to crank the heat up all the way!” He hollered to the vanishing angel. Then he stripped off his wet clothes and slid into sweatpants he'd not even be caught dead in normally and pulled one of Bobby's ratty sweaters on.

When the angel returned, he ordered him to grip Sam's legs. They carried Sam to the backseat of the Impala and Dean told Cas to keep his brother alive and warm or Lu would would have some fucking serious competition when it came to being downright evil.

Then Dean floored it all the way to the local hospital.

When Sam was on the stretched, being rolled away and the nurses eyed him and the angel with more than a little suspicion, Dean switched to automatic mode. There was only one thing that mattered; saving Sam.

One day before Christmas, Sam opened his eyes to a relatively painless world, painted in the faint glow from a bedside lamp. It didn't stay peaceful for long because Dean was busy pulling sweatpants on him and putting on socks.

Sam stared, not entirely sure he wasn't seeing things? Hy on earth would dean be vesting him like he was an oversized ragdoll? Whose was that awful Iron Maiden T-shirt that he tried to get on him?

His brother cursed the cast on his left hand, tongue sticking out when he tried to navigate it through the sleeve. Sam blinked in confusion.

“D'n?” Perfect, his nose was full of snot and his head with cotton.

“You awake? Damned, I hoped you'd sleep through this.” Dean propped him up into a half-sitting position and pulled the garment over his head.

“S'okay Sammy, you'll be fine. Just gotta get you outta here because the cops are dying to find out what happened to you and the docs are scratching their heads about the scribblings on you ribs. Which you banged up totally by the way. My cockamamie story ain't flying too well with them.”

“Uh?” He was laid back onto the pillows and so did not get one thing about what Dean, if this really was Dean, was talking about?. He did catch the hospital equipment by the side of the bed and furrowed his brow.

“Yeah, 'uh', you're pretty drugged up and we need to get you to the Impala so please don't start singing in the hallway, okay bro? You looking buckets of crazy will land us in trouble, big time. I'd have Cas zap you but I don't think constipation on top of everything would do you any good.”

Dean pulled back to take a look, he narrowed his eyes and shook his head and put Sam's hoodie down on on the bed. “You with me, Sammy? I'm bringing all the good stuff to keep you happy, don't worry! I Just gotta get on this and the coat on you since you still have a fever and it's freezing outside. And you have to appear somewhat normal. Got that, dude?”

“Wha-, whee',” Sam started but was overcome by a giggling fit, thanks to Dean's ticklish manhandling antics and ended up coughing and sneezing.

Dean threw him a desperate glance. “Geez, high as a kite.”

Sam continued giggling when he was pulled up against Dean's chest. His brother used a little too much force and Sam face landed at the crook of Dean's neck. It kind of hurt; snot ran from his nose and he almost strangled Dean when he moved his obedient arm to wipe his nose.

“Geez Sammy,” Dean coughed. “Stay still, will yah? I'll fucking wipe your nose, don't strangle me!”

Sam decided to hug his brother instead because now he was sure he wasn't an apparition. It was really Dean and it made him ridiculously happy. His one arm was draped over Deans arm and back but the other one wouldn't listen to orders, it was just too heavy.

“M' tryin' t'hug,” Sam informed with his nose still pressed to the collar of Dean's coat.

Dean muttered under his breath while he wriggled the hoodie down and Sam leaned heavier on his brother's shoulders. “Look Sam, we can hug it out later but right now I need you to stay still so I can get this on you without dislocating your shoulder all over. Stop being so goddamned floppy!”

“M'tired,” Sam snuffled plaintively.

“I know,”Dean sighed and Sam peered at the figure by the door; everything looked kind of wonky right now. Then he grinned happily at what he decided was Castiel, Dean's very own angel bud. ”Hi!”

Castiel waved his hand at him and looked intently at them, like assessing the situation. His face looked funny. There was this peculiar, muted smile and he looked very determined to not actually laugh. Sam didn't remember ever hearing Cas laugh.

“Sam, you're really not helping me,” Dean groaned and gripped the back of Sam's hoodie to pull him back up since he evidently was sliding too far to the side for his brother's liking.

“Uh?” Sam repeated and more snot ran down the back of Dean's coat.

Castiel shook his head in mock desperation and all of a sudden Sam was in Bobby's living room; laid out on the bumpy couch. Dean was standing in the middle of the floor, looking kind of lost.

A shifty-eyed Castiel stuffed his hands into the Trench-coat pockets and informed Dean he might want to inform Bobby about the new travel arrangements. The angel would not look at his brother and Dean went on a rant about constipation.

But he did sound a little relieved. Which really made no sense and Sam pointed it out. Then he somehow got into reciting the synonyms right from Roget's Thesaurus: 'Sense, noun; faculty, function, feeling'.” He stopped right there because Dean was looking at him like he had grown a second head. Sam wasn't exactly sure he hadn't.

“Great.” Dean growled at Castiel. “This one gets verbal diarrhea!” Huffing, he snatched a blanket from a chair and walked over to tuck Sam in, ogling him sternly.

“You Sasquatch, shut up and go to sleep!”

Sam guessed Dean didn't need the synonyms of diarrhea so he buried his face in the pillow and slept.

Dean watched his pain-in-the-ass-little-brother, tuned big enough to not even fit o the couch sleep. Sam needed to get to the bed upstairs but he didn't have the heart to wake him up and get him there right now. He just sat there, feet on the coffee-table and listened to Sam breathing on his own, snoring every once in a while and he was so fucking happy that the bitch was on the couch, still breathing. Banged up and hurting, oh yeah, but he was still there and he was still Sam.

Granted, he knew Sam, but he wasn't sure he'd ever know all about Sam. Maybe it was the thing inside Sam that kept him alive? That scary mojo that Dean would never understand. But it was all right all the same.

He really didn't remember much from the hospital. Everything was more or less a blur. There were images that haunted him; Sam's eyes rolled back and only the whites visible in the ER. The bruises covering him and the red gaping wound in the shoulder. Sam on the vent after the surgery, his heartbeat so erratic and slow. But all those were fading fast when he watched him snoring on the couch. Sam was one stubborn ass, Dean knew that and goddamn if he didn't love the dude for his hard headed refusal to die. It was the best Christmas gift ever, not that he'd ever tell the bitch. Sam was the only one who was able to drive him up a wall, the only one he seriously wanted to smack some sense in to on a regular basis. The only one he'd lay his life down for, all over, if needed.

Last year, Sam had given him Christmas, even if he hated the damned holiday. He'd done his best to give Dean what he'd asked for, even if it was totally silly and childish. He'd done the same this year, without even realizing what he did by simply refusing to give up.

Sam had never had a real Christmas, not like the ones Dean had seen on TV and kind of remembered from when he was little. He figured Sam hated it all because he knew what it as supposed to be like, and he'd never had anything even remotely close. It was bound to piss him off.

And Dean knew the rage, had seen it in dad and later in Sam, the rage that was borne from having lost something so precious that it was irreplaceable. Those days in Cold Oak, the last few days with Sam missing and hanging on from a thread, he'd lived it. And he had realized that it was pretty much what Sam's life had been about these past years.

He did fear for Sam, the odds were stacked against his brother, the choices he'd made and probably still would have to make were grim. But more than that, he mourned with him over a life that never was. He mourned what they'd never have but was so incredibly fucking happy he still had Sam.

Bobby rolled in though the main door, cursing over something that hit the floor with a thud. Dean tucked the blanket tighter around Sam before he left him under Castiel's vigil to go help Bobby with whatever he was cussing up a storm about.

Sam woke when the couch made a low groan as someone sat down. He just peered one eye open because he was still dead tired. The sight that met him had him close his eyes again. This as a freaking nightmare!

“Happy Christmas, Sammy!” Dean declared with a grin and Sam groaned. So what he'd thought was an apparition was actually for real? There was a Christmas tree in Bobby's living room? Full of hideous, cheap, out of fashion ornaments and glittery bands? The angel sitting there, watching the tree with some kind of adoration?

“You need to wake up and eat something, princess,” Dean chided.

“Bite me,” Sam mumbled and coughed. He gratefully accepted the toilet paper Dean handed him as substitute for more civilized means of blowing one's nose. “Why?” he asked, glaring morosely at the tree.

“Old man's gone sentimental, Sammy. Give him a break. We're having Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve all at once by the looks of it.” Dean rose to prop Sam up in a sitting position, making a show of tucking cushions around him and wrapping the blanket around Sam's legs. Sam retaliated with his best bitchface - enough was enough.

Bobby hollered for Castiel and the angel moseyed into the kitchen. But not before giving Sam a very odd look over.

Sam made a 'what the fuck' face in Dean's direction and his jerk of a brother grinned broadly.

“He's been kind of awkward around you ever since he had to pull all your clothes off. I think he has the hots for you, Sammy. Makes sense don't it? I mean every other non-human creature does seem to want to get their hands on you, so why not Cas too?”

Sam gaped at his brother. “He had to what? When?”

“When we got you here, man.” Dean looked at him from the side and his smile broadened even further. “And that's not even the worst.”

“Huh?” This was so turning out to become another, 'embarrass Sam' holiday.

Dean was trying hard not to laugh. “At the hospital,they had to stick some kind of probe up your ass to warm you up fast. Cas was very worried about the whole thing. I mean, you were totally out of it, half-dead already and Cas worried about you butt?” Dean finally lost it and laughed till he had tears streaming down his face.

Sam whacked his shoulder hard. “What are you, five?”

Bobby hollered, for Dean this time, and his brother had difficulties getting up from laughing too hard. He staggered to the door, still suffering from acute paroxysms of laughter.

By the door he stopped and wiped his tears. “I never told him you've always had a stick up you butt about lotsa things. I've gotta run that one by him and see how he takes it.”

“Cakehole,” Sam warned and Dean stumbled out of sight, still laughing.

Sam let his head fall back to rest on the couch and closed his eyes. Dean now had ammunition to torment him for a lifetime. He'd never live the 'up your ass' thing down.

Then he smiled. It was a long time since he'd heard Dean laugh like that. He could still hear him chuckle while Bobby ordered Cas and him around. Both of them tried to get Dean to spill what was so darned funny and every time resulted in Dean having another helpless laughing fit. Hearing Dean that happy was actually the best Christmas gift he'd ever had.

He would take any kind of ribbing if it made Dean this freaking happy. “Merry Christmas, jerk!” he spoke quietly and smiled at the horrendous tree in the corner. After all, Dean was back and safe, that made everything more bearable.

Even fudging Christmas.