In My Darkest Hours
Who cares how hot or cold the Devil burned? Dean didn't. All he cared about was if Sam would be able to overpower him. Before he said yes, Sam had drunk gallon after gallon after gallon of demon blood. He had asked Dean not to watch. Dean didn't need to be asked. He'd sworn to himself that he'd never let his brother turn into that again, but now? Now he was letting his brother, his baby brother say yes to Lucifer, and jump into Hell all because Dean had given up on him.
After he'd heard Sam's intentions, he'd reached for the amulet Sam had given him, forgetting and damning the fact that he had thrown it away. The amulet he wore proudly in Hell, the one thing that reminded him who he used to be. It hadn't been God or Cas he had lost faith in when he dropped that amulet in that trash can; it was Sam. He'd made sure Sam was watching him when he did it; he wanted Sam to know how he felt.
He thought that had severed any string of hope Sam was still desperately clinging onto, but when Dean was going to say yes, and Sam fought him tooth and nail about it, he knew that even though he had hurt Sam, it didn't stop him from believing in his big brother.
But then Sam just had to be the one to sacrifice himself. Dean couldn't stop him from saying yes, so he might as well be there for Sammy when he needed him, and that moment was right now.
Lucifer knew about the rings. There went the element of surprise, and Dean watched the confidence in Sam's eyes falter, but as scared, and yes, Sam was scared, Dean could tell, he could always tell, as Sam was, he didn't back down. His only slightly trembling voice still challenged Satan himself with that one three letter word.
A bright and pure light was not what Dean had been anticipating Lucifer's grace looking like, and he snapped his eyes shut against the burning glow of Lucifer's essence.
By the time he opened them again, Lucifer's previous and rotting vessel lay discarded on the cold cement floor. But what worried him, was that Sam was in the same state. Ignoring his fear for one moment, Dean pulled the rings from his pocket and tossed them to the wall. His hand shook, as did his voice as he recited the spell to open The Cage.
Cracking plaster and the floor rumbling were eventually drowned out as a monstrous hole in the wall began to form suction like a vacuum, like a black hole pulling in miscellaneous things about the room into the pit, the void before him.
"I-I'm sending Sammy there…"
Sam's pained groan took Dean's concerns on the now rather than what was to come, and he rushed to his brother's side. "Sammy!"
"Dean!" Sam's eyes were screwed shut with pain, and he groaned deep in his throat. "I can feel him. Oh, God!"
"Please don't let the last time I hear him sound like this." Dean pleaded in his head as he helped Sam to his feet. "Go now, Sammy." "You gotta be the one to walk forward. I-I can't be the one to do this to you." were the words unspoken.
Dean stood behind him, Sam's shoulders shaking and heaving with each shuddering breath. All of a sudden, he took one slow breath, and in that split second, Dean knew Sam had lost. He didn't even need the confirmation of Sam turning around and grinning at him.
"I was just messing with you." The voice was Sam's, but it was his Sammy anymore. The smile on "Sam's" face faded. "Sammy's long gone."
Those words froze Dean where he stood. It was over, Sam didn't beat Lucifer. Instinct screamed at Dean to charge his brother and shove him into the void himself, but he couldn't- wouldn't be the one to put Sam in hell, the place Dean still has nightmares about to this day. He could only watch as Sam- Lucifer- recited a string of Enochian, and the hole in the wall closed up. He reached with Sam's hands, and snagged the rings from the wall.
Lucifer gave Dean the same he look he'd received when he traveled to 2014, and the fact that he had Sam's face, Sam's mouth that used to show his dimples, Sam's eyes which used to be filled with some much hope, when he looked at him it sent tears prickling in Dean's eyes.
"I told you," Lucifer remarked. "This would always happen in Detroit."
And then he was gone, leaving Dean in the room with nothing but the knowledge of his own failure and loss. Unable to bear the thought of losing Sam, Dean dropped to his knees. The tears that had welled up began spilling loose and Dean was grateful for the solitude at the moment.
In that moment, he wasn't being his father's brave little solider, he didn't need to act strong for Sammy, he had no one to hide his emotions from, and Dean Winchester did something he didn't often do.
Normally, his tears would fall with nothing more than an occasional break in his voice, but this time, he saw no point in holding back. His shoulders shook furiously from the force of his crying, his breaths were nothing more than wracked sobs, and he could feel his face reddening with anger at himself, hatred for all the angels and demons that believed they were winning right now. But despite all those feelings, he had but one sole thought;
"Sammy, I'm so sorry."
So. Much. Blood. The walls, the floors, Sam's hands. Do they even count as his anymore? Sure, he had willed himself to rip apart those demons, but was it really him doing all that? He hoped it wasn't. The things he did.
Lucifer allowed him control of his hands, Sam thought so, but that was all. Throughout the whole ordeal, Sam couldn't stop his lip curling upwards in a demented smile. A dark deep laughter was forced from his throat, one he hadn't heard his own voice make since he was possessed by Meg.
But he wasn't entirely possessed. Lucifer had allowed him some type of control, but Sam didn't feel that he had any. Lucifer assaulted his mind with memories or rage, vengeance, anger, and he channeled Sam's anger and took it out on every single demon in front of him.
Was Lucifer even telling the truth? Maybe these faces of Sam's past hadn't even been possessed when he knew them. This could all be a ploy by Lucifer to get Sam to unleash his fury with Lucifer's power, as though that would make him grateful, indebted to him.
If he was being honest, Lucifer's power felt right inside Sam. He didn't need demon blood surging through his veins; he had angelic grace flowing through him. It was- pure. Lucifer was called the Morning Star, and Sam felt his radiance pumping through his body with every beat of his heart.
Maybe this was the closest to Heaven Sam would ever get.
The image of that vacuuming black pit was permanently etched in Dean's head. As often as he continuously repressed those memories, he thinks back to his own time in Hell. The pain, the gut-wrenching solitude, the relentless feelings of abandonment and loneliness. He wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy, especially never his little brother.
How could he have let Sam do this? Why would he do this willingly? Oh, because he already feels like he's damned himself anyway. He told Dean that this was the only way to stop the apocalypse, but he knew that some part of Sam believed that he deserved Hell.
Now what was left? Dean had nothing anymore. Nothing to lose; he'd already lost everything. He knew what he had to do to save Sam.
Dean was going to say "Yes."
There was no way he could tell Cas or Bobby. They'd simply try to talk him out of it. Or slam him up against an alley and beat him senseless again. Thanks for that, Cas.
Much to Bobby's dismay, Dean had gone off on his own. After hours of contemplating his options, he finally succumbed.
"Michael!" This was for Sam. "You hear me?" This was for Sam. "You win." This was for Sam. "I'm saying yes."
After a moment of hesitation, as though Michael wasn't sure he needed Dean anymore, light flooded him, grace and energy began coursing through his body. It was such an alien feeling, stranger than being drained by vampires, more wrong than demon possession, and it made him feel more distant from his own emotions than he had ever been before. Despite the loss of control over his own body, and Michael's own thought of rage and determination filling his mind, Dean still remembered one thing above all else.
This was for Sam.