Disclaimer: Supernatural is owned by a bunch of heartless network suits.
Summary: The blood of a demon made Sam, but it can also save him. A story of one out of many, and the slow slide into love. AU.
Acknowledgements: Thank you much to memphis86 for her a beta as speedy as wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am!
Notes: This story was heavily inspired by Matt Ruff's Set This House In Order. If you ever have a chance to read it, you absolutely, absolutely should! Er, it's also pretty heavily self-indulgent. Memfish and I are just DSM geeks or something.
Dean sits on Sam’s bed, wrist propped on his knee and eyes blank, a flat cup of coke sitting on the nightstand next to him. Dad is gone. Sam is gone. Instead, pages and pages of paper flutter from the wind coming in through the window. Post-its tacked to the walls, cold-press paper with beautiful watercolors running together to form an Eden with only the merest whisper of hell, type-written letters in print-block font, lists and schedules and itinerary. The wind shakes these fragile whisper-thin pages from the wall and strews them across the floor. Dean doesn’t move.
Dad didn’t notice--he saw them as outbursts and temper tantrums and not for what they were. Dean knew something was very wrong years before he could put a name to it. One moment, Sam would be smiling, sweet and finagling and the next he'd be cool, distant, and older in his body, some how older than Dean.
The writing started, snatches in a hand Dean didn’t recognize—notes that didn’t make any sense, and never where Dad could find them. The shifts in Sam’s personality scared him, like an iron-fist bearing down on Dean’s heart. Over and over and over and over. Please let him stop acting like this. But he never did.
And sometimes the splits were frightening. Like in the 6th grade when Christie Skinner asked Sam out to fulfill a dare, and he was so excited. The next day Dean was sitting with Sam and Christy in mediation, Christy shouting about how Sam was crazy and how he dumped his lunch tray on her, little bits of carrots and peas getting all over her bright pink GAP shirt. And the Principal was asking, “Where is your dad?” and Dean couldn’t tell the truth and he couldn’t lie, and then he knew he had to make the decision to move on.
Worse, Sam didn’t even have a clue of it himself. He was nearly fifteen when he figured it out. By then, Dean had tracked down his basic alters.
Dad screams at Sam, waving the acceptance letter around, and Dean should intervene, but his feet felt like lead. Dad doesn’t mean it, he loves them. But Dean’s still stuck, frozen, trying to convince himself that it was one of the alters who did this, who filled out the applications and took the SATs and got Sam accepted into Stanford. He knows it isn’t true. Sam did this one all on his own, and he didn’t feel like Dean needed to know.
Dad gets too close to Sam, too far into his space and Dean watches in mute horror as the change descends down upon his gangly brother. Sam’s gaze sharpens, his shoulders level out and his head rises. Dean knows, knows with everything in him, that this alter—this protector—will kill John Winchester if it feels threatened.
For a minute, he thinks his dad gets it. Finally the light goes on. He realizes it’s not his son he’s looking at. But then the light dims and John is picking up his keys and slamming the door hard enough to startle. The protector looks over at Dean, nods at him and goes to their tiny dingy room to start packing Sam’s bag. The clothes are sloppy—thrown together. Another personality seizes the body, female this time, and she starts folding the clothes carefully, lovingly even. Dean looks on in silence. He doesn’t know what to say.
Over the years he’s realized all the personalities know him, some are unfailingly polite and others get too close for comfort. This one looks right through him and goes to the kitchen for a cup of Coke. Sam hates Coke. He’s back in the body mid-sip and he nearly spits it out on Dean.
Sam leaves, goes to school, meets a girl, and still Dean stops by as much as he can to watch his brother. Sam doesn’t need protecting, Dean knows it. The protector, Maxwell, can take care of that. But Dean misses him. He misses all of him.
There are six basic personalities—apart from Sam. Jonah is a tortured artist, a product of one of Sam's many art teachers. He paints and throws poetry verses at Dean. Lord Byron, Tennyson, Coleridge, a real taste for the romantic. It drives Dean nuts. But Jonah isn't all posturing and Wildian pomposity--the drawings of children, the way that Jonah captures them on the page, it's almost surreal.
Mark is a flirt. No, a slut really. He’ll push Dean a little too far, touch him a little too close—until Dean is shoving him away, guilty for enjoying the touch of his brother’s hands. Mark knows it, relishes in it even. But he knows exactly how far to push, and he always gives up an finds a different warm body. Dean has to be careful of these moments, because Sam is the one who wakes up in the morning, next to whomever and feeling lower than dirt.
And then there's, Alicia, the bitch. Like Maxwell, she’s a personality born out of an ego defense mechanism, but less controlled. She’ll quote Gertrude Stein and kick your face in at the same time. Dean likes her and her outrageous antics. He figures if he ever finds a girl like that—one who lets him (and only him) tease her and laugh at her, one who won’t back down, he’ll drop everything and marry her in a small white chapel in Vegas. He doesn’t think about what that means.
Justin is scared, frightened, frenetic. The list-writer. Everything must be blocked out and scheduled. He’s a hypochondriac and obsessive-compulsive and Dean likes him least of the personalities. Justin has saved Sam’s skin more times than any protector with his anal-retentive attention to detail, but it is this personality who Dean thinks causes the most problems. This one who makes Dad really lose it.
The last is Will. Dean estimates he's nine from the way Sam's memories seem to revert back to 1991, but his queer silence and haunted eyes seem to age him older than all the other personalities put together. He is the most troubled, and he looks at John Winchester with such blankness, that it makes Dean wonder what could've made him that way--if there's something he's not seeing.
When Dean drops by Stanford, sometimes going several hundred miles out of his way, to see how Sam’s doing, he notices, these days, it’s mostly Sam dealing with Jess, the blonde girl with crumpled novelty t-shirts and paint splatters on her hands and face. But Jonah and Mark have their moments. Once he saw Sam light up a cigarette and knew he was looking at Alicia. Dean never goes in to introduce himself.
She dies in a big ball of flame, the timbers of the house falling down and Sam screaming the whole while. Dean sees two personalities born that night, before Maxwell harnesses and leashes the body back from uncontrolled hysteria. Dean asks him, somewhat numbly, if his brother is okay, and Maxwell holds his gaze, unwavering.
Weeks later, Dean finally works up the nerve to ask Sam—no, Maxwell—what happened, what made him this way. He’s been holding this question on the tip of his tongue for twenty-two years, and simply can't do it any longer. Mark melts over Maxwell’s expression, he cajoles Dean, tries to change the subject before becoming angry and tossing a hotel tumbler at the wall.
Alicia’s in the body at the sound of shattering glass. She turns and smiles. “Hey, Dean.”
“What happened?” he asks again.
She shrugs. “Mmm, the fun stuff, Angels and Demons.”
Dean doesn’t understand. He wants to ask more questions. Alicia won’t like it—he can read it in the confrontational set of her face. But Sam is there now, and he’s crying wracking sobs, and Dean loves Sam more than his own life. He does what he’s always done, tries to put the broken china back together with Band-aids and epoxy.
The visions start. It isn’t Sam. The seer, Lash, is a new one. The other personalities don’t want her to have the body. Too much pain, too much to be confronted with. They tamp her down and force her to the back, but she comes through in Sam’s sleep, riddling his nights with disturbing dreams.
Dean tries to talk with Maxwell or Alicia. He's know psychologist, but he figures after years of watching his brother that Sam needs to learn to accept Lash. It's hurting him to box her in until she explodes outwards. He tries to have this talk and severely regrets it. Mid-sentence, Alicia reaches over and jerks the car into neutral while they’re going eighty miles an hour on an empty highway.
He gets the point as he looks down at his shaking hands clenched tight on the steering wheel. They’d spun off the road and his baby, his beautiful baby—Dean doesn’t want to know what they’ve done to her transmission and undercarriage.
He tries to speak with Lash after she relays another gruesome happening, but he’s cut off in the middle by Sam being dropped back into the body. Maybe Lash doesn’t really want to face the world either.
Dean thinks Sam should go to the psychologist for himself as well as to find out about those missing kids up at the asylum. He says as much over breakfast in a cozy Mom & Pop diner.
“They’ll think we’re crazy,” Sam says.
Dean tilts his head at Sam. “If anybody is going to understand—”
“No!” Sam cuts him off. “We tried, once, at Stanford, just after meeting Jess.”
Dean looks up from his bacon and eggs. “I thought Jess didn’t know?”
Sam sighs. “She didn’t, only I loved her, the rest—well, we felt it necessary for her not to know.”
Dean sighs. He’s used to such talk, but he’d forgotten at the same time. It’s always been a little difficult to grasp that aspects of Sam may not even like each other. This is the first time he's realizing just how divided they may be in their opinions of the outside world.
They split up in the asylum after Sam comes back from the therapist. He seems alright, a little twitchy maybe. It niggles with Dean, but he writes it off as something else. Another mistake.
When someone who is definitely not Sam is staring down at him, gun pointed at him, he wishes he’d paid closer attention.
“Your brother? He resents you, Dean,” the new multiple says. “You just keep pushing and pushing and pushing.”
Dean watches as the body’s fingers tighten on the trigger. He was smart, the chamber was empty, and there’s only a hollow clicking. Still, it must have scared Sam, just before Dean knocks the body out, he sees his brother staring straight back at him, bending down to check that there aren’t any holes in that thick Winchester skin.
Sam is all messed up when they get back to the hotel, shifting through personalities like he can’t decide what shirt to put on. Dean speaks to the wall of Sam’s hunched shoulders, telling him it’s alright. It's not alright. It will never be alright. But it's not Sam's fault. This is just the way things are.
Just when he thinks he’s got it all smoothed out, Mark is standing up in the body, eyes hooded, and expression wicked. Dean can tell him separate from Sam easier than the rest, it’s the way he walks, a panther like sway that always gives Dean the impression he's being stalked.
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, an octave below Sam’s voice and advances on Dean. “I’m sorry,” he says again, drawing Dean to him. Dean doesn’t know what’s going on here. Mark cards gentle fingers through his hair and lays a kiss on Dean’s exposed throat.
Dean thrusts him away and Mark watches him, his expression far too knowing. He’s still apologizing, but Dean sees the seduction for what it is. The only way Mark can beg for forgiveness is like…that. Dean can’t stand it. He hates himself. The arms that hold his brother back are trembling. Mark shoots him a pained look, and he’s cut off mid-sentence by Will.
“I’m so sorry, Dean,” Will cries.
Dean steps away, puts his head in hands. Okay, so no therapy then.
It goes pear-shaped when he gets the call to go visit Cassie. In hindsight, maybe he should’ve seen that coming. Half of the multiples hate her, Alicia in the forefront.
“Too skinny, Dean,” she bites out when she steps out of the motel shower; towel wrapped around her torso like the body’s actually a girl. Dean shrugs. Alicia isn’t a real girl, she’s not an option for Dean, but he doesn’t know what to do about her jealousy.
Dean worried, but Sam is perfectly nice to Cassie, he bites his lips a lot and stays quiet. He smiles at her feeble attempt to joke with him, and Dean thinks Sam might genuinely think she’s special. That matters to Dean. He doesn’t know why, but it matters.
When Cassie attempts to brush something off Sam's jacket though, Dean finds himself looking at Cassie’s slim wrist encased in a punishing circle of fingers held away from Sam’s body. Cassie is wide-eyed and frightened, and Dean thinks maybe Alicia is going to do something stupid—
Sam drops Cassie’s hand. “Sorry, I just—I just don’t like to be touched.”
Dean and Cassie fuck after that, but it’s not fucking, it’s fighting. And Dean remembers this, he remembers how it was. He remembers when she called him crazy and threw a blow dryer at his head. And it bothers him, why do the alters hate her?
Sam can take care of himself. He’s been trained and he’s an efficient fighter. He can hold his own against Dean, but he’s got nothing on Maxwell. Sometimes when the situation calls for it, Sam gives control of the body over to him. Dean wonders how he learned to fight like that, and where. He’s been watching Maxwell do some crazy feats since the body was twelve, it's almost like he absorbed it from watching episodes of the Power Rangers.
When Dean hears about the moving cupboard he asks if it was Lash, and then, feebly, Maxwell, but no, Sam looks at him with deadened eyes. Sam did it himself. Dean’s scared, he doesn’t know what moving armoires and endless visions means for them, but from the way that Sam is acting, he does.
He tries to ask, but Alicia’s out in force, changing the subject and joshing with Dean like everything’s all right—herding him back into his proper place.
Dean misses the time before Sam left. His heart was always hanging over the edge that Sam would get himself taken away, but they still had good times. Now Sam’s personalities all seem to be working in opposition to each other and to Dean. He still doesn’t feel like he has his brother back.
Dad comes crashing back into their life again. Sam was happy to see Dad. That is, he was happy for Jess’s sake. He wasn’t happy because he hadn’t seen him in four years, which to Dean seems like he’s got his priorities a little fucked up.
The rest of the alters are anything but happy, they stay tightly reigned in and it lends a certain reservation to Sam that Dean has never seen. Justin, who hasn’t been out for months, is scrawling pages and pages of notes, color coding them and placing them in piles, freaking out when Dean or one of the other multiples moves them. Dean’s sure he’s going to hyperventilate.
Justin watches John, constantly, turning always to keep him in his vision. He shakes his head and mutters, “Something isn’t right” over and over. Dean thinks the only thing that isn’t right is Justin, but the other personalities are on edge too.
They stop in a little occult shop for some supplies. Mark has the body. He tells Dean they’ve worked out a system that everybody gets a little time in the outside world, so that there won’t be any “body snatching” that John would notice. He grins wolfishly at his joke.
Dad is getting supplies and Dean is looking at the rack of cursed objects. Mark leafs through swathes of colored fabric, all claiming to be necessary for this spell or that spell. One is dyed pretty blue, like the color of the twilight sky in Jonah’s latest watercolor. Mark fingers it fondly, and John says something derisive that Dean doesn’t even really hear.
All he knows is that Mark is drawing the fabric taut between his fists, eyes going dark and bitter. He looks at Dean like it was better when it was just the two of them.
Lash starts having visions every night. She begs Dean not to tell. “Don’t say a word, not a word!” she whispers viciously, fingers tight on his biceps. She holds him close and he asks her who he’s going to tell. Before she falls asleep, still clinging tight to him, there is a name upon her lips. John.
Sam starts losing time now that John is back. He doesn’t say anything. He’s too afraid to face it, but Dean can tell from the incredulous way he looks at his watch. He starts being real finicky about the stick-on clock Dean got for the dash when Sam was 14, and the one on his computer, and his cell-phone. Justin keeps a calendar for him, when it’s his turn out of the body. He walks back into the hotel room to find Sam propped against the headboard of his bed, eyes open and blank, body barely breathing. Dean always knew he had conversations with the alters, but it’s the first time he’s ever seen it.
He should have heeded the signs.
“Come on, move it, psychic boy!” the demon chants, words coming out of John’s mouth like sulfur and bile.
Dean feels like his innards are going to be ripped out through his nose, or something equally horrendous, he’s already hacking and coughing up blood. The demon taunts Sam, and Dean doesn’t know what the next move is. He’s screaming something, but it’s independent of his thought process, which is all focused on Sam.
It occurs to him as he watches the burning fear in Sam’s eyes melt into Maxwell’s calm that the demon doesn’t know. He has absolutely no clue. It’s what saves them in the end—the demon’s surprise at Maxwell’s breakaway. He grabs the colt and the demon stumbles back. It’s John again and he’s shouting too.
“Shoot me!” and Maxwell would do it. Dean knows he would. He has no love lost for John, sees him as more of a threat than an ally. John roars at him, “Shoot me!”
And the gun remains pointed on him. Dean loves his father. He loves him so much, in spite of everything that he’s done wrong, and he’s bleeding out onto a log cabin floor, and Maxwell will do it. He knows he will.
But he’s wrong.
“No, Dean won’t like it,” Maxwell says grimly, gun point dropping away as the cloud of black oily tar starts spilling out John’s mouth.
He pieces things back together later in the time he spends beneath the bent and twisted under-carriage of his baby. There’s a lot of quiet space to put things back into order when music feels like disrespect to the dead.
He knows, even though he can’t bear to ask Sam, that Alicia was the one who got them to the hospital. That she kept going even when the Chevy looked like it would fall apart if anybody so much as sighed on it. But it was Sam who found their father dead on the cold hospital linoleum floor. It was Sam who got Dean and held him up as the doctor pumped a spark through his father’s chest that never ignited.
The rage comes. And then his fist connecting with Sam’s face several miles down the road. He wonders as he draws his hand back why neither Alicia nor Maxwell has taken over the body, thrown him back, made him understand pain and burning, and the real strength that is his brother. Instead Sam looks back at him, hand clenched tight to his face, and ‘you can’t make me hate you’ in his eyes.
His knuckles are bruised and aching. His father is gone. And Dean needs forgiveness, but he doesn’t want it.
After their first run-in with Gordon, Maxwell stays in the body almost constantly. He barely looks at Dean, and he’s pulled out the duffle that Sam keeps for the clothing that isn’t his. Maxwell wears clothing far more similar to Dean’s wardrobe, although the leather jacket is pricier, and if anything in worse condition. Dean realizes that it’s been a long time since the body’s been inhabited by anybody other than Sam for longer than an hour.
They stay in a hotel with a par course next door. Dean wakes up alone, thin light from the sun spilling in the window. His pulse rockets up before he realizes where Maxwell has gone. It’s misty and humid outside, black top shining from early morning rain. Maxwell has his knees hooked over a chin up bar and is rapidly doing crunches, his ratty gray t-shirt soaked with sweat. He hears Dean come along and stills. Dean can see his breath gust out of him, and the slow way in which he turns and starts doing obliques.
His face is carefully blank, mind lost in the exertion. Dean’s afraid to say what he needs to, to Sam. Why aren’t you mourning? Why don’t you feel as goddamn desperate as I do? He wants to pour everything out to Maxwell, who won’t respond or react. Then it’ll be out there, solid in the world, and it won’t all come crashing down on him like he fears. Dean sighs and leans back against the left post of the bar, and tries to come up with something that says sorry like he means it.
“He was not our father, but you are our brother.”
Dean starts and looks over at Maxwell, who’s hanging by his knees and staring at him pointedly. He doesn’t think they’ve had words in the history of ever. He knows the first time Maxwell ever appeared—Sam was in the fifth grade and he took out two seventh graders who’d been going after elementary school kids for a week. Dean had seen them close in on Sam and had felt his throat close up. When he’d got there, one hapless middle schooler was spitting dark blood and broken teeth into his palm, and the other was holding his gut and crying for his mother.
“Dean,” Maxwell says, calling him back to the present. Dean looks over at him and nods. Maxwell waits a beat longer before flipping off the bar and brushing off his sweaty face with one shoulder. “Hear what I say, Dean, I mean it.”
He walks off to the hotel room. When Dean gets back, Sam is stepping out of the shower. His skin gleams with the shine of water. He’s so careless with his good looks. Dean knows exactly the effect his own face has, and where it can get him, but Sam is not bound by these same physical rules.
Dean hasn’t had a lot of bad days. He’s had difficult ones, but bad ones imply an emotional investiture in the experience of his life that he doesn’t really have. Mostly he just moves forward and doesn’t think about it qualitatively. Until this day, the worst day of his life was the day that Sam left Dean behind amid the detritus of their life. His entire purpose literally picked up and walked out the door. He couldn’t make the machine hang together when the lynch pin had gotten lost. He’d vomited for two whole days after, before he finally stood up and squared his shoulders and went on.
But Sam loses an entire week, and whoever had the body—not one of the usual six—had made off with it. He watches as Sam falls apart. He’d been making coexistence work, and Dean knows it’s hard. All the books say that integration is the best, some are a little unclear on how it should work, either by destruction of personalities or by absorption, and Sam’s pretty maverick, with what’s he doing.
Dean’s never had the strength to suggest it. But then they’re watching the security tapes they found, and two frames in to the body’s assault on an almost defenseless man, a runner has taken off with the body. Dean has read about them in that long stream of books he’d checked out from cruddy back-country libraries with barely anything. Sam has never needed one before.
He’s fracturing badly.
Dean can’t keep up with him.
When Dean finally gives up searching, he finds Sam back at the hotel fingering the smooth handle of his 9 mm.
“That’s not a solution, Sam,” Dean tells him, with his stomach falling.
Sam laughs without humor. “I’m a dangerous element, Dean, and you know what to do with those.”
“You’ve never thought like this,” Dean reminds him, desperate for anything that will get him to step away from the gun.
Sam’s lips twitch. “I did, once.”
Dean is angry. He steps forward, grips Sam’s wrist hard. “When?”
Sam looks at him with clear eyes. “I was seventeen, and we were moving every six months or so, and fighting a fight I wanted no part of.”
And Dean swallows, feeling his world tumbling down in around him all over again. He knows what changed. Sam applied to college.
Jo stitches him up after. She’s blonde and frightened and wants him to ask more of her than forgiveness for what has just happened. That’s not the sum total of her parts, but it’s all Dean can see. And he can’t ask more of her. He lets her think that Sam was possessed, because, in effect, he was.
“Demons lie, right?” she asks, smoothing the bandage down.
Dean jerks under her fingertips, wondering what Meg said. She’s a twisted bitch, and Dean’s frightened of the fact that she was formed by Sam’s grief over Jess’s death. Dean’s answer is non-committal, half-hearted. He’s too busy trying to figure out where Sam will go next.
“Dean.” She tugs his wrist, tries to bring him back to her. But Dean feels the pull of only one anchor, and it will never be her.
“Did you really want to—” Dean asks, after in the heavy dark of the latest motel room. Tell me that was just Meg is what he’s really asking of Sam.
He hears Sam roll over. “What? Kill myself?”
Dean inhales sharply through his teeth, tries to remember what Sam was like at seventeen. He already knows the answer. The only thing Dean can’t save Sam from is himself.
The second time Sam leaves Dean realizes he’s in love with him. He feels the hollow ache like a lost tooth. Sam’s afraid of himself, he’s afraid of what he might do to Dean, and he’s afraid that Dean wasn’t afraid enough. Now Sam is gone. It’s not the same as the last time. It wasn’t a surprise, and for some reason that makes it harder. He checks all of Sam’s bags before he lets him leave. There are no pills that will kill him, but he can’t very well start chucking off all of Sam’s knives or his guns. If Sam’s determined to be done with life, even shoelaces are a threat.
He feels empty as Sam walks off in the early morning sun, duffle over one shoulder. He’d cupped Dean’s cheek, and told him there wouldn’t be any silence this time. But Dean’s afraid to call him up. Sam will have started a life again that Dean’s not a part of. He’s won the war, but he’s lost what he was fighting for.
Sam needs to go—he’s been absolved of his debt of justice to Jess.
Sam tells him not to check up on him, smiles when Dean says he would never, and tells him, “We always knew you were there.” And in that moment Dean knows he’s in love with his brother. He wants to tattoo that smile into his skin. But Sam goes. For every action that Dean has made Sam’s reaction is both equal and opposite. Dean says stay and Sam gathers all his things, even the things that aren’t his, and goes.
They try to tempt him, and it’s harder to resist now that Sam isn’t there, bolstering presence at his back. Your soul for your brother, they whisper, smoke in his ear. Dean would like to pretend he isn’t swayed even for a minute, but he does sway, even if he never makes the plunge.
He spends more time with Bobby, figures he needs a little more time stationary. There’s got to be something to ground him.
“How long did you know?” he asks, when the subject of Meg trying to kill Bobby comes up.
“About Sam?” Bobby’s eyes are sharp. “I’m not a fool.”
Dean swallows air as bitter as medicine. “Dad never knew—he thought Sam would fall, but he didn’t know—”
“What happened to Sam, it’s the result of mental trauma?” Bobby interrupts with a question.
“Dad never did anything to—”
“That’s not what I mean, Dean,” Bobby tells him impatiently, “You think maybe your brother’s like this because of the demon?”
“I—” Dean cuts himself off. He remembers Alicia's pronouncement, ‘Angel and Demons.’ He doesn’t know. He wants that desperately to be the reason.
The next case that runs him afoul of demons they quit trying for his soul. They tell him to stop wasting so much of himself on a brother who never cared about him anyway, a brother who isn’t the same as he thought he was. Dean tells them to go fuck themselves and reads his exorcisms by rote. He thinks with grim cheer one of these days he’s going to write his own.
They don’t understand. Sam is not his weakness. Sam is his strength.
Sam walks back into his life when he gets in a rough patch just south of New Brunswick. He kicks a door in, destroys two darklings with his bare hands. So not Sam, Maxwell. Dean is glad to see him nevertheless. It’s been a year. He’s barely conscious of the fact that he’s thrown himself at the body, until he realizes there are arms around him.
They stand in embrace in a creaky house on rotten floorboards. Dean realizes his face fits perfectly in the hollow between Sam’s neck and shoulder. He shoves himself away abruptly.
‘I’m sorry, Maxwell, I—”
“It’s not Maxwell, Dean,” Sam says back to him, bending down to pick-up Dean’s forgotten flashlight. His long even strides across the floor boards barely creak. Dean’s lips part. Mark! But Mark could never.
Sam stands framed in the doorway, and surely it’s his brother looking back at him. “Come on, Dean, let’s get back to car, we’ll talk.”
His brother is an anomaly, he can’t figure him out. He watches him in strange fascination almost to the point of running them off the road. Sam rolls his eyes heavenward, tells Dean to stop at a roadside diner, and he pulls over without question.
Sam orders a salad and a Coke.
Dean finally gathers up the courage to ask what’s going on as Sam’s swirl of a signature is applied to the bill.
Sam looks at him for a long moment like he’s an idiot. “We’ve integrated, Dean.”
There is Alicia’s smile, Maxwell’s set of the shoulders, Will’s sweetness, Mark’s allure, Justin’s meticulousness, Jonah’s creativity, Sam’s backbone, and nothing, nothing at all of Meg or Lash.
Dean feels like he’s got air in his lungs. For the first time since he was seven.
Dean merely watches Sam for a week, figuring out what parts he’s absorbed and what he’s left behind. He sees him shiver as they walk through the smoking section of a restaurant. Sam doodles on everything. He walks through the world far more comfortable in his skin, and the demons were right, his brother didn’t come back the same.
“Why’d you do it?” he asks after a routine salt and burn. He pulls out his flask and offers some to Sam. It’s the first time he’s ever done so. Alcohol is not for the personality impaired, after all. Sam waves it aside anyway.
“Because we loved you,” Sam states simply.
Dean furrows his brows. “I know that, dude. That’s a pretty extreme move for someone who was fighting it as hard as you did.”
Sam kicks him. “No, Dean, because we loved you.”
Dean chokes on his whisky and Sam’s hands are on his back. Dean regains his voice. “Past tense?”
“There is no we anymore. Only me.”
Dean doesn’t need to hear anymore. He kisses him. Sam shows him how much of Mark remains when he laughs low in his throat, and hikes him up onto the trunk of the Impala, stepping into the space between his legs. Sam had many guises and Dean had many embodiments: son, brother, warrior, savior, victim, and lover. Here, they are two multiples together.
There's just too many dreams in this wasteland for you to leave us all behind
Dissociative Identity Disorder, 314.12
The essential feature of Dissociative Identity Disorder is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (Criterion A) that recurrently take control of behavior (Criterion B).
There is an inability to recall important personal information, the extent of which is too great to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness (Criterion C). The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition (Criterion D).
In children, the symptoms cannot be attributed to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play. Dissociative Identity Disorder reflects a failure to integrate various aspects of identity, memory, and consciousness. Each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image, and identity, including a separate name. Usually there is a primary identity that carries the individual's given name and is passive, dependent, guilty, and depressed. The alternate identities frequently have different names and characteristics that contrast with the primary identity (e.g., are hostile, controlling, and self-destructive).
Particular identities may emerge in specific circumstances and may differ in reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, or predominant affect. Alternate identities are experienced as taking control in sequence, one at the expense of the other, and may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another, or appear to be in open conflict. Occasionally, one or more powerful identities allocate time to the others. Aggressive or hostile identities may at times interrupt activities or place the others in uncomfortable situations.