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ratherastory ([personal profile] ratherastory) wrote2012-10-26 03:32 pm

Do You Still Feel Me? (The Altered Senses Remix)

Title: Do You Still Feel Me? (The Altered Senses Remix)
Summary: After a lifetime of sharing absolutely everything with his brother, right down to his last thought, Dean's world goes silent. Written for [livejournal.com profile] kamikazeremix, based on [livejournal.com profile] jacyevans' the senses might alter the way that you feel. Originally posted here.
Characters: Sam/Dean
Rating: R
Warnings: consensual sibling incest, mentions of (non-explicit) underage consensual sex (Sam is 16), show-levels of violence, canonical character death.
Spoilers: to the end of S2
Neurotic Author's Note: A big thank you to the mods for heroically throwing themselves on the grenade for the good of all fandom and running this challenge! [livejournal.com profile] jacyevans, I adored your story and the premise, and I tried very, very hard to do it justice. I'm not sure if I succeeded, but it was a pleasure and a privilege to be given your fic to work with. I did take your author's notes at their word, and made the Sam/Dean more explicit than in your story, so I hope that's okay. I also incorporated a few direct quotes, which you will likely recognize.


"Sam! Sam, look out!"

Dean's running, but he can tell he's not going to make it. He can feel the relief washing off his brother like a wave, mingled with joy and exhaustion and pain from where he's injured his shoulder. The relief turns to confusion when Dean's terror breaches his own admittedly better defenses, and he hesitates, and that's when the knife blade slices through bone and sinew as though it was nothing.

The pain is blinding. For a moment it feels as though the knife is buried to the hilt in Dean's own spine. His knees buckle under the impact, and it's only sheer force of will that allows him to keep his feet and keep moving, keep heading right toward his brother.


Sam has dropped to his knees, and all Dean is getting from him now is utter incomprehension, the look in his eyes beseeching Dean to explain what the hell is going on. And Dean gets it, he does, because he doesn't understand how any of this has happened to them either. All he can do is wrap both arms around his brother and hang on, as though he can physically anchor him in place, and pray for Sam to just hold on.



It's been raining for days, so much so that Dean started making jokes about it being the end times, right up until he felt Sam start bracing himself every time he mentioned it—like somehow he's personally responsible for the bad weather on top of everything else—and so he stopped. Sam's carrying enough guilt as it is, without Dean adding to it, even if it's inadvertent. The rain finally let up this morning, though, leaving behind a countryside that's all but drowning under deep puddles. The roadside diner he spotted a couple of minutes ago is surrounded by a moat of muddy water, accessible only via a makeshift boardwalk leading from the gravel parking lot. It's Sam's turn to go inside to get food—driver gets the privilege of staying dry—and Dean is happy enough not to have to go out in the damp.

"Hey, don’t forget the extra onions this time, huh?"

Sam makes a face "Dude, I’m the one whose gonna have to ride in the car with your extra onions." But Dean knows he's one, grins even as Sam sighs and rolls his eyes, closes the car door—careful not to slam it because, like it or not, it's Dean's baby and he respects that.

Sam moves away, and the feeling of fond exasperation fades as he puts some distance between himself and the car, but it doesn't disappear entirely. The thread is always there between them, sometimes stretched painfully thin, but ever present. Dean turns up the music in the car, makes sure Sam can feel him singing along and playing air drums, knowing that it'll drive Sam nuts, right up until he feels a sudden surge of fear along their connection… and then nothing.

He's out of the car and running before he's even consciously registered that something is wrong, but it's already too late.



"Sam, Sammy, stay with me, okay?"

Dean's hand shakes as he brushes Sam's hair away from his face, and he can't help but reach out along that invisible thread between them, as he's always thought of it, tugging on it, almost afraid of what he'll find at the other end. Sam's eyes are glassy, but Dean can feel him trying, struggling to obey the command. Dean might be the good soldier, but Sam's always known when it was important to follow orders too. Dean can sense the edges of Sam's vision going dark, can feel it like it's happening to him. There are images flitting through Sam's mind, flashing by like a film reel sped up so that they all blur together.


The first time Sam feels it, he's sitting in the bath in a motel room, playing with a little blue toy duck. He's holding it under the water, watching bubbles burst from a tiny hole in the duck's bright red bill, laughing quietly to himself, until suddenly he knows—is convinced—that the duck is drowning, its lungs filling with water, eyes turning glassy. Dean turns his head away, starting intently at the wall, and the feeling fades, just a little. Startled, Sam lets go, and the toy immediately bobs to the surface, water trickling off the plastic surface.


His eyes burn, and he feels a lump forming in his throat. "I'm sorry, I didn't know I was hurting it!"

Dean's eyes go wide. "Sammy… you heard that?"


Dean kisses him at three o'clock in the morning the day after Sam's sixteenth birthday, after they've both had enough beers to be more than a little tipsy, and Dean's stomach is coiled into a knot so tight that Sam feels as though he's about to throw up. Alcohol brings down all their barriers—Sam knew that about Dean long before Dean knew it about himself—but now it's just the two of them, legs tangled together on the moth-eaten sofa in the shitty little apartment Dad left them in when he left on his hunt. Dad never sticks around for Sam's birthday, and this year Dean couldn't face another night of feeling Sam trying to hide that hurt in the furthest, darkest corner of his mind, because whatever hurts Sam hurts Dean more, and Sam doesn't want that.

"You're thinking too much," Dean says against his lips, and Sam tries to stop, he does, because these infinite loops of I-feel-what-Dean-feels-and-Dean-feels-what-I-feel tend to get all turned around in his head until he's not sure who felt what first.

"Here," Dean murmurs, voice strangled, and the next thing Sam knows he's unzipped his fly and has slipped a hand in his pants. "There you go," Dean says encouragingly as Sam's eyes threaten to roll back in his head, and then Sam stops thinking altogether.

It's only hours later, when Dean is asleep next to him in their bed, sprawled on his face and breathing peacefully, that Sam allows himself to wonder just what it is about him that Dad hates so much. There's no good answer to that, though, and Dean is warm against his side, so Sam curls up as best he can, wedging himself under Dean's arm, and lets himself drift to sleep.


Sam's got his arms folded across his chest, trying to physically restrain himself from doubling over. This secret's been building for days, and Dean has poking at him relentlessly until all he wants to do is scream before his head explodes from the pressure.

"So, what? You fail a class? There a little Sammy running around somewhere I should know about?" Dean is teasing, but Sam can feel the anxiety thrumming under the calm exterior, under the all-too-casual smirk.

Sam digs his fingers into the sleeves of his shirt. "I got into Stanford," he says quietly.

Dean inhales sharply, and for a moment Sam can barely breathe, the air thick with shared anxiety, because this is Dean's worst nightmare unfolding right before his eyes. Dean manages a smile—large and fake to cover up the fact that it feels like he's being stabbed through the heart, even though Sam can feel it too—and all the air leaves his lungs in a rush.

"That's—that's great, Sammy," he says breathlessly, and Sam can feel his throat closing up.

"Don't lie," he says hoarsely. "You think it's the end of the fucking world."

And then Dean is trying so, so hard to kick Sam right out of his thoughts—get out of my head ringing loud and clear across the room—and Sam is pretty sure that if he hears that one more time Dean's heart isn't the only one that's going to break, so he drops the walls, all of them, and just lets Dean see.

You didn't have to do that, you know.

"Yeah, I did."

Some things have to be said aloud for them to be true.


Dean is in the far corner of the room, eyes wide in a face that's drained entirely of colour, terror radiating off him so intensely that Sam can barely think above the mental static, let alone listen to what Dad is screaming at him. He's speechless in the face of Dad's rage, doesn't understand how the simple act of applying to college suddenly resulted in this onslaught.

"Why is it so terrible for me to want something different? Something other than this?" he's yelling too, because he doesn't know how else to respond to his father.

"God damn it, Sam, I didn't teach you everything you know so you can—so you can throw it away! So you can throw it back in my face!"

"I never asked you to do that!" Sam can feel his cheeks heating up, his temper getting the best of him even as Dean retreats further into the corner of the room. Sam can feel him shutting down, closing off all of Sam's access to him, too apprehensive of these arguments to leave himself open to that kind of hurt—and damned if that doesn't hurt too, the very fact that Dean can't, won't have his back when the chips are down.

"You walk out that door, Sam Winchester, and you don't come back, you hear me?"

And there it is. It doesn't matter that he burned that letter, it doesn't matter that he had no intention of leaving. One simple gesture of independence has been judged to be betrayal, and the verdict is banishment. Sam turns to Dean, thinks maybe, just maybe this time Dean will say something.

"Don't look at him!" Dad snaps. "Your brother can't bail you out of all the trouble you bring down on yourself. You made this bed, you are damned well going to lie in it!"

Sam swallows the lump in his throat, nods once. "Fine."

He walks out the front door, backpack slung over one shoulder, obeys the last order he'll ever receive from his father and doesn't look back at his brother, standing silent and alone in the room.



"He's not dead."

"I never said he was," Bobby says, and Dean hates how gentle his voice is, like Dean is some little kid who needs soothing. "I'm just saying, if he's disappeared and that demon of yours is involved, then… well, maybe you need to prepare yourself—"

"I said, he's not dead!" Dean snaps, because he knows it.

He can feel it, feel that Sam's alive, somewhere deep in his core that he thinks might not even have a name, because there is no name to explain what he and Sam have, what they've always had. Not even Dad ever figured out what it was, and he stopped trying pretty early on.

"Can you even… do what you do when you're this far apart?" Bobby makes a vague circular motion with his hands, trying to illustrate what he's saying, and Dean shrugs.

"Sort of. But I can always tell if something's going on with him, same as he can tell if something's up with me. That's just how it's always been." It's hard to describe the constant thrum of life that's specific to Sam, the background noise that's all little brother and nothing else in the universe comes close to it.

"But you can't tell where he is?"

Dean looks up from where he's pacing by the Impala where she's parked by the side of the smouldering remains of the Roadhouse, then shakes his head.

"That's not how it works."



"Whoa, whoa Sam. Hey, hey c'mere," Dean holds Sam up, trying to ignore how he's becoming a dead weight in his arms. "Let me look at you." It's the same thing he used to say to Sammy when he was a little kid and skinned his knee. " Hey, look at me. It’s not even that bad. It’s not even that bad, all right? Sammy? Sam!"

Sam rallies a little, raises his head at the sound of Dean's voice, and a tremor runs along the thread between them, the smallest throb of pain and love and a trace of anxiety, too. Though maybe that's an echo of the panic that keeps threatening to well up in Dean's chest as Sam's life keeps flashing before their eyes.


It's almost like they switched places, Sam thinks, watching his brother as the car hurtles down the blacktop. When they were kids, it was always Sam who couldn't shield his emotions, anger and frustration and fear constantly bubbling to the surface whenever he and Dean argued, until Dean would just stop fighting and haul him in for a hug, because he hated it when Sam got upset. And even though Dean kept all his feelings bottled up before, he never bothered keeping what he was thinking from Sam.

Now, though, ever since they got back on the road in the wee hours of the morning, it's like Sam can read him like an open book, can feel the happiness he felt when Sam didn't throw him back out onto the street, the sheer unadulterated relief when Sam agreed to go with him, to go look for their father.

"You're really worried about Dad, aren't you?" he asks quietly, after what feels like the millionth call to every hospital and morgue in the area. The battery on his cell phone is giving out, the quiet beeping in his ear sounding a little too much like a death knell for his liking.

"I just think it's serious this time," Dean hedges, and Sam sighs, because apparently some things never change.

"You don't need to protect me from all the bad feelings anymore, Dean. You can't protect me from them, anyway. It's just part of life."

"Shut up, Dr. Phil," Dean rolls his eyes, and Sam punches him in the shoulder.


"Bitch," Dean snorts, but he's smiling, and after a minute, Sam smiles too.

Because this… this is the sound of them slotting back together, as though the last two years never happened. Dean knows that leaving wasn't Sam's idea, Dean wants him back, and if Dean wants to ignore the fact that he can't protect Sam from all the horrible things out there, well, Sam is happy to indulge him.

But when Sam's life goes up in flames two days later, they both have to acknowledge that he was absolutely right.


In St. Louis, Sam shoots a shapeshifter right through the heart with the only silver bullet they have at their disposal. Dean has never been more grateful to see his brother in his whole life (Sam has never felt his relief more palpably except maybe when Dean first turned up at Stanford all those months ago and Sam agreed to go with him), but Sam's not going to make an issue of it because neither one of them will ever live it down. They don't discuss these things, because there are certain parts of them that are too soft, too raw to be dragged into the light of day, even now after everything. Maybe especially now. It's too soon for that sort of thing.

"How'd you know it wasn't me?" Dean is chafing his wrists, trying to get the circulation going again after being tied up for several hours while Sam looked for him, and Sam has to physically restrain himself from mimicking the gesture, the delicate skin on the inside of his arm burning in sympathy. "I mean, he almost had me fooled, the handsome son of a bitch."

It's all bravado, but again, he knows better than to call Dean on it. Sam rolls his eyes, shrugs, won't look his brother in the face, because he's blushing and he knows Dean is reading him like an open book.

"I could tell he didn't love me," he mumbles, and turns away hurriedly to lead the way back up into the clear light of day.

They dump the body in the sewer and never discuss it again.


Dean is dying, but the thread is still there. Sam can feel it, pulling at him the whole time, no matter what Dad has to say on the subject. The thread is there, solid and real, and as long as the thread exists there's hope. If there's a Reaper after Dean, then Sam is going to find a way to kill the son of a bitch before it gets his brother. He'll be damned before he gives up on Dean.

"I'll keep trying, all right?" he tells his brother's body, lying motionless on the hospital bed, a ventilator breathing for him. "As long as you keep fighting. I mean, come on you can't, you can't leave me here alone with dad, we'll kill each other, you know that," he tries to laugh, but his voice breaks, betraying him after all. "Dean, you've got to hold on. You can't go, man, not now. We were just starting to be brothers again. Can you hear me?"

It's the faintest of echoes along their bond, but it's there.

Yeah, Sammy, I hear you.



"So can you talk to him? Reach him, maybe?"

Dean throws up one hand, keeps the other shoved in his pocket. "That's not how it works. It's not like a pair of cans on a string, here, Bobby!" he barely refrains from slamming his hand against the Impala. He doesn't hear Bobby's answer, though, because the next thing he knows it's as though lightning is ricocheting off the inside of his skull, doubling him over in pain. There's a brief flash of something—an image, so blurry as to barely be discernible—gone just as quickly as it came.

"What was that?" Bobby has hurried over to where he's standing.

"I don't know. A headache?" He's falling back on sarcasm, but it felt exactly like the kind of 'headaches' he'd get when Sam was having one of his crippling visions. I could have sworn I saw something."

"What do you mean?" Bobby asks sharply. "Like a vision? Like what Sam gets?"

It's exactly like what Sam gets, and just as he's trying to protest that he's not some psychic (not like that, I've never been like that, I don't want to be like that) the pain comes back, worse than before, so intense he's afraid he might puke, or that his head might actually explode. And then Sam is there, Sam, and he thinks he might cry with relief, because it's him and he's alive and even though Dean knew he was now he has proof and it's the best feeling in the world.

"Dean? Dean, are you with me?" Bobby's all but holding him up, releases him with a paternal clap on the shoulder once he's sure Dean isn't about to faceplant right back onto the ground.

"Yeah," he returns the favour, pats Bobby's forearm. "Yeah, I think so. I saw him, Bobby. I saw Sam!" he can feel the grin spreading over his features, can't bring himself to quash the hope that's welling in his chest.

To his credit, Bobby doesn't even question it. "What else did you see?"

"Uh, there was a bell."

"What kind of bell?"

Dean glares. "Like a big bell with some kind of engraving on it, I don't know. What do I look like, a bell expert?"

"An engraving? Like a tree? An oak tree?"

It's impossible to miss the urgency in Bobby's tone. He nods. "Yeah, exactly."

Bobby's look turns suddenly triumphant. "I know where Sam is."



"Sam. Hey, listen to me. We’re gonna patch you up, okay?" Dean can hear the desperation in his voice, even as his hand is coming away from Sam's back slick with blood. "You’re gonna be good as new. I’m gonna take care of you," he promises recklessly. "I’m gonna take you care of you. I’ve got you. That’s my job, right? Watch out for my pain-in-the-ass little brother? Sam?"

But Sam's eyes are sliding shut, the breath leaving his body in quiet exhale, images flickering faster and faster along the bond.


Dean is standing on the bleachers at Sam's high school, cheering at the top of his lungs as Sam scores the winning goal for his soccer team. Later on, Dad will pack the trophy away, and Sam will never see it again, but it doesn't matter because neither of them will forget that moment.


Dean pins Sam up against a wall in an alley just outside a bar. It's raining and Dean's hair is plastered to his face, his lips bitten cherry red, and all Sam can feel coming from him is love and warmth and desire, and in that moment there is nowhere in the world that feels safer than right here, right now.


Sam has to shoot a girl, and Dean is there to hold him three days later when the unfairness it all finally catches up to him and he sobs, curled up in his brother's lap with Dean's hand in his hair, waiting for it to stop feeling like all the air has been sucked from his lungs.


"He said I might have to kill you, Sammy…"


Sam wakes up in Bobby's living room as Meg is forced from his body, Dean's words echoing in his ears: "As long as I'm here, nothing bad's gonna happen to you." Dean is pissed at him, and hurting, but safe, always safe, and Sam doesn't know whether to laugh or cry with relief.


Love you.

Some things don't need to be said aloud for them to be true.


The connection is gone, the thread neatly snipped with a pair of invisible scissors. It's gone in a way that Dean has never felt before, not even the two years when they never spoke. Utterly gone.

"Sam, Sammy!"

Sam is gone.

"No. No, no, no, no. Oh, God. Sam!"

Silence falls, and for the first time in Dean's life, it doesn't lift.

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