Speaking in Tongues
Part of the Reaper 'verse. Adult, Dean/Sam
A/N: It occurred to me that thus far the bulk of this series has been primarily from Dean's POV, with only glimpses into what happened to Sam to set him on this road. On what this is for him. I'd meant to write something earlier but kept getting distracted and then Stele3 wrote her Untitled fic that touched on similar themes and everything I wanted to say came flooding back.
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission."There was something awesome in the thought of the solitary mortal standing by the open window and summoning in from the gloom outside the spirits of the nether world." ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
"So…" Dean's voice is quietly casual but Sam can hear the weight behind it. "When you go…"
Sam rolls over to face him, the shift of his body allowing light from the window to fall across Dean's face. His movement halts the words in Dean's throat in a way that Sam saying something wouldn't. Sam knows what the question is without Dean asking him. He's asked it before, a hundred different ways -- coming at it sideways, backwards, occasionally head on. But Sam's answers don't satisfy him.
He can joke about it. The afterlife is a lot like Kansas; kind of flat and in the middle of everything.
He can be honest and yet still vague. I didn't see a white light. Mom and Dad and Jess weren't waiting for me. It wasn't welcoming but it wasn't scary either. St. Peter didn't call my name from a book. It was just an empty place, a vague landscape, me and Emily.
Maybe she was an angel.
Maybe. Or maybe she was just dead like me. And I owed her something.
Dean doesn't like that answer much. It's okay for him to blame Sam for killing himself, to be pissed off and think he was owed something, but everyone else should have laid the blame at the feet of the Demon that set it all in motion -- the living and the dead.
He can tell Dean how the souls he escorts make their choices. What? Like there's a room full of doors and whichever one you pick you walk through. Death is like Let's Make A Deal, door number one, door number two, or the envelope Carol Merrill is holding?
That's actually pretty darn close but without the actual doors. It's the sum of what you are, what you were meant to be. Intentions don't matter.
More like recycling as far as Sam can tell -- souls broken down to their component parts, reassembled into something, someone new. What's left undone. Not for yourself but for whatever it was, whatever was meant. Every living thing is part of it, but things don't always fit together the right way, or in the right order.
Great. Life as a giant jigsaw puzzle, missing the box top and a few pieces.
Part of the problem is that when Sam is with Dean, when he's here, he's stuck with his human brain, and the limits of human knowledge. He knows there's more -- like it's something written in a foreign language he doesn't speak or understand. The best he can do is sketch it in metaphors.
"There's nothing there," he says, propping his head up on one hand, reaching with the other to cover Dean's hand where it rests on his chest. "It's not a place as much as it is a state of being -- a place of waiting."
"But you come back. You come back for them…"
"I come back for you too." It's true. If he has any impression of all of that space between here and whatever lies beyond this life, it's not a physical impression. It's waiting. Not with impatience, not with anticipation, not with boredom. It is the state of waiting -- it's like a euphoria with no build and no descent, at the edge of something with no desire or need to either move beyond it or back away from it.
When he's called to gather up a soul, to lead it to that realm of choice, of completing something, of moving forward or back, there's no processing of the call, of the need or task -- it just is and he moves to fulfill that task -- senses and intellect brought back online like a computer being instantly rebooted.
He's pretty sure, Dean just thinking about him triggers the same kind of reaction. He doesn't know why it is -- what he's done to earn that much grace, that allows him to return to Dean's side again and again. To remain until something calls him back or something slips and he's compelled to slide between again. He's grateful for what he gets even if he doesn’t exactly know who or what he should be grateful to.
Dean's fingers push up and through his. "I know you do," he says and it's taken a long time for Dean to actually get that much -- to understand that as much as Sam wants to be here (as much as he can want anything) it's as much Dean's will as his own that makes it possible.
For days, even occasionally weeks, it's easy for Dean to forget. "I know it's hard for you," Sam starts to say, and Dean shoves up suddenly, pushing Sam back and over. Dean looms over him, expression fierce and close to anger but Sam knows that's not what it is. Yes, Dean's still angry sometimes because he's still afraid sometimes. Afraid Sam won't come back. Afraid Sam's really not who he seems to be. And maybe more, when they are like this -- naked and close, breathing each other's air, touching each other like lovers rather than brothers -- afraid Sam is exactly who he seems to be.
Dean's fingers dig into his shoulders and Sam knows there should be pain -- more pain than he actually feels -- that Dean's fingers will leave marks, bruises, the same way his teeth do.
The bruises and bites will fade; the marks of Dean's hands and teeth. On his back, the mark of Dean's blood remains. Sam can feel the scars if he reaches back across his shoulder. Sometimes he does it with his back to the mirror in the bathroom, twisting his head to see the scars there, the pale raised skin. Even in reverse he can read what it says.
Dean's name means "valley" or some variation thereof -- the hollow between two mountains, two rivers, two forces. Given the way Sam and their father had gone at it in the last few years of either of their lives, it's kind of ironically apt. Valley, the in between places; the quiet places to come home to.Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow Of Death.
Quand'anche camminassi nella valle dell'ombra della morte.
Aunque ande en valle de sombra de muerte,
*"You know jack shit, Sam," Dean says but it's not angry the way it comes out. "You don't think of me at all when you're there, do you?"
"No. I don't think of anything. There's nothing there, Dean." Sam doesn't add, for me because for all that it's true it doesn't actually help. Everything Sam could possibly want or need is here.
Dean doesn’t get why that's not enough and Sam doesn't know how to explain it to him. Not with words anyway.
His own hands come up to frame Dean's face, fingers testing the tension in his jaw, feeling the slide of his Adam's apple when he swallows hard. Dean's grip on Sam eases though, and he drops his head to rest it on Sam's sternum. Sam can only rub and stroke across the back of his skull, smoothing the ruffled, sweat-slicked hair at the nape of Dean's neck. "This is so fucked up."
"I know. I'm sorry." Sam really is. This doesn’t matter beyond here, this thing between them. Sex. Love. Anger. Grief. None of it matters past this point. Dean's caught between guilt and desire and while Sam feels the latter, the former isn't an issue. Not here, not beyond. This guilt is nothing. His own is far more vicious, leaving damage behind he never meant to, damage he may never be able to fix. He pulls Dean's head up, lets their eyes meet, dropping his own before Dean can look away and focusing on his brother's lips: thinned out, still angry or frustrated.
These conversations never go very well.
Dean's anger has a flavor; it's sharp and bitter, like bathtub gin. Sam seeks out that taste, the same way he seeks out the flavor of Dean's passion, of his gratitude -- love and lust, as weird as the latter feels to him. Half the time Sam thinks this got started not because of a desire of the flesh but a desire of some other kind, of Dean missing something fundamental and necessary, but that he can only express physically. Sam remembers when it started -- when he first felt the same cravings for some kind of connection to replace the one they'd lost when he died.
He thinks he should care more that part of what drives Dean to take Sam to his bed, to take Sam into his body, kiss him, touch him, or to leave his own mark inside Sam, is that need to give Sam a reason to stay, like the pleasure is secondary to everything else. There's nothing healthy or right about it for Dean, but Sam knows there's nothing actually wrong with it either.
Dean worries about what fucking Sam says about how he feels about Sam; what fucking his brother says about him.
Sam Winchester, son of May and John Winchester, younger brother to Dean Winchester, died because of a self-inflicted (more or less) gunshot wound to the head at near point blank range.
He tried to explain that too, once, and got a half-hearted but appalled joke from Dean about necrophilia. Sam had swatted him on the back of the head and then shoved him into the motel pool.
He's only Dean's brother when he's with Dean. He's only Sam for as long as he remains in the here and now. The rest of the time he's something else.
It isn't the sex that keeps him who he is, it's Dean. The sex is just a surprising and kind of amazingly good side affect. Better than hot showers, or really good coffee.
Okay, so he probably should keep that to himself too, except he thinks it might make Dean laugh.
Instead he shifts and maybe shimmies a little, drags his teeth across Dean's lower lip and gives every indication he can that this is somethin he wants (he does) , that he needs (he does) , that he loves (he does), and that being brothers actually means less to him at this point than being together.
He's gotten tons better at knowing what Dean likes and his own body, for all it's quirks and occasional misfires in the ow, that should hurt department, is actually a whole lot more sensitive and responsive than he remembers. Or Dean's just really good at this. Maybe a little of both.
He plants his feet on the bed and pushes up, swallows Dean's appreciative groan and reaches between them, one hand wrapping around and covering both of them and his other hand tilting Dean's head just like that. Dean has to hold himself up which means he can't use his hands, can't touch, and that drives him crazy every time. It pisses him off, but Sam really has gotten very, very good at giving Dean exactly what he wants or needs, and since Dean pushing and rocking against him, against Sam's hand and his dick is exactly what Sam needs and wants, he figures it's win for both of them.
I don't remember this, want this, miss this…when I go, is what he thinks. When Dean finally sets his hands on Sam's chest, pushing up and dropping back and Sam is sliding down on the bed, willingly open with legs braced head thrown back; he can feel the scars on his back burn and ache. The blood that etched them there courses through his brother's body and speaks to everything Sam is or wants to be -- maybe even everything he ever wanted to be.
He can wait endlessly in between until he's called back by the dead or dying or by the desire of a single living person. When he gathers the dead, he's still not himself, not Sam. He's a Reaper of souls, the Guardian at the gate, defined by what he does, not who he is.
He's as much defined by Dean now as he ever has been.
When Sam comes he's in that moment again, of forever, of waiting. He'd explain it if he could, this is what it feels like. There, then. Forever. Riding the edge of ecstasy and not being asked to let go. It's not nothing. It's everything all at once.
Sometime you have to get past something to actually be able to appreciate the moment itself.
Dean comes with Sam's name on his lips.
Calling him home.
Calling him to himself.
And Sam doesn’t know how to tell Dean that's what he means when he says, intentions don't matter. Only what's been done, what gets done.
You loved me. That's what you did.
Sam can wait forever to feel that again. He'll always come back for that.
I don't leave you to go there. I leave there to come to you.
*further note/disclaimer: the Arabic script is pulled from the Arabic Life Application Bible. However, I don't read Arabic and hence the extraction of one phrase from the overall stanza was a dicey thing. Apologies if I got it wrong.
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