Genre: slash (sort of?), hurt/dark headspace, 9x10 "Road Trip" tag
Pairing: Sam/Sam, Sam/Cas, past Sam/Jess, Sam+Dean, in their desperate gencest way
Word Count: ~2500
Warnings/Enticements: masturbation, erotic asphyxiation/breathplay, semicidal thoughts, rather unfiltered rage?
Summary: A very belated fill for a_starfish, who prompted the following: For some time since/after Sam expelled Gadreel, Sam has been experimenting with auto-erotic asphyxia partly as a result of ambivalent and ambiguous feelings about life/death, control over autonomy, taking control of life through something involving the risk of death. Castiel's aware, to some extent, of what Sam's up to and although conflicted hasn't done/said anything until this point because it's Sam's choice and his risk to take.
At some point, somewhat reluctantly, Cas is conflicted but starts taking a more active role. Cue some consensual breathplay/asphyxia, but it's still supremely fucked up and dysfunctional. And dark.
Sometimes, the chains leave bruises, pock the sweet spots on Sam's neck. Not always, which means Sam's wimping out on himself, but enough to get Cas's attention.
They must be impressive, Sam thinks--Sam who hasn't seen a mirror, because part of him's afraid he'll see his face and it won't be his; it won't be him--because Cas has always been a little hyperopic when it comes to humanity. Or at least, when it comes to anyone but Dean.
Dean, Cas won't shut up about.
Or maybe Cas is bringing up Dean exactly as much as any sane person would, given that they haven't heard from him in a week. Radio silence isn't really Dean's style.
But maybe it is now.
Sam could do with hearing less.
Chain around the doorknob. When he pulls, the lower layer grinds tight against the knob; it won't be coming loose.
Sam gets on his knees, boots against the door, and slips the chain around his neck.
It's a high gauge--Sam has no idea why the Men of Letters own chain this fine. Chain like this won't hold anything down; this is not a prisoner's chain.
Chain like this is freedom.
All the familiar lights and pinpricks flash behind Sam's vision.
He tries not to think about angels.
This, they won't be taking from him.
Aren't you worried about Dean? Cas asks, which means he's either extremely obtuse or he's a criminal mastermind. Sam's money's on criminal mastermind.
What Sam recognizes in Cas's approach has Dean written all over it. If it were Dean who hadn't left the bunker in a week, who wasn't playing nice with his body--in Dean's version, this means drinking himself stupid, probably not sleeping--Cas would ask, aren't you worried about Sam? Don't you want to go help Sam? Shouldn't you be thinking about Sam? And Dean would say yes, and yes, and yes, and Cas would get exactly what he wanted.
That is, Dean productively contributing to an effort that wasn't self-destruction. Or at least, was self-destruction taking the long way around.
Cas is clever that way. And yes, Sam is always, on some level, worried about Dean; that much is true. It's true even now. But he's more angry than he is worried, and more wary than concerned.
The slipped gear in Castiel's approach is this one crucial detail: Sam's not Dean. He's not as much of a slave to psychic displacement. He's okay with thinking about himself sometimes. And right now, he needs to think about himself.
Not Dean. It's thinking about Dean that got him into this mess in the first place.
Sam's not Dean, and he knows where to draw that line between them.
(He can still feel that cosmic, white-hot slipstream billowing up his throat. He wishes he could remember the moment he'd swallowed it down. But he doesn't. In the end, it's probably better for Dean if he doesn't.)
Also, Sam's not self-destructing.
Sam is barefoot this time, and it's a better idea already. He flexes his toes, balls of his feet arching up the door, all traction and control. Sam strokes his dick and feels that flutter of excitement sweep over him in wild arcs, like sparks jumping from a flame. He brings the chain cold over his neck.
Sam feels the pressure on his throat like a corresponding lift on his cock, feels his bloodstream as a connected system more than ever in that moment. Sam's never gentle with himself, all calluses and rough thrusts, and this is no exception. When it comes to jacking off, Sam supposes, he's impatient. But maybe that's true of anyone who mastered the art in a middle school locker room before track practice.
You wanna jump high, or jump long, you have to know how to build momentum fast.
Sam's breath whines against the chain at his throat as his hands find their swift, rote motion and start to detach from his brain, his body entirely. They feel tingly and amorphous, not quite his.
He's light-headed, colors pointillized and dancing in the black of his vision, and Sam dips lower. His hand work faster, maybe slower, he doesn't know, can't tell, doesn't matter.
He moans, cock throbbing and swollen, a chill comes over him, he dips deep into complete unconsciousness before he's ushered out, and comes. Hypnagogic jerk(ing off).
Sam lets his back sink against the door and he sags against the chain, cheeks flushed hot with pleasure and the sudden rush of blood to his head.
Why? Cas asks.
Cas probably doesn't even know what he's asking about. He probably thinks Sam is trying to off himself, maybe dangling from a ceiling fan until his sense of honor prevails and he doesn't. But that's not it at all, even if that's what people always think. Like this kind of thing was some kind of dark, tortured secret.
It's really not. And this is not some new disaster.
Sam and his chains, they've got history.
I like to stick a bit of lemon in my mouth, Jess had said, on October very long ago. She'd keep the lemon between her teeth, and go right up to that edge--just at the cusp, she'd bite down and the zing would wake her up. Mostly, though, she preferred Sam's ministrations; for her, sex had been a distinctly social affair. With her lovers, as with her students, she was big on participation.
She'd even had her brother over to the dorms a few times, to help Sam learn. Jake Moore had been a good teacher.
Jess's first TA paycheck had gone to an investment in the most, supple, pliant leather Sam had ever felt.
How's that for a fairy tale?
And you know who else was into this?
Amelia. (Though she'd used limes.)
And it's Ruby, actually, who'd quailed.
This is who I am, Cas, Sam says. You're going to have to get over it.
He'd always imagined having this conversation with Dean. To have Cas on the receiving end first throws him a little, puts Sam on the defensive. Sam's never wanted to be defensive about this.
Freedom, Cas replies, is a length of rope you hang yourself with. His expression is terse. It seems Sam was right about what Cas's imagination.
But for some reason, Sam can't let it go at that.
Is that some kind of apologism? he spits. I can't be trusted to make my own decisions, so thank god Dean's always around to save my life for me? You know, it's way less fucking heroic when he's not the one footing the bill.
Though Dean would if he could, and maybe that's worse. Fuck.
But Castiel says, It's just an old thought of mine. It has nothing to do with Dean.
There's something in his eyes; Sam's not sure what. But Cas isn't lying.
It's not about Dean.
Sam lets the words roll through his mind until all he is is veins and nerves, calling out for blood low.
This isn't about Dean.
If Sam is being honest with himself, this, right now, isn't at all what he'd felt with Jess. Then it had been about trust, about living on that knife's edge--as two angels dancing on the head of a pin. About giving oneself over. Losing Euclidean borders and forgetting who's who and outright refusing delineation.
Now it's about drawing those lines back.
This is Sam's to control. He has his life in his hands.
What quickly becomes clear, however, is that Sam doesn't care if he lives or dies. He has his life in his hands and it doesn't matter either way.
It's probably more complicated than that, at least in any other context. But the moment Sam feels that chain around his neck, he strips away hours, weeks, of waffling deliberation, and he just knows.
He doesn't care.
It's important to know that about yourself, he thinks. Sam closes his eyes and draws himself in lines, his body a separate thing exempt from all intrusion. A trusting thing, in his hands only.
Freedom is a length of rope you hang yourself with. But maybe this is more than freedom. Maybe these are Sam's rules, and his walls. The windows Sam puts down that tell him what is him, what is his, and what is not.
The weight of absence fills Sam's head, a dazzling emptiness, his cock painful to touch. So of course he strokes harder, faster. Then he squeezes.
The doors to the rooms in the bunker open inward.
Is this a bedroom thing or a dungeon one? I'm unclear, Cas says.
To his credit, he's probably being completely honest. It's not a rhetorical question.
Sam's still coughing. Cas had nearly strangled him, swinging the door open like that. It dragged Sam along with it like he was some kind of bull on a leash. To be naked and half hard and struggling for his life in his bedroom isn't really something Sam had ever envisioned being in front of Cas. But his pride adjusts to this more easily than he would have liked.
Do you want something? he rasps. He succumbs to another coughing fit.
I asked you a question, says Cas.
So Sam explains. It's clinical, his explanation, and not very complete. But that might serve Cas better.
What if you make a mistake? Cas asks.
Well, it doesn't matter, Sam supposes. He doesn't care. But he says, You mean, if I lock the door and an angel ignores it? That kind of mistake?
And for someone who doesn't understand language games, Cas has clearly been reading up on subtext, because he takes Sam's allusion and runs with it.
He loves you, Cas insists. Dean loves you.
And then Cas says, I care about you.
Whether that's supposed to be a distinction, an escalation, or a countrexample, Sam's not even sure. And it's not Castiel's feelings that are the confusing part about the admission.
He's my brother, Sam thinks. Dean's his brother and Dean's supposed to--
You're not supposed to do this to me.
Sam's eyes burn with a phantom holy light. He feels the blood rush to his face and his throat constrict--painfully, because certainly after the thing with the door, there will be bruises. And Sam really will kill himself if he's about to cry about this.
To his surprise, Cas joins him on the ground then, plucks the chain from the knob and cinches his hand up it, like a slipknot. His knuckles put freeing pressure on Sam's throat and he gives himself to the feeling.
Let me help, Cas says. Please.
Let me keep this safe.
Sam's not sure how safe he wants to be. Safety hurts.
Sometimes, when Sam wakes up in the morning, he feels obligated to come to his senses. Abaddon's running amok. He has revenge to exact on Gadreel, on Metatron. If not for himself, then certainly for Kevin. And god knows where Dean is, whether he's okay or not. He shouldn't be alone.
But then he gets to the kitchen and fuck it all. Because he can remember Dean sitting right there, in that chair, all dolled up in his dead guy robe, drinking coffee, offering Sam pancakes (blueberry, his favorite). Acting like nothing was amiss and maybe he was almost happy. And Sam remembers being so jazzed about this. To see his brother easy like that, after everything they'd been through, and everything they'd thought they'd lost. Except when Sam thinks about this now--or doesn't have a choice; if he had a choice, he wouldn't think about Dean at all--he knows it had all been a lie.
He'd been so happy to see Dean happy, and all that time, there'd been this between them.
And Sam's blood just freezes in his bloodstream and he wants to drag Dean out by his jaw, just shove his hand down Dean's throat and hold him by the teeth; he wants ceramic to shatter and coffee to fly and he wants to beat Dean into the goddamn ground and hold his throat until his ears go blue and he wants to shout how could you how could you how could you.
But he also wants Dean to be happy.
To have that, mixed with so much rage, and betrayal, this feeling in Sam's gut like he's had his stomach turned out and now instead he's got this big black hole, is the worst part of this. That's the worst part of this.
Maybe he could try to understand where Dean's coming from, but that's a dangerous exercise and a slippery, slippery slope.
Sam has to draw lines.
If that means he'll never see Dean on his side of it, then that's what it means.
Don't, Sam says, because he's standing in front of the percolator, staring, and Cas has begun to make a show of being concerned. Of maybe bringing up Dean again.
I want this to be safe, Castiel says again. That word means something very different to the two of them.
To Cas, it means he won't leave bruises. He doesn't have to use his hands, doesn't need to rely on crude senses like touch, or vision. If it's his airway Sam wants closed, veins pinched and nerves induced, Cas can do that without lifting a hand. Angels are, after all, God's first precision instrument.
Cas knows better than a doorknob what Sam's body can take, and what it can't.
I'll make sure this doesn't hurt you, he says.
Sam's answer is immediate.
These things leave marks he says. Everything we do, every decision we make--those leave marks. Those marks are our responsibilities.
They're responsibilities, Cas. So don't you dare.
(Sam's looked in a mirror, finally. He looks exactly as he always has. Dean and Gadreel came, and went, and they didn't leave a thing. At least Lucifer had had the decency to own his damage.)
Sam motions to the bed this time, rather than the floor.
He closes his eyes.
Sam feels Cas's hands close around his throat, and his body sinks into the mattress. Cas's fingers find the carotid body, and his fingers and Sam's find a synchronicity. Castiel's coax death, steal blood, beckon suffocation. Sam's make his dick come alive to the same beats.
Cas isn't half bad at this, but he's no Jess.
This isn't about trust.
Mostly, it's not about anything. Just losing. Drawing lines.
Trying not to disappear.
Does Dean know? Cas asks, several mornings later.
Sam's standing in front of the percolator again.
It's not a secret, he croaks. His throat is sore, and maybe this is getting away from him a little. Still, he keeps talking.
It's also not Dean's business.
I'm not asking about the proclivities, says Cas. He seems to have gotten over this very quickly. Who knows what he thinks of Sam now.
Does he know that he hurt you?
--I didn't pry intentionally, Cas continues quickly. But we were being very intimate. And I'm an angel.
But does he know?
Sam thinks about this. And he draws a line.
It obviously didn't matter, Sam says.
Now nothing does.