callisto65: (Sam/Dean bw)
[personal profile] callisto65
Written as part of [personal profile] mara_snh's liquor-and-scribbling suggestion to help us all through the 'vale of tears' that is S4.

I've had the beer, and very nice it was too. So here's the scribbling.. a shot of S1 angst, when all Sam and Dean ever fell back on was each other.

Gen, this is a coda to 1.15, Shadow. Because Kripke, Kim, Meg, and all the boys packed a lot into that one. It was going to be a drabble, but we all know how that goes with me, so it's coffee-sized now at just under 1,500 words.

Oh, and there's a tiny tweak to canon here.



Nor The Battle To The Strong

Dean manages to drive for about an hour on autopilot. The blood slowly stiffens and cracks across the various rips in his skin and under his clothes until he thinks he’ll have to hit the brakes just to scratch himself to death. He sees the ‘unset rip’ motel and jerks the wheel a hard right. Experience has taught him that anything with letters missing is going to be the kind of place not to ask questions when two guys this torn up arrive in the small hours of the morning. Especially not if he slides an extra twenty across for the room key. Sam’s moving like molasses and Dean’s hobbling, so it’s probably just as well the guy barely glances their way. Sam is also clutching the weapons bag like a life preserver, even though it’s still as heavy and must hurt like fuck on all the scrapes Dean knows his brother has on his shoulders. But God knows Sam deserves something to clutch right now, so Dean carries in everything else and wonders how in holy hell he’s going to get Sam back from this.

Sam enters the room like an old man and sits slowly on the end of the nearest bed, still clutching the weapons bag on his lap. Dean moves carefully about the room, setting up their meager supplies and glancing at his brother from time to time. Sam stays where he is, gaze down on the fingers he’s wrapped tightly around the bag’s straps. His breathing sounds steady enough in the quiet, so for now Dean’s going to make the most of the fact that Sam hasn’t said a word since Dean shoved a shoulder into him to break his gaze and get him moving round the car to the passenger seat. How much of the silence is grief and how much is pain Dean has no idea, but right now it’s all there is and all there can be. His own energy and will for this shit have been sucked bone dry, sometime between Meg diving out the window, and having to hug his father hello and goodbye in the finger snap it took for claws and blood to come looking and find his family in the dark one more fucking time.

And splinter them. One more fucking time.

But Dean’s not going to be able to leave Sam to it for much longer, because shock is one thing but Sam’s starting to look a little glassy, as if he could faceplant into the bag any second. Dean’s practiced eye is pretty sure the gashes on Sam’s face won’t scar, but Sam’s still going to have to stay awake and with it enough to wash them out so that he can be sure.

With this in mind he pauses on his way to the bathroom. “Sam?” He sounds like someone just opened his crypt. He clears his throat and tries again. “Sam.”

He gets a slow blink in acknowledgment.

“You want first shower?”

Sam’s head shakes no and Dean doesn’t push it.

******

Warm water has rarely felt this good, but Dean doesn’t linger under the spray, because he’s sure he’s going to find his brother pretty much the same as he left him. He watches pink water swirl away, wraps a towel tightly around a gash down his right side which seems determined to keep bleeding, and steps out to examine his face in the small mirror. Not bad. He’s going to have pink lines down his forehead for a while, and a knot on his right temple that’ll hurt like a bitch for at least a week, but he knows enough to be grateful. Without Sam and his crazy flare idea there would be three more broken bodies lying next to Meg’s, and no luxury of staring at a mirror and wondering what to patch up first.

Dean clenches his jaw, swears at the pain of it, then cinches the towel a little tighter and thinks about brothers who are so damn good at a life they don’t want.

By the time he’s got himself dried off and into a pair of sweatpants and a loosely buttoned shirt, Sam has at least managed to get his jacket off – well, almost. His hands are still trapping the sleeves around his wrists either side of the weapons bag, as if he forgot what he was trying to do halfway through. He looks about twelve, which unlocks Dean’s heart and feet in a second. This he can do. This he’s done a thousand times before.

“Hey, Sammy. Come on, let’s get this jacket all the way off you, okay?” He eases Sam’s arms out the sleeves one at a time, his voice as gentle as a horse whisperer. “I’ll just... we’ll put the bag on the floor for now, yeah? And hey, you want gun cleaning duty that badly, you got it, bro. No need to—

“Dean.”

Dean stops on his way up from putting the bag on the floor. When Sam was one he broke the speech barrier with that, his first ever word. He smiled and said it to the enchanted five-year-old leaning over his crib, and the five-year-old couldn’t move until he heard it again. Which is much the same as now, except that Dean’s not five and there are no smiles this time. Just something raw and untethered looking to land and hold on.

Dean goes down on his haunches in front of his brother, but it makes no difference. Sam swallows, looks at him, looks away, and can’t say anything. Dean wants to lay his hands on Sam, anything to get that look gone from his eyes, but he has no idea where all his scrapes and bruises are. He would squeeze his shoulders, but he knows one of them is wrenched and sore. He would slide a palm around his neck, but it’s black with dried blood from Sam's cheek. The only place Dean can see that Sam’s not bleeding, is his forehead. So Dean leans his head there. He closes his eyes, inhales all that grief and complicated love choking Sam up, and tries desperately not to see their bleeding father limping away.

Sam’s breathing hitches violently, so Dean presses in a little more, ignoring the throb from the cuts on his own forehead.

“Dean... I just... Oh fuck. Dad—” Even more broken.

“Shh, I know. Dude, I know.” He can stay like this forever as long as Sam doesn’t cry. He can’t take Sam’s tears now any more than he could when his name was Sam’s entire world.

A minute passes, maybe more. And then there’s an almighty sniff and Sam’s sleeve swipes across the tight space between them.

Dean opens an eye but doesn’t move. He forces a smile, let’s Sam feel it in every aching muscle he has.

“When you’re ready, Sammy, I’ve got a slice I need you to look at. And I ain’t talkin’ pizza.”

The answering laugh is weak, wet, and a beat too long in coming. But it’ll do Dean for now. He eases back on his heels so he can see Sam’s face. It’s puffy, bruised, and the blood on his cheek is so dry it’s gone black, but there’s a little less shine in his eyes and a little more life in his hands. Which Sam immediately makes use of to shove Dean lightly on the shoulder.

“Ow, don’t make me laugh, Dean. It fuckin’ hurts everywhere, man.”

“Yeah, well, up off your feet, Francis. I need you clean before I’m letting you anywhere near me with a needle and thread.”

A hand around his wrist halts him as he rises, Sam swallows hard again and Dean braces himself.

But it’s not what he expects.

“Helluva life we’ve got here, Dean,” says Sam quietly, stroking Dean’s wrist with his thumb. Sam looks at Dean a heartbeat longer, giving him the smallest of half-smiles before he lets go of his arm and winces his way to his feet, and then to the bathroom.

Dean stands and stares at the bathroom door long after it’s closed. He wonders how little he truly has left when the only comfort he can find in all of this, is in Sam saying ‘we’. He looks down at the weapons bag, open and full save for that one, life saving flare.

If his Dad is right and the battle is just beginning, then he’s got an ‘us’ with Sam a while longer.

No matter how fucked up that makes him, it’s something to be grateful for.

******

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callisto65

January 2010

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