Saturday, October 18, 2008


“How’s your brother going to feel when he knows you’re going to hell. How’d you feel when your dad went for you?”

Dean Winchester jerked awake, tremors running through his sweat-soaked body. A nightmare. It had only been a nightmare. He swallowed hard and ran a hand over his face.

A quick glance to his left showed that his younger brother was still asleep.

He pulled the covers back and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Bobby Singer’s haunting words echoed through his mind, sending all possibility of sleep into the future. He sighed softly and scratched his head unsure of what exactly had brought on this new and unwelcome nightmare.

Sam had been having a moody day. Dean had noticed, decided it was not worth the effort of mentioning and then promptly fell into a cycle of worry and concern that always followed on the heels of Sam’s brooding moments. Rain began to fall softly against the hotel room window and Dean remembered leaving the driver’s side window of his car down a few inches. The Impala came before sleep - and anyway, he needed a distraction. He got to his feet.

Throwing on a jacket over his T-shirt and briefs, the lean man quietly let himself out of the room. He sighed, a little louder and longer, once outside in the warm night air. The raindrops were tiny pricks of respite from the sweltering heat and he hoped that it would continue into the next day. Hunting in hundred degree weather was anything but fun, especially when the car being driven in had leather seats. He had a sunburn that would be tan by the next afternoon. At least the discomfort had reaped a reward.

Rolling up the car window Dean decided to take a quick stroll around the building to ease his tired, sore muscles. The fact that he was not even wearing pants did not bother the young man. He knew that no one was around and all of the nearby lights had either burnt out or had been broken. This alerted him to the possibility of danger, but he needed the walk.

Tired, weary legs propelled him slowly down the cement sidewalk that skirted around all four sides of the hotel building. He stuck to the shadows, moving stealthily enough not to get noticed by any standard passerby should any be encountered. He thought of Sam.

“How’s your brother going to feel when he knows you’re going to hell. How’d you feel when your dad went for you?”

Those words had not haunted him before tonight and he needed to know why they suddenly would not be silenced. His brow furrowed, Dean Winchester thought back to the night he had talked - so disheartened - to the cold corpse of his younger brother. A mouthful of vomit pushed its way up his throat and he swallowed hard to ward off the nausea.

He could still see that unmoving form, his gaze grew distant and he lost track of time. Dean let his body take over and in an automatic haze of putting one foot in front of the other his mind wandered. Sam had deserved to live, he would never regret what he had needed to do a year before.

Sure, his last few days were weighing heavily on his mind. He had less than two weeks to live, that would weigh heavy on anyone, he figured dryly. For Sam, he would endure anything hell could send his way. Those evil bastards were not going to get the pleasure of watching him live in agony without his brother - no, he had made the right choice selling his soul.

Confident in his decision once again, Dean squared his shoulders and lifted his chin. No nightmare was going to cheat him out of what could possibly be the last nights sleep he ever got. An irony tinged grin stretched across his face. What was causing the nightmare no longer mattered - the nightmare itself no longer mattered. All Dean Winchester needed was a good nights sleep and then some quality time with his brother. That was what being a big brother was all about. Letting go of ones own problems in order to focus on creating peace and happiness in a younger siblings life. As much as was possible, anyway. For Sam, Dean was unsure of just how much good he could do before his death. However, he was determined to try.


Sam woke up the next morning to find his brother sipping coffee and reading a newspaper, illuminated by a bright beam of sunlight snaking through the partially closed curtains.

“You going to let me sleep all day?” Sam asked in surprised and consternation when he looked at the bedside clock. It read seven o’clock a.m. and he knew for a fact that he had set the alarm for five. “Did you turn the alarm off?”

Dean looked up, taking another sip of coffee. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sam gave his older brother a suspicious once over. “Uh, huh. Sure you don’t.”

Dean just shrugged and returned to his paper.


Dean knew he should not have let Sam sleep in. The younger Winchester was practically neurotic when it came to getting out on the road in the early hours. It always bugged Dean that Sam used the excuse of it being a less traffic congested time of the day when it was not even Sam who drove the car. For one day, Dean decided that he would let his brother sleep later and maybe he could even get them into a restaurant. He was tired of eating food on the road.

“Breakfast in five.” He announced.

Sam raised a surprised eyebrow. “You bought breakfast?”

Dean folded the newspaper and put it down, draining his cup of coffee in one swig. “Nope!” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “We’re going down the road. I saw a restaurant.”

Sam smirked. “You are joking, right? We have a hunt…three towns over. We don’t have time for this.” His eyes clouded. “People’s lives depend on us, Dean.”

The older man felt his hopes for the day sink below the incoming tide of his brothers guilt trip. All he had wanted to do was make today a good day for his little brother. Was that so much to ask? Was that too hard a dying wish for the fates to muster? He shook his head firmly.

“They can wait. We’re doing this, come on.” He stood, throwing his coat over one shoulder.

“Alright. Just let me get dressed.” Sam consented once he realized that Dean was serious. “Give me a minute.”

“I’ll be waiting in the car, Princess.”

“Bite me.”

“Watch it.”

Sam shook his head and watched his brother leave the room. Once the door had closed, Sam frowned. He felt anger growing inside of him, clawing to be let out into his conscious slate of emotions, but he repressed the feeling. Dean was only being Dean after all, nothing to get upset over. With a heavy sigh the dark haired man began to dress.

It would be a long day if Dean’s current attitude was any meter to judge by.


Dean sat in the booth, waiting for his order and staring in wonder at his younger brother. He could still be amazed, after all these years and all his eyes had seen. A grin cracked the gloomy expression that covered his brother’s face. Sam laughed nervously.

“What are you looking at, Dean? Dean?” When there was no reply Sam leaned forward. “What is it?”

The younger man did not like the strange, unidentifiable look on his brother’s face. Dean was still staring at the dark haired man in wonder. A revelation had been bourn by his heart and then born seconds before as they had sat chatting about the weather.

Sam was not a hunter.

In all the years that they had grown up together it had never, not once, occurred to Dean that maybe the lifestyle was not something his brother could handle. Now, he knew for sure that this was the case. He had saved his brother’s life. That life was not what his brother desired. Yet, over the past year Sam had done everything in his power to help Dean reverse the deal. He had fought so hard.

“Dude, what?”

Dean shook his head, finally breaking out of the spell that had been cast over him. A deep sadness replaced the feeling of awe. His brother deserved to be saved from this life even more than the next. He knew there was not enough time for him to do that - not again. He tried to smile nonchalantly, but instead it ended up as a grimace.

“Nothing, man.” Dean replied finally, his voice tight. “Just.” He cleared his throat. “Just thinking, that’s all.”


Sam shifted uncomfortably. He had no idea what his brother had been ‘just thinking’ minutes before but it made him feel very uneasy. He was relieved when their order was brought to the table and placed before them.

“Looks good.”

“Sure does and this beats eating in the car any day.” Dean smiled wide, his eyes lighting up. “Dig in, Sammy.”

After a meal overseen by awkward small talk and silence they left the restaurant.

“Thank you.” Sam said as they walked out the front door. Dean’s only response was a bittersweet smile.


“What you did was selfish.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It was selfish, but you know, I’m okay with that.”

Sam Winchester opened his eyes and was surprised to find tears spilling over his lashes like water through a broken dam. He reached up to wipe the dampness away in the wake of his latest nightmare. He glanced over to the bed on his right and let out a tiny breath of relief when he saw that Dean was still fast asleep, drooling onto his pillow and mumbling about pie.

A soft smile was overturned by the continuation of his tears. Crying was not something that he indulged in on a regular basis, but sometimes there was no helping it. Sam decided that he could use some fresh air and with one last glance at Dean’s sleeping form he quietly let himself out of the hotel room.

The night air was cool and refreshing. Sam breathed in deep and then exhaled slowly, letting his nightmare shrink back into the recesses of his mind where it belonged. That fight with Dean had been a mile marker in the long year since the deal had been made. A year filled with darkness and pain. A year about to end.

One week to go. Their latest hunt had been an overwhelming success and on the eve of their next battle Dean had rented them a couple of hookers for the night. Sam chuckled sadly at his own horrified reaction. Not that he did not want a girl every now and then it had just been a little too cold and impersonal. The four of them had ended up chowing on pizza, beer and chips. A rocking radio station had also lent the option of dancing to the boys. Overall it had been an unexpectedly fun and relaxing night.

The hookers had went their way three hours before. Sam still was not sure what had brought on the nightmare, but it did not really matter. Dean and he had worked through that little spat months ago. Now Sam was focused entirely on saving his brother - and as many other people - as he possibly could. It was a new mission, a new lifestyle. Saving people.

“After everything I’ve done for this family, I think I’m entitled.”
“I’m tired, Sam.”

Sam ran a hand over his face, wiping at his eyes with his shirtsleeve. Dean had given so much over the years and sometimes Sam forgot that. A lot of times, to be honest with himself. He would forget that while he was a young, rebellious tween who only wanted answers, Dean had been faced with the challenge of raising him in an unstable environment, unable or unwilling to give the answers that would later be the ruination of Sam. It was a twisted life they had lead, but Dean had seen to it that Sam had the option of becoming something better, something more.

Law school would have been impossible if not for all of the long nights during high school, the two brothers alone in their hotel room worrying about their father, when Dean had spent hours helping him with homework. It never really hit Sam before just how much of a father Dean had been for him. The elder Winchester brother had been a parent, a best friend and a model older brother. Now, he was a hunting partner. Sam let sobs shake his body as anguish spilled over the confines of his heart and tainted his soul. He was the reason his brother would die.

“You save me over and over. You give up everything for me, don’t you think that I would do that same for you?”

Sam could still see the shock, the incomprehension on his older brother’s face on that cold night a year before when he had learned about the deal. Had Dean really not understood just how much he was worth in the younger Winchester’s eyes? Could it really be that after everything he had done, Dean still felt like he had failed somehow? Sam shook his head, pain shaking his body until he could barely suck in enough breath to fill his lungs. He hugged himself in the darkness, wishing it all away.

It had torn both of their lives apart. It had forced them into this life. It would not let them go in peace. It was Fate.

A warm night breeze fingered through the long dark bangs dampened by the falling tears. Sam brushed them away with a sniffle and turned his back to the hotel. He needed to be someplace safe and alone. The Impala.


Dean awoke the next morning and instantly fell into a state of panic. Sam’s bed was rumpled and empty. He checked the bathroom and it to was deserted. Fear made him check that the floor was, indeed, still supporting him. It felt like he was falling in a deep, dark pit.


He pulled on some clothes and ran to the door, radiant rays of sunshine blinding him for a moment when he opened it. His eyes adjusted to the morning light and he started scanning the surroundings for any sign of his brother. No tall, lank form. No dark mop of long hair. No boyish grin, no brooding frown. He could not see his brother anywhere.

Dean felt his heart race as his breath came in shorter and shorter bursts.


Fumbling in his pocket for the Impala’s keys, Dean raced for the car ready to start an all-out manhunt for his little brother. He jerked open the door and froze, stunned to find Sam Winchester asleep, lying across the front seat of the car.

Dean stumbled over to the curb and sank to the ground. His legs were shaking from the adrenaline and after a moment he giggled in disbelief at his own reaction. It was not unusual for Sam to be out getting breakfast in the mornings. The fact that he had freaked out so spectacularly left him wondering at his own sanity.

He had left the car door wide open and the cooler air woke Sam. He groaned and sat up in the seat, his eyes drawn to the sight of his older brother losing it on the sidewalk a few feet away. Sam lost no time scooting out of the car, he shut the door.

“Dean, you alright?” He squatted down in front of the older man until he was eyelevel. “You with me, buddy?”

Dean looked up at him.

“I’m fine, Sam. Just thought I’d lost something.” He turned his head. “It’s not important.”

Sam’s brow furrowed in confusion and then he grimaced. His neck had gotten a nasty crick in it from the night of sleeping in the car. Sam could not remember falling asleep, but at least he felt more rested than he had in a long time. No more nightmares had kept him awake - maybe he should sleep in the car more often, Sam thought.

“What did you lose?” He asked his obviously distraught older brother.

Dean laughed, a self-deprecating sound. “Nothing. Everything’s alright now, Sammy.” He patted his brother’s shoulder reassuring. “It’s all good.”

Sam was not convinced, but he decided to let it slide.


They were driving down an anonymous road on the way to the next hunt, the next meaningful moment in their lives. A heavy silence filled the cab as both boys drifted off into thoughts of their own problems.

Dean figured he would hit the next burger joint they came across. He wanted as many American cheeseburgers as possible before Hell took even that little bit of goodness away.

Sam tried to figure out how to broach the subject that had sent him into such a depressed state the night before. He needed Dean to know that he understood now, that he appreciated everything the older Winchester had done for him over the years.


Both began at the same moment in the same somber tone. Sam blinked. Dean had sounded so serious. What if his brother knew what he had been thinking. Sam waved a hand.

“You first.” Sam said, hoping that his brother would broach the muddled subject of feelings.

Dean cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, his hands opening and closing around the steering wheel.

“I was just wondering what you wanted to eat, I’m stopping at the next burger place. You hungry?”

Sam blinked rapidly again, this time in unexpected surprise. Out of all the questions his brother could have uttered, that was the least expected although the most likely to be spoken. Sam chuckled lightly at his own squeamishness when it came to conversations involving apologies and regrets.

“Nothing, man, I’m good.” His smile remained as the younger man treaded into unknown territory. “By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you. As a big brother and as a friend. Everything you do for me, well, it’s just - thank you. You do so much for me, always have and over the years I guess that I‘ve just come to take it for granted. All those years where you were raising me more than dad was…well, I never really thought of those times as a blessing or anything. Quite the opposite, actually. I thought that you were trying to control me or make me into some hunter. I never stopped to think that you were doing so much more than you ever needed to - I really appreciate all of the time you sacrificed to take care of me and guide me. And thank you for teaching me math.”

Okay, that could have gone a lot better, Sam though with an inward grimace. He had just sort of blurted out all the things he was feeling in an incoherent rush of words. Dean gave him a long, thoughtful glance before turning his attention to the road.

“That’s nice, man.” Dean said finally.

Sam waited. Surely his brother would have more to say than that after such a heartfelt, long-awaited revelation. Nothing. He felt a blush creeping up his neck. What had he been thinking? ‘And thank you for teaching me math’. Sam felt like kicking himself, where had THAT come from.

“I never knew you felt that way.” Dean said so softly that Sam almost did not pick up the words. “I never knew you understood.”

Sam wanted to tell his brother that he had not understood, not really, until the night before. Somewhere in his throat the words refused to form. He looked sideways at the profile of his brother. That man who had been there for him through everything. When he had lost his first tooth, lost his first girlfriend and lost his life. This man who over the years had grown into a hardened, stoic ghost of his former self - hidden safely behind years of painful experiences. Sam reached over and gripped his brother’s shoulder in place of the hug he wanted to desperately to give.

“I didn’t understand, Dean.” He whispered back in a low, thick voice. “But I do now.”