Note: this wee ficlet is set very specifically in early season 2, and is a remix of 'And the Rain's Gonna Wash Away What I Believe In' by embroiderama. Written for a Fandom Stockings fanworks celebration.

If you asked Sam what had woken him up at 5:30 a.m., he wouldn't have been sure. It was true that his wrist was aching inside the cast, a throbbing cadence over the steady drumbeat of rain against the motel windows. But maybe it was the sound of the rain itself that had pulled him from sleep. The night had been as still as a graveyard when he'd last awakened three hours before at the sound of Dean quietly slipping outside. Now Sam lay in bed, cocooned in darkness, and listened to the raindrops drilling against the glass windows, the wind whipping at the heavy wet motel awning, the mini-waterfall cascading over a clogged gutter nearby.

Good weather for sleeping in, he thought. But it wasn't always.

He remembered-when he was a small and trembling child, a lifetime ago-hiding under his blankets at the crash of thunder and lightning. Arms clasped tight around skinny shins, forehead pressed to knobby knees, flinching with each crack of doom. Then the corner of his blanket had lifted and Dean had crawled into his mini-tent and settled snug beside him, warm arm wrapped around Sam's quaking shoulders.

"The storm is moving away now, Sammy," he said. "Want me to show you how you can tell?"

Sam lifted his face, eyes round and luminous, and nodded.

They waited a few moments, and just as Sam started to feel safe, lightning flared again. It was like a camera taking a picture, and even in the darkness under their blanket, Sam could see that moment frozen forever in time: Dean's grin, excited and comforting all at once. "Count with me!" Dean started tapping his fingers against Sam's knee. "One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississip-."

Thunder rumbled to a roar, so powerful it felt to Sam like the house was shaking. But Dean seemed exhilarated, not worried. "You count between the lightning and the thunder, Sammy. For every five seconds between them, the storm is moving a mile away. You understand? The higher you can count, the farther away the storm is."

"I can count to… forty-eleven," Sammy had said proudly.

Dean put his hand on Sam's head and messed his hair fondly. "Show me," he said. "Lie back down here and count with me on the next one." They curled up together to wait, and Sam was asleep before the storm was five miles away.

There was no thunder or lightning now. Just a passing rain storm. Sam looked across the motel room; Dean's bed was still empty. The sky would clear soon, but the heaviness in their hearts would remain. And as much as Sam was confused and guilty and hurting over the death of their father, how much harder was it for Dean?

As long as Sam could remember, Dean had been the one to make him feel worthwhile and protected. But who did his brother have? Dean thought Dad hung the moon. Dad had been the one to make Dean feel proud of himself. Dad made him feel safe. And now Dad was gone.

Something in Dean was broken inside, and Sam didn't know what to do. He wasn't Dad. He couldn't be what Dean needed; he didn't even know how to try.

All his life, Sam was the kind of person who didn't want to do something until he knew it was right. He lay in bed, and listened to the sky manifest the grief that Dean could not. Hell. He threw back the blanket and sat up. Nobody ever taught Dean to go to Sam when he was scared. Dean just figured it out. Maybe Sam should quit thinking and just try doing for a change. Maybe… maybe he could figure out how to be what Dean needed. God knew, he was no John Winchester. But he was Dean's brother, and that would be a start.

He slipped his feet into unlaced sneakers, reached for his jacket, and headed out into the rain to find his brother.

~ end ~