Sam couldn't take the pouting and the moping any longer. With a "I'm going out, don't know when I'll be back." He went into the bunker's epic garage, bypassed the Impala and settled himself on the motorcycle that Dorothy had left them. It was cold, but winter was finally starting to break, and the sky was clear, so he rode, rode until he found a city, he didn't know what city, didn't care. All he knew was that he had to get away from his depressed brother, the brother who kept trying to win his way back into Sam's good graces. No matter how many times he said it, Dean didn't understand, fixing a meal for him, or getting his favorite movies, or even his incessant search for the angel who Dean let use him, all of that didn't fix it. Nothing was going to "fix" it. They were hunting partners. And Sam wasn't even sure he wanted to be "brothers" ever again.
He parked the bike in a parking garage and just started walking. He needed to walk, needed to clear his head, needed to get away from everything, needed to get away from a grown man who was pouting because Sam had finally been honest with his brother and his honest thoughts had hurt his fragile feelings, needed to get away from the stale bunker that just simply reeked of sadness and death. So, on that cold, crisp, clear February day he just walked the streets, relishing in the life that a city could bring.
He walked most of the day, went to a used bookstore and reveled in the old tomes, purchased a couple, went to a coffee shop, drank some hipster drink and read the ancient volumes he had purchased, and then with sadness he realized that his day away was just about done, that he had to go back to the confining bunker, and once again watch Dean mope about, skulk about, and pretend that he didn't know that he was the root of Dean's issues.
However, a woman at the coffee shop stopped him, she didn't stop him as much as the tears streaming down her face stopped him. She was sitting at the table in front of him, in the corner, away from everyone else, and he saw a tear roll down her face and drip into the worn paperback she was reading. He tried to brush it off. She was reading a sad part of the book, he told himself. He stood to throw his coffee cup away when he realized, that she wasn't actually reading the book, the book was there on the table, and it was open, but she wasn't actually looking at it. And from the trail of make-up running down her face, it simply hadn't been the one tear.
He warred with himself, go and ask, or mind his own damn business and leave. He sighed, realized it wasn't in his nature to let someone suffer so he walked up to her table.
"Are you alright?" He asked quietly.
She looked up sharply, wiping her eyes, and smearing more make-up. "Oh, I'm fine." The woman said unconvincingly. Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out a clean bandanna, handed it to her, and she gave a grateful smile.
"Thank you." She dabbed at her eyes. "I must be a sight."
"You just look like someone in pain and in need of a friend." He said and asked if he could take the seat in front of her. She nodded, and he sat.
"You really don't need to..." she said with a sniff and attempted to hand the bandanna back to him. He declined it with a shake of his head. "My friend gave me these books." She said and indicated the paperback on the table. "Said that they might help. All they've done is made me cry."
"What did she think she was helping with?"
Brown eyes watered again, and a sad smile tugged at her lips. "I just lost my brother two weeks ago to cancer, he fought for a year, but in the end it won, and my brother's consolation prize was a box in a nice cemetery."
"He's in a better place."
She laughed. "I hate it when people say that. How do they know? Have they been there? For all I know there is nothing out there past this life."
"There is something beyond this life, and it is a good place. And it is better than being miserable and alone."
"How do you know that? Have you been there?" She asked rather sharply, but before Sam could come up with a lie that wouldn't hold water, one this poor grieving soul would buy simply because she was grieving, she waved the questions away.
"I'm sorry." She said and wiped at her eyes "It's just that so many people say that, and I really don't know if at this point I believe it."
"Death is hard."
"Yeah, understatement of the year." She fingered the book in front of her. "I think that's why my friend gave me these." She gave the barest hint of what a real smile from her must look like. "It's about these two brothers, these two brothers that travel all over the world and fight supernatural stuff." Sam felt his ears grow warm. "They just have such a bond. They love each other so much. So much that Dean was willing to give up his soul for his brother." She shook her head. "His soul. He was willing to sell it down the river to hell for the one person in this life he loved most."
"But at what cost?" She looked up.
"You've read them?"
"At what cost?" She laughed. "One more moment with his brother, one more YEAR of moments with his brother."
"But he started the apocalypse because of that deal."
"It was worth it."
"No one life is worth that much death."
"It is if you love someone. If I thought for a second that crossroads were real, I'd be looking for one and doing the exact same thing Dean did when his brother died. My brother and I had a hard life, alcoholic parents who died young, and he took care of me, kept the bullies away at school, helped me get into the college of my choice, helped me stay out of trouble. He did everything you could want from an older brother. And this is how I can repay him. I can simply let him die. So, yeah, if I thought that anything in these books could possibly be true, I'd do it, in a heartbeat."
"But what if heaven or whatever is better than this life?"
She paused and thought for a second, trying to form her thoughts into a coherent sentence. She took a breath and said, "Because family meant everything to my brother, and that meant me and his wife and kids. And how can it be heaven for him if we are all here and he's not?" She wiped her eyes again. "And I know he'd do the same for me. That's what people do for those they love." She wiped her eyes again. "Do you have anyone who loves you like that?"
Sam slowly nodded. "Yes. My brother." She put a hand on his.
"Then you understand." She smiled and stood. "I should be going." . She stuck her hand out and he took it. "Thank you for listening. I guess I just needed that."
"You're welcome." He said softly.
The drive back to the bunker was slower, and he did more thinking than cursing. When he pulled the motorcycle back into its spot and cut the engine, he simply sat there and tried desperately to figure out what to say to Dean, because he knew he'd have to say something.
He found his brother, in the kitchen, reading, again, because that was all he did now, was try to figure out how to catch the angel who had betrayed him, try to figure out how to make things better with an unforgiving brother, try to make peace where there rarely was any.
"Supper is in the oven." Dean said in the defeated tone that had been the result of Sam's calloused angry words.
"You eaten?" Sam asked as he pulled he roast and potatoes out of the oven.
"Yeah. I'll get out of your way in a second."
"Sam. I really don't want another lecture. I got it the last time. We're not brothers, we are hunting partners. I understand." He said and stood.
"No. No. I want to talk." Dean eyed his brother warily and reluctantly sat back down.
Sam picked at his food trying to find the right words, any words. "I think I understand now."
"Why you saved me."
"You said that it was because I didn't want to be alone."
"I might have been wrong."
"I think you did it because you feel that my life is worth more than yours."
After a beat Dean said, "No. No, I don't think that anymore."
"Then what do you think?"
"I think that your life is worth the same amount as mine. And I wouldn't want you to try not to save me."
Sam nodded. "Like when you were in purgatory and I didn't come looking."
"I'm not trying to start a fight." Dean said defensively. "You're my family Sam."
"I know you aren't trying to start a fight." Sam pushed food on his plate and then said, "I think I finally understand what that means too. I've told you time and time again that we don't look at family the same way." Dean's eyes lost contact with Sam's. "And I think I finally get what you think family is. I always thought it was co-dependence, it was you needing someone around because you don't like to be alone, because you couldn't branch out on your own so you wanted me around all of the time, wanted to cluck over me, to control me. That you wanted Dad around or Bobby because you really needed approval from a father figure. But that's not it."
"Family for you is little things. Like making this dinner and keeping it warm for me. Family is putting a salt line down so the bad guys can't get in. It's giving your life so someone else can live theirs, the way they want to. For you, family is about sacrifices, big and small. That's why you keep giving your life for mine."
Dean hesitated and nodded. "Yeah. I shouldn't have tricked you into accepting my help."
"No, you shouldn't have. And that makes me have a difficult time trusting you."
"As it should."
"But I had no right saying that we aren't brothers. I was high on demon blood for a year, chose a demon over you, did some really nasty things to you and you never once said that we weren't brothers. I shouldn't have hit below the belt."
"It's okay Sam."
"No, it isn't. And I'm sorry for saying that."
"Sammy, you're my family."
"I know." Sam took a bite of his roast and moaned with pleasure. "I need to kiss whoever taught you how to cook."
Dean smirked. "You want a beer?" Peace offering.
"Yeah. I think I'd like that." Dean headed to the refrigerator. "What do you have on Gadreel? Peace offering accepted.