That Ache
Chapter One

Disclaimer: Everything is still mine. But you can all still borrow it.

Author's Note: Can take place any time. Please do drop a note; good, bad or ugly.

Summary: He had to do something to relieve that ache. Warnings: deals with self harm; some language.


Dean sauntered into the dark room, tossing the key to the ratty table. The motel was one of the skuzzier they'd stayed at and he wished he'd lingered at the pub for another beer – or two. Maybe if his head was buzzing his skin wouldn't crawl at the thought of kicking of his boots, lest bare feet brush the carpet.

"Sam?" he rubbed at his forehead.

Sighing, Dean clicked on a lamp, looking down at his fingers before wiping them on his jacket. He noticed the light on in the bathroom and called, "Dude, hurry up. I gotta piss."

He'd spent the last couple hours at a trucker bar up the street, putting back Coors (the silver bullet – he'd laughed at that since he was a kid) and wishing there was a woman in the place that weighed less than three hundred pounds.

Sam had asked for some time alone, which was more than fair. They lived a claustrophobic lifestyle, moving from the car to small motel rooms. Everyone needs some privacy.

Dean slithered out of his jacket, pausing before tossing it over the chair back – it was dirty anyway.

"Sam, seriously, man. C'mon."

He crossed the room, knocking on the bathroom door, frowning when it swung open, "Sam?"

Dean's eyes flashed wide, heart clenching. His brother sat on the edge of the tub, sleeves rolled up, blood oozing from the long series of cuts tracing up his forearms, a viscous knife clutched in his shaking hand.

"Sam!" He moved to spring on his brother and wrest the weapon from his grasp.

"Don't," Sam ground the blade against wrist, halting the elder in the doorway. "Don't…"

Dean held his hands out non-threateningly. "Sam… What are you doing?"

The younger raised his eyes, face smeared with tears and blood from his fingers. "I deserve to bleed…"

Dean could barely hear for the pounding of his heart in his temples. "You are bleeding…"

Sam laughed dryly, the blade biting into his skin.

The elder took a cautious step forward, "Sam, give me the knife."

"Stay back!"

Dean noticed the glazed look in his brother's eyes, the way the tremors in his fingers were forcing the blade deeper into his flesh. "Sam…" he held out his hand. "Please, just give me the knife…"

Sam shook his head, hot tears stinging his cheeks. "Stay back… Just keep back…"

"Fuck, Sammy! Did you ask for time alone so you could kill yourself?"

The younger's hands shook harder at the question. His jaw worked vainly, no words forming.

"Sam, it's okay…" He inched forward. "It's okay…"

"I…" he shook his head. "No. I…"

"It's okay…"

"No!"

Dean saw every sign the slash was coming before it occurred: the clenching in Sam's arm, the flash in his eye. He leapt forward, tackling his brother hard to the grimy floor, grabbing his wrists. The elder felt bad for a single instant at Sam's soft cry of pain as the knife was twisted from his hand, the guilt vanishing as Dean's grip became slicked with blood.

"Sam! Sam, it's okay!"

The younger struggled frantically, Dean maintaining his hold, managing to pin Sam's back against his chest.

"Sam!"

Throwing his head back, Sam cracked his skull into Dean's face, trying to scramble free when the elder balked in pain, but unable.

Gritting his teeth, Dean focused his will on restraining his thrashing brother, his hands nearly slipping free from blood-slicked skin.

At length, Sam fell still, body exhausted. He sagged back against his brother, breaths heaving.

"Sam, it's okay. It's okay."

"You're hurting me…"

Dean's knuckles had gone white around the younger's wrists. "I'm sorry."

"But you aren't letting go?"

"No."

"Are we going to stay like this all night?"

"If we have to." Dean swallowed. "But I'd rather get you off this floor and into bed. All right?"

"Yeah…"

"Okay." With no little effort, Dean managed to jostle them both to their feet without releasing the younger's wrists – he wouldn't do that until they were out of the bathroom with some distance between them and the knife that had skidded into the corner.

Sam didn't resist as he was led into the bedroom, sitting still when Dean settled him on the mattress furthest from the bathroom.

"I'm just going to get a couple things, okay?" Dean spoke as though he expected to spook his brother at any wrong word. "Just stay right there."

"Yeah…" Sam muttered, gaze set on the floor. "Okay…"

Heart racing, the elder hurried to wet a towel in the sink, scrambling for the first aid kit in his duffel. He set the things beside his brother, Sam not having moved at all.

He took a deep breath, "Sam?"

Saying nothing, the younger kept his eyes firmly fixed on the stained carpet, holding out his right arm obediently.

Dean flinched at his brother's small hiss of pain as the towel brushed the angry wounds. Meticulously, the elder cleaned away the blood, revealing the purposeful and ugly lattice of narrow cuts.

"Sammy,' he kept his voice gentle, setting the towel aside and reaching for the first aid kit. "Sam, look at me."

Hesitantly, the younger forced his eyes up, sharp tears slicing through the streaked blood on his cheeks.

"Sam… what is this? You're not a suicide."

He closed his eyes, trying not wince at the sting of alcohol in the gashes. "I didn't intend it to go that far…"

"You aren't trying to kill yourself?"

"I didn't ask you to leave so that I could die…"

That was something at least. Dean took a long roll of gauze from his kit, holding the end at his brother's elbow. "What is this, then?"

"The blood on my hands…"

"Sam," he cut him off. "There is no blood on your hands."

"Jessica…"

"That was not your fault."

"Either way…" Sam watched the white bandage as it carefully wrapped his arm. "It just hurt so much…"

Dean turned his eyes up to his brother, then continued to wind the gauze about Sam's wrist.

"I had…" Sam choked. "I had to let the pain out somehow."

Miserably, Dean closed his eyes for a moment, then clipped off the bandage, gesturing for Sam to hold out his other arm. "You could have come to me. We'd have figured something out."

"I…"

Sighing, the elder dabbed the towel over the bloody mess that was Sam's left arm. "You used to trust me…"

"Don't say that." Sam tried to catch is brother's eye, but Dean was focused on the injury. "You know I trust you."

"Sam," he snorted. "Instead of talking to me, you took my knife to your wrists."

"Hey," the younger tried to force a joke. "No chick flick moments, remember?"

"Dammit, Sam!" He smacked the towel down on the duvet. "You know I meant not to get all cushy over nothing! Not to avoid coming to me when you feel the need to slash yourself apart!"

"I know…" Sam lowered his eyes. "Sorry."

"Sorry?" Dean shook his head, taking the alcohol from his kit.

"I just… needed to ease the ache…"

"Yeah…"

"Look, man," Sam watched the kind, thorough way his brother cleaned the cuts. "I didn't mean…"

"I know…" Dean readied another roll of gauze. "It's okay."

"It's not."

Wrapping the bandage, he muttered, "None of these need stitching."

"Dean…"

He caught the younger's eye. "Have you done this before?"

"No…"

"Would you do it again?"

Sam bit his lip hard, "I'll come to you next time."

Dean secured the gauze, handing Sam the towel to wipe his face. "It helps, though, doesn't it?"

The younger turned, surprised, "What?"

Sighing, Dean sat beside his brother on the mattress. "Look… I don't want you to think I'm pissed at you…"

"Disappointed?"

"No. I just freaked when I thought you were trying to bleed to death while I was out."

"I don't want to die… I just…" Sam rolled his jaw. "I don't know if I can explain…"

"You don't have to."

Sam sat silently as Dean rolled up the sleeve of his shirt, turning his arm into the light.

"You can barely see them," the elder ran his fingers over the pair of faint white lines that criss-crossed a few inches below his elbow. "They faded pretty good. And after the first couple times, I learned how deep I could cut without leaving a scar."

"Shit… Dean…" Sam brushed the marked skin. "How long did you…"

"A few years," he said quickly. "Off and on." The elder caught his brother's eye. "And every time it helped relieve the ache a little. But it always came back. Always." He gestured the bandages on Sam's arms. "This won't fix anything. I know it won't."

"Did Dad know?"

"No," Dean replied. "I locked the door. I didn't want to be caught."

"And I did?"

"Didn't you?" He smiled gently at the look on his brother's face. "You're just smarter 'n me, Sam. You knew this wouldn't solve your problems. But you had to try something – anything – to let that ache out."

"Fuck, Dean…" Sam dropped his forehead against his brother's shoulder.

"It's okay, Sammy." He put his arm about his brother's back. "It's okay."