A/N: post nightmare, kind of a redo of the discussion they had towards the end of that episode.
Sam was not built to be a fighter. Too tall, too thin, just knobby knees and spindly legs waiting to be knocked out from under him. And demons, or at least any with some sense of self-preservation seemed to recognize that about him. Grab one bony ankle, knock out one weak knee joint, this guy'll go down. Heck, Dean had used those tricks against Sam more than a few times himself. And it may be, Dean thinks, part of the reason Sam hates hunting so much. He's like a lightweight trying to sumo wrestle.
"Dean?" Sam pauses in his speech.
Yeah, someone with Sam's build would be more suited to something like soccer, or running, or…basketball.
"Dean, are you even listening to me?"
Dean blinks a few times before grinning and focusing on the boy in the passenger seat. "'Course I'm listening."
"What did I just say?" Sam asks smugly.
Of course, Dean reflects, maybe he doesn't give Sam enough credit.
"You just asked me if I was listening," he tells Sam with a superior smirk.
Dean opens his mouth and closes it again, searching his memory for something, a topic, a word. He had to have heard something Sam said, even if only by accident. Dean's non-response brings about an explosive reaction in the brunette.
"God, Dean," he exclaims, throwing his hands up and bringing fists back down to his knees. "You never hear one goddamn word I say. Can't you just listen for once when I'm trying to tell you something?"
"Okay," Dean acquiesces, knowing from the expression on Sam's face that he needs serious reassurance. Palms up, he turns to face Sam. "I'm listening."
"Forget it," Sam scoffs, his voice moving quickly from strong anger to weak and wavering near tears. This doesn't mean Sam has given up though, Dean knows. Sam near tears is Sam at a whole 'nother level of anger. It's a response the kid can't control, no matter how he's tried. The middle of an argument with Dad and his voice would just break, because Sam feels things deeply, no matter how ticked.
"Don't do that, Sammy," Dean pries, voice low.
"Hey," Sam interrupts, glancing at Dean so he can see the gloss of his eyes. "I said forget it." And then he throws the car door open and climbs out, the creak of the door slamming shut like a nail being forced from wood.
"Well, damn," Dean mutters to the car interior as Sam stalks across the parking lot to their motel room. He winces, though he can't hear it, when that door is slammed with angry force too. "Screwed that up."
He waits a few moments before climbing out of the car himself, grabbing the bags, and heading over to the room. Inside, Sam is slouched on the bed fidgeting with his cell phone. Dean drops their bags on the bed behind his brother with a soft thump.
"Sam," he starts but is quickly interrupted.
"Did you mean what you said?" Sam asks, turning so only his profile is visible, outlined in fluorescent light.
Dean quirks an eyebrow, prompting his brother. "About…?"
"About killing Max," Sam scoffs, as if there could be no other topic. "Would you really have gone in there and just killed him? Just blown his head off? I mean, do you really think he deserved that?" Sam is near babbling now, but when Dean opens his mouth, no words come forth. He wasn't prepared for this. Again.
"I guess," he drags. "I guess I didn't think it all the way through."
Sam shakes his head at Dean's half- assed reasoning and turns his gaze back to the carpet. When he speaks, its clear he's talking more to himself than anyone else in the room. "Could you really have done that?"
Dean gapes at his brother's back. Max kills two people, almost kills him, almost kills Sammy, and somehow Sam is still hung about Dean suggesting they kill the bad guy of the story.
"Sammy, it wasn't about what I could have done," he finally says, striding around the bed to face Sam. "It was about stopping him."
"He was a person," Sam says and it's almost a plea, grief apparent in the shining eyes that finally meet Dean's own.
"He was a killer, Sam. He was about to kill his own stepmother."
"No," Sam continues, gripping the edge of the mattress and biting his lip. "He was like us. He was like me, Dean. God, what if I ever did something? I can't control this thing and if I ever--"
"Sammy," Dean stops him, dropping to the bed opposite his brother. "You would never hurt anybody." He tries to reassure his brother, because he knows that the last thing Sam needs is jokes and brush-offs right now, but even his words aren't enough.
"But I can't control it. When I saw him hurting you, killing you, I just," Sam stutters for words, waving his hands to illustrate his meaning. "If he had been right in front of me," he shakes his head. " I don't know."
Dean carefully ducks his head to hide his reaction to Sam's words. 'I would die for you,' he'd said. Now, 'I would kill for you.' What Dean truly wants to hear though, what would really set him at peace, Sam has yet to speak. 'I would live for you.' He isn't the one that needs reassurance right now though.
"You are not like him Sam. It doesn't matter what you thought about doing. You would never hurt anyone."
"But it's okay for you?"
Dean has had this conversation with John. Of course, it was before he was old enough to know what 'normal' values and morals were. He recites their father's words back to Sam, knowing their truth now more than ever.
"If it came down to you or him," Dean shrugs, knowing Sam will understand. "There's nothing else to do. Maybe we could've gone to the cops with this one. But others? Like, Roy and Sue Ann? You can't explain that. That, is why we do this."
Sam is quiet for a moment. Finally, he sets his cell phone off to the side and flashes his brother a quick grin. "Thank God for Dad. Never thought I'd say that. He was harsh, but at least he never hit us," Sam begins, looking up just in time to catch Dean shaking his head 'no.' Confusion crosses Sam's features, unease building in his chest when he realizes Dean didn't even notice what he was doing. "Right?" he asks, his voice sounding more pre-high school than it really should.
Dean sighs, rubs at his eyes. "Sammy," he starts, low enough to be a growl. "After Mom died, Dad went a little crazy for awhile."
"He hit you?" Sam gapes. "How could I not know that?" He struggles for words. Pain for his brother warring with new hatred for his father. "How could I not know?" he repeats.
Dean shakes his head, knowing Sam has found another way to guilt himself. "You were a baby," he tells Sam with a shrug. "Dad cleaned up after a few years and…I protected you." He keeps talking just to avoid Sam's eyes. "Just like now, Sammy. You know I'll always take care of you."
"But, Dean," Sam starts, but is silenced with a wave of Dean's hand as he stands and turns away.
"Things are rough all over, Ponyboy. Bad shit happens, but you don't see us going around killing because of it."
Sam takes pause at his brother's words. "Uh, Dean?"
The elder turns to face Sam with a smirk. "You know what I mean."
Sam can't help but laugh. "Yeah," he agrees, as Dean joins him with a smile. "We don't do any killing at all." The conversation is far from over, but Sam is happy to leave it alone for tonight, for both of their sakes.
Dean reaches over to further muss Sam's perpetual bed head. "You hungry, kid?" he asks, already heading for the door.
Sam nods and stands to follow him, shrugging into his jacket. "Hey, Dean?" he asks on their way through the door.
"Call me Ponyboy again." He grins. "And I'll make sure we can have conservations like this every night."
Dean's groan is all the encouragement he needs.