Chapter Eighteen

Ten years later

Sam gasped as his eyes flew open and he came back to the reality of another seedy roadside motel. His brother glanced at him over thetop of the lap top computer he had set up on the small table by the window.

"Another nightmare about Jess?" Dean asked casually, even though he already knew the answer.

"Yeah." Sam replied quietly.

"You know, if it would help. Uh, you could tell me about them."

Sam looked at his brother with amazement. Dean never wanted to share touchy, feely, emotional stuff. He decided his brother must be more concerned about his mental state than he would ever admit.

"Why would I want to tell you about my nightmare?" Sam asked incredulously.

"Hey, I just thought if you wanted to. Never mind. No problem." Dean seemed almost hurt.

Sam's memory wandered back ten years to a time when he was the one asking his brother to share his nightmares. It was a time when his brother almost seemed human, almost seemed vulnerable. He was only twelve but he knew the nightmares shook his brother to his very core. He had begged his brother to let him in to share his pain, but Dean had steadfastly refused any attempts to console him.

Instead Dean had given him the one item that would stave off the nightmares: the gold amulet that still hung around his brother's neck ten years later. He had surrendered his salvation and endured more of his nightmares. Sam remembered with wonder his brother's act of love and devotion.

"Dean, remember when you were the one having the nightmares?"

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Ten years ago. Back when Pastor Jim gave you that amulet?"

Dean knew exactly what Sam was referring to; he just didn't want to remember. The pain still came to him every once in a while when he least expected it, when an unforeseen stress would trigger the memories and the nightmare of that time would revisit him. Sam still didn't fathom the terror those dreams instilled in him. God Bless Sam in his innocence.

"Yeah, right. Good times." Dean replied sarcastically.

"I tell you what. You share your nightmares and I'll share mine." Sam countered in one last attempt to penetrate his brother's protective wall.

"Sam, that was ten years ago. I don't even remember them."

"Yeah, right. Just slipped your mind, huh?"

"Shut up, Sam." Dean got up and turned off the light by the table. He lay down on his bed and acted like he was going to sleep.

Sam lay on his bed staring at the ceiling, quietly realizing that maybe he shouldn't have opened this particular can of worms. Since his mind was already focused on Dean's amulet another memory came to him.

Three years after Dean received the amulet he lost it. He was excavating a grave and the leather rope broke. When he realized it was missing he didn't exactly panic but he did sift through that huge pile of dirt until he finally found it. He then purchased a more substantial leather rope and secured the amulet on. He had not taken it off since.

It was almost freaky how he never removed it. Dean was not overly sentimental or superstitious but that amulet seemed to hold special significance for him. Sure, it had protected him from that evil dreamwalker but seriously how many times would you encounter a dreamwalker you needed to ward off? Even in their line of work? When Sam asked him about it, all Dean would say was it was just habit, not fear: a precaution, like sleeping with his Bowie knife under his pillow.

Sam's foolhardiness had now propelled Dean back ten years and he was lost in his own memories. Damn his brother's probing. As smart as Sam was, he sometimes teetered on the brink of idiocy. Dad had once said there was a fine line between idiot and genius and sometimes Dean thought his brother straddled that line. Sure he was book smart, but sometimes he lacked common sense.

He should know better than to stir up these memories. He should realize that sometimes it's best to let a sleeping dog just die in its sleep, then bury it in the backyard and be done with it. You mess with that dog by waking it and the damn bitch might end up biting you.

Why was he stirring up Dean's memories of those nightmares? Sam still didn't realize the painful images that reverberated in his head and how he still struggled with the feelings of being abandoned; of standing alone on that black, infinite precipice.

He had somehow made it through his teens with his family intact, but those fears of being alone were never completely vanquished. He had again felt the pain when Sam up and left him for college. And then once more when Dad just took off with no explanation, only a cryptic voice message on his phone.

He had swallowed his pride and asked his brother to help him find Dad. Damn, he had never asked him for anything before. He must have really been desperate, but he figured he was his dad too. It shouldn't have been that big a deal. Most sons would want to help find their missing Dad, wouldn't they?

"Dean, look I'm sorry I brought it up."

"Huh? What?" Dean was brought back to the present by Sam's comment and he wasn't fully aware yet.

"I'm sorry I brought up your nightmares. I know you never wanted to share them with me. I should have respected that. I just always wanted to help you and you never want any help."

Dean smiled a nervous smile. This would be really amusing if it wasn't so damn ironic. Sam thinks he never wanted any help and he was just remembering groveling for his brother's help to find Dad. Dean's pride wouldn't let him forget the one time he asked for help, it was forever etched in his mind; a permanent reminder of his weakness. I guess we really do see things differently.

"Sam, I appreciate the concern. I do. But examining them isn't going to change anything. You need to learn you can't fix everything. Bad things happen and life goes on."

Besides it was Dean's job to fix things, not Sam's. He could try to fix his brother's nightmares over Jess if he would let him but it was a foreign concept to think his little brother could offer any assistance concerning his own nightmares. The one thing Dean could never conceive of was asking for help, especially from his brother. He had already asked all he ever could from him. For now Sam had given up his hope of a normal life to stay with him and fight this battle.

Dean looked at his brother there with him in this dingy motel room and considered for the first time he was not alone. As a sixteen year old he never imagined he would survive ten years and still have his family. Considering their line of work it was surprising they were all still alive. Dad may be missing but he felt in his heart he was OK and he knew they would find him and be a family again.

That sixteen year old boy who had those terrible nightmares about losing everyone he loved and ending up alone on the precipice of a black abyss was fading into the back recesses of his mind. He still had lingering fears but for the moment he was not alone, he had his brother right there with him. Side by side they would wage this battle. Who knew what the future would hold? For now, he had to be satisfied with the present. In this time and place, he was not alone and he took comfort in that.

Dean smiled contentedly and looked over at his brother on the bed next to him. It felt right to be together with his brother again on this journey. His brother was turning out to be an acceptable companion; of course, a good-looking girl would be a definite improvement. A sly smile crossed his face as he started thinking about that cute girl down at the motel desk.

"Dean thanks for giving me the amulet." Sam again interrupted his thoughts but this time Dean knew exactly what he was referring to.

"Yeah, well it didn't do you much good." Dean muttered.

"But it's the thought that counts. You sacrificed yourself for me. That counts for something." Sam offered.

"Well, this is a Hallmark moment if there ever was one." Dean scoffed.

"Dean, would you just be serious for a moment and let me get this out. I just want to say thanks for being my big brother and my protector. You've always been there for me. I've always known I could count on you." Sam sincerely tried to thank his brother.

"Yeah, whatever. I guess it's in the job description." Dean replied trying to deflate this chick flick moment.

"Well, lucky me you took on the job." Sam flashed a huge grin.

"Well, if you're so impressed with the job performance how about a raise?"

"What exactly am I paying you now?" Sam challenged as laughter erupted in him. He gave up trying to be serious and played along with his brother's jokes. He surrendered any thought of having a grown up, responsible conversation and just took comfort in having a big brother like Dean.

"Oh, yeah I forgot. You cheapskate. When am I gonna get paid?" Dean feigned indignation.

"Well, let's see. I'm working as a ghost / demon / evil entity hunter and the pay is crap. How do you expect me to pay you?" Sam roared with laughter.

"See, if you'd paid attention to Dad's lessons you'd be scamming those credit cards and hustling pool and supporting your big brother in his old age." Dean scolded.

"You're not old yet. You just look like hell cause of the hard life you've led." Sam teased.

"Oh, so I look like hell? That chick down at the front desk sure thought I looked mighty fine." Dean acted offended.

"Yeah, but she's a candidate for lasik surgery, didn't you see how she was squinting? I don't think she could tell the difference between Brad Pitt and Adam Sandler."

"Man, you are just jealous. You've always been jealous of my appeal with the ladies." Dean smirked. As an afterthought he got a concerned look on his face as he continued, "And which one of those are you saying I look like?"

"Well, Dean you do seem to think you're a comedian and I don't remember old Brad doing too many comedies." Sam was very amused with himself.

"Boy, you sure know how to hurt a guy." Dean sincerely gave his 'Oh, poor picked upon me' look, before he grabbed the pillow from beneath his head and threw it with hunter precision at his brother's laughing face.

"OK that's it. Big brother's goin' down!" Sam shouted as he bounded off his bed with his own pillow ready to take aim. Dean ducked as the pillow came flying in his direction.

The battle was on as both brothers grabbed pillows and proceeded to beat each other over the head with them. Any ill feelings over the last ten years disappeared in a brotherly brawl of laughter and comradery. It brought them both back to a simpler time when they were just kids letting off steam after being cooped up all day driving around in the Impala.

They playfully whacked each other with the pillows until they broke and feathers started cascading down like ash from a distant fire, then the brothers just collapsed on their beds from the exertion of laughing so hard.

"Hey big spender," Dean snickered, "I think you better leave a tip for the maid this time."

THE END

Writer's note: I hope you enjoyed reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I just can't get enough of these characters, especially Dean. I have two new stories started but haven't decided which one to concentrate on yet. LOL I will probably start posting in a week or two, going on vacation! Yeah!

I hate to beg, but please leave a review if you enjoyed my story. I really love hearing from you, even if it is just a word or two although I truly love the long detailed reviews that some of you have so thoughtfully posted. If you found problems or improvements I could make please let me know. Any and all feedback is appreciated as I am still new to this whole experience. Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: No I don't own the characters although I would certainly love to. Perhaps I could just borrow them for a long week-end! I have no connection to the show Supernatural and Mr. Kripke still has not contacted me to fill me in on all relevant statistics and background facts, so I am making my own scenarios. LOL