Notes: This is for obeetaybee. The title comes from the same Thom Gunn poem as TFOH.
Dean watched Sam sleep for a while, watched his pale face relax into the pillow, his long limbs lie still under the covers. He looked at his watch--barely noon. Shit, felt like a long goddamn day already, and it wasn't half over. Sammy needed to sleep; needed food too, but sleep was claiming precedence right now. The thought of stretching out on his own bed and taking a nap wouldn't be half bad, if it weren't for the images lurking behind his eyelids.
Sam on a bed, his face twisting in pain beneath the demon that wore Dean's face like a mask, like a weapon to hurt Sam more deeply. Sam in Dean's own dreams, flushed with satisfaction. But now Dean saw the smirking satisfaction of the demon there rather than the replete, happy Sam he'd imagined before. And behind it all, worst of all, the image of Sam at eight years old. Dean could see that apartment they'd rented from Mrs. Tortelli, could see Sam how he was then. Soft, round face. Dreamy kid, nose in a book half the time. And that twisted fucking little asshole had--shit.
Dean could remember everything, but he couldn't remember that kid's face. He thought he'd met him once, had passed the older boy once in the hallway, but he couldn't recall a single detail. Never should have gone on that hunt with Dad. Never should have trusted that Sam would be safe. Dean stood up from the bed, his muscles bunching and twitching beneath his skin, aching to hit, to chase, to just fucking do something to make this better. But there was nothing to be done.
Dean thought about Sam's sopping wet clothes sitting in the bathroom and decided that if he couldn't keep his brother safe at least he could do the laundry. Sam wouldn't be waking up anytime soon.
A few hours later, Dean let himself back into the room, two duffle bags of clean laundry slung over his shoulder, a newspaper folded under his arm and a big Styrofoam cup with a straw sticking out of it clutched in one hand. He'd washed all of their clothes and then grabbed lunch in the diner up the road from the motel. A hand-painted sign hanging over the cash register had advertised thick, old-fashioned milkshakes, and Dean thought six or seven of those would probably fill in the new hollows in Sam's cheeks.
Dean dropped the bags and the paper and shucked off his jacket before walking over to Sam's bed. He'd barely moved in the time Dean had been gone, the covers around him still smooth. Dean sat down on the edge of the bed and shook Sam's shoulder. "Hey."
Sam scrunched up his face, and as he opened his eyes Dean braced himself for a flash of fear, for a wary edge in that familiar face, but Sam just looked sleepy and a little annoyed at being disturbed. "Mmm, hey. What time's it?"
"Time for you to eat something. Come on, sit up."
Sam rolled his eyes and pushed himself upright, then he closed his eyes and swayed until he grabbed onto Dean's shoulder. When he opened his eyes again he looked steadier, and his sheepish smile loosened the clench in Dean's chest. "Yeah, I guess a snack would be good."
Dean handed the cup over and watched as Sam peeled back the translucent plastic lid to peek inside.
"Yep. The good kind, too. None of that fake pretend shit"
Sam snapped the lid back down and looked back up, narrowing his eyes. "Did you taste my milkshake?"
"Would I do that?"
"Yeah, I totally would, but I didn't. The waitress gave me the leftover that wouldn't fit in there."
Sam shook his head and then stuck the straw in his mouth and took a long pull on the drink. "Mmmmm, damn," he hummed awkwardly around the straw. "You weren't kidding."
"Yeah, well, drink up Princess. You'll feel better." Dean stood and walked away from Sam's bed, grabbing the newspaper before sitting down on his own bed. He'd look for a new case. Something he could kill. Something that would die faster than this new pain ever would.