Disclaimer: I'm not in it for the money! They don't belong to me (Wah!)! And yadda, yadda, yadda.
A/N: Yea! My computer let me write this! Well, in a week my computer woes will be a thing of the past, because I have my laptop, and it will be connected to the Internet by Friday the 14th! I may just have to have a party.
Anyway, this is my latest endeavor to whump the hell out of Dean. It's a bit different then my other stories in style, but I hope you like it anyway. :)
Oh, and yes, there's a bad language warning on this!
A/N: July 10, 2006. I found some small errors in this ficthat were annoying me. They've been fixed. Just so you know...
A/N2: August 12, 2007. Did another edit for minor annoyances.
Not Talking About It
It's been over three months since Sam's been this close to his brother. All he wants to do is clutch him to himself, but he knows that before he can do that he has to hurt Dean first.
He's crying the whole time the Latin words are streaming from his mouth. Crying hard, but not hard enough to make the words unintelligible. Sam's been waiting for this moment for a quarter of a year, for thirteen long weeks, for ninety-one interminable days.
The exorcism is hard, probably the hardest Sam has ever done. But he never considers the possibility he may fail, because it's Dean. Dean. And that fact in addition to the correct pronunciation of the words is all Sam allows himself to think about right now.
But it is a hard exorcism and long, so Sam has enough time for one additional worry to prey on his mind. He worries about how strong this demon is, and what it may have done to Dean during the eternity that was just over three months.
But he pushes that thought away, because right then, the demon finally is pushed out of Dean's mortal coil. The black cloud dissipates and is sent to a place that Sam sure as shit never wants to visit. Sam's legs flop out from under him, and he's abruptly staring at Dean's shoes. But a moment later, Dean collapses and lies prone on the dusty floor.
Sam startles and finds the strength to push his body across the three feet of floor that separates him from his brother. He coughs on the cloud of dust that drifts over and around them both.
Dean is quiet for a moment until Sam gently touches his shoulder.
"Dean?" Sam queries, and isn't even embarrassed when his voice wobbles and cracks on the single, beloved syllable.
Dean sobs once and burrows his face into the crooks of his outspread arms. But he doesn't make any other sound or move any further than that.
And Sam is suddenly scared.
His big brother doesn't resist as Sam shuffles him into the hotel room that he's checked them into for the night. Dean's right arm is stretched awkwardly across Sam's shoulders, and his body hangs limply at Sam's side. Sam knows that despite the fact Dean is still conscious, he's not able to move himself anywhere without help.
He still hasn't said a word, and Sam doesn't like the vacant look that has taken the place of Dean's normally shrewd and knowing expression.
He's pliable and accepting when Sam pulls him into the bathroom. Sam hopes a shower will release his brother from this strange trance he's in but figures at the very least the warm water will lessen the shivers that are unabatedly wracking Dean's body.
Dean throws up twice as Sam is fighting to take off his clothes, and then once more in the shower. Sam is near tears by the time he manages to redress Dean and get him in bed, but he cleans up the vomit afterwards without complaint.
He leaves the bathroom and is suddenly struck by the thought that his brother is finally with him again. He considers calling their dad, but John hasn't answered any of his previous cries for help, and Sam figures he can sure as hell wait a bit.
So instead, he pulls a chair up to Dean's bed and studies his brother's sleeping form.
He stays up all night and fights the returning urge to hold onto his brother and never let go.
It's a week later, and Dean hasn't spoken one word since Sam got him back. He barely eats, and Sam practically has to force feed him what little food he does ingest. Actually, Dean hasn't been doing much of anything, except sleeping, and it's starting to get on Sam's nerves.
But right now, Dean's sitting upright and looking at a glass of water with a dazed expression on his face. Sam prods his shoulder and ignores the flinching that follows.
"Drink it, Dean," Sam says sternly.
Dean doesn't look at Sam, hasn't looked at Sam since his return, and this moment doesn't change that. But he does slowly bring the glass to his lips and sip at the water that's in there.
Sam wants to crow with success, but just barely restrains himself. It's the first time Dean has done anything practically on his own. Well, okay, he probably drinks the water because he knows Sam's going to shove it down his throat if he doesn't. But that's not the point.
The point is that he actually drank the goddamn water.
And right now, Sam will take what he can get.
One night, three weeks after Sam gets this shell of his brother back, Sam hears Dean muttering in his sleep. Only a moment ago, Sam was sleeping himself, but the sound of Dean's long-absent voice has him awake so fast he feels as if he's been drinking coffee all night.
Dean's voice is hoarse and feeble, but Sam figures the weakness comes from long disuse. He's now kneeling beside Dean's bed, and the quiet sounds of that voice are the most perfect music he's ever heard.
At first, he doesn't understand what Dean is saying, but then, as stress edges into his brother's speech Sam begins to get the gist.
"She's just—no, no, no, no—Just a kid—Doesn't—No! Stop that!—No, no, no, no!"
And suddenly Dean is screaming, screaming, and in a way Sam's never heard before. Sam stands straight up and fights a sudden head rush. Dean is thrashing on the bed, and Sam is yelling and hollering himself now. In the end, he has to strike Dean's face—not once, but twice—to get his brother to wake up.
For the first time since this all started, Dean looks his brother straight in the eye. Sam is sure it's an accident, is sure that if Dean were fully awake, he wouldn't be sharing a look with him.
Sam finds himself wishing Dean would stop looking at him.
Because the person who's looking at him right now isn't his brother. His self-assured, smart ass, none-too-serious brother is nowhere to be found in that shared look. Sam actually doesn't know who's there, but it sure as hell isn't his brother. For a moment, Sam thinks that the demon is back, actually hopes that the demon is back. Demon possession he can fix. It's what's left over after the possession that has him fumbling about.
But there is no demon here before him, just like there is no Dean. Sam hoped there was some part of Dean left in this corporeal shell, but a shell is really all that's there. Sam's mouth falls open as he solemnly stares at this empty man, and he suddenly realizes he may not be able to fix this.
"Dean, please," he begs after his body begins to acknowledge the despair. His hand is on Dean's shoulder, and he tries to pull him into an embrace.
Dean shudders once and hides his face in his pillow.
Before long, Sam knows that his brother is sleeping again.
Three months after Dean is no longer possessed, Sam returns from a short trip to the convenience store that is right up the block to find Dean sitting on the edge of the bed.
He's got a gun in his hands.
Sam never likes to leave Dean alone anymore, but there are times when he has no choice. He always makes sure to keep their time apart brief. He has become a slave to his watch, and to his worry and fear.
He's beginning to resent his brother, and he can't think about his father's continued absence without flying into a useless fit of rage.
Anyway, when he finds Dean sitting up, he takes it as a positive sign at first. Dean actually has been finding his way back, but very slowly. Sam is just relieved that he's not the complete automaton that he was that first week. So, now Dean is sitting up, and Sam is happy because voluntary sitting up is progress.
He's smiling and is about to say something useless and quirky when he sees the gun in Dean's hands.
He drops the bag of junk food he's bought and resists the urge to pounce on his brother and wrestle the gun away from him. Instead, he moves slowly towards Dean until he's almost in touching distance.
"Dean?" Sam asks.
Dean doesn't look up, but he hands over the gun.
"Too easy," he whispers hoarsely. "I don't deserve it."
Sam didn't think there was any part of his heart left to break, but he sure the hell was wrong about that. He takes the gun with numb hands and doesn't know if he's ever going to be able to breathe again.
But the most fucked up part of this little scene is that Sam can't help but be a little bit ecstatic that his brother just spoke to him outside of his nightmares.
Sometime in and around the sixth month of this living hell, Dean develops a cold that turns into pneumonia. Sam knows it's pneumonia, because a doctor tells him so. He was so scared of the wet, deep coughing that he took Dean to a hospital that turns into their home for a week.
Midway through the week, a different doctor advises Sam to allow Dean to talk to a psychiatrist. Sam wants to laugh at the suggestion but is afraid he won't be able to stop if he starts.
He somehow finds the words to politely tell the doctor to shove his opinion up his ass and stumbles down the hallway to Dean's room.
Sam isn't stupid. He knows Dean needs to talk to someone, but the problem is that Dean, his Dean, would never allow it. And besides, this Dean isn't really talking to anyone anymore. And furthermore, what the hell would either Dean be able to say? 'Yeah, I'm fucked up because I was possessed by a demon' isn't going to wash in the traditional sphere of psychiatry.
Dean is lying in the hospital bed looking pale and wasted. Sam sits down in the worn chair he has claimed for himself. He watches as Dean struggles with another nightmare and manages to coax him awake before it gets too bad. Dean looks up at him with something that may or may not approximate gratitude, and Sam smiles. Dean coughs heavily, and his eyes drift closed seemingly of their own accord.
"Thanks," his big brother whispers, and Sam feels the need to cry again.
He distracts himself by thinking about how lucky they are that the demon, although obviously cruel and destructive in ways Sam doesn't know about yet, was careful about keeping the bad stuff to itself. Sam knows something happened, he just doesn't know what. He's been looking for news articles about little girls who have died or are missing and hopes to never see one in which a witness describes a suspect that has Dean's face.
It's been six months, and Sam hasn't read or heard one such case. Sitting in the hospital room as Dean succumbs to sleep, he picks up the newspaper and turns to the sports page first.
Nine months, and Sam is startled awake by a different sound. When he sees that Dean isn't in his bed, he scrambles out of the warm spot beneath his own blankets. His pillow falls to the floor with a dull thud, and he trips over the folds of the cheap motel comforter.
He's practically in a cold sweat when he identifies the odd noise as Dean's muffled sobbing. It's coming from the bathroom, and Sam pads over to the door and lays his hand on the wood. In the morning, he'll have a splinter on his index finger. It will get infected, but he won't care.
For now, he just listens to Dean's crying and experiences the sudden desire to rush in and console him. But he won't because this isn't the first time he's found Dean crying in the bathroom at night. The first time he actually found Dean crying, Sam did rush in. Dean abruptly stopped the tears, pushed Sam away, and then returned to bed.
If Dean even yelled or hollered that first time, Sam would be barging into the bathroom right now. Even an angry Dean was a Dean who was expressing some feeling, was a Dean who was that much further down the road to recovery. But it was an unemotional response Sam received that first time, and now, the knowledge that Dean would only cut himself off from any emotion if Sam tries to intervene keeps Sam from doing anything more than place a longing hand on the bathroom door.
He would rather Dean purge some of the poison the demon left behind by crying alone in the small space of a dark bathroom than ease some of his own pain by trying to soothe away the only form of expression Dean's allowing himself.
Gradually, the crying subsides. Sam stumbles to his own bed, looks around for the fallen pillow, and barely makes it under the tangled covers in time to pretend to be sleeping when Dean exits the bathroom.
His eyes are closed, but he hears Dean take a shuddering breath and then slowly move towards Sam's bed. Sam wonders if his brother knows he's actually awake. In the past—the past that now seems so far away Sam doubts it exists anymore—the older, protective Dean could always tell when Sammy was faking. Now, Sam has his misgivings about his brother's capabilities.
His suspicions are justified when he feels the abrupt brush of Dean's fingertips across the top of his head. Dean never would give into such an impulse if he thought Sam was awake.
Sam forces himself not to tense up in surprise as Dean slowly draws his hands further down to push his long bangs out of his eyes. He wants to lean into the touch, wants to remember what it's like to have some genuine connection with his brother.
"'Night, Sammy," Dean murmurs, and then Sam hears the whisper of bare feet sweeping across clean sheets. Dean coughs once, a reminder that he's still recovering from pneumonia after all these months, and then his breathing quickly evens out.
Sam brings his own hand up to his head and strokes his hair in an effort to replicate what just happened. In his head, he replays the words Dean spoke to him and feels the burning sting of tears at the corner of his eyes. His throat suddenly aches, and he finds it hard to swallow past that pain.
For the first time since the exorcism, he has witnessed a glimpse of his big brother. Sam always thought this part of Dean was inviolate, but recent events had him seriously disbelieving his own truths. Sam has seen Dean slowly recover over the past few months, but he hasn't observed any part of that recovery which suggests his protective, big brother is still willing to play the role. He doesn't realize just how grief-stricken his fears made him until Dean offers the hope that big brother is coming back to drive Sam nuts by calling him "Sammy."
Stupid, but now, oh so beloved nickname.
His tears fall silently, and his fingers brush through his hair until he too falls soundly asleep, all the while grasping desperately to the hope that has unexpectedly been given to him.
A month after Dean starts calling him Sammy again, Sam considers bringing up the idea of hunting. When he catches Dean staring blindly at nothing for too long, he sets the idea aside.
Dean is better. His willingness to talk to Sam about anything other than those weeks when he had been demon-bound is increasing. He eats and drinks without having to be reminded, although he still is losing too much weight. He ventures out of the motel room on occasion, but only when Sam goes with him.
Instead of suggesting a hunt, Sam says that he wants to go to the beach. They haven't been moving around too much these past few months, but they're close to the coast now. It's warm, and Sam thinks Dean's complexion could use some help.
Dean shrugs and says, "Whatever."
The next day they go. Sam carries his chair and towel and finds a spot close enough to the ocean to make him happy. The roaring rush of the waves seems to have an immediate relaxing effect on Dean, and the absence of tension makes Sam all too aware of how strained Dean's posture has been for far too long.
"Taking this a bit far, aren't you, Sammy?" Dean asks when Sam sets up the beach umbrella. Sam is too distracted by the faint but welcome glimmer of sarcasm he hears in Dean's voice to answer. He shrugs instead.
Dean takes his shirt off, and Sam's shocked by how emaciated his brother has become. Sharp bones jut out in places where muscle used to be, and Sam can't look away.
"What?" Dean asks.
"Man, you need to eat more," Sam says, without thinking. He immediately regrets his words when Dean looks embarrassed and puts his shirt back on.
Sam wants to say something else, but Dean only sits in the chair and shuts his eyes against the mid-day sun. By now, Sam instinctively knows when to stop trying, and he reluctantly takes out his book and settles down into his own chair.
But it's all made good, later when a girl walks up and begins to flirt with him. The flirting is pleasant, but also sorrowful in its own way because this girl should be flirting with Dean but she doesn't even spare him a glance.
No, the good part comes when Dean teases his brother about the girl and then says that a quick swim is in order.
And the really good part comes when they're both in the buoyant salt water, drifting passively through moving waves. That's when Dean looks up at the perfect sky and laughs with something approaching joy.
A year. It's been a whole year since they've hunted anything. Sam is casually scanning newspapers as he sits at the small table that passes for a breakfast nook in this, one of their better, more expensive motel rooms. He's now certain there will be no stories connecting Dean to any crimes, but he'll still look. Just in case.
Dean is sitting across from him, eating a bowl of sugary cereal Sam gave up at least twelve years ago. He stops chewing, leans forward, and peers at a story that's in the back of the local newspaper, the front page of which Sam is quickly examining.
"Huh," Dean says. It's meant to sound nonchalant, but Sam immediately tenses.
"There's a story here that seems just up our alley," Dean says, and Sam's heart skips a beat.
He turns to the article Dean indicates and sees the picture of a pre-adolescent girl who apparently was hospitalized the night before after sustaining a concussion. The girl was hit with a brick while sitting by herself in her upstairs room. The doctors claimed the brick would have had to have been thrown for it to cause the damage it did. The parents were being investigated, but each claimed the other innocent of any wrongdoing. Needless to say, they were both distraught.
"Probably a poltergeist," Dean says around another mouthful of cereal.
Sam wonders if Dean noticed this article because of the girl. He's learned nothing about the girl to whom Dean cries out practically every night. Sam worries about what happened to her but has an idea it wasn't good.
Sam carefully eyes Dean, who is trying to look blasé but is only pulling off awfully uncomfortable.
"Dean, are we ever going to talk about it?" Sam poses the question he has waited an entire year to ask.
Dean looks him straight in the eye and says, "Never."
It was a poltergeist, and oh, it felt so fine to toast its nasty bones.