Some Words Are Priceless
A/N: A few reviewers asked for this, and it got stuck in my head, and wouldn't leave me alone. Dang plot bunnies. People carelessly toss them around, not realizing how dangerous they are. How maniacle they can be. Sighhh. Anyway, it drove me crazy and I'm not sure it turned out the way I wanted but...here it is. Thanks as always for the reviews---minus those sneaky little ...well you know.
Dean stood over his brother's bed, watching the rise and fall of his chest. In some ways it seemed like only yesterday that he would stand peering through the bars of the crib, watching a baby Sammy sleep.
Things had been so simple then. It had been easy to make things right for him. Give him a bottle, a favorite toy; read him a story…and things were perfect. Now, Dean couldn't seem to do anything to make him happy-to keep him safe.
Caleb had mentioned the time when Sam had been taken by their grandfather. Even knowing his brother was across the street, tucked away in their motel room didn't stop the irrational fear that raced through his body. That incident, all those years ago, had been like living through a nightmare, walking through fire. It had helped mold who he was to become.
Watching Sam be dragged away from him, unable to do one damn thing to stop it, had nearly killed Dean. It was second only to the pain of watching his brother willingly walk away, a force of a different kind tearing their family apart. Another sculpting of the man that now stood before his sleeping brother.
Either time, he would have given almost anything to keep Sam with him. But now, it seemed he was hell bent on driving the other man away. Every instinct he had to protect his brother clashed with the all consuming anger he had over their father's death. Add in the back-breaking weight of the responsibility his dad's last words had heaped upon him and he was a cauldron of emotions, ready to boil over.
Sammy just kept getting caught up in the backwash. And Dean hated it.
Hated he had shut him out. Hated he hadn't been able to offer whatever support Sam needed. The only thing he could offer was a perfect mask of stoicism and even that was starting to crack, like clay in the desert sun. Tiny fractures were springing up everywhere. Reaves was right. Dean's foundation had been compromised.
He was so afraid his structure was about to come tumbling down. Sam, his beloved baby brother, was going to be buried in the rubble. After all, Dean had already done the unthinkable.
There wasn't a visible bruise as a reminder. Not yet. But to a big brother's all-knowing gaze, it was undeniable. It might as well have been black and blue, puffy and swollen. The damage was there, mocking him, just beneath the surface.
Dean didn't even realize he had reached out to touch Sam's face, until his kid brother's violent reaction.
The younger hunter come to with a gasp as soon as his fingers caressed skin. He grabbed Dean's arm, flipped him over and onto the other side of the bed, where he made quick work of pinning him, one hand wrapped around his throat, the other curled around the shiny steel blade that usually rested under Dean's pillow.
"Easy, Tiger," Dean gasped, bringing his hands up in front of him. "It's me."
"Dean!" Sam growled, letting his fingers slip from his brother's neck. "What the hell are you doing, man?"
Dean heard him take a shaky breath, watched him rake his hands through his hair. "I could have killed you," he said, sleep still evident in his rough voice.
"Tell me about it." He rose up on his elbows, shoved his brother off of him. "You weigh a ton, dude."
Sam rolled over, dropped the knife on the night stand, before collapsing back against the pillows. "Shit." He slammed his fists into the mattress. "You scared the hell out of me."
"Ditto here, little brother. I gotta' say I liked the whole 'girly gasp-deer in the headlight' wake up routine much better than this new 'homicidal, knife-wielding, full body contact' thing you got going on."
Sam turned over, stared at him through the darkness. "Sorry if I'm a little paranoid considering the events of the last few weeks. But since when do you stand over my bed-lurking?"
"I wasn't lurking," Dean defended. "I was trying to find the best way to move your ass over. I hate sleeping against the wall." He always slept between Sam and the door.
"There's another bed, Dean. Or are you so drunk you completely missed that."
"I'm not drunk." It was a lie. He was very drunk. "And I told Reaves he could crash here after his ER visit."
Sam rolled over, raising himself up. "What? Did you two get in a fight?"
Dean sniggered. "Yeah. We did. With two nurses from the bar." Even in the dark, Sam couldn't miss the stupid grin on his brother's face. "I went in for a quick outpatient procedure. Caleb was admitted to have a little more work done."
"You guys are sick."
"Exactly. Medical intervention was needed."
"Psychiatric intervention maybe."
Dean rubbed at his eyes, laughing. "I told Damien you'd have us in straight jackets if we gave you half the chance."
Sam shook his head. "Did you two even talk about anything besides women and booze."
"Do we ever?"
The younger Winchester lay back down. "Great. Reaves owes me forty bucks."
"We talked, Sam." Dean finally admitted, not able to take the defeated tone.
"About?" Sam turned his head, so he could see his brother.
"Well, that Blade-wannabe, Gordon, for one. Caleb knows him."
"He never mentioned him. Of course neither did Dad."
Dean sighed. "That's what I said." He glanced at his brother. "He knows your pal, Ellen, too."
Sam frowned. "What did he say about her?"
"Not much. I got the impression there was no love loss." Dean grinned. "I don't think he likes Jo very much either."
"Caleb not like a hot blonde? That's new."
"He told me to stay away from Sweet Valley High Hunter. Said she was jail bait, and more trouble than I needed."
"Are you going to listen to him?"
"Don't I always listen to him? Got enough trouble without being accused of being a pedophile."
Sam groaned, shook his head. "Caleb usually knows what he's talking about, Dean. I don't want to see you get hurt."
"By a girl?" Dean laughed again. "Dude-you are starting to get ridiculous. Besides, she came on hot and heavy to Caleb, too. I don't do sloppy seconds." He gave his brother a hard look. "And you have seriously got to stop worrying about me."
"I think I've said that same thing to you a few times."
The older hunter yawned, stretching his lean frame the length of the bed. "Yeah, well I'm the big brother-it's my job to worry."
"I'm all grown up now, Dean. You don't have to protect me."
"Yeah. I know you are." It was painfully obvious sometimes. He closed his eyes, feeling the effects of the alcohol and the excellent medical care working their magic. "But you're still my little brother." He'd always protect him. No matter what it cost.
Sam rolled over on his side, tucked his arm beneath a pillow and looked at him. "Sometimes you make things worse when you try to keep things from me."
Dean opened his eyes, the statement stealing his breath. "What is it you think I'm keeping from you?"
"The way you feel about Dad," Sam said softly.
"Damn it, Sammy," Dean shifted on the bed so he was facing his brother. "Stop beating a dead horse-will you? You're like a fucking dog with a bone."
Sam felt his eyes sting, the late hour and the darkness weakening his defenses. "I just want to help. I don't understand why you won't let me. I feel like I'm letting you down." Letting Dad down. Mere inches separated them, but it felt as if there were worlds between them.
Dean rolled onto his back with a frustrated exhale. He clenched his fingers in the flowered bedspread. "Do you know what your first word was?"
"Huh?" Sam asked, obviously not grasping the shift in subject.
" 'Dean'. You said it plain as day. I still remember it." Dean continued to look up at the ceiling. "It changed everything. I remember looking at Dad- just to be sure I'd really heard it. You said it again. And at first Dad had this sad look on his face, but then he started laughing-then I started laughing. You just kept saying it."
Dean turned towards the other boy again. "You don't get it, Sammy, I know. But sometimes that word-the way you said it- is all I can hear when you're talking to me. It drowns out everything else you say."
Sam swallowed, thickly. He didn't understand-not really. Maybe he never would. But he did know even as a child, he understood what was important. He latched onto the one thing that would never fail him. Maybe little Sammy had been a whole hell of a lot smarter than grown-up Sam. He smiled. "So…this is all my fault?"
Dean laughed, catching the life-line his brother was tossing him. "Oh yeah. You started this years ago, bitch."
"Then couldn't we have had this conversation before you hit me, jerk?"
Even in the inky blackness, Sam knew his brother's face changed. Realizing he'd said the wrong thing, he backpedaled to make it right. "Not that I didn't deserve it. I shouldn't have said that about Dad's memory…"
"I'm sorry, Sammy," Dean said, softly, cutting off his brother's rambling. "It won't ever happen again." That was for damn sure. Dean had done the unthinkable. He had never before struck his brother in anger.
Sure they'd gotten out of hand sparring. He'd pushed Sam, slammed him against things, put him in countless head locks-but not once had he lashed out at him-hurt him on purpose.
"Forget it." Sam told him. "I already have."
Dean shook his head, palmed his eyes. "Firsts are hard to let go of, little brother."
"If Dad's death has taught me anything, Dean, it's that life's too short to hold on to the past."
The older hunter lifted his hands, shot his brother an amused glance. "So you're just going to forget that I K.O.'ed you?"
"Hey, I stayed on my feet."
"Damn straight. You're a Winchester. Only thing harder than your jaw, is your head."
Sam grinned. "And I still have that rain check."
"Right." Dean sighed. "Just don't cash it tomorrow. I have a feeling that it won't be one of my better days."
"That's what you get for letting Caleb talk you into things."
"You're the one who told him to chat it up with me. You know the man's conversational skills are lacking-to the say the least."
"Yeah, well forty dollars doesn't buy much these days." Sam rolled back over onto his back. "Talk is cheap, you know."
Dean nodded, knowing his brother couldn't see him in the darkness. "Right." He'd told Reaves the same thing. But that wasn't entirely true.
" 'night, Dean."
No. Not all talk was cheap. Some words were priceless.
A/A/N: Some have asked about the order of the Brotherhood AU stories. I'm afraid I might have missed a few replies so here they are. Heroes. The Line. WWJD-with Will Scott. The Way Back Home. The Long Way Around. And then Dragons. Although, other side pieces such as The Real Deal, have been written along the way and of course Dragons is set in the past, before the current tie-ins. Did any of that make sense?
Also, some have asked about foreshadowing for other stories in this one. A couple I mentioned have already been written. The heroine addict one is a story by Tidia called Whispering of Angels. The field trip one when Dean was fifteen is also by Tidia called Black Bras and Strappy Shoes(I think that's right). And there is an upcoming Thanksgiving Story-featuring the car wreck scene and this is the one where Sam gets 'his' admission into the Brotherhood.-Wonder what heroic rescue he pulls off to become the youngest hunter ever to get a ring? Yes-I'm obsessed. I have to have something to do in between episodes and writing letters to Kripke about this insane need of his to keep adding these ...ok, I'm not going to get started. ;-)