My Brother, Myself
Disclaimer: I don't own the Winchesters, but I like to bring them into my sandbox every now and then.
A/N: I wasn't sure where this was going to end up when I started writing and I'm not sure how I feel about it, but the couple of people I've had read it said they like it so there you go. I've brought Aidan back; he was first introduced in First Solo Flight. You don't have to read that one to get this one, but you might want to just for the heck of it.
There are possible spoilers here for the season so far, but because of Aidan, it's definitely alternate universe. I've changed things around a little and you'll see that when you get to the end. It's not that I didn't like the official version; it's just that I wanted to explore it from a different angle.
Reviews are appreciated. Like I said, I'm not really sure how I feel about this and I'd be curious to see how you feel. I'll be posting it two chapters.
Dean Winchester sat leaned against the hood of his car, staring into space. Sam was inside the motel room, no doubt worried about his older brother. Dean just wanted – needed – some space. Since their father's death, Sam had been trying to get him to talk about his feelings. He wasn't a talking about his feelings kind of guy – besides; he knew Sam had to have figured it out. John was dead because of him and there was just nothing to say about that.
He could almost feel Sam's eyes on him, watching him through the motel room window. He knew Sam was worried about him – worried for him – and even though he had spent nearly his entire life making things okay for Sam, he couldn't fix this one. He couldn't fix himself and he couldn't bring John back. Instead of moving closer to his brother, the one person who would miss their father as much as he did, he was pushing Sam away. He was belligerent and angry; taking it all out on Sam.
And yet, there Sam was. Maybe it was out of guilt or a feeling of obligation, but at least he was there. Dean knew that some day he would have to let him go, but not right now. Right now everything was just too hard and it was good to have his brother with him; even if he couldn't open up to him and tell him how he really felt.
The brothers weren't on their way to anywhere in particular. They'd just finished a job and were looking for something else to take on. Sam had suggested going back to the Roadhouse to see what was going on with Ash and his demon-watching, but Dean was resisting. He had nothing against Ash; he even kind of liked Ellen and Jo, but it almost hurt to be with them. There were things Ellen knew about John that she would be willing to talk about, but Dean didn't want to hear a stranger talk about his father. And under normal circumstances, he would have been all over Jo, but even that didn't feel right. He felt like everything was spiraling out of control and he wanted – he needed – something to hunt. He needed to vent his anger on somehow and there had to be something evil to fight.
Sam backed away from the window when he saw Dean look toward the room. He didn't know what to do; for himself or for Dean. He'd admitted to his brother that he wasn't okay, but he got nothing from Dean. Sam knew it wasn't like him to talk, but he would almost always listen. Not these days though; not if the subject was their father. That was one reason he wanted to spend some time at the Roadhouse. Unlike Dean, he wanted to hear what Ellen knew about John. They still had no idea how close the two were or how'd they even came to know each other. The bottom line was that Sam needed to talk about his father; he needed to hear about his father. He thought it would do Dean some good as well.
Lost in thought, Sam nearly jumped when his cell phone rang a few minutes later. Dean was still outside and showing no sign of coming in any time soon.
"Hello?" Sam answered the phone, even though he didn't recognize the number on the caller ID display.
"Sammy? Is that you, kid?"
He recognized the voice and sank down to the bed, tightly gripping the phone. "Oh my God." It took him a moment to recover. "Aidan?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"We thought – I mean, we figured since the demon got to Jim and Caleb – and we couldn't get in touch with you --" Sam's voice cracked.
"I know; I'm sorry Sam. Are you with Dean?"
"Yeah. We're in Wisconsin. Where are you?"
"North Dakota. You boys all right?"
"I know about John." Aidan said, knowing what Sam was about to say. "I'm so sorry, Sam."
Sam took a deep breath. "Yeah."
"How are you handling it?"
"It's tough, man."
"What about Dean?"
"He's not good."
"If you guys aren't working on anything, why don't you head my way?"
Aidan Prichard was practically a part of the Winchester family. John had been a new hunter, working under the tutelage of both Jim and Daniel Elkins when he went to the Prichard house to investigate something that fit a pattern they'd been following for a while. The news story said that the house was completely undamaged on the outside, but it looked like a tornado had erupted inside and the family was missing.
It was years later that the entire truth was discovered. Before Aidan's father even met the woman who would become his wife, he made a deal with a demon. He would become a successful businessman and give up his firstborn when the child turned one year old. It didn't mean anything to him when he made the deal, but it did once he actually had a firstborn to give up. Somehow he managed to negotiate an extension when the demon came for Aidan on his first birthday; being given until Aidan turned fifteen.
Over the years, Aidan's father worked out a plan to trap the demon the next time it came for his son. When the demon discovered the plan, it sent others to kill the parents and take the boy. Aidan endured three days of torture he wouldn't remember until he was much older and was released when the spirit of his father traded himself for his son. The demon had been able to kill him, but couldn't have him unless he agreed willingly to honor his deal.
The Winchesters spent a lot of time near Jim when the boys were young and they grew to care about Aidan very much. Eight years older than Dean, Aidan shifted between older brother and trusted uncle.
When the demon that killed Mary sent the woman the brothers knew as Meg to kill Jim and another important friend, Caleb, the Winchesters assumed it had gotten Aidan as well.
Sam was still sitting on the edge of the bed when Dean came back into the room later. He was prepared to walk to the bathroom without conversation, to put it off as long as possible, but he stopped when he saw the expression on his younger brother's face.
"Sam?" he noticed the cell phone, held so tightly his knuckles were turning white.
The younger man looked up at him, startled from his thoughts. "Aidan's alive." he whispered.
Dean stumbled backwards, reaching for anything to steady himself. He fell against the desk.
"He just called, man. He's in North Dakota."
"He's okay?" Dean's voice was small.
Sam nodded. "He wants us to come."
"We can be on the road in ten minutes. You want to go tonight?"
Sam wanted to go; he wanted to be there five seconds after he heard Aidan's voice. But it was late and they'd had a very long day. He didn't trust himself to drive and he didn't think Dean was much up to it either.
"Yeah, but maybe first thing in the morning is a better idea."
Dean nodded. He rubbed his face with his hands.
"You okay?" Sam asked.
"It's Aidan, man." Dean said, tears springing to his eyes. "Aidan."
Sam nodded. 'Yeah, I know."
"Where has he been? He know about Dad?"
Sam nodded again. "He knew. I don't know where he's been; we'll find out everything when we see him."
Later, once they were both in bed, Sam flipped off the lamp. He heard Dean shift in the darkness a few minutes later. "Dean?"
"Yeah?" Dean asked, almost wishing he'd pretended to be asleep.
There was so much Sam wanted – needed – to say to his brother, but he didn't know how to start. Weeks before, soon after they'd burned John's body, Sam found Dean working under the Impala. He told him that he wasn't handling things very well, but his admission was met with silence and a steely glare. He knew Dean wasn't mad at him, just mad in general. Sam walked away, a moment later hearing the smash of glass as Dean took his frustrations out on the only thing he could; his Impala.
"Sammy –" Dean paused. "'night."
The next morning the brothers pretended everything was fine between them as they went about the business of leaving. They opted for a fast food breakfast so they could get on the road sooner and made the drive with little conversation.
Dean drove faster than he needed to, faster than he should have. In part, it was to get to their destination quicker because Aidan was family and they had lost everyone else. Dean found himself thinking about his father and he glanced over at Sam. His head was resting against the window and his eyes were closed, but Dean didn't think he was really asleep. He knew Sam was hurting. Despite their differences, John was his father too, and Dean knew that Sam loved the man. Dean had taken care of Sam for almost as long as he could remember, but he didn't have anything left to give him right now. His guilt over John's death was too strong and he was afraid as soon as Sam figured out the truth, he would hate Dean and would leave; forever this time.
Sam shifted and opened his eyes a few minutes later. He'd felt a change in the car and when he looked at his brother he somehow knew his thoughts were on John.
"Where are we?" he sat up.
"Middle of nowhere." Dean said. "But we're making good time."
"That's because you're driving like a bat out of hell." Sam grinned.
"She can handle it." Dean said, patting the dashboard affectionately. He'd spent weeks fixing the car after the accident and his miraculous recovery. Many a night now, he could be found in the parking lot of whatever motel they were staying in cleaning and polishing it. In a way, it was comforting for Sam to see his brother taking such good care of the car; it was familiar. But a part of him resented it because Dean wouldn't let him help and Sam thought he was using the car as a way to avoid him.
Sam looked at his watch. "You want to stop for food soon?"
"Sure." Dean said. "You think it would be okay to call Aidan?"
"He didn't say not to."
"Man, I wonder what he's been up to? And did Meg even know to go after him?"
"I don't know." Sam said thoughtfully. "We never did anything for Jim and Caleb."
Dean's jaw clenched. "Bobby took care of them."
"Yeah." Sam said quietly. "They were family, too, Dean."
The older brother only nodded. Sam was tired of pushing him and afraid that if he kept it up, he'd only succeed in pushing Dean even further away. That was a risk he wasn't willing to take and he knew Dean would be gone soon enough anyway.
Sam was anxious to get to Aidan and couldn't help but hope that maybe their friend would be able to help; and not just Dean. Sam didn't know how he was going to get past his own guilt over John's death. He regretted every fight and every harsh word. He even regretted going to college because maybe if he'd stayed with his family, they would have somehow found the demon sooner and John would still be alive. He also couldn't help but wonder how much longer Dean was going to put up with him. Sooner or later the brother he idolized, even now, would realize everything their family had gone through was his fault.
Dean stopped at a diner in the next town and they ate in near silence; each one lost in his own thoughts and afraid to bring up any topic for fear it would somehow turn into another fight. They'd been doing that a lot lately and it was wearing thin on both of them. Dean decided not to call Aidan and just get back on the road when they finished eating. He was very much on edge and hoped that reaching their destination would calm him. He felt like lashing out at Sam, even though he hadn't said or done anything to warrant an attack. The rest of the trip was even more tense than when it started out.