Title: Straws

Author: Dragonfly

Spoilers: Heart

Genre: Gen, H/C, drama, angst (no wincest ever)

Disclaimer: Not mine, just getting them out to dab away the tears...or add some.


// Hope: "Even a drowning man will clutch at a straw" Proverb //

"Sam…"

He didn't want to turn. He didn't want to turn around because he knew if he saw the pain he felt, reflected in his brother's eyes, he wouldn't be able to hold the tears at bay any longer.

But he always answered when his brother called.

"I'm sorry."

"No, you're right." Sam conceded, his words choked. "She's right."

Dean's own walls were threatening to crumble. And they would if he couldn't do something to ease some of the agony radiating off of the younger man before him. "Sammy, I got this one, I'll do it" He pledged, but his voice shook--because though wanting to protect his little brother from having to commit such a gruesome task,--from sacrificing the very last of his innocence, Dean knew that if he did it---it wouldn't be Madison he would be seeing in his blurry sites. Painfully he swallowed the bile that had risen to the back of his throat.

"She asked me to"

"You don't have to" Dean pushed, telling himself the same thing.

"Yes I do" And the tears fell. And as Sam tried to still his trembling lips and force strength he didn't feel into his voice, he held out an equally unsteady hand for the weapon that would seal more than just her fate. "Please"

With numb fingers, Dean let the gun be taken from him.

"Jus…just wait here" A stoic attempt failed by the tremor in his voice, the pleading in his eyes.

Dean's chin trembled as he nodded.

Walking away, Sam turned to his brother one last time—somehow looking all of five years old as he readied himself to take a life—a life that he had given himself to. A life that he identified with.

He was bleeding out, his pale cheeks soaked with everything they had learned the past two years; with everything he was about to do, with everything that had yet to come. He was dying right there in front of Dean and with a forced and pain-filled brave smile, he was giving Dean one last second to come up with a miracle---for them all. To make everything better like he used to be able to when he was five.

But Dean had no such miracle to give.

Squaring his quaking shoulders and tear streaked jaw…Sam walked into the room.

And watching him go, Dean realized as he felt something warm and thick slide down his cheek-- that his little brother was stronger than he could ever hope, or even dare to be.

The shot rang out and startled- though expecting it, Dean closed his eyes. Another tear fell. Slow and in mourning, it trailed down his stubble cheek. The shot had pierced her heart, but shattered his denial and broke his Sammy.

He knew it broke his Sammy.

He was forced to kill the only woman he let himself be with, really care for since Jessica.

And Dean--though his resolve was as fierce as the bullet that had just rang out, the shot was an unbearable echo of truth and reality for him. One day the gun may be in his hands.

Sensing a familiar presence before him, the hunter finally opened his eyes and hearing the gun crash to the floor, took his brother in his arms before he could so gracelessly follow. "I got you"

Easing them gently to the floor, he held his sobbing younger half, fighting his damnest not to break down with him. "I got you" he strained, his throat impossibly tight as he dug his fingers into the brown mop. He was trying to offer strength, but found himself grasping for it instead.

Sam clung to him hard, burying his face into Dean's solid frame as he let the pain, the guilt, the fear, the loss pour out of him. And Dean clung back, hoping that if he held his brother tight enough against him—his own dam wouldn't break.


Tears streaming down her face, chin up, she had actually thanked him as he leveled the gun with her heart. She had actually forced a smile as he whimpered an apology for not being able to save her and looked away, pulling the trigger.

His aim was true, he didn't miss, but the bullet had ended up lodged impossibly deep in his own chest and he couldn't breathe.

He couldn't breathe.

"Breathe, Sammy"

He had just killed Jessica.

"Sam"

He had just killed Madison.

"Sammy!"

He had just killed himself.

"Please" It was choked. It was desperate. And it had come from Dean. Sam had been gasping, struggling for air his lungs for some reason refused him, going limp and limper still in the elder Winchester's helpless arms and Dean's dam had finally broke.

"Please, Sammy just…" he begged, not just for now, but for their very souls that seemed to be waged in an endless battle. "just hold on"

"Please" Dean found himself praying to something he didn't even really believe existed. "Please" But he would believe for Sam. He could believe for Sammy.

The younger boy's body automatically responded to him-just like it always had and after a few greedy, deep breaths, he brought previously lax fingers back up to wrap into his brother's jacket and shuddered.

"That's it, little brother. Breathe" Dean encouraged, relieved, breathing again for himself. "Breathe for me, Sammy" He urged, and not even realizing it, started rocking him like he was once again that five year old that Dean could save from anything.

Forehead pressed against the older man's chest as they rocked, Sam confessed brokenly, "We're not gonna to make it" Because nobody survived in his presence.

Jaw tense, eyes fixed, arms held protectively tight around his charge, "Watch us" Dean replied steadily. Because if he surrendered to the doubt, the fear now—he'd be giving up on his brother…and Dean just didn't know how to do that.

The straw had broken the camels' back, but in the waters of hopelessness they still had each other to cling to…and time and time again that had proved stronger than any straw.

"You just watch us, little brother"

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The end.

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