Title: Close

Author: herebutnotremembered

Rating: T

Summary: Sam breaks down when he realizes how close he had come to losing Dean in the events of 'crossroad blues'.

Disclaimer: If the boys were mine I wouldn't have time to write this.

He can't stop looking at him. His big brother's gaze is steely on the road ahead, his hands tight on the wheel. He doesn't even notice him watching. Sam doesn't want to think about it, but it keeps popping into his head anyway. It wasn't suppose to be like this. Then again, maybe it was. Maybe Dean should feel like giving up, checking out, letting go. Maybe it was both natural and suicidely reckless. Sam didn't feel that himself, but he was well aware of the five stages of grief. He was also well aware that Dean was still going through them.

Seconds passed though they felt like hours to Sam. Dean wouldn't look at him. Made a point to ignore him, shut him out, and really, wasn't that the problem? It bothered Sam more than he let on. His brother's distance had only increased Sam's own loneliness since they lost their father. Dean forgot that sometimes, Sam knew. He was your dad too. He felt a pang of loss at the words and tried to focus on the road ahead. The music blared and Sam could feel a headache assaulting him. He pushed it away, or tried to.

When a shooting pain hit his temple he gasped and brought his hand up to try to rub it away. He listened for Dean's worried remarks, and orders to take the damn meds he had, but they didn't come. Sam looked up surprisingly at Dean when his brother seemed oblivious to his pain. Normally Dean would be all over Sam's case, questioning severity, offering to pull over at the next town, shoving pills into his hands. None of that happened, and Sam felt another pang in his chest. This time it was one of loneliness. He never thought he would miss Dean's constant mothering of him, but he did.

He shifted in his seat trying to get comfortable, but it was no use. His nerves were on end and his head ached. He couldn't relax if he was on a bed made of feathers. He looked over at Dean again. He was silent as the grave. Sam felt a sting in his eyes as he though of that phrase again, and how it might have come true. It was all a trick right? His words stung him, the memory of his brother's almost sacrifice still too fresh.

Dean wouldn't have done it. Not ever. Sam wished he could be so sure now. He had been sure when Dean had cried on the side of the road, whispering regrets and blame. Dean had opened up, and that had been enough. He had been sure when Dean had hit him outside that crappy motel room. The bruise had let him know that his brother was still very much alive inside. He still had the fire that had burned so brightly before all this. Now, looking at Dean sitting beside him, Sam felt like he was with a stranger.

He wouldn't have done it. That would mean leaving Sam alone to deal with the evils of the world by himself. That would mean giving up the right to protect Sam from the Demon's intentions. Dean wouldn't have done it. But then again…

Sam couldn't stop the memories, though he tried. Dean beating the hell out of his precious car, their only lasting home. Dean replacing dad with Gordon. Dean replacing Sam with Gordon. Dean killing that vampire at the mill. Dean shouting at him that what was dead should stay dead. Dean going off to summon the crossroads demon. Dean thinking about making that deal. Dean shutting him out now. A thousand little things that all added up to loss and the feeling of being alone. A thousand times Dean had shut him out. A thousand times Sam had felt too broken to help him anyway. A thousand stupid lies and lame platitudes. A thousand failures, on both parts.

Suddenly it was all too much. Thoughts rushed at Sam with a ferocity he couldn't fight in this weakened state. Too little too late. I'm dealing with dad's death! Are you? You're erratic, you're on edge, except for when you're hunting cause then you're down right scary! What's dead should stay dead! He was your dad too. I miss dad. There are people I'd give anything to see again. What could you possibly say to make that alright? We're still here man, so we gotta keep going…for him.

It was all a trick right? I mean you never actually considered making that deal right?


He had to get out of the car. "Dean stop!" he heard himself yell and it was a minute before the Impala rolled to a stop at the side of the road. Breathing heavily Sam opened the door and got out of the car. He didn't get far before he collapsed. I can't do this. I can't DO this! He thought as panic swept over him. He felt the ground beneath him, wet and hard and unforgiving. He felt like he couldn't breathe, lost in his own mind unable to escape his brother's silence. He felt hands shake him, a voice yelling at him to do…something. He couldn't do anything though. What was happening to him? He thought as darkness crept into his vision. Was he blacking out? He tried to remember, but the only thing he could think was…

It was all a trick right?

A trick. A clever ploy, a misleading conversation, a false statement. A trick. What did that matter now? What did anything matter if it was gonna be like this? "I can't do this," he heard himself say in a strained voice. "Can't do what Sammy?" That voice, that was the voice he had been looking for. The world suddenly came rushing back and he found himself on the ground beside the Impala with Dean holding onto his shoulders for dear life.

"I can't do this Dean," he sad brokenly and he watched as his brother's reaction shifted from worry to a quiet sadness. "Sammy…" he didn't have the words. "Dean this can't keep going on. I can't keep worrying that one day you'll wake up and decide that it just isn't worth it anymore. I can't," he said and was ashamed to find tears trailing down his cheeks. He made a move to wipe them away but Dean beat him to it. His brother's calloused thumb swept them away, but more rushed to follow them and Dean couldn't stop them.

"I'm sorry," Dean aid quietly and Sam looked up into watering green eyes. "Sammy, I…it's just so god damned hard," he admitted brokenly. Sam understood, after all he was your dad too. He took a breath to calm himself and said "I know it is. I know it's hard, but Dean, that's how you know you're still alive. It's supposed to hurt like this. What would it say about you if it didn't?" he asked soothingly and watched Dean's eyes light up with realization. Sam knew he had gotten it. He understood. Still, this ache had settled in his chest and it wasn't going away. "Dean…you can't ever do that again," Sam started and then looked tentatively at his brother. Dean looked away ashamed. He hadn't meant for this to happen the way it did. He realized that he had almost made a mistake now. "Sammy, I didn't make that deal," he tried but Sam was smarter than that. "But you wanted to," he replied. Dean had to look at him then. Sammy looked utterly and completely broken, almost too far gone. Dean hated that he did that to him. Sam who was so innocent still. Sam who needed him still.

Truth was something coveted to Dean. As he looked at Sam, his Sammy, he decided that that was the path he had to take. "Sam, I did want to make that deal. I wanted to so bad that I…I nearly forgot about you. I forgot how this would effect you. It would be like…like what dad did to me almost. He sacrificed himself…for me, I know, but he didn't think about what would happen afterward. Sam…I'd give anything to go back and change things, but then…I realized I'd be leaving you," he said and when Sam looked at him, that was it. He had to go all the way. "Sam, dad left us alone. I don't think he meant to but he did. If I had made that deal then I'd be leaving you too. The way he left us," he jerked Sam's chin and forced his gaze on him before continuing. "Sam…I would never do that to you."

He hoped it was enough. He watched Sam's expression change about five times before it landed on a determined stare. "You have to promise, promise you won't…" he couldn't finish and looked at Dean pathetically searching for an answer in his brother's eyes. "I won't. Not ever, ok? I promise," Dean said resolutely never letting Sam's gaze slip from his. Sam nodded and took a deep breath to steady his still racing nerves. He wiped half heartedly at the tears that had stopped their decent. He believed his brother.

Because Dean never broke a promise.

"Sammy-" he didn't know what he wanted to say but he felt like things were still up in the air. Something was still missing. Then he realized with a small pang of irritation. Of course. Dean sighed and leaned forward gathering his baby brother in his arms whole heartedly. Sam was stiff, as if he thought that if he moved it would ruin it. After a few seconds and Dean hadn't moved, Sam returned the impromptu embrace and snaked his arms around Dean's middle with relief. Dean smiled, his brother was such a girl. His hand found Sam's head and he held him there for a bit longer.

They both knew that this would never be spoken of again, that tomorrow they would go on as if it hadn't happened. But tomorrow wasn't here yet and so Sam held on, as long as he could, absorbed in the closeness of their brotherhood.