Title: Brothers on a Hotel Bed
Rating: Teen, Gen, post-Heart tag
Word count: 711
Notes: Written for Sakuracorr's prompt - "Sam and Dean share a bed and their feelings in a cold hotel room."
They drove all night in silence, Dean's hands clenched tightly on the wheel as he tried to put some distance between them and California - between Sam and what Sam had had to do.
Dean glanced to the passenger seat, to Sam's long body curled up protectively, his head against the cool glass of the window. He'd barely said a word, pretending to be asleep and, for the moment, Dean had let him be.
Dean finally gave into his stiff body about forty hours out. Not sure if he could drive much further and not trusting Sam to take over, he pulled into a run-down motel in the middle of small town nowhere. It was the kind of dive you could pay for in cash and the owner made it their business to never remember a single detail about their clientele. It also meant a grubby room with a lumpy mattress and a single queen-size bed, but they'd dealt with worse before and he doubted Sam would even notice the lack of amenities this time.
Dean didn't even bother with a shower, just kicked his boots off and crashed face first onto the bed. He watched from the one eye not mashed into the pillow as Sam sat down on the other side of the bed gently, untied his own boots and just sat there staring into space.
Sam just sat there.
"Do we need to talk about this?" Dean asked quietly, turning his head so he could take in Sam's hunched outline with both eyes.
The fact that he felt the need to ask should have been a big glowing beacon to Sam, proclaiming how worried his big brother was. It wasn't his way. Since they were little, Sam had liked to discuss painful events, tell you his feelings, get things out in the open so he could think things through, consider every option and outcome and, through that, reach some sort of understanding. It was just Sam's way. Just like Dean tended to bottle all those same feelings up, pack them into a dark corner of his mind and try not to dwell on them to much.
When Sam bottled things up, it was never a good sign.
"Sam?" he asked again.
"I killed her, Dean. I murdered her in cold blood. I killed her." Sam's voice was barely a whisper. "Maybe I'm no different to Max, or the other…"
"No Sam. You listen to me, you killed a werewolf. A creature that would have kept on killing, if you hadn't stopped it. What you did was a mercy. Something she couldn't do for herself. Something even she knew needed to be done."
Sam turned in one swift move to flop back on the bed and stare up at the ceiling, like his large frame was suddenly completely boneless.
"Part of me believes that, Dean, but another part is never going to be convinced. I just keep thinking that maybe if we'd looked harder, maybe somehow…"
"There wasn't anything else. We asked Bobby, called every other source we could find in Dad's journal. I would have done it, if you hadn't. You know that."
Sam let out a gentle huff and the silence stretched between them for several minutes; nothing to break the stillness, but the sounds of their breathing and the traffic passing by the freeway outside.
"You promised me, Dean. I think I know what you promised now… but you still promised." Sam's voice was barely a whisper.
Dean snapped his eyes open, so tired he hadn't even realized he'd closed them. He found himself looking at Sam, Sam's solemn eyes fixed on his face. He was asking that same question again, poking at thoughts that Dean did not want to think about now – feelings stashed away in that dark place in his mind.
"Only if I can't save you, Sammy. Only if I can't save you," he mumbled.
There was silence again as Sam went back to contemplating the ceiling, but this time Dean's eyes refused to drift shut.
"Jerk!" Sam's arm landed heavily on Dean's lower back with a smack and Dean released a small yelp and grinned at his brother.
"Hey, Sammy? Let's go to Hollywood."