A/N: Tag to The Benders. I think sometimes Dean forgets his brother might be more like him than he suspects. I have had a funny feeling about Sam once or twice, nothing overt has come out, but sometimes...I knew someone like Sam once and he was occasionally quite surprising, especially when it came to his family and friends. Please review and let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I own nothing Supernatural, just stopping by to play.
It's Always the Quiet Ones
Dean was cold. He was getting colder by the minute, and that was a problem. It was cold in the woods, but he knew it wasn't all that cold. Which meant he was probably going into shock. Not good. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He was starting to feel the bruises, the aches more by the minute. His head was killing him. The adrenaline had been wearing off and now the only thing keeping him mobile was just about gone. Of course, he had been bruised before, he had been knocked around before, but the pain in his shoulder was new. He had never been impaled with a red-hot piece of iron before. It hurt beyond belief.
He was watching Sam stalk ahead of him. His brother was uncharacteristically quiet. He wondered what was going on in that freaky brain. God only knew. Sometimes Sam completely mystified him. He could be so calm at the oddest times. It was a calm that Dean had come to rely on—he knew he had a tendency to err on the other side. Where Sam was calm, Dean was a little less so—well—maybe a lot less so. You could even use the word ballistic occasionally. But it also felt good to let go every now and then. Luckily Sam was there to watch his back.
This had been a close call, Dean thought. He had to admit to himself he had come very close to panic while he was looking for Sam. Sure, his brother had left before, but he had gone under his own power. Discovering him missing had been a moment of complete blind panic, filled with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. He had managed to get that initial emotion under control, but the frantic sense of urgency had accompanied him non-stop. Not that he would admit any of that to his brother. Sam would probably want to talk about it, work through it or something like that. "Avoid the chick flick" was one of Dean's principal laws.
The cold was getting worse, definitely shock. Not good. He knew that he would need to stop—sit down or fall down were quickly becoming the only choices. He knew he would never make it all the way back to civilization at this rate. It had to be at least 10,000 miles at this point.
"Sam?" He called to his brother, now quite a ways ahead. "Hey, Sam!"
His brother stopped and turned around, "What is it?"
"I need to take a break, dude."
"Dean?" Sam came back towards him. "You look terrible! What's wrong?"
"Just a little tired, Sammy. It's been a rough couple of days. Not much sleep, then my encounter with that little bitch."
"Yeah, you have to watch out for those little girls. Take you out every time," Sam was laughing at him.
"Ha ha Sam," Dean said. His knees were starting to buckle. Sam caught his arm and lowered him to the ground, leaning him up against a tree
"You really don't look good," Sam said peering at him with a frown on his face.
"I'll be fine in a minute, Sammy."
"It's Sam," he said automatically. Dean smiled at that—just testing your reflexes, Sammy.
Sam was looking at him closely, maybe for the first time since he had set Dean free in the cabin. Dean knew he was checking his pupils, making sure he didn't have a concussion. Looking at the other bruises, making sure they weren't too serious. Dean was holding his arm very still, Sam did not need to know what was there and he had the completely irrational thought that maybe if he held really still Sam wouldn't notice, wouldn't question, wouldn't find out about the open wound in his shoulder.
"Dean, what's wrong with your arm?" Sam said foiling his brilliant plan.
"Nothing, ribs are just a little sore," divert his attention, that'll work.
"Doesn't look like ribs to me."
"I'm fine, I just need to rest for a second or two."
He thought he had fooled Sam, but that feeling only lasted for about three seconds. In what Dean thought was an act of near sadism on his brother's part Sam grabbed his arm and moved it a tiny bit. Dean yelped. "Dude, what the hell?"
"Your ribs? Right." Sam was honing in on the wound, Dean was wondering if he could take off before his brother figured it out. I don't want to talk about it. You don't need to know what happened. Sam was gently pulling back his jacket. He stopped when he got to the singed fabric underneath. "This looks like a burn," he said with gentle concern.
"Yeah, might be," Dean said, he was starting to shiver. It's not all that bad—relax. He was about to voice those words when he saw something flash in Sam's eyes. He changed tactics. "It'll be fine in a minute."
"You're going into shock, this is serious, Dean." Sam said very calmly, very reasonably, but there was something in his voice that was starting to worry Dean. Sam took off his jacket and put it over Dean's shoulders. "I need to look at it, make sure there is no fabric in that wound. It's going to hurt. Sorry, man." Again that calm, reasonable tone.
Sam carefully pulled Dean's arm out of the jacket, sucking in his breath when he saw the actual size of the burn hole that went through both shirt and t-shirt. He eased the shirt off, "I'm going to have to take the t-shirt off this arm. Can you do that?" Dean nodded and with Sam's help managed to get the shirt off that side of his body. By the time it was done he was gray-faced and sweating with pain.
"How did this happen?" Sam said, his voice still calm.
"You know, Sammy, things happen," Dean said looking at his brother. Sam's face was still, a slight frown on it as he examined the wound closely.
"Things like what Dean?"
"You know—I probably fell down or something."
"You fell down on something—that you don't really remember—that burned a hole through two shirts and into your shoulder?" Calm, reasonable.
"Yeah, exactly." Dean said trying to smile, he didn't think Sam was buying it, though.
"Uh, huh." Sam said. "I think we need to bandage this, to keep it clean and keep the air out, until we can get back into town." Sam looked at the cuffs of Dean's shirt. He grabbed the sleeve that was hanging loose and tore it off, trying not to jostle Dean in the process. He tore the cuff off and then folded it into a pad. He put the pad over the wound then carefully tied it into place with the sleeve.
"How does that feel?" Pause. "Dean!"
Dean snapped his eyes open "What, Sammy?"
"How does it feel now?"
"Better, I'll be fine in just a minute." He said looking at his brother. "Thanks."
"Sure, anytime. Dean?" Calm.
"How did it happen?" Concerned.
"Nope. I need the truth, Dean." Reasonable.
"Sam, it's ok, doesn't matter now, anyway." There was something off in Sam and Dean was getting worried. Sam was so calm, usually by now he was bitching at Dean for hiding an injury.
"Dean?" Very calm.
"Did they torture you?" Very concerned.
"Dean, the truth please." Very reasonable.
"Sam, it's no big deal," Dean said, he was trying to deflect the mood that was building. Something was seriously weird with his brother.
"Dean?" Very, very calm
"Did they torture you?" Very, very concerned.
"Dean, the truth. Now." Very, very reasonable.
That calm, reasonable concern was beginning to really worry Dean, he looked into his brother's eyes and what he saw there scared him more than a little. There was an edge of—what?—craziness peeking out that he had seen in their father's eyes once or twice. Usually right before uncontrolled violence from the man in question.
He took a deep breath. "Maybe a little," he admitted.
"They tortured you a little?" Icy calm. "Why, Dean?"
"I might not have been as friendly as they would have liked," Dean said with a little laugh.
"I'm sure you weren't. Still doesn't really answer my question."
"They wanted to know if there were cops looking for us," ok, not the whole truth, but it would do.
Apparently it wouldn't do. "And what, Sam?"
"There's more, Dean."
"Nope, that's it." At least that's all I'm telling you, he thought.
"I don't think so." Sam said.
"That's all, Sam, leave it. It's over—no big deal."
"It's not like I haven't been hurt before this."
"Dean, what's the rest?" He sounded so damn reasonable and that was really scaring Dean.
"There's nothing more. Let it go."
"No, I won't."
"And what are you going to do, Sammy?" Dean asked. "Well? What?"
Sam smiled at him, that really sweet, wistful smile he had. "What would you do if it had been me, Dean? Me they tortured?"
Dean had a sudden flashback to the cabin, when he thought they had shot Sam. When he had told them he was going to kill them all. Sam saw it in his eyes, and nodded, still with that smile on his face. He started to stand up, Dean grabbed his wrist. "Where are you going, Sam?"
"Where do you think, Dean?"
Dean could feel the tension in his brother's arm, in the fist clenched below where he held onto Sam's wrist. The arm was trembling, in fact, all of Sam was shaking. "And what are you going to do?" He asked again.
"What do you think?" That icy calm, that sweet smile, the fist with white knuckles.
"I can't let you."
"You don't have a choice in this, Dean." That craziness was now very apparent in Sam's eyes. It was quite simply terrifying.
"I can't let you, I just can't Sam," Dean said again. He applied more pressure to his brother's wrist.
"Let me go." Sam was trying to pull his arm away. "They are going to pay for what they did to you."
"Sam, I can't let you do this to yourself. Sure, you're a little upset right now, but if you actually did something you would regret it."
"No, but you know me."
"Yeah, I do," Sam said. Oops, thought Dean, I think I said the wrong thing.
"Ok, Sam, I can't let you do this because I already feel guilty enough about what happened without letting you go back there and tear their arms off or flay them alive or something."
That finally got through to Sam, he looked at Dean and stopped trying to pull his away. "Why would you feel guilty?" A little more humanity in his voice.
Dean took a deep breath. It was either tell Sam what happened, and hopefully distract him, or watch his brother go berserk and kill several people. Dean no longer doubted Sam would. Hell, he would probably do it violently and efficiently judging by the look in his eyes. And, knowing Sam, it would kill him in the end, Dean thought.
"It's why they tortured me. I wouldn't choose."
"They said they were going to hunt someone—at first I thought they meant me, but then they wanted me to choose you or her. I wouldn't choose."
"They tried to persuade me," he continued, now comes the hard part. "After a bit of persuasion I chose you." He looked at his brother, hoping he would understand.
"Makes sense, you figured I would have a better chance than she would."
Dean snorted, "I knew you would. But then he said to just kill you. Just shoot you in the damn cage they had you in."
"That didn't go as well as they planned." Sam said, a little less of that icy calm in his voice.
"I thought it had, there for a moment," Dean said. "And I can't lose you because of something I did Sam, or something that happened to me. I know you're angry, but if you act on that impulse it will kill you. I won't let that happen because of me."
Dean saw the change in Sam, felt the tension leave his body. Sam dropped to the ground beside him and put his head in his hands. "I'm sorry, Dean. I just couldn't stand the thought of what they did to you. It made me a little crazy."
"A little crazy? Dude, you scared the crap out of me."
Sam looked up at him "What?"
"You are a terrifying bastard when you get on a roll like that. Hurricane Sammy was in the making, I never knew—"
"That you could be as psychotic as I am sometimes." Actually Sammy, Dean thought, I think it's worse in you all that careful control you usually have.
"Thanks, Dean, that's really sweet of you," and Sam grinned at him. "I did kind of lose it. I think I was seeing red a bit."
"But, dude, you should have seen your face!" And Sam started to laugh, reaction setting in.
"My face, you should have seen yours!" Dean smiled, Sam's laughter was infectious, and that comment just made Sam laugh harder. Dean soon joined him. It hurt his arm, it hurt his head and he didn't care. They sat there, shoulder to shoulder laughing until tears ran down their faces and they were breathing as hard as if they had run ten miles. Eventually it ran its course and they sat quietly together.
"You up to moving?" Sam said standing.
"I think so, as long as we take it sort of slow." He stood up a little shakily. "Yeah, I think this will work." They walked along in companionable silence for a few minutes. "Sam?"
"Thanks." For what you did—what you were willing to do for me, little brother.
"Sure, anytime." Sam said with a gentle smile. "Dean?"
"Thanks." For what you did—what you kept me from doing, big brother.