Series title: Aeternus Eternus
Chapter Title: Within
Genre: episode tag, drama, h/c
Spoilers: AHBL 1 & 2
A/N: Wowzie! Thank you so much for the reviews guys! I apologize if I didn't get back to everyone; internet access is really limited for me right now. Sorry to say that this chapter isn't nearly as heartbreaking as the first...maybe. Lol. Please feel free to dig into that chocolate though, rozzy07 ;) This chapter takes place right after AHBL2.
Disclaimer: What if I say 'Please' and bat my eyes prettily?
Tell me I will never die.
Take away my pain.
Rock me gently in your arms.
Say that I'll remain in your keeping.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
The windshield wipers swayed to a rhythm that has lulled him to sleep time and time again for over twenty years…and tonight was no different. Heading back to Bobby's, Sam found himself protectively tucked, slouched between his big brother and an old friend. His mind was racing. His body was tired. His back—sore. And as his eyes began to blink longer and longer at the road ahead, he found his past—in the present.
"Yeah," The nine-year old answered distractedly, unloading dry clothes into the basket his little brother was sitting in.
"When I die," Sam asked, fingering the warm material that was being piled on top of him. "will I get to meet mom?"/
He didn't have the answers Sam would no doubt be seeking…and wanting. He didn't know how to beat the crossroad's demon or how to get himself out of the deal. And even if Dean did know, he wouldn't tell him. He knew the deal he made. And nothing was worth trying to get out of it.
"Bobby, this really isn't necessary," he stated after the man shifted uncomfortably in the crammed passenger seat for the tenth time.
The friend scoffed. He would have sat in the back, but it was still caked with blood and grief. Stains, he had a feeling, that would never completely come out. "I'm not letting you two out of my sight. Every time I turn around, one of yinz got hell on your ass," he griped. "...or you're makin' deals with it."
Dean grinned. "You love us," he sing-songed.
The grin was contagious. "Like a rash maybe."
The banter was immediately cut short, though, when Sam's head started to loll.
"He'll be fine." Bobby tried to ease the concern in the driver's eyes. "I'd imagine it takes a lot out of you comin' back from the dead," he stated pointedly. "Even with a demon diggin' the nails out of the coffin."
"I'm just sayin'," he pacified, holding up a hand. He understood why Dean had done it. God, he was there when the world ended for the boy. ...but that didn't mean he thought him any less crazy though. Winchesters.
Dean regarded him thoughtfully, almost sadly for a second before turning to the slumped figure between them. "Sammy? You okay in there?"
Bleary hazel struggled open at his call, but never really focused. "Dean?" Sam breathed, eyes already closing again.
"Uh, present. Though I'm not so sure the same goes for you, kiddo."
Half asleep, Sam alarmed both men when he suddenly sounded on the verge of tears. "You didn't answer me."
/ "Well, what the hell kind of question is that, Sam?" The boy scolded, throwing clothes from the washer to the dryer now and looking everywhere other than at his baby brother.
The younger child bowed his head, looking like a broken-hearted hero in his superman pajamas—pajamas, to Dean's horror, that he insisted on wearing every day.
Dean sighed, always a sucker for that frown. "Sammy," he stopped and knelt before the boy. "Is that second grader starting crap about you not having a mom again?" /
"I think he's dreamin'." Bobby said, not being able to hide the surprise in his voice when Sam's head started to droop even further. When it came to rest on Dean's shoulder his suspicions were confirmed.
Despite his concern, Dean couldn't help but smile. His big brother duties were endless.
"You two are worse than a whole damn litter of homeless puppies."
Smirking, Dean wouldn't deny it. They were adorable, damnit. Well, at least he was. "Yeah, but Sammy here, he's the ugly duckling though, right? The long-haired shaggy one among all the handsome, short-haired ones, right?"
"You're both a few spots short if you ask me."
Snorting, that was really another point Dean couldn't find himself arguing. Looking down at his living, breathing younger half and feeling more relaxed than he had in...hell, years, Dean turned back to the road ahead with a smile.
When Dean started to fall asleep at the wheel, Bobby made him pull over at the first motel they came across. There was no sense in trying to convince the boy to let him drive—he wouldn't actually rest with anyone other than Sam behind the wheel anyway—and that just wasn't happening.
Ellen, who had been following behind in Bobby's truck, pulled up alongside them in the parking lot. "What is it?"
"They're beat." Bobby replied, shutting the Impala's door with surprising gentleness. "They can barely keep an eyelid open between them."
Getting out of the truck and peering in the car's passenger side window, she found he wasn't exaggerating. A lifelong war had ended and the boys' bodies were wasting no time getting in their much deserved and needed rest.
In fact, Dean's eyes were already closed—his head resting on Sam's…whose own head, to Ellen's surprise, was tucked securely on his big brother's shoulder.
"What's worse," Bobby quipped dryly from behind her, "is that they know they're adorable. The little shits."
Turning to him, Ellen quirked a mischievous eyebrow, "You wouldn't happen to have a camera in that truck of yours, now would you, Bobby?"
Searching through his wallet for some cash—he didn't want to risk getting caught and having to shuffle the boys back out into the night—Bobby gave her an appraising look. "Glad you're on our side."
Dean woke the instant someone tried to pry his warmth away. One arm automatically tightened around his charge. The other arm…
Swallowing thickly, Bobby nervously eyed the knife held to his throat. He knew better, damnit. "It's me, son" he pressed, quickly voicing his only saving grace. "He's safe."
The steel wavered, but didn't pull away. And it seemed like an eternity—to Bobby anyway—before recognition met Dean's concussed mind and he lowered the weapon with a barely audible, "Sorry."
Letting out a breath he hadn't even known he was holding, Bobby self-consciously rubbed his neck, "sure" … but Dean's attention was already where it usually lay. "He's really here, isn't he, Bobby," he asked thickly, looking down at the slumbering man in his arms—his throat tightening at the warmth puffing steadily against his neck.
"Yeah," Bobby's own throat was suddenly tight and it had nothing to do with almost being slit.
For a brief moment though, eyes still on Sam, Dean didn't see a grown man—instead he saw a very familiar four-year-old looking up at him, smiling with huge dimples and dewy eyes, "Your heart…"
"You guys planning on stayin' in there all night?" Startled him from his daze.
The eldest of the three rolled his eyes. "She's worse than my ex."
Exhausted from the last few days…and maybe even years, Dean merely grinned tiredly and turned his face into everything he thought he had lost.
"Ellen's taking the truck," Bobby announced, coming back into the room with their bags. "She wanted to cluck over the both of you, but I managed to steer her off." He threw their stuff into the corner. "You two owe me. Big time."
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Dean's eyes remained on the sleeping, curled up boy…man, beside him. Sam had at least woken up enough to help get himself inside, but other than putting one foot in front of the other, he had remained pretty out of it… until, that is, he stumbled. He didn't go far—locked in Dean and Bobby's firm grip, but he cried out…and Dean felt as if his own healing wounds, the ones you couldn't see, were being torn in half.
"You should really take care of that." Bobby nodded towards Dean's forehead.
"Yeah," he rasped non-commitedly, eyes never straying from his brother, as with his concern. "Bobby…"
"Let's just…give him some time, son," he suggested reasonably. "He's been through a lot. You both have to put mildly. And if he's still weak and his back's still botherin' him in a couple of days we'll figure something out. But for now…" He placed a bottle of Aspirin and a first aid kit on the stand next to Dean. "I can't get my deposit back if you pass out and bleed all over the carpet."
Dean looked up at him this time. Exhaustion was pouring off of him in waves. But so was relief. "Well God forbid you lose your prune juice money."
After he stitched up Dean's forehead, Bobby left to grab them all something to eat. And Dean remained where he had been the entire time. At Sam's side.
Watching him lay there, curled up, hands tucked under his chin, and looking so ridiculously young, Dean found his eyes filling with tears.
/ "'M sorry" The little boy clutched his stuffed Snoopy tighter against his side. "Don't be mad."
"I'm not mad, Sam. Not at you." The nine-year-old reassured--years of calming his brother making it easy. "Just tell me what he said. Okay?"
Not meeting his brother's eyes, Sam continued to finger the warm clothes. "He said," he whispered so softly Dean had to lean in closer to hear. "He said that little boys that don't know their mommies…will grow up to be bad." /
Washing a hand down his face, Dean fought hard to keep his emotions in check. Damn if Sam dying hadn't turned him into a girl. But that was it, wasn't it. Sam had died.
Sammy had been dead. And he had had no one left to be brave for.
"Don't you ever do that again," he ordered hoarsely.
Sam didn't stir though and Dean's eyes immediately sought out the pulse that steadily rose to meet his brother's neck. Thump, thump, thump. Then before he realized what he was doing, his fingers reached to brush those ever wayward bangs aside—just like he had done that night…just like he had done a millions times before. But unlike last time, Sam opened his eyes…
/ It was the first time he could remember seeing Dean for what he truly was—just a boy too. A little boy that had lost someone he loved.
Immediately the freckled-face child schooled his grief and put his 'big brother face' back on. "In here, Dad."
"Come eat. I brought dinner." John called back.
Sam was still looking up at him though, eyes beseeching.
"Go wash up, Sam."
Face falling, clutching Snoopy to his chest, Sam obediently pried himself out from under the clean clothes. Then looking up at his brother one last time, tears filled his eyes when he was still offered no reassurances. Hanging his head, he walked away.
Looking like the weight of the world was pressing on his shoulders, the five-year-old stopped and slowly, wearily turned. "Will I, Dean?" He asked softly. His lips trembled and he fought hard to control them—fought hard not to cry. "Will I be bad when I grow up?"
Dean's own eyes filled with tears. "No," he replied hoarsely, but confidently.
"How do you know?" It was the oldest Sam had felt in all his five years and Dean would mourn that moment for decades to come.
The older child hesitated, unaccustomed to speaking so openly about their mom. "Because," swallowing, he forced his words past a whisper, "Because I knew her, Sam," he finally found his voice, as thick and encumbered as it was for someone so young. "And you'll know her through me."
His smile was slow to come, but it came nonetheless. And it was the first time Sam had done so in days.
Their father called for them again, unaware of such a weighted conversation taking place, but the boys' eyes never strayed from each other. They were locked in a rare moment—sharing a pain that was seldom talked about, sharing a hope that the young should not need.
"You, uh…you'd better hurry," the elder boy finally spoke, "he'll think you got stuck in the dryer again."/
Dean slowly pulled back his hand. He was busted. Might as well face it like a man.
But blinking, Sam just watched him. The boy that had raised him. The man that had sold his soul for him. "Hey," he whispered, ignoring the fact that his big macho brother had been stroking his hair.
"Hey," Dean visibly relaxed. He wasn't going to be outted.
Eyeing their motel room—what little he could see of it with his brother blocking his view, Sam tried to sit up some. "Where's Bobby?" He winced and it didn't go unnoticed.
"He, uh, went to get some grub." Dean handed him a couple of Advil and the glass of water that was sitting on the bedside table. "I told him to get you that pansy green stuff you like so much."
The corner of Sam's mouth turned up slightly. "It's called a salad, Dean," he replied, taking the pills and downing the water, handing the glass back empty.
Taking the glass, Dean just shrugged. Yeah whatever. Silence filled the room then—uncomfortable and filled with worry. They both wanted to put each other's fears at rest, but they were having trouble speaking past their own. Finally, Dean cleared his throat. "So, you gonna move over, or what, princess?" He nudged Sam's hip with his knee. "I really don't feel like cuddling with Bobby."
Sam didn't miss a beat. "But you're gonna cuddle with me?"
Dean blinked. "Oh, you're hilarious."
Smiling, Sam gingerly scooted over. He wanted to talk more—wanted to discuss what they were going to do now, wanted to start researching a way to save his older half, but as soon as he felt his brother lay down beside him, his body relaxed further into the bed and he was out before Dean could warn him to keep his freakishly long heat-seeking toes to himself.
/ "Damnit, Saaaam," The nine-year-old squirmed. "Watch where you're stickin' those ice cubes."
Sam merely giggled and snuggling his Snoopy, burrowed his toes even further beneath his brother. Dean sighed and the dark room fell into a peaceful silence.
Their father was out doing things Sam wouldn't come to understand for a few more years, and it wasn't uncommon for the boys to be by themselves at night. But something still weighed heavily on Sam's mind. He still had one more question he needed answering.
"What is it, Sam?" Dean asked sleepily, already so in tune to his brother's needs.
Picking at Snoopy's ear, Sam's eyes sought out Dean's in the dark. "Will I?" he asked again. He really needed to know.
"Will you what?"
He hesitated now. Remembering how it had upset him the last time he asked.
"Just spit it out," came a tired and exasperated sigh.
"Will I get to meet mom when I die?" It was out of his mouth before he even realized it and it surprised the both of them.
He felt his brother stiffen beside him and expected his question to go ignored again, or to be yelled at. After all, he was never told why they didn't have a mom in the first place. Not that he didn't ask.
"I don't know, Sam," Dean surprised him by answering truthfully, sorrow filling his voice, making him sound much older than his years. "I don't know."/
Lying face to face, barely a foot apart, Sam was fast asleep and Dean was fighting it—almost afraid to close his eyes. Almost afraid he'd wake up, knees in the mud, still clutching…
He felt four-years-old again —crawling into his baby brother's crib to both give and seek comfort—crawling into his baby brother's crib to safeguard the last piece of their mother he had left.
But they've come full circle, he realized. Because tonight was the first night in over twenty years that he could go to sleep and not worry that the demon would come back to claim what he had not before.
Not even the thought of his one-way ticket to hell could ruin the long awaited peace the night held.
He only wished their father was there to share it with him.
Murmuring something, Sam curled further into himself…and his big brother, tucking his freezing toes under Dean's legs. Dean shook his head and smiled softly at what his soul had done. One tainted soul for one heat-seeking-pain-in-the-ass-little brother.
It was a steal.
And he'd do it again in a second. His only regret; not getting to watch Sam live out the rest of his life. Not being the best man at his wedding. Not being able to corrupt his nieces and nephews. Not being able to see him…happy.
/"Enough of this 'dying' talk already."
"I'm serious, Sam." His tone left no room for argument. "Drop it. You're not gonna die," he snapped harshly, turning on his side, turning away.
"But how do you know that?"
The whole world got impossibly quiet as Sam waited for an answer he didn't think would come. When it did though, even though he couldn't see his face, his big brother spoke with such raw conviction; Sam couldn't help but to believe him. "Because I won't let you." /
When a hand suddenly wrapped around the back of his neck and pulled him in against a beating chest, Dean didn't pull away.
It was a promise.
A changing of guards.
Forehead to chest, Dean tightly latched onto the arm holding him, tears meeting his eyes at what he heard within…
/ "Is that cause we're brothers?" His voice was still so soft, so careful—as if he were afraid of breaking a magical spell.
The freckled-face boy knew he should probably tell him the truth--that all hearts beat that way. But deep down he knew he'd be lying if he did. "Yeah" he finally rasped and was rewarded with those dimples for a second time in one day. "And nothin' will ever change that, okay?"
An even bigger smile. "Okay."/
Dean wouldn't let anything.
The grip on the back of his neck tightened.
And neither would Sam.
The end…or is it?t Please review!