By: Oldach's Dream
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Summary: Continuation of 'Don't Drive Into the Fog.' Season one timeline. Dean realizes how much help Sam actually needs. Oneshot.
"Why don't you go to sleep, Sammy?" Dean asked the question into the silence. He knew his brother had to answer it.
"There's something about the night," the younger brother mumbled, turning over onto his side. It seemed to Dean, that staring absently up at the ceiling was something Sam did to torture himself - and that could only be done when he was hiding in the silence.
"What about the night?" The elder man questioned when his little brother didn't continue, wanting desperately to unravel the mystery that was Sammy - and fearing endlessly what he might find if ever he succeeded.
"It's quiet." He clarified, and Dean thought also that it must act as a truth aid.
"It's not that quiet," he argued. "We're right next to a highway." And as if to prove his point, a rattling, angry sounding semi-truck passed by their cheap motel room as soon as the words left his lips. It cast a long shadow across the length of their two beds, the walls, the ceiling - and for a moment, Dean was tempted to look over at his brother, to gauge his facial expressions, to try to help. Then the moment was over, the burst of insight was gone, and they were alone again.
"Nothing happens at night." Sam acted completely indifferent to the passing truck and Dean's internal debate, it seemed as if he were battling one on that front all his own. "Not when we're here. Like this. You know nothing's gonna happen."
Dean did know that. He wasn't sure how, because logic told him that an angry ghost could come barreling towards them at any time, a demon could posses them here, a hellhound could sniff them out behind the thin walls surrounding the motel and certainly their fire demon - if it were so inclined - could make another grandly destructive appearance in their lives right now. But Dean knew it wouldn't happen.
"Yeah," he admitted, not willing to delve into why he knew that. Perhaps it was because of Sam's unwavering belief that they were safe. He trusted his brother's instincts more than anything else. "But you still need to sleep."
"I know." The words held no argument, but Dean knew his advice wouldn't be heeded. He knew also, that until he talked to his brother, their was absolutely nothing he could do about that. Emotional moments, any sort of problem that didn't have a logical solution, vulnerability - these were all things Dean did his absolute hardest to avoid. He hated them with a passion he didn't want to delve into; but right now, with Sammy in this motel room - like so many times before - Dean's chronic avoidance of all things emotional could be waived for his little brother.
"It's just..." The struggle in Sam's voice was hovering just below the surface. Time to pluck it out.
"Just what, little brother?" His own voice was as soft and gentle as he could make it.
"At night...everything hurts more..."
"Then why not sleep?" That was logical, right?
"But that's the way it's supposed to feel at night." He didn't acknowledge Dean's argument, and the elder was forced to remember that logic didn't take up space here. "Like...not real."
"Sam..." Dean's worry bled through, and not for the first time, it was only thing he could feel.
"I don't know what to do, Dean." The younger boy croaked. Dean bit his lip. "It's like... I can't catch my breath. No matter what we do, no matter who we save...it's never enough." Dean bit his lip harder. "I don't even know if killing The Demon would make this better."
Dean tasted blood.
"I only ever feel this way at night." Sam continued, oblivious of his brother's distress, too caught up in his own. "I'm sorry you have to deal with it."
"I'm your brother, Sammy." Dean's voice stood strong amongst the backdrop of conflicting emotions. "It's my job to help you deal with these things."
"It shouldn't be."
"But it is." This would not be an argument. "And I'm gonna help you."
"How?" A good question, Dean had to admit.
A silence stretched between them. Not the good kind of silence either, not the sort of silence that could heal wounds and lay the groundwork for recovery. No, this was the kind of quiet that Sam feared every single night - and right now, Dean was just adding to it.
"Sam," he spoke steadily, "What do you need?"
Another impossibly long silence. Finally, "I don't know." Dean could hear the swallow, it was that thick, his throat that constricted. "God I wish I did. I wish this just had a simple solution. Fuck, I wish it had a name."
"I think you're depressed." Dean spoke before his brain gave consent.
"I'm not depressed." He argued at once.
"Yeah, bro, I think you are."
"I'm fine during the day."
"Yeah, Sam," he fought to keep his voice level, knowing that when he got upset, he often sounded angry. And angry wasn't what his little brother needed. "You're fine. You deal. But you're not happy."
"I'm not planning on killing myself." He snapped, something that sounded suspiciously like fear laced behind the words. "I don't...I'm not thinking like that, Dean. Okay? I just... I'm sorry. I should've never said anything. It's just..."
"Sammy." He said the word firmly, halting the younger boy's ramblings. "I know you don't wanna die like that." And he did, "That's not what depression is. Or, at least, that's not all it can be."
"How do you know?" Anger, mostly, Dean noted. He didn't even suspect the truth.
"I just do, okay?" It wasn't a real question. "I thought you were the one who went to college anyway."
"I'm getting a headache."
"Are we gonna talk about this?" Dean pushed, feeling oddly protected by this turn of events. He wanted Sam to talk to him, was troubled by the fact that he wouldn't. He was having a chick flick moment, but he was controlling it. Perhaps that's what had always been missing before.
"No." Sam decided. "I'm tired." Dean cringed at the echo his brother had unknowingly created. "I'm gonna go to sleep now."
And he rolled over to do just that. Dean took a breath, and sighed deeply, resigning to let it go for now. "Okay, Sammy. Sleep." He took the stillness of his brother's bed sheets as consent and began adjusting his own positioning for rest.
Then, in that moment right before unconsciousness, when the waking world was no longer a threat, he uttered his promise.
"I will help you."