Sometimes the Darkness Wins
Disclaimer: Not mine, but it didn't stop me from giving S1 and S2 SPN DVD's to my little sister for Christmas! I'm incorrigible.
Beta'd: By a wonderful friend and author – Wysawyg. Thanks girl! Thanks especially for helping me get a little inside Dean's head and especially that one scene – yeah, the infamous…why did he do that?...scene! Couldn't have done it without you.
I played after she beta'd so all remaining errors are mine and mine alone.
Thanks: To Muffy Morrigan for helping me figure out what was "missing" when I got stuck. I used your idea to push past that stumbling block – and I think the scene worked nicely.
Prompt: Sam is affected by the possession in BUaBS more than Dean suspects.
Written for Xeia for our Christmas 2007 Secret Santa story exchange.
Sorry, Xeia. I'm sure if you had known you'd be stuck with the slowest author in the group, you might have thought twice. :)
Sam started a defrag on his laptop before pushing away from the small table he had been hunched over for two hours. He rubbed his temples with long fingers, willing away the nagging headache he'd been nursing all week. Of course, riding in the car with Dean listening to metal head music for seven days had not helped.
Overcome by an urge to get up and do something, he abruptly stood and spun in a tight circle. He looked around the room, trying to slow his brain long enough to figure out where to head next. There had to be something around the room that he could do while Dean was out getting lunch. Spotting his duffel bag tucked in between the foot of the bed and the wall, Sam nearly sprinted over to pick it up.
He reached for the duffel and flung it onto the bed. His head pounded in protest at the action and he experienced a momentary loss of equilibrium. Sam swallowed hard to quell a rising nausea and breathed deeply. The feeling passed and he set to work on the bag.
After unzipping the duffel, he carefully unpacked each item and laid it out in an organized manner on the bed. Sock, boxers, jeans, t-shirts, button up shirts and a tattered copy of "Executive Orders." It was a Tom Clancy novel that he'd found in the bargain bin at a rundown gas station in Wyoming a few days ago. He'd made a serious dent in it trying to distract himself long enough to fall asleep.
He pulled out the gas receipt he had been using as a bookmark. It also marked one of many stops they made on a weeklong journey of long hours in the car and sleepless nights in motels. Sam tucked the receipt back into the book and set it on the bed. The book would have to wait.
With practiced precision, Sam tightly rolled each article of clothing and repacked the bag. He meticulously arranged his socks and boxers, tucking them into and around the edges to form a solid line before he laid the jean rolls on the bottom. Two lines of shirts followed on top of the jeans front to back starting with white t-shirts and ending with a navy blue button-up shirt. The book he placed on top before zipping the bag closed and stowing it at the foot of the bed.
On his pass through the room, he checked on the progress of the defrag, but it was only thirty-eight percent complete, so he continued on to the bathroom. Sam sighed partially in relief, part from exasperation. Here, at last, was something to do.
He carefully picked wet towels off the floor and draped them over the shower rod. Turning his attention to the toiletries on the silver ledge of the bathroom mirror, he organized them based on owner and size. Dean's shaving cream, shampoo, toothpaste, comb, razor and toothbrush were lined up first followed by his. A final scan of the room produced one of Dean's socks tucked behind the trash can. Sam shook his head unable to figure out how his brother managed to get his clothes everywhere.
Sam carried the sock out to the bedroom area and shoved it into their laundry bag. He toyed briefly with the idea of unpacking Dean's duffel, but he knew the invasion of privacy would have his brother up in arms. The laundry bag would have to suffice.
He dumped the contents of the laundry bag out onto his bed and started rolling the dirty clothes. He continued the same pattern he used with his duffel and had just moved on to the t-shirts when his mind wandered back over one of the dreams he had during the last seven days.
"I don't want to hurt anyone else. I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't. Whatever this is, you can fight it." Dean's green eyes reflected confidence in that statement, faith in Sam.
"No, I can't, not forever." He picked up the gun and placed it in his brother's palm. Here, you gotta do it."
"You know, I've tried so hard to keep you safe." It actually hurt to hear Dean's nearly cracking voice.
"I can't. I'd rather die." Dean put the gun down and walked away.
"No. You'll live." He picked up the gun and swung it down over his brother's head. "You'll live to regret this."
"NO!" Sam shouted, sitting upright with a gasp as he was torn from the nightmare. He sat, holding his head, panting and trying to get his breathing under control. He glanced over at Dean, but it seemed a few nights of nightmares had taught Dean to sleep through them.
Sam ran a hand through his sweat-dampened hair. It was more likely Dean had opted to pretend not to notice the nightmares to give him time to deal with it on his own. After Sam had rebuffed Dean's attempts to talk several times, his brother had let it go. Sam sighed. He knew his brother and Dean had not given up, he was simply biding his time…like any good hunter, waiting for the right moment to strike.
Sam mulled over the fragments of memory he had unearthed in his sleep. At least, they felt like memories. A fuzzy, hazy remembrance at best, but the emotions swirling inside him felt very real. He could ask Dean, but that would open up a conversation he would rather not have.
Dean shifted in his sleep and turned on his side towards Sam. 'Subtle, Dean,' he thought. 'I already knew you were awake. That you're on guard if I need you and I appreciate that, but go to sleep.'
He stood and walked to the window. He drew back the curtain and the full moon illuminated the room. He felt claustrophobic in the small motel room, a feeling he had rarely experienced before. Practically growing up in motel rooms and the Impala with his brother and father had meant close quarters and shared living space. He was accustomed to always being in close proximity to others and it had never bothered him.
Right now, however, he wanted fresh air and room to unravel if he needed to, but he couldn't do that to his brother. Dean needed him here. Dean needed to know he was here. He may feel disconnected from himself, but years of learning to 'read Dean' and looking up to his big brother came as second nature to him. The bullet wound was reason enough not to leave his brother alone, but the fear lurking behind the green windows made it impossible.
Sam sighed and dropped the curtain leaving only a sliver of fragmented moonlight dancing on the far wall. He paced a couple of laps around the room before settling back down on his bed. He grabbed the remote and turned the volume down low. He knew the noise would still be enough to wake Dean, they were both conditioned to sleep lightly, but he hoped his brother would quickly go back to sleep.
As if on cue, Dean cracked his eyes open, squinting against the blue light from the television. "Time izzit?"
"Three a.m.," Sam answered. "Go back to sleep, Dean."
Dean nodded and closed his eyes. "Are you planning on going back to sleep?"
"Maybe later." Sam rubbed his feet against each other to warm them before pulling the blanket back over his legs. "I'm not really tired."
"Uh-huh," Dean replied. Sam could tell Dean didn't believe him, but then, he'd quit trying to hide the truth from Dean when he realized it wouldn't work anyway. "Wake me at five and we'll hit the road."
Sam waited until Dean's rhythmic breathing indicated he slept before flipping through the channels in search of mindless entertainment. Settling on a cartoon program in a sea of infomercials, he leaned against the headboard and hunkered in for a few hours of escape from reality.
Sam's thoughts were interrupted when Dean came back into the room. He turned his head to catch a glimpse of his brother before returning to the task at hand. He had seen the raised eyebrows and he knew that he was busted. "Did you have any luck with that waitress?" When in doubt, deflect.
"Are you packing the laundry bag?" Dean countered. He set a bag of takeout down next to Sam and lay down on the opposite bed with more care than usual. He watched as Sam continued to repack the clothes. "You're not going to eat, are you?"
Sam sighed inwardly, but didn't look up. Apparently, Dean had activated his impervious shield and could see right through him. "I will. I'm just not hungry right now."
"Sure, Sam." Silence filled the empty space until Dean noticed what Sam was doing. "You're folding the dirty clothes? Don't touch my underwear. Dude, that's just wrong."
"Shut up," Sam growled, but a smile touched his face briefly before disappearing. "I think I found something interesting, our kind of interesting, but I'm defragging the laptop right now, so it'll be a few minutes before I can show you."
When his brother did not respond, Sam looked up to find Dean staring at him quizzically. "Sam, I don't even know what that means, but why do I get the feeling you're cleaning your computer?"
"That's a little inaccurate, but it's the gist of it," Sam replied without looking up. "Essentially, it's moving files to consolidate where the data sits on the hard drive thereby freeing up available space and improving processing time."
Silence again and when Sam looked up at Dean this time, he was wearing a smirk. "I'm sorry," Dean said in a voice that indicated he was anything but sorry. "I didn't mean to make you think I was actually interested in what defragging was."
Sam huffed and carefully placed the last shirt in the laundry bag before setting it on the ground and taking a seat on the bed across from Dean. "How's the shoulder?" Sam asked.
"The same," Dean replied with a one-sided shrug. "What about you?"
What about him? He felt as if he had the flu, the aching muscles, stiff joints and even the nausea. To add insult to injury he had a massive cold forming. His ribs throbbed, his cheek was tender and he had a screaming headache, but it was nothing really.
It wasn't as if he had a bullet wound in his shoulder. Just a burn on his arm that remarkably enough was fading with every passing day, the demon's lock tattoo fading with it. It seemed the hot poker that seared his skin and destroyed the lock also destroyed the evil that created it allowing his body to heal. "Me?" Sam asked, pursing his lips and scrunching his brow. "I'm fine."
"Uh huh," Dean replied. "So this Martha Stewart thing you got going on, that's you…being fine?"
"Don't know what you're talking about," Sam replied. His leg started to bounce up and down and he rested the palm of his hand on his thigh hoping to stop the involuntary, nervous habit before Dean noticed. No such luck. The pointed glance at the bouncing appendage and the quirked eyebrow in his direction said, 'I told you so,' as clearly as if Dean had spoken the words aloud.
"You're really going to make me do this, aren't you?" Dean asked. His eyes looked pained and Sam knew in an instant what Dean's words really meant.
"No," Sam replied, standing up. He had to walk off some of jittery feelings he had. "I'm fine, Dean, really." He turned to face his brother and the look on Dean's face told him he needed more before he would let this drop again. Sam had been pushing his brother's queries aside for the last seven days and his technique was wearing thin.
Dean sighed loudly. "Sam, seriously man, you still look like crap and it's been a week. Are you sleeping at all?"
"Course," Sam tossed off, pacing another circuit around the small room. "Look, you want to get out of here for awhile? I'm in the mood for cheeseburger."
"Right," Dean replied with a head nod. "Sure, that sounds like you. Try again, little brother and this time, pick something I might believe."
Sam huffed and flopped into the hardback, wooden chair by the computer. "Fifty-seven percent." He huffed again and ran a hand through his hair. "I don't remember it taking so long last time."
He peered through long bangs at his brother, catching Dean in an eye roll. "Strike two," Dean quipped in a sarcastic tone. "Really gonna swing at that third pitch, Sammy?"
Thumb tapping on the table accompanied renewed leg bouncing and Sam struggled to formulate a response. Finally, unable to sit any longer he stood so abruptly that he knocked the chair over. The words that bellowed from his chest surprised even him. "Just shut the hell up, Dean! I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
Dean didn't even blink. He sat on the bed, staring impassively at him until Sam began to feel ridiculous. "You done?" he asked, finally.
"Yeah," Sam muttered quietly, dropping his head before taking a seat on the opposite bed. "But I still don't want to talk about it."
"Yeah, well that's tough, Sam," Dean said, with a hard edge in his tone. "I've cut you some slack, given you some time. Obviously, that ain't working so well for us, so we're going to try this another way. Talk to me."
Sam glanced up at Dean, but didn't raise his head and he did not respond. Emotions swirled his chest forcing his heart up into his throat. He couldn't talk even if he wanted to and he didn't want to. Sam glanced at his big brother again and realized he was waiting for a reply, but Sam couldn't bring himself to offer one.
Dean sighed again, stood up and placed his hands on Sam's shoulders. "Talk to me."
Sam shook his head, but he looked up to meet Dean's gaze. "What do you want me to say, Dean? There's no way for me to explain to you what it felt like. We don't have a common point of reference to start from."
Dean scrunched up his face. "Are you trying to tell me that we can't talk about this, because I've never been possessed?"
Sam shrugged his shoulders and gave Dean a 'maybe' look.
"Because that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Dean snapped. "I think I understand what you're going through, you're wor…"
"No, you don't!" Sam interrupted angrily, his voice rising. "You have no idea what I'm going through! You've never had someone or something inside you, listening to your thoughts, ripping through your mind, taking control…" he tapered off. He'd already said too much.
Dean nodded and sat down next to Sam. "You're right, Sammy," he said, quietly. "I don't know what you're going through and I probably can't really understand, but I can try."
Sam shook his head. "No, I don't want to talk about this, Dean. There's nothing more to say. I'm going to take a shower." He stood, walked quickly to the bathroom and disappeared behind the closed door.
Dean silently counted to ten. Getting frustrated with Sam's reticent behavior would be counterproductive. If he knew anything about his little brother it was that if Sam didn't want to talk about something, he wouldn't. The best course of action with Sam had always been to push hard and then wait him out. However, unlike him, Sam couldn't stuff it down and forget about it. It would continue to show up in nightmares, in morose sulking and in his newest quirk – a cleaning obsession that knew no bounds.
He stood and paced the room, taking note when the shower water started. Sam seemed to be spending a larger chunk of time in the shower these days. He sat down at the computer. He could do a little surfing while his brother was occupied. Most of the time Sam was nearly as protective of his laptop as Dean was of the Impala. He touched the keypad and sighed when screen saver disappeared and he could see the window that indicated whatever fragging Sam was giving the computer it was only eighty-seven percent complete.
Dean thought about making a run for dinner to give them both a little time to take a break and regroup. He'd lied to Sam before when he said he wasn't scared. Not because he was worried his little brother would turn evil, but because it seemed as if evil was Hell-bent on having his little brother.
Dean scrubbed a hand through his hair and took a deep breath. The shower water turned off and he wondered if that was a good sign or not. Usually Sam lost himself in the bathroom for at least thirty minutes, but he couldn't have been in the shower for more than fifteen. Sam emerged moments later in a cloud of billowing steam with towel-dried hair that stuck up in all directions. His t-shirt stuck to wet skin and while he had jeans on, he carried his socks and shoes.
Dean looked closer at Sam and noticed how pale his face appeared making the dark purple circles under his eyes more pronounced. If anything, Sam looked worse than he had at Bobby's. He clapped Sam on the shoulder when he squeezed past him to wash his hands.
He used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe condensation off the mirror, turned on the tap and splashed some water on face when he noticed his toiletries weren't the way he had left them. Everything was laid out in a precise order. "Sam!" he called from the bathroom mirror.
He stepped out of the bathroom and strode over to where Sam sitting at his computer. Sam looked up at him. "What?"
"Sam, why did you move my stuff?" Dean asked, pointing into the bathroom.
"What?" Sam repeated, furrowing his brow.
"My stuff," Dean said. "Why did you organize my stuff in the bathroom?"
"You left it a mess," Sam replied with a shrug and turned back to the computer. Dean pulled the computer away from Sam and turned it in the opposite direction. "Hey!" Sam protested.
Dean ignored him. "Since when do you clean up after me?"
Sam scrunched his face and offered a briefly appearing grin. "Where have you been? Practically our whole lives."
"Not like that," Dean disagreed, pointing into the bathroom again. "Not like you've been possessed by the ghost of Donna Reid." He winced as soon as the poorly chosen words left his lips. He shook his head. "You know what I mean. Now talk, I mean it this time."
Sam stared at him for several beats before standing and walking away to the other side of the room. He whirled around to face Dean and calmly stated, "If I agree to talk about this, will you agree to never bring it up again?"
"Come again?" Dean asked, walking closer to Sam.
"I mean if I answer your questions, will you agree to never ask me how I feel about it or mention the possession again?" Sam asked. He looked at Dean imploringly, his naked hazel eyes begging Dean to agree.
"Okay, yeah, whatever," Dean replied with a head nod. He wasn't sure he'd be able to keep his word, but he was inclined to agree with anything if it got his little brother to open up and talk about it. The thought made him huff softly. He was actually begging for a caring and sharing moment.
Sam nodded, grabbed the take out bag and moved it to the side table before sitting down on the bed. Dean walked over and followed suit on the opposite bed. "But, I've got full big brother reneging rights on this deal."
Sam puffed a half-laugh. "I guess that's the best I can get from you."
"It's a hell of a deal," Dean agreed with a smirk.
Sam laughed lightly. "Yeah, it is." He dropped his gaze for a moment before lifting his head again to face Dean. "I wasn't lying when I said I didn't remember very much. I still don't." Sam sighed, resigned. "I can tell you that it was…terrifying…" Sam's voice cracked and he swallowed hard before continuing. "…To just be a passenger in my own body. I could see myself doing things, hear myself saying things, but I had no control over any of it."
When Sam paused, Dean asked, "Is that what this organizing thing is all about? Control?" Sam's head snapped in Dean's direction, but he didn't say anything.
Dean thought back to this past week. Sam's cleaning obsession and an organizing frenzy: receipts, the weapons stash, files on his computer, even the food on his plate had been separated in neat sections last night. All of it was Sam's bid for re-establishing control over his life. And the things he didn't have control over were met with barely constrained anxiety such as the knuckle-white death grip on the dash of the Impala – Dean had checked, sure there would indentations from Sam's fingers, but there hadn't been.
"What are the nightmares about?" Dean asked, alternating his line of questioning.
Sam shrugged and pursed his lips. "Just things that happened during that week," he stated.
"I kind of figured that out for myself." Dean rolled his hand in a 'keep talking' gesture. "About what exactly?"
"I don't know," Sam confessed quietly. "It's all disjointed and fragmented. I'm not sure I know what they are about, parts of conversation, odd pieces of events that don't make sense, a song on the radio." Sam drew in a ragged breath and ran a hand through his hair. "God, Dean, I could have been anywhere, done anything, hurt anyone."
Sam sprang from the bed and strode away from him. Dean stood to follow his brother. The conversation wasn't over yet. "Sam, stop."
Sam spun around to face him and Dean had barely enough time to register his little brother's swaying stance and pale face before Sam's legs buckled. Dean sprinted across the short distance and caught Sam in an awkward one-armed grip to guide his lanky frame to the carpeted floor. His little brother's weight pulled hard on his shoulder and he bit back an expletive.
"Sammy!" Dean slapped Sam lightly on the cheek, but he didn't respond.
Dean contemplated hefting his brother off the floor and out to the Impala to drag him to the hospital, but he didn't want to subject Sam to the ordeal unless it proved necessary. He wasn't entirely sure he could manage it anyway. Easing Sam to the floor had hurt like hell. "Sam?" Dean tried again.
A low moan signaled Sam's return to consciousness. "Sam, are you with me?" Sam stirred slightly and he wrapped his strong arm around Sam's back and pulled his barely responsive brother to his feet. "Come on, Sasquatch, let's get you to the bed." Sam nodded and his head flopped to his chest.
Dean groaned and winced as the wound on his shoulder pulled tight. Sam was practically dead weight and Dean had to do most of the work to guide him five feet where he dropped him unceremoniously to the bed. He swung Sam's feet unto the bed and rested one hip beside him.
Sam moaned and scrunched his brow, one hand moving slowly upwards towards his head. "Hey, are you awake?" Dean asked.
Hazel eyes were slowly revealed behind heavy eyelids and Sam blinked sluggishly before his eyes opened wide. Abruptly, Sam scrambled backwards and his eyes darted about the room. His breathing quickened and his words came out in panting gasps, "What did I miss?"
"Other than your Southern Belle, Scarlett O'Hara impersonation? Nothing. You were out less than five minutes." Dean edged closer to his brother. Sam's wide eyes and panting breaths had not calmed and Dean reached out a hand to squeeze his little brother's shoulder. "Sam, you didn't miss anything. Nothing happened."
Sam's gaze came to rest on Dean's face and he nodded in understanding, his breathing slowing. "Sorry. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry," Dean said, "Not for that anyway." Dean's lips pressed into a thin line. "Be sorry you lied to me about how bad you were feeling. Be sorry you haven't been sleeping and you're exhausted. Be sorry you've barely eaten enough to keep a man half your size alive. Be sorry you've neglected to take care of yourself and how much of a pain in the ass I'm going to be now that I know."
Sam huffed. "I'm already sorry," He muttered, averting his gaze.
Dean narrowed his eyes. "There's more to it, isn't there? Sam, you have to be honest with me about this. We don't know what the long term affects are of a demon possession." Sam winced and Dean continued unabated. "If you think something is wrong, you gotta tell me."
As often as he teased Sam, his brother was a tough guy. He didn't faint without an overwhelming physical reason. Blood loss? Sure. A hard enough hit to the head? Yeah. But not even Sam's visions caused him to black out and Dean was relatively certain Sam hadn't had one of those anyway.
"Sam?" Dean asked, letting his brother know he was still waiting for a reply.
"I just don't feel a hundred percent yet, Dean, and that's the truth," Sam replied, his gaze falling on Dean's shoulder.
"If you're sure, Sam, but you better not be holding back on me," Dean warned. The color leached from Sam's face and he reached out a hand to place it on Sam's shoulder.
Sam knocked his hand away. "No, don't," Sam pleaded, his hazel eyes darkening with emotion.
"Sam," Dean started, his face scrunching in confusion. "What…?"
"You're hurt." Sam's eyes returned to his shoulder.
Dean looked down at the blossoming red stain. "I think I popped a couple of stitches, that's all."
"How?" Sam asked, looking back up at Dean.
"It doesn't matter," Dean replied flippantly. He moved until he was completely on the bed.
"It does to me." Sam scooted closer to his brother and hovered his hand over the injured shoulder, but he didn't touch it. "How?"
Dean scrubbed a hand down his face. "Probably when I helped you move from the floor to the bed," he said.
"I knew it," Sam replied quietly, his gaze dropping to bedspread. He traced the paisley pattern with his finger before clenching his hand into a fist.
"You knew what?" Dean asked. This agonizing game of pulling one confession at a time out of his little brother was wearing on him. Sam was holding his biggest fear back and Dean wanted to know what it was. "What's bugging you, Sam? What haven't you told me?"
"You'll be first," Sam murmured, turning back towards him.
"First?" Dean could see fear in Sam's eyes.
"If it happens," Sam replied, his answer still vague. He waved a hand at Dean's injured shoulder. "It's obvious you won't raise a finger to protect yourself and you'll be first in the line of danger if…if I…"
"You won't," Dean assured him. Sam rolled his eyes and Dean continued. "I'm watching out for you."
"I know," Sam replied quietly. "Thanks for that, Dean, but I don't want to be responsible for something bad happening to you. I won't be able to live with that…I can't."
"You won't have to," Dean said. "I promise."
"You can't promise that." Sam lifted his eyes to return Dean's gaze. His hazel eyes were filled with unshed pain. "You didn't stop me this time."
"Because it wasn't you, Sam," Dean said. He thought for a moment Sam hadn't heard him because he remained quiet.
"So you've said," Sam replied finally. "But, you didn't know that."
"Yeah, I did," Dean said tightly. "It wasn't you. I know you, Sam, and even if I didn't know exactly what was going on at first, I knew it wasn't you. You can think what you want about that, but it's the truth and I was right."
Sam's voice rose in frustration. "I shot you!"
Dean quirked an eyebrow. "Meg shot me," he corrected. "It's a good thing too. You wouldn't have missed."
"That's supposed to make me feel better?" Sam ran a hand through his hair. "Because it doesn't make me feel any better."
"It does me," Dean smirked. "A hell of a lot better. I'm still here." Dean paused and offered Sam a genuine smile. "And so are you."
Sam returned Dean's smile with a small one of his own. "Thanks to you and Bobby."
"So, that's it, we're good now?" Dean asked. Sam looked away and Dean had his answer. "What else?"
"I just wish I knew what else may have happened." Sam turned back towards him and his eyes were reflective. "I've checked for signs, but…"
"Signs of what?" Dean asked, his brow furrowing. When Sam did not respond, Dean asked the question again, his voice gaining intensity. "Signs of what, Sam?"
Sam dropped his gaze and shrugged. "Drug use, for one."
Dean stared at him, incredulously. "Sam, you didn't use drugs. No way."
"How do you know that, Dean?" Sam thumped a hand on the mattress. "How can you possibly know that, when I don't?"
Dean's normal reassurances died on his lips. There wasn't any way to be certain what Sam had done during his seven day absence. Meg had stolen a car, drank, smoked, hurt Jo, killed Wandell and nearly killed him too. Demons weren't particularly vulnerable to human weaknesses when they possessed someone. Meg had fallen several stories out the warehouse window and yet returned with the shadow demons to kick their asses. Just about anything was possible.
In a flash, Dean remembered Meg and her broken, dying body after the demon had been exorcised. He could have done the same thing to Sam, evicted the demon only to kill him if his body had been too damaged to survive. He flicked his eyes to Sam's to reassure himself that his little brother was okay.
Dean had an instant impression of what the past week had been like for his little brother. A whole week of his life lost while someone else lived it, doing who knew what with his body while his soul was held captive. He wondered what other fears Sam had about what he may have done, but right now he wanted to help Sam move past it.
"You're right," Dean conceded. It pained him to admit it, but Sam was right on this count. He didn't know and he probably never would.
Sam scrunched his face in confusion. "What?"
"I said, you're right," Dean said. He scrubbed a hand down his face and let it fall to his thigh with a slap. "There's no way to know what happened. I'm sorry."
Sam braced himself against the headboard. "What for?"
"For not driving you to get those burgers, for not finding you sooner, for letting my guard down and allowing Meg get the drop on me – twice, for not punching you first in Twin Lakes, for punching you at Bobby's…"
Sam shook his head. "Dean, you weren't responsible for any of that."
"No." Sam's eyes were reflective, but a smirk pulled the corner of his lips. "Well, except for the punch at Bobby's, but all things considered…" Sam's voice trailed off and he scrunched his brow. "If you really don't hold me responsible for shooting you or beating you…"
"You didn't beat me," Dean interrupted, dismissing the notion with a face scrunched in denial. "Meg got in a couple of lucky punches."
"If you don't hold me responsible for getting in a couple of lucky punches," Sam corrected, his brow furrowing. "Why did you punch me at Bobby's after Meg – left?"
Dean sighed. He should have known his analytical little brother would be tossing facts, every fact he had, around in his head trying to make sense of things and that his moment of hot-blooded reaction would bite him on the ass.
"I dunno, Sam," he said with a half-shrug. The look of quiet acceptance on Sam's face spurred him to continue. "I guess because I'd had the worst week of my entire life, not knowing where you were, thinking the unthinkable had happened, finding you covered in blood in Twin Lakes, Wandell, Jo, getting shot, getting dunked in the water, having to put up with Jo's doctor skills, losing you a third damn time and then getting my ass handed to me by Meg. And after all that to have you look at me with confusion in your eyes and ask what happened? I just lost it for a second, I guess. It was a big, 'Screw You,' moment."
Sam puffed a small laugh past his lips. "That actually sounds like you."
"It was me," Dean confirmed with a smile, placing a hand on Sam's shoulder and giving it a brief squeeze. "And it wasn't you."
"Thanks," Sam said quietly. His hazel eyes sparkled in gratitude.
"So we're good?" Dean asked again. "You'll get some sleep tonight? Maybe agree not to color coordinate the weapons stash?"
Sam laughed. "Yeah, we're good. We can go back to being the Professor of Chaos and General Disarray."
Dean narrowed his eyes and tapped Sam on the knee. "You really haven't been sleeping, have you, Sammy? Just how much South Park have you watched this week?"
Sam grinned wide. "A hella lot, Dean," he quipped.
Dean laughed lightly and stood up. "How about you catch a little sleep and I'll go pick up something for dinner?"
"Not until you let me look at your wound," Sam insisted. He climbed out of bed and walked over to the table where the medkit had sat all week. One or the other of them had needed it periodically.
"I'm good," Dean protested. His shoulder pounded in agony after the fainting stint, but Sam didn't need to know that. "You can look later."
"Is that the example you want to set for your impressionable little brother?" Sam quipped. He turned and motioned for Dean to take a seat.
"Ass." Dean sat down in the chair by the table and glowered.
Sam pulled up a chair next to him and he grunted when Sam pulled the tape on the dressing off his skin. Sam squinted and leaned in for a closer look at the injury. Dean found his nose full of brown hair on the next inhale of breath.
He swatted the top of Sam's head lightly. "Dude, you need a haircut."
"It looks pretty good actually," Sam stated, ignoring Dean's comment. "No infection and you only popped one stitch. Do you want to try a couple of butterfly strips and see how well it holds?"
"Hell yeah," Dean replied, elated he had managed to skate past Sam's overly cautious first aid approach.
Sam's lips twitched in an almost smile and he pulled out a butterfly strip and stuck it to the wound. Three more times for good measure and he sat back to examine his handiwork appraisingly.
"What?" Dean asked when a smirk appeared on his brother's face.
"What?" Sam repeated, drawn from his inner musings. "Uh, nothing."
"Don't give me that," Dean replied. "What were you thinking?"
Sam laughed lightly. "I was thinking the wound is already healing and if you'd just take it easy, the butterfly strips might be enough." Dean smiled, pleased that Sam had conceded stitches were unnecessary. "Then I thought," Sam continued, "No way will Dean take it easy. Those strips will be loose by end of day and he'll have popped another stitch to boot."
Dean frowned and crossed his arms, vaguely aware that he was pouting. "It could happen."
A beat later, both brothers dissolved into a fit of laughter. Dean had started to collect himself when he made eye contact with Sam and his control slipped and the laughter started anew. Finally, spent, he drew a finger under his eye to wipe away the moisture that had squeezed past his eyelids.
Sam frowned and narrowed his eyes, sitting forward from the hunched position he had collapsed into and pulled the old gauze pad off completely, checking the injury again. "Score one for Johnson & Johnson adhesive," he quipped.
Dean pursed his lips and slugged Sam lightly in the shoulder with his good arm. Sam's eyes flicked up to make eye contact with Dean and he smiled. He replaced the gauze pad with a clean one and taped it to Dean's shoulder. Sam meticulously repacked the kit and threw away the wrappers.
Dean raised one eyebrow when Sam turned to face him. "What?" Sam asked, furrowing his brow.
"Nothing," Dean replied with a smirk. "Am I good to go now?"
Dean stood and waited until Sam had done the same. He had not missed Sam's hand shaking when he repacked the medkit or his little brother's pale face grow even whiter when he leaned over to throw away the wrappers. Sam swayed slightly and Dean hovered near his elbow where he could monitor Sam without being obvious about it.
"I think I am going to lie down after all," Sam casually remarked. He staggered back to his bed and pulled back the covers. When he sat down Dean could tell by the speed and the moment of concern on Sam's face that it was more of a controlled fall than a deliberate move.
Dean raised an eyebrow and gestured at Sam to lie down. Sam shook his head and huffed, but he complied and nested into the blankets. "Happy now?" Sam asked, his tone lacking the sarcastic quality the words implied.
"Ecstatic," Dean confirmed with a grin. "Any requests for dinner?" He wanted to give Sam as many opportunities as possible to make decisions and restore a feeling of control for him.
"No burgers." Sam yawned loudly and peered out at Dean from under the blankets.
Dean nodded in response and gave Sam a lop-sided grin. "Got it. I'll be back in twenty minutes." He snagged the cold takeout he had picked up for Sam earlier to throw away on his way out.
"Sure," Sam replied, his eyes falling shut.
Dean puttered about the room, trying to appear as if he was looking for his wallet and keys until Sam's breathing evened out and he fell asleep. He nodded in approval and pulled his keys out of his pocket before heading out the door.
Sam moved rose stealthily from the bed and crept over to where his sleeping brother lay. He slid one hand carefully under the pillow and pulled out the large knife Dean kept there. Dean stirred restlessly and flopped onto his back, one arm falling partially off the bed, his fingertips brushing Sam's knee.
Sam froze and waited until he was certain Dean was once again asleep before continuing. He bent over his brother and rested the sharp edge of the knife against Dean's neck. His hand shook, he didn't want to do this.
"No," he whispered, even as he tightened his grip and pressed firmly. "No." The blade slowly cut into his brother's neck and a line of thick, red blood appeared. "No."
Dean's eyes opened and he grabbed Sam's wrist, but it was too late. The light slowly faded from the green depths that had always looked at him with love and now held only fear and betrayal.
Sam sat bolt upright in bed and sucked in deep, gulping breaths of air. The pounding in his ears faded just in time to hear the Impala engine turn off and the squeak of the door as his brother exited.
He jumped out of bed and straightened the covers before finger-combing his hair. The motel room door opened and Sam turned to face his brother. "Smells good."
Dean glanced at the bed and at him and Sam knew he was busted. Dean didn't say anything, but placed the bag on the table. "Then you shouldn't have any trouble eating some of it." Dean looked at him appraisingly.
"Nope, I'm hungry." It was the truth, but he wasn't certain he wanted to eat, regardless. His stomach was performing acrobatics after his latest dream.
"Good," Dean replied. He handed Sam a wrapped sandwich and a Styrofoam bowl.
"Thanks." Sam snagged one of the bottled waters and took the entire lot back to his bed. He sat down, opened the container of soup and took a huge whiff. It smelled wonderful. He leaned against the headboard and took a small sip. His stomach did not rebel and he sighed with relief. One less thing he'd have to explain to Dean.
He glanced over at his brother when Dean flopped down on the opposite bed. Dean snapped up the remote and flicked on the television. "Uh-uh, no more History Channel. I pick tonight."
"Sure," Sam replied agreeably. He was happy Dean was upholding his end of their little bargain, however temporary that proved to be. "Knock yourself out."
Dean smiled and flipped through the channels before settling on a program. They watched the show and ate in silence until Dean said, "I think we'll stay here another night. Move on in the morning if that works for you."
"Works for me." Sam knew Dean was trying to give him some control over what they did next and Sam appreciated the gesture.
The program and the meal wound down at virtually the same time and Sam watched as Dean picked up the wrappers and empty bowls and threw them away before lying down again. "Get some sleep tonight, Sam," he stated.
"I will," Sam assured him. He lay down and closed his eyes, but his best intentions proved inadequate. Sleep evaded him tonight as it had for the past seven days. He could not control his whirling thoughts and slow his brain long enough to fall asleep again after the dream earlier.
He turned on his side to look over at Dean and even in the dim light from the motel's vacancy sign he could see his brother was asleep. Dean's faith in him helped to heal his weary, battered soul and filled the empty black space Meg had left inside him. But Sam had lived in the hunting world nearly all his life and he knew only too well that you could fight the good fight, cling to hope, conquer fears and banish evil, but sometimes…the darkness won.
AN: Again, sorry, Xeia, that this update took so long. I hope you liked it.