A/N I seem to have started something now, taking requests with two of my recent stories! This is another one, from bhoney, who asked for a tag to Dream A Little Of Me that dealt with what Sam saw when they were 'in' Dean's head and also with Dean's confrontation with himself. This is my humble attempt to cover everything she asked for, so I hope I got it right! And I hope the rest of you enjoy it…
Sam opened his eyes. It was still dark and it took a few minutes for his brain to kick into gear and work out that it must still be the middle of the night. He frowned, wondering what had woken him up, and automatically glanced across at the other bed. Dean was asleep though, lying on his front with one arm dangling off the edge of the bed and his head buried in the pillow.
Deciding it was obviously just one of those things Sam turned over and got comfortable. He was just drifting off when he heard Dean mumble something. He sat up slightly, looking across to the other bed again.
His brother didn't appear to have moved but he'd definitely heard him make a noise that time. Sam waited, wanting to make sure it was just a dream and not a nightmare. Those seemed to happen with more and more frequency these days.
For both of them.
Sure enough after a few seconds there was some more mumbling, this time accompanied by movement. As Sam watched Dean shifted his head and pulled his arm up, then flipped over onto his back. He seemed restless and Sam strained to make out what he was saying. All he got was the odd word but it sounded like Dean was arguing with someone.
The mumbling grew more insistent and the movements more agitated. Given that it obviously wasn't a pleasant dream, Sam pushed the covers back and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He stood up and took the couple of steps necessary to take him to Dean's side. He bent over, gently shaking Dean's shoulder.
"Dean. Wake up."
Dean pulled away, tossing his head to the side. Sam shook a little harder.
"Come on, wake up, man. It's just a dream."
This time the words 'no' and 'please' were easy to make out. He thought he heard his own name too, and maybe 'Dad'. Sam clenched his jaw, not liking the sound of what was going on in Dean's head at all. He shook him vigorously this time.
"Dean, wake up."
It was only fast reflexes that stopped him getting a smack in the mouth as Dean opened his eyes with a gasp and immediately lashed out. Sam stumbled back, holding his hands out and waiting for Dean to recognise him.
"Hey, take it easy – it's me."
Dean blinked, disoriented.
"Yeah. You with me?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
Sam put his hands down.
"You were having a dream. Nightmare, actually, by the sounds of it."
Sam saw a flicker of something in his brother's eyes that anyone else would no doubt have missed. Before he could say anything though Dean just shrugged.
"Huh. Well whatever it was I can't remember it."
Sam shook his head slightly. Dean might have the world's best poker face but he seemed to forget that Sam was the one person who could see right through it. He was also aware however that pushing the issue at this point would get him nowhere, except maybe to earn him that smack in the mouth for real. Deciding to chose his moment carefully, and preferably when it wasn't 4 in the morning, Sam got back into bed.
"Night then." he said and was aware of Dean watching him, probably wondering why he was getting off the hook so easily.
The next morning Sam was up first. There was a diner just across the road so he went over and got breakfast, smiling to himself when he came back and Dean was still fast asleep. He put one of the coffees down on the bedside cabinet and waited for it to take effect. Sure enough a few minutes later Dean stirred. He opened his eyes and squinted blearily at the coffee then looked round for Sam. Seeing he was sat down at the table, sipping his own drink and waiting for the laptop to power up, Dean pushed the covers back and sat up. Sam glanced over.
"If you say so. What time is it?"
"Just after 8. I got breakfast too." said Sam, indicating the bag on the table.
Dean yawned and went into the bathroom, coming out a short while later looking slightly more awake. He picked up his coffee en route and sat down opposite Sam at the table.
"What are you looking at?" he asked, taking the first sip. Sam shrugged.
"Nothing really. Just seeing if there was anything worth looking at in this area or if we should move on."
Dean nodded, pulling the bag across to him and taking out the cartons of food. He handed one back to Sam and opened his, picking up the plastic fork that was inside.
"Do you ever wonder what it must be like to eat with a real knife and fork every day?"
Sam raised his eyebrows.
"Ok, little random – why the sudden philosophy on utensils?"
"No reason, just wondering that's all. Don't you ever get sick of eating out of containers with a plastic fork?"
"Yeah, but that's the way it is so why spend time worrying about it?"
"I'm not worried, it's just. Forget it, I don't know why I mentioned it."
Sam frowned, wondering what was going on in his brother's head and if it had anything to do with the disturbed night's sleep.
Dean meanwhile was giving his food his full attention, wishing he'd never said anything in the first place. He didn't know why he had really, it was just one of those days. Sometimes the little things didn't bother him and then other times, like now, he found himself literally yearning for what most people probably took for granted.
Waking up in the same room every day. Eating off of proper plates with proper cutlery.
Having a real home.
Now of course Sam was gonna brood on what was behind Dean's sudden interest in forks and irritatingly he would probably guess correctly as well. Dean really hoped he'd let it drop, he was in no mood for deep conversation right now.
Taking a bite of his own food Sam wisely decided a change of subject was obviously in order.
"We should call Bobby later, make sure everything's ok."
"I thought you said there wouldn't be any more effects, now Jeremy was dead?"
"There won't, not physically. But it can't have been easy, reliving what happened with his wife. I mean come on, we never even knew he had a wife before now. It's obviously something he prefers to keep buried."
Like someone else I know Sam added silently to himself.
Dean looked contemplative.
"Yeah, I guess. He won't appreciate us getting all touchy-feely about the whole thing though. You know what he's like."
"Uh-huh. Kinda annoying, when someone's so against letting anyone help, isn't it?" said Sam innocently. Dean narrowed his gaze and ignored the comment, swallowing the last bite of his breakfast.
"I'll call him later. Anyway, did you come up with something?"
Sam shook his head.
"No, nothing nearby. You wanna head north, check out those possible werewolf reports we were gonna look at last week? We might as well do something while we wait for news on Bela."
"Could do. Can't beat a good werewolf, at least they don't go messing with your head."
Sam winced slightly as he thought of Madison but said nothing. Dean seemed to remember at the exact same time and shot Sam an apologetic look.
"Sorry, Sam, I wasn't thinking." he said and Sam waved away the apology.
"Doesn't matter. That wasn't exactly a regular case anyway and besides, it's in the past. You can feel free to get all geeky and excited about breaking out the silver bullets again."
"I do not get geeky."
"Right. Sure you don't."
An hour later they were on the road. It was a nice day, the sun streaming through the glass making it hot enough for them to both wind the windows all the way down. Their jackets were thrown in the back and Dean had rolled his sleeves up. Sam closed his eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze on his face. Even the music wasn't too loud for once, the dulcet tones of James Hetfield blending into the background with the birdsong and Dean's quiet humming.
Sam opened his eyes again and glanced across at Dean. His brother seemed relaxed, happy to be driving his baby on such a nice day with no pressing deadline to meet. He decided now might be a good time.
"Can I ask you something?"
Dean looked a little less relaxed.
"You can ask." he said, in a way that implied an answer wasn't necessarily guaranteed.
Sam thought about how to phrase it for so long Dean was about to ask if he'd changed his mind when he finally spoke.
"When we were in the dream, not Bobby's, when it was yours. What we saw – it wasn't the first time, was it?"
Dean sighed. He'd been waiting for the other shoe to drop on that one and sure enough, Sam hadn't disappointed. It was why he hadn't wanted his brother there in the first place, although in retrospect there were a lot worse things he could have been witness to. Accepting the question wasn't going to go away he tried to look casual.
"Maybe. Look, it might have crossed my mind once or twice but that's it. It's not like I'm pining away for the whole picket fence and mowing the lawn on Sunday thing."
"But still, you must wonder sometimes. And yes, I know – we talked about the whole thing with Ben and I get why you're not pursuing it. But just because you think it logically makes the best sense doesn't mean it's not still hard." Sam said, gently.
"Life's hard, Sam. No point going on about it."
Sam clenched his jaw, wishing Dean didn't always feel the need to just accept things as his lot. Years of doing his duty and pushing aside his own feelings meant it was second nature though.
Not that it meant Sam couldn't do his best to challenge this way of thinking now and then.
"There's a difference between going on about something and admitting that a situation is painful. I don't always expect you to just accept everything, Dean. You're allowed to admit things aren't fair."
Dean didn't answer, watching the road rather than meet Sam's gaze.
Sam decided to let it rest, not wanting to ruin what was potentially a nice day by getting into a fight. He just wanted to make sure that Dean knew he didn't always have to put on a brave face when he was with him.
When nothing further was forthcoming Dean realised Sam wasn't going to push it. He glanced over and when Sam looked up, he gave him a quick smile to let him know he appreciated it. Sam smiled back and turned to look out of the window again.
A few hours later, halfway to their destination, they pulled into an old fashioned diner and Dean went inside to order, leaving Sam to grab them a spot on a bench to one side of the parking lot. It overlooked a small lake and Sam sat back, taking a deep breath. It was amazing sometimes how much better life seemed just from the simple act of having the sun shine. He grinned.
And no way was he admitting that to Dean. He could just imagine the comments.
He jumped as a paper bag landed on his on his chest from a great height, his appreciation of the view and the weather having prevented him from noticing his brother's arrival.
Sitting up he opened the bag and took out his sandwich, accepting a bottle of soda with a nod of thanks. Dean hopped up onto the table, putting his feet on the bench, and took a long swig of the cold liquid. It was welcome, given the heat.
They ate in a silence, even Dean having to admit to himself that the view was nice. It was a quiet day, most of the lunchtime crowd choosing to sit inside where there was air conditioning. With the breeze and the shade of the giant tree next to them Dean thought it was much nicer out there.
Not that he had any intention of becoming an outdoor person.
His sandwich finished Dean screwed up the paper bag and aimed it at the nearby trashcan. He whooped when it went in and nudged Sam who just rolled his eyes. Having got up and taken his own rubbish across in a more sedate manner, Sam wandered back over and leant against the fence, facing Dean.
"You know you never did say exactly what else you saw when we were stuck inside your dream. There must have been something going on other than you just looking for me."
Dean toyed with the bottle in his hand, picking at the label.
"What is it with you and the twenty questions today?"
"Nothing. We just didn't get much chance to talk about it, that's all, what with making sure Bobby was ok and then finding out about the Colt. I just wanna make sure you're ok with it."
"Well I am."
Sam shook his head.
"That's not an answer, Dean."
"Yes it is. You asked if I'm ok with it and I am. End of story."
"I swear trying to have an actual conversation with you is like trying to juggle jelly. Can't you just give me a straight answer for once?"
"Can't you just not want to talk about everything for once?"
"Right. Cos bottling everything up is clearly so much healthier. We should have that on a family crest."
"Hey, it's not my fault you got all the sensitive genes."
"Funny. I'm being serious. Or are you really gonna stand there and tell me you can't remember what you were dreaming about last night?"
Sam felt a certain satisfaction when Dean wouldn't meet his gaze, preferring instead to study the label he was busy making a mess of.
"So I had a nightmare. Big deal. You've had enough of them in your time and I don't see you caring and sharing every morning."
"That's not true, I've told you about them plenty of times. You wouldn't let me not, remember? Consider it returning the favour."
"Consider it you being a pain in the ass." Dean muttered, just loud enough for Sam to hear.
Sam swallowed some more soda before answering.
"That's what I'm supposed to be, isn't it?" he said with a slight smile, reminding Dean of their conversation after the first disastrous encounter with Gordon Walker.
"You don't have to make such a good job of it." Dean retorted, but there was a hint of smile there as well.
Peeling off another long strip of label he wondered how much he should actually admit to Sam. His brother wasn't about to let this one drop, he could tell, but that didn't mean Dean was in the mood to give up all his secrets.
Especially not the one about what he might become once he was resident in hell.
Looking up he saw Sam was waiting patiently and took a deep breath.
"Alright, so I may have seen something else while I was in there. But it was just a fabrication, Sam, it wasn't real. So I don't see any point in raking over the whole thing."
"Humour me." said Sam, stubbornly.
"You really are annoying, you know that? Ok – I saw myself. That's all. The best he could come up with was me having a little one on one chat with my inner angst. Happy?"
Sam considered the answer.
"What did the other you say?"
"Excuse me? The 'other me'? Dude, we're not in a Star Trek episode."
"Oh alright, don't get your panties in a knot. It was just the usual crap, Sam. Some stuff about you, stuff about Dad. It wasn't exactly a revelation."
"What about me and Dad?"
"Man, you are like a dog with a bone aren't you? Would you please just let it go?"
Sam shook his head.
"No, not when it's obviously bothering you enough to give you nightmares. Anyway, it's not like we haven't talked about the whole thing with Dad before. You can tell me the truth, Dean."
"Yeah, cos that always works so well." said Dean, recalling another conversation involving their father and secrets played out next to a lake. Sam knew without asking what Dean was thinking of and pushed aside the memory.
"This is different. Unless you're about to drop another bombshell about my so called destiny?"
Dean wasn't amused.
"Don't even joke about that, Sam."
Sam had the grace to at least look a little guilty.
"I'm sorry. But I meant what I said, you can tell me anything. I'm not gonna think any the less of you."
Great, now Sam had moved on from badgering to sympathetic concern and empathy. He wasn't quite sure which was worse.
"It was nothing you haven't heard before, ok?" he said aloud. "Just stuff about me being the good soldier and Dad not really caring about me. If you want my opinion you'd think they could change the record now and then."
Sam ignored the attempt at deflection.
"You know it's not true though, don't you? You know how much Dad cared about you."
"Yes, of course I do." said Dean, uncomfortably, and not exactly with complete conviction.
"Dean, Dad thought the world of you. Yes, he made mistakes and yes, he screwed up. But he didn't just see you as someone who would follow orders. Why do you think he made that deal?"
"Because he wanted to keep you safe. Because he thought I might have to actually go through with that dumb ass plan of his if things went wrong with you."
Sam stared at him, open mouthed, and Dean cursed himself for blurting out the first thing that sprang to mind.
"That's it – that's why you think he saved you, for my benefit?"
"No, not really. Oh I don't know. Nobody ever understood what was going on in Dad's head. Sure as hell no point trying to work it out now."
"This isn't about how Dad's mind worked it's about how yours works. How many times have we been over this? You're so quick to believe that the only good thing you ever did was raising me, protecting me. What do I have to say to make you realise that's not what it's about? You're important because of who you are, Dean, not because of what you've done. Don't you understand?"
"Yeah, sure, I get it - 'I'm worth it'. Now can we please get going?"
Dean went to stand up but Sam stepped forward, pushing him back down firmly.
"No. Not until we finish this."
"We are finished."
"No, we're not."
"Ok, now you really are starting to annoy me, Sam. You wanna have an Oprah moment, go right ahead, but leave me out of it. You wanted to know what I saw, I told you. Now we're done."
Dean got up properly this time, dropping the mangled bottle into the trashcan and heading for the Impala. Sam ran a hand through his hair frustratedly before following. He got in the passenger side but before Dean could start the engine he put his hand on his arm.
"Wait a second. Look, I know you don't want to talk about this anymore and that's fine. But just hear me out on one last thing. You might think Dad only cared about you following orders and doing the right thing. And you may think that's all that matters. But I know it's not. I know who you really are, and what you've done, and I know the sacrifices you've had to make to do it. And I won't ever forget that. Whatever happens, there will always be someone who cares about you because of who you are."
Dean looked at him, feeling his face heat up slightly. Sam held his gaze for just long enough to convey the truth of what he was saying before looking away and winding his window down again.
Dean cleared his throat and started the engine, turning up the music just a little louder. He pulled out of the parking lot and put his foot down, feeling his face cool as the breeze blew through his window.
Sam held to his promise not to say anything else but he didn't really need to. His words, however mortifying, had settled somewhere deep inside Dean and he could feel some of the cloud he'd been carrying around since his encounter with 'himself' lifting. It wasn't the answer to everything and it sure as hell didn't solve all their problems but it was definitely something.
And a lot more than some people had.
He glanced across.
Sam turned away from the view.
As Dean turned his attention back to the road, clearly keen to pretend the conversation had never happened, Sam relaxed.
He wasn't naive enough to think that his words would solve all Dean's self esteem issues. It was, when it came down to it, just a drop in an ocean that had had decades to develop. But it was a start and as far as he was concerned he'd say it as many times as necessary until Dean believed it.
Although he pushed aside quickly the thought that he was on a time limit in that respect.
When it came down to it, this went beyond the job they did and the current predicament they found themselves in. It was about the misconception his brother had about who he really was.
Well Sam knew exactly who he was. And it was as he'd said – he'd carry that knowledge with him and voice it as often as he could.
For as long as it took.
Because sometimes, even heroes needed a champion to stand beside them.