Sinopsis: After the deal is broken, the boys get separated until Sam gets a worrying call from Dean. Angsty!Sam, Hurt!Dean.
A/N. I am getting lazier at writing sinopsis, aint' I? It's just that I thought I'd just let you guys figure out the story for yourselves. That is, if someone reads it!! It's been a long time since the last time I posted and it's summer time!
I won't lie to you. Basically, this is a whumping fest of a story that would have two parts. The first one will be in the "present time", that is, after the deal has been broken. The second one will follow the time line but will also have flashbacks showing how the deal was actually broken, because...well, it wasn't pretty and it's got to do with the brothers' behaviour along the story.
This is going to be Sam's POV, and it's been really hard to get into his head, so forgive me for all the nonsense I force him to think or do. It's all my fault, not his! I really hope you'll like the way he evolves as the story advances.
What else...Yeah, there will be a couple of references to this previous story of mine, Remember This, but you don't really need to read (or even re-read it) it if you don't want to, because the relevant part of it sort of explains itself in this one. About spoilers...Well, obviously the deal is mentioned, also the YED, and there're references to Madison, Steve Wendell and the Djinn, but nothing major.
And well, as you may have imagined already, given the way the last season ended, this is completely AU ;-)
I want to thank my beta, Emrys, for being there once again and willingly put up with too many pages of non-native writing! She rocks. Also, my best for one of the stars of this site, Gaelic, who has been really encouraging all these months.
I hope you like it!
I just got out of class when my cell rang. Lost in my thoughts as I was, the sudden call startled me. But as soon as I recognized the tone —or rather, the annoying guitar riff Dean had set to piss me off— a relieved smile blossomed on my lips. I had no intention of letting my brother know that I had come to love the melody; the sound of it meant that he was the one calling and that, just for starters, he was alive.
It had been about four months since we had split up. A little over five since the night he had asked me to sit down for a second, and then started a conversation with the oh, so dreaded words, "We need to talk."
"What?" I had asked with an amused tone in my voice. "You gonna break up with me or something?"
When he hadn't answered right away, I had turned around to face him. I remember having felt diffuse apprehension at the sight of his expression, a feeling which had done nothing but grow as he spoke, even though he had meant to follow my lead and keep it light for both our sakes.
"It's not you, it's me?" He had tried with a little smile.
We had killed the yellow eyed demon over a year ago, and I had managed to get my brother out of his deal twelve months later. I guess I should have expected this conversation, but I have to admit that it had come as a total shock.
Dean had sat down across from me and twisted his ring nervously as he spoke. He had told me that it would be better for both of us if we parted ways. The demon was dead, the deal broken. For the first time in our lives there had been no impending doom looming over us. We were free, really free at last —which had been a sensation as intoxicating as it was unsettling— and my brother had thought it was time for me to go back to school.
We had fought that night. Or rather, I had gone ballistic, and he had kept his ground. He had been determined to make me leave before I ended up hating the hunting life. Hating him and then leaving in the end but in a more awful, painful way. He hadn't wanted a second scene like the one we had played out right before Stanford, a scene that had started with yelling and slamming doors and that had followed with years of angry silence. And I... I was terrified that what I had once wanted so badly didn't exist anymore and that insisting on pursuing it would only tear me apart from the only real thing I did have. Not to mention it had made me furious that he had considered it his decision whether or not it was best for me to take the risk of returning to school.
Bottom line, we had been scared of losing each other. But after I had walked out on him that night, we had talked it over more calmly in a second round. We had spoken about what we wanted to have and what we didn't want to lose, about how we could have the first without losing the second. We had talked about how to make it work, of how it didn't have to be a definite arrangement, no, not that. No more, "If you go now, you can stay gone" ever again. He had convinced me that it was worth a try and that, this time, we would make it right.
It had been hard at first. Well, it still was. We had been together for over three years and during that entire time, we hadn't been apart for longer than a few hours. Now I missed him like crazy almost every minute of the day. The trickiest part had been finding our own balance in being separated by dealing with issues such as how many times he could call me a week without it being considered hovering, or how many days I should wait before trying to make contact and not have him unnerved because I had taken too short or too long.
After a few flukes we had tacitly agreed to talk every couple of days at least. He was usually the one who called, because I didn't want to risk placing a call when he was driving 120 mph or trying to be stealthy in the middle of a hunt. However, I bombarded him with text messages anytime the urge struck me. I was so used to having him by my side when I rambled that, sometimes, I just needed to speak my mind to him, no matter how crazy, disjointed or completely random the last thought that had popped to my mind was. Texting allowed me to do just that. And he always answered back; sometimes instantaneously, some other times after a few minutes, maybe hours, but he always replied.
It was also an unspoken rule between the two of us that he would call me before a hunt and check in once he was done with it. Moreover, I had made him promise that he would call me if he needed help. I would drop everything if it was necessary and go meet him if by doing so I could prevent him from doing something stupid. The hardest part of it all was knowing he was by himself, without anybody having his back.
The last time I had heard from him, he had finished up a gig in Colorado and had been headed to Philly to meet up with me. But that had been almost a week ago, and I wasn't ashamed to admit I was starting to get a little worried. That's why the ring of the phone sounded so sweet to my ears.
"Hey, man," I greeted happily as I flipped open my cell. "Where have you been?"
I got no response.
When no sound came from the other side of the line I frowned slightly and checked the screen to make sure that the call was still connected.
"Dean, you there?" I tried again.
Still no answer. My smile wavered, and I felt my stomach clench a little.
"C'mon..." I pressed, urgency seeping into my voice. "If you're there, say som-"
When I heard his voice, I released the breath I had been holding. Relief made me a little light-headed, but I still managed to keep walking to the bus stop. However, I couldn't help noticing he sounded weird. If there was one thing I knew about my brother it was all the possible inflections of his voice when he said my name.
"Hey," I greeted again, my voice a relieved whisper. "What's up, man?" I said, controlling my instincts to ask about his wellbeing. Once, after we hadn't talked for several days in a row, Dean had reproached me for thinking that something bad had happened to him. He had told me that he was sick of me always expecting the worst.
So, now, I was trying to stay positive, but when he took a couple of seconds to answer me, I started to have second thoughts about my good intentions. For good or for bad, I had never been too patient when it came to Dean.
His voice came a bit slurred, and my heart rate spiked.
Dean had called a few times when he was drunk, and those were the worst of all. He had never said the actual words, but I knew that those were the nights he was feeling especially lonely, in a way that not even a carefully picked one-night stand was able to soothe. That, or something had gone wrong in a gig, probably someone had died and Dean...Dean wouldn't say a word about it, of course, and I had learned not to press. If I did, my brother would probably hang up on me the second my concern got him back to his senses and made him regret the moment of weakness that had had him calling me at odd times in the first place.
I stole a glance at my watch; it was mid-morning. He couldn't be drunk this early, not him. I wet my lips and took in a steadying breath as my brain ran through all the different scenarios that could have taken place. All the while, I mentally triangulated his possible coordinates from what I knew of his last location, the time elapsed since he'd been there, and the direction he had been planning to take.
"I'm here, Dean," I said carefully. "I thought you were coming down to visit. Where have you been keeping yourself?" I added, making an effort to sound cool and non-prodding.
Where are you?
"Huh..." Dean muttered on the other side of the line.
I bit my lip. He sounded confused, disoriented.
But how? If I wasn't mistaken, the last hunt he had been on had ended well. He had told me he wasn't hurt... And he wouldn't have lied to me about that. Well, he had promised me he wouldn't lie if he was hurt...and another thing I knew about Dean was that he always kept his promises. Had he hidden his injuries from me despite his promise? Was that why I hadn't heard from him for days?
Suddenly, the image of my brother lying alone in a hospital bed made my stomach tighten. Well, in a hospital bed, if the asshole had actually thought of going to a hospital...
"Dean? Tell me, Where. Are. You?" I asked, slowly and deliberately.
While I waited for his answer, I reached the bus stop, and my eyes automatically scanned for any car nearby I could use. Grand theft auto wasn't the smartest idea, maybe, especially when I was supposed to be "starting a new life," but I had no intention of wasting time by finding a rental car. Right now, my only concern was finding my brother.
And knowing how long it would take to go get him.
"Knight's Inn…in Somerset"
"I'm on my way."
It took me no longer than three hours to get there. Obviously Dean had been on his way to meet me when he had stopped at the motel, but when had that been? In the time I hadn't heard from him, he should have been able to cover the distance that separated us three times. Twice, taking it easy and with plenty of rest. Besides, unless something was wrong, Dean wouldn't have stopped when he was so close to my place.
When I parked in front of the room the motel clerk directed me to, I spotted the Impala. I had to reach twice for the keys in the ignition, because my hand was shaking so bad I missed the first time.
Instinctively studying my surroundings before giving away my position, I approached the door slowly. The urge to jump to the door was so intense that it ached almost physically when I restrained myself and acted according to the training that has been embedded in me since childhood. As far as I knew, my brother was hurt in there. But for the same reason if the danger was still around, I needed to be cautious.
Once in front of the door, I sent a last glance around before listening for any noises inside. The room was quiet. I felt as if the whole universe had fallen silent, except for the deafening pounding inside my chest. I knocked softly and brought some moisture to my lips before speaking.
"Dean?" I croaked. I cleared my throat and called him again, a bit louder. "Dean! It's me, open up."
When I got no response, I picked the lock without so much as a blink and pushed the door open. Slowly, I slipped inside and closed the door behind me with a soft click. I immediately tossed a look around the room. The scene was familiar, and a warm sensation of belonging enveloped me as soon as I spotted Dean's worn duffle bag on the floor. I hadn't realized how much of my balance depended on Dean, until the simple sight of his stuff scattered around another anonymous motel room steadied my pulse and grounded my spirit. In comparison, it felt as if I had been walking a tightrope all those months I had been living on my own.
I reminded myself that it wasn't the time to dwell on those emotions and reached back to feel the cool surface of my .45, tucked in my waistband. I took a deep breath.
"Dean," I called again, swallowing back the fear of not being able to find him; a fear that threatened to take its grip on me. "De-"
Something moved on my right, and the softest of rustles thundered in my ears. I swirled around, steadily aiming the gun in the direction of the minute commotion as the echoes of the movement still danced in the corner of my eye.
"Dean!" I exclaimed as soon as I recognized the heap curled up in the corner.
Ready to bolt for him, my muscles tensed. But in the last moment I ground my teeth and remembered that I had to secure the place before running to Dean, even if there was a chance he was hurt.
God, he might be hurt.
Surveying Dean's unmoving form over my shoulder as I made sure the room was empty, I advanced backwards towards my brother and craned my neck to peek through the open door of the bathroom. I verified that we were the only ones in the room and breathed out my relief. Then I returned my gun to the back of my jeans and knelt hurriedly next to Dean.
He was sitting with his back against the wall, and his knees pulled to his chest. Although his face wasn't buried in his knees, his head was hanging low and I couldn't quite make out his expression. It worried me that he hadn't even raised his eyes yet. There was no way he hadn't heard me coming in, or call his name, for that matter. I tentatively reached out a hand and ghosted it over his hunched shoulder. After hesitating for only a second I gave him a light shake.
"Hey..." I whispered, ducking my head to try and meet his eyes. He flinched a little, and I felt a renewed spike of worry. A quick, preliminary once-over had revealed no visible injuries, but maybe I had overlooked something.
It all happened so fast that I had no time to react. Dean's head jerked up when I squeezed his shoulder a second time, and his eyes shone with something that wasn't recognition. Then he lurched forwards with unexpected force and sent me hurtling against the bedside table. My shoulder impacted against the corner, and the furniture rattled as I landed on my back. In the blink of an eye, he was on me and had me pressed against the floor.
"Dean!" I yelled, half in pain, half in surprise. "What the fuck, man?"
I tried to get him off me, to yell at him again, but he tightened the deadly grip he had on my wrists. All I could manage was a helpless gasp. Words like possessed and shapeshifter flashed through my mind, and I was about to mutter Christo when I noticed the deadly glare he was pinning me with. That look wasn't one usually aimed at me; it was the one Dean reserved for all the things that threatened our lives. That look was a mixture of coldness, survival and just a bit of apprehension. Dean wasn't attacking me. He was defending himself.
"Dean," I said, trying for a calmer tone. "Hey, I'm not going to hurt you, man. It's me. It's Sam."
Dean blinked at me dazedly, and his brow furrowed a little. The hands immobilizing my wrists loosened their hold a notch, but I knew better than to try freeing myself without him actually releasing me.
"Sammy?" he called timidly.
I rolled my eyes at the nickname, although I had to admit the sound of his voice saying it felt good.
"If you really have to put it like that..." I managed a little smile.
"W-What are you doing here?" he asked in a rough voice.
"Do you mind?" I shook my trapped wrists lightly under his hands and arched an eyebrow meaningfully.
It took a couple of seconds until I saw the realization that he was still pinning me to the floor finally sink into his expression. Muttering something indecipherable, he released me and sat back against the wall. His eyes, wide and somewhat bewildered, remained latched onto mine.
"You alright?" He forced out when I rubbed my wrists and then gingerly probed the back of my head.
"Yeah…Yeah, I'm fine."
"I'm sorry...I don't know what-"
"It's alright." I said, emphasizing my words with a wave of my hand. "I shouldn't have startled you."
"What are you doing here?"
"What do you mean? You called me."
"Yeah, you… you called me this morning..." I trailed off, sensing his confusion. "Man, what's wrong with you?"
Dean was still blinking at me with dulled eyes. I frowned. He looked... beat. But it was more than that. He seemed hazy and looked at me with glassy eyes. He raised a hand and ran it through his hair. His movements were slow, as if he was moving underwater.
"Nothing, I- I… huh…." He shook his head and looked down.
Even his voice sounded off, as if it was coming from a dark place within himself and wasn't aimed at anyone in particular.
"Where have you been? It's been days," I asked, consciously forcing any reproachful edge out of my voice.
My brother looked around and licked his chapped lips before answering.
"I was tired," he replied in a faraway tone. "I thought I'd stop for the night." He frowned and looked back at me as if a sudden thought crossed his mind. "Dude, you shouldn't be here...you have that exam coming on Wednesday. You should be studying."
The lump that had been coming and going intermittently inside my throat sank heavily and gripped coldly at the pit of my stomach. I hadn't thought he would remember my exam —I had randomly mentioned it in a text message a couple of weeks ago— and that he did remember made me feel warm. However...
"Dean, it's Thursday..." I said carefully.
I bit my tongue the moment he looked up at me with a shade of fear in his eyes.
"Oh," he muttered.
"So, how did it go? I bet you nailed it, didn't you?" he cut me off, recovering quickly and pulling a little smile.
Fighting back the urge to freak out at the obvious disoriented state of my brother, I smiled back and ghosted a hand over his jean-clad ankle, brushing the fabric.
"Yeah," I rasped.
"That's my boy." He grinned with a proud glint in his eyes.
I ducked my head self-consciously and punched him lightly on the arm. Dean gave a soft chuckle and both of us relaxed a bit. When I met his gaze again, he had his head tilted against the wall and looked at me with hooded eyes. A quiet pact of understanding passed between the two of us. I wouldn't ask him. He wouldn't fight me.
Well, at least not yet.
I squeezed his knee and used it as support as I stood up.
"C'mon. I'll drive us back to my place, okay?" I said, offering my hand.
He nodded and grabbed my arm to pull himself up. In less than five minutes we had his meager belongings packed in the Chevy. He went to check himself out at reception while I put his stuff in the trunk. I tracked his movements as he walked, taking in the subtle unsteadiness that marred his steps. I didn't know what to think. It was clear something was wrong with my brother, but I couldn't really put a finger on it. He wasn't hurt, that much I had been able to observe and experience when he had tackled me. If I hadn't known my brother better, I would have said he was stoned. But that was impossible.
Knowing that if I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem I'd have to ask him, or rather, fight the answers out of him, I shook my head. I wasn't about to argue with him when he looked like he was about to keel over at any second. For the time being, it was easier to believe that Dean had gotten seriously wasted the night before and when he had called me he wasn't in any condition to remember his own name, let alone what day it was. It wasn't a particularly far-fetched thought.
Still, the sensation of alarm remained.
Dean smiled at me when he came back, and I returned the smile easily. It was an honest smile born of a sudden surge of possessiveness that had occasionally enveloped me ever since I had broken his deal…
Or maybe it had started before that. Maybe I had been possessive of him since Dad died. All I knew was that it was a feeling of being empowered by the knowledge that no matter how screwed up our lives were, we were together and that was enough. That as long as we were around each other, everything would be alright.
I let the familiar sensation wash away my anxiety for a few seconds as we climbed into the car. I had him with me now —he had called and I had gotten him— and there wasn't anything that we couldn't face side by side.
Yeah, I thought while I maneuvered the car back to the road and glanced at him, sitting back against the headrest with his eyes half-closed. We're gonna fix this, whatever it is.
"We're not far, just a few hours. Why don't you try to catch some sleep on the way there?"
My brother smiled mirthlessly, and I felt a shiver run down my spine.
"Don't think that's gonna happen, Sam."
"Because I haven't been able to sleep in the last six days."