Title: Watching Me Watching You
Characters: Dean, Sam
Category: Gen, H/C, Angst
Timeframe: Between 4.01 and 4.02
Spoilers: Up to 4.01
Summary: Sam is quiet. Dean tries to take back his job.
Word Count: 1432
Disclaimer: Dean, Sam, and the Impala do not belong to me. Them's the breaks, and you gotta roll with 'em.
Author's Note: I feel like Sam is getting a bit neglected in these new episodes. And we can't have that, can we? Dean would not approve.
Watching Me Watching You
There were things that Sam wasn't telling him. Dean figured this out fairly early. After all, what didn't he know about this kid?
Quite a lot, he was beginning to suspect.
When they returned to the motel after the whole thing with the guy who claimed to be an angel, Bobby groggy and Dean still reeling, they found Sam standing in a field of broken glass, shaking. He spun around when they appeared in the doorway, Dean thinking Shit shit shit, I shoulda known he'd come back to this, sorry, Sam, I'm so sorry, Bobby leaning against the jamb still struggling to keep his eyes open.
Sam's brown-green eyes were wide and panicked and Dean went to him, crunched right through all that broken glass, put on a grin and grabbed his shoulder as hard as he could. I'm still here, I'm still real, I'm still alive, this is me, nothing happened, I'm okay. "Hey, can you believe it, man? Some kind of weird wind thing vibrating the building, shook the whole room and shattered the glass. That's Illinois for you, right, the whole 'prairie state' thing they got going, flat land everywhere and wind coming all the way from the Rockies. Manager said this happens sometimes. That's when Bobby and I decided to go for beer."
Sam stared at him, not blinking, because Dean might disappear in that fraction of a section when Sam wasn't looking at him, and Dean knew he was thinking that he shouldn't have left the room, should have stayed with his brother no matter how hungry he was for a burger. And that sucked. That was screwed up. That wasn't Sam's job.
So he kept his hand on Sam's shoulder, and after a moment Sam reached back, gripped his arm tight and hard and desperate, fingers bunching in the loose fabric of his own jacket warm over Dean's skin. Little brother trying to shelter big brother, not the way it was supposed to be, but the way it was. For now. No way was Dean letting that situation stand.
"Wind, huh?" Sam said, and his voice was light. He didn't believe it, but was going along for now. That was okay; Dean could work with that.
Bobby groaned from the doorway, but didn't say anything. Dean knew what he meant. Tell him the truth, ya idjit.
He would. But first he had to make sure that Sam knew it was okay, and that meant joking and kidding around and making fun of Illinois for being flatty flat flat. They did that for a little while, then went to the office and got a new room, conveniently forgetting to mention that the old one was trashed. Bobby fell into one of the beds and was immediately asleep, as if it really was just beer, and Dean insisted on taking the pull-out cot, because no way would Sam's ginormous frame fit on it.
He could feel Sam's eyes on him though, quiet in the dark, just the streetlights outside casting yellow lines on the red carpet. Dean kept his breathing smooth and even, made sure to sprawl all over the cot the way he always did, and thought about hot chicks and guns and cherry pie until he heard Sam's breath slow and sigh, easing into sleep. He peeked with one eye, made sure Sammy was really asleep, then finally went under himself.
Dean told Sam the next morning over breakfast at a different diner than the last one, divinely greasy hash browns and eggs sunny-side up, sausage and bacon and a short stack on the side. Sam, of course, was having oatmeal, like a giant pansy. Bobby had gone to visit Pamela in the hospital, after inviting them to come back to his place until they figured this out.
And so the story was told, the barn, the symbols and traps and weapons, the door flying off the hinges and light flowing in. Dean poured on all the cynicism and sarcasm that existed in his dried-up little soul, insulting Castiel in every way he could think of, questioning every last detail, hard and crass and as blasphemous as he could manage. Still, Sam's eyes went large and soft and young, so young, so innocent and instantly believing. Dean scowled and stuffed bacon into his mouth, barely tasting it. He put the last piece on Sam's toast plate and made no move to get up or call for the check until Sam ate it.
Sam didn't try to argue with him now, but Dean knew it was coming. Rather, he wanted it. This Sam was too quiet, too watchful and compliant. Letting Dean pick the restaurant, lead the conversation, be as outrageous and foul-mouthed as he wanted. Not calling him on his bullshit, not making fun of his stupid comments, not even laughing, really. Just watching him. Making sure he was there.
And okay, Dean could understand that need. He'd been in hell for four months, and though he couldn't remember it—except in tiny flashes that he immediately buried—Sam was still living with every single freaking second. Still carrying all that weight, all that pressure. Still sorry that he hadn't been the one to get Dean out, for God's sakes, and that just… That really sucked. A lot.
Sam needed to make sure he was there. So, over the next few days, Dean did his best to be vibrantly, flagrantly there in every way he could. The demons in the other diner had disappeared, so there was nothing keeping them in Pontiac. On the road back to South Dakota (and this trip was getting really boring, for real), he played all of his favorite music as loud as he could stand it, which was very loud indeed. He sang along at the top of his lungs, pounding on the steering wheel, bobbing his head, always driving ten miles over the speed limit. Sam watched him, turned a little sideways in the seat with his back to the passenger door, a little smile curving his lips, hands deep in his jacket pockets. Occasionally he let Dean persuade him to sing along, but mostly he just rested there in the glow of Dean's rock, watching.
When they stopped for gas or food, Dean made a point to ogle every woman who was even remotely attractive, as obnoxiously and obviously as possible. Sometimes they smiled back, sometimes they looked disgusted, and he even got slapped a couple of times. It was worth it to hear Sam's laugh.
He ate the greasiest, foulest shit he could stomach, in the largest portions they would serve him. He flirted with the waitresses and bought more porn whenever the opportunity presented itself. He changed the oil in the Impala once they got to Bobby's and worried loudly over every little noise his baby made. He accused Sam of not taking good care of her and pretended not to believe him when he protested, called him "geek boy" and "Sammy" and "Francis" and "Sasquatch," and pretty much did everything he possibly could to be as completely and totally Dean as possible.
It was good for him, too. He didn't think about Castiel and his stupid freaking mission-from-God crap. Sam was much more important, anyway.
And Sam just kept watching him, eyes always so big, so careful. They walked shoulder to shoulder everywhere they went, letting their sleeves brush now and then. Once, Dean stumbled, and Sam's hand was instantly under his arm, catching him, bearing him up, even though Dean probably would have been able to catch himself in another fraction of a second. Dean let him do it, and didn't immediately shake off his hand the way he would have in another life.
Always in the same place, the same room, sometimes on the same couch. It occurred to Dean, once, that he should have found it suffocating, but he didn't. This was about Sam. Sam needed it, so Dean was there, no matter how long it took. He didn't ask what those four months had been like, though he knew it was always there between them. He just waited. Eventually, Sam would unlock the puzzle box he had become and let Dean see whatever broken secrets he was hiding. Dean could wait. They had all the time in the world.
It would be a relief when they started arguing again, though.
When it finally happened, Dean was so happy to have Sam finally doing something besides just watching him that he almost didn't care that the argument was about Castiel.