I had an idea for this oneshot a few nights ago and it wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. Enjoy.
Sam rested his cheek against the smooth, cool glass of his window, trying to ignore the constant jolts of the Impala as it cruised down the road. Dean had been driving for hours, ever since they stopped for lunch at that ridiculously old diner. Unsurprisingly, Dean had ordered the greasiest sounding thing on the menu, flirted with the forty-five year old waitress, and gotten a free meal out of the deal. Sam had picked lazily at his spaghetti and eaten a few bites out of the middle to make it look like he made an effort. He wasn't hungry.
As they hit another pothole Sam opened his eyes and peered out the window. The sun was barely hanging above the horizon now, and the evergreen trees that surrounded both sides of the road aided in concealing the remaining light.
"Do you want me to drive?" he asked.
"No, I'm good." Dean answered simply.
And that was that. Sam nodded and leaned his head back against the passenger side window. The Impala hit another monster pothole in the road, jarring his head against the glass for what seemed like the hundredth time.
Dean swore. Sam smirked softly at the sound and sat up in his seat, rolling his shoulders back slightly to stretch them out as best he could in the cramped space of the car. He glanced over at Dean, noticing how his arms seemed to meld against the steering wheel as he drove, just like always.
"Quit staring, Dude." Dean said suddenly, not even turning his head. "You're creeping me out."
Sam rolled his eyes and looked back out the window, staring idly as they passed an old farmhouse and a few fields of cattle. Time passed slowly, but soon it was almost completely dark outside.
"Hey," Dean said, jerking him back to awareness, "You still have my tapes, right?"
Sam glanced at him, surprised by the question even though he knew he shouldn't be. "Yeah."
Dean waited a few moments before adding slowly, "And where exactly are they?"
Sam swallowed hard, suddenly feeling sick. He was sick to his stomach, and there was absolutely no reason for it—maybe the potholes—
"Sam?" Dean prompted impatiently.
"They're behind your seat. On the floor." Sam answered, automatically responding to his brother's voice.
Dean nodded and felt around behind his seat. After a moment he grinned in triumph and pulled out a small black box. "Thank God…" Dean muttered happily. "For a moment there I thought you'd gone and thrown these babies out, Sammy."
Sam flinched. Something twisted deep inside of him, making bile raise up in his throat. He swallowed hard, forcing it back down—must've been the spaghetti…
Dean opened the box and began shuffling through the tapes, keeping one eye on the road. "What should we listen to first…"
Sam swallowed hard. "Are you sure you don't want me to drive for awhile?"
Dean blinked. "No." he said, sounding surprised that he had been asked a second time. "I drive. That's how it's always been."
Sam nodded. He felt shivers running up and down his spine. It took him a few moments to realize that he was shaking. Shaking? Why was he shaking, everything was fine.
After a few moments, Dean shook his head. "Damn…I can't see the labels in the dark. Guess we're just stuck with…" he paused for dramatic effect, "This one!"
Sam glanced toward him as he pushed the tape in. "Dean…I can drive for a few hours if you want." He said, aware that his voice was unsteady. He didn't care. He needed to ask that, he needed to drive. He wasn't sure why, and he knew it didn't make any sense, but he needed to drive more than he had ever needed anything else in the world. "I want to drive, Dean."
In the excitement of finding his tapes, Dean didn't notice the tremor and urgency in his brother's voice. "Sam." He said, annoyed, "I'm driving, okay? End of discussion."
He pressed play.
As the opening notes of the song blasted from the speakers, the first thing Sam realized was that it wasn't Dead or Alive. The second thing he realized was that if it had been Dead or Alive he probably would have thrown up. The third thing he realized was that it really didn't matter what song it was in the grand scheme of things, it was still Dean's music.
As the chords of whatever rock band happened to be playing washed over him, Sam finally realized with a jolt exactly what he hadn't really comprehended yet in the last few weeks.
Dean was alive. Time seemed to stop as this realization finally swept through him. After four months of being on his own, four months of Dean being in Hell, Dean was back with him. He was alive, and he was eating greasy food, flirting shamelessly with everyone, driving the Impala, and listening to his music in the seat right beside him.
Sam couldn't breathe. It was as though all the air had been sucked away. All oxygen was gone, and he was suffocating.
"Dean..." he gasped, half realizing that the word came out as both a plea and a sob. It wasn't nearly loud enough to be audible over the music, but Dean heard.
After a while Sam became aware that the Impala had stopped moving and the music had gone silent. Arms wrapped around him tightly as a voice whispered soothingly to him from what felt like miles away. Wetness pooled under his eyes, soaking through the jacket that he was lying against—sobbing into. "Dean..." he sobbed brokenly, "…Dean…"
Sam clung to his brother as though he was afraid to let go, as though if he released his grip his brother would be sent back in Hell in an instant, leaving him alone again. He heard Dean speaking to him, his voice low and soothing, but in Sam's grief stricken mind the words didn't even register. He might as well have been speaking another language—but it was enough. He was there. He was alive. "Dean…"
His sobs continued as though they would never stop, but through it all Sam felt Dean's arms around him, protecting him as he always had. That thought only made him sob harder, and he fisted the material of Dean's shirt tightly in his hands as he clung to the only source of comfort and stability he had ever known.
As time passed his sobs eventually slowed, and he took deep breaths of air that smelled of leather, oil, and gunpowder.
Dean kept talking, murmuring comfortingly to him, and as Sam continued to breathe his brother's words finally made sense. He was saying the same words, just two little words, over and over again. "I'm here." He murmured softly, "I'm here."
Sam closed his eyes, exhausted. Dean was there. He sighed wearily, the last of his sobs finally spent, and lapsed into silence. The despair that had been buried deep inside of him for the past four long months lessened as he leaned into his brother, finally understanding that he was back. Sam allowed himself to relax, to give in to the mental and physical exhaustion he had kept at bay for so long. Things would never be the same, he knew that. He was different, Dean was different. But they were together, and that was enough.
"Y-you can drive." Sam murmured finally, the first coherent sentence in what seemed like forever.
"What?" Dean said softly, concern palpable in his voice, "Sammy, what?"
"You can drive." Sam repeated urgently.
There was a pause. "Sammy—"
"You can always drive, Dean. I never want to drive again. Not ever."
Dean nodded. "Okay, Sammy. Okay." He murmured soothingly.
"NO!" Sam yelled, suddenly frantic again. He pulled back slightly so that he could look at his brother. "Dean, no! Don't just agree, I need you to listen to me, please—please, just listen! I'm not doing it again! I'm—I'm not—I'm not taking care of the Impala again! I won't!"
Dean nodded, meeting Sam's eyes. "Sammy...you don't ever have to do anything you don't want to."
"I had to bury you, Dean."
Dean blinked, fighting back his own tears that threatened to spill out. "Sammy…"
"Don't ever ask me to do that again." Sam muttered, his voice barely audible, "I—I can't dig your grave a second time. I just can't."
"You won't have to." Dean said firmly, giving his brother a small smile.
Sam shook his head and looked away. "You don't know that, Dean. With what we do—you don't know."
"Yeah I do." Dean said, giving his brother's shoulder a squeeze. He was silent for a few moments, thinking, and when he spoke his voice was completely calm. "I know that these next few years are going to be hard. There are things going on that I can't even begin to understand. But I do know one thing, Sammy."
"What?" Sam muttered, staring back at him.
Dean smiled softly. "If we die, we're going to go out together or not at all."
Sam sat there, one arm still gripping Dean's shirt as he stared straight ahead for awhile. He nodded finally, comforted by his brother's simple revelation. "Together." He murmured softly. He rested his head against Dean's shoulder and finally allowed his eyes to drift shut. "…together…"
A few minutes passed silently by. As Dean stared down at his sleeping brother in the darkness he tightened his grip slightly, as though to take all of Sam's pain into himself. "Or not at all, Sammy." He whispered softly, unheard. "Or not at all."