Fandom: Supernatural
Title: Dust on the Edges
Author: Maychorian
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Category: Gen, Angst
Rating: K/PG
Spoilers: Up to 4.04
Summary: Sam does notice these things. He just doesn't know what to do about them.
Word Count: 1049
Disclaimer: Alas, I cannot afford to own these pretties, and I would have no place to keep them, besides. Sam would get quite the sore back trying to sleep on my couch, and Dean would be freaked out by my pets.
Author's Note: I want this to be, like, a fic, but it isn't, just some disconnected musings. I still feel like we're on really shaky ground, season-wise, and my characterization is likely to be all wonky. But this has been bothering me for a while, so I decided that it bothers Sam, too. That way I can write about it.

Dust on the Edges

Dean kept waking up scared. It wasn't that Sam didn't notice. He just didn't know what to do about it.

Dean was always so eager to talk about anything that touched on Sam in any way, anything that was remotely connected to the hunt. He had told Sam all about the first time Castiel showed up. On the road to Missouri, he poured out everything he had seen in the past, or the vision of the past, or whatever that had been. He was willing to argue and discuss, exchange ideas about the latest job, wax eloquent about how beautiful the waitress at the last diner had been or how awful the emo crap on the radio was. He pushed at Sam, wanting to know everything. Told Sam everything he knew, got pissed when Sam didn't return the favor. (And yeah, okay, Sam had deserved that.)

But Dean didn't talk about himself, unless it was connected to Sam. At the end of the rougaroo hunt, he had admitted that Sam's power terrified him, even apologized for it, let him know in a thousand different ways that he was concerned, but still on Sam's side, still wanted all the best for him. Dean's heart was a freaking open book when it came to his brother, always had been. But not what was going on with just Dean, nothing about his own hopes and fears and griefs. Sometimes Sam wondered if Dean ever even thought about himself, if every waking moment was all about Sammy, Sammy, Sammy.

It had been like this after Dad died, Sam remembered. Dean had eventually told Sam everything, because that was connected to Sam, too. Looking back now, it felt like Dean had always wanted to say something, but was holding back, trying to protect him from the awful truth. Dad had meant Dean to take that secret with him to the end, and Dean had only been able to hold on to his silence for a few months.

But now… Dean kept waking up scared, and Sam didn't know what to do.

Sam stood in the doorway of another cheesy motel bathroom, leaning against the jamb on one shoulder, watching his brother sleep. Once again Dean was on top of the covers, still fully dressed, only his jacket covering him. He'd been out walking around, Sam knew, trying to exhaust himself into a good rest. Sam had laid still in his own bed, watching under half-lidded eyes as Dean returned and stumbled over to the bed to crash down, not even kicking off his shoes before tumbling into this restless slumber. It had been like this for days, weeks.

Sam had fought the urge to go over and tuck him in or something. It itched at him, seeing his big brother lying there, looking strangely vulnerable without a blanket to cover him up, protect him from the cold. But Sam knew that if he so much as touched Dean's shoulder, the guy would snap up, maybe punch him, and probably wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. He would end up napping in the car again, and he'd just bitch about Sam's driving all day. So not worth it.

And now it was morning, sun streaming in the window, unkind to the faded puke-green of the motel's wallpaper, the dark pink blankets, worn gray carpeting. They had to go interview witnesses, and Sam didn't want to wake Dean up. He padded quietly from the bathroom to his own bed, where he sat, hands on either side, and watched his sleeping brother's face turned toward him, one hand hanging off the edge of the mattress. Just a few minutes. Then they could go for coffee and donuts. Just let Dean sleep for a few more minutes.

Dean woke with a gasp, eyes flying wide. Sam bent down for his shoes, tucked half under his bed, pretending he'd been in the middle of the motion all along and not sitting motionless and staring like a creep.

"Dunkin' Donuts?" Sam asked, casual, slipping one shoe on and propping his foot on his knee to tie the laces. "I think I saw one over on Fifth."

"Hell, yeah." Dean sat up, letting the jacket slide off his shoulders. "Gimme the classics. So much better than that Johnny-come-lately, Krispy Kreme. Can't even spell their name right."

Sam felt his forehead wrinkle, his mouth twist. "I'm pretty sure they were founded at about the same time, Dean."

"How is it that you know this stuff, you weirdo? Do you look up the history of donut corporations between google searches for aswangs and wights?"

"Hey, the history of donuts in America is actually quite fascinating, I'll have you know." Sam reached for his other shoe.

"Yep, cooking food in fat, an American tradition stretching back generations." Dean rubbed his hands over his face, pushing his fingers against his eyes as if holding them there, afraid they would fall out.

It went on a bit too long, longer than it should take a person just waking up from a good night's sleep, and Sam let his hands fall still on his shoe, laces still half-tied. Watching his brother push at his own face with clawed fingers, trying to hold himself together. He wanted to say something. He wanted to reach over and grab Dean's shoulder, just let him know he was there.

He didn't.

Finally, Dean lowered his hands and gave Sam a smirk. "What are we still hanging around here for? A paradise of deep-fried dough awaits us." He was on his feet already, pulling on his jacket, checking his wallet and handgun.

Sam put his feet on the floor and stood up with a shrug. "Sure, Dean. Sounds great."

He wanted to grab his brother and shake some sense into him, make him tell him what was going on, why he couldn't sleep, why he kept waking up scared. Why he couldn't seem to open his mouth to tell Sam this one little thing, when he told him everything else. He wanted to shove the stupid bastard into a wall and make him reveal everything. Make him stay with him, stop wandering off like this, leaving Sam behind, alone and confused in the dust like an abandoned toy.

He didn't.