Title: WHAT TITLE CAN THERE BE FOR THIS?
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester
Category: Gen, Hurt/Comfort
Summary: 4.10 coda
Word Count: 1383
Disclaimer: YOU RIPPED MY HEART OUT SO DON'T BLAME ME FOR THIS. ::shakes fist at Show::
Author's Note: I HURT. BAWLING, I TELL YOU.
No Words for This
Sam stared at his brother's bowed back, listening to his brokenness, and felt his own throat working to keep back the tears. He knew that Dean could only say this while looking away from him, knew he was staring into the distance, seeing nothing. When Dean's voice broke, Sam's hand jerked up and away from his side, longing to rest on that trembling shoulder, but he held himself back, barely. The lightest touch would push Dean over the edge, would send him running so far and so fast Sam didn't know if he would ever be able to find him again.
Dean had held out for so long. Thirty years. Damn it. That was longer than Dean had been alive, before he got pulled under. That was an eternity.
And Sam knew his brother. He knew this was the worst thing that could have happened. Hell was nothing if not a perfection of torture. The worst thing for Dean was not being hurt himself. It was seeing others hurt. And being forced to do it himself… There was nothing more terrible, nothing more awful, nothing that could hurt Dean more than that.
The words just didn't seem adequate, pinging around in Sam's head. Worst. Terrible. Awful. Hurt. Shouldn't there be another word for this, something to express the utter agony he heard in Dean's voice?
Dean had said it himself. There aren't words.
But what did Sam have to offer, if not words? Words had always been his gift, his tool, his weapon and his offering. He told Dean that he had held out for longer than anyone else would have, but Dean didn't seem to hear him. He just stood there, leaning against the Impala, shaking and crying—crying, damn it—and said that he wished he couldn't feel anything. Said, "This…inside me," as if he loathed what was in him.
Sam's mind shied away from that, unable to imagine it.
He bowed his head, staring down at his beer. The taste had turned to ashes in his mouth, and he tipped the bottle, let it run out. They had been celebrating, as they often did at the end of a successful hunt, drinking beer, leaning on the Impala, saluting each other. Sam didn't feel like celebrating anymore.
Dean's trembling gradually faded, and he stood still as marble, staring over the road. Sam could feel it, could feel him packing it all away again, putting this in a box in a deep, dark corner of his mind. It was the only way Dean could go on living, functioning, walking in the world. Just hiding it all away where it couldn't touch him.
But it would still be there. Sam knew. He had done the same with his grief.
Dean shook his head and stood up straight, still looking away. "C'mon, let's go." He walked around Sam with his head down, tilted away so Sam couldn't look at his face, and opened the driver-side door. "Guess we've been sitting around long enough."
Sam felt his hands quiver, helpless with sorrow, and stared at his brother through the windshield. Dean still wasn't looking at him, but he motioned with one hand. Let's go. Dean wanted to leave this behind them, as if this anonymous patch of Kentucky road could soak up the memories he'd spilled, could trap them here, hold them until the Winchester boys escaped.
It didn't work like that. Sam stared at the bottle in his hand, then turned on his heel and flung it as far and as hard as he could. It shattered against a tree in a satisfying explosion of brown glass, sharp and hard, the sound ringing in his ears. He stared after it, panting, felt his shoulders bob up and down with the force of his breath.
He didn't usually litter. But this seemed to be a day for shattering.
After another moment he got in the car, moving slowly, aching like an old man. Why did he hurt so much, when Dean was the one who had actually suffered? Dean started the car and they pulled out, no destination in mind, no leads, just going.
"Dean, it wasn't your fault."
He glanced over in time to see Dean's mouth twitch, his eyes still fixed ahead. He had already shoved it away, didn't want to hear anymore.
Well, tough. It was Sam's turn now.
"It wasn't your fault. I don't…thirty years, man. You can't be held accountable for that."
Dean hunched down over the steering wheel and said nothing. Perhaps no one else in the world could hold him accountable, but Dean was a master of the impossible.
Sam could feel the babble rising in his throat, the useless words that would mean nothing to his brother. "I mean, most reasonable societies know that information gained from torture is unreliable. People do and say things to avoid being hurt that have nothing to do with the truth or what they actually believe in. You didn't…thirty years, man. I can't…thirty years."
"I know, Sam." It was a low growl, a warning, but Sam couldn't heed it.
"I mean, c'mon, if it wasn't you someone else would have been doing it anyway. You don't…that wasn't you. You can't blame yourself for that. You… Thirty years, Dean!"
Dean was shaking again, his fingers clenched on the wheel. The Impala was beginning to judder a bit, out of control. With a muffled grunt of frustration, Dean pulled over to the side of the road in a shriek of tires and threw the car into park, still staring ahead, mouth tight and hard.
"Don't do this, Sam."
It was a harsh whisper, broken, pleading.
"Don't do what? Don't try to help you? Don't try to convince you that you didn't do anything wrong? Don't care about you? No way, man. You don't get to ask that from me. I'm not gonna do it."
Dean drew in a shaky breath. The answer seemed torn from him like a knife from a wound. "Don't lie to me."
Sam gaped at him, shocked into momentary silence. "What? No…"
Dean put his hands over his face, hiding from Sam the only way he could, now, trapped in the car with every limb shaking, unable to even open the door and seek escape.
"No. Nononononono. Dean. Dean! I'm not lying. I'm not…"
Sam was shaking now, too, though not as hard as his broken brother. He was aware of tears filling his eyes, running over, unstoppable. Didn't matter. He reached a hand toward Dean, saw it tremble. His hand looked so large, so impossibly huge, and his brother seemed so small. It wasn't right.
"Dean. Dean. I swear to you, I'm not lying. It wasn't your fault. I know it. I know it."
His hand made it all the way to Dean's shoulder, crossing the impossible chasm between them. Dean flinched at the touch, heels banging against the floor, but didn't try to pull away. "Oh, God, Dean…" Sam's voice was broken, too.
He pushed himself closer on the bench seat, until his large frame crowded his smaller brother against the door. Dean lowered his hands to stare back at him, green eyes wide and terrified. Trapped. Dean was so very trapped, though not by Sam.
"God, Dean, please, let me…"
There was nothing else to do. Words were useless, random exhalations of air and sound, meaningless, comfortless. Sam pulled his brother into his arms and held on tight, breathing hard and fast.
Dean's shaking ran through them both, an endless quake rattling the earth, shattering dishes and buildings and roads and people. Sam swallowed the hard lump in his throat and folded him in a little tighter, crushing the side of Dean's head against his, feeling the tears mingle between them.
Dean held out for a while, his body stiff, bent away, but Sam was determined and stubborn, and it was his turn now. Words were useless, but he still had this. Eventually, Dean couldn't resist anymore.
He let his head rest on Sam's shoulder, surrendering. His arms shook, but he got them around Sam's torso, slipping between the seat and the dash. And then he was clutching back, just as hard.
Sam closed his eyes and held on.