A/N Hey, guys! Sorry, I know some of you are waiting on an update for 'Controlled' - it's coming, I promise. But, this one just wouldn't leave me alone. *blush* I hope you enjoy it. :o) ~ Kelcor
A/N2 Also, this tag is totally separate from my other one. It's not a continuation, just another version of what might have happened afterwards - in my mind's eye, anyway. LoL Certainly would never happen on the actual show.
It had been one week since Dean's heartbreaking confession on the hood of the Impala. One week filled with tension, shame and seemingly endless nightmares. The older Winchester couldn't help but chuckle mirthlessly to himself. Sam had always made it seem like if he just 'opened up' to his little brother, Dean's problems would just disappear - so much for that plan. The pain was still there; the memories still haunted him 24/7; the guilt continued to eat away at him like he was some kind of all-you-can-eat buffet, for pity sake!
Regardless, every day he managed to keep his mask in place, his agony buried deep inside. The nights were a different story, however. So far, Sam hadn't been woken by his big brother's cries for help during the throes of his nightmares but Dean knew that that particular perk wouldn't last long. He could only keep up the façade for so long - driving so that Sam would fall asleep in the car instead of him; staying up to watch movies or listen to his walkman, fighting to stay awake, no matter how tired he was, until Sam was in a deep sleep. Sam would soon catch on, notice the bags under his brother's eyes, insist on staying awake, keep watch until Dean went to sleep. Eventually, the younger wouldn't be able to miss his wuss of a big brother screaming and writhing in the seat next to him, or on the bed across from his own.
Dean just had to get a grip, that's all there was to it - not to mention the fact that he needed to get more than an hour's worth of sleep each night. He wasn't going to be able to watch Sam's back if he was dead on his feet with exhaustion. In a desperation to end the nightmares, at least for a little while, Dean went into the drugstore on the pretense of grabbing some snacks and drinks to tide them over until the next motel. He was immensely relieved when Sam remained in the car, trusting his brother to remember his favourite travel food.
Sam sat in the car, listening to the AC/DC album that Dean had somehow managed to put on his little brother's mp3 player. The younger Winchester smiled ruefully, knowing his big brother wasn't nearly as inept with technology as he pretended to be. He watched his brother walk into the store, his steps slow and purposeful, as if the older man had to concentrate just to put one foot in front of the other. Sam wasn't stupid. He hadn't missed how tired Dean was, knew without a doubt that his brother wasn't sleeping much, if at all - but he didn't know what to do about it. He'd lost his chance at helping Dean when he had failed to reach out to his brother seven days ago, cut off his own urge to hug his broken sibling for fear of being pushed away, rejected, because who was he to offer comfort when it was his fault Dean had been in hell in the first place.
Granted, the older Winchester probably didn't blame Sam, never did even when the younger man deserved it. But, the fact remained, if Sam had killed Jake all those months ago when he'd had the chance, instead of backing down at the last second and turning his back on the bastard, he never would have died - which meant that Dean never would have had to make the deal, never would have gone to hell! Then, to top things off, while his big brother was in the pit being tortured over and over again, being forced to inflict torture on other souls after 30 years of being on the rack himself, Sam was topside, dishonouring not only his brother's sacrifice, but his memory by using his demon-given powers, travelling down the dark road his brother had begged him to avoid at all costs.
Pulled out of his guilt infested memories by Dean opening the driver's side door and settling back behind the wheel, Sam plastered what he hoped was a convincing smile on his face when his brother handed him a few of his favourite chocolate bars, a bag of Old Dutch Buffalo Wing flavoured chips and a 1 litre bottle of Pepsi. He did his best to hide his disappointment when he saw that Dean had forgotten one of his favourite items… something he couldn't bear to eat his chocolate bars without. Not important, Sam, he chastised. He'd just hold off on the chocolate until they reached the motel, even though most vending machines didn't carry --
"Oh yeah," Dean said, trying not to grin mischievously, and failing miserably. "Thought you might like this, too."
Sam looked over and, this time, he didn't have to pretend, didn't have to offer his brother a fake smile, because Dean was holding out a 1 litre carton of 2% milk. Then, the younger Winchester's smile grew even wider at the sound of Dean's first honest-to-goodness laugh in over a week. "You didn't really think I'd forget that you can't drink anything but milk with your chocolate, now did you?" With that, the older of the two, turned the engine on and pulled out of the parking lot and back into the barely-there traffic on the highway. For the first time since his brother fell apart in front of his eyes, Sam felt the tension between them ease, even if just a little bit.
Four hours later, they pulled into the first half decent motel they saw; one the brothers could be pretty sure wouldn't be offering cockroaches and various other forms of insects and vermin as mandatory roommates.
Dean offered Sam dibs on the first shower. When the younger Winchester looked at him in shock, he explained tiredly, "It's been a long drive, Sammy. I just wanna stretch out on the bed and rest for a bit. Might even just go to sleep and save the shower for morning." I hope, he thought inwardly, praying the items in the inside pocket of his jacket would ensure his quest for a full night of dreamless sleep would soon become a reality.
While the hot water pounded down on his aching shoulders, Sam felt his muscles begin to relax, knowing that it wasn't just due to the water pressure and the steam. He hoped against hope, even prayed, that his brother would, in fact, be in a deep sleep by the time he stepped back into the main room.
His prayers had seemingly been answered when he opened the bathroom door and saw his big brother sprawled out on the bed closest to the exit, a half empty bottle of whisky on the floor, a slack hand clasped loosely around its neck.
Smiling sadly, Sam stepped over to Dean, gently moving his arm to rest on the bed. He then reached out a hand to ghost over the close-cropped hair, but pulled back before contact was made, afraid that he might be crossing a new boundary put in place since the older man's return from the pit.
Instead, he carefully removed his brother's boots, then draped a spare blanket from the closet over top of him. Having already changed into his own sleep clothes, namely boxers and a t-shirt, Sam got into his own bed and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Like every other night for the past week, Sam dreamt of himself and his brother, sitting on the hood of the Impala, Dean's shoulders shaking with pent up grief, unresolved guilt; and Sam just watching with pain filled eyes and an unresolved guilt of his own.
This night, however, Sam's dream changed a bit:
He was watching Dean, aching to reach his hand out, to place it on his brother's quivering shoulder, when he sensed a presence behind him. Turning around, Sam was more than a little surprised to find Castiel standing just a few feet away, watching the scene with an unmistakeable sorrow. Then, the Angel's eyes shifted to settle on Sam, the sorrow giving way to something akin to shame and accusation. "What are you waiting for? Help your brother, Sam."
"He doesn't want my help," the young hunter replied, forcing his own eyes to the ground, unable to meet the Angel's gaze any longer.
"Maybe not, but he certainly needs it. And so do you."
"You're drowning in so much guilt over what happened to your brother, what's still happening to him… that you're missing the big picture here, Sam."
"Big picture?" Sam asked.
"Wow! And, here I heard that you were the smart one."
"Hey," Sam exclaimed, forgetting his shame for a moment, locking fierce eyes with the Angel standing before him. "My brother is smarter than anyone realizes! Smarter than me in so many ways, I couldn't even begin to describe them all!"
Castiel smiled softly, as if he'd hoped for this reaction, possibly even expected it. "I know he is, Sam. But he's also hurting. And, you're the only one who can help him."
"I don't know if he trusts me enough to let me be that person, anymore."
"Of course, he does, Sam. You are the only one he trusts. He's your big brother, right? He's always taken care of you?"
Sam nodded mutely, his eyes returning to the ground at his feet.
"Well," Castiel continued, "now it's your turn to take care of him, whether he wants you to, or not. Because he needs you, Sam. You can't change the past, but you can make up for it."
The young Winchester looked up as the Angel stepped towards him, placing a firm hand on the hunter's shoulder. "It's time to wake up, now, Sam."
"Wake up!" Castiel said forcefully.
Sam's eyes flew open, staring momentarily at the ceiling above his bed, trying to sort out what had just happened in his dream. He was pulled from his thoughts, however, at the sounds of whimpering from the bed next to his. He reached over and turned on the bedside lamp, watched as his brother tossed and turned in his sleep, pleading for help, crying out for redemption.
The younger Winchester was out of bed and at his brother's side in an instant but, for a few long moments, all he could do was stare down at the tortured, broken man beneath the blanket. His mind raced for some kind of a solution. Then, for the first time, Sam noticed something poking out from beneath Dean's pillow, no doubt right next to the ever present knife that took up residence there every night since they were kids. He reached down and pulled the foreign object out from beneath its hiding place… a box of sleeping pills. No surprise there, really. It wouldn't have been the first time one of the Winchester boys had resorted to a pharmaceutical form of rest, given the nightmarish lives they endured day in and day out - especially Dean, as of late.
Coupled with the whiskey, however, was a cause for concern. Especially since Sam was pretty sure his brother had just purchased it at the same time as Sam's snacks a few hours earlier - and it was now half empty. He frantically tore open the package and let out a sigh of relief when he saw only one caplet was missing from the pack.
Suddenly, Castiel's words came back to him…
"Now it's your turn to take care of him, whether he wants you to, or not. Because he needs you, Sam."
Another whimper from his brother sealed the deal. "Screw this," Sam said, his voice full of frustration, sadness and determination. He stalked over to the other side of Dean's bed, pulled the blanket back, and crawled over to lay on his back next to his brother. Wrapping his arm beneath the older man's shoulders, he lifted him slightly, easing him over onto his side to face Sam. With Dean's head on his shoulder, the younger Winchester held him close to his own body, increased the strength of his hold when his big brother began fighting against what he surely perceived to be an enemy trying to restrain him. Sam's hand came up to cup the back of his brother's head, smoothing his hair, even while he kept his other arm securely around the shaking shoulders.
"Shhhh, big brother," he whispered softly. "I've got you, I've got you. You're safe now."
The body held against him, the shoulders beneath his arm, stilled suddenly.
"Dean? You with me, man?"
"S'mmy?" The slurred response made it abundantly clear that Dean was still under the effects of the alcohol and the pills.
"Yeah, it's me, big brother. You're okay. It was just a dream."
The older of the two began to struggle sluggishly against his hold but Sam refused to release him.
"Lemme go," Dean insisted, his words still slurred.
"No, Dean. It's okay, dude. Go back to sleep. I'm not goin' anywhere."
There was a moment's hesitation, then: "Still a dr'm?"
Sam pressed his chin against the top of his brother's head, realized that there was only one way the older hunter would accept any comfort from him, would allow himself to show any sort of weakness in front of his little brother… "Yeah, Dean. You're still dreaming."
After another moment, Dean finally relaxed in his brother's hold, didn't try to pull away when Sam began to rock him softly back and forth, even clutched the younger man's shirt in a sleepy fist. Then, just when Sam thought his brother had finally drifted back to sleep, he heard the soft words: "Like this dr'm more."
A/N Thanks so much for taking the time to read my story. Sappy, I know. What can I say? I'm a sucker for h/c and brotherly love! *blush* Please leave a review? Good or bad, they're what keep me writing! ~ Kelcor