By: Suz Mc

Dean's face was hard and unrepentant. He'd enjoyed it. There was almost a sarcastic sneer on his face, like he was daring Sam to question him. Like he wanted Sam to be disgusted and tell him how he was a scumbag who didn't deserve to keep breathing topside.

One month earlier, he had sat on the Impala and wept when he told Sam about the decades of torture and his surrender. There was no shielding dividing Dean from his pain. It was almost too much to stand, watching Dean break apart like that. The first thirty years Dean spent giving a demon the finger after every mutilation was pure Dean, the Dean his brother knew. The last ten years, Dean was some new creature born out of unbearable pain and insanity. How could Dean not lose his metaphysical mind after thirty years of torture? No one could stand up to that.

Sam had accepted the truth Dean shared with him, hoping that confession would bring his brother back from the drunken angry shell that was traveling the country beside him now. It was stupid to think that. He'd spent the past month trying to nurture his brother, to love him back into himself. Trying to let him know that he wasn't to blame, that he was worthy.

That was getting nowhere fast. It only served to make Dean drop further down into a spiral of work and battle broken only by nights of sex and whiskey.

Sam swallowed the lump in his throat and tried to remember every time Dean had pissed him off so he could get the right tone to his voice, the right expression on his face.

"Are your arms getting stiff?"

Dean looked stunned and a bit of his edge slipped away. "What?"

"You've got to be tired of hanging on that cross and I'm sick of watching so why don't you climb down and get on with your freakin' life!" Sam tossed his paper cup on the ground and it splattered Coke all over both of them.

"Well, excuse me for baring my fucking soul to you, Sam! Did I not have the right mood music in the background for you?!" Dean grabbed his cheeseburger and started walking down the road away from the car.

"You're so full of shit you're choking on it!" Sam chased his brother down the side of the road.

Dean was mumbling to himself and stomping away. "Teach me to embrace this touchy feely crap."

"Oh, please! This is just more of the Dean Winchester's I'm Not Worthy Show. Damn, you need some new material."

Dean flipped him the bird over his back and kept moving.

"Oh, world, I'm so bad. I'm so damaged and imperfect. My dad never thought I was good enough. God's pressuring me. Grow the fuck up!"

"I'm so gonna kick your ass." He yelled it up at the sky but didn't stop moving.

"Oh yeah? Looks to me like you're running away like the little chicken shit you are." Sam employed his secret weapon and covered the ground between them in two long-legged strides. He threw himself in front of his brother, forcing Dean to skid to a stop. "Go ahead, badass. I'm not tied to some rack. See if you can kick my ass!"

"You must be desperate to get groped by a nurse to get in my face like that after what I just told you, Boy!"

"Then do it. You like inflicting pain so fucking much. Do it." Sam shoved his brother hard against his shoulder.

Dean bit down hard on his lip as if that was the only thing stopping him from slugging Sam in the face. "Shut up."

Sam's fist cut through the air and connected with Dean's jaw, sending him reeling. "Damn! You're right, Hellboy! That does feel good."

"Back off," Dean growled, wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth. "You don't know what you're fucking with, Sam."

It had felt good when his fist slammed into Dean's face so he did it again. "Yes, I do. I'm fucking with an arrogant asshole with a god complex!"

That last blow left Dean slumped over the guard rail and he shoved his body off with both hands. One fist was balled up and moving through the air when Sam took a long step backward and let Dean's swing pass him by.

"I'm totally terrified of this non-ass-kicking you're dishing out, Dean."

"Fuck you, Sam!" He tried to swing again only to sweep air as Sam jumped over the guard rail, keeping it between them.

"No, fuck you, Dean! I'm tired of this guilt trip from you about how you gave up every fucking thing to look after me. I didn't ask you to do it and I'm sick of watching you beg for pity with your face in a bottle and these whiny ass confessions about how you're a failure because you couldn't take thirty years of torture! Nobody expected you to, Dean! "

"You little bitch! You don't know shit about what it feels like to break! You do whatever the fuck you want! Piss off Dad. Run off to school. Fuck dead girls and do stupid demon tricks! Whatever the fuck you want and you don't care about living up to anything!" Dean pursued his little brother, raging anger breaking open the flood gates in his head. "You don't know what it's like to fail because you don't give a shit!"

"No, Dean! It's just easier for you to fall on the fucking grenade all the time and be the goddamn martyr than make decisions and live your life like the rest of us!"

"That's what I did in Hell, you cock suckin' spoiled brat! I DECIDED I couldn't take it and DECIDED to dish it out. Happy?!"

Sam retreated, putting the car in between them. "Okay, so now I get it. You weren't Super-fucking-man so you're a failure who doesn't deserve to live, right? The only one who ever expected you to be Superman is YOU, DEAN! NOBODY ELSE! JUST YOU!"

"GO TO HELL!" He was circling the car, now. No facades. No holding back.

"What, so I can follow in your footsteps, Dean? Why the hell, oops, pardon the pun, would I want to do that? You're such a failure, quitter, alchy, loser, fucking drama queen!"

"You're the fucking queen!"

Sam let him get on the same side of the car and didn't run. "You broke. You broke after thirty years in Hell, Dean. What would you say if it was me, huh? What if it was me in Hell for thirty years being ripped to pieces and to make it stop, I broke? What would you say? What? Would you hate me? What?"

Dean had Sam's collar in his fists and bounced him against the car. "But it wasn't you! It was ME and I'm allowed to feel any fucking thing I want so you shut the fuck up!"

"Don't you think what they made you do was part of your torture, Dean? You didn't have any more choice over dishing it out than you did taking it? You were the bitch either way and you think you were some big bad executioner when you were just as much on the rack as they were."

Dean slammed him against the car again and Sam's head bounced on the metal.

"I meant it when I said I liked it, you little shit!"

"Maybe you did, Dean, but that was a man pushed past what he could bear. It's not who you are." Sam wasn't screaming anymore and though Dean was trying to shove him through the Impala window, he had begun a slight retreat. "You just forgot for a while."

"You willing to take the chance I've forgotten for good, Sammy?" He'd dragged Sam down by his collar so he could spit the words in his face.

But Dean had said "Sammy" and that meant something.

"Stop trying to make me confirm this crap in your head and believe me more than you believe them, Dean. I know you better and I remember."

Dean dropped his hands away from his brother's shirt and smoothed the fabric flat. For a second, Sam thought Dean was going to break down again, but he didn't. "You haven't known me for forty years, Sammy. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to be that guy again, that guy from before Hell. I don't." He stepped back, folding his arms against his chest.

"Maybe you'll be better."

Dean's lower lip was being chewed to rags while he tried to find a place to hide from what he was feeling and what Sam was refusing to let him feel. "I don't want to be this way."

"Then don't. Simple as that. Every time you give in to feeling like a monster or a failure because you couldn't bear the unbearable, they win, Dean. Screw them. You're alive and you're gonna stay alive and screw them right back. Stop bending over for Hell, Dean."

"I could do without the ass fuck anal-ogy." A crooked smile spread over his face. "Get it?"

"You are so retarded."

"You suck as a therapist and don't ever hit me in the face again." Dean walked away to retrieve the cheeseburger he'd dropped on the ground.

Yanking the car door open, Sam said, "I seem to recall you slugging me in the mouth a few weeks back."

"Yeah, but you were already ugly." Dean came back to the car, brushing the dust from his wrapped sandwich. "Sam—"

"I know. Just give yourself a break, okay. You're not going to get back what you lost if you keep up with the self persecution and booze."

They both got into the car and Dean pulled out onto the road. Driving always made him feel more at ease, more normal. Or as normal as Dean was capable of feeling.

"I'm trying."

"I know. So am I."

The end