Title: Just the Beast Under Your Bed
Characters: Sam, Dean
Category: Gen, Angst
Spoilers: Season 4 in general, takes place between 4.08 and 4.09
Summary: "You remember how, after you got me from Stanford, for awhile I tried just not sleeping?"
Word Count: 546
Disclaimer: Pretty sure they're not mine.
Author's Note: For cadencecascade. Prompt word was "surprise." A somewhat pointless snippet, written, of course, while I couldn't sleep. Title from "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.
Just the Beast Under Your Bed
"Hey, Dean. You remember how, after you got me from Stanford, for awhile I tried just not sleeping?"
Dean blinked blearily across the scuzzy diner table, absently rubbing one finger in the thin layer of grease that seemed to cover everything. He didn't speak out loud, but his eyes were eloquent. And your point is...?
"Yeah. You remember how that didn't work?"
Sam waited for his brother to protest, make a smart remark, blow him off, look away and ignore him. All perfectly natural Dean-like responses to Sam's concern.
Dean surprised him, though, by giving a shrug and actually answering. "Sleeping isn't working so hot for me, either."
He didn't even sound belligerent or defensive. Just resigned and tired.
Sam was so shocked that he almost didn't respond, almost missed the opening his brother had left in his defenses. After a second of stunned silence, though, he leaned forward and rested his forearms on the table, grimacing slightly at the greasy slide of it. "Dude, are you actually talking to me about this?"
Dean blinked at him, slow and weary. "I talk to you about lots of stuff."
"Not about this. Not about what's going on with you."
Now Dean did look away. "I tell you as much as I can."
This was probably true, Sam reflected, leaning slightly back in his chair. Dean had told him that he remembered everything, that there just weren't words to describe it. His big brother had never been one for words, anyway, and the stuff inside his head now, well...it had to be huge. Sam had silently vowed not to push, to be patient, the way Dean had been with him after Jess.
"Still, Dean, you have to sleep. You can't live on coffee forever."
Dean grinned crookedly, tilting the mug in his hand. "I dunno. Coffee's pretty awesome."
Sam felt his shoulders slump, helpless. What could he do? Dean had always been the strong one, the one who knew what to do. After Jess, Dean had looked after him, had bullied him into resting, taken away his coffee, drugged his soda, talking in endless, looping rounds that soothed Sam down into darkness, an inane lullaby of Dean-chatter, guns and girls and monsters and pie and hunter's tricks and Angelina Jolie. Always looking out for him, always knew what to do. Now it was Sam's turn to return the favor, and he was lost.
"You can't go on like this forever, man. You have to, you have to..."
He didn't even know what Dean had to do. He didn't how to fix this. Frustration curled in his gut and brought his fingernails digging into his palms, his throat closing, his eyes burning.
Dean saw it. Dean always saw it, when it was Sam hurting, Sam looking for a way out. He did things for Sam that he would never do for himself. Maybe this would be one of them.
Because Dean sighed, now, and put down his coffee, and said, "I promise you, dude, if I ever figure it out, you'll be the first to know. But don't hold your breath, Sammy. I don't think the words exist."
And that would have to be enough. Sam nodded, accepting, and looked for their waitress.