"No," Dean said. More specifically, Dean said, "Nonononononono, this is not happening!" But Sam wasn't going to call him on it, because, frankly, he'd had a hell of a day too. He was deliberately tuning Dean out, la-la-la-ing in his head, and it was going really well until Dean snarled, "I could really use that friggin' demon now! Nice timing, jackass!"
Then Sam had his hands full trying to steer a stiff-legged and highly vocal Dean back to his seat in the midst of all of the hubbub. Fortunately, Dean hadn't yet figured out how to spit like a wet cat and go boneless like a proponent of passive resistance at the same time, so they were making progress down the aisle; Sam knew better than to press his luck by going for the seat belt.
"Hey," Sam said, striving to remember how he'd found that voice that had worked on Dean before, some combination of soothing and demanding. "This isn't so bad, is it?" Dean was still sitting stiffly in his seat, hands balled into fists on his lap, so Sam lifted the armrest between them just to press warmly into his brother. He'd missed this so much when he was gone, the way Dean had never minded giving him attention or praise or even just shared body heat, some silent assurance that Sam would never have to be alone. But being gone for more than three years meant things had changed, and Sam was the one who had to initiate contact this time.
Dean resisted at first, staying stubbornly upright, but Sam was bigger now, and kept inching his way over until Dean finally slumped the slightest bit against him. He'd forgotten how Dean's hair felt like brush bristles, the way the grain of it mattered, could make it prickly or velvety. It smelled soapy, like the thin shampoo from the last motel, which Sam was willing to bet had been nothing more than diluted dishwashing liquid.
"Come on, Dean. This isn't so bad. We did it. We kept this plane from crashing, saved all of these people's lives. So there's a little problem with the door; I'm sure they'll let us know what's going on in a sec. It's probably something really minor, and we'll be out of here any minute."
As he spoke, he became aware of a noise growing louder; when he stopped, it was all he could hear, but it still took a while to realize what it was over the din of all of the passengers griping and braying with fear. Hysterical laughter, like the person had snapped down to the last few fraying threads, and he knew it wasn't Dean by the stillness pressed against him. He craned his neck and turned his head until he spotted the source. "Amanda, right?" Dean asked sourly. "Knew that well-adjusted thing was just a sham."
Dean bitched about Sam being the best man-stewardess ever when Sam returned to his seat after a doomed attempt at trying to calm everyone down, and Sam turned to look at him. Dean's eyes were fever-bright, there were hectic spots on his cheeks, and Dad's damn journal was peeping out from his inside jacket pocket and no doubt pressing uncomfortably against Dean's bruised ribs. Sam had forgotten this, too, the way Dean forced himself to endure until anyone else would have given way, but he'd just keep marching on.
It got on Sam's last goddamn nerve now.
"What, Dean? Just what is so bad about our current situation? We're not injured, not badly injured anyway, we're warm, we're in comfy seats," - his back twinged as he lied through his teeth - "and we've got food and water." He straightened back up, willing his traitorous muscles to quit twitching. "And not just us, but all the people we saved too."
"Yeah, that was a great move on our part," Dean snapped. "There's only so much air getting recycled here, and the guy in front of me's been letting them rip like there won't be Taco Bell tomorrow. Seriously, we should plug him up or something."
Sam's knack for reading Dean's tone apparently hadn't rusted and dropped off; he heard fear, not irritation, and the words spilled from his mouth before he could think them through. "Holy shit, you're claustrophobic too?" He banged his head against the seat in front of him until his tray table unbuckled and fell into his lap.
The pilot and the sane stewardess had finally clued in to the fact that Amanda, still giggling feebly at the rear of the plane, was going to be of no use. The stewardess was distributing bottles of water, cans of soda, and more of those tiny peanuts-and-pretzels packets, and the pilot's professional voice came over the intercom, sounding like he was reading from a script written for a made-for-TV movie. "Folks, this is your captain speaking. I know you've been sitting tight and being patient while the ground crew here at Indianapolis tries to get this door open so that we can all deplane and this runway can be put back into use. I'm going to ask you to bear with them a bit longer - in fact, I just got word that they're going to bring some engineers out here to help us out."
Sam refrained from joining in the booing and hooting this announcement brought on; Dean did not. "They need engineers now to figure out that a door needs to open and shut?" Dean snorted derisively. "Yeah, I can see that this place is crawling with the best and the brightest."
Sam hid a grin; on the ass-backwards scale of Dean, bitchiness trumped fear. Dean grumbled pettishly that he needed more peanuts.
"Fuck it, I'm not sitting here near Ass-Vesuvius anymore," Dean grumbled while Sam dispiritedly flipped through the in-flight magazine for the fourteenth time.
"You can't go anywhere, Dean," Sam reminded him wearily.
Dean dug around in his bag, crowing when he found the EMF meter, headphones wrapped neatly around the body of the Walkman. "Maybe there's a reason the door won't open," Dean said, shaking the meter in Sam's direction. "And it's not like the brain trust up there can't use all the help it can get."
"Fine, whatever," Sam said absently, having progressed to ogling the remote-controlled robotic hammerhead shark featured on page three of SkyMall.
"This is ridiculous," Sam said, watching Dean laugh about everything in SkyMall, even the shark. "What if I had to get off the plane - what if I had had a connecting flight that I needed to get to?"
"You mean, what if you had had a lobotomy?"
"Dean! There's nothing wrong with air travel! Millions of people do it every single day!"
"Chill, Rain Man," Dean said, then looked up at him and tossed the magazine aside. "Hey, Sammy. Come on. You're okay."
"I just want to go -" Go home, he'd almost said, but home wasn't there anymore, home no longer had Jess in it.
Dean pulled him close, and Sam realized he'd forgotten this, too: how improbably soothing Dean's scratchy stubble could be against his cheek or the top of his head.
When the stewardess came by, once again distributing drinks, with Amanda sheepishly trailing behind her and handing out peanut packets, Dean waved them by and just kept his arm around him.
A ragged cheer went up when the door finally slid open, and everyone jumped up, chatting eagerly into cell phones to let their families know they were on their way. Sam sat tight, resting under the weight of Dean's arm, because his family didn't need to be told anything; Dean already knew.