Is There in Truth no Beauty?
Disclaimer: The brothers, the car, and the concept belong to Kripke et al. The love belongs to us.
Beta'd: By the ever helpful, talented Carocali! I tinkered after she beta'd so any remaining errors are mine.
Special thanks also to Phx.
Dedicated: To irismay42 whose review to "Book of Sins" got me thinking and then – whammo! Fic popped out.
Time Line: Sometime after Route 666 – mild spoilers.
This is just a 'slice of life' fic which means a little bit of angst with a bunch of bro-bonding thrown in. :)
Seeing her again had been wonderful and horrible at the same time. When they left Cassie's house, Dean successfully sidestepped all of Sam's offers to talk and stuffed down any old feelings he had. Then he threw himself into the next hunt with a vengeance.
Things spun out of control when a particularly nasty spirit headed straight for Sam. Dean stepped between it and his brother, shielding him. After that he didn't remember much except sailing through the air, limbs pin-wheeling, and a spectacular crash against an antique armoire. The next thing he knew Sam was helping him off the dusty floor. The ribs on his right side throbbed incessantly and his head was pounding.
The following day and a half passed in a blur of his worried brother poking, prodding, and annoying him when all Dean wanted to do was sleep. He'd only graduated to broth, tea, and toast this morning, but he was finally ready for something more solid. Dean steadfastly ignored the concerned looks the younger man kept throwing his way. Maybe it was why Sam's question took him by surprise.
"Hey, Dean, you remember the time we stayed for a week in Alexandria?"
Dean draped one arm over injured ribs for support, propping himself off the mattress on the elbow of his other. He didn't have to think hard to remember, but he was cautious of Sam's motivation for bringing it up. "Yeah?"
"I don't, not really."
Dean squinted against the comparatively bright light of the motel lamp assaulting sensitive eyes and his slightly concussed head. It wasn't fair of Sam to play mind-games with him when he was handicapped. "Then, why are you asking?" If his tone had a hint of whine to it, that was just Sam's imagination.
"I remember you or Dad was always there when I woke up," Sam said, concerned hazel eyes boring into his. "You remember that?"
"I guess," he replied with a half-shoulder shrug. "You were sick, Sammy, we weren't going to leave you alone."
A smile curled his brother's lips. Dean frowned. Sam was obviously going somewhere with the trip down memory lane. The only question was where. Instead of barreling forward, however, Sam surprised him with a sharp left. His expression turned thoughtful, forehead curling in an unmistakable gesture of reflection. "Jess was almost as bad as you."
Dean turned carefully onto his side so he could get a better look at his brother. Sam was slumped forward on the opposite bed, arms resting comfortably on his legs, hands dangling over his knees. "I'm not that bad."
Sam snorted. "Whatever. You've always been a mother hen." The younger man shifted, dropping his head so all Dean could see was the top of his chestnut brown hair. "She made this tea with lemon, honey and spices in it, cinnamon and cardamom, maybe some cumin or nutmeg? Anyway it always made me feel better." Sam's voice cracked slightly at the end and Dean stayed silent, knowing his brother would continue once he'd gathered his composure. Sam didn't disappoint. When he lifted his head, moisture glistened suspiciously, but there weren't tears. "I loved her, Dean."
"I know, Sammy," Dean said, stretching across the small expanse in spite of the pain in his side to place a hand on his brother's knee.
Sam canted his head, bangs flopping forward to cover his forehead. "It's just, I can't help but feel if I hadn't been afraid of how she'd react and I'd told her the truth, maybe…"
Dean squeezed the younger man's knee before settling back. "What happened, Sam, it's not your fault." Sam shook his head in denial. "It isn't and it wouldn't have changed anything. I met Jess, remember?" The mop of brown went up and down twice in affirmation. "I'm a damn good judge of character. That woman loved you and the truth wouldn't have mattered to her at all. She would've been able to handle it."
"Yeah, she was brave," Sam said, making eye contact, "and amazingly open-minded about a lot of things."
"See? Told you." Dean tried pulling the pillow out from behind his shoulders, but his ribs would hear nothing of it. A hand cupped his neck and two pillows joined the first propping him up into a more comfortable position. "Thanks."
Sam nodded in response. "I was going to tell her. I had it all planned out and everything. I was just waiting for the right moment." The 'and now there won't be one' slipped by as an unspoken regret.
"You would have told her when the time was right," Dean said. "You loved her and once you'd worked up to it, you would have told her. It's the right thing to do."
Hazel eyes bore into his. "Yeah, it is."
And just like that Dean heard the steel jaws of the trap Sam set slamming shut tight around his leg. Son of a bitch. His little brother was a sneaky bastard. He sighed. "Cassie and Jess are not the same person."
"You're right," Sam said, his gaze intense, "and I would have told her because it's the right thing to do."
Dean squirmed under the scrutiny. He'd severely underestimated Sam. He was going in for the kill. "It is."
The lines of concern on Sam's face softened, his voice with them. "And you loved her."
Quips, denials, and verbal subterfuge flitted through Dean's mind, but he couldn't do it. He couldn't deny it, especially after Sam had laid his soul bare first. "Yeah, I do," he said softly. If Sam noticed the change in verb tense, he didn't mention it and didn't push. Dean silently thanked his brother with a smirk. "She reminded me of just how great we were together." He waggled his eyebrows, waiting for the younger man to catch on.
Sam smiled, obviously happy for him until the hidden meaning behind Dean's words sank in. "Ah, Dean, too much information!" He scowled, the creases in his forehead returning, this time in a grumpy Sammy sort of way.
"Did I ever tell you about the time she and I went to the lake that summer?" he asked. "It got really hot that afternoon."
"Dean!" Sam protested, abruptly standing up. He grabbed the keys off the table.
"I'm glad we didn't make it in the water. Creepy." Dean shuddered at the thought. He frowned when Sam paused at the doorway. "Where're you going?"
"Out," Sam said, "fresh air, pain pills, dinner, in that order."
"I want a cheeseburger," Dean said, "and one of those apple pie thingies."
"Yeah, well, I want to cleanse my mind's eye," Sam said. "No McDonald's. There's a diner down the street from the drug store. If they have pie, I'll grab you a piece."
"Cool." Dean snuggled back against his pillows. As the door started to close, he called his brother back. "Sammy!"
An exasperated Sam poked his head around the door. "Yeah?"
"It's winter," Sam said, with the patient tone he used that meant anything but. "You're safe."
The door started closing. "Sam!"
The sigh from the other side was loud enough to hear through the heavy wooden door. It opened again and Sam stepped back into the room. "Yeah?"
"Apple if they have it." Dean's stomach rumbled at the thought of pie. "Mmm, and maybe pancakes. Pancakes sound good."
"Got it, pancakes and apple pie."
Sam had barely opened the door when Dean called him again. "Oh, Sam!"
His brother didn't even turn around this time. "What?"
"Coffee." Sam nodded, slamming the door shut behind him. Dean chuckled. Never duel with the master, Sammy. He watched his brother slide into the driver's seat of the Impala through the motel window. He smiled fondly as both his babies disappeared from sight.
And thank you.
AN: I simply couldn't resist the title. A Classic Trek episode, based off Keat's 'Ode to a Grecian Urn,' inspired by one of Shakespeare's Sonnets? It just doesn't get any geekier than that! :D