TITLE: New Sight
AUTHOR: Eleri McCleod
CONTACT INFO: elerimc at gmail . com; elerimc . livejournal . com
SEASON: 1, tag to "Home"
CONTENT LEVEL: K
SUMMARY: Sam had heard his brother speak his entire life. He just hadn't been listening.
DISCLAIMER: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke, Kripke Enterprises and Warner Brothers. I'm just borrowing them for a little while and will return them unharmed. No copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVE: FF, Supernaturalville, LJ, any others please ask
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Late as I am to the fandom, there are many eps I'd love to write tags for. This just happened to be one of the first. Sam's minuscule reaction to Dean's revelation was screaming for more to me. I hope you enjoy my take on it. Huge thanks and hugs go to Lynette, my most wonderful beta. No matter what I throw at her, she'll mark it up faithfully every time. As always, any and all feedback is appreciated.
Shutting out the light before he opened the bathroom door, Sam Winchester felt the cold air of the motel room shiver up over his legs and brush against his face. The darkness of the room was interrupted only by the flickering light of the muted TV, the heavy motel curtains actually managing to do their assigned task for once. He fully expected a teasing comment from his brother about the overly long length of his shower and the abuse of finite hot water, but none came. A single step out of the bathroom and he saw why.
Dean was asleep, sound asleep propped up against the headboard, fully clothed minus only his boots, as if he wasn't anticipating dropping into the Sandman's hands.
A spike of warmth filled Sam's chest and he reached up to rub at the pain in his sternum. The last week had been anything but easy on Dean. His little brother had told him he was having visions, he'd been forced back to face the place where his entire world had exploded and he'd seen the ghost of his mother for about a whole minute. Dean would never admit it, but Sam knew he'd rather face an entire legion of angry spirits than any single emotionally fraught situation. He'd also rather take a sucking chest wound to having to face his own buried emotions. For a brief time during his teen years, Sam had thought his brother possessed the emotional depth of a hamster. He'd learned, repeatedly over the years since, and sometimes the hard way, that Dean felt things too deeply, that behind the bright, shiny, smart ass shell was a hidden well of pain and fear.
So finding his brother fully clothed and racked out on his bed? Not as much of a surprise as it would have once been.
"I remember the fire. The heat. And then I carried you out of the house."
Of all the things his brother could have told him, he'd never expected to hear that. It had honestly never occurred to him to wonder how he'd gotten out. He'd been six months old, quite a ways from walking, so logic dictated someone had to have carried him. He just hadn't thought it'd been Dean.
Sam knew his brother was protective of him. Over-protective, actually. He'd always chalked it up to their father and his never-ending litany of, "Watch out for your brother, Dean. Don't let Sammy get into any trouble, Dean. Why did you let him do that, Dean?"
But what if it had all started long before Sam's earliest memories of their father leaving them on their own? What if it had started because Dean, four years old and not even tall enough to reach the counter top by himself, had carried his little brother out of a flaming house and saved his life? What if Dean had chosen the role of protective older brother all on his own that night?
In sleep, his brother looked innocent, carefree, young. All things Sam knew he wasn't. Chronologically Dean was by no means over the hill, but he'd seen and lived more in his short two and half decades than most people did their entire lives. Staring through the darkened room now at his vulnerable looking brother, Sam wished he could ease just the smallest bit of the burden from Dean's admittedly competent shoulders.
Goosebumps worked their way up his bare legs and down his arms, the chill of the A/C underlying his own feeling of awe. Dean had given up so much of his life, wanting only the love of his family in return. Yet he'd unselfishly never even asked for it.
Sam had pushed and struggled against the restraints Dean had placed on him during their school years, not realizing at the time his brother was scared and out of his depth in dealing with a kid who loved the word 'why' just a little too much, giving up thousands of hours to take care of Sam while their dad was off hunting the monster of the week. No, Sam corrected himself, not bothering to care that Dean was doing Dad's job, because that's just what Dean did.
The last few months on the road with Dean had been eye opening, both professionally and personally. His years away at college had allowed him to see his brother in a new light, to appreciate the man Dean had become, despite the cheeseburger fetish and the trash talking. But it had taken the past week to slam the truth home – all of the years Dean had been taking care of him, who had been taking care of Dean?
Yes, they'd both lost a mother, and in reality a father, but Dean had lost his childhood as well.
Quietly, he crossed the room and exchanged his towel for a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He tugged the comforter from his bed and set it at Dean's sock covered feet. The remote slipped smoothly from his brother's slack hand. The abrupt end of the flickering TV had no effect on the sleeping man. Carefully raising the comforter up along Dean's body and tucking it around his shoulders, Sam listened for a hitch in his breathing, anything to signal a disturbance. His brother merely slept on, unaware of the movement around him.
Stepping back, Sam let his gaze linger on the rare sight of his brother completely at peace.
Tomorrow, there would be no mention of mysteriously appearing blankets, no hint of recognition anything out of the ordinary had happened. The discomfort of spending a night in jeans against a headboard would pass by silently. Dean wouldn't acknowledge it in any way and Sam would play right along with the charade.
But at that moment, in the quiet darkness of the night, Sam finally understood what Dean really meant every time he said, "Because you're my brother."