Set after 'Everyone Loves a Clown'
Surprise! Happy Birthday TraSan! This is a two shot for you, girl. I hope you like: just straight good old fashioned hurt/comfort.
Thank you, Red Hardy, for the wonderfully quick beta.
Put on a Happy Face
Sam walked. He had no destination in mind, he just walked. Away from Dean's anger, past Bobby's house, down the road.
One foot in front of the other. Mindless. Automatic. Just like his living had become –
While inside he burned.
Sam thought he understood loneliness; tasted and tested when he first went to Stanford, and he thought he knew grief; scorching and bitter when Jessica died. But nothing prepared him for this: the loss of his father and the devastating affect it was having on his brother.
And for the first time in his entire life, the young man truly felt alone.
Even after he had walked away from them, Sam knew Dean had always been a phone call away if he ever needed him. And his brother had been a constant during the turmoil of his lover's loss, cajoling the pain out of him in a schizophrenic show of support. Sometimes a quiet presence that listened to his crying in the dark and other times, loud and threatening as food was practically shoved down his throat –
But not now. Not this time.
This time Sam was alone. Truly and utterly alone. And to make matters worse, Dean was angry at him. Furious even and the young man could only surmise how much Dean blamed him for. But since his own guilt was a bottomless pit, he could only assume his brother's blame was that, and much more.
Sam wasn't stupid or naive. He knew that during the two and a bit years he'd been gone his brother and father had gotten even closer than before, so it was ironic that the demon had taunted that Sam was John's favorite. The malignant being must have gotten them mixed up with some other Winchesters.
The hurting hunter stopped walking and just stood there. Behind him lay the only family he had. In front of him lay the unknown, but the idea of going forward was far less scary than the idea of going back.
And just how wrong was that?
He knew his brother was terrified that Sam would leave but, hell, Sam was terrified to stay. The demon still had plans for him. His family murdered, Dean almost so, just because they had gotten in the way?
Sam shivered and started walking again.
Dean would be next. Hell, Dean had almost been next.
The horror of how close he had come to watching his brother die – the memory of watching the medical team fight Dean's heart back to life – staggered the exhausted young man.
Sam wrapped his arms tightly around his stomach and dropped to his knees, his tear streaked face hung in defeat. He couldn't do this anymore.
It had been hard enough before, but now – now everything was too much…
And if that wasn't enough, the sound of someone walking in front of him would have been… Especially when he slowly raised his head and looked right into the face of a clown.
Dean leaned against the busted car and exhaled loudly. His back and shoulders ached and quivered with fatigue. He was worn out both physically and emotionally but between his car and his younger brother, the weary hunter had no idea which had truly taken the brunt of his grief.
He was mad at Sam. His father. The demon. Hell, he was just angry. What a shit pack of cards life had dealt him to play. It was like trying to build a house of water. Sometimes it was cold enough, the water froze and Dean actually felt like he'd put up some walls but then – badda boom, badda bing – along came spring thaw and he was left up to his knees in water again.
In truth, he was more scared then angry. His father was really gone this time, not just off on some hunt or leading them around with a string of text messages. But truly gone. Dead. Totally off the radar and that left Dean in charge – and that really scared him.
His father had taught him many things except that. Even when the great John Winchester was missing, Dean knew he was still out there somewhere and held out hope that if things got bad enough, the man could still somehow swoop in and save the day. Give Dean the answers he needed but now, bit by bit, it was sinking in that the man was never going to be able to do that again. His father was dead and Dean was scared.
He had no idea how to help Sam when he was struggling so hard to save face himself. So it was easier to be angry with his brother than to try to help him and while he felt bad about some of the things he'd said to the kid, other things were true. The only problem was, Sam said some truths too and those hurt just as well.
Dean wasn't handling his father's death at all. One look at the bashed in trunk of his car, or one remembrance of the searing pain in his brother's eyes before Sam had walked away, foretold that. If he didn't get his act together and figure out some way to deal this latest hand of cards, or how to put up another God forsaken wall of water, there were still things he could lose. And that is what made him heave in a huge lungful of air, drop the tire iron and head towards the house. He needed to make sure Sam wasn't doing anything stupid and then he was going to get some actual honest to goodness sleep before he dropped with exhaustion.
But when he went into the house, Sam wasn't there. Only Bobby, frowning as he hung up the phone and turned towards Dean.
"Everything okay?" the younger hunter was programmed to ask no matter how tired he was or how very little he wanted to know.
"Just had an interesting call from Hank Peters," Bobby pursed his lips. The name rang a bell. Hank was another hunter Dean and his father had run into on occasion. Dean didn't think Sam knew the man though. "He had some info on that Rakshasa you boys were hunting."
"What's to tell?" Dean grabbed a bottle of cold water from the fridge and gulped it down before finishing. "We got the sucker good, end of story."
"Was there only one?" Bobby's question sent a chill through Dean's body.
"What?" he demanded, an uneasy feeling curling around his gut as the water hit his stomach hard.
"Well according to Hank, these things live in small family groups, two or three at most."
"That's not what we found out." Dean rubbed his stomach and willed the water to stay down. "Sam-"
"Sam's research was wrong," Bobby interrupted brusquely. "Wouldn't be the first time. Wikipedia don't know jack shit on some things."
Dean stiffened, his jaw tightened. "Now you wait a minute here, Bobby-"
"You know I don't mean it like that, ya idjit," the older man huffed out obviously picking up on the prickliness. "Sam's a damn good researcher but 'ccording to Hank that ain't commonly known info on them. And we both know that what's in a hunter's head is more reliable than anything in any book or on the internet. Most times."
"And depending on the hunter," Dean felt the need to add. He reached up and scrubbed at his forehead, the beginning of a tension headache throbbing across his brow.
Bobby lifted an eyebrow in agreement. "So can I take that as a no? There wasn't more then one?"
"Not that we saw," it pained Dean to admit. He hated the idea that they may have screwed up on this. Glancing past Bobby towards the living room, he hated that he had to ask. "Sam here?"
The older man gave him an odd look. "Thought he was still outside with you."
"Damnit," Dean hissed, running a hand through his short hair in agitation. "This is great. Just great."
"You boys have a falling out?" Bobby guessed and Dean knew the older man wasn't stupid. He had to have heard the mess the younger hunter had made of the car.
"Something like that," Dean admitted and then moved towards the door. "You got wheels I can borrow to take a spin down the road?"
"You think Sam'd leave?" Bobby frowned and followed him.
Dean stopped just outside the house and glanced around the junkyard. He thought about it hard for a moment and then shook his head. "Nah, but I do think he'd want some away from me time."
"Well c'mon then, we'll take my car." He shot Dean a look when the other man opened his mouth to argue. "What? You actually think I'd loan either of you two yahoos another car right now? Your rate of return really sucks. Now c'mon, before the other Rakshasa – the one you boys didn't know about – finds himself a new chew toy."
"You think it'd follow us here?" Dean wasn't used to being the hunted party. He slid into the passenger seat of Bobby's car and slammed the door shut.
"Dunno," Bobby admitted. "But you really want to assume it didn't?"
The remembered look of pain on Sam's face just before he walked away had Dean shaking his head. If anything happened to his brother before they got things sorted out between them, Dean would never forgive himself. "No," he admitted, "I don't."
There were two, was Sam's immediate thought as he scrambled to his feet and struggled to put some space between the clown and himself. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, was his next thought as he realized he was completely unarmed.
The clown smiled grotesquely as it continued its approach but when Sam turned to run, it suddenly appeared right in front of him and slammed him backwards with a powerful blow to the chest.
Sam hit the ground hard and immediately started to roll to the side but the Rakshasa was on him too fast, its white gloved hands wrapping around his neck and squeezing tight.
As the pressure increased, Sam clawed and struggled hard to get away but the creature easily kept him down, cutting off his air supply and seeming to take great pleasure in strangling him.
It licked its red lips as Sam's heart pounded and his stomach lurched. These things were cannibals.
Oh God, no, oh God, no!
It was getting harder to fight.
Sam's struggles grew weaker…
Why was he fighting again?
His hands dropped uselessly to his sides.
But just before he lost total consciousness, the horrific clown smiled even wider, displaying razor sharp teeth, then bit deep into Sam's shoulder and started to rip –
Blessedly, the young hunter was unconsciousness before the creature started to chew.