By: Karen B.
Summary: Season one. Dean pov. Sam is plagued by nightmares of Jess. Dean is there to help. Little bit of angst, little bit of humor, protective Dean.
Disclaimer: Kripke's the captain of this dream ship.
Thank you for your time!
I flipped on the wiper blades, washing away the intestines of a large bug that had just committed suicide on my windshield. Morning had come slowly. Neither the harsh glare of the hot sun shining through the windshield, nor the wind blowing in through my open window doing much to jump start me. Coffee. I needed coffee, but settled for scrubbing the grit from my eyes instead. The two-lane highway was quiet, a long stretch of road, sparsely populated. There were more jackrabbits, cows, dry brush, and splattering bugs than there were places a guy could get caffeinated. I was tired of the rocky shoulders, the miles and miles of bumpy curving road, the constant blur of the white-line.
A forty-ton Kenworth rumbled by loudly. I cringed, sending a fleeting look over at Sam. The wind ruffled his hair, but yet my sleeping brother hadn't budged.
I breathed in a sigh of relief. If I thought I was all-in, Sam was beyond that. Kid was exhausted, slumped against the passenger window. I only hoped his dreams weren't haunting him, swirling him in chaotic darkness. Sam's nightmares collided with his reality over and over, keeping him from getting more than a few hours of sleep at a time -- squeezing the life right out of him. I shivered, still hearing the worldless screams that choked him.
Sam had so many nightmares, now, I'd gotten really good at predicting when the next one would hit. Listening to every subtle clue. Hearing the horror in the hitch of his breath -- even if I couldn't see the gore and the blood behind his eyes.
He'd been conked out for a while. I looked at the clock -- four hours straight -- a 'Sam' record. I didn't know where my brother was finding the strength to even try to do the job. The ceiling fire may have been snuffed out back at Stanford, but the flames were still raging inside Sam -- eating him alive. There's an emotional landslide seeping through the labyrinth of Sam's super-sized brain, on the verge of crashing through his -- also super-sized -- glass heart. Hell, kid was torn apart -- confetti-like paper blowing in the wind. I didn't know how I was going to put baby brother back together again.
The first night of Jessica's death, Sam hung on to me -- a small child -- trapped inside a man's body. Sitting on his bed, I gathered him into my arms, hugging him to me. Sam didn't resist, just grabbed on. His pain stabbing at me, each sob whittling away at my insides. I didn't let go of him all night, even after he'd cried himself to sleep. Since that night, I've been doing a crappy job of taking care of my kid brother. Sam's drawn a line. A line I am not allowed to cross. My side -- be there -- but don't get too close. His side -- hold it together -- don't let down your guard. Sam's playing it tough, senses working overtime. His feral determination to find the thing that killed Jess -- it's going to kill him. He doesn't even like to admit he's having nightmares. Sam's good at building walls, hiding behind them. I don't know what to do. Not all wounds bleed. It's those non-bleeding wounds I can't fix. I was helpless -- dangling off the side of a cliff -- helpless.
Beside me, Sam whimpered, body trembling. Here we go again. His white as an avalanche face tightened -- eyes playing ping-pong behind closed lids. Behind those eyes, I could only imagine the horror he must be going through.
He sure as hell wasn't dreaming of exotic dancers, winning the lottery, champagne, chandeliers, or Cinderella endings. Sam had been turned into a toad. Before I could pull the car over, and get him by the shoulders he bolted upright, both hands gripping the dash, fingers digging into vinyl, body straight and rigid.
I kept driving, watching out of the corner of my eye. For a moment, Sam just stared out the front windshield, blank, confused, not breathing, not blinking -- the lights turned off. For one stinkin' moment, his face was smooth, his world sane, his heart whole. I wished I had the power of mind control. I'd Jedi, Sam. Make him stay that way, keep him from remembering.
Before I could even give that plan a go -- cha-ching -- Sam's brain cashed in. All too fast, he blinked, started to breathe again, turned the lights on. Panting heavily, he opened his mouth, a book with no words.
"Dream thirteen," I whispered, gripping the wheel forcefully and trying to keep my eyes riveted on the road.
Sam coughed, cleared his throat, squirmed in his seat, then slowly sat back. He was in a really bad place, and all I wanted was to pull him out. I opened my mouth, about to cross that line, ask the kid if he was okay, but didn't. I already knew the answer -- he wasn't. Sam turned my way, he looked so very small, eyes bloodshot red. I couldn't stand myself anymore, finally stepping over the line.
"Sammy, you o…"
"Where are we?" Sam asked -- another brick in his wall.
"Here…ish, " I answered, trying to keep the frustration out of my voice.
For the next twenty miles, Sam sat ramrod straight, clothes rumpled, hands gripping his thighs, breathing in and out. He didn't look left. He didn't look right. And I swore I could almost hear the dark thoughts formulating in his head. Me, I just drove, listening to Pink Floyd, frustration and concern growing. I was just about to toss out some meaningless 'happy' talk, when I caught sight of a small roadside sign.
Frank's Fishing Museum. Exit, next right.
Bright idea -- I did just that.
"Dean, where we going?"
"Time for a break," I said confidently, line crossing be damned.
Sam sat a little forward, seeing the sign up ahead.
"Dean, I thought you hated these roadside attractions?"
"Yes… you," Sam mumbled, slamming back in his seat. "Ghoulish wax creatures, fake eyeballs floating in black cauldrons, three headed-snakes. Dean, come on, man!" Sam complained. "We don't have time for this."
"Bro, we're making time," I said, all bets down. "Besides, Sammy, you gotta admit the Baking Soda Museum was pretty cool."
"Not as cool as the Mustard Museum," Sam deadpanned.
"Or Al Capon's grave," I added.
"Had to love that one." Sam rolled his eyes.
"Okay, so that one wasn't so cool, but what about the giant corncob? The Blue Hole? And the petting zoo with the crazy pygmy ponies, and that freaky bird-like dude."
"It was an ostrich, Dean, and the thing nearly tore your finger off."
"Whatever, Sam, indulge me. This will be fun."
"Crap loads," Sam garbled, arms crossing across his chest -- standard Sammy pout.
I navigated my way down a long, gravel pitted driveway pulling into a parking slot.
Six bucks each, a motorboat graveyard, one hundred and thirty two lures of every color, shape and size imaginable to man or fish, and a giant, cement barracuda you could walk inside the belly of, later; we sat down to eat turkey sandwiches and grape soda while fishing in a little pond behind the museum. Sam actually seemed to enjoy the roadside tour. Especially seemed interested in the 'fish' trivia. Who knew the largest fish in the sea was a whale shark weighing up to twenty tons. Or that fish could get seasick when a board a rolling ship just as much as a person. Or that minnows had teeth in their stomachs; the better to digest their food.
"Wonder if we'll catch a mermaid?" I waggled my brows, finishing the last of my sandwich.
"It's illegal to have sex with a fish, Dean."
"If you say so."
"I say so."
"Fine," I said.
"Fine," Sam said.
We sat in companionable silence waiting for the fish to strike.
The sky had turned gray, the clouds thick and puffy hanging low in the sky, mirroring in the placid stillness of the pond. Sam, and I sat on the edge of the warped dock under the branches of a large Weeping Willow tree, poles in hand, watching our bobbers float lazily; while dragonflies flew back and forth.
We were just two brothers spending a quiet day -- simply fishing. Well maybe not so simple, but as simple as we were ever going to get. I reeled my line in and re-cast side arm, aiming three feet above and parallel to the water letting the baited hook sail out over the water until it plopped perfectly where I wanted. No aim was truer; guess all those years of dad drilling us on accuracy paid off. I should get a bite now or at least a nibble.
Sam sat quietly next to me, gripping tightly to a really cool graphite rod with front drag reel, five stainless steel bearings and snap shot casting system with a soft touch trigger. Here we were, simplicity at hand, yet I knew by Sam's squared shoulders and the way he squinted, he couldn't stop thinking about Jessica. His shaky hand gripped tight to the pole, and he seemed to be someplace far, far away. My job -- reel him back in.
"So," I began. "You think there are actually any fish living in this puddle?" Sam just shrugged. "Bass? Walleye? Tuna? Mermaid Barbie?" I chuckled, elbowing Sam lightly in the ribs. "Hey..." I kept on. "...Remember how we used to fight over who caught the biggest fish? What was it dad always used to tell us?"
Sam reeled in his line, and set his pole down on the dock. "Can't catch the big one without patience."
"Right." I snipped. "So, why you reeling in already, Jacque Cousteau?" I stood, working my line around a weed-bed, hearing a huge splash to my left, but when I looked, all I saw were ripples.
"Hmmm?" There it was again -- that long, suffering silence. "What?" I glanced down at Sam. He was looking out over the water --blank -- crumpled and scrunched up like a flattened beer can. "Sammy?"
I could tell there was something on his mind, and I waited for him to say something, but he didn't. I could only imagine how it must be for Sam. Waking up after each nightmare. Thinking it was just a bad dream -- only to find out it wasn't -- his world crashing down all over again. I wished to God I could tell him it was just a dream. That Jessica was fine, alive, waiting for him.
"It hurts," Sam finally said in a strangled whisper.
I felt my brother's pain, sure as a lit match had been dropped into a pit of gasoline -- that pit being my belly. I didn't dare tell him everything was going to be okay -- because it wasn't. Sam lookd up at me, and I cringed seeing the hollowness in his eyes. My throat clogged up and all I could do was nod my understanding, barely able to breathe, let alone find some all-in powering words of wisdom to ease Sam's pain.
"Look, Sam you'll…" Thankfully, a tug on my rod stopped any stupid words of wisdom. "Go fish!" My rod shimmied, a giant bass jumping up out of the water and splashing back down. "Sammy, I hooked a big one!" I yelped, fighting to keep dinner from getting away. "Man, this babies huge, a real monster."
"Dean, size doesn't matter." Sam stood up.
"Dude! Size is everything." I stepped to the edge of the dock, jerking my rod hard, fighting with the big, bad boy -- or girl.
"Don't jerk, jerk!" Sam grabbed hold of my hand, helping.
"Don't bitch, bitch."
"Dean, just tighten the line," Sam instructed. "Or will lose him."
I reeled until the line was taut, Sam standing so close to me, I could feel his breath in my ear. I glanced at him, the hollowness in his eyes was gone, replaced by the light of excitement -- maybe even fun. The fish jumped again -- higher this time.
"Holy Macerel!" I bellowed.
"Bass," Sam corrected.
"Whatever, man, damn friggin' fish just took the bait and is heading for the other side of the puddle. Mobey's stronger than both of us. Maybe a twenty-pounder," I exclaimed just as my foot slipped, accidentally kicking our container of worms into the drink. "Never going to land this puppy."
"Dean, we got this!" Sam latched tighter to my hand. "Don't give up." We fought together to capture the whale.
I smirked whole-heartedly. This was what I'd brought Sam here for. Only took the granddaddy of all fish to bring my brother back from the brink.
Our tug of war continued. Us pulling -- the fish tugging. The power play far from over. Both of us watched the chunky large mouth bass clear the water as he/she came back down with a splashing strike. The brisk wind bellowed through our hair, and caused the hanging willow leaves to swirl around in the water. Sam and I, huffed and puffed -- the bass -- not giving in.
The tip of the fish's tail crested the water slapping back down with fury. "Man, look at him go," Sam said with real joy in his voice. "He's hooked good. Let him run with the bait, Dean." Sam's eyes shone brighter.
Sure enough, the fish ran, the wheel squalling in protest -- nothing mattered, but landing that trophey fish. The big, bad boy leapt out of the water dunking back under as we towed his ass back toward the dock. Just as we were about to pull him up out of th watr, the line snapped, Sam and I falling to our butts onto the graying planks.
"Shit!" I pounded a fist to the wood. "Shit! Shit! Shit! There goes the best damn dinner -- ever."
"I'm glad," Sam breathed, swiping long strands of hair out of his eyes.
"What'd you say?" I frowned.
"I'm glad he got away, Dean, fish fought too hard to be deep fried." Big, puppy-dog eyes stared into mine.
"Man, what are you? Some sort of animal rights activist. It's a fish, douche bag… you eat it."
Sam got real quiet again, and as much as I was a taken back about losing the biggest fish ever, I was glad, too. I knitted my hand into the kid's jacket and pulled him up to stand next to me. "Sam." He seemed a little wobbly, so I kept hold of him. "You're going to fight your way through this, too, bro." I motioned toward the water. "Just like that friggin' fish," I said, firmly. "Me -- beside you all the way -- okay?"
"Okay," Sam agreed.
"Good," I stated, converstaion over -- lines back in place.
We gathered our equipment and started back for the car.
"Thanks for the fun."
"So…" I tried to hide the heat rising to my cheeks. "Where do we go to eat, PETA boy, now that we lost our dinner?" I huffed.
"Steak Emporium, my treat," Sam said, flatly.
"Place down the road with the giant cow statue out front and…" I gave Sam my best winning smile. "…The hot hostess wearing that cute, little leather and lace number?" My mouth watered.
"That's the one, Dean."
"Dude, what you lack in fishing skills…you make up for in smarts," I said with admiration. "Hey, Sam."
"You're welcome." I clapped a hand to his shoulder, hoping dream number fourteen would never come.