A/N: Yet another Wincest story. Watch out, folks. These boys have tripped my inner fic slut.
This takes place a week after S2 Ep. 11 Playthings, wherein Sam got drunk and emotional. Now it's Dean's turn.
Spoilers: Everything up to mid season 2.
Disclaimer: If I owned these characters, you would see this scene on TV.
Sam entered the smoky bar and squinted through the dim light. Even though his eyes were perfectly adjusted to the dark after walking for thirty minutes in the middle of the night to get there, and in the freezing cold too, which he had every intention of giving Dean an earful about once he found him, he could still barely see through the haze of cigarette and cigar fumes that irritated his sensitive eyes and filled them with burning tears.
"Dean," he spouted.
He could barely hear himself over the raucous middle-aged bikers at the pool table and their posse of cheering ladies, along with the other patrons of the bar, several smaller, quieter groups of older men in cowboy hats and plaid shirts, huddled around their tables. Sam counted at least ten cigarette butts with red glowing ends smoldering in the dark room, contributing to the toxic fog. He guessed that he was the only one here under the age of 45.
"Dean!" he yelled, but his voice was drowned out again by a wailing solo coming from the jukebox.
Guns N' Roses. Well, at least he knew Dean was here, then. And if he had requested Guns N' Roses…
"Bread and butter!" Sam shouted.
"Come to supper!" immediately came a sloppy reply.
"Great," Sam muttered.
He trudged over to the end of the bar where he found his brother sitting in a cloud of smoke, a lit cigarette resting between his fingers with an ash nearly two inches long. Drunk Dean tended to forget that he didn't smoke. He also tended to forget about his cigarettes once he lit them. In front of Dean were four empty shot glasses, two beer bottles, and another beer from which he was swigging deeply.
"Come on, man, what the fuck?" Sam pulled out the stool next to Dean, whose bloodshot eyes lazily rolled onto his brother and then widened in surprise. He choked on his beer and nearly spit it out before recovering and wiping his mouth with his coat sleeve.
"Baby brother! How did you find me?"
Sam took a deep breath, holding back a tirade of irritation. "You told me you'd be here," he said through clenched teeth.
"Oh, yeah! I did." Dean looked around. "How did you know where I was sitting? I can barely see in front of my face."
"Bread and butter," Sam replied.
"Come to supper!" Dean shouted reflexively. "Oh, right," he added. "Good thing Dad drilled that one into our heads, huh?"
Sam shook his own head, the smoke coming off of Dean's cigarette making him dizzy. He angrily grabbed the cigarette out of Dean's hand and stamped it out in the ashtray. "Dean, Dad taught us that code in case we got separated from each other by an evil thing. He didn't give it to us so that I could find your drunk ass in a smoky biker bar when we're in the middle of a case!"
"Worked, though, didn't it?" Dean retorted, raising his beer in a toast.
"A bar that I had to walk thirty minutes to get to, by the way!" Sam continued. "You realize it has started snowing outside, right?"
Dean glanced over at the blackened windows. "Sam, look around you. I couldn't tell if there was a nucular holocaust going on out there."
"Nuclear," Sam corrected.
"Nucular," Dean mimicked.
"No, Dean, nuclear," he tried again.
"Nuc-yoo-lar," Dean said through pursed lips, unwilling to budge.
"God, you're drunk," Sam rubbed his irritated eyes with his thumb and forefinger.
"Well, thank you, Stanford, for the educated assessment. Any more obvious facts you'd like to point out, or should we just stick to grammar for tonight?"
Dean pounded his empty beer bottle on the bar. "While I'm young!" he shouted at the bartender, a greasy obese man in a dirty tank top who looked from Dean to Sam with annoyance. Sam mouthed the words I'm sorry, and the bartender shook his head, opening another beer and bringing it over.
Once he had cleared away again, Sam put his hand on top of Dean's, preventing him from lifting the bottle off of the bar.
"Dean, what the fuck?"
Dean blinked his eyes thoughtfully. "Is there an echo in here?"
"You said you were coming out here for one drink, and then you'd be back to see what I found out about the area."
"Can I help it if the crowd here loves me?"
The long haired gentlemen at the pool table continued to shout over their game, completely oblivious of the brothers at the bar. The old men sitting at the tables seemed to be too drunk to even know where they were.
"And like I said," Sam went on, "it's snowing outside and I walked thirty minutes to get here because you took the car! What's up with you, man? Why would you skip out on a case like that? Why would you skip out on me?"
Dean furrowed his brow and lowered his chin like he always did when he was about to start yelling.
"And 'Don't Cry' by Guns N' Roses?" Sam spat indignantly, gesturing to the jukebox which he was currently yelling over. "Did you get dumped or something?"
Dean's lips pouted together like he was really putting an effort into holding back his anger. But when his emotion finally broke through, it wasn't anger at all. His eyes turned even redder than they already were and a tear squeezed out of each one as his shoulders shook with stifled sobs.
Sam stared on with his mouth hanging open. "Oh, my God, Dean. Did… did you get dumped?"
"Yeah, man," Dean whined, wiping the tears from his eyes only to have more fall out. "By you!"
"Um…" was Sam's only possible reply.
"You ask me why I would skip out on you?" Dean asked. "How about a week ago when you skipped out on me?"
"At the creepy hotel, man, with all the haunted dolls and shit! You got shit faced and left me to deal with it all alone!"
"Dean, we talked about this…"
"And I didn't say anything at the time because I figured that whatever was haunting that place was behind the way you were acting."
"It was!" Sam defended himself.
"But if you were being haunted, then you would have ended up killing yourself just like everybody else!"
"No, fuck you man!" Dean yelled, his old familiar anger finally rising to the occasion. "That wasn't a spirit and that wasn't some possessed doll fucking with your head. That was all you. That was a good old-fashioned case of you fagging out on me."
"Fagging out? Fuck, Dean, what are you…"
"I don't even like antiques!" Dean cut him off.
Sam slammed his palm on the bar, beginning to lose his cool. "For God's sake, can you forget about that woman thinking we were gay for even two seconds?"
"What am I supposed to think," Dean plodded on, ignoring Sam's remark, "when my brother gets drunk of his own free will and tells me to kill him?"
The tears sprang to his eyes again, and he wrenched the beer bottle away from Sam to take a long drink, nearly draining it.
Sam was unable to respond for a moment, suddenly realizing what he had really put his brother through that night at the hotel. So that's what this was about. He put an apologetic hand on Dean's arm.
"Look, man, I'm really sorry…"
"Don't." Dean yanked his arm away.
"But, Dean, we talked about this too. I meant what I said. If anything happens to me… if any changes happen to me, you have to—"
"Did you ever stop to think that if I kill you, I'll be the only member of our family left alive?"
Another zinger, and this one went straight to Sam's heart. He always appreciated Dean's protective attitude toward him, but he never really understood what was behind it until now. If Dean lost Sam, he wouldn't have anyone left. Sam lowered his head guiltily.
"You're right," he said. Dean didn't make a sound in response.
Wonderful. Sam clearly had bigger reparations to make if he had any hope of avoiding a week-long silent treatment. Which, when you spent all of your waking hours with the person giving you said treatment, was quite a long time indeed.
"And since I was being drunk and irrational," Sam said, "you had to wade through all of those thoughts alone. I'm the only one you have to talk to about stuff…"
Dean snorted as if to say he was over this conversation, but Sam could tell it was really a signal to keep going.
"Even if the stuff is stuff that's about me," Sam said slowly, "you still want me there so that we can hammer out ideas. But since I checked out on you by getting drunk…"
"Fagged out," Dean corrected.
"Checked out," Sam insisted.
"Barkeep!" Dean shouted, about to slam his beer bottle on the bar again.
"Okay, fagged out!" Sam conceded, catching the bottle before it hit. He shook his head at the bartender who looked at them curiously. The man went back to his dirty dishes. "I fagged out on you, okay?" Sam said a little more quietly.
"Mm-hmm," Dean agreed, still not making eye contact.
"I got drunk so the only person you have to talk to was effectively MIA."
"Fucked up, right?" Dean pressed.
"You're right," Sam nodded. "It is fucked up."
To say nothing of the fact that when they argued with each other, Sam so often found himself pleading Dean's case for him, like now, on account of Dean's inability to express his feelings. Even if he was drunk and weepy. But there's a time and a place for hashing out unhealthy family patterns, and they already seemed to have their plates pretty full at the moment, so Sam kept quiet on that one.
"I didn't mean to leave you by yourself with this," Sam apologized.
Dean didn't respond, clearly needing more.
"I could have found a better way to communicate with you?" Sam tried again.
Still no response.
Sam thought about it another moment, and then the right statement struck him. "I should have trusted you enough to be able to have that conversation without getting drunk and belligerent!"
"I'm approachable, aren't I?" Dean gushed, as Sam had perfectly hit his button with that last sentiment. "I mean, you always express your feelings to me! Even when they're totally retarded!"
"I'm here for you, aren't I?"
Sam laughed bitterly. "I guess so, Dean. In your own way, you're here for me."
"In my own way? What the hell does that mean?"
"I mean in the way that you call my feelings retarded. In the way that you practically pushed me into that drunken breakdown last week by goading me with all the other times that I've gotten broody and emo and stared sullenly out of windows lamenting the woeful insidiousness of our morbid existence."
Dean swayed dizzily in his seat. "Whoa, man," he held up an unsteady hand. "Syllables."
"Dean, I'm trying to tell you that you marginalize my feelings. I'm sorry if I scared you the other night, I really am. But is it any wonder I'm driven to mixing whisky and Jager when every time I try to have a real moment with you, you paint me to be some sappy little girly boy who 'fags out' over trivial shit?"
For nearly the first time since Sam arrived, Dean looked him in the eye, genuinely hearing what he had just said.
"I'm going through this too, man," Sam finished, turning away.
A long pause settled over them as a quiet settled over the bar. The bikers had finished their pool game and, one by one, they coupled up with their lady friends for a slow dance. Not surprisingly, the song they had requested was November Rain.
As the first melancholy bars of the interminable song began, Sam laughed again, this time with real humor.
"What?" Dean said defensively.
"I hate to use your own words against you," Sam chuckled. "But talk about broody and emo. Look at you, man. Smoky bar? Slow metal? You really went for it tonight."
Dean looked back at his brother with sad bloodshot eyes and a runny nose, completely missing the joke. Now this felt more familiar to Sam. Dean was more often the one getting drunk and needing taking care of. And it was clear that he needed Sam to say a few more things for him. Sam complied, this time with a softer tone.
"I'm better at expressing my emotions than you are," Sam began. Dean sniffled in approval and Sam went on. "So when there's something that I can't readily express to you, you figure it must be really bad."
That one warranted an actual nod from Dean. Good. Sam was on the right track.
"And if it's so bad that I actually get drunk and verbally abuse you…"
"You haven't done that since you left for college," Dean said flatly, but the emotion he was shoving down looked like it was about to rip him apart.
Sam put a hand on his arm again and this time, Dean didn't remove it. "Yeah, I was pretty shitty to you then too, wasn't I?"
Dean didn't nod this time, but merely looked deeply and sadly into Sam's eyes, boldly revealing the emotional scars that still remained from that memory.
"And this time made you wonder if I was going to leave you again," Sam finished.
"I can be less bossy," Dean whispered pleadingly.
Sam felt a sensation in his chest, somewhere between laughter and heartbreak, and he ran a hand through Dean's hair before he could stop himself. Dean closed his eyes with relief, taking in a slow breath.
"Nah, it's okay," Sam said. "I mean, someone's gotta keep me in line, huh?"
Dean smiled softly at that.
"You think that's funny?" Sam teased.
"Or true," Dean teased back. "I'm tired."
"Me too. Let's get out of here. We'll deal with the new case tomorrow."
Dean nodded and unsteadily got up from his stool.
"Keys, please," Sam intoned, holding out his hand.
Reaching deep into his pocket, Dean grabbed the keys and tossed them into his brother's hand. Sam motioned to the bartender. "Can we get our tab?"
The bartender shook his head no, then motioned over to the bikers who were still on the small dance floor. Sam looked from the bartender to the long haired crew in the corner, unsurely. He walked over with caution.
"Did… you get our tab?"
The largest man, who appeared to be the leader of the gang, stepped forward. He glanced over at Dean who was still standing next to the bar, then back at Sam who tensed up his muscles in anticipation of whatever was about to happen. "He looked pretty messed up when he came in," the guy said, nodding toward Dean. "I'm glad to see you two worked it out."
"Thanks…" Sam said doubtfully.
"You remind me of my son," the beefy man went on proudly. "He and his partner just celebrated their three-year anniversary."
"Oh. Oh!" Sam said, realizing what the man meant.
"You boys take care of each other, okay?"
The man smiled at Sam, revealing several missing teeth and a pair of kindly eyes. The other intimidating members of the group nodded in solemn approval.
"Oh, you don't understand," Sam tittered nervously. "We're not—"
"Officially partners yet," Dean interrupted staggering over to his brother's side. "But hopefully this one'll get ballsy enough to pop the question here soon. Right, hon?"
He slapped Sam on the ass roughly, and Sam gasped. "Dean…"
"Thanks for the drinks, fellas," Dean slurred to the group of men who uttered words of welcome and went back to their dance partners.
Sam grabbed Dean by the arm and dragged him to the door, Dean giggling all the way. When they got outside, they stopped just under the awning.
"Dean, what the fuck?"
Dean flinched. "Man, I swear to Christ you've already said that."
"What was that all about?"
"Oh come on, Sam, they paid for my drinks. What was I supposed to do, tell them they made a mistake?"
"I thought you didn't like antiques," Sam taunted.
"I don't," Dean stated firmly. "I guess the implication is just a little easier to hear coming from a man who rides a Harley."
Sam put his hands on his hips. "How do figure?"
Dean shrugged. "I'm drunk."
"Let's get out of here."
"Wait, wait, wait!"
Dean grabbed onto Sam's arm before he could begin the trek to the car and held him back beneath the awning.
Sam looked out into the street. The surrounding landscape was made up of nothing but trees and fields and only one street lamp right above the bar's parking lot. The snow continued to fall, and the flakes were enormous. They spiraled down silently through the air and landed softly onto the ground which was white and glowing for as far as they could see. Everything was quiet.
"It's beautiful," Sam said.
Dean stumbled slightly and then leaned his head on Sam's shoulder for support. Sam put an arm around him. They spent a few moments like that watching the snow fall.
"Can't we pretend for a while?" Dean asked softly, through a voice that was near to falling asleep.
"Hmm?" Sam asked.
"That there's nothing bad out there," Dean whispered. "It's just snow and quiet. And I don't ever have to hurt you?"
He breathed out slowly, and the warmth of his breath tickled Sam's neck in the cold night. "Yeah," Sam agreed, his heart breaking just a little more as he realized how much Dean depended on him. Sam had always felt like the needy one, the tag-along little brother who asked for too much. It had never really dawned on him how much Dean asked for too, even if he rarely asked in words. Sam smiled. "Yeah. We can pretend tonight."
"'Kay," Dean said, satisfied.
Sam carefully guided him out to the car, moving slowly enough that neither of them slipped on the increasingly icy pavement. When he got Dean to the passenger side of the Impala, Dean stopped him, staring up into his eyes with that look again, that look that said there was more to be said.
"What is it?" Sam asked.
Dean paused. "Do you really think I'm short?"
"When you were drunk. You said I was short." Another pause. Then quietly, "Like it was a bad thing."
Sam smiled. Drunk Dean was not his favorite character to be around. But drunk and drowsy Dean was a different matter altogether. He took Dean's face in his hands.
"Is it a bad thing that I can do this?" And he lowered Dean's face so that he could plant a kiss on the top of his head. Dean sighed happily and leaned his face against his brother's chest.
"I liked that," he said.
"I did too," Sam replied.
"Are we fagging out right now, Sammy?"
Sam shifted uncomfortably. "You need to find a better word, Dean."
"Do it again, and let me see what comes to me."
Sam raised Dean's face and kissed him under his left ear, eliciting another deep sigh.
Dean shook his head. "Nope. Better try again."
"Get in the car, jerk," Sam whispered. He maneuvered Dean into the car and ran around the other side to get in behind the wheel. "Bread and butter," he whispered once he was seated.
"Fuck off," Dean mumbled in reply, snuggling into Sam's chest as Sam started the car.
Sam laughed. "Dad would be disappointed with that response."
"Considering that the smell of your skin is giving me wood right now, I think bread and butter would be the least of Dad's concerns."
Dean was snoring softly before Sam gathered himself enough to answer back to that. He wondered if Dean was just too drunk to know what he was saying. And he especially wondered why his heart was pounding in excitement at what he had just heard.
What happened outside the car moments earlier was no big deal. Giving drunk and drowsy Dean affectionate kisses was one thing. It was rare, but it happened from time to time if Sam thought his brother was in need of some extra TLC that they could both pretend not to remember the next morning. An all-out sexual reference was something totally different, however, and Sam wasn't quite sure how to take it.
Eventually, he decided that he would let it be. Pretend, like Dean said. He would pretend that it was a normal thing between them, just for tonight. Pretend that the fact that Dean's comment honestly didn't bother him… didn't bother him. Because all pretending aside, Sam suddenly felt happier than he had in months.
"I'm glad we talked tonight, Dean," he whispered into his brother's hair.
Dean snored in response.
Sam drove them back to the motel in silence with sleeping Dean acting as a warm human seatbelt. The snow continued to fall and, in the spirit of pretending, they spent the night sleeping soundly in each other's arms.