Disclaimer: Not mine.
Beta'd: By Muffy Morrigan and Phx. Thanks, ladies!
Time Line: Tag to Sam Interrupted. Spoilers abound!
Dean wasn't an idiot. He knew. He knew that telling Sam to bury his anger wasn't a good plan, but quite frankly, he was all out of good ones. He knew what Sam burying pain and anger looked like, he'd seen it with Jessica, felt the aftermath after his own death.
So yeah, Dean knew, but the truth was he needed Sam in the game and right now that meant moving forward, not back. Long gone were the days he could tell his younger brother that there was nothing wrong with him, that everything would be alright, and that it wasn't Sam it was the wraith.
Sam no longer blindly trusted everything Dean said and a promise of nothing bad ever happening to him as long as Dean was around just didn't carry the same weight it once did. He meant those things, he always did, but he never should have made promises like that any more than Sam should have sworn to save him from hell. It only added guilt to a situation that was already almost without hope.
Essentially telling Sam to buck up and suck it up had its own pitfalls, not the least of which was his younger brother's brain never seemed to turn off. Ever. Didn't mean it was always telling him the right stuff, but it was always working - like it was now. Haunted hazel eyes that looked brown in the dim interior of the Impala, forehead curled with worry like a Basenji's. Sam was burying all right, but he wasn't forgetting.
Which was just par for the Winchester course, wasn't it?
Dean's eyes flicked back to the bumpy back road which was more of a trail than a place to take his car and he cringed when the front passenger tire hit a big pothole. "Damn it," he swore, foot easing off the gas pedal. "I am half crazy you know, have been for a long time."
Sam's forehead curled impossibly tighter. "What?"
"It's what you said to me when you were off your rocker with drugs," Dean said. "Well, before you honked my nose."
Instead of the added levity breaking Sam out of his thoughts, it seemed to draw him in further. "I said that?"
Even in the darkness, Dean could see the blush of embarrassment climbing Sam's neck. "Yeah, right before your face puckered like it did when you were a baby." The red climbed into Sam's face.
"You were such a dork."
"Thanks for that," Sam said, twisting to face Dean. "I was stoned out of my mind, you know."
Dean nodded, "I know, broken down to the most basic sense. No boundaries at all. You told me even if I was all the way crazy, that I was your brother and you still loved me."
"Oh God," Sam said, pinching his nose and closing his eyes. "Please tell me I didn't sing 'White Rabbit.'"
"Really, Jefferson Airplane? Although Grace Slick was pretty hot." Dean laughed, patting Sam on the knee. "No, you didn't sing it, but you meant what you said, right?"
Sam dropped his hand, opened his eyes and scrunched his face. "What kind of question is that, Dean? Of course, I would."
"See, that's what I thought, too. Chick flick moment or not, you were every bit my little brother, just…uninhibited in your thoughts and personal space," Dean said.
Sam groaned, "Next subject."
"No, I kind of like this one," Dean said. He slowed to avoid another pothole. "Anyway, my point is, hopped up on whatever they gave you, you still saw the truth. That I had cracked, and Sam, I had. When Martin and I were trying to figure out what was going on I remembered what you said and that's how I knew that crazy was the clue. I trusted that my brother, of all people, knew exactly what he was seeing when he looked at me."
Sam chuckled, a welcome sound to Dean's ears. "Well then, I guess 'you're welcome.' I'm glad I called you half crazy."
Dean laughed, "Yeah, me too."
The car fell silent again, the air hanging much lighter between them. Dean turned out onto the main highway, flooring the accelerator. "Wanna know what I saw when I looked at you?"
The lingering smile fell off Sam's face and he swallowed hard. "Okay," it was almost a whisper, tentative and unsure.
"Last year notwithstanding," Dean started before a protest from Sam cut him off.
"You can't ignore last year," Sam said.
"I can," Dean continued, "because that guy last year? I barely recognized him at times. Do you know why?"
"Yeah, I do," Sam said, shame lacing his every word.
"No, I don't think you do," Dean said, his tone sharper than he intended. "It's because you were angry all the time, Sam. You were cold towards people, and flipped from unemotional to hot without warning."
Sam flinched under his words, but did nothing to defend himself, an action that only spurred Dean to continue. "I barely recognized you, because that was not the same brother I'd seen my whole life."
"Dean, I've always had times when I was angry," Sam disagreed, shaking his head.
"Hell yeah, Sam, we both have reasons to be angry, righteously angry," Dean said. "But like I told you when I was in your room, you've always been a happy drunk. My brother, blasted out of his mind, isn't angry. He's just Sam to the annoyingly tenth degree: a caring, thoughtful geek of astronomic proportions. You weren't angry talking to me, you were happy."
Sam didn't reply. He just fidgeted, playing with the edge of his robe, but Dean could tell he was thinking. He didn't expect Sam to agree with him right now, maybe never, but Dean also knew his brother would store it away to mull it over and over again in his mind until he figured out what it meant.
Dean smiled, turning the radio on low. A passing car briefly lit the interior and he caught a glimpse of the thoughtful expression on his brother's face. At least Sam didn't look scared of himself anymore. "Sam, your anger doesn't define you. It's just part of you, it's not who you are."
It was silent for several beats other than the quiet notes from the stereo. "Thanks," Sam said, finally.
He waited until his brother made eye contact with him. "Now bury it," Dean said. "Bury it deep, because the helplessness over our supposed destinies and the frustration and anger that comes from being manipulated, hitting wall after wall, that's not going away. But we're in this thing together."
"I'll try," Sam promised. "I'm with you."
Within moments the quiet drone of the tires on the tarmac lulled Sam to sleep. Dean smiled fondly. He might need his brother in arms to fight by his side, but he also needed his brother not only to keep him sane, but because he was simply who he was. He was Sam.
AN: My husband and I watched this episode together and when it was over he said, "I loved that one, except, why the downer last thirty seconds? That kind of sucked."
To which I replied, "Eh, that's Kripke. Drop the emotional bombshell and run."
Then he gave me this look that said I'd clearly out-geeked his interest in the subject matter. So, I listened to him talk about Magic the Gathering for a few minutes as penance. Oh yeah, that's not nerdy at all, hon.
LOL. So, although he'll never read it – this tag was for him. :)
I fully expect to be Kripke'd as early as next week.