They said the hunt was successful, but if successful is me driving Dean's car, and Dean in the back seat with Sam's bloodied and battered body laying on his lap, then I didn't want to know what an unsuccessful hunt was.
"Faster Aaron, faster." Dean muttered. It was the first time he actually called me by my given name, and I found that I would rather be called "pretty boy." At least then I wouldn't have to hear the pain and fear in his voice. That seemed worse than anything else I'd ever heard. The two of them may have some issues, but one thing was for absolute certain they were each other's world. Not in a weird, incest kind of way, not in a codependent sort of way. It was a relationship founded on love, trust, common memories, and respect. The two of them would do anything for each other, they would go to the farthest reaches of the planet, or even to hell and back for the other, and that was admirable.
"I'm going as fast as I can. I promise."
We got to the motel room and Dean wouldn't allow me to help him carry Sam, even though Dean struggled under his brother's weight and gangly limbs. I opened the doors for him dumbly because I needed to do something. No sooner had I closed the door and Dean had his brother on the bed then I was sent on errands back and forth to the car.
I retrieved medical supplies and their duffels, and was put to work being a doctor's assistant, and I watched as Dean put dental floss stitches into his brother's abdomen, and leg, and then I watched as he leaned over and whispered "I'm sorry Sammy." And with a grimace popped Sam's shoulder back into place, that sadly was the only thing that roused Sam from unconsciousness even for a moment, and when Dean's eyes met Sam's they were filled with compassion and reassurance. But the moment Sam's eyes closed again, Dean's eyes returned to displaying fear, worry, and plain and simple wariness. When Dean was sure that Sam was down for the count he fell into the chair he had me put next to Sam's bed and stared at his little brother.
I suddenly felt like an intruder, my services were no longer needed, and it felt like a moment that I wasn't invited to witness, too private, too full of pain and grief.
I stood to leave and Dean began to talk. "I've sat by his bedside like this too many times." He said. I turned, he was talking to me, but not TO me. He was looking at his brother while he continued. "He died about three years ago." Dean's voice was thick, he licked his lips and sat forward and stared harder at his brother. "I sold my soul because I couldn't' stand the idea of living alone, of living without him. It's not that I love him like THAT or anything, but he's been my world since I was four years old and my dad put him in my arms and told me to protect him. I've protected him so long, that I don't know who I am without that part of me." He ran a hand down his face. "Yeah," he gave a sad laugh. "I do. I'm not someone I want to know."
I felt suddenly like a priest listening to a confession, and found myself sitting down on the other bed gently, afraid of disturbing Dean's confession. "I went to hell for him. And while I was down there, I fantasized that he was living his life, away from hunting, away from the life he never liked, and I imagined that he had his own family, his own kids, and I imagined that he named one of his sons Dean." Dean snorted and sat back against the back of the chair. "That was what got me through most of my time in hell. That's the only way I could make it, the only way I could endure the never ending pain and torture. But when I got back, I found out that he betrayed me. Betrayed everything we stood for, was drinking demon blood for God's sake. I lost sight for a while what was important, hell, I'm not sure if I have it in perspective now."
"You never realized just how much Sam needed you?" I ventured to say.
"I guess. I always figured that since he went to Stanford, and was able to always leave me behind that when I died, he….he would be able to survive, maybe even thrive. I never thought…."
"That your death would take the same toll on him that his took on you?" Dean nodded.
"I just didn't think. I haven't done my job very well. I haven't protected him like I should, but I've done all that I know how. It just hasn't been enough." And with that Dean quit speaking, and it wasn't as if he just stopped talking, it was like he pulled the whole world down around him and Sam, like he tucked it around them and kept them safe from the outside world, and the world only consisted of the two of them. It left me feeling cold.
The next time I saw Dean, it was unexpected, and I was totally unprepared. The show was picked up, hell we'd made it to a second season, fans were nuts, and wonderful and devoted as hell, and they made sure we made it, and I was sitting on a chair in dark dank set, waiting for the director to call action, and for Andrew to do his best to look dead, when I saw Dean and Sam walk in from the back of the room. Dean used his hunter's eye to look at the scene before him, and he actually took a step back and blanched. Sam smiled a little and waved and then stuck his hands deep into his pockets, discomfort radiating off of him like heat from metal in the summer.
I swallowed hard. This wasn't an audience I had been prepared to perform in front of. I had already had the director cut this scene down to the fewest shots possible, because I wanted to give it my all, and I already could feel the tears welling behind my eyes, and the emotions churning in my stomach. Dean looked like he wanted to fly, like he wanted to escape, and Sam looked at him and seemed to give him some form of confidence.
The director called us to our places, the set was quieted down, and action was called, and I began my monologue.
"Ya' know when we were little. When you couldn't have been more than five. You just started asking questions. How come we didn't have a mom, why did we always have to move around, where did dad go? He would take off for days at a time. I remember I begged you to quit asking Sammy, you didn't want to know. I just wanted you to be a kid just for a little while longer. I always tried to protect you. Keep you safe. Dad didn't even have to tell me, it was just always my responsibility, you know. It's like I had one job. One job and I screwed it up. I blew it. And for that I'm sorry. I guess that's what I do. I let down the people I love. I let Dad down, and now I guess I'm just supposed to let you down too. How can I? How am I supposed to live with that? What am I supposed to do? Sammy. God. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?!
I didn't look away from Andrew, I watched as his body laid there still and lifeless, and I thought about how much I would miss him, then I thought about Dean, and how much he would miss Sammy, how much he did miss Sammy, and the tears flowed, my voice hitched, and I truly began to cry. I wiped at my face, and I continued with the scene, giving each and ever ounce of myself as I spoke that monologue. And eventually, I didn't even realize that I was speaking my lines, I felt like I was truly saying these things out of my own head, that they were my words to speak, and that it was my heartbreak and my devastation that I was feeling, not my character's. And we did the scene four times, because that was all I could take, and when we were done, Andrew came over and checked on me, patted my back as I worked my way back down from the emotional abyss that I had fallen into. Once I had my shit together, I looked for Sam and Dean, and only found Sam, he was walking onto the set, he was standing in front of the bed that Andrew had been laying on and he looked wounded and sad beyond words.
I excused myself from Andrew, thanked him with a pat on the back, and went to Sam. Sam stood there for a moment and he looked as if he wanted to speak, and I waited and he finally said, "Dean couldn't take it after the first run through. He all but ran. But I couldn't leave. I couldn't not see this over and over again. I felt like I had to, like I had to keep seeing it to understand it. And I do, I understand now." Sam said and gave me his full attention, and his eyes were swimming in tears. "I know now why Dean sold his soul." The tears started down his face, and he gave an embarrassed smile, pried his hands out of his pockets and wiped his face. "You and him." He nodded towards Andrew, and I looked where he was pointing and found him with one of the grips laughing and carrying on about something, and then I turned back to Sam and waited for him to continue. "You and him." He repeated after swallowing the lump in his throat. "You're like me and Dean. I watch the show. Dean doesn't always. But I always try. I also saw some of the conventions on youtube, you guys really are like brothers, you are like us. You guys got it right. And if you guys get everything else right, then I have to believe that you got this right." He motioned to the bed. "I didn't know.." He choked up, cleared his throat, and continued. "I didn't know that Dean was that devastated. I thought he did it because he didn't want to live anymore after what happened to Dad, thought he was selfish. But truly, it wasn't any of that.." he said and stared down at the fake blood stain on the bed.
"I woke up scared, and in pain. But Dean came back to me, and he hugged me so tight, and I…" he stopped and searched for words. "I should have known better." We stood there in silence and then as if cued to end the awkward moment Andrew showed up and slapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey there! Andrew Prichard." He stuck his hand out to Sam and Sam starred at him and finally said.
"I'm Sam Winchester." Andrew's hazel eyes lighted up with mirth.
"Serious." Andrew's face fell and he looked to me questioningly, and over the last two years we had developed our own silent communication, I told him that it was in fact Sam Winchester. We had become the best of friends since this whole thing started and I told him one night about the real Sam and Dean Winchester, and about the hunt, and about the epic family bond they shared. Andrew's eyes were wide and he licked his lips.
"It's an honor to meet you." I patted Andrew on the back and left him with Sam and I went on the hunt for the older brother. I found Dean not too far from the stage and he was standing there staring at nothing and tears were streaming down his face.
"Dean?" He didn't answer, he didn't move. "Dean?" I tried again now standing right next to him.
"You got it right you know. That is exactly how it happened. I just couldn't watch it. I couldn't' live it again. You were doing it…doing it just so…" Dean was at a loss for words and I looked down at my shoes, trying to give him some measure of dignity. He took a deep breath and said, "I couldn't' live the worst day of my life again."
"Worse than getting torn to shreds by hell hounds?" Dean nodded and swallowed hard. "Worse than hell? Worse than being betrayed?" Dean turned to me and his eyes were intense, the same intensity that I had seen while we were hunting.
"Holding my little brother while the life drained out of him, not able to do anything to help him, feeling his body go limp, feeling the last breath leave him. That is the worst thing I have ever lived through. That was worse than dying. I was supposed to protect him. It was…"
"…your job." I finished. And Dean nodded.
"And I think you understand that." I nodded, because somewhere in the middle of the dialogue, I realized that it was the worst thing in the world to live through. Sam and Andrew came outside and interrupted our camaraderie.
"Dean we need to get going."
"We do." He said softly and took a deep breath and pulled the keys out of his pocket.
"You keep doin' what you're doin' pretty boy. You're doing it right." Dean finally said and I was speechless. That was high praise from the man who I admired more than any other, the man who was willing to sacrifice everything so others wouldn't have to suffer the same pain that he had endured his whole life. "Come on Sammy. Let's leave pretty boy and his pretty boy brother to do what they do best. We've got to go and do what we do best." Sam nodded and the two brothers waved bye and walked shoulder to shoulder out of the lot.