Disclaimer: This is a transformative work of fiction based on the original creation of E. Kripke. This is purely for entertainment purposes and no profit is being made.
A/N: There aren't really any spoilers specifically, except that it is set in a split second from the promo for the 100th episode. So in a way, I guess that means spoilers for everything.
Dean sat slumped on the cot by the wall in Bobby's panic room.
Sam's heart felt like molten lead in his chest. That feeling alternated with the feeling that his heart was going to burst. Rage warred with despair and wound through every square inch of his body. It felt almost like when Dean had died.
But even when all hope was lost, when the hellhounds were coming, Dean was still snarking and fighting…. And… still Dean. But this? Sam couldn't take this. He couldn't live with this. He couldn't live with the fact that he had helped to cause this. He couldn't. And he wouldn't. He wouldn't be the cause of his brother's despair, of his brother's pain because so much of it was based on misunderstanding.
Dead, despairing eyes looked back at him. Possibly there was a flare of anger. A flare of betrayal. Gone almost before they were there. But otherwise no response.
Sam reached out and grabbed his brother, dragging him in front of the mirror.
That at least got a reaction and Dean resisted, struggling against his brother's hold.
Even though Sam had "hulked out" over the last year and now had the advantage of height and weight over his brother, he didn't think it would ever be this easy to manhandle his brother – and it wasn't because Dean wasn't resisting. He was. But Sam hadn't realized the toll that depression, drinking, and not eating was taking on his brother. Dean was a shadow of himself in more ways than one.
So Sam found himself with one arm curled around Dean's chest, pinning him to his own chest and the other hand restraining Dean's arms behind his back – a sort of backwards hug – with both of them staring at the other in the mirror in front of them, chests heaving and breathing ragged.
"Sam. What the hell?"
"Sam! Let me the hell go." Dean increased his struggles, seemingly frantic not to have to look at himself or his brother in the mirror.
"Dean! Just stop, already!" Sam tightened his hold, shaking his brother to still him.
"What the hell is your problem now? Why can't you just leave me the fuck alone?" Dean growled even as he stilled.
Sam sighed as he felt the fight just melt out of his brother.
"What do you see, Dean?"
"A whiny bitch who can't take no for an answer." Dean actually looked Sam directly in the eyes – in the mirror – as he growled his reply. Sam was grateful for the contact.
"You never can make anything easy, can you?" Sam couldn't stop the huff at the end.
"Nope. Fuck up, remember, Sam? I never get anything right." The growl was gone replaced by bitterness.
"That's not what I see."
"Really. Well all-seeing-one. Enlighten me. What the hell do you see? Cuz I see heaven and hell's bitches. I see one guy that's a loser and another that's shackled to him. Forced together. One guy who can't get away and the loser who keeps following him." Dean was breathing harshly and Sam could feel his heart racing under his arm.
"I don't see that at all," Sam sighed and let his forehead fall against the back of his brother's head for a moment. Gathering his own strength. It was time he gave some of it back to his brother who had been the one keeping him going his whole life.
"Why can't you see what everyone else sees?"
"A good looking, not-to-bright, guy with no prospects?"
"NO. A kind, self-sacrificing, smart, brave, stubborn, tough sonuvabitch," Sam borrowed his brother's favourite word.
Dean huffed his denial in response.
"What do you see, Dean?" Sam prodded gently again.
"I see two guys that just keep getting the shitty end of the stick," Dean finally conceded.
"I see two brothers. One who's always been the big brother, doing everything he can to protect the little one, to shelter him and keep him safe."
"Yeah. Bang up job there, right Sammy?"
"Shut up for once Dean and just listen."
Dean took a breath like he was going to respond, but against his better judgment, he'd also picked that moment to look back into the mirror and into his brother's eyes. The eyes that he remembered growing up with, that he hadn't seen in what seemed like a very, very long time. Eyes that seemed to come right from his brother's heart, brimming with emotion. Emotions other than anger and hatred and resentment. And that shut Dean up.
"I see a brother who always felt that he came first and that he deserved to come first because that's where he'd always been put. He felt stifled and confined and isolated by the bigger brother. He felt like he was never good enough and that no one ever listened to him."
Dean's face wore the pinched, wounded look that cut Sam's heart to the quick. Dean had dropped his eyes to the floor again.
"And I see a little brother who was wrong about a lot of things."
Dean jerked a little and his eyes came back up to meet Sam's in the mirror.
"I didn't understand what you'd given up, Dean. It never occurred to me that you had any other wishes or desires other than following Dad's orders. I never knew that you wanted things. I mean you've always seemed to go after anything you wanted. Dad left you in charge. You got to make all the decisions, so I assumed you got everything you wanted. I assumed that because it's what I wanted – to be in charge, to be the one making the decisions. I didn't know what a burden that could be. Not until now. I never knew how badly and deeply you felt things. I just took for granted that you'd always be there for me and for Dad because you always were. I never considered the toll that took on you. I never considered that you didn't think you deserved the same things I wanted."
Sam paused. He had to get this right.
"It never occurred to me because you never said. I never stopped to consider what effect my actions really had on you. I know it sounds stupid and selfish… but Dean? You raised me that way. You put me first, so that's what I learned. It's not because I thought less of you. My God! How many times do I have to tell you that I idolized you when I was a kid. That I still do. I wanted your strength and your swagger. The way you never seemed to care about what other people thought. I had no idea that things hurt you just as badly as they hurt me… because you never told me. In fact, you went out of your way to make sure that I never knew."
"So. It's still my fault?" Dean's eyes were downcast again, his voice defeated.
"NO, you stupid bastard! Listen to what I'm trying to tell you!"
Dean's eyes met Sam's in defiance again.
"I get it now. I hurt you, and I'm sorry. It doesn't mean I don't love you. It doesn't mean I didn't love you then! It does mean I was a self-centered brat with obsessive tendencies – and that's DAD's fault – not yours."
"Oh." Sam could see the penny start to drop.
"I can't change the past. Neither of us can. But we can change the future. But only if you let me help you. Let me give you some of my strength when you need it. God knows, I'm gonna need to rely on yours."
Sam's vision blurred a little as he struggled to contain his emotion, he looked away from the mirror finally. His gaze was drawn back when Dean cleared his throat.
"Ok," he said.
"Yeah. I'll try. Maybe I haven't done such a great job in seeing things from your point of view without screwing everything up through my own fucked up perspective either."
Sam half huffed half chuckled.
"Do you think you could let me out of this ginormous chick flick moment?"
"Sure Dean." Sam squeezed his brother once more before releasing him.
Dean turned and looked his brother directly in the eye.
Both brothers saw something new and something as familiar as breathing. They saw their brother.
A/N: Not sure this exactly captured what I wanted it to. I wanted to honor where both boys are emotionally. Why Dean is hurt so badly and why Sam doesn't seem to be able to fix it. Have no fear though – I know that Kripke will fix our boys before he leaves them – AND I know he will do a much better job than I have here… and now it's back to the 10, 000 words on ISP protections and legal connections that I have to write by Friday at midnight – yes. My prof said that I could slip it under his door up until 11:59pm…