A Brother's Trust
Summary: As Sam struggles with the knowledge of what he might've done while soulless, Dean fights to make sure his brother doesn't learn two things from that time that could shake the foundation of their newly rebuilt bond but he soon finds that there's more than forgiveness involved in A Brother's Trust. / Emotionally drained Sam! Angsty/big brother Dean.
Tags: Spoiler warnings to S6-EP12, Like A Virgin…I try to keep the spoilers light but if you haven't watched the episode then you might want to not read this until you have.
Warnings: No violence, minor swearing. No slash, just normal brotherly fluff.
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys or any mention herein. Eric Kripke and The CW have that pleasure. I'm just using them for some temporary enjoyment.
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"Castiel! Get your feathered ass down here…NOW!"
To say Dean Winchester was beyond angry would be an understatement to anyone who knew him. The hunter had been having one hell of a week. It started when he 'died' just to talk to Death. Then he discovered just how much natural selection sucked and how much he sucked at being 'Death'. Failing the bet with Death that was supposed to get him his little brother's soul back paled in comparison to returning to South Dakota just in time to stop the aforementioned younger brother from killing the man who was like a father to them.
Stopping Sam from killing Bobby just capped a bad day. Locking his soulless brother back in the panic room just finished Dean's night. Deciding on a way to handle having a brother who wasn't capable of making a right or wrong choice anymore that didn't involve killing him had been draining until Death decided to return Sam's soul…and then the real fun started.
"Cas! I'm giving you five seconds to drop whatever it is you're doing and beam into Bobby's!" Dean was getting madder the longer it went that he was ignored.
He hadn't been happy with his Angel friend since the Apocalypse ended. Castiel had been getting colder, more distant again and now he was beyond stiff. When he realized the length Cas was willing to go for information though made Dean wonder who was more soulless: his brother or the Angel.
The last time Dean had seen Castiel it hadn't been a good meeting since the trench coat wearing Sheriff of Heaven had been pissed at how Sam had regained his soul and had come straight out to tell Dean that he should've just killed Sam rather than put the mangled thing back inside his brother. Then the Angel had blinked out and Dean had been left dealing with his doubts, his fears, and Bobby.
Bobby's concerns over Sam were totally justified and Dean knew that. He accepted that his friend would never fully trust Sam again…or at least for a long while considering the kid had just tried to kill him. However, Sam was Dean's brother, his responsibility and all he had to want to keep going on for…so getting that soul back in whatever shape it was in had never been a question.
Dean had been more worried when his brother didn't wake up right away so he'd been upstairs with Bobby talking over a case when he heard the best sound in the world…a sound that he hadn't heard in well over a year. His name spoken by his brother with actual, honest emotion and then he blanked out the rest to concentrate on just returning the full-blown, full-Sammy emotional hug that he found himself in.
He had pushed back the hug that he'd given Sam months earlier upon learning that he was still alive because for Dean, that was nothing. That wasn't his brother and in some ways he supposed he should've known from that night that something was wrong with his brother because Sam had been born overly emotional and there was nothing that night.
The hug a few days earlier reminded Dean of the way his brother had latched onto him the first time he saw Dean again after Dean's return from Hell only this time Sam had held on tighter and Dean knew it was taking every ounce of strength in his kid brother not to break down. Of course, he then learned that Sam believed the events with Lucifer had just happened.
Scowling as he paced the back lot of Bobby's salvage yard, Dean traced a symbol in the dust caked on one old junk car and recalled the last forty-eight hours. After Sam had woken up and had shown more emotion than Dean had seen since the year before he went to Hell, he didn't have the heart to tell the kid about how he'd been the past year…plus he also didn't want to push that wall that Death had put up.
The one warning that Death had offered was not to scratch the wall or Sam's sanity may suffer so while Dean didn't know everything Sam had done, he did know of some stunts he pulled since they got back together and had no plan to tell his brother about those missing months. Even if Bobby wasn't on board with that plan, Dean wasn't going to risk Sam's mind or risk losing him again this soon if he could keep from it and that plan worked out great.
He still recalled the inner joy he felt the first time Sam cracked a joke at him, or made some comment only his little brother could. Or the way he turned those big puppy dog eyes on the victim's sister when they went to talk to her on the dragon case…he still couldn't believe they were looking into actual dragons, but his brother was back and he was thrilled. Even if he did have to lie in a couple places but that would've been fine too. The plan was sound if only he hadn't left Sam alone to go to San Francisco to check out a lead Bobby gave him about a weapon to kill a dragon and his well laid plan to protect his brother from the truth flew out the window on the wings of an Angel with a really big mouth.
Taking a glance at his watch, Dean gauged how long it had been since he'd left his brother sleeping upstairs in the room they always shared while visiting and blew out a final disgusted breath. "Fine, that's how you want to play it?" he muttered under his breath, fingering something he had in the pocket of his jean jacket before deciding he was done playing. "Cas! I know you can hear me and I know you know what I want which is why you aren't showing up so here's how this is gonna go. Sometime in this war you got going on up in Heaven, you will want something from Sam and me. I've never refused you…well not much but this time when you show up asking for our help I'm going to tell you to go jump in a deep fryer and Holy Oil your damn ass! Now get…"
Refusing to jump or show how much he hated it when the Angel would arrive without making a sound, Dean made certain to count to twenty before turning around with his usual smirk. "So, you have a hot date or were you just ignoring me on purpose?"
Still having difficulty understanding mortal slang and always having trouble understanding Dean's version of slang, Castiel looked blank for a couple moments before he figured out the sarcasm and the actual question. "I…don't date," he replied slowly, missing the low groan the hunter gave as he shrugged. "I was dealing with other matters in Heaven when you called."
"No, when I call that's in my normal everything's fine, everything's good tone. This is my highly pissed off, how the hell could you do the one thing I did not want done tone," Dean corrected sharply, stepping closer to the Angel. "Got an answer for me, Cas?"
"I take it this is about Sam?" Castiel had assumed as much when he heard the shout for him but it was arriving to see how agitated Dean was that finally clued him in. He knew there were only two things that would upset Dean faster than anything else and those were his car and his brother.
Staring hard at Castiel as if he'd just grown a third head, Dean almost felt like reaching for the jug of Holy Oil he knew he had handy but was refusing to use…yet. "No, it's about Santa Claus being a demon. Of course it's about Sam!" he snapped, wondering how the hell Castiel had gone from an almost cool guy back to where he was when they'd first met. "You told him!"
"Ah, you're upset because I answered Sam when he asked me some questions," nodding, now Castiel saw the problem. He just didn't quite understand it. "Sam wasn't aware that he had lost his soul, Dean. When he asked me…"
"No, he didn't know he'd lost his soul and he didn't know how he got it back!" the too calm, uptight tone was pissing him off more so needing to put distance between himself and the Angel, Dean began to pace restlessly. "I didn't want him to know that. He didn't need to know that and it was fine that he didn't know that and what he'd been doing until you came along to tell him! Now, instead of having an overly emotional Sam with just minor questions that I could shrug off, I'm forced to deal with a really guilty feeling Sam who is determined to find out everything he's done and make it better! So thank you very much, Cas!"
"Sam asked me a question, Dean. I couldn't lie to him about how he was or what it was like," Castiel replied, sighing when the fist that struck his jaw barely moved him but did hurt the one throwing the punch. "Didn't you learn from before that hitting me only hurts you, Dean?"
Nearly snarling back, Dean jerked his now throbbing fist back to check for himself that nothing was broken. "You sure as hell lied to me a lot in the beginning so now you forget how when it's just my brother's mind at stake?" he scoffed, refusing to allow his friend to heal the pain while motioning with his good hand. "I told you everything Death said about that wall he put up. I didn't want Sam knowing that he'd been running around as Robo Sam for over a year and a half & I didn't want him to know the crap he's done because I don't want to push the strength of that wall! I just wanted my brother and you had to open your mouth."
"I gave Sam the truth he was asking for," Castiel began, stepping back to avoid the fist this time.
"Sam can't handle the truth!" Dean snapped then sighed as he ran his fingers restlessly through his short hair. "I would've told him something some time…just not this soon."
Noticing the small monitor that Dean kept looking toward, Castiel guessed what it was but made no mention of it as he watched his friend pace. "I thought you said you were tired of the lies between you and Sam," he remarked calmly, seeing the eyebrow shoot up in warning but ignoring it. "You told me once that it was the lies that went on after you returned from Hell that caused so much distance between you and Sam and allowed so many people to manipulate you so if you're tired of the lies, why would you lie to him now?"
"Okay, Dr. Phil, now that you're done psycho-analyzing me," Dean snorted, knowing he needed to hide the TVs when Castiel came to visit because there was clearly worse things than porn for the Angel to watch. "There's a huge difference in lying to Sam and keeping things from him that'll hurt him," he informed Castiel grimly before laughing dryly. "Hell, I have a head full of crap from when he was a kid that would've destroyed Sam if I had ever told him, Cas. This just would've been more of the same but at least I would've been sure that his sanity would hold. I don't know what the hell else he did while hunting with our so-called family and…"
"Protecting Sam is admirable, but foolish, Dean," Castiel told him grimly, missing the sharp look that was sent his way. "You knew the risks of him finding out the truth or of breaking that wall when you allowed Death to put that thing back inside your brother so…"
Not caring if he did break his hand, Dean went for the Angel's throat as he got too close to repeating his earlier comment. "I would risk going back to Hell for that kid and it wasn't an either/or thing here, Cas. It was either put Sam's soul back in or find a way to kill both of us because I wasn't killing him and I wasn't losing him again either. I was ready to handle the fallout but I wanted him to have some time with me and Bobby, have the time to get used to being himself without the stress or hassles before I dropped a load of crap on him," walking away, Dean looked back with an expression that Castiel recognized as worry mixed with hope. "When he hugged me, it was like when he was a kid and I'd been gone hunting with Caleb or Bobby. I'd come back and Sam would just latch on and hold on. This is the brother I haven't seen since my deal came due, Cas and I don't want to lose that. Not yet."
"Then when will you tell him the rest?" Castiel queried, seeing the confusion in the emerald green eyes that turned to face him. "I only told Sam certain things, Dean. Yes, I told him that he had been without his soul for that missing time. I told him some things that I knew like this last incident with Bobby but I didn't tell him other things."
Wary, Dean stopped pacing long enough to come closer since he knew it was easier to get his friend to tell him the truth if he could watch his face. "What…what didn't you tell him?" he'd worry about just how the Angel had known all this later since if he did it now he'd get angrier.
"I didn't tell him that you left the life you'd built with the woman and her son for him. I didn't tell him about his refusal to take the Impala when you offered it. I didn't tell Sam about what happened to you after those fairies kidnapped you…" Castiel was quick to get off that topic when he noticed the way Dean's face tightened. "I didn't tell Sam about the hooker he was with or that rather interesting girl he met during that whole fairy thing. I didn't tell him what he said to you in that park and I certainly didn't tell him about the vampires. I only told Sam general things, Dean. I knew it would hurt him far more to know that he had done things to hurt you than mere strangers…especially that he allowed you to be…"
"He will never find that out," Dean warned in a hard voice, not liking to remember those incidents either but he was damn sure that his little brother would never find out about them. "I'll handle him wanting to make restitution for the other stuff he did but I will never let him find out about the last few months… especially the vampire thing."
Determined that he would never understand most mortals and never the minds of the Winchesters, Castiel only shook his head. "Sam will eventually learn of it, Dean. If not from you, then from Bobby or a mention from someone else since Samuel Campbell was there for that matter when Sam allowed you to be turned into a vampire just to find out more details on the Alpha Vampire."
"It wasn't Sam now let it drop," Dean warned, needing to keep believing that himself since it had been that night that had told Dean that something was seriously wrong with his brother. "Sam when he's Sam wouldn't have done any of the things that other 'Sam' did and he doesn't need to know…"
Normally very detached and level-headed, Castiel took the elder Winchester by surprise when he shoved him back a step in a rare show of anger. "You held a grudge against Sam for months when he chose that demon whore over you. You let him go off on his own because you couldn't trust him after Lucifer was set free but because he was without a soul you can forgive him this easily when he sleeps with some hippie chick, your words, while you're being used as a toy for the fairies?" he demanded, clearly confused by the change in behavior. "When he told you that he had no feeling towards the innocent you helped or you for that matter or when he stands by to watch as you get turned into a vampire? This you can forgive, Dean?"
Jaw twitching in anger that he vowed to keep buried, Dean was about to try his luck at punching the Angel again when the sound of something falling from behind them made him whirl away from the still muttering Sheriff of Heaven. Expecting to see that Bobby had come looking for him only to turn to meet the wide, shocked hazel eyes of… "Sam."
Waking up to find his brother not in their room or the house for that matter, Sam had come outside in search of Dean since he knew it was odd for him to have left the house while he was still being this protective.
Sneaking past Bobby hadn't been a problem since he'd been on the phone with the lady whose sword Dean had broken while exploding the rock it was stuck in which still made Sam smile, knowing it takes a lot of crap to make his ultra cool brother to lose his and break into their stash of plastic explosives.
Knowing that Dean would never go that far from the house in case he or Bobby would call for him, Sam took a guess at where his brother was and why he'd be there this late at night. Sam wasn't surprised that his brother had called Castiel since he knew Dean had been upset that their friend had told Sam the truth but what did confuse him was that he was certain there were things that the Angel hadn't told him and he couldn't understand why he'd keep things from him.
Hearing the loud voices told Sam that Dean was beyond pissed but the tone Cas was using was a complete shock since Sam had never heard the Angel use an actual angry tone before and never on Dean who had a tone that told Sam his brother was worried and angry.
He'd been about to call for Dean when Castiel's next words reached him and it was all Sam could do not to fall over in shock. He had known that the Angel hadn't told him everything but he'd assumed his own memories would resurface in time. He had also sensed that Dean was still keeping something from him but he hadn't wanted to push that this soon since he knew his brother was trying to protect him. Hearing what Castiel just said rocked the younger man to his core.
Sam had known that he'd probably done some things that he and Dean won't like but he'd never once allowed himself to think that while he'd been without a soul he had actually said or done something to harm his brother. The images that Cas's words brought made Sam sick. Sick enough that he wasn't alert enough when catch the piece of loose metal that fell from the car he was by when he had to lean against it to just stay standing.
The noise of metal falling seemed like a bomb going off in Sam's already whirling brain but he couldn't move yet so his eyes were still wide with shock as they locked onto his brother's and he read the flash of emotions reflected back from Dean. But in his confusion, misread them and the hard edge on his brother's face as panic set in and Sam knew he had to get out before he lost what food he'd taken in and not wanting to see anger or hate that Dean wouldn't have time to hide or shield.
"I'm…I'm sorry," he managed to get out, backing away too quickly only to trip over something that had been lying on the ground but kept trying to move when Dean took a step toward him. "I didn't…know. You should've…Dean…you know that…God, NO!" Sam shouted, throwing a hand up as if to protect himself when his brother took another step and finally got back to his feet and ran off in the direction of the house.
"Sam!" Dean yelled but knew it wouldn't help now. His brother was in confused panic mode and wouldn't stop running until he got to where he figured it was safe…or Dean stopped him, which was what he planned to do but first he had something else to do. "Cas?"
Running a hand over the back of his neck in a pure human gesture, Castiel cleared his throat awkwardly. "Yes, Dean?"
"You'd better appoint Heaven a Deputy," Dean told him quietly, eyes still locked on the direction Sam had run before finally shifting to eye the clearly uneasy Angel and going on angrily. "Because Heaven's Sheriff is going to find himself deep fried in Holy Oil if I can't stop Sam before he makes this worse! Now get the hell outta here!"
Not waiting to see if Castiel took his advice, Dean broke into a run to try to head Sam off. Knowing he had a couple advantages, he didn't worry about not finding his brother quickly. As boys, they'd often had the run of the yard in the times when their Dad would drop them off with Bobby for weeks at a time. Bobby Singer never changed anything so most of the routes through the yard remained the same and Dean knew that Sam always had one particular path he'd travel. The only thing he wasn't sure of is if the boy would go deeper into the junkyard or back to the house.
"Damn it," he swore, knowing it wasn't all Castiel's fault but also knowing he wasn't emotionally prepared to handle Sam's reaction to this bombshell. "Damn wall's probably pretty itchy now," Dean groused, frowning as one of the lights in the yard showed him something he hadn't seen before. Blood. "Dammit, Sam."
Figuring that in the fall Sam took he must have cut himself, Dean increased his speed when something else dawned on him and he knew where his brother would be. "Sure, Dean, just ignore the most obvious place for the kid to run," he told himself sourly, cutting across the side part of the junkyard to where he'd parked the Impala but frowned when he didn't see his brother near or inside the closest thing to a home they'd had in years.
Stopping at the edge of the lean-to in which he'd parked the car under, Dean was about to return to the house in the hope that Sam had gone back to Bobby, which he doubted he'd do, when a sound reached him that froze him midstep.
Ears sharp from years of growing up with Sam and knowing every sound his brother would make told Dean what he'd find. John Winchester raised his sons to be tough. Not to show their emotions and that worked for Dean but not so much for Sam.
Dean remembered that his little brother would always run to him when scared as a little kid. Hell, Dean remembered a few times after a bad hunt or a bad fight with their Dad that Sam turned to him because even though Dean often bitched about chick-flick moments he wouldn't force Sam to shut the emotions down.
"Dad would've loved how Sam's been lately," Dean muttered under his breath, wondering just how John Winchester would've reacted to his youngest son's actions. Would he have finally given Sam the recognition and love that he'd always wanted or would he have still shut him out? Disgusted at the thought that to maybe earn a little of the attention and love he'd always wanted from their Dad, Sam had to lose his soul.
Listening harder, Dean heard the sound again and took a deep breath. He hadn't wanted Sam to learn about this because he knew the kid. He knew that Sam would feel bad but he also knew that Sam's memories would also bring back other issues that hadn't been settled between them and that would make his reactions worse.
Grabbing the first aid kit from the trunk, Dean's fingers touched something else he'd buried deep in the trunk and on some inner instinct he grabbed it to before moving around the car to find what he knew he would.
The Impala was home but in the emotional state he was in, Sam wouldn't go inside it so he'd settled for sitting in the back of the lean-to up against a pile of old tires.
Dean had been waiting for the emotional barriers to come down since he'd known from the moment his brother had first hugged him after walking up this time how hard it was for Sam to bury the tears of pain and fear that he hadn't been willing to show Dean before they confronted Lucifer. Now, those were pouring out in addition to the pain Sam was in over what he'd heard from Castiel.
It had been a long time since Dean had heard his little brother sob or emit this much raw emotion. Shortly after Jessica had died Sam had finally crashed when the nightmares and emotions became too much and that had been the first time since his brother had left for college that Dean had to handle his little brother in such a state. After Sam was forced to kill Madison had been another gut wrenching emotional drama for them but the worst one that Dean could recall before this had been the night after they faced the crazy Doctor in search of Immortality.
Sam had been so hoping to find something to save his brother so that when they'd locked both the doctor and his formula up to bury him forever, it finally sank in that Dean would be dying soon and Sam had lost it.
Remembering going out to a bar for a quick game of pool and a beer to take his mind off his impending doom and the knowledge that Bela had at least bought it before him, Dean hadn't been expecting to return to the hotel to find his too quiet little brother drunk and raging mad at the world. Hell, Dean still wasn't sure how Sam had managed to get drunk since the bottle of whiskey he kept in his duffel had only been half full but dealing with Sam in that state was never fun.
Normally when drinking, Sam was silly or clingy, never violent. That night, he'd been furious at the world, at Lilith, at the Yellow Eyed Demon, at Dean and at himself. It took two hours, some broken furniture and a good soaking in an icy shower to calm Sam down enough so that Dean could even get close to hold him and that was when the sobs started.
The next evening when he'd finally woken up, Sam hadn't remembered anything and Dean had let him think he had just broken some furniture before passing out in the shower. He hadn't told him about the night and morning that he'd sobbed every feeling, every fear out until finally curling up against Dean as he had as a kid to finally sleep. He hadn't told him then but something told Dean that he wouldn't be that lucky this time.
"Sam?" he was careful to keep his voice low as to not spook his brother since he suspected what Sam would be thinking and wasn't disappointed when he saw the boy jump at his voice and start to move but Dean was quick to kneel down to stop him. "Sam, stop a second and listen to me."
Shaking his head violently, Sam tried to pull back from the hand that he fully expected to lash out violently as he'd seen it do more than once when his eyes seemed to go gray only a second before his arm seared in pain and he threw up.
"Yep, good start," Dean sighed, shifting so he could catch Sam before he fell over. Supporting his brother through the violent dry heaves, he waited until he felt Sam tense at the touch before easing him back against the tires. "Stop, breathe, think, and listen to me," he ordered quietly yet firmly, catching Sam's eyes as he clasped his brother's face between his palms. "Sam…"
Exhausted and still confused, Sam struggled past other memories including the still vivid cell-phone message he remembered hearing before setting Lucifer free. "No…don't…let go," he went to push his brother away when he finally saw the blood pouring from his arm. A second before Dean exploded.
"Shit! Sam, you've been bleeding ever since you fell back there! Shut up, sit still and let me look at this before Bobby has to do it," Dean snapped, the sight of blood on his brother making his voice sound harsher than he wanted it to right then but while he'd been expecting Sam to be hurt he hadn't been expecting this much blood.
Instinct had Sam wanting to pull away but Dean had already gotten him to his feet to lead him over to the hood of the Impala where he'd sat the first aid kit. Still hearing what Castiel had said, Sam was tense as if expecting a fist or a slap or worse yet for him the look of hate he'd come to expect from his brother during the bad times. As he watched though, Dean seemed to focus on gently turning his arm so he could see to clean the blood and dirt away from the three-inch long gash along his right arm.
"Sam, tell me sometime in the past six years that I've gotten you a Tetanus shot," Dean frowned over the cut, holding the arm firmly when he felt it jerk but he couldn't be sure if Sam was moving out of fear of him or the burn of the antiseptic cleaner. "Because if I haven't, Bobby will be making you take many, many shots," he went on grimly, carefully wiping the blood away to see that the cut would require at least a few stitches and dreaded that thought, especially with the way Sam was jerking. "It needs stitches."
Guessing that by the way it was bleeding, Sam merely nodded but did stop trying to pull his arm free since he knew that he'd never be able to stitch the cut where it was at and…no matter what he'd only trust his brother to do it. Sam just wasn't certain if his brother still would want to do that job or not. "Will…Dean, will you stitch it or…"
"It ain't like you got anyone else around to do it, kiddo," Dean scoffed, carefully nudging his brother back more on the hood while he went to find more light. "Sit still and keep it up so the bleeding will slow down," he called while digging under a worktable for Bobby's portable light.
Silently hating to bleed this much, Sam worked on keeping his eyes on anything but his arm. He slowly focused on his brother who he expected to be slamming things around angrily or muttering under his breath or doing any of things that Dean did when mad but this time he was only working quickly to set the light up before finally reaching for the suture kit they sometimes had available in the kit.
"Dean?" figuring this was his best shot at talking to his brother before Dean could close him off again, Sam hissed and tensed as a needle was stuck in his arm. "What…?"
"Local painkiller, that's all," Dean replied automatically, continuing to wipe the blood away while watching his younger brother from the corner of his eye. He knew Sam was scared and feeling guilty which meant major chick flick moments to come but shrugged it off as something he supposed they both needed. "Just think of something else and ignore the stitching. This ain't something we haven't done before."
"Yeah, but before I hadn't hurt you this bad," Sam's voice was softer than normal which clued Dean into how bad this was going to be. "Before you were just disappointed and ashamed of me, now…hell, now I don't know what you should be besides furious or…"
Taking a deep breath before running the tip of the needle close to the wound and not seeing a response, Dean was confident that it was safe to start putting in the few stitches the arm needed. He was less confident in how he'd handle this other issue.
"I was never ashamed of you, Sam," he finally spoke, keeping his grip firm in case Sam went to move his arm but was careful to also keep his tone level. "It was my fault what happened to you. I was so screwed up after coming back and so afraid that you'd…that you'd be ashamed of me for what I did in Hell that I shut you out too much and I had a hard time accepting that my little brother didn't seem to need me to protect him anymore that I took it out on you."
Looking around to keep his thoughts off the stitches going into his arm, Sam's gaze landed on something lying on the hood. It was close enough to him that he could use his other hand to touch it without causing the arm with the cut to jerk.
Sam had found it odd that through the entire dragon case that he hadn't seen his brother wearing his battered leather jacket that had once belonged to their Dad. As he thought more about it though, as images flittered through that he guessed Dean wouldn't want to know that he had he really couldn't recall seeing him wearing the jacket since…
"There, try to flex the arm to see if they'll hold," Dean told him after breaking the thread on the final stitch, waiting as Sam moved his arm a few times to recheck his handiwork before nodding in satisfaction and began to reach for the antibiotic cream. "You going to ask or brood about it, Sam?" he finally asked, knowing his brother was eating himself up over what he'd heard. "You weren't supposed to hear what you did."
"Why don't you wear Dad's jacket anymore?"
Dropping the tube of ointment onto the Impala's hood, that wasn't the question Dean expected to pop out of his little brother first and found that he really wasn't happy that it had since he didn't have an answer for it that wouldn't make him seem like a sap.
"You haven't worn it recently, have you?" Sam could tell by the way it was folded that he hadn't and that confused him. "I haven't seen you without this jacket since Dad gave it to you so why'd…"
"Because I couldn't wear it," Dean sighed, going back to finishing dressing Sam's cut with ointment then searching for a bandage while avoiding those darn big puppy dog eyes he knew were watching his every move. "After everything you heard from Cas, you want to focus on my jacket? Sam, I think you hit your head when you fell."
Swallowing past the lump that was forming, Sam wasn't ready to bring up what was really bothering him so he chose to focus on the least of his concerns first. "Even after you came back from…Hell," he had to grit his teeth to get that out since it still bothered him that he'd failed to save his brother after Dean had sacrificed his life for him. "It only took a day or so before you started wearing it again. You haven't worn it in awhile by the way it's folded and smells stiff like it's been in storage so why haven't you, Dean?" he demanded quietly, remembering the last time he'd touched this jacket had been when Lucifer, in his body, had been beating…
"Sam, don't," Dean's voice was low but gentle as if knowing what he'd been dwelling on. "I haven't worn the leather jacket because…I haven't worn it since Stull," he admitted reluctantly, seeing his brother's chin start to drop. "I stopped wearing the jacket because it reminded me of losing you, Sam. The jacket was just another reminder of how I'd failed you so when I put the Impala away I put it away."
Afraid that he'd stopped wearing it over what happened in Stull with Lucifer, Dean's explanation made Sam look up quickly. "Failed me?" he blinked, confused. "Lucifer beat you to within an inch of your life, Dean. How did you fail me?"
Hesitating briefly, Dean knew this was unlocking more crap than he'd been prepared for but guessed it was too late now to shove the Djinn back into its bottle. "I couldn't get you back soon enough. I let you fall into that damn hole and couldn't get you back…I couldn't keep my promise, Sam," he replied, voice rougher than he liked and he quickly coughed to cover it while carefully closing up the med-kit instead of looking at eyes that he knew would be wide. "Sam, I…"
"Stop it!" the sudden yell took the older one off guard since he wasn't expecting the surge of angry tears he was confronted with or the raw emotion reflected in wet eyes that always broke down Dean's defenses. "I know you hate me. I know you're angry with me and hell, I don't blame you for being either after what I've done, Dean, and I won't ask you not to be but don't take that from me," Sam was as close to begging as Dean could remember him being in years. The only problem was, he had no idea what his brother was talking about.
"Can we stick to one topic before you go chasing another one?" Dean asked wearily, feeling like pounding his head in until he saw the honest loss and pain in Sam's eyes and realized he was serious. "Alright, first I'm not angry with you. I do not hate you. I am not ashamed of you so what the hell am I taking away?" he asked, not liking to feel this blank. "We haven't even started to talk grounding you for scaring me to death or what I did to that I-Pod thing you tried to jack my car with before so, fill me in, Sam…" this time he saw the flash on pain shoot over his little brother's face.
There was a time that Dean remembered well that Sam was an open book to him. He could read the kid as well as he could himself and while a lot of that had changed in the four months he'd been in Hell and after all the crap that went on between them. Dean was relieved to see that with the return of Sam's soul also came the return of his brother being an overly emotional, geeky open book.
"You said no lies, Dean," Sam went to shove away from the Impala and Dean but felt his legs nearly falter until a strong hand gripped his elbow to support him. "You can't protect me if you hate me and you can lie all you want and I can say I'm sorry all the time for what I…did to you this past year. At least be honest with me about this," he suddenly turned to face his brother fully, eyes filled with the shame he felt and the loss of his brother even if he was right in front of him. "I know you stuck it out with me to make sure I didn't go off the deep end too much but now…you can't stand to be here like Bobby can't stand to have me in the house so just…"
"Sam, what in the hell are you babbling about?" Dean finally cut him off before he lost what control over his emotions he still had. "I am so frying Cas the next time he shows up," he muttered sourly then swore when he barely had the time to grab for Sam as he slid down the side of the car to sit next to it with one leg pulled up to his chest. "If you'd give me a damn chance, we can over talk what you heard Cas say even though I do not blame you for…"
"Then why won't you use it?" Sam demanded loudly, looking up with an expression that took Dean back to when he was seventeen and coping with a mutinous little brother who did not take the news well that his big brother had a date. "Even after Ruby, even after I let the Devil out of his box you still used it! Now if you don't hate me or blame me or whatever, why won't you use it?"
Seriously wondering if he'd finally come across a side effect of having his brother's soul tap-danced on by a couple of pissed off Archangels because Sam was confusing him to no ends and it was hard to keep his temper when he felt like slapping the kid. "Use what, Sam?" he had to ask since he had no clue, blinking when he was suddenly shoved hard.
"My nickname!" came the answer that took Dean a moment to register and then he finally understood as Sam pushed to his feet with an agility that still impressed his brother. "You haven't used it once since I woke up. Not even when you called me a geek and you always called me…" realizing he was shouting, Sam slowly lowered his voice while stepping away from Dean. "I can accept you hate me, Dean but it just hurts more than I thought that you won't even call me…forget it. I'll go…umm…I need to go do…"
Feeling like slapping himself with the first sharp object he could find, Dean swore bitterly at himself for not seeing this coming. "Sam, wait," he called but growled as he pulled himself back to his feet as his more upset little brother went to bolt from him. "Sammy!"
One word. One single word that he'd been biting his tongue for days to keep from using and that's all it took to make the scared younger man stop his backpedaling to lock eyes with him, wary caution plain in hazel eyes that still reflected too much fear, guilt and loss.
Wondering if you could get away with a quip about Sammy being a chubby twelve year old, Dean took one look at his brother and knew he needed to be honest with him about this. "I haven't said Sammy in six months," he told him quietly, not attempting to block his path or stop him from leaving the area. Instead, Dean opened the drivers' door of the Impala to sit behind the wheel casually but made certain the other door was unlocked…just in case.
"I said it a couple times but it felt…wrong because deep in my gut I knew something was off. What I was riding with wasn't my Sammy, he wasn't my little brother so I just couldn't bring myself to use that nickname anymore," Dean explained, letting his fingers flex on the wheel but released a breath at the sound of the other door opening to allow Sam to sit on the passenger side. "I got out of the habit of calling you Sammy because up until the other day when you walked into Bobby's library I didn't have a reason to and by then I wasn't sure if you'd still want to be called that anymore," he paused to slid a look next to him. "I remember you telling me once that Sammy was a chubby twelve year old and that you wanted to be called Sam. Give me a clue, little brother because right now I'm so lost at what to do for you it's not funny."
Noticing the still littered box of old cassette tapes on the floor, Sam picked it up to begin to pick through them while buying himself time to speak. "Did I watch as a vampire turned you?" he asked slowly, needing to know this. "What did Cas mean that I told you I didn't care anymore or that I was with some girl while you were…Dean?" he caught the way his brother had tensed and recalled how Dean got when he didn't want to discuss something bad. "Tell me what happened? I can't believe you haven't killed me if I did all that…you know that I…"
"It wasn't you, Sammy," feeling a lot of the tension leave him at the use of the nickname Sam would only let him use Dean let his head lean back against the seat before feeling his brother's eyes on him and guessing he was probably getting one of his better bitch-face looks so he sighed. "We were looking into some teenage disappearances and thought it was a simple case of some vampire-wannabes when we hit the real thing…though if I see one more kid wearing glitter I'll scream," Dean thought he heard a soft chuckle but let it go. "We'd split up and I got sloppy. I didn't remember seeing…anyway, when Samuel used some kind of cure that only worked if I didn't drink I got memory rushed and saw…"
"Me," Sam guessed, hands shaking at the thought that even without a soul that he could simply stand by while his brother was hurt. "Dean, I don't remember…I mean I can't…"
Hearing his brother's breathing increase warned Dean what would happen if he didn't stop it so he quickly turned so that he was facing Sam, reaching across the seat to grip his chin in his hand. "Sammy, anything I tell you I want you to let go in and out because that guy was not you," he declared firmly, adding in the same tone he normally used when bossing his brother. "This guy was worse than T1000, had no sense of humor…not that you have a great one, and drove a damn Charger. That's what had me suspecting something was wrong because he refused the Impala when I offered."
"You offered me the car?" this seemed to shock Sam as he slowly looked around the car that had been his home since he'd been six months old. "Did you go to Lisa, Dean?"
"Pick one emotional minefield at a time, little brother," Dean chuckled, noticing and not for the first time that Sam kept running his fingers through his hair and almost had his bangs back in his face. "Yeah, I went to them for about a year and then couldn't hack it."
Something Cas said made Sam frown. "You left them because of me," he knew it before his brother's jaw twitched. "I came back and…"
"Lisa and I had issues after the whole vampire thing, Sam. I never told her what was wrong with me that night and I was never cut out for the whole family thing anyway," Dean shrugged, wanting his brother away from that topic. "You're my family. You're what I wanted and you're what I'll kill any evil son of a bitch this time to keep safe…even if you are still a pain in my ass."
Still uneasy at the thought he'd let his brother be turned, Sam knew Dean wanted off that topic so latched onto another one. "Who did I say I didn't care about?" he asked, hearing the groan and nearly smiling until it dawned on him. "I said I didn't care about you…to you?" he stared at his brother's profile and groaned. "God, Dean…why did you stay? You gave up Lisa and Ben for someone who flat out said he didn't give a damn about you? Why?"
"Because I still had hope that I could get your soul back," Dean sighed, moving his hand into his coat pocket to feel what he'd been keeping inside as a way to gain strength for the chick flick moment he knew had to be coming. "That day you said you knew it made you a better person and wanted it back. I grasped onto that and prayed I could at least do that for you but then I screwed up and gave you some stupid speech of having a soul meant accepting the pain that came with it and I think that freaked you out."
"Having a soul makes you human…it makes you…well you," Sam murmured, using the light from outside the car to see his brother's small smile in the dark interior of the car. "Pain is part of being human…even if the pain is knowing that you…hurt someone you…"
"So, that's about it and now you're going to let this drop," Dean broke in before his brother could say the words they both knew would come eventually between them. "You're you again and you're going to stay you and I'll help you in this effort to 'fix' what you did while you weren't with me…though if we come across a Campbell…you're backing the hell off and leaving that old man to me."
Something in his brother's voice warned Sam that Dean was deadly serious and decided to try to find out about that from Bobby since he knew how far he could push his brother & Samuel Campbell was probably the one subject Dean would avoid like a plague. "Umm, a hippie chick?"
"Sammmy," drawing out the name like he used to when he was close to whining, Dean wanted to slap the kid or at the very least distract him but if Sam inherited one thing from their Dad it was his stubbornness. "Fine. You met up with a very interesting, if brainless hippie girl while we were on a job…though I'm sure you met up with a lot of interesting ladies before hooking back up with me and…" he stopped the minute he felt the shaking hand touch his shoulder. "Don't, Sammy. Just let this go."
"I've been through enough lore to know the legends behind fairies, Dean," Sam felt the shoulder under his hand tense and went to move when Dean's hand caught it to hold it in place. "It's rare for a mortal taken to a fairy realm to escape so…"
Taking a long moment to make his face bland, Dean slowly looked over his shoulder with what he hoped was his best smirk. "I had a silver knife and an attitude, Sammy. The little Tinkerbells never stood a chance…they also don't microwave well."
"Huh?" Sam's eyes shot up at this before grinning a little but feeling the burning begin behind his eyes. "You…don't hate me for any of that, De'n?" he asked quietly, unaware of when he dropped a letter in hs brother's name like he used to do until he felt something press into his hand.
"Sam, I never hated you for anything that happened to us and…I'm fine…now," Dean told him quietly, turning on the seat fully to watch Sam's expression as he looked down at his hand. "I kind of thought you'd want that back."
Both Winchester brothers once had the black rubber bands they wore around their wrists. While Dean still had his but had stopped wearing it around the same time he'd stopped wearing the silver ring he always wore, Sam's band had vanished sometime back when Dean had gone to Hell.
Staring at the black band, Sam felt his eyes tear since he'd often wondered about it but never had to guts to ask his brother about the band that he had placed in Dean's shirt pocket the day he'd buried him. "I thought maybe it'd gotten…"
"I found it in my shirt when I climbed out," Dean heard the unspoken question but let it go for now, easing closer to watch Sam run the band through his fingers. "I kept it in case you ever asked for it but you never did. Why'd I have it, Sammy?"
Vividly recalling the emotionally draining day that he'd been forced to put his brother's body in the ground, Sam had been sick both physically and mentally by that time. "I had taken your…I mean the…anyway…I wanted you to have something to maybe remember me in case you ever thought of me or could think of…" his voice broke off when he turned away from Dean to avoid what his brother often referred to as a chick flick moment. "I never asked for it because I knew I didn't deserve it. I'd failed you by not getting you back and when you did come back I was so…"
"You didn't fail me, Sammy," Dean assured him, placing a comforting hand on the back of his brother's neck as he once had done with a sigh. "If anything, I failed you by allowing everything to come between us, by forgetting who I was and what you were."
"A freak?" Sam's reply was instinct and by having his back to his brother he missed the flash of anger that showed when he found himself pulled around to face Dean, drawing in a breath when he recognized the dark emotion simmering.
"You are not a freak," Dean was firm when he said this, squeezing his brother's neck to make this point clear before using it to pull Sam closer. "No. I allowed myself to forget that we are John Winchester's sons, we are brothers first and damn good hunters second and that I'm big brother to the most awesome little brother of all time…even when he's a bitch," he stated firmly, not bothering to disguise the emotion that thickened his voice this time.
Blinking, Sam was more than stunned since he hadn't been expecting his brother to say that or to come this close to one of those moments but as he gazed directly into Dean's green eyes he could see the emotions and the words were genuine. "You can…forgive what I did to you?"
"Nothing to forgive, kiddo," Dean replied, taking a deep breath. "I trust you, little brother. I trust you to have my back and I hope you know that I'll always have yours. Trust, Sam is all we have left and I swear that this time when I say that nothing bad will happen to you while I'm around I will keep that."
"Dean…" finally slipping the black band around his wrist, Sam noticed the hand that was gripping his arm and felt some of the cold leave him when he noticed the silver ring back in place on his brother's hand. Then he thought of something else. "Do you still have my old duffel?"
Not expecting that question, Dean nodded. "Yeah, it's in the back of the trunk," he admitted, coughing. "I never had the heart to go through it except to take out the weapons but…Sammy?" Dean blinked when the keys that he'd tossed on the dashboard were grabbed.
Surprised at how much his hands shook as he opened the trunk of the Impala for the first time in such a long time, Sam frowned at the orderly trunk. Their trunk was usually messy except for the weapons locker under the fake floor and even that had been streamlined in such a way that Sam vowed to mess it up the first chance Dean would give him.
"Took you…him six hours to reorder that trunk," Dean spoke from beside the car as if knowing what he was thinking. "Drove me nuts and I used to intentionally move a thing or two everyday just to irk you."
"Yeah, you would," Sam laughed a little more easily now that he planned to tear the trunk apart later that day but right then he wanted his bag. Pulling it out from a corner where it had been carefully stashed, he pulled it out to proceed to dump the contents on the dirt floor under the lean-to.
Still not sure what his brother was doing, Dean decided to give him space since it also gave him the time to gather his emotions again. He still expected Sam to have one big moment and was preparing the best way to either handle it or avoid it when he felt Sam beside him and noticed that he was holding out a small cloth bag to him. "What's this?" he asked, frowning more when he saw the worry in Sam's eyes.
"I'm not…sure if you'd want this or not but…and I know you said to leave it alone and I didn't but…" Sam stumbled over the words until finally his brother opened the bag to let what was inside fall into his hand. "I meant to give it to you before Detroit but…I just assumed you meant what you said about losing faith in us as brothers and figured you find it if you went through my stuff and if you wanted it you'd keep it and if you didn't you'd pitch it and…"
"Sam," Dean's voice was rough as he struggled not to lose what control he still had at the sight of the gold amulet he'd tossed into a motel's wastebasket after he'd finally become too tired to go on. "You…you took it out of the trash."
Swallowing hard, Sam nodded but also went to take a step back in case Dean reacted badly. "I know what you said that day but…I gave that to you and the only damn time you were ever without it was when you were…gone. So I sort of had to keep believing that one day you might want it back," he mumbled, going to step back when suddenly Dean made one quick move that pushed him off from where he'd been leaning against the Impala to grab his startled younger brother, pulling him in for a hard hug.
"Thank you, Sammy," Dean whispered tightly, closing his eyes against the tears he didn't want to fall in front of his brother but kept his grip tight when he felt Sam slowly return the gesture with as much force as he had the other day upon waking up. "I know this'll be hard, and I know I probably won't like some of what I learn but I will help you through this," he promised, easing back long enough to drop the amulet back over his neck and felt more of the strain leave him when the familiar weight settled back around his neck. "No more lies, no more secrets. Just us, doing what it is we do best."
"Carry on the family tradition," Sam murmured words his brother had spoken to him years ago in woods hunted by a Wendigo. "Helping people."
"And killing some very evil sons of bitches," Dean grinned, relief growing as he felt his brother's shoulders relax before Sam latched on for the chick flick moment he knew had been coming when emotions, exhaustion and fear all crashed on the younger Winchester. "Easy, Sammy. I got ya and tomorrow after we figure out the best way to suck up to Bobby you can disorder our trunk."
The laugh cut off with a sob as Sam clung to his brother like he'd wanted to do before going to confront Lucifer in Detroit. "Dean…" he began but stopped, deciding it best not to push his luck when he felt his brother's strong hand grip his neck in the way that Dean would offer support when their Dad was present.
"I…love you too, little brother," Dean murmured, deciding he could say it since he figured once Sam went to sleep he'd forget most of this anyway. "Now, are we good or are you going to torture me some more tonight since I know that arm has got to be killing you."
Having forgotten about the cut to his arm, Sam considered before nodding slowly though one question did still nag him. "Dean, what happened to that car you said I drove?" he asked, hearing his brother fight to bury the laugh that broke free anyway.
"Oh, Cas fell out a window and crushed that piece of crap," he replied happily, keeping his hand on Sam's neck as a way to maintain contact that he knew his little brother would still need for awhile yet. "It was the best thing that Angel has ever done for me…though I still plan of frying his ass for tonight."
Sam was about to reply when both brothers heard a very familiar, very ticked off Bobby shouting for them. "Think he'll forgive me?" he asked quietly.
"Give Bobby time, Sam," Dean replied, accepting that one would take more time to accomplish but knew eventually the older man would forgive his brother…it was the trust issue that Dean was worried over since he wasn't sure if Bobby would ever fully trust Sam again. "C'mon, lets get inside and get some sleep…bitch."
"Jerk," Sam muttered back, but smiled fully when his brother grabbed for his neck like he was prone to do and while usually Sam, who was four inches taller, could avoid the move this night he chose not to and allowed Dean to execute the mock choke hold.
Bobby Singer had followed the lights and the sounds to where he knew Dean had parked the Impala. A quick visit from an apologetic Angel had let him know that something had happened tonight so when neither Winchester returned to the house he'd decided to come looking for them.
Stepping up to the lean-to, he stared at what he found before grinning for a moment then put a scowl on his face. "What in the hell are you two idjits doing?" he demanded gruffly, rolling his eyes when he noticed that at any moment Sam could've freed himself from Dean's hold if the boy had wanted just like he knew that Dean hadn't put it on as tightly as he normally did. "Get the hell back in the house and go to bed before I ground both your asses!" he snapped, swatting at both boys like he'd done when they'd been at a size that he could handle easily. "Dean, how the hell much plastic explosive did you…"
"Gotta get Sammy back to bed, Bobby!" Dean decided to cut that talk off since he was not in the mind set to work up a lie over that damn sword. "Kid'll catch a cold and Sam's a rotten patient."
"I'm a rotten patient?" Sam scoffed, not resisting the tug that took him toward the house but also not going to stop complaining. "Yeah, like you're Mr. Sunshine when sick, Dean."
As the boys bickered all the way back to his house and upstairs, Bobby still heard the brotherly banter as he shut the front door and slowly allowed himself a smile.
It had been a long time since he'd heard those boys bicker like that and he hadn't missed the certain little things tonight. He'd noticed that Dean had John's jacket back out and had carried it back to the house with him. He'd also noticed the amulet and ring he wore along with the black band back on Sam's wrist. Little things that meant something to those boys and while he still had issues with Sam, Bobby knew those wounds would heal in time. He just prayed that he could help Dean keep what peace he and Sam were regaining…at least until he mentioned to Dean the little piece of news that Rufus had just called him about.
"Damn those chuckleheads in the first place for thinking they could shoot Dean's brother and not face a pissed off Dean Winchester sometime down the road," he muttered, hearing something thud from upstairs and sighed. "You boys break something you are fixing it!" he shouted up, struggling not to laugh when he heard the dual 'Sorry, Bobby,' shouted back. "Damn idjit Winchesters are gonna be the death of me," he decided, turning off the lights to go to sleep while praying those boys didn't destroy his house by the morning.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reads this. I think I might do one from Bobby' POV later on and I promise to everyone waiting for CH 6 of Mirror Images it's coming.