A/N: Many thanks to Jedi Sapphire for her help and support
Summary: Deans nightmares have become a regular part of the brothers lives since his miraculous return from Hell. Sam feeling helpless and wanting to ease his brother's torment tries something unusual.
"The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it." ~ Wendell Berry
Dean screamed out in pain, his agonized cry mingling with those of other tortured souls before fading into the canverns of Hell.
Alastair, bloodied blade in hand, paused momentarily to lift his head and give the hunter a wicked smile, his delight coming from the undescribable pain he could inflict.
Relentless and crippling pain, which by day's end inhibited Dean's ability to vocalize it. A time of silent screams which had him and all of those condemned for eternity desperately yearning for their suffering to end. A time Dean often found himself fighting the urge to beg Alistair to finish it, to take the knife and plunge it through his heart.
But mercy was not a trait found in the pit and Dean would never give that black hearted son of a bitch the satisfaction of knowing he craved an end to his torment.
A torment he knew would begin all over again the next day.
Like an artist perfecting his masterpiece, Alistair continued to whittle away at Dean's flesh. As he carved and cut and penetrated deeper, it produced pain so unimaginable it led to the brink of unconsciousness. Oblivion was something Dean desperately yearned for but something Alistair would never allow. There could be no such luxury for his victims.
A stab of white-hot fire shot through Dean as the knife struck bone, shaking him to his very core. Arching his back, shuttering in excruciating pain, Dean let out a gutterial scream as he jerked upright in bed...
Awake, shaking, and coated in sweat.
Woken by a sound that had become painfully familiar, Sam threw off his quilt to quickly check on Dean. With sunrise close, the outside Motel lights filtered in around the worn draperies, giving Sam just enough light to find the edge of his brother's bed.
Sam sat down facing Dean's upright silhouette.
"You okay?" Sam spoke, his voice gentle and familiar, helping to ground Dean in the reality of now.
"Yes," Dean answered, scrubbing his face with both hands needing a moment to recover without worrying Sam more than necessary.
So vivid at times were his nightmares, Dean's immediate reaction upon awakening would be to examine himself for wounds. But he knew to be careful now, never forgetting the time Sam first witnessed this. The look on his little brother's face when it registered what he was doing had nearly broken Dean's heart.
"I'm okay Sammy!" Dean lied.
Sam knew his brother was anything but okay but he honestly didn't know what he could do or say anymore to help Dean after one of these nightmares. Dean had made it perfectly clear that he didn't want Sam fussing over him in any way by smacking or backing away from any touchy feely arms of comfort. All attempts to offer a cool wash cloth were refused and any attempt to administer one himself usually ended up with Sam sporting a new style of hat.
Sam had immediately respected Dean's request not to ask him if he wanted to talk about these nightmares. He'd already visited Hell a second time when he told Sam about what he endured there and now he was repeatedly reliving the horror of it while he slept. It made perfect sense to Sam that Dean wouldn't want to talk about it any further.
But how much Sam cared and the efforts he made to be of comfort never went unappreciated by Dean and he made it a point to tell Sam that on several occasions. But he was the big brother, father figure and protector in Sam's life and it made Dean very uncomfortable when Sam tried to reverse these roles.
"I'm fine Sammy. Why don't you go back to bed?"
But Dean didn't look fine. The nightmare had left him looking shaken and vulnerable and once again Sam was at a loss on how to help him. So he moved over beside Dean and sat there with him in silent physical support. It was the only thing he knew to do.
And that's when the inevitable first wave of guilt hit Sam knowing the price his brother paid, that his brother continued to pay for bringing him back from the dead.
"It was a decision I chose to make Sammy!" Dean spoke, knowing Sam thoughts would lead him to self-blame.
Sam nodded, but even the truth in that statement spoken countless times by Dean never seemed to make his feel any better.
After a while Sam started to sense vibes of uneasiness coming from Dean.
"I'm going to take a shower," Sam said standing up. Then go get us some coffee and breakfast, okay?"
"Good idea!" Dean answered in relief, watching his brother begin to rummage through his duffel bag for some clean clothes. Dean loved his little brother but he didn't want Sam practically sitting in his lap worrying about him.
Dean grabbed the remote off the night stand and switched on the television, hoping to distract himself from the remnants of this nightmare. He had just begun searching through the channels when to his surprise Sam was sitting beside him again. Before he could say a word Dean found himself being wrapped up in Sams arms and held tightly and confused as to why. But since hugging Sam back was as natural as breathing to Dean, he reciprocated.
After giving his big brother a final tight squeeze Sam loosened his embrace and gently placed a kiss on Dean's cheek and in a whirl of motion was gone.
Dean sat there befuddled long after Sam was in the shower
Emerging from the bathroom a freshly showered Sam grabbed his jacket and announced he was heading out to grab them breakfast.
"Why?" Dean asked, not taking his eyes off the television screen.
"Why what?" Sam turned around and asked back.
"Why did you do that?"
"Why did I do what?" Sam redirected.
"Sam!" Dean finally broke away from staring at the TV screen and looked at his brother
"What?" Sam continued to play the clueless card.
"Did it make you feel uncomfortable Dean?" Sam asked, knowing simply asking would.
"Yes!" Dean turned his gaze back to the TV screen, proving Sam's point.
"Very uncomfortable?" Sam knew he could push it a little bit more.
"Yes! Sam! Why?" Dean yelled in exasperation, looking over again at his brother.
Sam stopped the teasing and Dean watched as the grin on his face faded.
"Dean," Sam began, then paused to calm the unanticipated emotion building inside him. "The nightmares, watching you suffer and not being able to do a dam thing to help you, it's killing me! So I thought I'd give you a new memory, for when you can't escape the old ones. Maybe if you think about how uncomfortable I just made you feel after a nightmare, it might just take your mind off things a little. It's a dumb idea I know but I had to do something."
"I'll go get us that breakfast," Sam said, looking away feeling a bit ackward and uncomfortable himself now.
"Not dumb," Dean said softly looking directly at Sam.
Sammy looked up, meeting his brother's gaze and smiled shyly, nodding his head in acknowledgement. The expression on Dean's face had told him what he tried to do had been deeply appreciated.
"Anytime." Sam replied and he was out the door. Basking in the warm emotion and still wondering after all these years how the way Dean said his name could make him feel so loved.
Dean lay back on the bed, arms folded underneath his head and smiled to himself in thought. Oh, he had no doubt at all this new memory idea of Sam's would help but not because it made Dean feel uncomfortable. It did, but it also made Dean feel safe and loved.
But Sammy could never know that.