The Longest Yard

By Carol M.

Summary: Tag to Let It Bleed, 6.21…spoilers…Dean struggles to keep it together as he drives away from the hospital…told from Sam's point of view…angsty!sick!Dean

Spoilers: Let It Bleed

Disclaimer: Don't own them, only love them

Note: God this episode killed me. Whether you were a fan of Lisa and Ben or not, I don't think you could help but feel bad for Dean at the conclusion of the episode. Jensen Ackles just broke my heart with his performance. Here's my attempt to deal with the aftermath. Hope you enjoy!

There was nothing Sam could do to help his brother or ease his pain and knowing that made the already heartbreaking situation that much more frustrating.

They've been driving in stark silence since pulling away from the hospital, nary a Metallica song in earshot. The quiet was marked with the sound of Dean convulsively swallowing, like he was trying to keep down whatever grief or heartbreak wanted to bubble up from deep inside of him. Sam could also hear the shaky breaths and the wheezing gasps that were a shade away from being a sob or a breakdown induced bout of hyperventilation.

Sam didn't dare turn to look at his brother, but his peripheral vision allowed him to see the comings and goings of a tell tale sparkle in Dean's right eye and he could detect the movements of his throat clenching and unclenching with each emotion that Dean felt and subsequently tried to make disappear. He knew it was only a matter of time until those feelings would explode back out of his brother in a fit of barroom rage or a drunken confession or some other way that Sam couldn't anticipate.

He was surprised when Dean's searing emotions erupted only twenty minutes into the ride.

It seemed as if Dean had managed to quell his sadness and tuck it back inside himself. The excessive swallowing had tapered off, his breathing had grown steadier and he had even turn on a local rock station, albeit on a low volume. Sam's body was just starting to ease from the tension and relax into the seat when Dean abruptly gagged and threw the Impala into a jarring swerve to the side of the road. Dean tore out of the Impala and scrambled towards a small clearing next to some woods like he was in desperate need of space and more important, privacy. He managed to get about twenty feet away before he crashed hard to his knees and vomited all over the grass. The actual puking didn't last long as Dean didn't have much besides whiskey in his stomach, but it was soon replaced by violent and painful looking dry heaves that had Dean's whole body spasming in and out of a tight little ball when it wasn't busy quivering like a feverish child.

Sam opened the passenger's door, but made no move to get out, knowing that Dean needed to work through this moment on his own. He watched as Dean's body continue to tremble through the dry heaves and tears of sorrow and then observed the way Dean's arms wrapped protectively around his body as if he were trying to hug himself. Sam swore he could see Dean mourn each and every happy memory he had shared with Lisa and Ben before it drifted out of him and into the clearing, where it would be left forever.

He looked away then, feeling like he was intruding on Dean just by watching. But he was still able to hear his brother choking and gasping and sniffling against the pain and his stomach knotted at the horrible, desperate sounds of his brother's heart breaking. It lasted forever. Just when the sounds would quiet and all Sam could hear was the soft purr of the radio, a new torrent would erupt that was more powerful than the one before it and he wondered if perhaps Dean had finally reached his emotional breakpoint and might not ever be able to stop.

Finally though, it was over. Sam dared to sneak a glance when the terrible noises had stopped and saw his brother stumble to his feet. Dean wiped at his face with his jacket and then his hands, but that wasn't enough to cover the red rimmed eyes or the puffiness of his face or the pale green pallor his skin had taken on. Dean ambled to the passenger's side of the car and opened the door the rest of the way, handing Sam the car keys without meeting his eyes. Sam wordlessly slid over to the driver's side and started the car while Dean collapsed in the passenger's seat, curling himself up against the window and promptly falling into a deep, soundless sleep.

Dean didn't move an inch the rest of the ride. Sam hoped that it meant his brother was feeling some peace, however short lived it might be. But judging by the tight grim expression Dean held on his face even in slumber, Sam very much doubted it.

When they reached Bobby's hours later, Sam shut off the car and instead of giving Dean a shove or a series of pokes, he placed his hand securely across Dean's chest so he could ease into wakefulness and not be painfully shocked back into reality.

"Dean, we're here."

Dean's eyes fluttered open and he uncurled himself from the window with a groan. His eyes looked blissfully unaware for a split second before remembrance flowed through them. Dean's eyes landed on him then, and Sam swore he saw a flash of relief in them before the grief reappeared.

"Thanks for driving, Sammy."

It was then that Sam realized that there was something he could do to help his brother. It was to simply be there. To be something that Dean didn't have to lose, at least not right then and maybe not ever if he could help it.

It was to be his family.

"You're welcome, man. Let's get inside."

That's All Folks!