Title: Just Be There
Author: Obi the Kid
Summary: Post-Season 6. At some point after the wall falls, Dean learn how best to deal with Sam's mind vacations to Hell.
"How's it on your end of things, Bobby?"
"Quiet. Seems I'm not much of a threat all by my lonesome. Now that you two have vanished, there's not much excitement at all around these parts, at least for now."
"Good. You've earned the quiet."
"Dean, don't think I won't jump right back into the fire if you boys need me, understand?"
"Yeah, I do. Thanks."
"How's things in Sam's head?"
"That bad, huh?"
"When he's in this reality, he's fine; almost perfectly normal for however long. And then he slides out of this world and he gets stuck in his hell. I can't seem to stop it from happening or help him find his way back from it. It's frustrating and it's hard, Bobby. It's so damned hard."
"Yeah, I know it is. Gotta keep with it though. He's strong enough to put it aside for times. He may be strong enough to eventually beat it all together. That kid's as resilient as they come, that much we know. How 'bout you, you doin' okay?"
"Not really, but then again I'm always messed up. I just wish I could help him when he starts falling."
"Gettin' lost in your own mind ain't easy. Add to that the reason Sam's there to begin with and it's a wonder he's not completely insane. You can't keep him from going to Hell, Dean; but you can keep the insanity in check. You know that."
"How, Bobby? His tour was a lot different and a lot worse than mine. But he keeps saying he needs to deal with it his way."
"Then fine. You let him deal with it, but you be there. That's what he needs from you. Not so much to hold his hand, as to just be an anchor for him. He needs something to come back to when his mind settles. He loses it, he deals, he comes back. You're there. Got it?"
"Yeah, but it's not as easy as you make it sound, you know."
"It's hard, Dean, in different ways for both of you. And it ain't gonna get any easier any time soon, especially when our allies are few and far between. Well, almost non-existent really. But you know you can call me anytime, son. Anytime. But you gotta look after your brother first and foremost, no matter what he feels about handling this on his own. That's a load of crap and we both know that, but if it's how he thinks he needs to do this, let him do it - just keep him close."
"As always, you're a wise man, Bobby. I'll check back later."
"Keep me posted, boy. I mean it."
"Will do. Thanks, Bobby."
Dean glanced back over his shoulder and found Sam exactly where he'd left him; sitting the wrong way on a rest stop picnic table, elbows propping his head up, and fingers massaging his temple. They'd pulled over after Sam had started losing his fragile grip on their reality again. Wary of any uncontrolled physical flailing about if Sam blacked out, Dean figured it best to stay put in one spot for a while. He needed to stretch his legs anyway, check in with Bobby and hit the restroom. And it was just easier to worry about his brother while not also having to worry about the winding road in front of him.
Retrieving two Cokes from the nearby vending machine, Dean set one next to his brother and set himself on the other side.
When Sam didn't respond immediately, Dean pushed a shoulder into him.
Sam shook his head and blinked hard several times in a row. Deep, controlled breaths followed. He was all there but he still didn't acknowledge his brother.
Dean floated immediately back to that part of his phone call with Bobby.
He needs something to come back to when his mind settles. He loses it, he deals, he comes back. You're there.
And he didn't push any further, but instead sat silently at Sam's side, shoulder touching his brother's and watching the cars on the rural two-lane road a short distance away.
After a few minutes, Sam found reason to pull in another series of deep breaths, but this time, they were mixed with emotion. He wiped at his eyes. Still, Dean sat quietly continuing to fixate on the cars beyond, and on Bobby's words.
It was ten minutes later before Sam finally spoke, and when he did, his voice was thick and emotional.
"This is hard, Dean."
Dean nodded slightly and patted a hand on Sam's knee and letting it sit there.
"I know it is, Sammy. I know."
Quiet descended once again. Several more minutes drifted by until a throat-clearing sniffle ended the scene. Sam ran his hands over his face and through his hair then turned to his brother, leaning a shoulder gently towards him.
Dean didn't have to ask the why. He just understood.
"Don't mention it."
"We should go."
"Only if you're ready."
Sam stood. "Yeah. I'm okay."
"Okay then. Michigan here we come."
"How's Bobby?" Sam said as the Impala rumbled from the rest stop; his hazel-green gaze following the landscape blurring by outside his widow.
"You just assumed I called him?"
"No, I know you called him. No assuming needed. Who else would you call? We're not exactly loaded with phone-a-friends at the moment."
"He's fine. Full of advice as usual."
"He's usually right."
Dean had to acknowledge that one, and bobbed his head to the side. "He is. He was again."
Sam sighed and without taking his eyes from the window, said, "It helps, Dean, when you're there. I know it might not seem like it on your end, but I know if I can claw my way out of my own warped mind, you'll be there on the other end."
"It's hard to watch, Sam, but if it helps…and I have to do something. I can't just let it be okay when you're writhing around in pain - or being tortured by worse. I've gotta know what to do; what you need from me."
A warm yet sad smile tugged at Sam's face. "Just be there, Dean. That's what I need. No drama, no panic. Just…when I wake up or come back to our reality – whatever the case may be - just be there."
Reaching down to turn on the Impala's head lights, Dean kept his eyes focused forward on the darkening road ahead that was becoming more difficult to see with dusk falling low. He did however return his brother's poignant smile.
"That, I can do, Sammy."
The tension in Sam's face lessened a bit as he positioned himself to lean against the passenger side window. There he rested his pounding head and his exhausted eyes, hoping and more importantly, needing, a bit of angst-free sleep.
He found the familiarity of Dean's nearby voice surprisingly soothing as his big brother said, "You want me to wake you if I see any early signs?"
"Yeah, poke me in the shoulder or something. It's easier to deal with Hell if I can sleep without it for a while." The younger Winchester's words began to slur as sleep began its descent. "Hey, D'n…"
"When does this all stop bn'g s'hard?
"Time, Sammy. Give it time. You're in the toughest part now. Trust me when I tell you that it will get easier."
"I do trus'you, D'n."
"I know you do. Now shut up and go to sleep."
Sam mumbled a bit more, but even Dean in all his mastery of Sam's ramblings, couldn't make out the current haphazardly slurring sounds. And not long after the last semblance of a noise was muttered, Sam finally conked out. He had a good hour too before Dean had to poke him in the shoulder to catch Hell before it took hold. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
When it didn't, Dean would do what he needed to do for his brother – he'd just be there.