Summary: Tag to the end of 7.06 – Slightly Hurt Sam / Worried Dean – As he approached their motel room, Dean felt relief because at least Sam was home; but also panic, because why was blood on the door?
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for 7.06 (obviously) and language (of course)
I'm not calling you a liar. Just don't lie to me. ~ Florence + The Machine
It was bound to happen.
And one day, it did.
On a Friday afternoon, around 4:00 on a pier surrounded by water as smooth as a mirror, reflecting the mountains silhouetted in the distance. The bright blue, cloudless sky was illuminated by the soft golden glow of an early setting fall sun; the crisp air already growing colder as evening approached.
It was a picturesque, peaceful spot; the kind of place countless couples had probably shared their first kiss or maybe had even gotten engaged; the kind of place families would come for weekend picnics; the kind of place Dean Winchester least expected to be confronted with the truth.
Dean had said nothing in the seconds that had followed; had felt a strange sense of relief – because at least Sam finally knew now – mixed with a flood of panic – because holy shit, Sam knew now.
And judging by the expression on his brother's face, Dean knew even before Sam interrupted him that this was beyond words; this was well past an apology or an explanation.
If Sam had done something Dean had specifically asked him not to do, and then had proceeded to lie about it for weeks afterwards – even when directly and repeatedly asked what was wrong – Dean would have been pissed; would have probably thrown a few punches and said a few things he would have regretted.
But that was not how Sam operated.
Sam's default setting in dealing with hurt feelings was to flee; was to seek solitude and withdraw into the depths of himself to think and sort things out.
Which was why Dean was not surprised by what had happened next.
Whoever said the truth would set you free was partly right.
Because Sam had taken off; had grabbed his backpack and his laptop bag and had set himself free into a world that did not currently include Dean.
I can't talk to you right now.
And as usual, Sam had apparently meant what he had said.
Because it had been almost four hours since he had walked away from Dean on that pier, and Sam was still not answering Dean's calls or voicemails or texts.
Dean snapped his phone shut and threw it into the floorboard of the passenger seat.
"Dammit," Dean muttered to himself, his grip tightening on the steering wheel of the piece of shit car he was now forced to drive; pissed at himself and at the whole fucked up situation.
Because he had known better; had known Sam would find out about Amy and should have told his brother himself before his cloned self had seized the opportunity to use the information as a well-placed barb; the kind that festered and infected everything with traces of doubt and distrust.
Don't...don't lie to me again.
Ever again, had been the full translation when paired with the hurt, pissed expression that had been on Sam's face when he had said it.
Dean sighed harshly. "I'm sorry, Sammy," he apologized softly, glancing at the empty passenger seat; knowing how it felt, how much it hurt when your brother lied to you, regardless of good intentions.
Dean, I can't even be around you right now.
Dean sighed again, because he knew that feeling as well; of feeling so betrayed and let down and wounded that you literally could not bear to even see the face of the person who was to blame.
"You were the one I depended on the most," Dean had told Sam in a hospital parking lot after Lucifer had been set free. "And you let me down in ways I can't even..."
Dean swallowed, acutely aware of how the proverbial tables were now turned; how he had let Sam down; how he would do anything to fix this, to make it right and remembering how Sam had begged the same that night.
"What can I do?" Sam had asked, looking as though he would have gone to Hell right then and there if that was what Dean had named as the price of his forgiveness.
"Honestly? Nothing," Dean had responded, could still remember how cold and empty he had felt. "I just don't...I don't think we can ever be what we were, you know?" he had continued, could still hear the barely contained hurt and rage in his tone. "I just don't think I can trust you."
Dean clenched his jaw against the emotions that flooded him at the memory of his words and of Sam's shattered expression in response to them.
But they had come so far since then – as individuals and as brothers – and Dean was sure as hell not letting them go back to that place of secrets and lies and distrust.
"You hear me?" Dean asked sharply, as though he had made the statement aloud and as though Sam were sitting beside him to hear it. "We're not going through that shit again, Sam."
The words hung in the air – a promise, a hope – as Dean continued to drive back to the motel room he and Sam had gotten earlier in the day before they had driven out to the pier to dispose of their twins' heads...and before all hell had broken loose.
Dean wondered – not for the first time – if he should make one more trip around town in search of his brother.
While it was true that Sam was almost 30 years old and could, in most situations, take care of himself, big brother habits died hard – or in Dean's case, not at all – and Dean could not ignore the need to see Sam; to make sure his little brother was okay.
The motel's sign glowed on the horizon – gaudy flashing neon against the black sky – and as Dean steered the piece of shit car into the parking lot, he had a vague hope that maybe Sam was waiting for him in their room.
Because Sam had said that he could not talk to Dean, could not be around Dean right now, which implied that Sam was not leaving for good and did not want Dean to leave him behind.
Sam just needed his space to cool down and regroup.
Dean nodded in agreement with himself and then smiled when he turned the corner of the building and saw the light glowing from the window of their room.
"Ah, Sammy," he sighed, parking the car and feeling a familiar mixture of relief – because Sam was home – and panic – because holy shit, Sam was home...which meant it was time to face the proverbial music.
Dean sighed again. "Suck it up, Winchester," he advised himself, opening the driver's side door and crossing to their room.
Dean paused before entering, feeling inexplicably nervous; wondering if he should knock and what game face he should wear to this particular battle.
And then he saw it.
Blood smeared on the doorknob.
Dean narrowed his eyes, his heart hammering in his chest as his fingertips skimmed the brush of red; the blood still wet and definitely Sam's.
Dean just knew.
Dean whirled around at the sound of an unfamiliar voice that was entirely too close, immediately assuming a defensive position to neutralize the threat.
"Whoa!" the petite woman yelled, ducking away and almost dropping the items she had huddled to her chest. "Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you," she hurriedly apologized.
Dean said nothing, his gaze sweeping over her and the rest of his surroundings.
"Are..." The woman cleared her throat nervously. "Are you the one that called the front desk for first aid supplies?"
"What?" Dean asked sharply, his gaze flickering to the door of their room and then back to the middle-aged brunette standing in front of him. "When?"
Because Sam had been on his own for the past four hours, which was more than enough time for his brother to get into trouble...especially when he was upset.
The woman shrugged. "Not long. Maybe ten minutes ago. He said he cut his hand, and – "
"Shit," Dean hissed, already knowing which of Sam's hands was injured and hoping he was wrong about how it happened.
"He said it was fine," the woman attempted to soothe.
"Yeah, I bet he did," Dean remarked, abruptly grabbing the first aid supplies from the woman's arms.
The woman blinked at him, seeming a little dazed by the turn of events. "Um...do you need anything else?"
A door shutting in her face was Dean's only response.
"Sam..." Dean called, gaze sweeping the empty room as he dumped the supplies on the nearest bed. "Sammy..." he called louder, seeing the light shine under the closed bathroom door.
Dean was crossing the room – and was prepared to kick the door in, if he had to – when it opened, revealing an obviously tired, sweaty, blood-stained Sam.
"What the hell, Sam?" Dean demanded at the sight of his brother's red streaked t-shirt and then blinked as he belatedly realized Sam had changed clothes. "Wait a minute...you went running?"
Sam said nothing, knowing the answer was obvious and hoping Dean knew he was not in the mood for Lance Armstrong jokes tonight.
Dean nodded, well aware of Sam's mood and even understanding his brother's need to run.
While it was not Dean's favorite recreational activity, Dean had run enough miles in his life to know that running did have a freeing quality. And even though he made fun of Sam for doing it, Dean was glad his brother had that outlet; preferred that Sam run to deal with his issues; had much rather the pain of sore muscles keep his brother grounded than, say, the deliberately inflicted pain of cutting himself.
Dean swallowed hard, as he always did when that thought crossed his mind.
He did not want to think of Sam resorting to such extremes, but Dean had seen how effective pain had been over the past few weeks in keeping Sam firmly rooted in reality; had noticed the numerous times his brother would fidget with his hands, digging his right thumb into his wounded left palm. And now that the injury was fully healed, Dean sometimes worried about what Sam would do to supply that jolt of physical pain that he had come to rely on.
Up until now, Dean had seen no evidence to suggest that Sam was purposefully hurting himself.
But as Dean stared at the blood-covered towel wrapped around Sam's hand, he felt his stomach clench; because what if tonight was the night?
"I fell," Sam reported flatly, stepping around Dean to view the first aid supplies sprawled on the bed.
Dean frowned. "How? Where?"
Sam shrugged, sorting through the supplies with one hand.
Dean's frown deepened. "Sam – "
"Dean..." Sam interrupted, abruptly turning to face his brother. "Please don't talk to me."
There was a beat of silence before Dean nodded.
"Yeah. Sure," he agreed easily even as something in his chest twisted at being so coolly dismissed by his clearly hurting brother.
Because how could he begin to make this right if Sam would not talk to him or would not listen to him talk?
Dean sighed and crossed to the opposite side of the room, grabbing his duffel from the dresser and pretending to sort laundry on his bed while keeping a watchful eye on Sam.
Sam turned away, blocking Dean's view as he braced his towel-wrapped hand against his chest and reached for the roll of gauze on the bed.
But after ten minutes had passed and Sam had yet to successfully wrap his hand, Dean was instantly done with both of their charades and crossed back to his brother.
Sam cut his eyes over his shoulder in silent warning as Dean approached.
"Save the bitchface, Sam," Dean advised casually, taking the gauze from his brother's uninjured hand. "You're pissed at me, and I get it. I deserve it. But we don't have to talk to do this, and I'm not gonna keep watching you bleed. So, sit."
Sam scowled but sat on the edge of the bed, a testament to his level of exhaustion and pain.
Dean sighed – wondering how far and how long Sam had run – and pulled one of the table's chairs over to sit in front of his brother before reaching for the kid's hand.
Sam winced as Dean pulled back the blood-stained towel to reveal a jagged gash across the palm of his hand, almost identical to the one the glass had left several weeks before.
Dean shook his head at the sluggishly bleeding wound; irritated he had forgotten to grab their first aid kit from the Impala, which forced them to make do with the bare essentials provided by the motel.
Dean sighed, dabbing one of the towel's clean corners around the wound's edges and hoping Sam had not done this on purpose; it was hard to tell. But if Sam said he fell, that it was just an accident, then Dean believed him; had no reason not to. Sam was not the Winchester brother who lied these days.
Dean sighed again, freshly disgusted with himself and the entire situation they were now in.
Sam sat motionless, watching his brother and feeling strangely numb except for the sharp throb in his hand.
A strained silence settled between them as Dean continued to wipe the lingering blood from the gaping cut and then dropped the towel to the floor and began carefully wrapping Sam's hand in gauze.
Sam exhaled a shaky breath, knowing he had told Dean that he did not want to talk but suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to do just that; to just get it over with and move on.
Dean narrowed his eyes, inspecting the bandage before reaching around Sam to grab the roll of first aid tape on the bed.
"I knew you did it," Sam confessed quietly, staring at his brother as Dean gently pressed two strips of tape over the gauze that covered his palm. "Even before the leviathan told me, I knew."
Because no one knew Dean as well as Sam did.
And in his heart, though he did not want to believe it, Sam had just known.
Dean swallowed, glancing up at his brother as he continued to cradle Sam's hand within his grasp.
"I know why you did it, too," Sam continued, his tone eerily calm. "I know you thought you were doing the right thing."
And as much as Sam wanted to, he could not fault Dean for that.
Because Sam knew how it felt to do something with good intentions; to carry through something – no matter how hard it was – because you believed it was the right thing at the time, only to have it come back and bite you in the ass later.
Dean released Sam's newly bandaged hand but held his brother's gaze, feeling his heart slam in his chest at what Sam might say next.
"I just wanted you to tell me, Dean. That's why I kept asking you. I just wanted to hear it from you. But man..." Sam shook his head sadly. "You just kept lying."
And Sam could certainly not throw stones on that charge, either.
There had been a time in his life when Sam had lied so often that he had forgotten what the truth even sounded like; had forgotten what the truth even was.
If anyone knew the dangers of becoming color blind on the issue of lying – of distinguishing white lies from the darker shades – it was Sam.
Sam sighed, ducking his head as he fidgeted with the loose, frayed end of gauze that covered his hand, so Dean could not see the welling tears in his eyes.
Dean clenched his jaw at his brother's raw emotion. "I'm sorry, Sam," he apologized, his tone quiet and sincere. "You have to believe me."
"I do," Sam assured softly, raising his head to look at his brother.
Because of all people, Sam knew how it felt to have lied to your brother; to have betrayed him and his trust and to be desperate for his forgiveness.
Sam sighed shakily. "And I forgive you."
Dean swallowed against the emotion that clogged his throat.
Sam held his brother's gaze. "But this stops," he said forcefully. "Right here, right now. You told me you were stone number one. But how am I supposed to build on that – on you – if you're not honest with me?"
Dean nodded, feeling the burn of tears behind his eyes.
"From now on, no matter what happens, we tell each other," Sam stated, the intensity of his feelings on this topic making his tone hard. "No more secrets or lies. Because the list of bad shit that happens when we're not honest with each other is already too long."
Dean nodded again. "Yeah." He cleared his throat. "Yeah, I'm in. No more lies."
"I mean it, Dean."
"I know," Dean responded genuinely. "I do too, Sammy."
Sam nodded and sighed. "Okay. Good." He paused. "And one more thing..."
Dean arched an eyebrow expectantly.
"No more drinking for a while."
Dean snorted and stood, pushing the chair back to the table. "What?"
"You heard me," Sam replied, shifting from where he continued to sit on the bed. "I've already poured out the beer from the fridge and the bottle of whiskey from your duffel."
Dean shook his head. "Sam – "
"Dean..." Sam interrupted, standing and crossing to his brother. "If I have to stay grounded in reality, then so do you...because I can't do this alone. Dean, please. I know this life sucks, and you get tired of carrying the load, but just...please."
Dean sighed, knowing what Sam was really asking and unable to deny his brother anything when Sam looked at him like that.
"You're a manipulative bitch, Sammy," he groused good-naturedly, smiling as he shook his head. "But fine. If you don't want me to drink, I won't drink. Happy?"
Sam quirked a small smile. "It's a start."