Holy smokes! I can't believe the response this little fic has drawn. It's a personal best for me. I can't thank you all enough, really. I was overwhelmed when I opened my email and saw all the alerts, reviews and even favorite story tags. Now I'm nervous that the expectations will be really high for the next half. The pressure is on!
Also thanks to Issy, whose review was anonymous so I couldn't give thanks in a message.
An Ounce of Respect
Dean sighed heavily and shook his head as he thought of the events that had just taken place. He lumbered to his duffel bag, took out a flask, in which he kept some hard liquor, and brought it to his lips. The beers earlier that night hadn't had the desired effects he had hoped for, as the dull ache could still be felt in his head and in his chest. He took three generous mouthfuls of the smooth malt and attempted to swallow down the pain and anger raging in his bloodstream. He was seeking tranquility, but all he was finding was more bitterness.
Dean missed his father with all his heart and soul. He didn't know how to deal with the vast hole it left in him, and he soon found that it was beginning to fill with contempt and hostility, and the worst part about that was he didn't care. Feeling anger was better than feeling empty.
Dean again looked at Sam. With his arms folded tightly across his chest and a look of pure hatred on his face, Sam sat deep in the chair in which he had been placed and stewed in his own rage. Dean swallowed again and sat on the edge of his bed, folded his own hands in front of him and stared down at the floor. Dean had to think hard about how he was going to handle this mess with his brother. One wrong word from him and Sam would explode like a grenade, and any chance of reconciliation would be lost. He recognized all too well the state of mind Sam was in right now. Dean had seen it plenty of times before when his father was trying to deal with him. Dean knew he had to handle this better than his dad had in the past, or he would be in danger of losing Sam as well. However, he also couldn't lose the advantage of authority with Sam either. Being the older sibling meant that Dean was rightfully the leader and Sam had to respect him and know his place in their relationship. He couldn't let Sam think that he could get his own way each time simply by throwing a tantrum.
Yeah, this was going to be a delicate road to travel. Dean took a deep breath.
"Look, Sam." Dean began, "I get that you're not a big fan of Gordon's, but I do feel I made the right choice for us in working with him. I don't know why you're so dead set against it."
Sam didn't acknowledge him. He just sat and stared at the floor, not moving a muscle.
Dean gave Sam a moment, but soon realized that he wasn't going to get a response. Trying his best to remain patient, he continued.
"I mean, did he do something to you that I didn't notice? Why are you so adamant against working with him?"
Dean still got no response from Sam. It was obvious that Sam wasn't going to drop the sulking act. Dean soon found himself annoyed again.
Sam looked up from the floor. "Oh, are you talking to me?" He quipped sarcastically, "I didn't hear an order in there anywhere, so I figured you were talking to yourself."
Dean's features hardened.
"See? You wonder why I treat you like a kid, and then you act like this when I try to have a rational conversation with you."
Sam unfolded his arms and leaned forward in his chair. "It's a little late for rational discussions, don't you think, Dean?" Sam snapped. "What? You think you can act like some kind of drill sergeant while Gordon's here and then when he leaves act all calm and rational? Think again. I'm not buying it. You can go straight to Hell."
Well, it wasn't quite what Dean had wanted, but at least the communication lines were opened again.
"Okay, look. I know I may have gone a little overboard…."
"A little overboard?" Sam hollered, "Are you freaking kidding me? What you did was unforgivable. And you're fooling yourself if you think you can make me apologize to Gordon for something I didn't even do, 'cuz I'll tell you one thing…..I will sit here and rot before I offer him an apology, and there isn't one thing you can do about it. You can't make me do anything I don't want to do. You think that you can pick up where Dad left off with me, but you can't." Sam leaned even more forward and pointed at Dean. "You're NOT DAD!"
Dean stiffened at the mention of his father. "No, I'm not Dad, but I am the oldest, and that makes me in charge, and you have to learn to accept that."
Sam gave Dean an incredulous look, shook his head again and leaned against the back of the chair, again crossing his arms over this chest. "You don't just automatically get to be in charge. You have to earn it." Sam answered. "And the way you acted tonight doesn't make me want to respect you at all, Dean, just the opposite, actually."
Dean stood from the bed and looked down at Sam as he spoke. "Oh, and I suppose you handled yourself perfectly tonight, right? Sulking and moping around at everything, leaving the bar and acting like a spoiled brat, coming back to the motel after pulling a disappearing act and pitching a fit? You never even gave Gordon a chance….. you didn't even try to get to know him at all." Dean paced back and forth in front of Sam as he lectured him. "You decided early on that you didn't like him for some reason, and you had him condemned from the get go. Your behavior toward him was unacceptable, and you deserved to get called out on it. You need to learn to treat hunters with respect."
Sam's breathing hastened as he glared up at Dean. "And what about you?" He asked.
Dean frowned at Sam. "What are you talking about? I didn't disrespect Gordon."
Sam couldn't take this anymore. He flew to his feet, knocking the chair over behind him with a force that sent it crashing to the floor. He stormed up to Dean and got right up in his face and hollered as he pressed his finger sharply into Dean's chest.
"I'm not talking about Gordon, you stupid asshole! I'm talking about me. ME! The way you disrespected me!" Sam roughly shoved Dean backward, knocking him back against the motel room wall. Sam moved with Dean, keeping him pressed against the wall as he crowded Dean's face with his own. "I'm a hunter too! Do I mean that little to you that you don't even recognize that? Where's my frigging respect?"
…..And there was the kaboom.
Dean put his hands against Sam's chest and tried to calmly push him back, but Sam wasn't budging. "C'mon, Sam." He began.
"Don't you 'c'mon Sam' me!" Sam interrupted, "Oh, and by the way, I'm Sam now? What happened to Sammy? Isn't that my name? 'Cuz Gordon seems to think so, thanks to you."
Dean stood his ground with Sam as he again pushed against Sam. This time, Sam took a half a step backward, allowing Dean room to take his head away from the wall about an inch. "Now you hold on a minute. I backed you on that one, you heard me tell Gordon not to call you that again."
Sam actually laughed for a second. "Yeah, you sure did, Dean. I guess I should thank you for that, 'cuz that sure was nice of you. Of course you did that after you were through humiliating me!" Sam brought his hands up to his head and pushed his hair back away from his face in exasperation. "Dude, how could you do that to me? Can you even imagine how degrading that was? I would NEVER do that to you."
Dean winced as he tried to make light of it. "It wasn't as bad as you think it was." He stated.
Sam's blood began to boil as he recalled what had happened. "Not that bad, huh? Dean, you kicked me in the ass!" Sam shouted, "There's no way in Hell I can work with Gordon now. Man, I can't even bring myself to look at him again, much less team up with him. He'll never have any faith in my abilities as a hunter after what you did. He'll never be able to take me seriously." Sam's frustration finally got the better of him and he lost the battle of holding his emotions back as he felt his eyes fill up with tears. Sam angrily wiped at his eyes with his fists, and then pointed again at Dean as his voice finally broke. "If you would just give me an ounce of respect, just once, that would be nice."
Sam turned away from Dean at that point as he had run out of things to say. Sam felt like it didn't matter anyway, Dean would never change the way he saw him. To Dean, he was a bratty little kid forever, no matter how old Sam got or how much he matured, he would always be Dean's kid brother…. Always being made to follow orders, always living in Dean's shadow. Part of Sam wondered why he even bothered to talk to Dean at all about stuff like this. Nothing he said ever made any difference, nothing ever changed.
Dean watched in silence as Sam walked away from him. He closed his eyes and sighed as it sunk in what Sam had told him. 'Okay,' He thought, 'Maybe I did go too far this time.' He hadn't thought about what his actions would do to Sam. He acted on impulse, as usual, and as usual he had screwed up. Dean actually really felt bad, however, he didn't want to risk making things worse, so instead of getting all gushy and apologizing, he decided to just drop it and give Sam and him a chance to calm down.
"It's getting late," Dean stated, "I'm gonna go in and grab a shower."
Sam nodded in his direction as he plopped himself down on his bed, reaching for the remote to surf the twelve whole channels the crappy motel had to offer. "Kay, whatever." He answered as he rested his head back on the pillow and stared blankly at the television screen.
SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN
Dean exited the bathroom about fifteen minutes later, dressed in blue cotton pajama pants and tee shirt while drying his hair off with a towel. He saw that Sam hadn't moved from the bed since he'd left him. Dean crossed the room in front of Sam as he headed for his duffel bag to stuff his dirty clothes in it.
"Oh, by the way," Dean began, "What was it that you were going to tell me earlier? And don't tell me it was nothing."
Sam turned his eyes from the tv and looked Dean up and down without moving his head. As suspected, the conversation from earlier was over, and Dean had decided that it was time to move on. Sam figured he'd let it go as well.
"If I tell you," he answered, "You have to promise me that you'll keep it between us. You can't tell Gordon."
Dean's face scrunched up in a questioning frown. "Why can't I tell Gordon? What difference does it make?"
Sam shook his head. "It doesn't matter. You just have to promise me that you won't say anything to him. It's important, trust me." Sam sat up and faced Dean. "You do trust me, right Dean?"
Dean sighed as he sat on the edge of his bed, across from Sam. "Fine, Sam. You win. I won't say anything. You have my word."
Sam eyed Dean cautiously for a moment before he began his story of his confrontation with Lenore and Leon. Dean's eyes became huge as he listened on in disbelief. When Sam had finished, Dean sat in stunned silence. "You've got to be kidding me!" he said, barely above a whisper. "You were in the nest, and you know where they are, and you want us to just walk away?" Dean stood from his bed, grabbed the towel and threw it across the room. "Sam, can you hear how crazy that sounds? Are you even listening to what you're suggesting we do?"
Sam also stood and took a few steps closer to Dean. "Yes, believe me, I know how it sounds. But, Dean, you weren't there, okay? You didn't hear what they had to say. You didn't see how hard they are trying to live their lives without taking anyone else's." Sensing he was losing Dean in this conversation, Sam placed his hands on Dean's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "Dean, you can't tell Gordon, you promised me."
Dean shook his head. "Yeah, I know, but I had no idea you were gonna come out with something like this…." He turned and walked a few steps backward, trying to absorb and mull over what Sam was telling him. "You can't ask me to do this. They're vampires, we need to hunt them and kill them. You know that."
Sam started to get exasperated again as he continued to state his case. "Dean, they're not killing anyone. Our job is to save people from evil, and in this case, there's no one to save. The only ones being hunted and killed are the vamps, and Gordon is the one killing them. Look," Sam gave it one last shot at getting his point across to Dean. "Lenore said that the pack was leaving tonight to go somewhere where they'll hopefully be safe. All we have to do is keep quiet about the nest, they'll be gone in the morning and Gordon will lose his trail of them. It'll at least give Lenore and them a head start. Besides, we don't owe Gordon anything anyway."
Dean let out a breath as he struggled with his decision. "Why the Hell is it that you don't like Gordon, anyway? I mean, even before we got into it, you already hated him for some reason."
Sam gave a look of distaste. "I dunno. Just something about him seems really slimy. I even called Ellen about him, and she made me promise her that we'd stay clear of him, that he was bad news."
Dean looked at Sam in disbelief. "You called Ellen?"
Sam raised his eyes and nodded.
Dean rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. He then locked eyes with Sam as he struggled with a final decision. "You're absolutely, one thousand percent sure about the vamps?" He asked.
"Yes," Sam answered, "One thousand percent positive." As if contemplating Dean's next move, Sam added. "C'mon Dean, you owe me this much. Here's where you can show me some of that 'hunter's respect' you were talking about and trust that I know what I'm doing. If Gordon or another hunter told you to walk away, you'd listen to them."
Dean closed his eyes as he struggled with his decision. He then reopened them to see the desperate, yet hopeful look on his brother's face. As much as it went against everything that he'd been taught, he just couldn't let Sam down this time. Not believing what he was saying, he answered his brother.
"Fine, you win. As long as you realize that this goes way beyond what every fiber in my body is telling me to do, I won't say anything to Gordon and let the vamps escape."
Sam smiled from ear to ear at Dean. "Wow," he answered. "I can't believe you said that." He then placed his hand on Dean's upper arm. "Thank you for that."
"Don't thank me, just do me a favor and stop whining that I never give you any respect or that I'm mistreating you, and we'll call us square."
Sam snorted at Dean as he threw him a sideways glance. "Well, I wouldn't call it square yet, but it's a good start, anyway."
As Sam went to walk past Dean, Dean caught his elbow. Dean looked uncomfortable at what he was about to say.
"Look, Sam." Dean started as he attempted to look Sam in the eyes. "I just want you to know…..what you said about the whole respect thing….it's not true. You're a damned fine hunter. I wouldn't want anyone else but you with me on a hunt…..not anyone else."
Sam smiled at the rare compliment from his brother. He appreciated how hard and unnatural that was for Dean, and that made it all the more meaningful to him.
Before Sam could say anything, Dean quickly changed the subject. "Why don't you go grab a shower and wash the scent of those vamps off from you? I'm gonna go out to the vending machine and grab me a Milky Way bar before bed."
SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN
The following morning Sam and Dean decided to skip meeting Gordon after breakfast and just head out early. They got up at the crack of dawn and packed their bags to once again hit the road. As the sun was just peeking from the horizon, they were leaving their motel room.
Sam walked behind Dean as they carried their duffels and headed toward the car. Suddenly, without warning, Sam lifted his foot from the pavement and gave Dean a quick, sharp boot in the seat of his pants. Dean was caught by surprise, of course, and the force of the blow sent him lunging forward, tripping over the curb and landing on his hands and knees next to the car. Dean looked up at Sam in shock as Sam walked past him as if undaunted by what had just happened and opened the trunk of the Impala. On the inside, Sam was trying very hard to keep from bursting out in laughter, but outwardly he kept his composure completely intact. He threw his bag in the trunk and casually climbed in the passenger seat of the car.
"Son of a bitch!" Dean muttered to himself. "What the Hell, Sammy, I thought we were past this."
"Oh stop whining, Dean," Sam retorted with a smirk. "It wasn't as bad as you think it was."
Dean pursed his lips as he recognized that his own words from the night before were being used against him. He got up, threw his bag in the trunk and sat in the driver's seat.
Sam looked across the front of the car at his brother, "And by the way," He continued. "If you ever do that to me again, I'm gonna shoot you in the ass with a round of rock salt." He turned his head and faced forward as he looked out the windshield. "Remember that, big brother."
And so it ends. Hopefully it complements the first chapter and wraps everything up. I really didn't want things to get any more physical between them than they already had in the first chapter, but I wanted Sam to get a chance to get his point across to Dean. I think it worked out okay.
Also, I decided to leave the argument from "Bloodlust" between the brothers about their father completely out of my story. To me, the real writers of SPN did it perfectly, and I'm a firm believer that you don't mess with perfection.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, and please take just a moment to leave a quick review. I would greatly appreciate it.