AN: Tag for S7E10 Death's Door

Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing in Kripke's sandbox.

There are times, like today, when I look at my brother and wonder how it's possible he's still standing. How is it, with all the crap he puts on himself, that he just doesn't collapse beneath the weight of…everything? Thirty-two plus years of shit, bearing down on him and he stands there as firm as I've ever seen him, even in the middle of all this controlled chaos. When I look real close though, there are signs that his cool is fading fast; tell-tale signs that I only recognize because I know him so well. The way his lower jaw moves slowly and around, like he's chewing gum – which I know he's not – or more likely chomping on that figurative bit that is barely holding him back from unleashing on this…antiseptic Hell. There's an ever so slight tug between his eyes that screams of too many thoughts running through his head and the way the trigger finger on his right hand twitches across the curve of his third cup of coffee in the last hour – it's not because he wants to shoot someone as much as it is that he just wants to be doing something; feel useful in some possible way, rather than have to stand here and endure. And stand there he does. He doesn't fidget or dance from foot to foot like I've been doing all day; the eternal pee-pee dance of anxiety as we wait for news of any kind.

'It's the bowed legs,' I tell myself, 'they're like shock absorbers.' At my own miserable attempt at a joke, I choke out a half-hearted laugh which sounds more like a sob to my own ears. His too apparently, because from across the room, his eyes find mine and it's all I can do not to slump down the wall, because unlike him, I can't endure the pain I see reflected there…no bowed legs to hold me up.