And I Can Carry You
Tag to 8x17 - The boys have made their getaway and are travelling along in the Impala when Sam slowly realizes Dean may have kept a detail or two from him about Cas' sudden departure from the crypt.
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING!
What a weird day.
There's an angel tablet. Lucifer has crypts. Crowley just won't go away. Meg is dead.
Sam shifts his gaze from the road to his brother's profile; the hardened features of Dean's face telling him he isn't in the best of moods. Dean had given him the Cole's notes version of the moments before he found him in the room, alone. He had managed to make out the gist of Dean's ramblings; the angel tablet and Cas are both gone, but Sam had, and still has the feeling that his brother left the big, important pieces out.
Dean's eyes glance to the rear view mirror and Sam wants to tell him to relax; the crypt is miles away by now and there aren't any bad guys on their tail, but he opts instead to wait him out and lets the question linger on the tip of his tongue.
Besides, he should prepare himself for the inevitable discussion of his health and the fact he hasn't been forthcoming with Dean on that particular point. Nothing crawls under his brother's skin more than finding out something's up on his own instead of from him.
When the talk comes, it isn't so bad; Dean's tone carries a slight air of resignation and Sam figures he's just too worn out from the day's events to spend his energy on a fight. And the message is simple enough; Dean wants to be kept in the loop. Yeah, Sam can do that.
Sam relaxes a bit in his seat, the adrenaline slowly starting to subside; the air not quite as cool since his Lord of the Rings quote helped ease the previous tension of the car. That kind of stuff always makes Dean crack a smile.
The sound of the radio filters through the interior and the brothers seem to settle into a comfortable silence, each getting lost in the story and rhythm of the song; a welcome distraction from the chaos they just escaped from.
But after the fifth time that Dean looks at the mirror, and yes, he has started to count, Sam starts to realize upon closer inspection that his brother isn't really looking at the road behind them anymore, but seems to be studying his own reflection.
It's building in his gut, the feeling, and as he continues to watch a bit more closely he starts to notice things; signs that confirm Dean didn't tell him quite the whole story of what happened back at the crypt.
The way his fingertips skim across the side of his face.
The way he flexes and twists his right wrist, glancing to check its movements before deflecting his gaze back out the window.
Sam adjusts his own stare towards the road ahead while he contemplates his next move; how to go about breaching the topic of what's wrong; how to get Dean to open up when it's obvious his brother is finished talking for the foreseeable future.
But they've already gone through the motions of promising not to keep things from each other so Sam figures now is as good a time as any to test those waters, intuitively knowing Dean is now the one keeping something major from him.
Maybe it's just random timing, or perhaps it is in that moment that Sam is meant to see it in order to strengthen his resolve. As the car passes a lit sign along the road, it provides just enough illumination on his brother for Sam to get a better look at him; he even leans over a bit to get an even greater view. And it is because of that flash of light that Sam's eyes scope out something that seems starkly out of place considering Dean's current, physically healthy state.
Blood. There is blood on Dean's jacket.
He hadn't noticed that before; its placement located on the left, obscured from the side Sam usually faces Dean while they travel. It's a typical move; that Dean had conveniently forgot to mention the act of losing bodily fluids to him.
Any resistance Sam had to bringing up the topic is now gone, the crimson evidence staring him right in the face.
Something big definitely happened.
He starts the conversation; decides to begin by focusing the topic on himself to make sure he has his brother's attention.
"I get nosebleeds," Sam's voice filters out and Dean reaches over to turn off the radio. "The headaches can be a bitch, too. But I'm okay, I think. I won't hide it from you anymore, Dean. I just didn't want you to worry."
Green eyes glance in Sam's direction.
"I know Sammy but I will always worry, you know that. It's just... you need to tell me what's going on, okay? Maybe I can help."
"Okay, man. I get it."
Back to silence.
Back to looking at the mirror again.
Back to what now Sam assumes is an unconscious reaction; as Dean presses gently on the surface below his left eye. He's nursing a headache, of that Sam is sure, and his suspicion is cemented when Dean jabs the heel of his hand into the same eye and lets out a defeated gust of air. His big brother suddenly looks exhausted and vulnerable as he seems to get lost again in his own head.
Sam needs to get him talking.
"Well I guess we should have learnt by now not to keep things from each other, huh? Even when we think it's a burden the other doesn't need to share. Right?"
Sam waits for more but sighs as Dean's right hand moves towards the radio once more. He catches it before it reaches its intended target and the quick reflex of the appendage to get away from the pressure of Sam's touch surprises him.
The word is quiet and shaky and Sam notices how Dean retracts his body as far as he is able against the door.
Sam lifts his arms up in a non threatening pose.
"Whoa, Dean. Relax, it's just me."
Panic is replaced by relief in his brother's eyes and he attempts, miserably, to send a smile Sam's way.
"Sorry, man. Guess I'm just a bit jumpy, huh?"
Sam takes a deep breath.
"Yeah, you could say that. But it has been a weird night."
"You ain't kidding."
Another breath. Here goes.
"So... what happened back there, Dean?"
His brother closes his eyes briefly, as if trying to recall the events, before his eyes glance at the mirror again and his hand caresses the side of his face.
His voice is low.
"You were there Sammy, you know what happened."
"No, I wasn't. Not in the same room anyways."
His name is said in Dean's patented 'leave it alone' inflection but Sam can't let it go and steels himself for the next round.
"What happened between you and Cas?"
Dean lets out a sigh.
"We've already been through this."
Dean start to fidget and Sam sees him glance at his right wrist, again.
"Yeah, but seeing as we were running for our lives you might not of had a chance to tell me everything; maybe left out a detail or two?"
Sam's turn to use his own; his patented 'I am not giving up on this yet' tone.
"Sheesh, Sam. Maybe you need to carry a notebook to write this crap down."
He has definitely hit a nerve; Dean tries sarcasm to get himself out of it. He seems nervous and edgy and hopeful that his snide remark will stop this particular line of questioning.
Sam waits a few seconds before piping up again.
"I'm listening, Dean."
His brother's jaw clenches and Sam knows he's working out what to say.
"Fine. Found the tablet. Cas... wanted the tablet," Dean starts to fidget more now, his eyes back at the mirror, his breathing starting to ramp up, "Basically, Cas went nuts. He touched the tablet. Bright light. Voila, Cas not nuts anymore. Follow that up with the flutter of wings and Cas... gone. Goodbye tablet. End of story."
Piercing eyes now glare out the front of the window, not daring to look over at Sam. Sam assumes he would see all kinds of emotions written on Dean's face; ones he obviously is not ready or willing to share.
Keeping things inside; never letting his own pain work its way into the world is a move Dean is infamous for; sooner or later he'll explode from all the crap he keeps bottled up and that won't do either of them any good.
"I've heard all that before, Dean."
"Told you. Now you know as much as me. So let's drop it."
There is a pleading quality in Dean's words and Sam silently apologizes to his big brother before he speaks again.
"I can't drop it. I know you, Dean, and I can tell when you're holding something back. As hard as you are trying to hide it I know there's more. Why don't you just spill and then I won't have to keep hounding you."
Dean puffs out a gust of air from pursed lips.
"We are in this together, right? Time to stop keeping each other in the dark about stuff."
Sam can see something shift in Dean's features then. Maybe his defenses have been rattled, or maybe he realizes if he doesn't come clean it makes his earlier honesty speech meaningless.
Whatever the reason, Sam isn't about to let the opportunity go.
"I can carry you too, Dean."
That's what does it; using Dean's own words back at him. The car drifts to the side of the road and Sam isn't sure at first whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.
They stop and Dean is out of the Impala in a flash, depositing himself against the hood of the car.
Sam takes it as a really good sign; Dean's wordless way of telling him he's ready to talk.
Sam approaches slowly and takes his usual position beside his brother and waits, sucking in a breath as he sees for the first time the extent of dried blood on Dean's clothing.
He doesn't need to wait long.
"He was gonna kill me, Sam. Cas... I knew there was something off with him. He seemed different but I never thought he'd..."
Sam swallows the lump in his throat. Dean is hurting and Sam can only watch as he closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose before whispering out more of his confession.
"He broke my freaking arm to get to that damn tablet."
That would definitely explain the constant attention to his wrist.
Dean isn't looking at him when a slight tremor starts to work its way through his frame, speaking the words aloud taking its toll on his body.
Sam inches a bit closer to his brother. Although he thinks he already knows, Dean needs to tell him the rest; needs to get it out.
"How did you get the blood on your jacket?"
Dean's eyes scan the surface of his coat and he lifts his hand to lightly touch the outline of blood that resides there.
"Huh, didn't notice that. I guess that would make sense. Guess I'll have to ask him to heal my duds next time too, right? Man, I love this jacket and now it's ruined."
Sam takes a deep breath in.
"What did he do to you, Dean?"
Green eyes brimming with tears turn towards him and Sam suddenly has to fight to keep his own emotions in check; hopes his face isn't dotted with sympathy or this conversation could be over.
Dean turns away, shifts his gaze to the night sky and starts to speak, Sam getting the distinct impression his words are meant to be heard by more than just him.
"It wasn't him, Sam. His eyes were so cold. He was damn methodical in how he delivered each and every punch. Couldn't see out of my left eye by the end. Weird how the crunch of my bones under his fist didn't even make me flinch."
And that would explain the frequent glances into the rear view mirror; of Dean's need to feel the now undamaged surface of his face against the palm of his hand.
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