Did You Want To?
Summary: 1-shot. Doubts & fears that have been plaguing Sam for months resurface after his trip to Hell & Purgatory. When the Impala chooses to break down on a lonely road, Dean learns he needs to fix something else besides the car when his brother chooses to drop some questions on him that he hadn't been expecting. *Limp/angsty/emotional!Sam & tired/confused/big brother!Dean.* May have spoilers!
Warnings: Warnings for language.
Spoilers: There may be spoilers for 08x19: Taxi Driver so if you haven't seen the recent episodes then be cautious.
Tags: Not exactly a tag but this takes place right after so it could be considered one.
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys or the show. Those honors belong to Kripke and the CW. This is written for fun & the enjoyment of others.
Author Note: While not a tag, this takes place after Taxi Driver and covers some things that I thought Sam might have been thinking ever since Dean got back from Purgatory, especially where Benny is concerned. See the note at the end for more. Thanks and enjoy!
SPN SPN SPN SPN
Roadside, rural Kansas:
"Stupid…of all the damn…Sonuvabitch!"
The sounds of grunting, cursing, tools clanking and then of knuckles scrapping all could be heard as Dean Winchester worked to see what had made his baby, the 1967 Chevy Impala that was both home and transportation, to suddenly decide to break down in the middle of nowhere just as the sun was setting.
He'd been tending to the Impala even before he'd been seventeen and his Dad had given him the keys so Dean knew every sound this car made and it hadn't been making even seconds before it just decided to quit running, forcing him to coast to the side of a rural Kansas back road.
After a quick basic check had revealed no obvious sources, the past twenty minutes of tinkering and of banging his knuckles more than once was beginning to take its toll on Dean's already stressed nerves.
He'd been trying to just get them back to the old Men of Letters base they'd been using. The past twenty four hours hadn't been easy on him emotionally but he knew his brother had taken the brunt of the crap both physically and mentally since Sam had been the one who'd gone into Hell and had nearly been trapped in Purgatory.
Dean had caught the emotional strain on his younger brother the moment Sam had cleared the trees back in Maine and had held on to the hug that Dean had given him. Then they'd both been tossed around by Crowley before Sam got dropped to his knees after he said the spell that finished the second trial.
All of that to learning that their resident Prophet had taken off on them had made Sam more quiet and since Dean knew his brother he was guessing it was either exhaustion or worry that had caused his brother to slowly withdraw into himself during the car ride.
Now, as Dean fiddled under the hood, he made sure to keep an eye on Sam who seemed to have taken it into his head that it was a good idea to wander around the Impala or pace the tiny little wooded area next to them.
"Hey, when you had her you did change the oil, right?" he called out, knowing the answer but needing to hear Sam's voice to be sure where he was at.
"Every month like clockwork, Dean," Sam answered from the rear of the Impala where he was leaning against the trunk as if to rest. "Changed the plugs, kept the antifreeze clean and changed, rotated the tires twice and waxed her like you taught me. Besides, you gave her the full onceover right after you got back so you know all that."
Glad his head was buried under the hood to hide his grin, Dean cleared his throat at the obvious bitch-face tone his brother was using.
He knew his brother had taken care of the Impala for the year he'd been in possession of the car while Dean was stuck in Purgatory…with the exception of the dog he'd let in her. Sam had been taught how to care for the Impala by Dean himself and Sam loved the old car almost as much as Dean did.
Plus his brother knew that if he hadn't taken care of the car that he'd get slapped when Dean did come back so that worry wasn't an issue. The elder Winchester just couldn't define what the hell was wrong then since everything seemed to check out.
A quick look at the setting sun told Dean that he needed to figure this out or they'd be camping out in the Impala tonight and that wasn't what he wanted for Sam right then.
"Remind me again why we took the road to nowhere?" he sighed, taking his jacket off to toss it into the car before going to crawl under the car to see if anything was wrong down there.
"So we could avoid going through Lawrence."
The reply was loud enough to be heard in the near silence but Dean also caught the undertones to it but chose to check the car and avoid that touchy subject.
Lawrence, Kansas was where both Winchesters had been born and up until the night of the fire that had claimed their Mother it had also been home.
They'd only been once and that wasn't a time Dean liked to think about. Lawrence brought back bad memories for him since he'd been four years old and had more memories of the house, of their Mom so Dean tried to avoid the place even though he knew Sam was more curious.
Hearing another grunt as his brother crawled under the car on hard dirt and gravel, Sam sighed. He'd known he wouldn't get a response to his answer so that hadn't come as a shock.
Listening to Dean complain and talk to the Impala normally made Sam smile but this time he was too tired, too weak, in too much pain and too preoccupied to pay much attention.
This latest trial had been a trial in more than one way. Sam had known going in that sneaking into Hell to get Bobby's soul back to send it to Heaven wouldn't be a walk in the park and it hadn't been. Just seeing the torment and pain those souls suffered made him ache.
Sam knew he'd always been the more emotional of the two and had thought he'd locked a good bit of his down lately but just seeing a little of Hell had reminded him that no matter how much he tried to change that he couldn't ever stop feeling for the pain others suffered.
Tracing a finger in the light sheen of dust covering the Impala, Sam didn't seem to realize he'd begun writing sigils he'd learned as boy in the dust as his mind wandered.
Hell had been one thing but it was seeing Purgatory, of thinking that he was trapped there, of seeing just a little of what his older brother had endured for a year that was bothering Sam now.
Since his return, Dean hadn't spoken of Purgatory at all except for one time. Right then Sam hadn't understood his brother's description. Now that he'd spent a short time there, he thought he could understand it and it was that understanding that had brought up more than a few other questions for the younger hunter.
Except for the occasional question to ask if Sam was feeling alright or calling Garth to make sure he'd start looking for Kevin, Dean had been quiet.
Growing up with his older brother allowed Sam to know Dean's moods and actions as much as it let Dean know his so as he watched the way his brother gripped the steering wheel, to the way he noticed that one muscle in Dean's jaw twitch every now and then.
Both were sure signs that his brother was upset and aside from Kevin, the only other thing that Sam could think of that would bother Dean would be that Benny hadn't come out of Purgatory after Dean had asked him to go back in to help rescue Sam and Bobby's soul.
The vampire had been a source of even more strain between the brothers since Dean's return and Sam learned about Benny's existence and that he was a vampire.
Once in Sam's life he'd been more open to the gray area in the things they hunted and had in fact defended a vampire much in the way Dean had taken to defending Benny's ability to live among humans without killing to survive.
Sam liked to think that his opinions had changed after all he'd seen and done since those early days but deep inside he actually knew what his deeper issues with Benny had been: jealousy.
He knew Dean had said that without Benny he never would've gotten out of Purgatory and now Sam understood that but back then all he could see and hear was that the vampire seemed to have taken his place and when Dean said more than once that Benny had never let him down and was almost more of a brother to him than Sam himself had been recently the pain cut deep.
Of course Sam was also aware that at the time Dean said that he'd been more than a little pissed at thinking that Sam had given up hunting right after Dean vanished and hadn't bothered to even look for him so the stress level between them was high.
Fights over Benny became almost as frequent as the ones they used to have over Ruby and while Sam knew Dean had finally stepped back from his friend he'd always known his brother regretted it because he felt that he owed Benny and despite thinking that in some way he owed Benny for getting his brother back Sam didn't deny the silent relief that it was back to being just the two of them.
Sam had tried to reason that he could've gone back to Amelia, he could've walked away again if his older brother had felt so strongly about Benny being there more for him than Sam but again the doubts and guilt ate at Sam.
He accepted that no matter the fights, the strain between them that he couldn't keep running from the things that happened while his brother was gone…the things that made him stop hunting.
Sam also knew that one day he'd have to face his real issues with Benny and talk to Dean about it. Now, after his brief view of what his brother had spent a year fighting against and Benny's sacrifice just to save Sam because Dean had asked him, his other questions were also to the bursting point.
A darkening roadside, a broken car and a distracted older brother all seemed to tell Sam that this may be the right time to broach this with Dean…or at least this was the time he was choosing or else the questions would just drive him nuts.
"Hey, Dean?" Sam glanced down to see that his brother was nearly all the way under the Impala and muttering to himself. "Can I ask you something?"
Running a light from a mini-flashlight over the lines under the car and grumbling Dean heard his brother but didn't give the questioning tone much thought since his main thoughts were elsewhere. "Shoot," he replied, fingers running over the brake line just to check it as he began scooting back toward the front of the car when the next question hit.
"Did you want to come back?" Sam knew that was just the tip of what he really wanted to ask but thought it best to build up to the big one. "From Purgatory, I mean."
Temper simmering when he couldn't locate anything under the car to explain what was wrong, Dean was just reaching for the bumper to pull himself out when he suddenly stopped, reran the question through his head a couple times then just laid still. "Come again?" he was sure he'd heard Sam wrong or at least wasn't getting the meaning behind the sudden question. "Hel-lo? You spent less than a day there. I spent a year so what makes you think I didn't want to get the hell out to come back to this hell?"
The answer held his brother's usual sarcasm but it also had something else in the tone that Sam couldn't identify and that made him all the more certain.
Thinking back, he could still recall the one time he'd gotten Dean to talk about his time in Purgatory and it was the last word that still rang in Sam's mind.
"'Purgatory was bloody, messy, thirty-one flavors of bottom dwelling nasties. Hell, most days felt like 360 degree combat, but there was something about being there…it was…pure.'"
"Up here you have to apply rules, morals but down there…there didn't seem to be many of those," Sam kicked at a stone with his boot while fisting the hand that still felt the burning pain that always seemed to follow doing one of the trials. "I didn't see…much but what I did…you didn't have to worry about cutting loose. You had to do what you had to just to live but…if you'd had a choice, of staying there where even you said it felt pure to be able to just let go or coming back to…well, me…and all this…would you have wanted to?"
'Here we go,' Dean thought to himself, scrubbing a hand over his face while he resisted the urge to put a stop to this one way trip to chick flick-ville.
He'd known or suspected that something had been bothering his brother since Sam got back and a piece of Dean feared it was what Sam had seen or experienced in Purgatory. That he'd been expecting to come out sooner or later but these questions were throwing him off.
"Okay, again…why wouldn't I have wanted to get out of there?" he asked again, deciding it might be best if he stayed under the Impala until he either got a better handle on where Sam was going with this or he had a grip on his growing emotions.
Thinking about the ferocity of the monsters he'd seen and faced while there, Sam considered his brother's temperament, his skills and the skills he'd gained while in Hell and knew that Purgatory would have suited Dean's darker moods.
In Purgatory there'd been no rules clearly. The strong survived. The weak died so the strong could survive and Sam had no doubts which of those he'd have been in his most current condition if Benny hadn't come along when he had.
"There was no gray area down there. I see that now but up here, in what we normally do, that's all there is," Sam considered it and had allowed the picture in his mind of his brother and Benny fighting through Purgatory to get too big and once again he felt the sharp cutting pain of losing his brother to a vampire just because Sam felt he'd failed Dean in some way or that was what his brother thought.
"No, there was no gray area," Dean agreed, hating the thought that even a small piece of that place had touched his brother but still couldn't figure out why Sam was thinking that he hadn't wanted to come back. "It also didn't have pie, double bacon cheeseburgers, hot chicks or…" he stopped himself from finishing that comment of 'or you' before he started what would soon turn emo on him anyway.
Ignoring the light hearted words, Sam missed the way Dean's voice changed or way it cut off as he pushed away from the Impala to begin to pace like he would when clearly agitated or wanting to be moving to avoid any possible physical reactions from his brother.
"But you didn't have to deal with cops, fake IDs, crappy motels or a little brother you couldn't depend on since down there you had Benny and…" pain, exhaustion, and emotion now made Sam more vocal and oblivious to the choking sound that came from under the Impala. "You had him with you and knew he wouldn't let you down or hurt you like I always seem to be doing so why would you have wanted to come back?
"Then when you did you thought I hadn't looked for you and was mad at me but I couldn't tell you the truth. Then you defended Benny so much like you used to defend me against anything so after seeing Purgatory, seeing what it was like and knowing what this is like for you…can you honestly say you wanted to come back?" swallowing the lump he felt, Sam listened to the increasing silence and took that as his answer.
Laying under the Impala, Dean heard the unspoken pain and tears in his younger brother's voice and knew this was deeper and about more than just Purgatory as he slowly pulled himself out from under the car to sit against the bumper for a long moment.
Anytime Sam hurt it bothered Dean, especially if he thought in some way he'd been the cause of it and despite the fact that at times he'd had to strain to hear his brother's too soft voice he hadn't missed the pain he heard and the bigger tone…doubt.
Reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose against the budding headache, he ignored the single tear he felt because Dean had a hunch before this talk was over he'd be surpassing his tear limit for the next six months but first he needed to clear something up.
"Sam, did you notice the trees down there?" he asked casually, knowing his brother and knowing Sam would be defensive if he approached him right off or tried to get to the heart of this right off.
Nearly jumping at the unexpected sound of Dean's voice since Sam honestly thought his brother wouldn't want to converse but then he frowned since he'd have thought if Dean did speak it wouldn't be in the all-too-calm voice he was using and it wouldn't have been about the trees in Purgatory.
"Umm, yeah," he blinked, remembering he'd been surprised to see trees and even a stream in the pit stop before hell. "Why?"
Smirking at the wary tone, Dean didn't bother standing yet. He still needed to get a grasp on things fully before he did. "Did you notice anything odd about them?" he asked, pretty sure his brother hadn't taken the time to look at trees and even if he had he wouldn't have understood what he was seeing.
"Aside from the fact that I thought it was weird that Purgatory even had trees?" Sam considered the question odd and nearly dismissed it as Dean's way of changing the subject when he did recall something he seen on a few of the trees. "They…were marked," he thought he heard Dean's breath get sharp but frowned as he tried to think harder on the scrawl marks on the battered trees.
"Some had little lines but a few had what I thought was writing but couldn't make it out then this one toward the end, where the door to back home was, was all scratched up," the younger Winchester glanced over to see that his brother had finally climbed to his feet but no longer seemed interested in the Impala. "It was weird cause the few things I could make out…it was like familiar to me."
"Huh, college boy's still smart," Dean nodded, reaching into the Impala for a scratch piece of paper and a pencil to quickly mark something on it before laying it on the roof. "That look familiar?"
Watching Dean now with wary hazel eyes, Sam stepped over to take the paper then felt his eyes narrow then widen as he did recognize the writing as something like he'd seen scrawled on a tree in Purgatory. "What…what is this?" he asked, confused.
"It's your name," Dean told him, leaning against the front of the car with his hand on the open hood. "Think back to when you were little and your brilliant plan to have your own secret language so Dad, Bobby, no one else but you and me would be able to read it," he nodded to the paper now clenched in Sam's fist as he went on.
"That's your name and what you saw scrawled on those trees in Purgatory were either days being counted off that I'd been stuck there, little notes to remind me that I was sane or in the case of the last tree…the last thing I'd ever write…to you."
Feeling Sam's eyes lift quickly to stare at him, Dean shifted a little so he could avoid those big eyes and so he could watch the growing shadows filling the nearby trees. "At first I just started marking off the days I'd survived, then the longer it went I'd write these little notes to myself, you, anything to remind myself that I was still me…that I wasn't letting the hell I was in beat me. Not knowing if Benny's plan would even work or what might happen to me if I went through the portal…I decided to take the time and leave a final message even though I knew you'd never see it or even if did you'd never understand it.
"It was basically just a way to tell you things I should've, the things you've always needed to know or hear that neither Dad nor I ever told you and that if it didn't work out I'd find some way to always watch over my pain in the ass little brother," running his tongue over his teeth to try to cover the emotions he'd never wanted to face or the year of anguish and desperation he'd fought to survive, Dean slowly looked back toward his brother. "You asked me if I'd had a choice if I wanted to come back here?"
Pushing away from the Impala to finally face Sam fully, Dean motioned with his arm around them. "Yes, down there it was constant fighting. If you slept, the odds were good that you'd be dead by what consisted of morning down there and as you saw there wasn't much in the way of fast food joints so we won't go into what the diet consisted of."
There were still things that Dean was firm that he would never allow Sam to know and the longer he could protect his brother from the full extent of Purgatory, of what he really did or what he endured the better he liked it.
Though he did accept that Sam did deserve to know the truth about some things even if it brought up memories Dean would rather forget. "Yes, in some way being down there, fighting like I had to it did feel pure because I didn't have the restrictions or the rules we live by but that was another reason I wanted out.
"Sam, you saw the things that live in Purgatory but you didn't see them all," fingering a wrench he'd laid aside, Dean's mind went back and he wasn't aware of how his knuckles whitened as he clenched the tool. "Yeah, there were plenty of monsters…Leviathans, vampires, hell I saw a few things you and I dispatched but what you didn't see or I hope you didn't see were the things that preyed down there that didn't start out as monsters.
"You didn't see the monsters that probably started out as men and women sent to Purgatory for some crime they'd committed before dying. Yeah, some deserved it and believe me, those I didn't feel a damn thing about killing because whether it's up here or down there a child molester would always be something I'd rip the lungs out of but it was the others…that were harder."
His brother's tone caught Sam's attention and made him pay attention even if he still hadn't made himself bring up the big topic yet. He knew when Dean's tone dropped to the quiet, husky one that he was voicing emotions and memories he normally never would and Sam always paid attention at those times.
"You were there less than a day and you were still shaking when I got to you in those woods in Maine. I was there a year and you saw how I was for those first few weeks, that first month or so after getting out…now imagine what two years…or four or even a damn decade would do to a person who didn't have what we had growing up," Dean shook his head at the memory of those kinds of monsters. "Even the most sane, even tempered person could go insane if down there long enough.
"Given my life, my temper, and the crap I did in Hell…yeah, it would've been so easy for me to just give in to those feelings and lose myself but I didn't and you know why?" he was silently hoping his brother would but the moment Sam's gaze moved away and his head lowered, Dean felt his jaw clench and realized that no matter how much of the gap between them had closed he still had a huge rift he needed to mend.
Sam had a hope as to why his brother fought to come back but his doubts still kept him too cautious to voice it and so he went with the more logical choice. "Because Benny helped you survive and you owed him so you brought him back," he replied in what was too close to a mumble for Dean's liking.
Biting his lip before saying the first thing that came to mind, Dean reminded himself that his little brother was fighting off exhaustion and pain and so couldn't fully be blamed for saying little off the wall things that were beginning to piss Dean off.
"Y'know, for such a smart kid you still say the dumbest things that are really starting to make me mad, Sammy," he complained, running a hand through his hair while flicking the headlights on since it was getting darker now and needing some form of light if only to make sure he knew where Sam was.
"Yeah, if it hadn't been for Benny I probably wouldn't have survived and I sure as Hell wouldn't have found the way out but that's not why I fought so damn hard before or even after. Benny wasn't the reason I was determined to claw my way outta that cesspit," Dean took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and hoped the deepening dark would hide how much his hands were shaking as he added softly but firmly. "You were."
Thoughts moving off to other areas this admission caused Sam to look back at his brother's silhouette quickly, not expecting it and feeling his throat tighten when Dean turned to slowly face him because even in the dark Sam knew the emotion that Dean often tried to hide would be clear on his face. "But…I…you…"
"You're my brother, Sam. You've been my little brother all your life and you seriously think something like Purgatory would keep me from fighting to find a way to get back to you?" Dean scoffed, still not taking a step that would close the distance between them. "I fought through Hell to come back, I've done a lot of crap in my life that I'm not proud of if it meant keeping you safe so fighting the hordes of Purgatory didn't change that. I fought there, I fought to survive because I wasn't leaving my little brother alone up here if I could help it," he finished firmly; the huskiness of his tone was the giveaway of the emotions that were surfacing. "Now, care to tell me why you'd think different?"
Heart beating too fast suddenly as he was suddenly faced with Dean admitting what Sam had once hoped was true but doubted, his arm aching and feeling weak in the legs, Sam reached out to support himself on the trunk of the Impala while thinking of a reply when it just blurted out before he could stop it.
"Because you replaced me."
Of all the possible replies or comments Dean was expecting to hear that one wasn't even close and if he hadn't just put his hand on the hood to drop it since it was now too dark to look at the engine he figured he would've fallen on his face.
As it was it took every ounce of willpower to keep from reacting in a way that he guessed his brother was probably expecting. "Come again?" he finally managed to get out between clenched teeth. "I…replaced you? How in the hell are you coming up with that? How'd I replace you or as what…with what?" he demanded, feeling that headache become a migraine.
"With Benny," Sam murmured, using the toe of his boot to nudge the dirt like he would as a kid when confronted with a situation he didn't like. "You said he never disappointed you, I have plenty of times. You could depend on him to have your back. I've let you down or hurt you. You believed in him, defended him against Martin, hell even against me.
"You were angry with me because you think I didn't looked for you, that I just gave up hunting, gave up on you without a second thought and settled down with Amelia," suddenly not caring about hiding every fear, every doubt he'd been burying since learning about his brother's friendship with the vampire.
The exhaustion, mental and physical, he'd been dealing with since taking on the trials combined with everything he'd seen in the past twenty-four hours or so had just made Sam let loose.
Pushing away from the Impala, nearly stumbling as his left leg seemed to want to give out on him, Sam wanted space as it seemed like things were closing in on him despite being outdoors in the middle of nowhere.
However when a strong hand suddenly gripped his arm in a way to keep him from falling, the younger Winchester took it as something else and reacted in the way he'd been taught: he whirled to lash out but when his fist missed the jaw it had been aiming for as Dean dodged at the last second his next action was more basic and not nearly as expected as the fist had been.
"I'm your brother!" Sam shouted, grabbing onto his brother's shirt with his fists bunched tightly as he tried to push away the memories of the time Dean had been gone, to what had happened to make him stop looking for Dean and drop out of sight but more importantly he fought to bury the hurt at the thought of someone else being the one to have Dean's back or of being replaced. "You always said that! You always told me that it didn't matter what happened between us that you'd always be my big brother!"
Taken totally by surprise by this outburst, Dean was stunned into silence until finally Sam's already ragged voice broke on a choked sob that broke through to him and he didn't bother to try to uncurl his brother's fingers yet but did reach up to grab Sam by the shoulders to try to make him look at him but when that didn't work he threw in the towel to resort to his tried and true method.
"Sam…Sam…Sammy!" he finally raised his voice and dropped his tone at the same time that he placed both hands on either side of his younger brother's face to hold it still as he lifted it. "I am your brother," he tried to reason but soon realized that wasn't going to be quite as easy as he'd hoped. "Sam…"
"You hated me! You didn't trust me! Now you're mad because Benny didn't come back outta Purgatory and I did and…it's not fair cause I believed what you said and…" Sam didn't seem to be aware of the worried green eyes that were watching him even though a brief flash of anger shot through Dean as it finally began to sink in what was being said.
Letting Sam wind down had usually been a good way to get a word in or to at least make certain anything else said was understood. It also allowed Dean time to digest everything his brother had been shouting and the other little things he'd picked up in these past few months.
It had never been a secret that Sam had not liked Benny from the moment they'd finally met but Dean had shrugged it off simply as Sam didn't approve because Benny was a vampire…even if his annoying brother had defended Lenore's nest seven years earlier.
Dean knew he'd hurt his brother by saying that Benny had never let him down, that he could at least count on one person and had maybe crossed the line by saying that he and Sam hadn't been acting like brothers in a long time.
He'd known that but used the excuse that he'd been hurt at the thought that Sam hadn't even looked for him in the year he'd been gone. That Sam had given up on everything he'd been taught and just walked away to find a girl and a dog.
Now as Sam's voice became more hoarse, as his grip on Dean's shirt slowly become looser and Dean had to use more strength to support Sam, he began to wonder just what the hell he hadn't been told when he realized with an inner groan that every time he'd tossed it in Sam's face about walking away that the kid had gotten that same edgy look that he always did when not wanting his brother to push too much.
'Huh. I'll deal with that later,' he told himself, knowing he needed to focus on this crisis right then because it was hitting him like an ice cold bucket of water what a huge part of Sam's problem with Benny had been and while some might've found it amusing Dean was far from amused. In fact he was fighting between anger and guilt.
Anger not at his over emotional brother but at himself for not seeing it before and at all the damn sons of bitches who'd caused the rift between them over the last few years. The guilt was all on his shoulders since Dean was well aware how easy it was to hurt Sam with simple words. He'd done it before and had promised himself that he'd never see this much pain and loss in those huge wet puppy dog eyes again.
"You about done, Sammy?" he asked quietly, hoping he could keep his voice level for what he needed to do but the second Sam lifted his eyes back to lock on Dean's he knew this wasn't going to be his night for non-emotional, anti-chick-flick moments.
Swallowing hard, Sam winced as his raw throat ached and slowly he became aware that his fingers were still clutching his brother's shirt while Dean's hands that had been clasping his face moved back to his shoulders the moment Sam seemed to fall forward as his body gave in to the weariness he and it felt.
"Dean…I…" it took only a second for Sam to realize what he'd done and what he'd been saying to his brother. Well aware of Dean's temper and his natural tendency to react violently when angry, Sam felt himself tense even as he was shifted so that he was sitting on the trunk but didn't feel the grip still on his shoulders tighten any more than was needed to support him. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said…Benny was your friend and I wish…"
"Benny knew what he was getting into when he went into there for you," Dean interrupted, trying to decide where to start then figuring this was as good a place as any. "Benny and I shared a lot of crap while we tried to find Cas and then trying to get out of Purgatory, Sam," he began slowly, shaking his head at the first attempt to stop him. "Listen to me, Sammy."
The tone wasn't sharp, nor was his brother's voice loud or sarcastic as it could be when Dean was angry. As Sam eased back further on the trunk, he heard the huskiness of Dean's voice but it reminded him of when his brother had first spoken to him of Hell and that tone usually meant his brother was serious.
Confident that Sam wasn't going to fall down or off the trunk, Dean took a step away to give himself the space he felt like he needed to do this without giving in to his more basic big brother urge to shield.
"Aside from Caleb, I never really had anyone I considered a friend that I'd trust enough to have my back in the kind of shit I saw down in Purgatory," he began slowly, shaking his head at the sound of a sharp breath being taken and gave a small smile over his shoulder as the stars in the clear sky offered light enough that he could see Sam's already pale face sink more. "I said friend, Sam…not brother. Those are two very different and very distinct categories in my book.
"Friends are people like Bobby, Garth, Pastor Jim, Caleb, Ellen, Jo,…Benny. Friends are the people who you deal with, you trust not to turn on you in a fight or in Ellen's case not kill you when her daughter runs off and ends up on our case," Dean coughed at the memory then took a step back to carefully lay a hand on the back of Sam's neck like he would when his brother had been small.
"The definition for brother is…you," he knew that would make Sam's eyes shoot up and smiled an honest smile that only seemed to be easy for him when dealing with Sam as he tried to make this plain. "A brother is someone you know with one hundred percent certainty will have your back in the worst situations possible. A brother is who you turn to for anything. He's who will always have your back, he'll always be there to patch you up when you fall…or a Wendigo tries to eat you.
"A brother is someone who will listen to the same music he has since he was a baby and a brother is someone who will die for you and you will die for him," Dean heard the sound of his brother trying to hide the emotions as he let his fingers tighten just enough to let Sam know to look back up as he added quietly. "You're my little brother, Sammy. I said once that I'd die for you. I did and regardless of it all, I would die for you again if it meant keeping you safe."
Swallowing the tears he didn't want to fall, Sam tried to respond to think of anything to say that wouldn't go against the standard 'Dean Winchester no chick-flick moments rule' but it was hard. "I…you said…"
"Did you mean everything you said when we'd fight about Ruby?" Dean asked with a raised brow then shook his head. "I fought to get outta Hell and Purgatory for you, Sam…and I would've fought just as hard to get back in to save your ass, little brother. Benny did what I couldn't and I will always owe him for that but he knew that no matter how tight we were as friends…you were what mattered more to me.
"I don't like to think that we've seen the last of him but I know he was having a hard time coping up here and while I know what he did to Martin was something that crazy old man deserved after he went after Elizabeth I also know that eventually Benny would've crossed that line and…I know if he'd ever threatened you…that I would've had to have put him down," Dean had hoped it wouldn't have come to that but he'd been hunting too long not to consider all the possibilities.
Watching as Sam seemed to be processing this more; Dean gave another squeeze to his brother's neck before sitting next to him on the trunk and didn't miss the small shivers going through Sam which worried him. "Benny never replaced you, Sam. No one could ever replace you. Not as my partner in this crazy life Dad got us into and sure as Hell not as my pain in the ass little brother.
"You've been that for nearly thirty years and you will stay that for as long as I'm alive," Dean gave a little nudge to Sam's shoulder to emphasize his point while adding. "As for not trusting you? I trust you, little brother. I trust you to have my back, I trust you with my life every day…it's the trusting you with your life that I have a harder time with," he admitted with a sigh, feeling the look that admission brought and knew it was at least 90% bitch face.
"No matter if you're the smart one of this team or how good you are, you're still a Winchester and you still have a damn tendency to do jump before I can look and…that's what scares me, Sam. These trials, how they're affecting you…what this last one will even be…the thought of not being able to protect you is making me crazy because I will not lose you to Heaven or Hell," he declared, coughing when he heard the drop in his own voice.
Sam sat still to consider this while dragging a hand over his face, wiping tears away as he did so then bite his lip as one final thing still bothered him. "Dean? Do you still…hate me for not looking?" he asked hesitantly, feeling his brother tense and he began to ease off the trunk only to have a warning hand grip his neck again and he settled back down.
"I never hated you, Sammy. It hurt," Dean admitted then added. "I was also too tired from all of that to see what I should've from the damn first day in the cabin when I grabbed you and you tensed for a good ten seconds…" he slid his eyes over to watch his younger brother and didn't miss the way he shifted uneasily or the way Sam's left hand clenched. "After all this crap is over…you are going to tell me what happened to you. You are going to tell your awesome big brother whose lungs he gets to rip out."
Normally Sam's first response would be denial but this time he didn't. This time he merely nodded, letting out a breath when he felt the gentle supportive squeeze on his neck. "I'm…"
"Apologizing now is just gonna piss me off, little brother," Dean warned, guessing that was what Sam felt he needed to do and deciding that it wasn't going to happen. "I never should've let you feel like you'd been replaced. So just remember that you will always be my little brother…even when you bitch and moan about me hovering the next time you go to faceplant," he put in, reaching over to cap his night of huge emotional moments off. "C'mere, Sammy."
Suddenly more tired and cold than he had been, Sam ignored that for the moment since open gestures of pure emotions came few and far between for his brother and since a piece of him wasn't certain how many more times they may be able to have moments like this considering the next trial he returned the brotherly hug fully.
Dean expected Sam to make some comment to try to ease what had turned into a pure chick flick moment but when none come and he realized the extent his brother had started to shake, he tightened the hold for a moment longer before coughing lightly and easing Sam back to arm length. "We good, Geek Boy?" he asked hopefully.
"Yeah, Dean, we're good," Sam nodded, smiling a little more freely now before reaching to zip his jacket up. "I…really don't feel like sleeping in the Impala tonight," he admitted, hearing his brother's chuckle.
"Me neither, kiddo," Dean agreed, keeping a hand on Sam as he nudged him back to the passenger seat. "Get inside while I close the hood and we'll see if maybe she was just being temperamental," he encouraged, frowning more when he noticed how weak Sam's grip seemed on that right side.
Moving to the open hood, Dean used his penlight to give the engine another look before closing his eyes. "Mom, please help me protect Sammy and please let me be able to get him someplace warm to sleep," he whispered, then by the time the hood dropped closed he'd made certain his eyes were dry and his face calm as he got behind the wheel to turn the ignition.
Listening to the engine sputter once made Dean grit his teeth then with another turn it was like nothing had ever happened and the Impala fired up.
'Thanks, Mom,' Dean thought silently then shot Sam a smirk that showed more confidence than he'd been feeling. "Told you she'd start," he gloated, not missing the way Sam was favoring his right arm again or the look of tired pain on his brother's face. "We're finding a motel tonight."
Briefly nodding, Sam frowned. "The closest town is Lawrence," he chose to remind his brother, knowing how his brother felt about going 'home'. "Dean, we can drive on. I'm…"
"You are so far from fine it isn't funny anymore, Sammy," Dean cut him off in the tone that meant his mind was made up as he made a U-turn to drive them back toward Lawrence and a decent motel for a change. "Try to sleep then you can crash at the motel while I let Missouri beat me with that damn spoon."
A small smile came at that memory and as Sam turned his shoulder more toward the door like he'd always done when sleeping in the front seat, he yawned but looked over toward Dean. "Thanks, Dean."
"For what?" Dean asked, rolling his own eyes while using one hand to reach to place his own jacket over Sam while also flipping the heater on even though it was a warm night. "Not slapping you for doubting my ability to fix the car or…"
"For wanting to come back," Sam finished then seemed to fall to sleep while pulling the other jacket tighter as he would Dean's battered old leather one.
Staying silent until he was sure his brother had drifted into sleep, Dean slowly made his fingers unclench on the wheel before letting his one hand move over to card through Sam's too long hair with a fond smile. "I'll always come back, little brother," he whispered, ignoring his own lingering doubts over his brother's health while vowing that this time neither one of them would sacrifice anything.
Now he just had to pray he could see to that and hope Missouri didn't find out they were in Lawrence since he didn't need that psychic beating him with a wooden spoon while he had a little brother to hover over, a prophet to locate and a missing Angel with a Heavenly WMD to find.
"Just another day in the life of Dean Winchester," he smirked, flicking the radio on low and shaking his head at the soft mumble from beside him. "House rules, little brother…"
A/N II: Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Sam's reaction to Benny have long since bugged me since he defended Lenore's nest back in Season 2 so as I've gone through the season and after Taxi Driver I began to wonder if there was something else bothering Sam about Benny and this was my response to those nagging little issues. I hope those who have read it enjoyed it and didn't think Sam too OOC. Thanks!