Summary: Season 8: Batcave!Fic. Dean is thrilled to have his own room; Sam, not so much.
A/N: My muse loves the Batcave, so here's another little brotherly bonding fic.
A/N: Beta services provided by Ericka Jane; the best in the business.
Security Blanket - anything used or thought of as providing reassurance; something that dispels anxiety.
Dean chose the room with one bed and Sam tried hard to quell the stab of hurt his brother's selection caused. All his life he had shared a room with Dean and now, at the first chance, his older sibling had opted for separation.
The decision had broken a time-honoured tradition which had always dictated that even when multiple rooms were on offer, the Winchesters bunked together. Growing up that rule had applied in practically every situation from lavish accommodations to tight quarters. The status quo has remained intact through adulthood.
For all of Sam's childhood, Dean had been the one who put him to bed and his brother's face was always the last thing Sam saw before he drifted off to sleep. Equally familiar was Dean's arm wrapped protectively around him on the occasions when he had crawled into his big brother's bed when he was hurt or frightened. Then there was the comforting way Dean would rub his back to soothe him to sleep when he was sick or after he'd had a bad dream.
When he grew too old for back rubs and cuddles, conversation became the latter day lullaby. Dean was always there when Sam had been badly shaken by a hunt or if he was stewing after an argument with their father, or going through one of his numerous episodes of teenage angst. He would start one of his talks and chat until Sam fell asleep. He would ramble on about anything and nothing and the soothing sound would lull Sam into slumber.
In some instances Dean would sit on Sam's bed, at other times he would stay on his own but whenever he struck up one of these "conversations" the sound of his voice had a tranquilizing effect on Sam. The constant jabbering always telegraphed that no matter what Sam was going through, he was going to be OK.
An enduring memory for Sam had been the frightening day when he and Dean had witnessed the brutal death of a young hunter at the hands of a Wendigo. The violent killing had shaken Sam to the core of his being. That night, Dean had suspended the manly protocol introduced in their adolescence and had held Sam while he'd softly cried himself into a fitful sleep. Conversely, after Sam's disastrous first date with a girl who had only been using him to get her ex-boyfriend jealous, Dean managed to get him to laugh off the flop with a bedtime soliloquy about his own dating debacles.
Through it all Dean's presence in the bed beside Sam's had always meant that Sam wasn't alone and whatever it was; wayward girls, a disagreeable Dad or even evil creatures lurking in the night, someone had Sam's back.
It was little wonder that he'd barely had a peaceful night's sleep for the first year and a half he was at Stanford. Things had changed for the better when he met Jess but it was still different. Sleeping with her had brought the soul-warming comfort that only intimacy can provide, but Sam soon discovered that passion didn't mean security. Sam knew the evil things that could crawl out of the dark and either take life or make living hell. He knew the cozy little world he'd built with his girlfriend was fragile at best, and he lived with the fear that it could shatter at any moment. So after pursuing and attaining normal, Sam realized that what he really wanted was safety. And all his life, only his big brother had ever been able to make him feel truly secure.
Stanford had been hard but when Dean went to hell the separation had been unbearable. That agonizing sojourn had been marked by endless nights of torture where Sam was haunted by horrifying nightmares of what his brother was enduring in hell.
Bad as they were the nightmares were actually the preferred option. Whenever Sam had mundane dreams about Dean it was excruciating. Those were the ones that lulled him into thinking he hadn't really lost his brother. Then whenever he woke up, reality would set in and he'd mourn Dean all over again. Left with the choice between a good dream and bad, Sam prayed for nightmares before he fell asleep.
And if that hadn't been enough, he'd had a recent reminder of the anguish of being separated from his big brother when Dean had been blasted to purgatory.
So when Dean chose a room for one, it stirred up a lot of painful memories for Sam. For the younger Winchester, having his own room had always meant that he and Dean were estranged, or worse.
However once Sam saw Dean's delight at having a room for himself and as he watched his brother lay claim to the space he decided to keep his misgivings to himself. Dean deserved his independence and Sam would just have to get over his childhood fears and adult insecurities.
However, Dean's legendary big brother radar didn't exist for nothing; and a few weeks into their sojourn in the Batcave he sensed something was wrong. He noticed Sam would become sulky and withdrawn at nights and was most often red-eyed and irritated in the morning. The final confirmation that something was off came one night when Dean had announced he was turning in after a marathon research session.
"Please heed the do not disturb sign," he said as he got up from the table. "I'm gonna close the door and pull up my sheets, and I don't want to hear from anyone until about 5pm tomorrow and that includes you."
"Suit yourself," Sam sneered and stalked off to his room.
When Dean heard the pout in his little brother's voice, the lengthy sleep session was delayed in deference to another time-honoured Winchester tradition, the late-night talk. Dean followed Sam to his room and plopped himself down at the foot of his sibling's bed.
"You know," he said easily. "I'm starting to rethink that decision to put the TV in your room."
"Take it if you want," Sam said nonchalantly. "Or we can swap rooms if you like; it's all the same to me."
Dean noted the tone and the couldn't-care-less shrug. Yep, something was definitely up with Sammy.
Sam had the best room in the house as far as Dean was concerned. Even with two huge beds there was enough space for a desk, several book shelves, a couch and a reclining chair. For Dean it was only fitting, that the TV, their only indulgence, had been installed in what he referred to as the master suite.
"What's the matter?" Dean ventured after Sam's curt response. "You don't like your room?"
"It's OK I guess," Sam couldn't quite muster up any enthusiasm.
"Oh come on, Sammy," Dean teased. "You can be honest with me, when we were growing up, didn't you get tired of us being in each other's space all the time? Didn't you always want your own room?"
"I thought I did," Sam conceded. "And then I got it when I went to Stanford and I didn't have a good night's sleep for over a year."
"Yeah," Sam looked away, ending eye contact before he made the next admission. "I didn't really settle down until Jess and I moved in together, and even then I wasn't totally comfortable because I never could feel safe."
"Oh come on, Sam," Dean tried to make light of it. "You went off to college to be safe, what was there to worry about in serene Palo Alto?"
"There was no one to watch my back."
The admission caught Dean off guard.
"O.K," he tried to come from another angle. "But that was a temporary situation. You got your bodyguard back soon enough."
"Sure I did. And then three years later I had my own room again; when you went to hell."
This time it was Dean who broke eye contact.
"And we all know how well that worked out," Sam reminded. "And let's not forget, I had the pleasure once more, when you went to Purgatory. So forgive me if I'm not too fired up about the prospect of having my own room again."
"I never thought of it that way," Dean stated after mulling over his brother's admission for a few minutes. "But Sammy, all that crap that happened before, that's not how it is now. I'm right across the hall."
And Sam was hard pressed to tell his brother that was still too far. What's more he didn't feel like he had the right, not when Dean seemed so thrilled to finally have his own space.
"Don't worry about it," Sam got up and grabbed his night sweats. "It's not like I'm ten years old. I'll be fine."
Sam slipped out to the bathroom leaving Dean alone in the expansive suite. When Dean glanced around the room the other shoe dropped. He had picked a cozy little spot suitable for one but Sam had taken the room that was made for two. Dean hadn't wanted much, but he wanted to make his room his, while Sam had wanted to share.
When all was said and done, his little brother still wanted him close by.
Sam returned several minutes later to find Dean, stretched out on the bed opposite his, watching the TV.
"Basketball's on," Dean said, not taking his eyes from the screen. "I didn't even realize the playoffs had started."
Sam tossed his dirty clothes onto a chair and sat on his own bed.
"You don't mind if I stay and watch the game do you, Sammy?" Dean asked, fiddling with the remote.
"No," Sam replied. "Knock yourself out."
"Great." Dean arranged the pillows to prop himself up against the headboard and settled down. "You know with your height, you really should have thought about playing basketball."
Although Dean wasn't looking Sam rolled his eyes. "I guess I missed out."
"You sure did," Dean said philosophically. "And so did I."
"Yeah. If you'd turned out to be a big NBA star pulling in nine figures, guess who'd have to be your manager."
"You're kidding?" Sam had to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Dean shot Sam a questioning look before turning back to the game. "I've been in charge of you all your life, at least if you'd become a baller, I would have gotten paid for it."
"And what would you know about sports management, Dean?" Sam stretched out and pulled his blankets up.
"How hard could it be?" Dean shrugged. "I'd get you a sneaker contract, make sure your accountant isn't ripping you off and then, I'd focus on the real work."
"Which is what?"
"Screening the groupies."
In spite of himself, Sam had to laugh. "You're sick, you know that?"
"Hey, don't underestimate what it would take to run interference between you and a bunch of gold-digging hotties."
"Whatever it takes," Sam paused to yawn loudly. "I'm sure you're equal to the task."
"Well at least we agree on something," Dean continued, shifting his focus back to the television. He gasped loudly when a player missed what had looked like a sure shot. "How did these clowns make it to the playoffs shooting like that?"
Sam fluffed his pillow then snuggled down. Funny he'd never noticed how soft the feathers were before, just like he'd overlooked the comforting feel of the expensive linen sheets. The Men of Letters definitely believed in getting the best.
On the bed beside his Dean began a running commentary about the game. Sam made no attempt to follow the treatise; he just savored the sound of his big brother's voice. Dean rambling on about everything and nothing; and if there was a more comforting sound, Sam couldn't think of it.
He drifted off into a deep, restful sleep but woke with a start several hours later. In the darkness, Sam took a few seconds to get his bearings. A side effect of spending most of his life on the road was the uncertainty that always came with waking up. However, there was one thing that could always ground him.
Glancing to his side, Sam saw the figure, sleeping like the dead in the bed paralleled to his.
Dean was here; that meant he was safe.
Sam turned over, pulled up the covers and went back to sleep.
A/N: Thanks for reading. If you like the security blanket theme, feel free to check out "Written Instructions", it's Chapter 10 in my series, "I Wish I Was Your Brother".