Choose or Lose
Author Note: So maybe it wasn't over with Chapter 4. I normally don't add on once I mark a piece complete but this one still felt like it had something missing so now be prepared for brother schmoop and bonding.
"'What the hell?'"
"'Can't always drink or feed from the monsters down here, Dean. Don't know where these things have been. I've always found it better to find my dinner in places I trust. You hold still now and this won't even leave a mark…you fight it and you might not survive to get back topside to that little brother you're so worried about.'"
Jerking awake drenched in sweat, gasping for breath and reaching back to feel his shoulder as if expecting blood, Dean slumped back to the pillows to try to settle his ragged breathing.
He and Sam had been driving for a couple days since leaving Weston. The pattern was they'd drive at night so the hot southern sun didn't bother Sam's still sensitive skin and then crash at a motel during the day.
Neither had talked much about what had been happening lately and except for asking what had happened to Benny, Sam hadn't spoken either of what he'd gone through or what he was thinking now and in some way that bothered Dean.
Sam was pure emotion on his good days and while he had stopped being so open with them in the past few years, when he was hurt or upset then the emotions came out.
It had only gotten lately, after the events with the Richardson woman and her sex fiend pals last month that Sam had gotten to where he could sleep through the night without waking up screaming for the assaults to stop or yelling for Dean.
Since leaving Weston and being back on the road, Sam would sleep in the Impala but since Dean's only time to rest came when they were stopped during the day he wasn't certain what his brother did during those hours of being alone except he'd noticed the past couple that Sam seemed to be slightly more on edge rather than relaxed.
This would be the first time that they were staying over at the motel for more than a day and that was only because a sudden storm off the Gulf had blown in humidity that Dean hadn't felt in years and he'd chosen the air conditioned motel would be better than trying to drive in a storm or cope with heat and humid weather hot enough to even make Sam bitch.
It took a while for Dean's body to get back to normal on his sleeping schedule and he'd managed to stay awake the full day, ignoring the boredom that basic cable and no vibrating bed afforded him while watching Sam from the corner of his eye.
Sam was quiet and every once and while Dean would look up from the journal he was writing in to see that his brother was just staring off into space, a habit that Sam used to do when tired or upset and distracted by things in his often overworked brain.
It had taken a lot longer than normal to get his younger brother to settle down to sleep since Sam had gotten used to being up at night but he had finally stretched out on the bed farthest from the door and after about thirty minutes of tossing and turning had fallen into a seemingly restful sleep.
Dean had taken that to mean he could sleep since he was looking forward to driving tomorrow and getting them as far out of the South as he could to both escape the weather and also the memories. He sure as hell hadn't counted on being the one to wake up in a cold sweat.
It had been a long time since he'd hate that nightmare though as he scrubbed his hands over his face and through his short hair, spiky from sleep and sweat, he supposed he shouldn't be shocked he'd had one considering the past few weeks.
Benny turning on him hadn't been a shock but it had been that he'd allowed his guard to drop and his brother had almost paid the highest price for his mistakes.
Turning his head to glance over to see if his sudden waking had disturbed Sam only to bolt upright in bed at the realization that his brother was not only awake but also no longer in the bed.
"Sam?" Dean's hand slapped on the light between the beds while grabbing for his jeans as his eyes tried to adjust to the sudden light when he heard the first sound and stopped to listen closer.
Jerking the jeans up his legs, he zipped them but didn't bother with the button as now fully alert green eyes were roaming the room to finally zero in on the half closed bathroom door and had a hunch he just found out what Sam did on those days when he slept.
No matter how much Dean assured his brother that things were going to get better and that he'd be there to help him over the huge bumps in the road to healing Sam still tended to pull inward rather than expend the pain and emotions inside.
Though again, Dean knew his brother probably feared risking approaching him for fear of being pushed away again or of Dean shutting down since chick flick moments were not the elder Winchester's favorite thing to handle on any given moment…but these weren't normal times and the rule had been sidelined.
"Sam?" calling quietly while giving a light tap on the door as to not alarm his brother, Dean stuck his head in to the room to frown when he saw the water in the shower was running and let his gaze work through the thinning steam as he stepped into the room. "Sammy?"
The sounds that had finally told Dean where Sam was didn't change or stop and nearly thirty years of being big brother gave him enough clues to recognize the barely muffled ragged and broken sobs coming from behind the thin flowered pink curtain.
Reaching in to turn off the running water, Dean pulled a towel off the rack but didn't pull the curtain back yet. Instead he sat down with his still bare back leaning against the cool porcelain tub/shower enclosure. "How long has this been going on, Sam?" he asked calmly, hearing the first hitch in his brother's breathing and knowing that Sam was aware that he was no longer alone in the room.
"Past couple…of days," Sam sounded tired, his voice still ragged from screaming through a gag and being choked by that damn leather strap. "You'd be asleep and…too many thoughts, memories would come back and…I didn't wanna wake you cause you need to sleep and…"
"And you sleep in the Impala because you've always been able to sleep in the car," Dean cursed himself out silently at not seeing this coming before now. "So…this the result of a nightmare or…?" he left it hanging until he was sure what he was dealing with.
The bathroom was small and the tub even smaller so Sam was scrunched back in it with his knees drawn up to his chin, allowing him room to bury his face in them to try to muffle the sounds and disturb his brother.
Now that he knew that plan was shot, he just turned so his head was laying on his knees while watching the silhouette of Dean's upper body through the curtain. "Nightmare, I think," he chewed his bottom lip while rubbing his hand over his eyes. "The room was hot, I got too hot and it just all came rushing back when I got tangled in the blanket…"
Sam paused to close his eyes. "I wanted to wake you but you haven't been sleeping right. Then I got sick and just wanted to wash it all away but…nothing comes off, De'n."
The broken tone and the way he shortened his name warned Dean that the days of quiet were about over and that he needed to handle this carefully…but first he needed to know what set it off. "This about Benny or the bitch?" he asked, still refusing to use the woman's name unless it was out of earshot of his brother.
"Both," Sam whispered, not missing the way Dean's shoulders tensed and could stop the shudder that passed through him.
The younger hunter still had the occasional muscle cramp but nothing as bad as he feared he would have since Benny's little rope fetish had only exaggerated the still sore and strained muscles that Sam had gotten from being tied to vicious ways the month previously by Amelia's games.
"Started out with Benny cause the heat around here, the way it got so humid in the room tonight was a lot like that box got after he…buried it but then just like a switch was thrown and I was feeling her again and…I want it to stop, Dean!" Sam's voice broke at the same time as he slammed a fist into the wall. "I get it. I'm cursed or something or someone up there still hates me but I want the feelings, the dreams, the goddamn guilt to stop!"
Dean had let his forehead rest on the arm that he'd laid over his one drawn up knee and he was listening to the silent tears that he knew Sam was pushing back but it was when the sound of flesh meeting solid wall and the last words hit home that he was immediately on his knees to pull back the shower curtain.
Grabbing onto the wrist just as it was about to slam into the wall again, he took in the fresh blood on Sam's knuckles but also noticed the way his brother's skin was red again from where he'd instinctively tried to rub the feelings chasing him away with too hot of water.
Sam's face was turned away but Dean didn't need to look at his brother's face to know what he'd see. Long ago learned instincts made him aware that he'd see eyes filled with tears and would be too huge and haunted looking as well as drying tear tracks on a face pale despite the heat of the water but that wasn't the worst of it for Dean.
It wasn't even still seeing the many scars or bruises that Granny Fay's salves hadn't been able to heal from this time and before. No, for Dean it was seeing the look of hurt, the same damn look of loss on his little brother's face as he had when Sam had been a child and either sick or scared and looking for his big brother to somehow make it alright again.
That look never failed to break Dean's emotional walls into shatters and even now it would break him, especially when he wasn't sure how to help his brother except to just be there for him…if he could get Sam to let him in.
Dealing with the fallout of injuries had been things both Winchesters grew up with but there had always been injuries that were worse to deal with and Dean always swore to himself that Sam would not continue to go through that pain.
Hell, Amelia's games…the drugs and what she and her friends did to Sam hadn't even been the first time that he'd gone through something similar but Dean tried to push events like when Sam was a teenager or those damn rednecks or even Becky to the back of his mind because if he thought too much it pissed him off and Sam shut down fully at the first change in his voice.
However, it was also Sam's mention of guilt that tugged at Dean until it hit him where that was going and his next moves were pure big brother.
"Up and out, little brother," Dean had a firm grip of Sam's bicep and had his brother on his feet, tugging him out of the tub to wrap the first towel around his waist before grabbing a second one to use later.
By the time Sam realized what was happening, he was being led back into the bedroom and sat on the bed while Dean rummaged through his duffel for clothes. "No…I…still feel…the bathroom's…" he went to push himself to his feet while eyeing the distance between the bed and the bathroom only to feel his brother crowd right into his space…something that Dean normally didn't do unless he needed to. "Dean?"
"You want to be in the bathroom because it's the only door in this room with a lock on it, Sam," Dean wasn't stupid.
Bathrooms with locks on the door were a quirk for Sam and had been since he'd been a teenager and had been hurt by some bastard that Dean and his friends had made damn certain the body was never found. That was why it had surprised Dean now that Sam had left the door partially opened compared to shut and locked.
"You know you're safe, right?" he asked, picking up the other towel when Sam made no move to dry himself off and just did it for him. "Benny's dead and…she's where she can't hurt anyone else," Dean still regretted the woman being alive after the horrors she'd put his brother through but he hadn't wanted the issues of dealing with Bryan if he'd just shot the bitch like he wanted to do. "Sammy…"
"I thought that before too," Sam murmured, turning his head to stare at the door but still heard the way his brother's breath caught and because he knew Dean, he knew to listen for the grinding teeth soon but nearly jerked when a hand gripped his chin to turn it back.
"I know and I know it's going to take you a long time to forgive me for being so wrong and so damn careless that I left you alone at Bobby's but I can promise you, Sammy…this will be the last goddamn time I let something from either of our pasts hurt you," Dean sat down on the bed after pulling a t-shirt on and put the towel in Sam's hands in hopes that he'd take the hint.
"It was my fault that the psycho bitch from Hell grabbed you last month because I tried to keep you away from Benny that time and sent you right back into her web and then I wasn't there to stop her from drugging you and…Sammy, stop," he laid a firm hand on the back of Sam's neck the first time he felt his brother's body go rigid but needed to do this.
"We went through this before I burned the cabin. It wasn't your fault but it sure as hell was mine. Just like this was my fault. I knew the risk Benny posed but believed I could handle it if he made a move. I wasn't counting on him going after you while I was away or I never would've gone to see Garth and Kevin.
"I should've gotten to that damn warehouse sooner, I should've been paying more attention when I didn't see him right away or…let's just face it and say I should've killed the son of a bitch the first time he hinted about threatening you," Dean blew out a harsh breath, rubbing his suddenly shaking hands in his jeans, while feeling Sam's eyes watching him.
Last month Dean had to fight to bring Sam out of the shell he'd built around himself and he'd hoped that he wouldn't have to do it this time because he had nothing to compare this to though as he sat there with thoughts running through his mind, he began to wonder what Sam was hiding to cause this reaction again.
"It's…not your fault, De'n," Sam whispered, surprised that his brother thought any of it was. "You didn't know to suspect anything about Am…Amelia," his voice broke as he had to force the name out while shoving the memories down when the towel in his clenched fist was tugged as a nudge to actually use it.
"Benny…you thought it was over. You thought he'd moved on so you would have no reason not to leave me alone or…" Sam didn't notice the way his tone of voice changed just slightly on that but where he didn't notice his big brother did and Dean pounced on it.
"Sam, do you blame me for leaving you alone and these things happened?" Dean asked carefully, keeping his eyes locked on the way Sam's hands shook.
He dried off and quickly dressed since it was still too easy to feel vulnerable when he was undressed even though he knew after the state he was in when Dean and Bryan rescued him this was nothing. "No. I can't blame you cause you had no way of knowing it would happen and I'm an adult, a hunter, and I should've been able to take care of myself in either case but…" he trailed off, needing to move but the hand on the back of his neck kept him still and like it always did began to settle him.
Narrowing his eyes, Dean ran through any number of possible causes for this reaction. He knew his brother was still in pain but they dealt with the wounds as they needed to be. No, this reaction…Sam's behavior, the nightmares, the shakes and his hesitance to meet Dean's eyes were usually brought on by internal pain and Lord knew the kid had been through any number of traumas to cause that.
Keeping the grip on Sam's neck light but still tight enough to keep him from bolting, Dean narrowed his list more. He was certain that the vampire hadn't done anything more to his brother than what he'd seen or knew about because that would've been the first thing Benny had tossed in his face so he crossed that off firmly just as a light nibble on the back of his mind began to build.
"What he tell you?" he asked quietly, guessing that Benny probably had revealed to Sam that other little detail that also hadn't helped Dean's nightmares shortly after returning from Purgatory and had also been a reason to keep Sam at an arms distance but no, he didn't think that was what was bugging his brother either.
Slowly Dean began to put the pieces together, biting his lip to keep what he wanted to say in for the moment until he was certain. "Sammy? Did you think I wouldn't look for you? Is that what you're hiding from me? Did Benny tell you that I wouldn't come or…" seeing the way Sam shifted away, his fingers tightened then he used his other hand to turn his face towards him. "What the hell did the bastard say, Sam?"
Sam didn't want to answer. He didn't want to relive it or make his brother any angrier than he knew he'd been over this but when the fingers on the back of his neck slid to the side to better allow Dean to cup his face when he tried to look away it was plain he wasn't going to be able to avoid it.
"He said…he'd kill you or…make it so you couldn't find me or convince you that I was dead and…" he bit off when he felt his voice start to break and had to rub his eyes against the tears he tried not to let fall right then. "It was dark in that damn box, De'n. It was so damn dark and I was alone and…you didn't come!"
The first open handed blow to his chest took Dean off guard since it had been over a month since Sam had reacted physically to the emotional pain he was still coping with. The second blow surprised him but by the time he realized what was happening it was too late to do anything but let his little brother go until the tide was over.
It took a lot to push Sam into reacting physically like he was now but after events of last month to this attack to finally thinking he might very well die buried underground without his brother even knowing where to look it had all become too much.
A part of Dean also understood that a little of this still stemmed from Sam's fear of Dean not looking for him after his kidnapping last month since the woman's plan had been deviously perfect if not for one problem and that was that Sam has a big brother who wasn't as stupid as most people like to think.
Right then Dean forced himself to sit still and allow his brother to lash out like he hadn't been allowing himself to since he came out of the shell the attack has put him in. It wasn't easy because he really wanted to reach out to Sam, to pull his little brother into his arms to try to soften the harsh sobs that Sam didn't realize where wracking his body then but he didn't…he waited.
"You…let him bite you…let him feed from you…hurt you just to protect…me. He said he'd use me as bait and force you to give in or kill you and…or…I couldn't hear you and I thought…I thought you were dead, Dean! I thought I'd die and you were or that he…and if you hadn't been protecting me you wouldn't have…and…"
All of Sam's words were running together as his fists slowly went lighter and without as much strength behind them until finally the younger man pitched forward with a final sob to latch on to his brother when Dean simply kicked the no chick flick rule to the curb and wrapped both arms around the younger man to hold him through the stage of shaking and bone rattling sobs and the rest of the buried fears and emotions poured out of Sam.
Despite his fervor to get out of hunting, to have the so-called normal life Sam's one big issue ever since he'd been a child was being left behind or worse, being forgotten or left alone if anything ever happened to Dean or their Dad.
It went hand and hand with his hidden fears of dark cramped spaces because of things in their past only being trapped and tied in a box that was buried with the threat of Dean's death or the risk that Dean wouldn't look for him had jacked up the fear to a whole different level.
"Hey…Sammy, hey," he waited until a few more of the sobs eased off, feeling Sam's hands clutching at the back of his shirt as if he wanted to grab on but fear of further embarrassment held him back so Dean took that away by tightening the hug while beginning to move his hand in a soothing motion between Sam's neck and back like he would when his brother was small and running from a nightmare. "Shhh, go ahead and let it out, little brother. I've got'cha and I'm not leaving you."
Whether it was the exhaustion, the stress of keeping this inside for so many days or letting himself believe his brother's words, Sam wasn't sure and honestly didn't care. He hesitated briefly until feeling Dean nod as if understanding his hesitation and he let himself hug back, his fingers clutching the material of his brother's shirt as he did so.
Listening to Sam work through it, Dean moved a hand so he could card it back through his brother's too long bangs to keep it out of his face and holding back his own tears when the walls once again came down around Sam's fears and memories and he turned his face against Dean's neck and rode out the pain.
"I wouldn't have left you, Sammy. No way in hell would I have left you or not have looked for you," he finally spoke after a long while and he felt Sam slowly relaxing which told him his brother had exhausted himself to the point where he'd be able to hear him now. "I got to you as fast as I could and…I made certain that if anything had happened to me that Bryan knew to get you out."
He felt Sam tense at that but decided he needed to be honest with him. "I'm good at this, Sam but Benny was a vampire with a lot more going for him and I wasn't one hundred percent certain that I could kill him in time to save you and that's why I called Bry because I knew he'd do what needed done and get you out," he shifted a hand back to Sam's neck to squeeze it while keeping his other arm still around his little brother. "I'd never leave you, Sammy."
Any time before last month, hell in the past few months, Sam might not have believed that as easily as he once would have but now, even if he hadn't heard the slight drop in the husky voice, he knew Dean meant it and let himself believe that his brother never would've given up on him.
"Did you think I would?" Dean asked this quietly but didn't need to hear the answer to know by Sam's small shudder that a good bit of the mistrust that he'd allowed to build between them still made his little brother think he'd be left alone. "No, I moved Heaven and Hell to find you last time and I did this time too when we realized you weren't in the first box. Did you hear anything from the phone toward the end, Sam?"
"Cutting…in and out," Sam murmured, suddenly tired as the emotional turmoil of the evening began to win out and he wanted to sleep for the first time since waking up in Fay Cabot's house to see his brother pass out. "It was…hard to breathe but…thought I heard you…wasn't sure and…"
Hearing the dropped words and softly slurred words, Dean knew the signs of exhaustion and shifted carefully to ease his brother back only to feel Sam hold on tighter. "I talked to you, Sam. I tried to hope that you could hear me so you'd know I was coming for you because some asshole would have to kill me and make damn certain I'm dead before I wouldn't come looking for my pain in the ass little brother."
He relaxed a little when he finally heard a small chuckle and felt Sam's fingers ease off but knew his brother wasn't ready to let go fully yet and guessed he'd had enough sleep as he eased back to lean against the headboard.
"Also, what happened between me and Benny wasn't your fault, Sam. That got filed under everything else I have ever done for you and I don't regret it," Dean moved his arm to see what Sam would do and wasn't shocked when his brother merely just pulled a pillow over to crush it up before tucking it into his arms while choosing to use Dean's shoulder to sleep on. "Ain't this gonna be too hot, Sasquatch?"
"Nope, don't wan' be alone tonight," Sam still could see and feel the memories and opened one just slightly hazy eye to gaze at his brother, seeing that Dean looked pained at the thought of this but knew his brother would give in. "I heard him bite you."
That did it for Dean. He said nothing else in objection to letting Sam lean against him if it meant the kid would sleep without nightmares. "You know that I'm going to be here for you through this, right?" he asked, waiting for Sam to get comfortable before casually letting his arm drape loosely over his brother's shoulders while using the fingers of his free hand to card back through hair that was soaked with sweat. "That you will get through this?"
There were moments when Sam wasn't sure he wanted to but then he thought back to his life and knew good or bad that he wouldn't trade it or give it up without a fight. That so long as he and Dean were good, without the lies or fights, than he could overcome the more recent horrors in his life.
"Yeah, I know, De'n," he yawned, closing his eyes before opening them again. "I…I…mean I…"
"I love you too, Sammy," Dean wished that it hadn't gotten to the point where his own brother was scared to admit that but understood that his own rule, the main rule that Sam grew up with, had made it that way and that he might have to adjust that rule some. "Now, are you good or not? Cause I figure I can do this all night if it means you actually will sleep eventually."
Giving a tiny smile, Sam closed his eyes while accepting the light touch of his brother's fingers in his hair as he fell to sleep feeling at ease with himself and his brother again. "De'n?"
"Yeah, Sammy?" Dean knew the kid was one step from sleep but didn't push it since he also knew he'd be extending their stay one more night since after this Sam would crash and sleep like the dead until his body was ready to wake up.
"I think I want burgers when I wake up," Sam hadn't been hungry for anything since leaving Weston so this comment was a surprise to his brother who had just been pondering the huge fight it would be to get his brother to east. "No onions."
Swallowing hard, Dean would later think it silly that such a simple request is what nearly brought him to tears as he chuckled and used his thumb to wipe the rest of the wetness from Sam's cheek and nodded. "Yeah, baby brother. You can have burgers when you wake up. You can have anything you want…except for that damn IPod thing in my baby," he added quickly, knowing how his brother's mind worked.
Sam laughed quietly and fell to sleep fully without any memories or feelings chasing him.
"G'night, Sammy," Dean murmured while letting his fingers keep going through Sam's hair as he let his own eyes close to just allow the memories pass through him until he slowly relaxed while silently promising that he would make damn certain things would be better for Sam soon…now he just had to figure out what in the Hell their prophet had found out.
A/NII: Now this really is the end for this one. I hope you guys enjoyed this extra chapter and it had the proper amount of brother bonding.
I want to thank everyone who has read this. Thank you for the reviews as they are love to a writers soul and thank you for your patience since chapters did not come as quickly as I would've liked.
I hope everyone enjoyed it and enjoyed the return of Special Agent Markus as well as the introduction of his very unique and colorful grandmother.
Look for more stories to come soon and feel free to look me up on Facebook under morgana07. I love meeting and chatting with readers. Thanks!