Genre: Gen, H/C
Spoilers: Mystery spot tag
Summary: It was a long time to live without the soul.
OMG. So it has come to my attention, that after Dean dies on Wednesday...it is SIX months later that Sam is driving in the Impala alone. The original airing didn't show that, but the dvd's did! Holy cow! Thank you to ennui for pointing that out.
A/N: It’s like spring cleaning…in December. I started this when the episode first aired. Yeesh. //dusts it off// Huge thanks to devra and sid, once again for the pompoms and beta’ing. Hope you enjoy! All mistakes left are mine. I think the ending can be taken a few different ways. Thank you! //goes back to working on chapter 8 of GNM//
He never thought it’d feel so good sitting in the passenger seat again.
It had been over six months.
/ “How long will it take you to realize? You can’t save your brother. No matter what.”/
More and more miles were distancing them from that Tuesday, that Wednesday, but he’d never be able to escape the truth. The memory—the feeling of his brother dying in his arms over and over and over again. Every last breath, every last look was burned into his memory, scarred into his embrace. Every death was a cut through the heart—and come Wednesday morning, when he held his brother that last time, there was nothing left but whimpering shreds.
Beatless he lived then. A human turned into a monster, not by a virus…but by a broken soul.
He shivered and wasn’t surprised when his brother turned up the heat again—despite the fact he had to be roasting himself. The once forever lost sentiment almost undid Sam. And honestly, he wanted nothing more than to curl up in his big brother’s arms like he was a little boy again. If only he could be held and forget. If only he could be held and told that it was going to be alright.
If only he could believe him.
It was a long time to live without a soul.
“You sure you’re okay?” Dean asked, shooting him concerned glances.
/ “You can’t save your brother. No matter what.” /
The lie was thick in his throat, “Yeah.”
His brother didn’t comment on how Sam hadn’t taken his eyes off him since they stepped out of the motel. He didn’t comment on the way Sam hovered at his side whenever they stopped. He didn’t comment, but Sam knew he only had so much time before Dean made him talk.
He grinned weakly, sadly almost. Never thought he’d miss that either.
Sam peered up from under his bangs and watched his brother face as he watched the road.
How many times had he looked over while driving from hunt to endless hunt and found nothing there. No shit-eating grin to make him feel better. No poorly hidden concern. No slap on the knee. No lame jokes to get his mind off the darkness claiming him.
Suddenly he had to live without the anchor he’d turned to his entire life—and by only having himself to turn to, he was forced to stand alone. For not even he could embrace the monster he had become.
Quickly, Sam lowered his eyes before he pushed the rising tears further and wouldn’t be able to get them back. He felt so disconnected. Over six months of pain, of piercing loss and emptiness were screaming in his head, but now the only reason for his existence was sitting right beside him again—like he’d been there the entire time. Like Sam hadn’t been soulless. Like Sam hadn’t failed.
Already curled towards his brother in the passenger seat, before he even realized what he was doing, Sam reached forward and twisted his fingers into the bottom of Dean’s jacket.
Brow raised, Dean looked down at the little hitchhikers. Whatever he was going to say, though, instantly melted on his tongue when he saw his brother’s face. Eyes and body already drooping, Sam looked more relaxed than he’d been all day.
It had been a long time since Dean had been Sam’s binkie, but he wasn’t about to complain, not if it got the kid some rest—not if Dean didn’t have to see those gutted hazel eyes for a little bit.
When Sam’s eyes finally closed, Dean let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. He’d been trying to convince him to get some sleep all day, but Sam rebuffed with “I’m fine” every time and practically begged him to keep driving when he suggested stopping for the day.
Reaching over, Dean checked for fever…and wasn’t surprised to find one. The kid had been shivering and pale all day. Damnit.
They’d been driving for over ten hours now. Every time they’d stop to fill up or get something to eat, Sam would glue himself to his brother’s side. Worried and completely at a loss, Dean allowed it. Especially after, in a panicked attempt to catch up with Dean at a rest stop, Sam had tripped…and hit his head on a railing.
Dean didn’t know what upset him more; that his brother was in such a desperate rush just to be within arm’s length, or that even after he fell, he continued to stagger towards Dean until Dean had made it back to him and ordered him to sit.
He couldn’t imagine going through…what he went through with Sam a hundred times over. He barely survived it once. He guessed he really hadn’t, actually. But something else had happened yesterday. Dean knew it. He could see it in Sam’s eyes. He could tell, because as clingy as his brother was being…he was also withdrawn and any and all attempts to get it out of him were handled with old, automated responses that left Dean grinding his jaw in frustration and worry.
Shaking his head, he realized it was time to play the Big Brother Card. They were stopping in the next town. No ifs, ands, or buts. Sam had a head injury—though minor, had been tortured by a demi-god and was getting sick. Dean closed his eyes. There was going to be hugging in his near future, he just knew it.
Phone ringing he jumped and grappled for it. “Hello,” he answered gruffly, looking to make sure Sam still slept. To his surprise and relief, he did.
“Hey, Bobby,” Dean found himself relaxing at the man’s voice. Somehow he always managed to put him at ease. “What’s up?” he asked softly.
“Jus’ wandering where you boys were. I’m not far from your last hunt.”
Dean smiled. “That time again?” The old family friend had made it a habit to check on the brothers—make sure they were still in once piece.
“Well, I haven’t actually seen you boys in a few weeks, who knows what you might of gotten yourselves into,” he teased back, then suddenly got serious. “So, you gonna tell me what’s wrong with that brother of yours?”
“I’m guessin’ it’s barely at night where you two are and you’re talkin’ like you do when Sam’s sleepin’—and in desperate need of it too.”
Dean sighed, “He had a rough…day, Bobby. That’s all.”
“No, actually, I’m not sure,” he replied bitterly, gripping the phone harder. There was something more. He just hadn’t figured out what yet.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Sighing, Dean looked over at his brother and instantly recognized the warning signs for a nightmare. “Listen, I’ve gotta go. Where are you?”
Not a moment later, Sam bolted awake. Sitting straight up, gasping, his little brother looked confused. He looked panicked. But mostly, he looked heartbroken and destroyed—like he had lost his best friend. It struck a hard cord within Dean.
“Right here, Sam,” he said softly from beside him, worried eyes on him more than on the road, chest aching from the raw, familiar pain he saw in his eyes.
Sam’s head snapped around, “Dean,” he breathed, some of the pain lifting a little as whatever had tossed him from his sleep melted away.
“The one and only, dude,” but he had trouble keeping levity in his voice.
“What,” Sam blinked owlishly, “what day is it?”
That had Dean eyeing him again. Yup, it was definitely time for concussed, fevered and obviously traumatized little boys to be in bed. “Wednesday. All day long, man.”
To Dean’s surprise, any amount of relief Sam’s eyes held were instantly lost. Stiffly, he lowered himself back into the seat and resumed his watch.
“Lemme guess, just a weird dream, right?” His concern and Sam’s walls made Dean snap.
Sam swallowed, tears coming to his eyes, but he didn’t take them off Dean’s knee. “Yeah,” he answered hoarsely.
Frustrated, Dean clenched his jaw and roughly cranked up the heat again when Sam’s shivering increased. “We’re gonna’ have to talk about this, you know,” he warned.
Dean wouldn’t have heard it, the worn, throaty rasp, if he wasn’t so in-tuned to his brother. “I know.”
Shamelessly looping a finger back into Dean’s jacket, anchoring himself again, Sam closed his eyes. It was starting to rain and he imagined himself melting into it. How could he tell Dean that he couldn’t save him? Not once. How could he tell his brother of the monster he had become?
Opening the door to their motel room, hand under his elbow, Dean led an unsteady Sam straight to the furthest bed and gently pushed him down on it, startled when his forearm was caught in a crushing grip when he went to move away.
“Dude,” Dean sighed, but when he knelt down in front of his brother his eyes were soft. “I’m not going anywhere.” Not right now anyway. “Just calm down,” he placated gently.
“Sorry.” It really did look like Sam was trying hard to compose himself. He swallowed, looking everywhere other than at him now. “Sorry.”
“No sweat,” Dean replied, but couldn’t seem to shed the worry from his eyes, or heart. Holding his brother’s chin in one hand, he ghosted fingers over the small lump that had formed on his forehead. Sam didn’t even flinch, which made Dean all the more uneasy. But his pupils were equal and reactive so no concussion after all and…well, Sam was acting strange before he even fell, so…
Maybe it was the fever, but it didn’t seem that high.
Dean narrowed his eyes, waging on the fact that he knew his brother better than any truth. “Sam,” he said sternly, still kneeling before him. “what happened that you’re not telling me?” What’s causing the pain I can’t see?
Though the grip on Dean’s arm didn’t falter, Sam’s face did. His brother was tired. Weary like Dean had never seen him before—and that was saying a lot. He had learned Sam’s limits long ago—and though they were few, Dean realized that somehow with that one little question, he had just reached one.
Slowly, wordlessly, as if the weight he had been carrying suddenly became too much, Sam leaned forward until his forehead was pressed into the hollow of his big brother’s neck. Tremors shot through his body and Dean automatically brought his arms around the shivering form in an attempt to stop them. “Lots and lots of Tuesdays, huh?” he murmured softly into the brown hair, his own throat growing tight—like it always did when Sam was in pain and Dean didn’t know how to make it go away.
In response, Sam brought his arms up and latched on with a strength that belied the exhaustion in his posture and eyes all day. “Jus…” he spoke, strained and muffled against Dean’s neck, “just don’t let go, okay?” he pleaded, sounding all of five-years-old. “Please.”
Swallowing hard, Dean adjusted his grip—though something was telling him that Sam was referring to more than just his arms. “Yeah, okay,” he replied hoarsely. He had already decided that the hell hounds were going to have to drag him away kicking and screaming in a most undignified way, anyway. “Okay…”
Over six months. God, six. Sam lowered himself to the floor, Dean wordlessly accommodating his weight, and breathed in the scent that made his brother his brother, made home, and choked back a sob. It was no longer just a dimming memory. He was real. He was there. He was warm. Sam could hold onto the jacket…and be held back.
“Dean,” he did sob this time, clutching.
“I’m here, Sammy.” It was soft. It was gentle. It was worried. It was the Dean Sam knew beneath the bravado.
He held on tighter—trying to fill back up the void he’d been carrying around since that Wednesday. Dean immediately responded in kind and Sam closed his eyes.
He was home.
Sam had fallen asleep in his arms within minutes and Dean just didn’t have the heart to wake him. That and…something was telling him that his arms were the only thing currently holding his little brother together.
Easing himself onto his butt, Sam sprawled between his legs; he gently cupped the back of the brown mop and closed his eyes. Sam was warm. And he was going to stay that way he reminded himself.
He just didn’t know where to go from there. He’s never seen Sam so… devastated before. Not after Jess. Not even after their dad.
At some point he had started to rock. This time though, it wasn’t in grief or desperation—it was in comfort, just like when Sam was little and would curl up in his lap needing to be held for some reason or another. Just like now…and though much bigger these days, Sam still fit perfectly. And he always would. Two halves of a whole they were. Two halves of a currently crumbling whole.
Stepping out of the cold rain, Bobby knocked on the door. He had called Dean as soon as he got into town and the boy sounded weird, but insisted that everything was just ‘peachy-keen.’ That alone had Bobby quickening his steps.
He heard a sigh and a muffled, “Come in,” from the other side of the cheap motel door and entered the dark room. He stopped in his tracks, though, at what he saw. “Just a bad day, my ass.”
Dean glanced up at him, relief evident on his face. “Thank God, my back is killin’ me.”
Both boys were on the floor and Sam was completely passed out in his brother’s arms. A blanket hastily pulled from the closest bed was wrapped around him…and Dean’s back was taking the brunt of his weight.
“What the hell happened?” Bobby asked a little more quietly, moving to help.
“Loooong story,” Dean said, adjusting Sam in his arms. Bobby went to take his legs and Dean his upper half, but the moment Sam’s chin left his brother’s shoulder, his arms came up and he latched on with something alarmingly close to a whimper.
“He concussed?” Bobby asked seriously.
Dean almost snorted. “I wish.” Then cupping his still half sleeping brother’s face, “Sam, I’m not going anywhere, but if I’m ever going to walk again we need to move you to a bed, bro.”
After a lot of cajoling and grunting they finally managed to get the six-foot-four-inch man into bed. Never once did Sam wake up. Never once did he let go.
“He hurt?” Bobby asked, still trying to determine what the hell was going on.
Dean sat down on the bed next his brother, watching him sadly. “Nowhere I can see to fix.”
Bobby was about to smack the kid upside the head for being so cryptic when Sam opened his eyes. He seemed groggy, confused, but when his eyes landed on Bobby, they widened in panic.
Bolting up, he grabbed a handful of fabric and pulled Dean to him. With his face plastered against his brother’s chest, Dean raised an eyebrow. “Uh…Sammy?” He couldn’t see the uncertainty in his brother’s eyes. He couldn’t see the fear. “Dude, can’t breathe here.”
Sam didn’t seem to hear him. “Bobby?” he asked tentatively.
Bobby just stood there, trying not to appear threatening. Eyes gentle, but undoubtedly worried, “Yeah, it’s me, son. You alright?”
“You’re not….” The kid was breathing heavily, looking like he was trying to work the mother off all things out. “You’re not gonna…gonna take him? Dean?” he asked pathetically.
“Son,” he held up a placating hand. “I’m not gonna take your brother from you. It’s just me, grumpy old Uncle Bobby, kiddo. I wouldn’t do that to ya.”
Sam looked like he wanted to believe him, needed to, but pulled Dean tighter against him.
“Sam,” Dean placed a hand over one of the ones gripping him and gently, but forcefully pulled it away…and leaning back took a deep, greedy breath, “Dude, you need a shower.” Then continued more seriously, “I talked to Bobby while you were sleeping, Sam. He wasn’t far. We decided to meet up.”
“The boy’s in shock, Dean,” Bobby said worriedly.
“You trust me, don’t you, Sammy?” Dean asked. His brother nodded emphatically, eyes still warily on the other man, though, as his fingers reached for the fabric at the bottom of Dean’s shirt. “Okay, then trust me when I tell you that this really is Bobby, okay. And he’s not gonna take me from you. The old man couldn’t if he tried.”
Sam slowly looked to Bobby, then back to Dean. He swallowed and clarity finally started to show in his fevered eyes—or maybe just hope. “Okay,” he took a deep, albeit shaky breath. “Okay.”
“You alright now?” Dean squeezed the back of his neck—testament to how shaken up he was over the whole thing too and frowned when he noted his fever was up. Sam nodded, but wouldn’t meet their eyes.
“You’re gonna give Bobby a complex.”
“Sorry, Bobby,” he said dully, looking too weary to be embarrassed.
Bobby didn’t know how to take the scene before him. Sam looked like he was beaten within an inch of his life—with virtually no outside marks and Dean looked like he was forced to watch. “Sure,” he ended up croaking out hoarsely. “No sweat.” It felt like the night after they killed Yellow-Eyes all over again. His eyes shot to Dean. He didn’t look like he’d just been resurrected from the dead. Of course, neither really had Sam. It was time to get some answers. “You two gonna fill me in, or what?”
To his surprise, Sam’s head dropped even further and then he curled on his side away from them, his back pressed up against Dean.
Dean waited until he was asleep before he turned to Bobby.
“Dean?” He looked like he was in about the same amount of pain as his brother. The
Dean sighed, scrubbing a hand down his face. “Tuesday,” he said it like the word left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Bobby raised an eyebrow.
“You remember that Trickster we killed at that college campus?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“We didn’t kill it. We only thought we did.”
“Are you sayin’ the Trickster’s responsible for doin’ this to Sam?”
“He locked Sam in a time loop, Bobby.” Dean said miserably. “One where I died.”
“Jeezus,” Bobby breathed. No wonder… “How many times?”
Dean shook his head. “You should of seen him yesterday. He was…he was…”
“Probably a lot like you when he died,” Bobby finished grimly. “But why’d he think I was gonna take you from him?”
Dean shook his head. “There’s somethin’ more.”
He looked back his brother, shoulders hanging helplessly. “I don’t know.”
Bobby left to give the boys some room, and Dean remained sitting on the bed, cocooned now by his little brother and checking every five minutes to make sure his fever stayed back down. Luckily, it had.
Suddenly Sam stiffened and opened his eyes. He looked up at Dean.
“It’s Thursday,” Dean said simply, knowing exactly what his brother needed to hear, but not knowing why.
Tears filling his eyes, throat tight, Sam nodded.
He shook his head this time, but moved…hesitantly still, away from Dean and sat up till his back was pressed against the headboard. He scrubbed both hands down his face. “What time is it?”
“.” Dean remained sitting where he was.
“You hurt his feelings. He got his own room.”
Sam grinned faintly, head down, bangs shielding his eyes.
Dean’s own eyes never left his brother. “You wanna tell me what that was about?”
Letting his head fall backwards against the headboard, “Not really.”
“Tough.” Dean was surprised when this actually caused his brother to smile. But when he lifted his head the smile faded and his eyes took on that haunted look again.
He looked away and just as Dean was about to prod him again, he spoke. “It…it wasn’t yesterday.”
“You died over six months ago, Dean,” he turned to him, voice raw with aged pain. “Six.”
“What? No,” Dean immediately denied. “I remember…”
“What you remember happened over six months ago.” Sam said softly, anguished eyes looking away. “The next day was Wednesday, but…but you died again.” He shook his head, tears rushing to the surface as he forced the painful words out. “And I couldn’t wake up,” he suddenly sounded so young.
Dean closed his own eyes, “Jeezus.”
“I know why,” Sam whispered. “I understand now.”
Dean opened his eyes and searched his brother’s face.
“Why you did it. I understand now.”
He suddenly knew what he was talking about and wanted to press the rewind button. “Sam…”
“I’m not…” Sam swallowed, looking down as a single tear fell. “I’m not me,” he finally said, voice cracking, “without…you.” Biting his lip, he looked to his big brother for understanding. “Ya know?” he asked miserably, trying and failing to pass off a smile.
“Yeah,” Dean’s rasped thickly, tears in his own eyes. “I know.” He knew.
Eyes lowered, Sam leaned foreword until his forehead was pressed into Dean’s shoulder again. “You keep me human,” he breathed a moment later. And it took all Dean had to keep his own tears at bay. Right back at you, kid.
Right back at you.
“Is, uh…” He finally managed to clear away the lump of emo building in his throat, “Is this going to become a habit?” he teased gently, shrugging the shoulder his brother was hiding in.
Canting his head to the side, Dean couldn’t argue with that. “So, how’d you do it?”
“He had me think I was meeting Bobby to get me to meet him. He must have gotten bored, because I wasn’t having any luck finding him.”
“Well, that explains you nearly vomiting all over the man.” Dean quipped, earning a snort from his little brother. “You don’t know the worse of it,” Sam said, then grew somber again. “I begged.”
Nodding, Dean’s throat was suddenly very, very tight. He’d begged once too. “And he just…?”
“He said it stopped being fun months ago.” Sam’s hand reclaimed its grip, its anchor on the bottom of Dean’s shirt. “Dean, I…I can’t…I can’t survive another Tuesday…or Wednesday for that matter,” he breathed brokenly. “I just can’t.”
His own tears dangerously close to falling, bringing a solid arm around his brother, Dean listened as the wind howled outside. It was a fierce, steady wind that could tear limbs from trees and knock over that which got in its path, but no matter how hard it raged, Dean realized…it could never pierce the darkness.
“I know,” he rasped helplessly, cupping the back of his brother’s head.
And the wind raged on..