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Tear Me Down: Part 5

Hello everyone! I have been in Canada for about a month and a half and without Internet service :(, but I definitely continued working on this and I finished it! We crossed back over into the US last night and now I will start posting the remaining chapters. There is one more after this one, but I may break it in half because it’s pretty long. Also, I have several sequels planned and may make this into a series. Anywho, sorry for the wait, I was living it up in the British Colombia wilderness lol Happy reading! You guys are awesome! P.S. anyone going to comic con? I’ve got four-day passes! PM me if you’ll be there!
           -Punkin
“You have twenty missed calls and five new messages…”
“Hey Dean. It’s Bobby. Call me back.”

“Dean, it’s Bobby again. You were supposed to get to Buffalo last night, just curious bout’ what you found. Call me when you get this, idgit.”

“All right, I ain’t a worrier, but you two sure give me a run for my money. Would ya just answer your damn phone, dumbass!”

“Not to sound like a jealous one night stand or anything, but I’m about five minutes from getting in my car and tracking you down myself.”

“That’s it! I’m getting on a plane. You idiots better not be dead, cause when I find you you’re gonna wish you were! Damn it.”
           By the time I had called Bobby back, he’d already hotwired a car outside of the airport. He’d wasted little time chewing me out, describing his awful flight, and then chewing me out some more. After I told him where I was, he’d promptly shut up.
           “Sam?” There was a hitch in his voice. A knowing.
 I’d audibly swallowed, blinking away the burning in my eyes. The silence was a short one. “Aw, Dean…” his voice was softer, sadness mixed with disappointment. It struck me how he must be as tired as I am. “Sit tight. I’m coming.”
 And then he’d hung up. And I’d stood, phone to my ear, staring at Sam’s lax, wan face. At the oxygen tube and IV lines. At the blinking machines and bright white sheets. At the stark bruises and hollowed cheeks. If I could have looked away I would have.
   But we never look away.
   It says too much.
   It says things we don’t mean. So we look. And that’s the way it is.
   Bobby gets here in fifteen minutes. I hear him pause in the doorway, his breathing labored as if he’d been running. There’s a sigh, more like a puff of air, and I see the blue flash of his baseball cap reflecting in the shiny railing of the hospital cot. I’ve settled into the hard plastic chair next to my brother, scooted so close the tops of my knees knock against the bottom of the bed frame and I can rest my elbows next to his hand.
   I don’t look up as Bobby approaches. I don’t want to miss anything. A blink, a breath…everything bad happens when I’m not paying enough attention. I’d left my post, and the wolves had eaten the herd, plundered the village, and burned it to the ground.
There’s a hand on my shoulder and the scent of engine oil settles in my nose. It’s comforting and familiar; a facet of the only place that provided us normalcy growing up.
 “I take it things didn’t go too smoothly.” Bobby leaves his hand where it is, squeezing softly.
  I shake me head and snort, but it sounds more like a sob. “Yeah,” I murmur, licking the dryness from my cracked lips, “turns out Dad liked his booby traps more than we thought.”
   Bobby moves into my line of sight, as if realizing I am not going to willingly look away from Sam, and I perceive the confusion on his scrunched face. He’s waiting.
   He’s waiting and I can’t talk about this. I clench my jaw, blood and angry words ringing in my ears. My knuckles ache.
   If you could die of self-contempt I’d be on the floor.
   “Trip wire…shot gun mechanism.”
 Silence reigns one more, and I think about how much I can say by not saying anything at all. I think about all the days I sleep, eat, shower, shoot, maim, and kill without a single word. I think about all the things I didn’t say, all the things I couldn’t say, and all the things I say instead.
 I think about how maybe…I ought to change.
 Before it costs me everything.
 “Trip wire?” Bobby’s incredulous now, dark round eyes suspicious. He’s known us practically our entire lives. He knows me. He knows when I’m hiding something, when something is eating me alive, or when I’ve done something so wrong I think I should be crucified.
 Except this time I know he won’t be able to talk me down. I’m not sure I want him to.
 “Sam knows better than that. Hell, you both do.” His gaze is searing holes into my forehead, “What did you do?”
 Ah…and he’s made the jump and stuck the landing.
 I get as far as the stubble on his chin before I look away again. The knobs of my spin scrape against the backside of the chair and the blood crusted on my hands suddenly becomes extremely interesting. “Dean—”
 I cut in, “I pushed him, okay? I pushed him into it.”
 We are staring at each other now. I’m a wreck and I see it in Bobby’s face, in the way his ear tilts to the side. But he’s trying to understand, he’s trying not to interrupt.     He may want me to talk, but I’m not sure what will happen once I do.
 Will Sam wake up if I say things out loud?
 Will I wake up?
 It happened. And when I say it…it will be real.
 “He started talking about…Dad.” I start, voice hovering above a whisper. Bobby continues waiting. “I got mad. Just…so angry. I haven’t really been dealing, and it all just kind of…exploded.”
 We look at Sam simultaneously. The pit in my stomach grows, its hunger seems insatiable. Bobby is quick. I know he has connected the dots already; I suspect he might have the moment he entered the room. “I said some really awful things, Bobby.” I feel the quiver in the words, the tremble in my lip. I stare up at him, desperate, pleading, and lost at the same time. I’m not asking for anything, because god… I shouldn’t be. But I think I’m asking anyway.
 My fingertips touch Sam’s wrist. His skin is flinchingly cold. “The way he looked at me, Bobby…” I shake my head, the memory plastered in front of my eyes. “I can’t even...I don’t even know…”
 Bobby remains where he is for an unusual length of time, as if considering me, as if making sure he does it right. Finally, he moves to stand beside me once more. “Yes you do, Dean.”
 My head snaps towards him, eyebrows rising. The man only nods towards my little brother, shrugging one shoulder, “You’ve never not known when it comes to Sam.”
   It’s the first thing anyone has said in a long time that makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
   “So…yes,” and I’m still looking at him, and he’s still looking at me, “You can, and you do.”
   I don’t know what to say. I don’t feel better; but that isn’t his intention. At least…I don’t think it is.
   Bobby breaks away first, pulling up the second chair from the corner of the room and dropping heavily into it. I can’t help watching the heart monitor across from me, catching the miniscule, offbeat wrongness about it. It’s taunting and torturing.
   Throwing a sheet over the equipment is probably frowned upon.
 “Dean…you remember the night I chased your daddy outta the house?”
 The topic only surprises me more than the influx of sound. He is staring intently at Sam, obviously remembering something. “Yeah…was my twenty first birthday. We hunted that black dog.” My brief smile quickly melts away, “ I woke up to you and Dad having it out in the kitchen. We didn’t see you for years after that.” I pause, almost expecting an interjection. When none comes, I add, “Dad never talked about it, and we knew better than to ask.”
 “And Sam? He never said nothin’ about that night?” Bobby appears only a bit surprised. I see something else too…it looks a lot like regret.
 Suddenly, I don’t much like the direction he’s pointing me, but I’ve no way to change course. “No,” I reply, shaking my head, “Never.”
 Bobby sighs, “Didn’t think so.” He looks at me again, piercing and painstakingly serious, “Dean, John was a hero. He was the best hunter I’ve ever known and he loved you boys more than anything.” Hearing Dad’s name on Bobby’s lips is akin to a razor blade tearing away a threadbare scab. “But…that doesn’t mean he didn’t have his flaws. He wasn’t perfect, and he made mistakes. Not just as a man, but as a father. I ain’t gonna preach about parenting, because I don’t know jack squat about raising a kid, but…”
 I’m practically at the edge of my seat when he trails off. “What, Bobby? What happened that night?”
 The older man leans forward, his forearm tilting across Sam’s leg, pupils tracking the rise and fall of the kid’s chest. “You remember the hunt, right? Your daddy let ya take the lead and Sam was the look out?”
   I nod, briefly recalling the excitement of being trusted, how proud Dad had looked, and how after I’d killed the beast he’d pulled me aside and even said so. It was one of the best nights of my life. “Yeah, Sam’s gun had jammed though and the thing threw us round’ a bit before I could get a shot off.”
   Bobby bobbed his head and I almost glimpse the story unraveling in his shadowed orbs. “John was pretty pissed. I didn’t think anything of it, though it really wasn’t Sam’s fault. Kid didn’t seem too upset, more annoyed than anything. I could tell something was wrong though...he was hurtin. I tried to talk to him later that night, but he kept insisting he was fine.”
   I’m having trouble matching up Bobby’s words with my memories of that night. Up until their argument, I only have a happy picture of that day. Wouldn’t I have noticed if Sam was injured? “And that was that. You went to bed, after stuffing yourself with the apple pie John had picked up,” Bobby smiles softly and I grin sheepishly. His gaze darkens and he frowns, “I was just bout’ to head up myself when I heard your dad start in on Sam again. Now, I’d heard him and John argue plenty of times before, but this one escalated pretty quickly and was less of an argument and more John unloading some unnecessary crap on your brother.”
The lump in my throat is back. I know what is coming. “I debated whether or not to interrupt, but they knocked over some stuff and I’d be damned before I let the idjit break Karen’s china.” Bobby quiets, tone drifting, “But…then I heard Sam….” he trails off, shaking his head minutely. Nevertheless, he starts back in faster than I think, “By the time I got there, John had a hold of Sam’s arm and the poor kid was practically writhing.”
   I feel like we’ve stopped breathing. The entire room has become a vacuous space of frozen time. “I grabbed the shotgun by the front door, pointed it at his chest, and told him he could either get off my property or eat buckshot.”
           Numbness bleeds across my lips and the skin on my face feels taut, stretched too tight over protruding bone. “Then I came in…and he told me take Sam and pack up the car, that we were leaving because we were no longer welcome.”
           We stare at my little brother, the man who I know everything and nothing about. We stare and we don’t say anything. Then we stare at each other. “And I did.”
           Bobby swallows, and then swallows again. “Because he said so.”
           Silence. The heart monitor beeps, the clock on the wall ticks, and someone coughs outside in the hallway. “Because he said so,” I echo. It’s empty now…laughably meaningless.
  TBC...

Tear Me Down: Part 4

    Phew, school is D-U-N, DONE! Graduation, here I come! Except I am so going to procrastinate on the speech lol. Anywho, I had time to knock out a chapter and knew I was unfairly making you all wait two weeks. Thanks so much for all the kind reviews, the followers and the favorites! You guys inspire me! That being said, I am not a doctor nor am I educated in medicine, so just um…go with it? Ha ha, everything in the chapter only comes from what I learned in dual credit Bio II last year.
      Sam once told me that the best things in life could seem like the worst. It was one of those rare moments where he was the one trying to look on the bright side, trying to keep our heads above water, because if one of us was drowning, the other couldn’t very well be too.
           That’s how it works.
           We take turns swimming so the other can rest, and we don’t ever let go.
           Except I did let go.
           I let him go and I let myself sink to the muddy pits of the earth and just watched as he splashed frantically around in search of me. I just sat there, amidst the sand and seaweed, and watched.
           I didn’t budge.
           Was I waiting for him to sink too? Was I hoping he’d be able to swim on his own?
           No…no.
           I know none of those things are true. I breathe in harshly and shudder all the way to my bones.
           I’d been drowning myself…and I realized, I knew, that I would be drowning him too.
           The doctor clears his throat, as if opting for a polite way to get my attention, and my eyes snap open to peer fearfully at his face. A part of me wants to lock myself in the Impala and smash my head against the steering wheel until my brain stops working. The other part of me is impatient for my brother’s condition, desperate for his name to be on someone else’s lips to prove that he exists at all.
           “Your brother—” he begins, voice clipped and professional.
           “Sam.” I cut in harshly.
           The short man pauses, one gray eyebrow rising. The desk separating us seems too short a distance all of sudden; I chalk it up to the increasing smallness of the room itself. He licks his thin lips, “Yes, Sam, your brother.” I remain stoically silent, the pit of my stomach gnawing at the rest of my insides.
           Can I cover my ears in public and still be respected?
           Can I explain the difference between what should be and what is and stand back while he puts things in order because surely someone in the universe can fix this?
           “As far as the bullet wound is concerned, he is an extremely lucky young man. Chest trauma has a lot of variability, so know that things could have been far worse.”
           My fingers dig into my jeans, pinching the skin over my knees. I’m holding my breath, a million questions racing in front of my eyes and I can barely suppress the urge to grip the doctor’s shoulders and shake him until he speaks faster. “Two of Sam’s ribs were broken upon impact and caused a Type 3 pulmonary laceration to his left lung. This resulted in an abnormal amount of air to leak into the chest cavity.”
           My mouth becomes increasingly dry and my tongue feels like sandpaper.  I know there is a but coming, there always is. He’s building towards a crescendo. He’s basically holding my hand, telling me to close my eyes and wait for the good part.
           I want to puke.
           “The bullet itself caused severe bleeding, but since it was a straight through his risk was greatly decreased. The CT scan revealed the punctured lung and we were able to correct it in surgery, as well as get a handle on the hemorrhaging.”
           He’s staring at me now. He’s staring, and he’s waiting. I want to scream very loudly to stop him from continuing, because I can handle this. Right here, right now, I can handle it. But in a few seconds I’m going to crack and the water is going to flow in and I only just realized that I don’t want to drown anymore.
           I don’t want to drown anymore because it means Sam drowns too.
           His head tilts sympathetically to the side, as if considering his words, and his face scrunches sadly. “Mr. Reynolds…has Sam been in some sort of accident recently? Something that would cause an extensive amount of blunt force trauma?”
           And there it is.
           The floor slides from beneath my chair and I’m staring up at him from a black pit. His voice sounds far away, like it’s muffled, and somewhere in the distance I can still perceive the cataclysmic reverberation of crunching metal, glaring lights, and shattering glass.
           “Yeah…we,” I meet his gaze and I think he sees it in my eyes already but is just waiting to see what I say.
           I haven’t talked about it until now.
           In fact, I’ve spent most of my energy trying to avoid it at all costs since it happened.
           “…we were in a car crash a couple weeks ago. Sidelined by a semi.” I’m looking at the floor again, at my dirty boots. They haven’t given me any answers yet. “Sammy was driving.”
           He hears me even though I’m impossibly quiet. The doctor draws in a breath and speaks a bit louder than before, “The reason I ask is because we discovered quiet a few untreated injuries.”
           My head snaps up at this, my heart stuttering.
           “Several of his ribs are cracked and bruised, making him entirely more susceptible to what happened to his lung. The CT scan also revealed severe myocardial contusions. This can be very serious and problematic if not properly addressed and in some instances it can be fatal. Surely you boys went to a hospital after the collision?” His inflection screams of incredulity and accusations.
           I can’t even think straight. The crash was bad…I’d been done for, ticket stub clipped and everything. But then Dad had died, I’d been miraculously saved, and Sam…Sam was stumbling along behind me trying keep up for two weeks.
           Oh god.
           What kind of person walks away unscathed from that?
           The Impala was totaled.
           Destroyed!
           Why didn’t I think…why did I just assume…
           “Our Dad was in the car too,” I whisper, staring at the stethoscope around his neck, “he…he didn’t make it. Sam must have…,” I have trouble forming the words, “Sam must have signed himself out AMA. I didn’t…I mean, there was just so much happening, and he looked fine, and he said he was fine—” I choke, because that isn’t right.
           When did I ever ask if Sam was fine? When did I ever look his way long enough to even ask him anything?
           Sam had said, in plain English and straight to my unforgiving face that he was NOT ok, that he was NOT dealing with things very well.
           And I’d just stood there and waited for him to stop talking and walk away, because I was angry and couldn’t speak without yelling.
           The doctor leans forward in his chair, his black dress shoes squeaking on the linoleum, “I am sorry about your father. Regardless, Sam should have been under strict medical supervision. Heart contusions are nothing to mess around with and he needed to be on bed rest and taking care of himself. He is malnourished so I don’t think he has been eating properly, or getting enough sleep. Do you know what  an arrhythmia is, Mr. Reynolds?”
           My mind is reeling. There’s too much and too little of me to process it. Of course Sam hasn’t been eating…of course Sam hasn’t been sleeping. I see him every day, I saw the bangs under his eyes, I witnessed him turning down breakfast, and then lunch, and then dinner. But I’ve been too wrapped up in my own grief to acknowledge it, to care about it
           What the hell is wrong with me?
           What made me forget…everything? Everything I’ve ever thought was important, or essential, or even wanted?
           “Mr. Reynolds?”
           I blink rapidly and realize I have been staring blankly at the man for several long, silent moments. He seems concerned, unsure, and a tad nervous. I shake my head, trying to swallow down the fist that has settled itself in my throat. It won’t go away though. “Arrhythmia? As in, irregular heart beat?”
           A single, emphatic nod in return, “Yes. In some cases, heart contusions can lead to certain kinds of arrhythmias, especially if the trauma is from getting hit by a car or the steering wheel in a car crash. It appears Sam has developed one, what we call a PVC, or premature ventricular contraction.”
           I wipe my right hand down my face, feeling the stubble on my chin, “I’m sorry, are you—are saying this is permanent, that Sam’s heart isn’t beating right? He’s twenty two freaking years old!”
           Sam’s eats like a rabbit and exercises neurotically…he’s young, so young. He shouldn’t be here…this shouldn’t be happening, and the only reason it is is because I couldn’t be bothered enough to get my head out of my ass and see what was happening in front of my own to eyes, to button up my issues instead of letting them spill all over Sam and suffocate him.
           The man rises from his seat and makes his way around the desk until he’s much closer to me. Too close; I want to bolt. I think he knows that because he’s putting a hand on my shoulder and his voice is different. It’s placating, reassuring, and soft.
           He sounds like Sam.
           He sounds like Sam and I would rather he tell me something awful in a cold, crass tone. Anything but this.
           “No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. His arrhythmia, with proper rest and nutrition, would have receded on its own as his body healed. However, he hasn’t done himself any favors, so it’s a bit more complicated now. If he were completely healthy, we’d restore his vitamin and mineral levels and monitor him closely until he recovered, but with his new injuries and the strain his body is going to be under while recuperating from surgery, it may be a lot longer before he regains a normal heart beat. The next twenty four to forty eight hours are crucial, Sam is vulnerable to infection and complications. I’d normally give him a good prognosis, but I’m going to be straight with you here Mr. Reynolds,” He somehow forces me to look at him, even though I’m perfectly at peace studying the Norman Rockwell on the wall, “Sam will only recover if he wants to.”
           Sam will only recover if you give him something to come back to. I hear the words loud and clear. The doctor smiles awkwardly and I can’t bring myself to appreciate the effort, “He should wake up in a few hours if you’d like to see him now.”
           God do I want to…I want to tear from the room and sprint to his side. But I can’t bring myself to move; I’m glued to the seat. My legs are cinder blocks. I nod, swallow, and then nod again, “Yeah,” my voice is raspy, cracked, pathetic, “yeah, ok. Thanks doc.”
           Finally, my feet are beneath me and like a ghost I’m moving for the door. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I can even begin to fix the tattered remains of our relationship and the uncertainty is what is going to kill me.
           Sam may not recover from this.
           Sam could…
           What do I do? What do I say? Sorry seems laughable. I’m standing in the hallway now. I’m standing and I’m thinking about everything in the world and how it’s all useless, really. Because what can any of that do for Sam?
          
            “I’m sorry we have to leave again, Dean.” Sam looks at me from across the kitchen, long fingers pushing even longer bangs from his eyes.
           I want to be irritable, I want to snap at him, or maybe slam the fridge shut and make him flinch. But the fleeting glimpse I get of his patent, puppy dog stare make all the urges to be nasty evaporate in less than a second.
           I sigh, “It’s ok, Sammy. It’s not your fault.”
           Silence falls over us, but it’s companionable. It’s comfortable, and normal, and right. Dad says he thinks we have entire conversations without saying anything. He’s joking of course, but for some reason he always sounds angry. Finally, Sam says, “You really liked her, didn’t you.”
           It’s not a question, just an observation. It’s soft, sympathetic, and completely Sam Winchester. I stare back at him and half smile, shrugging one shoulder. “Yeah…I really did.”
           Sam makes his way over to me and settles against the counter by my side. I can hear the ancient grandfather clock in the living him ticking. The landlady gave us hell about the old thing, going on and on about how much in damages we’d have to pay if we so much as sneezed on the thing. I’d stood behind her and made funny faces at Sam while she’d talked, throwing my arms and mouthing everything she said. Sam had fought it off for an impressive amount of time, but he’d eventually been reduced to a massive heap of giggles on the carpet.
           Dad had been pissed.
           So worth it.
           Sam knocks his elbow against mine, “Still have me, right?” And he’s grinning, all dimples and white teeth.
           I genuinely laugh and shove him a few feet, “Gee, lucky me.”
           He laughs in return and quickly rights himself. It’s quiet again and now we are both listening for the tell tale rumble of the Impala and Dad’s return. We’d packed up this morning and were told over the phone to be “on the god damn door step when I get there.”
           “Dean,” Sam’s serious tone surprises me and I quickly glance over at him once more. “Sometimes…bad things can be good things.” I blink, and he shifts his weight to his other foot before adding, “Maybe…maybe this is one of those times.”
           My heart warms a bit and my lips twitch. I reach over and ruffle his hair. “Whatever you say, Samantha.” Sam squawks indignantly and pulls away.
           There’s a tug at my heart though because I know he’s wrong. Sam is still so young, so innocent, and so naïve. I want to preserve that, to protect that for as long as I can, but one day I know I won’t be able to stop him from comprehending the truth.
           Sometimes bad things are just…bad things.

Tear Me Down: Part 3

 People are staring at me. I’m pacing the length of the waiting room like a caged animal, ready to spring at anything that may stray too close. Air whistles through my nostrils and my chest heaves. I can’t get enough air. I’m suffocating. I can’t breath.
        The fear is choking me.
        Sam’s blood is dried on the waistband of my jeans and the front of my shirt. I can feel it burning holes into my skin. Flakes fall to the floor beneath the tear of my nails and I barely contain the all-consuming urge to rip my clothes off and scrub away the stain. The smell is nauseating. A terrible mixture of iron, dirt, and sickness.
        Death.
        It’s the stink of death. I reek of it. The room reeks of it.
        Sam had stopped breathing. Sam’s heart had stopped beating. Right there, while lying right in front of me, while lying right beneath my own two hands.
        What the hell kind of piss poor brother allows that to happen?
        What the hell kind of person causes that to happen?
        What the hell kind of person dies for someone that would cause that to happen?
        Goddamn Dad. Damn the man for dragging us into a life full of pain, danger, and endless sacrifice. God damn him for putting a burden on my shoulders that keeps me awake at night. God damn him for dying; dying and leaving me to fill a void that I can’t even reach halfway across.
        I’m a sorry excuse for a substitute.
        He’s been gone for a month, and look where I am. A hospital at two in the morning covered in my little brother’s blood.
        I realize I have stopped pacing and have been standing for several long minutes, staring down at my feet. Two small, round dark blotches stare back at me from the tip of my right boot, deep chocolate against creased leather.
        A gunshot reverberates in my ears.
        Sam is screaming. Sam is falling.
        Sam is screaming and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t do anything about it because I’m the one making him scream. I’m holding the gun. I’m pushing him down. I’m stepping back and I’m watching him and I’m not doing one thing.
        He won’t stop.
        He’s screaming, and he’s screaming my name.
        Someone softly touches my shoulder and a voice murmurs behind me. I spin rapidly around, fist clenched, only to come face to face with the gentle featured nurse working the front desk. Her dark hair frames her jaws and her cheeks are rosy hued. There’s something wrong about how alive she is. How can anyone be so vital? How can anyone be anything but half crazed in a place like this?
People come here to die.
People come here because they don’t want to die, but they do anyway.
People come here, and they die, and they leave other people behind.
She appears unfazed and her expression is soft, motherly, and concerned. I want to shake her and tell her to wake up. I want to tell her something absurd, like the world is ending, because shouldn’t it be? “Mr. Reynolds?”
        She sounds as if she is repeating herself. I wonder how long she’d been trying to get my attention.           
        People are still staring at me; it must have been for a while.
        My eyes narrow, “Yeah.” I flinch at the sound of my voice, cracked with emotion and suppressed tears.
        Her head tilts and I can’t stand the fleeting pity she imparts. I don’t want pity. I don’t want anything.
        I just want my brother.
  “Samuel is out of surgery now. The doctor would like to speak to you.” Her eyes flicker towards the swinging double doors separating the world from reality. I see the doctor through the window, speaking quietly to an orderly while peeling crimson latex gloves from his hand and tossing them into the trash. My heart constricts. Black spots leech into the edges of my vision.
        Anxiety latches onto my ankles and I can barely manage a nod of understanding in return. I encounter her gaze for a moment. Her eyes are hazel. Her eyes are hazel and she is waiting.
        I nearly lose it.
***********************************************************************
            “Are you mad, Dean?”
        My eyes open to stare at the ceiling of the motel room. There’s a water stain in the right corner. If I squint just the right way, it looks like a wendigo. I’d almost been asleep. Almost.
        I sigh, blinking away the grips of darkness. “What?”
        Despite the exasperated tone, Sam persists. His voice is soft, and pained. “Are you mad?”
        Silence falls over the room. I hear the sink drip in the bathroom. A dog barks in the distance. Slowly, I shift onto my side until I’m facing my brother. He is already in the same position; his impossibly round eyes fixate upon me, earnest and vulnerable.
        Damn kid.
        Put him on a twin bed and it immediately knocks off a good ten years.
        “Why would I be mad?”
        Sam chews at his bottom lip, gaze straying to the eggplant carpet. I wait patiently. “I just—I just don’t want you to be mad.”
        The response does nothing to clear my confusion, but I can bet a million dollars that whatever is behind this sudden late night talk is nothing short of an angst fest. I blow out another breath, “Well, I’m not mad, Sammy. Why would I be mad? What’s this about?”
        “Dad loves you.” He’s looking at me again. He’s looking at me and he’s waiting.
        But I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where this is coming from. The trail for Dad has been cold for so long, but in the past few weeks we’ve really been closing in on him. I didn’t realize Sam was thinking so much about it. Sometimes I feel like I need a manual to decipher my little brother, or maybe a calendar to keep track of his cycle.
        “Sam—” I start, struggling for verbal footing.
        “I’ve been mad my entire life.” Sam continues, his bangs falling messily over his forehead and over his eyebrows. “But you and Dad—you and Dad are ok. You don’t get mad at him.”
        My stomach tightens and I’m beginning to understand. I’m filled with memories of slamming doors, of almost punches, of helpless interference. Sam’s adolescence had been a brutal tug of war. I know he has scars, I know Dad left a chip on his shoulder. Yet the glimpses I catch of it at moments like these still instills sorrow in my heart.
        “You get frustrated, I know. You may even get angry with him once in a while. But you don’t get mad at him. He doesn’t get mad at you.” Sam’s unsteady cadence trails off, and we meet each other’s eyes. I continue to fail at finding the right words. He seems to read the loss on my expression, and he smiles minutely back at me.
        It’s sad. It doesn’t reach his eyes. But he never asks for something he’s uncertain I can give, so he smiles anyway.
        Finally, he rolls onto his back once more, “That’s good,” Sam shakily whispers, “I want you to have that.”
        I can’t see him anymore. The moon spills beneath the curtains far enough to illuminate the bottom of his comforter.
        I want to say something. I want to get up and sit next to him. But I can’t bring myself to move, too shocked and thrown for a loop to remember how to work anything. I stare blankly at the curve of Sam’s shoulder blades, thinking.
        I think about six month old Sam. I think about four year old Sam. I think about twelve year old Sam. I think about sixteen year old Sam, about eighteen year old Sam, and about twenty two year old Sam.
        I don’t sleep…I can’t sleep, and instead remain awake for the rest of the night. By the time morning arrives, I come to a conclusion.
        They are all the same.
  TBC...

Tear Me Down: Part 2

            Hey, kids! Sorry for the wait! Two weeks of dress rehearsals and then this past weekend was the show! Sold out all three days! :D Finally had a few days to work on this chapter ;) Warning, it’s a doozy, so be prepared. Thank you reviewers, you are amazing. Thank you guest reviewers, I wish I could answer you directly! And thank you a certain someone who PM’d me, knowing that you care and are counting on me means the world and I give you my heart! Happy reading!
        Punkin
       
           “Never go into a room without knowing what you’re walking into.” Dad’s hands are on my shoulders and he leans down to speak gruffly into my right ear. “Be aware of your surroundings, scope out the exits, look for potential threats.” He swallows; I stare ahead of me, my eyes darting about the darkness and the shapes of the empty grain factory.

           I hear Sam sniffle behind me. Kid has a cold…again. I swear God gave him the worst immune system in the world. His nylon jacket squeaks as he burrows himself deeper into it. I frown…it’s freezing out here. Why doesn’t he have a heavier coat?
           Dad’s fingers tighten; he senses my distraction. “What do you see, Dean?”
           The hunt. Think about the hunt. It is what is important. I have to be ready.
           Sam sniffles again, but I don’t think about it. “I see two back doors; one has a broken bolt lock so it probably leads outside. The other has a busted keypad, so it most likely leads to a control room or a storage area.”
           Silence falls for a few seconds. Dad waits for me to continue. I chew on the inside of my cheek, the cold air burning inside my throat. “Half of the stairs to the walkway are missing and the shelving is upturned, so the only place someone could be hiding is behind the grain bins.”
           “Or behind the door.” Sam helpfully interjects. There’s something in his voice. I can’t put my finger on it. Hope?
           “Quiet Sam,” Dad snaps, “I asked Dean.”
           I don’t have to turn around to picture my little brother’s face and inwardly cringe. After all, I had forgotten the door, which is really the first place to check. I lick my lips; trying to focus. “Enter, gun drawn, check behind the door,” I squash the guilt that gnaws at my insides and force myself to continue assertively, “stay to the right, below the catwalk, and pass by the staircase that way you have a place to take cover if someone open fires. Pause, listen, and then give the grain bins a wide berth. If someone is there, determine if they are armed and if you have the means to confront them. Keep an exit at your back at all times in case of the need for a quick getaway.”
           I let out a deep breath and turn my head to look up at my father. He remains stoic for several seconds. At last, he beams warmly down at me, dark eyes proud, and pats the back of my shoulder blades. “Very good, Dean.”
           Sam shifts his weight from foot to foot. He encounters my eyes before gazing down at his faded, red sneakers. Snow begins to filter from the clouds and the tiny flakes cling to his windswept hair. My grin melts away, and for a moment I am resentful.
           “All right Ace, go ahead.” Dad tilts his ear towards the open doorway, inviting me to take the lead. Excitement boils within, my ribs tight against the layers of my undershirts. I nod seriously and move past him. Years of instincts arise and I quickly draw my weapon, step through the entry, and promptly determine that it is safe to enter further. I check my backside, imparting a curt nod, and Dad starts to follow. I hesitate, allowing my eyes to adjust, and smell the grit in the air. It’s old, moldy, and wet. I mean to continue on, anticipating the journey to the grain bins, but as I take a step forward, Sam suddenly seems to come to life.
           “Dean, wait!”His hands tear from his pockets, hazel eyes wide. Fingers dig into my arm and he yanks me back several feet. I squawk in surprise, shrugging him angrily off.
           “Sam, what the hell?!” I tower above him, observing his wan cheeks and bloodless lips.
           “Dean, look,” he points down towards our feet.
           My eyebrows grow heavy above my lashes and I slowly kneel to see what it is my brother is referring to. Then I catch a glimpse of it, glinting slightly in the overcast light. A miniscule string, stretched out across the length of the room.
           “Tripwire,” I murmur.
           Dad’s voice booms from behind us, his arms crossed. “Yes, a tripwire. Always, ALWAYS, clear a room of dangers, Dean, even if you can’t see them. You can’t get too cocky, son. One step and you’re dead. Your brother’s dead. Is that what you want?”
           My molars dig into my tongue and my chest shrinks inward. Sam is still staring at me…waiting. What is he waiting for? I stare back. I stare back and imagine for a moment an explosion. An explosion that takes away everything important. I stare back and think about Sam melting away and not melting with him.
           “Well, Dean? Is that what you want?” Dad persists belligerently, taking a step closer to us.
           My eyes narrow and my jaw tightens, “No.” It escapes a cracked whisper.
           He appraises me, as if taking note of my demeanor and attitude, as if determining if he successfully made his point and pushed a button deep inside me.
           “No what?”
           Sam sniffles again. I look back at him, all watery eyes and miserable posture. He shivers, expression concerned when I don’t answer right away. Methodically, I slip my gun into my jeans and slide off my leather coat. I drape it over my little brother’s shoulders and begin to steer him towards the Impala. Sam is bewildered. The manner he smiles softly at me makes everything in the universe worth it though.
           We pause; the snow sweeps against the toes of my boots. I meet Dad’s shadowy orbs and resist the urge to decipher what he is feeling. Anger, confusion, I really don’t care.
           “No, SIR.”
           And we walk away.
         
           “SAM!” I scream, and I am dropping something from my hands. I don’t know what I had been holding—but I do know that whatever it was is completely unimportant. Nothing matters. Nothing matters because there’s blood on my face that isn’t mine. It’s splattered on my neck. It sticks in my hair. It drips in my eyes.
           I was so close.
           I was inches. Inches that may have well as been light-years.
           I know better. We both do. Dad had scared negligence out of us before we even knew how to spell the word. Well, maybe before I  knew how…
           I’d shoved him into it. I’d shoved my brother into the path of a shotgun.
           Oh god…
           “Sam! Hey, look at me, look at me, Sammy!” My hands catch in his button up before he is even all the way on the ground. His fall is slow, his eyes on me the entire time. He tries to talk, but his mouth opens and closes uselessly, as if he can’t get his body to do what he is telling it. The only thing that comes out is a mangled mess and the softest of whimpers.
           I guide him to the floor, pulling his shoulders to rest against my thighs. His hands frantically tear at his chest, bathing them in his own life force, and I all too easily push them away. “Shh, Sam, stop trying to talk,” I choke, sure that his next attempt of my name is what is finally going to break me.
           I’m broken already; the pieces left can’t be damaged too. At last, I get his shirt open and my heart stops. I knew it was going to be bad—that large a caliber of bullet at such close range? Sam’s lucky his entire chest cavity hadn’t been blown away. Blood pumps over my fingers and soaks my jeans. It’s sticky, warm, and thick.
           Bile rises in the back of my throat, but I can’t seem to look away from my little brother’s ripped flesh and muscle. I think about what I can’t see, about the shattered ribs and damaged organs. I think about Dad. I think about yelling at Sam, about punching Sam. I think about the easiness of anger. “Is that what you want?” I think about me. I think about me without Sam.
            “Well, Dean, is that what you want?”
            “No!” I gasp, pressing my palms harshly over Sam’s wound. “No, you are NOT doing this, Sam. You hear me?”
           Hazel eyes murky with pain gaze up at me, blood at the corner of his lips. I don’t think he can hear me, but I know he understands me. He is sad. He is apologizing again. I want to shake him. I want to hug him. I want to squeeze the life I am wasting down his throat, because what the hell do I need it for if he’s not going to be here?
           “D’n,” He garbles.
           Something burns in my eyes and clouds my vision. My throat closes up and I shake my head. “No,” it’s a whisper. An order. A plea. “No, Sammy.” I wrestle my phone from my pocket and dial 911. The conversation with the operator is long enough for me to bark information to her and toss the device aside. I have a little brother to hold together, to anchor down, to keep at my side because he’s not allowed to check out without my say so.
           “Stay awake, kid. Just…just a bit longer. A bit longer and you’ll be as good as new.”
           Sam blinks. His chest struggles to rise and his lungs rattle. He can’t be getting enough air. But what disturbs me the most is the fact that he isn’t even aware enough to panic about it. He’s drifting. He’s melting. He’s melting away beneath my hands and he’s leaving me behind.
           “Sam? You hear me? I’m going to fix this. You’ll be ok.” The words feel empty.
           Sam blinks again, eyes drooping. His head leans back against my waist, as if falling into craved comfort. “S’ry,” he sighs.
           “Hey,” panic freezes my veins, “open you eyes. SAM!” I jostle him. “Open your god damn eyes!”
           He doesn’t respond. He doesn’t move.
           My hand grips his chin, turning his face towards my own. I’m begging now. “Sam? Sammy? Please...”
           I think about me without Sam. I think about the world collapsing in on itself. I think about which one would be worse.
           I think about which one feels as if it is happening right now.
                                   TBC…

Tear Me Down: Part One

Hey, everyone. :) It’s been a tough year, but I’m trying to get into writing again. After re-watching the first few seasons with a new fan, I became inspired by the raw pain and angst of early season 2. There should be a few chapters, so enjoy the ride! Please, no flames. It’s fiction, it’s enjoyment. The hate in fandoms breaks me widdle heart. ;)
   Sam is on the phone. It’s definitely not someone we know; I can tell by the cadence of his voice and his inquisitive tone. I want to keep sleeping. I want to lie here forever and never open my eyes again. I’m tired, sore, and so not ready for another day of staring into Sam’s saucer eyes and bruised face.
   I’m angry. I know that.
   But he’ll just have to deal with it. I can’t always put a band-aid on his god damn scraped knees. At some point, he’s going to have to do it himself. Dad’s not here to do it for me, why should someone be there to do it for him?
           I feel like I’m going to explode at any moment. The smallest things set me off and an unbearable swelling of emotion sits inside my chest and spews out in the form of nasty words and hateful looks. Everything is just too much, so it’s easiest to let it escape in its simplest, most basic form: sheer animosity.
           I’ve drifted off again by the time Sam quietly shuts the phone he’d been speaking discreetly into. There’s a pause, as if he is considering what to do next. I tense, the sensation of his heavy gaze palpable. At last, a slow shuffle of feet towards my bed, a soft touch on my shoulder, and an even softer, hesitant inflection, “Dean?”
           I sigh, breathing deeply into my pillow. “What?” It comes out a mixture of exasperation and disappointment.
           Sam visibly swallows as I blink up at him, his bangs covering his eyes. He clears his throat, “Uh—that was Dad’s phone. I’ve been keeping it charged, you know, just in case…” he trails off, obviously uneasy under my unflinching stare and confrontational raised eye brows. “Anyway, a man called looking for one of his aliases, saying someone tried to break into his storage unit in New York.”
           He finally looks directly at me, seeming to get a handle on whatever he’d been struggling with. The clown case hadn’t been great, sure, but the kid needs to buck up. Life sucks. And it’s going to keep on sucking; especially if he keeps looking for things in me that aren’t there. “A storage unit?”
           Sam nods, shrugging, “Yeah, apparently Dad had one in Buffalo. I told the owner not to call the police; I think it was just a couple of stupid kids anyway. Whoever tried to break the lock didn’t get in.”
           I sigh heavily, sitting up until my feet touch the cold floor. Sam remains where he is, watching. Always watching, always waiting. “Well, that’s good I guess.”
       Sam squints slightly, “Uh, yeah. So…what do you want to do?”
       “About what?” I throw the covers to the side, the room shrinking fast.
      Bewilderment overtakes his face, pale cheeks flushing, “Don’t you want to check it out?” He persists.
           I stand up, pushing past him towards the bathroom. I ignore the way he stumbles a bit. “Check what out?” I snort.
           “You mean to tell me you’re not the least bit interested in what Dad could have locked up in this thing? What if it’s something really important? What if he…I don’t know, left us something?” Sam’s louder now, incredulous, concerned, and downright irritating.
           I turn rapidly, “Honestly, Sam? No. I am not the least bit interested in another one of Dad’s secrets. In fact, I don’t really want to talk about Dad at all, but seeing as how you can’t get that through your thick skull, than sure. Let’s go to New York.” I’m practically spitting now, and Sam’s just standing there like a rock. He doesn’t move an inch, and for some reason that makes everything completely unsatisfying. I spin away from him, needing the solitary warmth of a shower in order to screw my head on straight. “And don’t get you freaking hopes up. The only thing Dad left behind for me was your sorry ass.” I’m not sure why I toss the final jab over my shoulder, but I think I’m hoping to make myself feel less miserable and less alone by tearing everything around me down too.
           Turns out, I’m awfully good at it.

SDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSDSD

        Half the buttons in the elevator are missing, and the few that are left no longer light up. Sam’s tall frame fits awkwardly against the far wall and I stare directly ahead of me to avoid looking at him. I can hear him breathing though, and it’s annoying. I can’t very well tell him to cut it out either, because what the hell kind of person tells their brother to stop breathing. Maybe I can just say to stop doing it so loudly.
           “Dean, “ Sam speaks before I have the chance to open my mouth. My hands clench automatically at the placating, sympathetic tone.
           “I’m fine, Sam,” I growl, peering at his hunched form from the corner of my eye, hoping to convey how essential it is to his well being that he not really talk. A part of me knows I’m being unreasonable and unnecessarily cruel, but I’m too mad to care. Mad at the world, mad at Dad, mad at myself. I just want to stop thinking…stop being, even if it’s for a few seconds.
           The elevator rumbles and shakes as it arrives at our floor and the floor creak beneath my boots. I reach forward and harshly pull up the metal grate separating us from the open room of bolt locked storage units. Sam rapidly scrambles after me. I hear him stumble and roll my eyes.
           “Dean,” he tries again, “I know this is hard. I know you didn’t want to come, but this might be good for you.”
           I resist the urge to turn around, “Shut up, Sam. I told you I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just find this damn unit and open it up so we can leave.”
           After a quick survey of the floor, we find the right one tucked in the back, outside of immediate sight. Sam pulls out the bolt cutters from his duffle and makes quick work of the lock. I sigh impatiently; he bites his bottom lip nervously and seems to wither a bit beneath my gaze. As he moves to stand straight up again, I reach for the handle of the door and slide it upward. The metal rattles and the wheels screech inside my ears.
          Sam flinches.
           We both stand stock still in the subsequent silence, adjusting to the dim lighting and trying to decipher the cluttered storage division. Finally, I begin to step forward. “Dean, wait,” and Sam’s at it again, his hand gently grasping my shoulder and his vulnerable face pleading and earnest. “You can deny it all you want, but I know you. I know you’re struggling, I know you’re angry, but bottling it up like this is not what—“
           My hands are shoving him away before I can even think, the heat in my chest spreading up my neck to my cheeks. I like the way it feels, the sweet release of pressure. Sam grunts in surprise. “Not what, Sam?” I hiss, “Don’t you dare say it’s not what Dad would have wanted!” I shove him again.
           It feels even better.
           “Dean—,”
           “Because you don’t know jack shit about what Dad wanted! You left! You never listened! You didn’t care!” I yell, drowning out his protest.
           Sam’s expression recoils in pain, his giant eyes swimming. I may have well as drop kicked him. But he doesn’t yell back, he doesn’t raise his hands to defend himself. I want him to, though. I want him to fight me, I want him to scream at me, I want him to be as angry as I am. “You know that’s not true, Dean. Of course I cared. I loved Dad…”
           I cackle, “Well you had a piss poor way of showing it, didn’t you?”
           “I know I screwed up, Dean!” Sam’s voice breaks, the sentiment echoing off the walls. “I know what happened is my fault, and I know there’s nothing I can do to ever make up for it. But this isn’t about me!” I feel something building, something big, and the power of it frightens me because it’s growing without permission and without my control. “This is about you and how you’re dealing with Dad’s death! You can’t treat it like it never happened, Dean—”
           “Sam, I’m warning you—”
           “—It happened! Dad’s dead!”
           “Shut up, Sam!”
           “Dad’s dead, and he’s not coming back this time, Dean! He’s not coming back!”
           It happens in the blink of an eye. It must have been a matter of milliseconds, a couple of quick frames in a single scene. My fist connects with Sam’s jaw. His face snaps viciously to the side, blood pooling on his chin from a split lip. The force of the blow causes him to stagger backwards.
           I don’t feel the ache in my hand. I don’t feel the guilt that immediately settles in my stomach.
           All I can focus on is the way Sam’s feet suddenly become tangled up in something.
           I realize what it is at the same exact moment Sam does.
         Trip wire.
         Our eyes meet, and I don’t think anything in the world can ever make me forget the way he looks at me. He’s sorry. He’s apologizing. He’s apologizing, and I just screamed at him, shoved him, and punched him.
           There’s a quick movement to my right, the soft click of a moving weapon, and then the unmistakable boom of a shotgun. The reverberation shakes me to my bones and I at last find my voice, “SAM!”
                                                                     To Be Continued…

The Devil in Your Shadow-Part Two

Hey everyone! Thank you all you reviewers, I didn't have time to reply to all of you but you guys are awesome! :D So, here's chapter two! I'll update again soon! Happy reading!

-Punkin

  "Sammy…"

  And Sam doesn't want to wake up. He knows what will happen. He knows that as soon as his eyes snap open, it will just start all over again. It was always the sadistic angel's favorite game: see what cruel ways would get him to willingly come out of the blackness to only be welcomed by some sick new torture. It was, in fact, a type of torture in of itself. Sometimes it'd be Jess's voice, sometimes it'd be Dad's…most of the time it was Dean's, whispering that it was ok, that he was home.

  "Wakey, wakey, Sammy. Green eggs and bakey."

  Funny how the devil apparently has a soft spot for Dr. Seuss.

  "Tsk, tsk. That's when you're supposed to say, "But I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I am."

  Tingling sensations have begun along the lengths of his arms, pins reaching into his skin and pulling from the inside out. His head is pounding, lips distended and skin stretched tight over what feels like brilliant bruises. Though his eyelids twitch, Sam still can't quite find the strength to wholly haul himself into the waking realm, his body seemingly weak and own mind weighed with the trepidation of what exactly awaited him.

  "Dean's not coming, darling."

  The hiss is so close to his ear he can feel the icy breath alongside his neck, against the thick and congealing substance that has begun to dry there. Something warm snakes its way down his forehead, running along an already contoured path promising a steadily bleeding wound.

  "He's gone, left you here, and he's not coming back. Can't say I blame him, I'd have left you years ago. You just going to lay there, Sammy? Prove to him how pathetic you are? You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut, you know."

  All at once, Sam tries to form words, tries to tell the taunting, malicious voice to shut the hell up, but his voice catches within his throat. The only thing that comes out is a strangled gurgle, his tongue thick in copper and pressing painfully against his molars.

  "What's that? I'm sorry; you'll have to speak up. My hearing's only about 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed."

  Pain begins to creep into the edges of Sam's being, clawing its way through his head and down the length of his spine. His stomach flips and turns, bile creeping up his throat despite the fact that very little has passed through his lips the past few days. Hell, after all, does an effective job at stealing away your appetite, among other simple, human aspects. It takes away all 'normal,' leaves only the primitive behind, along with the ghost of one's former self just to remind a person of what once was and what could have been. Sam feels empty…drained…sucked dry. What more can possibly be taken? What will be enough?

  "Is this really the great Sam Winchester, drowning in his own blood? Dean is not coming for you, pet. Are you just going to let yourself die?" *Sigh* "And I had such plans for us today…"

  At last, this final jibe allows Sam to drag his impossibly heavy lids open, the dim lighting of the motel room nearly blinding him all over again. His surroundings blur and darken around the edges, the agony almost latching on to his ankles and wrenching him back under. Yet, Sam stubbornly resists, determined to not be weak, to not be…pathetic.

  He's lying face down on the mustard tinted carpet, left cheek pressed into the broken leg of the chair he himself had knocked over. He blinks repeatedly, perceiving the other pieces of overturned furniture and tell tale signs of a violent fight. Blood stains the edges of the comforter on Dean's bed, drops of it splattering into a trail leading across the expanse towards him. His right eye resists opening any further, surely the victim of a massive fist, and the arm pressed beneath his sprawled body is bent unnaturally so.

  "Dislocated. Couldn't have done it better myself. We've really gotten quite soft, now, haven't we? Must've been all our years of pampering. Funny, isn't it? Ah, well, funny things are everywhere."

  Sam licks his lips, doing his best to push away the haunting voice, to push away the deafening screams, to clear his mind and allow at least one coherent thought. Someone, or something, obviously got the drop on him...

  "Pathetic…"

  …he's hurt-concussion and dislocated shoulder for certain-, and Dean is…

  "Dean's GONE. How many times must we go over this?"

  It's a lie. It has to be. Dean wouldn't leave, not after everything. Would he? A groan tears itself from his lips as Sam attempts to lever himself from the floor, perhaps then he will be able to think clearer. Unfortunately, he only gets a few inches above the crimson discolored carpeting before collapsing once more. He gasps, choking on a scream of pain before forcefully managing to swallow it.

  His side throbs with his every sluggish heart beat, a balminess spreading across the threads of his cotton T shirt and creating a sticky, unpleasant sensation. Sam's aware of it now, can pinpoint the ultimate source of his torment. Hesitantly, he begins to move his uninjured arm in that direction, the feeble task proving uncharacteristically difficult and the sheer undertaking sending waves of electricity throughout his entire frame. After what seems like forever, his fingers press against the apparent wound, sinking into torn, ripped flesh.

  Sam virtually bites through his entire bottom lip.

  When he abruptly draws his hand away, he can comprehend through his swollen lids the dark red on his palm, the overhead light shining and reflecting in its ominous depths.

  "That doesn't look too good, Sammy. You should really put some pressure on that, unless you miss me that much."

  And now Sam wants to scream. He wants to shout and yell and cry and tell his mind to leave him alone, to stop reminding him of every thing he already knows, and to make less sense than the real world for once in his entire life. His eyes burn with the sentiment, yet he has not the strength to even speak it. Darkness has its grip, shrouding him in uncertainty and blanketing him from the all consuming agony and the puddle of his own blood. Why fight it? After all, Dean's not coming…

  "Just you and me, pet. Oh, the places we'll go."

TBC…

Where are you Dean? Lol, I promise he will come, ;)…or will he? I used several Doctor Seuss quotes in 'Lucifer's' talking parts, ten points to whoever can name them all! :D

The Devil in Your Shadow-Part One

            Hey, everyone! Time for a new story! Prepare for some hurtSam! This is set in season seven, but before 7.10 (I don’t even want to go there right now). Don’t want to give too much away for this one though, so happy reading! :) Reviews are love, of course! Lol
            -Punkin
                                                                   “The Devil in Your Shadow”  
          “They’ll come for you, you know.”
           
        And Sam tries his best to ignore it. To ignore the whisper of malicious intent, to ignore the icy touch of unreal fingers on his shoulder, to ignore the death saturated breath against his ear. His eyes instead stay glued to the computer screen before him, his thumb a constant, aching press against the scar tissue on his palm. He will eventually go away…Sam only has to be patient.
           
          “You think you’ve paid your dues, darling? Think our play time was God’s salvation on a platter?”
           
         Sam had very nearly accompanied Dean to the bar. His brother’s drinking habits, however, were growing increasingly reckless and he hadn’t much felt up to witnessing the patented Winchester method of ‘coping’. So, instead, he’d attempted to convince his sibling to lay off the alcohol and help him research. Alas, his tone only elicited a defensive jibe and a slamming motel room door. It isn’t so bad, really. Sam’s a big boy after all and most certainly can handle being on his own.
           
        Yet, that only applies when he really, truly is alone. And these days, he can never be sure.
           
        “Hate to break it to you, Sammy, but daddy dearest didn’t cast me to the pit for salvation. No…he threw me down there because I was beyond saving.”
           
       Sam feels his nails dig into his skin and he shifts uncomfortably in his seat, his heart thumping within his ears. “Not real…” he mutters, just to remind himself that he- his voice included-is solid, and that he does, in fact, have some semblance of control.
           
       “A tragic, lost cause. Remind you of anyone, Sam? Hmmm? Come now…you remember how I hate it when these things are so one sided.”
           
       An electric current seems to stream through him, flashes of horrendous things tearing across Sam’s mind and escaping from the usual edges of his consciousness where he holds them at bay, creeping in and out throughout the course of the day-the GOOD days, mind you-and only taking their strong hold at night when he is no match for the brutal nightmares.
           
       “You know better than this. You’ve given nothing, Sam. They’ll never stop. They’ll come for you, like they’ve come your entire life. You know it, Dean knows it. Why do you think he’s drowning himself in liquor? He realizes it’s never going to end, not while dragging us around.”
           
       “Shut up.” Sam growls, slamming his laptop shut and standing so abruptly that the chair topples to the carpeted floor. His breathing has picked up, chest heaving. Only then does he comprehend the warm, sickly blood that’s trailing its way between his fingers, over his palm and down his wrist. The sight and, more prominently, the smell send his stomach into somersaults, his world tipping and spinning on its side.
           
       Suddenly, Lucifer isn’t just an echo over his shoulder; he’s in front of him, beside him, all around him. The gentle laughter almost sends him crashing to his knees, the condescending grin bringing to light unpleasant, deafening screams inside his mind.
           
       “Why so upset, Sammy? I thought I wasn’t real? Or is it my brutal honesty? Over one hundred and fifty years together and not one lie. Has to be the healthiest relationship you have. Tell me, Sam, what’s it like having a brother treat you like you’ve fallen off your rocker?”
          
       “I said, shut up!” And Sam’s yelling now, spinning in a circle in a desperate attempt to fight against an onslaught he has no means of defeating. “Leave me alone.” There’s a chuckle again, another ghostly touch on the contours of his cheek.
           
      “They’ll come for you. It doesn’t matter how far you run or what you do, they’ll tear down everything in their path until it’s just you and me. You and me, Sammy…that’s all there’s going to be in the end. Isn’t that right, bunk buddy?”
           
      The walls are gone. The room is gone. There’s just red. Everywhere Sam looks, there’s blood and tears and endless crimson stains. Someone’s shouting, inarticulate and deafening, and at his fingertips there’s nothing but the numb cold of emptiness. Because that’s all his hands have ever reached for, all his hands have ever grasped each torturous day in hell…emptiness. Nothingness. A complete and all consuming lack of some unknown factor crucial to his proper functioning.
           
       All at once, he feels the ground shake beneath him, the distant pounding of unfamiliar footsteps. Blearily, through the stark red, the screeching, the fire, and the ice, Sam registers the flicker of cloudy, dark and abysmal black eyes. Something hard slams excruciatingly into his stomach, into the soft flesh of his cheek and the small of his now vulnerable back. He’s felled in those few, brief moves, unable to defend himself or even properly assess his attacker. He can’t trust his own mind, can’t trust what his eyes say are real.
           
      Everything has spun together, mixed into one giant, squirming, confusing ball of color. And all it’s doing is sending him spiraling faster and more rapidly into depths he cannot untangle from. Strands of present, past, and imaginary have tied his arms and legs, have wound around his neck and buried his face into tortured memories. The world is dimming, there’s copper in his mouth, yet as Sam dwindles he perceives a chilled hand running through the strands of his hair, a haunting, consoling, and sorrowful smile, “Like I said, Sammy. They’ll come for you. You and me.”
                                                                             
                                                                            TBC…

End note? Just one: Dean, get your butt back here and save your brother!!!!! Lol Hope you liked it! :)

"Lest Thou Be Consumed" 1/1 prompt fill

            Set in season seven. For the ohSam comment fic meme. Prompt by brokenangel6662: After being in the Cage, Sam can't even really tell when he's been hurt, no matter how bad it is. He'll get hurt in a hunt and not know till Dean freaks and tells him he's bleeding. He'll wander off barefoot, lost in his head, and Dean will wake up and run after him. His feet will be all cut up and bloody and Dean's panicking that he doesn't know what's wrong with his brother and doesn't know how to help him. Gen preferred.

“Lest Thou Be Consumed”

Dean keeps a fairly level head when Sam burns both of his hands on a pot he’d dumped ramen noodles into. Sure, he has to pry the boiling hot object from his brother’s fingers and sure, he gags and nearly vomits on the stench of smoldering flesh. That’s no reason to freak out. That’s no reason to curse, and spit, and wake up the entire neighborhood. So what if Sam doesn’t even bat an eye lash at what normally would have even the strongest of men screaming? So what if he would have just kept on standing there, cooking himself, if Dean hadn’t walked in? No reason to freak out…really.

            A few soft words later, some gentle bandaging and Sammy’s as good as new. He keeps insisting he’s fine; that he doesn’t feel any pain, that he didn’t even realize the pot had been getting so warm. The worst part about the entire thing is that Dean believes him.

Whole heartedly he believes his broken little brother.

So, noiselessly, Dean listens, reminds himself the god he wants to pray to is the reason this is happening, and can only nod his head once in the end, his own helplessness more prominent than ever. “I know Sammy.” Sam stares up at him, lost and confused, awaiting the usual big brother band aid Dean slaps onto all their problems.

            He doesn’t have a big enough band aid though. Not this time. So instead he swallows, squeezes the back of Sam’s neck, and whispers once more, as if masquerading as some type of consolation, “I know.”

            Dean keeps an even more level head when Sam somehow manages to hike the mile back to the Impala on their hunt unaware that he is bleeding out the entire time. He’s totally, completely oblivious. Yes, doesn’t even feel the freaking five inch deep knife wound. Only when Sam’s tossing their weapons into the trunk does Dean see the giant expanse of red staining his little brother’s side. “You’re bleeding…”

And Sam looks at him like he’s grown a second head, like he’s the unstable one. “What are you…?”

“Sammy, you’re bleeding.” Dean’s moving forward, stumbling; whatever stupid, unimportant thing he’d been holding falling from numb fingers. “You’re fucking bleeding! Jesus, Sam…” fumbling, he at last pulls the drenched shirt away, fingers sliding across slick, tanned skin. “Damn it…” He chokes a bit, the words catching on the sudden lump within his throat.

Sam’s just standing there, like there’s nothing wrong, like he’s not critically wounded, like he shouldn’t be in agony. “Huh,” Sam mutters, eye brows scrunched in that geek boy way. Dean’s busy trying to put pressure on the gaping hole, trying to pull Sam to the car, and trying with every fiber of his being not to say ‘god’.  

But he doesn’t flip out.

            Not even after the trip to the hospital, during which Sam seemed shocked by the blood pouring from his own body, as if it wasn’t even his, like it couldn’t be his. Not even after hours of waiting and pacing and not knowing what was happening to his brother. Not even after sitting at Sam’s bed side, not even after Sam wakes up, blinks at him and whispers, “I don’t feel any pain, Dean.”

            Not even after the subsequent pause, shortly followed by a soft, “I’m sorry.”

            Dean looks at the scars on his little brother’s palms, at the white bandages visible beneath the hospital gown, at the hell haunted, watery hazel orbs. “I know, Sammy.” Brushing the bangs from his sibling’s sickly pale skin, he forces himself to gaze steadily back into eyes begging him for answers he simply doesn’t have. He can’t fix this type of damage. He can’t make this better. He can’t erase over a century’s worth of torture, nor even begin to understand it. But he does believe his brother, so can only repeat, “I know.”

            Dean’s most level headed, though, when three weeks later, he wakes up on Bobby’s couch in the middle of the night to discover Sam to have wandered aimlessly off into the salvage yard. It wouldn’t really be that big of a deal, after all, his baby brother sure does enjoy a good brood, except when Dean finally finds him, he sees that Sam is entirely without shoes.

            The poor kid went out traipsing amid a glass covered, scrap metal mine field completely barefoot. “Aw, Sam…” Dean sighs in a mixture of relief and exasperation. Sam’s sitting, back up against a truck, watching the night sky blankly, akin to an inert statue. Moving slowly, making sure not to spook his sibling, Dean lowers himself into a seated position beside him, their shoulders brushing.

Dean’s not even sure his brother comprehends his presence. Sam’s checked out, mind somewhere else, somewhere filled with flames, screams and torment. Dean recognizes the signs almost as clearly as he can distinguish the dirty cuts on the soles of Sam’s feet, the jagged glass burrowing into skin, the dark blood trailing in small, mesmerizing rivulets. His chipped nails dig into the fabric of his worn jeans, eyes burning despite the knowledge that his baby brother can’t sense the abuse he’s inflicted upon himself.

             “He liked to talk…liked to ask me things.” Dean jumps, literally, at the sound of Sam’s meek voice. After a brief instant of confusion, he abruptly understands the ominous meaning behind the words. Something cold slithers athwart his skin, gripping his insides and encompassing his heart. It’s the first time Sam’s spoken about the cage, about his time spent there…about Lucifer.

            Dean stares at the hunched form, taking in the slump to Sam’s shoulders, the sheer defeat in his stance. A ringing begins in his ears as he anxiously and mutely awaits more. He’s not sure he’s ready for this, not sure if he can take whatever information his sibling may impart. Sam’s eyes are still on the stars however, the small and distant specks reflecting in their shadowy depths. Dean needn’t look to see. “He’d get mad when I got things wrong.” His brother continues, tone deceptively soft and conversational.

            Dean’s heart breaks a bit further…cracking, shattering.

Sam swallows, a shudder passing through him, and then he’s leaning against Dean, against the support always so readily offered. “Even more mad when I got things right.”

Dean’s wrapping an arm around his baby brother in a second, drawing Sam into his side in an attempt to offer some semblance of comfort and support, to offer some semblance of the big brother band aid he can’t provide. “It’s ok, Sammy…” what an utter lie. In so many ways. “You’re not there, it’s over. You’re not there…” He’s here, with Dean. So why does it never seem that way?

Sam shivers, his flesh freezing and icy to the touch. Dean feels it through his t shirt, feels it all the way to his bones and all the way to the bottom of his tarnished soul. He doesn’t have nearly enough heat for the both of them, because Sammy is cold in places that just can’t be warmed. Can’t be reached, or touched, or healed.

The disturbed, anguished hazel orbs blink away tears, moving to glance down curiously at the gory feet appearing attached to two very long legs. “I don’t feel it, Dean.” Sam murmurs.

The kid is pliant in Dean’s arms, mere putty as the older man holds him tighter, as if able to keep every crippling bad memory and every knee weakening adversary at bay by his own protecting touch. He pulls Sam’s head away, forcing his gaze from his ravaged feet, from the products of his ravaged mind, and tucks it instead beneath his chin.

“I know, Sammy,” Dean soothes, voice escaping strangled and grief stricken. Yet he refuses to pray, even though he wants to, even though there isn’t anything else he can do. Sam whimpers. Dean’s well aware it’s not from pain. Not physical pain.

But he believes Sam. “I know,” and at least that’s something his little brother can feel.

END

Soooooo this is me meekly adding that I do hope for less heart break than this when season seven comes around ;) though it sure is taking its sweet time! Lol, Hugs!

Cold Hard Truth: prompt fill

            For the comment fic meme at Oh Sam. I had an awesome time writing it! :D

Prompt by whatjuliewrites: Can be wincest or gen. For some supernatural reason (curse?) Sam suddenly knows when people are lying. He doesn't know how or why and can't read peoples' minds, but whenever someone says anything, he knows if it's true or a lie. Dean says something about having forgiven him for everything, or not blaming Sam for something and Sam is devastated because he can tell it's a lie. Turns out, though, that it's just a misunderstanding....maybe Dean says he only blames RoboSam or Lucifer for something and it's a lie so Sam assumes that means Dean blames him, but in reality it pinged as a lie because Dean blames himself. IDK. I'm starting to confuse myself. LOL.

“Cold Hard Truth”

They think it’s a side effect of the wall. Some sort of enhanced ability Sammy’s soul hijacked from the pit and brought back to his body. The first time Dean knew something was up was when they were questioning a victim’s spouse, the sweetest lady they’d probably ever met. Or so was the initial impression. They’d suspected witchcraft, and although Dean was definitely NOT keen on taking the hunt, freaking hate witches, Sam had downright insisted. Kid had been scrambling to redeem himself, determined to run himself ragged trying to make up for the year his robo-cop self had wreaked havoc topside.

It only took one pleading, dewy eyed look and Dean hadn’t stood a chance, his resolve at once collapsing. However, he hadn’t been that focused or that invested, especially when it came to all the mundane questioning. I just want to kill some witches…that’s it. In any case, Sam was always better at all that sentimental crap and Dean was more than happy to hand over the reins now that he was juiced up on soul power.

            The woman had said something, teary eyed and meek, about how she’d ‘no idea who could have done this to her husband.’

            Sam conspicuously jolted, as if electrocuted, and had gotten this bizarre look on his face, a strangled noise catching in his throat. Dean had experienced a single moment of sheer, irrational terror, the only thoughts running across his mind, hell, fire, flames, screams, blood, wall…and a familiar, severe voice, “If you wanted to kill your brother, you should have done it outright!”

            But his little brother hadn’t collapsed or seized beneath the power of an unbidden memory. He’d just stared, eyes wide and bewildered, back at the obviously upset widow. “You’re lying…” The words came out tinged by surprise, as if Sam was just as shocked by the notion as much as they were shocked to hear the allegation.

            Dean had blanched, green eyes appraising his sibling incredulously. “Uh…Sammy?” He nervously chuckled, hand brushing the taller man’s arm in order to draw him slightly away. He wasn’t sure what was wrong, but something obviously was.

            Sam barely spared him a glance, hazel orbs taking on a dazed hue. It was fast making Dean uncomfortable and more than a little wary. The lady, meanwhile, seemed taken aback by the blatant insinuation that she was being less than honest, a darkness there and gone again on her previously kind features. Dean pulled harder on his brother’s arm, surprised when he allowed himself to be man handled away from the woman. “She’s lying.” Sam said again, voice heartbreakingly lost and confused by his own conviction.

            Dean swallowed, silently beginning to panic. Because if it’s not one thing, than it’s another, and he was tired of the world dumping it’s shit on them. “Hey, calm down, Sammy, it’s ok,” but was shocked when Sam violently flinched at the words. “Talk to me, buddy, what’s going on? What’s happening?”

            They’d finally reached a safe distance; the burning sensation of the woman’s eyes the least of their worries. Sam searched Dean’s face, like he was looking for some type of answer that just had to be written there. “You’re lying.” He said once more, either unable to articulate anything else or merely not wanting to. The statement sounded as if it were painful to admit.

Dean gripped his little brother’s shoulders, what is wrong with him? Surely, this can’t be the wall cracking, can it? Please, please don’t be the wall… “What do you mean, Sammy? Why do you think we’re lying all of the sudden?” Sam’s mouth opened and closed a few times, the words appearing to catch in his throat. The older Winchester swallowed the overwhelming fear, squeezing his younger counterpart in an attempt to convey some semblance of reassurance, “Hey,” voice unusually gentle, “Talk to me. I can help you, kiddo.”

            Sam tore himself away from the caring touch then, as if Dean had imparted some kind of tragic news, as if Dean had literally slapped him across the face. “You’re lying, you’re lying, you’re lying…” a litany of words, all on the heels of one another.

            And that’s when Dean threw caution to the wind and silently began to freak the hell out.

            He’ hadn’t been able to calm Sammy down after that. Every attempt of comforting the man only made things worse. For some reason, Sam just suddenly knew if someone was lying. It wasn’t right, though. It’s damn near sadistic! Because Dean found that every time he tried to tell Sam things that weren’t necessarily definite, but not necessarily a bold faced lie either, it still came across as one. So Dean abruptly realized that each and every small “It’s ok,” or “I’m going to make this better” or “I’m not going anywhere, kiddo” resembled intentional punches to the gut for his younger sibling and only made Sam all the more distraught.

            Dean Winchester wasn’t one to cry, but this was certainly one of those few times when he really, really wanted to. He felt like he could barely speak in front of Sam, so after two weeks of laying low and trying everything they could think of, following every feasible lead, they at last gave in to Bobby’s insistence that they come to his house and search for a cure together. If one even existed…

            A complete and total search of the grizzled hunter’s library turned up only a few possible solutions, all of which proved to be absolute duds. Sam steadily withdrew into himself. He hated having any type of conversation, hated to listen to anybody talk. “I…I don’t know how it’s a lie. I can’t read minds or anything, Dean.” He’d claimed many times, because let’s face it, Dean was paranoid and he sure as hell didn’t want his brother rooting around in his head. “I just know when something’s not the whole truth…”

            Unfortunately, this made nearly every little thing out of every person’s mouth a falsehood. So how was the poor kid to be certain of anything anymore? Words became hollow…meaningless…empty. And no matter what Dean did or said, in the end he was always left watching helplessly as his little brother cowered away from him, forced to misinterpret each intended comfort as plain deceit. It was eating Sam alive, destroying his psych and causing him serious physical repercussions. He hardly slept, he hardly ate, and Dean could only get him to speak if downright asked a question requiring more than a simple yes or no.

            Dean was desperate. Beyond desperate. He tried to be so careful about what came out of his mouth, tried to be tactful when speaking to Bobby or pleading with Sammy. But then his little brother would cringe and fix him with those saucer-like, anguish filled eyes and Dean would realize he’d inadvertently done it again.

            How could he not? How could he not technically ‘lie’ when all source of consolation was built on the uncertain foundation that things would work out in the end?

            They were fast approaching the end of their rope. Sam had become a mere shadow of the man he was before, a ghost of the strong hunter that Dean knew was hiding somewhere deep inside him. He was just…existing. Reserved, miserable, and steadily losing his mind.

            Funny how Dean was certain that if Sammy were to go crazy, it would be due to the wall collapsing, and yet it was still very much so intact. This new found ability of his…it was something else. A damn curse, that’s what!

            It was well past two in the morning and Dean had no intention of turning in anytime soon. He was rereading an old manuscript for what must have been the fourth time, the text nearly impossible to discern, yet he simply refused to give up. He could not and would not accept Sam’s fate and refused to sit idly by and allow his sibling to suffer and fade away like this.

            He’d never been more unreservedly useless. At this point, he felt more like part of the problem than the solution. It made Dean want to throw up when he realized that was actually, in theory, the truth. “We’ve got to help him, Bobby. We’ve got to fix this, damn it!”

            Bobby jolted, looking up at the Winchester through tired eyes and sporting a furrowed brow, “Boy, what do you think we’ve been doing the past four weeks? Sticking our thumbs up our asses? We’ve searched every possible avenue and have got squat to show for it. Maybe…”

            Dean’s hand slammed against the table, stacks of books crumbling and an empty, coffee stained mug tipping and rolling to his fingertips. He hardly noticed. “No! Don’t you say it…there’s got to be a way! There’s got to be something…”

            Bobby fixed him with a sympathetic gaze, remaining diplomatically silent. After several moments, he gently prodded, “How’s Sam?”

            A lump lodged in Dean’s throat and he despairingly ran a tired hand through the strands of his unkempt blonde hair and then down across his pale face, feeling the stumble on his skin. “Not good. Won’t talk to me, won’t eat…” he shook his head, “I don’t know what to do, Bobby.”

            “Poor kid’s dealing with all he did the past year, too.” Bobby murmured sorrowfully.

            Dean’s jaw clenched, “He blames himself, I know. Its bull shit, but I can’t convince him it wasn’t really him. I can’t convince him that the only one I hold responsible for what his soulless self did is Lucifer and the freaking angels.”

            No sooner had the words left his mouth when a sudden crash came from the adjacent living room as well as a muffled, dismayed whimper. Dean was on the move at once, darting past Bobby to discover his little brother scrambling frantically towards the door leading to the porch, stumbling over his own two feet in his imperative need to get away. “Sammy!” Dean barked, running to try and stop him.

            God, he must have been listening, he must have heard me!

            He caught up to Sam just as he reached the salvage yard, his tall, sickly figure falling against the destroyed metal of an old orange truck. Tears stained the man’s cheeks, his shoulders shaking with barely contained misery.

            Something had broken him. Of course, the poor kid had been gradually breaking for over a month now. Dean fell to his knees beside him, reaching out without hesitation to pull his sibling into his arms.

            Sam sobbed at the touch though, making Dean want to die in that single second, and instead curled in on himself by drawing his knees up to his chest and holding on as if his very life depended on it. “Sammy,” Dean whispered tenderly, “Hey, shhh, c’mon, it’s all right.”

            Damn it!

            Sam recoiled even more, quivering. “Stop lying!” He begged, “Please…no more lies…no more lies.”

            Dean’s jaw hung open, only able to stare morosely as his once strong little brother rocked himself softly, continuing to mutter ‘no more lies’ over and over again.

            Dean’s heart broke…shattered, more like. “Ok, Sammy….hey, no more lies, all right? I won’t lie, I won’t lie, ok?” He’s said it with as much certainty as he possibly could muster, because it just had to be the truth. God, please, let it be a truth!

            Sam didn’t flinch or cringe. “You lied…I heard you. You blame me for what happened. For what I did…for the vampires, for Bobby…”

            Dean was genuinely shocked. What? And then it occurred to him, like a kick to the gonads, “…the only one I hold responsible for what his soulless self did is Lucifer and the freaking angels.”

            Dean suddenly didn’t care how much Sammy obviously didn’t want to be touched or hugged, and he was at once pulling the upset man into his arms. “Aw, no, Sammy. That’s not it all, buddy.” Astoundingly, Sam allowed himself to be held, burrowing farther into Dean’s leather jacket, as if he could safely hide there from the world and all its spiteful lies.

            “But…but it was a lie…I know it was a lie…” Sam sobbed out, fingers clenching at Dean’s shirt collar, his need to cling to his brother prevailing over his need to pull away.

            “I blame myself, Sam. That’s why it was a lie. I don’t blame you. I’ve never blamed you. You hear me? I’ve never blamed you.” Dean’s voice broke, tears stinging the edges of his vision.

            Sam shuddered once more against him, giant hazel orbs looking up into his older brother’s face in a mixture of awe and hope. It warmed Dean’s chest and instilled a haunting chill all at the same time. “You’re not lying.” It was a statement. A shocked one. An amazed one.

            Dean cupped Sam’s cheek, staring sincerely into the younger man’s tortured eyes and wiped a tear away with his thumb. “No, Sammy. I’m not lying. No more lies.”

            Sam sniffed. And it was like they were truly seeing each other for the first time in a long time. “Tell me something else.” He bit his bottom lip, “please?”

            Dean pulled his baby brother into him again, unconsciously beginning to rock back and forth to comfort the both of them. It was like they were kids again, like when Sammy would have a nightmare. Dean always was able to simply make it go away. And he heard that same plea in those words Sam spoke, the silent undertone of, “make the lies go away, Dean.”

            Dean swallowed his heartache, burying his nose into the downy soft of Sam’s dark hair. He would fix this. He would make this better “I love you, little brother.” Because telling the truth had always been that simple.

*End*

             

Due Time: part 3

Final chapter! AHHH! I've had such a great time with this! :D thank you, you awesome reviewers, you guys are truly amazing! This one's for you (and season one Sammy) ;) I hope it meets your expectations! Happy reading!

-Punkin


"Their foot shall slide in due time..." Deuteronomy 32:35

Part 3:

I arrive just in time for Sam to fall forward against me, my arms sliding underneath his arm pits to gently lower him towards the ground, the sudden heavy load bringing me down with him. "Sam! Sammy? Hey, talk to me, buddy…"

Sam groans, gasping in pain. God, this has to be hell on his ribs. His forehead presses into my neck, fingers weakly curling into my shirt and jacket. I can smell the motel shampoo in his hair, the soft strands tickling the tip of my nose and reminding me of happier times. Of simpler times.

"Damn it, Sam, you should have stayed in bed." The words are meant to be stern, angry, they really are. But instead they tumble from my mouth in an unmistakable mix of desperate concern and fervent worry.

I'm trying to keep both of us upright, Sam's weight leaning against my chest, and I can only pray that he doesn't pass out. His breathing is ragged, hitching with the torture merely drawing in a proper lungful of air inflicts upon him. It presses all the wrong buttons in all the right ways and by now I'm dangerously close to the edge. I feel a hand on my shoulder, Dad at once by our side and kneeling to assist me with my little brother.

The animal in me rears its giant head, roaring. Pulling Sammy farther into me, I let out a feral snarl, "Don't you touch him."

Dad looks at me like I've grown a second head, a brief flicker of exasperation there and gone again. "Dean, let me help…"

"I got him!" I snap, cutting him off. "Don't you think you've done enough?" I'm beginning to wish I'd punched the man when I had the chance, maybe then I would have fixed the messed up circuit between our father's head and mouth. God knows we all have a bad habit of not thinking before speaking, but this just takes the Winchester cake.

Finally, Dad seems to get it. I glare daggers as he steps back, watching us with an unfamiliar helplessness emanating from his dark round eyes, his expression remaining one of slight bewilderment. I swallow, but refuse to entertain the instincts within screaming to throw the man a bone, screaming to allow him to try and be what he'd already failed to be on so many levels tonight.

"Sorry, Dean….heard… heard yelling. Thought maybe…maybe you were in trouble." Sam gets out, voice quietly rasping and rough.

I shush him, shooting one last warning glance in Dad's direction before carefully beginning to maneuver Sammy into a semi standing position, the poor kid flailing as he attempts to help but barely being able to stand on his own two legs. "Easy now, sasquatch. Let's just take it slow, all right?"

Supporting nearly his entire weight, the five feet to the bed are like a marathon. Every gasp he tries to cover up, every hiss of pain, it stirs and boils in my stomach. It claws in my mind and leaves a bad taste in my mouth because there isn't anything I can do to alleviate the agony, there isn't anything I can shoot or kill or maim to make this better. Not one thing. And what else is a big brother good for? Most certainly not stopping these kinds of things before they happen, no matter how vigilant or careful or over protective I may be.

Failure, failure, failure…

I can practically feel Dad's eyes following our every move, boring into us as I assist Sam onto the bed and carefully lower him against the pillows, making sure he doesn't try to move too fast or heck, take too deep a breath. Sam's blinking up at me, gaze a bit unfocused and hazy. I wonder if he knows he's still gripping my jacket.

Probably not.

When we were little, he'd wrap himself around my leg sometimes, finding it absolutely hilarious to sit on my foot as I tried to walk. I did though, and Sammy went right along for the ride, laughing every step of the way. It's like he's trying to do that now, trying to hold on to me so that if I were to go somewhere, he could go too. The wistful memory prevents me from comprehending Dad's brazen approach.

"Sammy…" He begins, stepping to my side, near Sam's face, deep voice uncharacteristically soft, yet persistently oppressive.

"Don't even start, Dad," I growl, attempting to wedge my body between him and the bed, "I think we get the picture."

Dad's jaw clenches, the vein in his forehead bulging faintly. I can tell he's making a valiant effort at keeping his temper in check. "If you'd just let me explain…"

"Why? So you have another chance to say something stupid? No freaking way!" I hiss and am in the midst of pushing aggressively at his shoulder when Sam's calm voice stops us once more.

"Dean, stop. Please."

I pause, Dad's eyes narrow to look beyond me. Damn it, how can I ever resist that kind of plea? He knows it too.

Spinning to face my little brother, I'm dismayed to find him struggling to shove himself up onto his elbows. Trying to push him back down I say, "Sammy, let me handle this, ok, kiddo? You just rest."

"Let him talk, Dean." The words may be soft and vulnerable, perhaps even with a trace of fear, but Sam has his head tilted in that stubborn way, the line appearing between the hollows of his hazel orbs. He's going to get what he wants. For a moment, I want to stamp my foot, because no way am I not going to drag Dad to the door and drop kick him into the street.

Sam and I noiselessly square off for an instant before I finally growl in frustration, the damn 'dewy eyes' far too great to conquer. "Fine!" My hands are thrown into the air and I am forced to immediately back away from the both of them so I can safely mutter under my breath things that would put a sailor to shame.

Dad lowers himself slowly so he can be even with Sam's face, his hands fluttering as if he is unsure with what to do with them. I draw closer, the need to protect Sammy all consuming; by now I don't trust our father not to worsen things. Not to hurt the kid more than he already has.

"I…I'm so sorry, Sam." I tense as Dad begins speaking. Sam's not looking at him though, his shoulders shrinking back into the bed. How does he manage to look so small? "I was wrong to take off like that…to leave you."

Sam flinches then, and it's all I can do not to intervene. But I'm shocked when a cursory glance at the older man's face reveals the usual stern eyes to be shining. It has to be a trick of the light…surely. Dad at last seems to find a place for his drifting hands, resting them on Sam's bent arm and squeezing gently. Astonishingly, Sam doesn't pull away. I'm only half sure that he wants to.

"Seeing you move that gun…" he pauses, eyes wandering as if the memory is flashing in front of him, "seeing the pain it caused you. It…it scared the hell out of me."

My molars dig into the flesh of the inside of my cheek as I observe Sam's eye brows furrowing minutely, face turning in our father's direction. "Why did you-why didn't you say anything? What about just now…outside?" Sammy's voice splinters and cracks, certainly against his will. I take a significant step forward and my knee brushes against the edge of his leg, reminding him that I'm still right here and that I'm not going anywhere.

"What I said outside was stupid, I didn't mean it, son. At all…I was just angry, scared." Dad shakes his head, somewhat sadly, "I've always tried to protect you boys. Tried to keep you safe. But this…" Sam's downright looking now, almost meeting Dad's gaze. It must be encouraging because the words come easier. "These visions, these powers, whatever the cause or whatever the reason you have them, I can't protect you from it, Sammy. That's why I ran. It…I just needed time, I couldn't think. Just kept seeing…seeing your mother, that night in the fire."

That night is strictly, unequivocally taboo. The fact that he's brought it up at all is enough to tighten my throat and burn my eyes. The man is being serious. He doesn't screw around when talking about…Mom.

Sam's adam's apple bobs and he fixes Dad with the most heart breaking expression I've ever witnessed. He's so hopeful and every fiber of my being is screaming for our father not to let the kid down. "You mean you don't think I'm a…" Sam chokes on whatever word he's intending to say, although we get a pretty good idea. What comes next makes my legs utterly weak, "…you don't hate me?"

Dad's jaw drops a bit, shock flitting athwart his haggard face. This is it; he better make this right, he better fix this or so help me I will never forgive him. His right hand grips Sam's shoulder, meeting my little brother's hesitant gaze. "Samuel Winchester, I could never hate you. I know we've had our differences in the past, and I know what I did tonight was…wrong, but you're my son, Sammy, and I love you. Both of you." Dad's eyes dart in my direction. Not far considering I've virtually been on top of them throughout the entire exchange.

A heat tingles in my chest, my skin flooded with the residual warmth that at once spreads to encompass my whole body.

Sammy's subsequent, endearing smile lights up the whole damn room and makes me want to gather him up in my arms so I can keep it on his face forever. The kid's got too much on his shoulders. His eye lids flutter, tired orbs no longer bogged down by so many conflicting emotions. "I'm sorry you had to find out this way." Sam whispers, voice trailing off as sleep sinks in its determined claws. Then, he adds in a manner that could very well bring a Wendigo to its knees, "Love you too, Dad…"

We remain frozen, watching Sammy. There's so much innocence in him that I wish will never go away. I wish I could bottle it up and store it in a safe place, just to ensure this freaking life doesn't suck it right out of my little brother. I need it…I need him, bleeding heart and all.

It's the only thing that keeps me grounded, keeps us grounded.

"I'm not going to apologize." I can't help but belligerently declare, at once breaking the contented silence. I'm expecting, or better, asking for, an argument, some sort of rebuke for the way I'd treated the older man. I know firsthand that you don't deliberately behave disrespectfully to an ex marine without serious consequence.

Dad doesn't even look my way at first, and when he does, he's got this strange, amused, yet sly grin on his lips.

It kind of pisses me off.

"Oh I didn't expect you to, son. You were just doing what I told you to, what you do best." He chuckles and leans back on his haunches, the denim of his jeans stretching and fading to white.

I reach down to pull the covers more snuggly over Sam, my hand pausing when it brushes over the kid's heart, finding vast reassurance and comfort in the soft thump that pounds beneath my fingertips. "What's that?"

Dad doesn't answer right away so I glance, genuinely curious and not anywhere near ready to forgive the bastard, exasperatingly in his direction. His weary, brown eyes search my own and he gives an unexpected nod of approval. "Protecting Sammy."

I can't do much more than stare back at him, caught completely off guard. I can still feel Sam's stuttering heart beat though, reverberating through me as the familiar cadence I'd marched to my entire life. That's when I suddenly am confident that as long as this remains so, than whatever is coming, whatever awaits us out there, we'll face it together.

As a family.

With these thoughts, and Sammy resting peacefully before us, I at last manage to find it within myself to smirk back at Dad, "Damn straight." Because what do you know? John Winchester is right about something.

The End

Awwwww :D John, you got so schmoopy! Sorry, I couldn't resist, I'm a sucker for a happy ending ;) it was just too fun! Review? Hugs!