Characters: Dean W. and Sam W. with mentions of Cas and Crowley
Spoiler Alert: Deals directly with the events of 10x14: The Executioner’s Song
Word Count: 9,448
Genre: hurt/comfort, missing scene
Disclaimer: Supernatural and her characters are the property of Eric Kripke and the CW and I am in no way affiliated with either.
Summary: Dean's head falls forward, settling into the shallow hollow between Sam's shoulder and neck. Harsh breath splays over his collarbone. "Hold on, Dean," he pleads, cursing the keys. "Almost there."
The moon has already made her way across the blue-black backdrop of the nighttime sky by the time Sam finally eases the Impala to a stop in front of the bunker. The stars, too, have faded; chased away by the uncompromising pollution of far-off city lights and a burgeoning glow in the east where the sun struggles to give birth to a new day.
Sam cuts the Impala's engine quickly and sits for a moment in the agitated silence which follows. There's a dull roar in his ears from the sudden quiet. He can feel the car settling down around him, the engine finally wheezing then finally coming to rest. Dean would know what those sounds mean. He would be able to diagnose any potential issues with his "baby" just by turning an attentive ear. Sam's never had a head for cars. He's always been book-smart and practical. Dean's the one who's happiest up to his elbows in automotive grease and spare parts, and Sam's content to leave him to it.
Sam glances over at his brother, who's still sleeping soundly, the less injured side of his face resting lightly against the cool glass of the window. The hours-long car ride home seems to have done him some good. The creases of discomfort around his eyes aren't as pronounced as they were before, and he hasn't moved a muscle in over an hour. His breathing has evened out, too, and Sam watches the rise and fall of his brother's chest for a moment.
There's a rhythm to the world Sam only notices every once in a while. It's a beat, a steady undercurrent that seems to permeate every facet of life. Every so often he's able to pick up on it and get lost in it for a while. It's in the singing of the crickets in the bushes outside his window. That gentle ebb and flow of his brother's breathing when he sleeps, or the engine of the Impala as it settles down around them, metal cooling and contracting as it rediscovers its original form. It was there in the rhythm of Jessica's heart, too.
Sighing, Sam pulls his eyes away from his slumbering brother and settles them instead on the gently lightening horizon. He always expects pinks and blues at sunrise, but this morning the sky is on fire. An intense, orange sun peeks up and over the gently sloping hills in the distance, the horizon backlit by the light and blackness devouring everything the sun's rays have yet to touch. Copses of trees struggling for life on the craggy faces of the far-off foothills rise up out of the morning mist, their skeletal fingers reaching for that ball of fire as if in worship. Sam used to worship things that way. Books and women and views like these. In those days before demons and death, he used to actually believe in a higher power, one that was actually out there rooting for him and his brother. But Sam knows better now. He knows for a fact that God is dead and that angels are dicks, and that all he knows to be true in this life is the love he has for the brother who's still sleeping soundly in the seat beside him.
Knowing he can no longer put off the inevitable, Sam shoulders the driver side door open on the rusty groan of a neglected hinge. The sound makes him cringe and it's loud enough to startle Dean from sleep with a jolt. He blinks blearily at his surroundings as Sam jogs around to the passenger side to open the door for him. He seems more alert now and obstinately shoves Sam's hands away when he reaches in to try to help. Dean lets out an exaggerated sigh, rolls his eyes with all the gusto of his former self, and hoists himself up and out of the car on his own steam. A small smile of triumph tugs at one corner of his mouth, but it quickly disappears as reality comes crashing back down. It pulls Dean sideways until he has no choice but to lean against the wind-cooled side of the Impala. Sam hovers at his elbow, ready to catch him should he collapse. Dean braces a hand against the black paint and fights against a pain Sam doesn't understand yet. His brother's other hand keeps fluttering up to his sternum, but never quite comes to rest against the bone. He's careful not to put any pressure on it and Sam makes a mental note to investigate further once they're finally inside.
Manhandling a semi-conscious Dean down into the bunker is nothing new for Sam. In fact, it's become almost second nature to him, and he easily maneuvers them down the sturdy staircase and through the bunker's main control room. Antiquated equipment sits undisturbed beneath layers of dust, a clean button or a handprint here and there the only thing marring its almost downy surface.
Kevin's, his brain supplies, but Sam quickly pushes that thought away before it can increase the already unbearable weight trying to drag him down.
Dean's arm is back around his shoulders and they stumble forward in a tangle of uncoordinated limbs and differing equilibriums. Sam soldiers through it, hiking Dean further up his side as carefully as he can when his brother slips slightly in his grasp. Lights lift and reveal the rooms as they pass. Sam steers them past the library, stuffy with her ancient texts and old ghosts, down a familiar hallway, and past the dining room, finally easing a pliant Dean down onto one of the kitchen table's stools.
Dean collapses onto it bonelessly and reaches up to run shaky palms down either side of his face. He's forgotten about the glass and when the first shard catches and draws blood, he pulls his palms away with a slight intake of breath.
The light down here is harsh, as garish and unforgiving as an interrogation room lamp, and Sam can see the dirt and blood coating his brother's hands. Dean just stares absently at them for a moment before letting them drop back into his lap with a heavy sigh. Sam watches his brother carefully and, once convinced Dean's not about to fall apart on him completely, goes in search of the first aid kit he knows they stashed down here somewhere after that last shit storm.
Sam finds what he's looking for on the bottommost shelf of a metal cabinet tucked into one corner of the kitchen. The white box with its red cross is right next to a half-empty bottle of the cheapest bourbon Sam has ever seen; Dean's likely addition to the first aid kit, certainly not his. He studies the bottle and its amber liquid for a long moment, hating the fact that alcohol has become such part of their lives over the past few years. It's the first thing either of them reaches for anymore when things get bad. An amber liquid that burns just as much going down as it does coming up, and he hates it. Still, Dean might need it for the pain, so Sam grabs the cool neck of the bottle and deposits both it and the kit on the table in front of his brother.
The box they use to store the first aid supplies is old. The ones you can buy in the store nowadays are all made of molded plastic, but this one is constructed of sturdy tin. It's a heavy weight in Sam's hands, and the sound it makes when he sets it down onto table is enough to startle Dean again. He leaps out of the stool with a cry. His arms automatically rise to protect his face and it isn't until Sam is calling his name and Dean is sagging back against him that the elder Winchester comes back to reality at all.
"Easy," Sam hushes, lowering his hyperventilating brother back down onto the seat. Dean shudders against Sam's body, resting his head on an uninjured bit of forearm when Sam finally lets him go.
"Are you alright?" But Dean hasn't spoken a word to Sam since before all this started and the question goes unanswered. It lingers in the growing chasm opening up between them like an unending echo though the mountains.
Even though Sam wants nothing more than to question Dean about what's really going on, he remains silent. It's not like him to let things like this go. It's always been his duty to nag his brother relentlessly until he spills all, but not tonight. Tonight he stays quiet and busies his own trembling hands with pulling out the supplies he'll need to get the glass shards out of Dean's face. Dean takes advantage of the silence and keeps his head down, trying to ease the tremors in his body and whatever ache in his chest bothers him so much. He manages it somehow and by the time Sam finally settles into the empty stool beside his brother, it's as if the scene from a moment ago never happened.
"Let me see," Sam murmurs softly and Dean raises his weary head slowly, wincing up into the intense overhead light as Sam crooks a gentle finger beneath his chin.
Dean's eyes have always reminded Sam of the forest. They're the misty, balmy green of sunlight diffused through the trees. That thick, leafy emerald you could almost reach out and run your hand through. Sam leans forward and tries to catch those sunlit eyes with his own, but Dean just picks a spot on the wall behind Sam's head and resolutely ignores him. The moment is so reminiscent of the past, Sam can't help but sigh. Dean used to do this to him all the time when they were boys. He can remember it with perfect clarity: his brother ignoring him for days on end for some imagined slight. The silent treatment stretching on for days until whatever grievance had passed between them slipped away as quietly as ships in the night.
And they always did. Sam made sure of that.
Epic fights would rage. Words meant to rend and to slice would be slung, but they always managed to find each other again, in the end. Sam and Dean were always able to re-forge that bond that would forever bind their lives together; that same bond Sam can feel being tested right this very moment.
There's a point in the direct center of his chest where it connects. That connection reaches for its brother at the center of Dean every moment of every day. Today it feels stretched and insubstantial, as if one small tug is all it will take to unravel it completely. That spot aches, too, and Sam can't help but feel like he's on the verge of losing something vital, a part of himself he'll never be able to replace should it be torn from him completely. He shifts forward on his stool, unconsciously trying to lessen the strain, and gently maneuvers Dean's face into a better position beneath the light with that crooked finger.
The cuts on his brother's face are pretty superficial and won't need stiches. The glass will have to come out, of course, so Sam grabs for the tweezers he set to soaking in some rubbing alcohol a while ago and gets ready to start. Sam knows this is going to hurt. The blood has dried and Dean's skin is already trying to heal around protrusions, so Sam nudges the bottle of bourbon towards his brother with an elbow and Dean lifts it to his lips without comment. There's a hollow, empty thud when it lands, nearly empty now, back onto the table.
"Are you ready?" The light in the kitchen is uncompromising and Sam doesn't miss the barely perceptible acknowledgement Dean gives him, so faint he's not entirely sure he saw it.
As Sam sets into his work, it's hard to ignore the other injuries covering his brother's face. Both of his eyes are slightly swollen and Sam can tell Dean will be sporting twin black eyes before the day's out. There's a cut on his lower lip that's bleeding freely again thanks to the bourbon and there are a dozen or so shards of glass embedded in the skin of his forehead and cheek which Sam attacks first. The flesh that hasn't been cut is a network of multicolored bruises and Sam's hands begin to shake when he pulls out the first of the shards.
Cain's blows were merciless. The violence has left behind a residual energy that Sam can almost feel. It soaks up into his fingertips until he can practically see the malevolence, that ancient carnal hatred behind each and every blow to Dean's head.. Sam lets the finger he has beneath Dean's chin fall away and closes his eyes against an anger that boils up so suddenly inside of him he's liable to explode. When he opens his eyes again, Dean is staring at him - actually meeting his eyes – and a terrified sort of something flashes deep within in those green and endless depths.
For a moment, Sam loses all ability to breathe. The look in his brother's eyes scares the shit out of him because Dean is pleading - no, begging - Sam not to ask. Not to make him put into words what he had to do today. For a moment Sam can't help but wonder if he even owes his brother this much, if he can really just swallow down his need for answers and let Dean simmer in his own self-hatred for a while longer.
This is why Sam will always hate "solo missions." Dean can't keep secrets from him if Sam is right there in the thick of it with his brother. Dean can't shut him out if Sam was right there at his side to witness the entire thing. Every single obstacle they've had to overcome between them over the past ten years has had something to do with secrets and Sam is so fucking tired of them he could scream. Dean is never going to tell him everything that happened between him and Cain in that barn tonight. Sure, Sam might get the Reader's Digest version if he pushes hard enough, but he'll never truly know what his brother went through, what terrible, horrible things could have gone down to put a look like that behind his emerald eyes.
Dean is a marble statue beneath Sam's ministrations, as cold and as pale as Michelangelo's David and completely oblivious to the turmoil destroying Sam from the inside. They sit under the garish light in silence, Sam biting his tongue so much it starts to bleed and Dean managing to stay so still Sam only gets proof of life when he blinks. The glass Sam pulls from the cuts makes soft tinkling sounds each time a shard falls into the container Sam's set out. They punctuate the passing time one tinny clink at a time, more accurate than the clock bolted to the wall. Every so often he maneuvers Dean's face a little this way or that under the light to get a better look, releasing a frustrated breath each time the light reveals new damage he must correct.
If Dean is feeling any pain, he's doing a damn good job of hiding it. The only indication Sam gets that his brother is any distress is a little muscle that quivers right beside his eye every time he pulls a shard from the ravaged flesh. There aren't that many shards, but it seems to take hours, and by the time Sam finally works the last one free and cleans the wounds with alcohol, Dean's skin is nearly grey beneath his gloved hands. Still, as soon as Sam turns away slightly to start gathering up some of the used supplies, Dean tries to rise from his stool.
He manages it. Even makes it as far as the kitchen door.
"Hey, I'm not done with you yet!" Sam yells after him, trying to get him to stop, but when Dean sets his mind to something, there's no stopping him. Not really.
It was a dumb move. Sam knows it and Dean figures it out relatively quickly. He pauses in the doorway to the kitchen, hands going up to clutch at his sternum. He's swaying precariously and crashing into the doorframe with a shoulder just as Sam reaches his side. Fuck, that's the first thing Sam should have checked. How could he have been so stupid?
"God damn it," Dean breathes as Sam takes his arm and leads him back to the table. He's rubbing at his sternum gingerly, wincing as kneading fingers meet flesh.
The pain has managed to gather tears at the corners of Dean's eyes but Sam knows his brother will never let them fall. He'll pull them back and stuff them down until he can fall apart later when he's alone in his room. Sam will be at the door, like he always is. Shut out, but never far away, head resting against the wood as his brother falls apart on the other side of the barrier, and there's nothing he can do about it. There was a time when boundaries like those didn't even exist between them; when Dean would let Sam in on what's really going on inside. But they open up so easily now: wide gaping chasms that pull apart the earth beneath Sam's feet and carry him far, far away from the brother he's always loved.
Sam is about to start yelling. He can feel the need to get to the bottom this building up steam in his gut. It's a powerful thing. Stronger than the need to protect. More powerful than the need to heal and restore. Hell, Sam's about ready to start forcing Dean to face whatever happened despite his brother's earlier pleas for him not to ask… but the look on Dean's face stops him dead.
That ragged breathing is back. Desperation colors those eyes dark and Dean's skin has gone grey. Something has gone wrong. He claws at the collar of his crimson shirt, desperate for air, and Sam decides he's done pussyfooting around all of this.
"Take it off," he demands, tugging the dark blue jacket from around his brother's shoulders and ignoring the grunt of protest he gets when Dean realizes what he's doing. The button down comes next until all that's separating Sam's hand from Dean's flesh is his brother's grubby, sweat-damp black undershirt.
"Don't," Dean growls in warning, and Sam stops mid-reach for the seam of the last layer. It's the first word Dean's spoken directly to him since this whole damn thing started.
"I need to see it." He's not sure what 'it' is going to be, but he can't back down. Not now. Dean seems to understand that he never will, and gives up a moment later, heated eyes once more focused on anything other than Sam.
The undershirt he takes slowly, pulling the material away from open cuts with deft hands, mindful not to cause Dean any undue pain. Congealed blood makes it difficult, though. The coagulated mess clings to the fabric and refuses to let it go easily. He's got the shirt half way up Dean's torso when his brother's hand shoots out unexpectedly to encircle Sam's wrist with a hiss of pain. It's not going to work, Sam realizes. Dean can't lift his arms up over his head right now and Sam knows what he needs to do. He retrieves the sharp little scissors from the first aid kit and divests Dean of the shirt a different way.
"Jesus." Panic makes Sam's voice go high as his hand moves up to cover his mouth. "Oh Christ, Dean!"
Dean scrabbles for the cut halves of his shirt and tries to cover himself back up, holding the fabric tight against his body like some petulant child unwilling to let the doctor examine him.
But it's too late. The damage has been done. Sam has seen and the image will forever be burned into his retinas. He takes a purposeful step forward.
Dean looks up at him sharply, but Sam keeps his eyes focused on his brother's hands. They're shaking.
This is the moment where Dean would normally argue, but tonight there's no room for compromise. Sam will broker no peace treaty here. He'll take what he wants at the edge of a knifepoint or staring down the barrel of his gun. The one he has tucked away at the back of his arsenal. The one loaded with all the ostentatious ignorance of a younger brother pushed to the brink. Dean seems to get that it will be futile to argue with Sam now and, for once, actually does what Sam asks. His hands fall away, the flimsy fabric falls back away and Sam sucks in a breath.
The boot-shaped bruise covering the upper half of Dean's torso is a mottled, multifaceted mess of sickly hues. They swirl together into an agonizing-looking contusion that whispers of broken bones and compromised lungs. Sam's knees begin to weaken and all the pieces begin to fall into place: the labored breathing, the chest clutching.
This is beyond any of them. This is internal bleeding, hospital level trauma, and Sam's not prepared for it, could never be prepared for this.
Sam can see that his brother has been kicked repeatedly in the stomach and probably thrown through a window. There are abrasions too numerous to count and a long gash on his lower abdomen that starts just above an old appendix scar and wraps around toward his back. The angry, jagged line is leaking blood sluggishly down into the soaked waistband of Dean's jeans and Sam knows it will all need stitches. Alone, these things would be conquerable, but all together they make Sam feel a bit like a defeated Maleagant looking down on an impenetrable Camelot.
"No h-hospital." There's a hand wrapped around his wrist again as Dean stammers out his demand.
"Seriously, Sammy," his brother swallows, trying to recover his voice, "I'm okay." The promise is anything but convincing.
"The fuck you are! This is…." But Sam doesn't have a word for what this is. Just knows that he doesn't have the capacity to handle it. "You need a doctor. Or Cas."
"If something were really wrong, we'd know by now," the conman in Dean tries to play him, but Sam's no dupe. Dean keeps at it anyway. "I really am okay, Sammy. It's just a few scratches."
"A few scratches? Dean, are you fucking kidding me?"
The grip on his wrist tightens. "I'm not going to the hospital, Sam." Dean's eyes are serious, something dangerous glinting in their depths. "I mean it. But if things start to go south, which they wont, you can call Cas, all right?"
Not I'll call Cas, but you can call Cas. Dean's choice of words is not lost on Sam.
"Did you hit your head or something?" He scrutinizes Dean's pupils just to make sure. "Look at what he did to you!" Sam gestures towards the mottled mess that is his brother's chest. The pain must be excruciating.
Dean glances down at his sternum. When he finally looks back up at Sam that smoldering seriousness is gone, but in its place is something else. Something that tugs a little harder on the already tenuous connection crackling between them.
"M'fine, Sammy," The wheezy exhale he lets out was probably supposed to be a sigh. "It doesn't even hurt that much."
"Come on Sam." Dean tries to turn away but Sam's not going to let this one go. He grabs Dean's right arm, the one not covered in bruises and lacerations.
"What the hell is going on with you?"
"Fuck off, Sammy." Dean won't look at him as he shakes the hand off but his voice is low and dangerous. Any other man would back off hearing that voice, but not Sam. Never Sam.
"I can't just patch this up, Dean," he responds quietly. "You either need the ER or we see if we can reach Cas. Which one is it?"
Sam nearly snorts at that. "The hell you are." Dean narrows his eyes angrily. "Why don't you want me to call Cas?"
Dean's eyes snap up at that. He tries to hide the reaction with a weak cough into his palm but it's a pathetic gesture at best.
"What the hell is going on, Dean?"
His brother sighs heavily, all the fight going out of his frame in an instant. Without that last bit of bravado Dean's got nothing left to keep him upright. He starts leaning forward but braces himself against the table.
"Will ya just let it go?"
"…It helps." The words are spoken so softly Sam almost misses them.
"The pain, Sammy. What else?"
Sam has no defense against that. "Oh."
He backs off, eyes sweeping his trembling brother, who's lost all his color in the wake of his confession. There are tears leaking from the corners of his eyes even though he fights hard to hide them. Sam can practically see the internal struggle taking place inside his brother at this very moment and it makes his chest ache again. Sam wants nothing more than to reach out and touch his brother in that instant, but something holds him back. Touch has always been such a powerful thing between them, able to build up or tear down with just the slightest brush of fingertips. If he reaches out and puts a hand on his brother now, everything keeping Dean together will come crashing down. He can't do that to his brother. Not right now. Not when things are at their lowest.
"I'm gonna stitch that up," Sam says quietly, pointing at the gash on Dean's side when his brother finally looks back up at him. His eyes are misty and dull. "You can sit there and ignore me again, or you can tell me what the hell happened in that barn tonight."
Sam is too tired to fight anymore. He doesn't look back over at Dean, doesn't say anything else, just prepares a suture kit and starts in on the jagged edges of the slice marring his brother's lower abdomen.
"We fought," Dean starts out slowly after he drains the last of the bourbon from the bottle still sitting on the table in front of him. "I won, obviously."
Sam can't help but smile a little at that. It seems to be what Dean was going for, too, because his words come a little easier after that. Sam leans into his work with careful hands and just lets Dean's story wash over him. Its the Reader's Digest version he's been expecting, but at least Dean's sharing something with him.
Thirty minutes and just as many stiches later, Sam smooths a pristine white bandage across the gash at Dean's side and surveys his work. Against the purplish green backdrop formed by the other bruises, it looks pretty pathetic. Like it almost isn't even worth it.
"Sit tight," Sam sighs, rising from his stool. Dean doesn't look up as he goes. He's pale and still trembling, so Sam drags the trashcan over beside him just in case. "I'll get you a new shirt." It's a gamble, leaving Dean alone right now, but one Sam has got to make.
Sam makes his way back to the sleeping quarters quickly and plunders Dean's closet. Everything he owns is strewn across the floor in smelly, haphazard piles. Sam can't find a single clean shirt and finally gives up a few minutes later and pilfers one from his own freshly laundered stash. It's plaid, just like the one he has on himself (an unconscious decision, he swears) but he's pretty sure Dean won't care. A clean shirt is a clean shirt when you've just had your ass handed to you, so Sam is unapologetic when he thrusts it and a new black undershirt into Dean's surprised hands a while later. The shirt earns him a raised eyebrow, but Dean puts it on anyway, hissing when the movements pull at his injuries.
While Sam was gone, Dean must have made coffee. He can hear it percolating gently in the machine behind them and the kitchen begins to fill with the comforting aroma of freshly brewed caffeine.
Sam has no idea what time it is, (they never bothered to replace the batteries in the kitchen clock when it died the other week) but coffee sounds like the best damn idea in the world, even if it's going to keep him up all night. Sam fills a clean mug nearly to the brim for Dean. The liquid is dark and unsweetened, exactly the way he likes it, and Dean accepts the chipped mug with bloodied knuckles and the barest hint of a fleeting smile. He's not shaking any more and seems a bit more alert. Sam watches him take a few cautious sips of the scalding liquid before going back to the coffee maker to make a cup of his own.
Standing beside the counter, fiddling with the cream and sugar Dean doesn't make fun of him for anymore, he steals quick, sideways glances at his brother whenever he can, trying to gauge Dean's condition. The cuts on his face look better now that they're free of the glass and cleaned up a bit. He's sitting up straighter, shoulders not so bent, and he's swept the bloody remnants of the first aid kit into the trash. The scene is so normal, so domestic, that Sam can almost pretend the last twelve hours never happened.
The scene before him may be sanitized, but there's no mistaking that empty look in Dean's eyes as he stares down into the brown depths of his coffee cup. Sam stands there and watches him do it, feeling just as lost, trying to draw strength from the warmth that's seeping back into his aching fingers from the warm coffee mug. There are things he needs to say to his brother, only he can't find the words. He searches for them desperately, knowing he needs to draw his brother back out of whatever darkness he's been pulled into before it's too late. He tops his cup off and prays he's not about to make things worse.
"Dean… um…" Those damaged eyes lift and Sam can tell almost immediately that anything he says in this moment will go in one ear and right out the other. Still, he's got to try.
Dean is giving up. Sam can see all the signs. He's losing hope. Losing sight of that elusive someday right around the corner when they'll get rid of that fucking mark and Dean will be free. It's coming, right there within their grasp, Sam will be damned if he's going to let his brother give up ten seconds from the finish line.
"You know," he starts determinedly, "what you did back there, it was incredible."
Dean looks exasperated for a moment - unconvinced almost - as he lets his head fall forward again with a mirthless chuckle. Sam doesn't let the reaction deter him.
"Now, if you can do that without losing yourself,' he pushes, settling himself back down onto one of the stools, "that's cause for hope. Even without a cure."
"Yeah," Dean replies, trying to sound convincing. "Maybe," but Sam can tell its crap. Dean doesn't believe it one bit. He's ready to throw in the towel, admit defeat. He's fucking giving up and Sam feels utterly powerless against it. There has to be a way he can make his brother see that they can get through this. They have everything they need to beat back the world right here in this room, only Dean's lost sight of that. If only there were something he could say to renew Dean's faith in him… but slow footsteps on the tile behind them stop Sam before he can try. He turns around in his seat, surprised to find the angel Castiel standing in the doorway.
"So," Dean cuts in almost immediately, taking full advantage of Castiel's sudden arrival and Sam's distraction. He even manages to somehow sound almost normal, "where's the blade?"
Sam watches the angel regard Dean heavily, almost as if he's cataloging the hunter's injuries while trying to gauge what's going on beneath the surface at the same time. "Somewhere safe," he finally answers and Sam swivels back around in his seat to gauge his brother's reaction.
Dean's face is a mask of calm. A steel trap has slammed down and Sam can almost hear the reverberation of its clang echoing throughout the kitchen.
"Good," Dean nods at the news, but Sam can't see how any of this could be classified as 'good'.
"Well, if you guys will excuse me," Dean says on a sigh, flexing his arm as if the mark hidden beneath his new shirt has made some protest at being separated irrevocably from its blade, "I think I'm going to go sleep for about four days."
He's seen an out and he's going for it, knowing full well that neither Sam nor Cas would willingly deprive him of a few minutes of shut-eye. Sam wants to stop his brother, to pound into his brain that this is hardly the end, make him see that Sam is never going to give up on him, not until they get that damn mark off his arm. Wants to convince Dean that he will be by his side through all of it, helping him to manage the horrendous side effects that come with the Mark of Cain.
Yet as hard as Sam tries, he just can't make his speech quite yet. Dean is rising wearily up from the table, trying so damn hard to hide the fact that he's falling apart, and Sam just can't hurl that final stone. To do so would bring about the end of the world.
"Of course," Sam hears himself laugh in a voice that hardly sounds like his own. He smiles and tries to play off the concern he knows is clearly visible in his eyes and watches as his brother flees the kitchen. Dean pauses to clap Cas on the shoulder in a friendly way, but even the angel can sense something is wrong. As Dean disappears around the corner, the angel's eyes follow him.
"How is he?" Cas asks when Dean is finally gone and Sam has turned back around to stare into the now-tepid coffee trapped in his mug. He couldn't look back over at the angel if he wanted to. Something is wrong, so very wrong, and he has no idea how to fix it.
"Cas…" his voice almost cracks as his tired eyes burn. He swallows against that familiar creature trying to crawl its way up the back of his throat.
"D-Dean's in trouble."-FIN-
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