Character: Dean (Gen)
Summary: Sam is bleeding, breaking, gone and yet Dean's still holding on…
Spoilers: Season 2 spoilers, including finale, so click carefully.
Disclaimer: Neither Supernatural nor its characters belong to me.
Author's Notes: Written for the 60_minute_fics challenge on "Touch," and also for my Switch25 table—this is "Lost." I assumed here that Dean and Bobby took Sam's body somewhere else besides Cold Oak, simply because staying put in a haunted town didn't seem smart.
Dean's afraid to let go, there on the cold, wet ground.
He's afraid that letting go will make it real—the way Sam doesn't move, doesn't speak… doesn't breathe.
As long as he holds on, he tells himself, they won't pass into the next moment. So he holds on tighter, Sam's weight nearly pushing him down.
Because the "now" Dean just found himself in is already hard enough. He's not sure he can survive what has to come afterward.
Dean has no words left when Bobby returns. It doesn't matter. His broken sobs say everything.
They put Sam in the back seat of the Impala, all of him filling a spot no bigger than any of those times he and Dean curled together as children while their father drove on through the night.
Dean wrestles with himself over whether to sit in the passenger seat, or in the back where Sam lies all alone. He already knows he won't be driving tonight.
It's hardly more than a shack, the place Bobby finds for them. Some empty house—rooms stripped down and almost no furniture left. It's stark and full of shadows, like the feeling in Dean's heart. His world has narrowed down to only this.
He couldn't bear leaving Sam in the car, or putting him on the floor. He's not ready for this to be Sam's body instead of Sam.
On the bed, Sam almost looks like he's sleeping. Almost. It catches at Dean's heart every time he turns around.
He'd arranged Sam there so carefully, laying his limbs down in a position that would have been comfortable, if that still mattered.
When they were children and Dad was out on a hunt, Dean would settle Sam into bed for the night. He couldn't stop thinking of that for the longest time, when he and Bobby brought Sam inside. There were no sheets or blankets to tuck Sam in, to keep him sheltered. He seemed so exposed.
Dean smoothed Sam's hair over and over, avoiding the skin that was no longer warm. With his eyes so blurred he could only see colors and not the stillness of Sam's face, time passed in silence as the sensation of those unruly strands became all that the world still held.
Finally, they slipped out through Dean's fingers for the night, just like Sam had slipped from his grasp by walking into that diner days before.
How was Dean supposed to know that Sam could simply be taken like that, transported several states away? How could he have known that?
Dean watches Sam now as if that will make a difference—as if this is a dream, or a spell that will solve itself if only he waits long enough.
Somewhere behind him, where the rest of the world keeps moving, Bobby waits too.
It's quiet through most of the first day that follows. Bobby's never been a big talker, and Dean's thankful for that now. But by evening, Dean can feel Bobby's eyes on him—weighing him down with expectations. Dean's not ready to take the next step—doesn't know if he ever will be, though he can't tell that to Bobby.
He can't decide if Bobby's being patient about this or not. Dean's lost all sense of "how long" going on like this is reasonable. His mind is stuck on too long, instead. Too long since Sam took his last breath. Too long since Dean knew what the hell to do…
It's such a relief when Bobby leaves them, when Dean's alone with Sam again. He can't live up to what anyone wants of him now. His grief is a place with no door or sky.
Dean waits and waits, but nothing changes. Sam is still dead.
When the answer comes, it doesn't surprise him. It was never that far away to begin with.
The world is black and blue, a bruise that never heals. It's everywhere he turns.
Under a midnight-blue sky, a woman in a black dress seals the bargain for the only thing Dean could possibly still want. Her mouth is an elixir of unseen fire, breaking through the world of ash.
The car that is his home gleams ebony in the light of the distant moon. Dean climbs inside, wondering if it'll start when he turns the key. He still isn't sure how much of that deal he's actually going to get.
When he opens the door to the house, his breath stops-- for a moment he's stalled-out, he's drowning. Sam looks back at him, lost and unsuspecting, and Dean feels rather than hears himself call Sam's name.
Then he crosses the room, throwing his arms around Sam and holding tight, like Sam might suddenly disappear all over again. But Sam is solid and warm against Dean instead, as real as anything could ever be.
If he keeps holding on, this will all be happening, Dean can feel it. He believes it with all his heart.
And even when Sam protests in pain and Dean pulls back, his hands stay put. They're as bound to Sam as he is.
He urges Sam to sit, still hovering close, his eyes never leaving Sam. Every movement under his fingers is miracle.
He didn't let go of Sam all this time, he realizes, not down inside where it really counted.
Through days of feeling lost in his own personal Hell… Dean never actually let go at all.
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