Category: Dean and Sam (Sam’s POV. Gen, Angst)
Summary: He had dreamed once of leaving the darkness behind-- of going forth into the world of sunlit surfaces and glass…
He thought he saw her again this morning, drifting past in a car someone else was driving. Her head turned toward him too late, and she was gone. Again.
The weight is on his chest now, the one that makes him strain to breathe, to even think. It may be guilt or sorrow… or resignation… but naming it will not help him to conquer it. This is when he knows his destiny was never in his control. His hopes and plans were his to create-- even now if he wanted to try again. But they were fragile, unprotected, and just waiting to be destroyed by the evil that had marked him long ago.
It wants him.
It needs to devour him and own him, and he wishes he could slip out from under its gaze. It will wait… but not release him, and he wonders if he can stand trying to outrun it for much longer. The lack of knowing makes him tired. The need to end it helps him move forward. He will marry one of those into resolution, if something else does not find him first.
He had dreamed once of leaving the darkness behind-- of going forth into the world of sunlit surfaces and glass. Others survived there, oblivious to the danger lapping at the edges of what was real. If he could forget what he knew, and pretend disappearances and strangeness were just coincidence or hysteria, he could live as others lived. He could let the undead die.
But now he knows that darkness follows him. He cannot escape the thing he draws toward him, compelling its interest and hatred for some secret he carries deep inside. There was no chance for Jess once he loved her. And he never would have left if he’d known.
In Arkansas they rid a courthouse of ghosts, and the sun sets as they wind up the road over the town. Sam is quiet, lost in the hazy colors settling over the peaceful, little houses. This is what it should have been like, he thinks. All of it. He could have grown up in a place like this, and even stayed, if only happiness were a promise to be kept.
A wood spirit in Colorado draws them West again in March. Sam’s ears are vigilant as he watches for movement in the snow. The sparkling softness over trees and hillsides makes him think of Jess trying to teach him to ski. It was clumsy and cold, and he’d never laughed so hard. But by the time he and Dean have finished, the snow is roughed up and covered in soot. Sam wonders if he’ll ever have that other memory back again, the way it was before all this beauty was marred.
They arrive late on a Friday night in North Dakota, and the only room left is a honeymoon suite. The clerk lets them have it for the price of a double, and Dean shrugs and pockets the key. There are ruffles and satin and too many pillows on the bed, and being here with his brother is a step beyond surreal. But it is clean and they are tired, and their lives are shaped by strangeness anyway. They stow their baggage and their clothes, and Sam turns off the lamp as they climb into bed. Dean is asleep within minutes, but Sam is wakeful despite being weary. He can envision that room in the dark, and the details of the overwrought décor have faded. It is the sense of what it represents that crowds him now, the meaning behind the lace and hardwood and ribbons. This is a room filled with the remnants of new beginnings and fledgling hopes, and his chest tightens as he shuts his eyes against the expanse of ceiling looming above him. It is too much, too soon. He slips out of bed and into the bathroom, curling up in the dark while sorrow flows to the ground with his ashen dreams. It was never going to happen, he knows that now, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting it, from grieving. The death of his future is not granted so easily. Now that he understands to let it go, it is ripping away pieces of him that can never be replaced.
Dean’s frantic voice rouses him later from his cold slumber on the floor, and he groggily moves aside to let him in.
“Sammy, what’s wrong?” Dean’s voice is strained. “Why are you sleeping here in the bathroom?”
His eyes are stinging as he tries to form the words. “That room… I couldn’t.” He swallows and tries again. “I’ll never have that—any of it. I’ll never sleep in a room like that for real, or have a wife or family of my own.”
Dean crouches down beside him, his shoulders stooped under this pressure to solve Sam’s pain. “I’m family,” he says, like he knows it’s a pale shadow of what Sam means.
“Not so much, now,” Sam says, though he can see Dean flinch at those words. “We don’t talk about anything real now, and you won’t even touch me anymore. It’s like I don’t even know you.” And he doesn’t, doesn’t know anything anymore, except that the life he has now is nothing like what he wanted and it will never be enough.
Dean pulls him close, his touch awkward but well-intentioned, and Sam leans into him and breathes tightly until he finally just has to let it go. All the loss and the fears and the loneliness that fill his head and heart are too heavy, too much for him to hold inside. And Dean just rocks him and waits in silent sympathy.
When Sam's pain has quieted, Dean brings him Kleenex to dry his face and nose. Those eyes are worried, but do not rush him, and Sam is grateful to be allowed to feel whatever it needs to be—this thing he has pushed away for so long.
“Are you ready to come back to the bed?” Dean asks hesitantly. “Or… do you want me to spend the rest of the night in here with you instead?”
And that’s the brother Sam remembers. The one who stood by him through everything, and tried to make it all a little bit better. He stretches his hand up to Dean’s face, and smiles faintly through the sadness.
“I’ve missed you, Dean.”
And then his brother’s eyes squeeze shut, and a few drops slip down beyond all control.
Sam leans closer, holding on tight and helping to heal the scattered path that lies between them.
There are sunsets and mountains, and weddings and forevers. So many things of beauty that he will witness but never own.
But then there is this, a moment of understanding as he clings to his brother here on the unforgiving tile.
And somehow this-- so simple and graceless-- this is the part that is perfect.
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