Pairing: Sam/Dean (Slash, Dark, Non-Con, Angst)
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Slightly AU, set just after “Everyone Loves a Clown.” (Spoilers for 2.01 and 2.02).
Summary: There are worse things than losing those we love. What is left when we have lost a piece of ourselves?
Author’s Notes: Started for 60_minute_fics, for the prompt of “Demon Possession,” but it took weeks to finish this one due to the nature of the story being so different from the things I usually write.
They can’t stay at Bobby’s place forever. Maybe they’ve already stayed too long.
It is an earthly Limbo here where they remain, not fully letting go of the past but still not ready to go forward into the present. They let time flow out unchecked by hope or change.
This might be grief—this tense, crushing silence, this graying out of daylight and refusal to be fully present. It had a beginning, but the end cannot be seen. Perhaps endlessness is its definition— this state where nothing that happens will ever really be noticed again, because it is over, all that was and all that mattered.
There are a lot of things Dean doesn’t admit to feeling right now. But Dean has regrets.
He is sorry for attacking the Impala. So childish— so unlike him, except for the anger that he usually keeps from getting free.
He is sorry— god, so sorry— that they let themselves become obsessed with chasing down the Demon, when who knows if it might not have just left them alone after killing his mother. His father’s need for vengeance drove what was left of their family on this hellbound journey… miles and years of blood and danger and ugliness and sorrow. Although they helped a lot of people during that time, there’s no way they didn’t also chip away at the Dark World’s ability to ignore them. John— the most persistent of them all, of anyone— must have made himself into a lightning rod for his own fate to eventually find.
But most of all, Dean is sorry for the knowledge his father gave him. Cursed him with is a better term— it’s not a gift, this knowing about things he can’t help, can’t change, can’t cope with. It is a burden on his soul. It swallows the little that remains of his will to keep on going… to keep on trying.
He doesn’t know what to do about Sam now. He really isn’t sure anymore just exactly who or what Sam actually is. The hole left by that loss of certainty, of the only part of his world that could have kept him grounded now, pushes him out into the daylight world of salvaging and stripping and rebuilding. It pushes him into the lonely corner of his bed at night, where he now remembers again that dark, endless year when he was four. Long buried, as overwhelming and devastating as ever, it has suddenly all come back…
Things aren’t any better with Sam now— far from it. Dean’s made Sam afraid of being kind to him, afraid of needing him. They’re like strangers who know each others’ habits but can barely tolerate each others’ presence. But this is safer, Dean thinks. Whether he’s safer from Sam or only from himself is not something he ever even asks.
When Sam finally suggests a hunt, Dean hardly stirs himself to listen. He doesn’t care— not about anything or anyone. He’s so encased in weariness that it’s too much trouble to even explain why he doesn’t want to do it.
This is how he finds himself riding in a rust-colored junker sedan on another hunting expedition with Sam.
A demon in Kentucky, that’s what Sam thinks they’re chasing. Sudden odd behaviors in people, families traumatized into silence by something they won’t even hint at. It sounds like a demon, and Sam keeps saying that it’s time they gave Bobby a break from looking after them.
It’s awkward, being in a hotel room with Sam again. Dean’s too used to avoiding Sam now, to getting up early, taking unpredictable lunch breaks, sitting on the far side of the junkyard after dark just to keep those invisible barriers from being breached. This room they’re in now is too goddamned small, and Dean can even hear Sam breathing for Christ’s sake. It’s too hard, all this looking away and pretending and hanging out in the parking lot or the bathroom. It feels like Sam’s watching him all the time, like he’s waiting for something— waiting for Dean to be himself again, to let Sam back inside those walls. Or maybe it’s the opposite, and he’s waiting for Dean to break apart.
By nine-o’clock Dean is down at a bar off the main drag just to fill the atmosphere with something besides Sam’s scrutiny. And Sam is wandering the neighborhood where all the reports of trouble began.
When Dean staggers back into the room (probably a little drunk and definitely more relaxed from the distraction of something different), Sam glares over at him once and snaps off the light leaving Dean to undress in the dark.
Sam’s in the shower when Dean wakes up the next morning, and when Sam comes out his eyes are cold before he looks away. Dean flinches a little. He didn’t know he still cared whether Sam might judge him. Screw it, he thinks. The only reason he’s been so well-behaved for so long is that he hasn’t been that much better than dead himself.
Sam dresses as if Dean’s not there, dropping his towel and shoving on his clothes in sharp, angry movements before stalking back into the bathroom and leaving the towel behind. He comes back out again, hair maybe slightly combed, and with barely a glance at Dean he grabs his wallet and lets the door slam behind him on the way out.
Dean sits in bed, a little rattled. This isn’t like Sam at all, especially lately. Sam’s been almost hovering over him, a big part of why Dean’s avoided him. He can’t baby Sam through this when he’s barely surviving himself, and just the raw vibration of need from his brother is enough to keep him as far as possible from the pressure of that silent demand.
Dean’s slight hangover is almost gone when Sam comes back, and Dean’s cleaned himself up from the night before. But Sam’s still angry, or just bitchy, and he doesn’t talk. He also doesn’t even try to pretend he can stand being here in the same room with his brother.
"Did you want to interview some of the families?" Dean asks, and it’s just unlike him to be so passive and hesitant with Sam.
"Later." Sam grabs the computer and the car keys, and leaves again as loudly as before.
Dean blinks when the door slams. He can’t imagine what’s gotten into Sam, or whether there’s anything he did that set Sam off.
Dean walks down to the corner grocery store, buys a cup of half-burnt coffee and a preservative-laced muffin with the two dollars he has left in his own wallet. He doesn’t know where to look or what to do, now that Sam’s taken the car and all their leads on this particular case.
He wanders, heading down the road and off onto a side-street that lays a tree-lined path out of the town and into the hills. He’s out in the world for the first time in a month, but he’s not sure he even really feels it— whether it’s different from being locked inside himself. It’s a beautiful day, he knows that intellectually, and there’s a breeze on his skin and sun flickering through the trees. In another time, in another life… this all would have actually made him happy.
It’s four in the afternoon when he gets back to the hotel, his body tired and his mind still as disconnected as it’s been since… since all of it happened.
Sam’s still gone— or he’s gone again. Dean should be relieved to get some breathing room from the unspoken challenge Sam’s presence always seems to throw down. So why is he so uneasy in this empty motel room? Up until now he hasn’t had the energy to worry about anything, not in all this time that he refuses to quantify or name.
Dean watches TV for an hour or so until Sam finally returns. Sam has no notes and no supplies. It doesn’t look like he’s been doing anything all this time, though Dean is somehow reluctant to ask.
"Want to get something to eat?" Dean finally says. His voice is rough from almost an entire day of being unused.
"Suit yourself," Sam grunts, pulling off his jacket and heading into the bathroom.
And that’s it, the final straw— because Dean knows he hasn’t done anything in proportion to the way Sam’s acting. "What’s up with you?" he calls through the bathroom door, though he’s in no position to ask that after the last few weeks.
"Fuck off," Sam says over the water running in the sink. "Asshole," Sam’s voice mutters in the next, frozen breath.
Dean stands there a moment, unsettled. He hasn’t gotten this kind of rejection since Stanford, when he went to talk Sam into leaving to look for Dad.
He sits down on the bed, staring at the fake-wood vinyl walls. He’s feeling something now, through the wall of emptiness inside him, and what it feels like is hurt.
It feels like that look on Sam’s face. The one that Dean saw this last month every time he pulled away or shut things down between them.
Dean can’t look up when the bathroom door opens, and then Sam’s standing there because the bed Dean’s sitting on is his. "Why are you mad at me, Sam?" Dean’s voice is so quiet he can hardly hear himself forming the words.
"Like you care," Sam says. "About me or anything else."
And god, Dean does care but he’s got no right to deny the way Sam says it. He deserves that blame. He’s deserved it for awhile.
"I’m sorry," he says quietly. His eyes lift slowly, but what he wants is not there to be found.
Sam looks down on Dean with disdain, his body stiff and his eyes unforgiving.
"Good for you," Sam says coldly. "The thing is, bro, now I don’t care."
Dean’s mouth drops open, and the words are still ringing in his head when Sam steps in between his legs.
"You’re a selfish, prima-donna jerk," Sam says, "and since you won’t give me what I want, I’m going to take it."
Sam’s hands shove Dean’s shoulders until Dean falls back on the bed
"Wha—" Dean gets out, before Sam’s mouth is covering his.
The kiss is hard, angry, and Dean freezes for a moment until he comes back into the present with "Sam!" and "Hey!"
Dean struggles, jerks from side-to-side, and he’s surprised when it doesn’t have any effect. He should be able to get Sam off of him— just by force and persistence. Sam’s taller, but Dean’s tenacious. They’ve been well-matched since Sam found his rhythm after hunting again.
But Dean can hardly move, cannot unseat Sam from where he’s got his knee between Dean’s thighs. Sam is pushing in ruthlessly— obscenely— as if Dean is a conquest instead of his brother.
"Sam!" Dean shakes his head viciously, banging Sam in the nose even as he bucks up underneath him and tries to knock Sam off. God, I can’t— because Sam is immoveable. Right now, Dean’s strength is no match for his brother’s.
Sam pulls back to look at Dean, the gleam in his eye predatory and detached in the light of the full moon that streams in through the window. Dean’s blood runs cold.
This isn’t Sam, he realizes.
Exactly when did that happen?
Strong hands rip open Dean’s jeans and shuck them off in one quick, powerful movement, dumping Dean back onto the bed in the process. He pins Dean’s arms over his head, holding them with one hand while he straddles Dean fiercely and undoes his own pants.
Dean feels a rattle of fear inside his throat. He can definitely see where this is headed, and he’s already noticed that he can't do much about it. Why the fuck is Sam so strong all of a sudden? What’s taken over him— or disguised itself in his form?
"Sam," he tries again. Sam has his own pants off and is grinding into Dean like he can’t even hear him. "Sammy, stop! You’re hurting me!"
Sam breaks off long enough to kiss Dean again, relentless and needy and just wrong.
Dean jerks his head away. "Stop kissing me when you’re trying to rape me!" he shouts.
His brother reaches back an impossibly long arm and shakes the belt free from his pants. He secures Dean’s hands to the bedpost with it, tight enough for the leather to bite into Dean’s wrists, and settles in between Dean’s legs. Immobilizing his brother with his weight, Sam shoves up Dean’s shirt and licks across one of his nipples, hands stroking down Dean’s chest and stomach in slow, worshipping movements as his mouth kisses a trail behind them.
"Sammy," Dean pleads. It’s cruel, this combination of dehumanization and tenderness. The confusion is every bit as dizzying as the betrayal.
Sam kisses the hollow inside Dean’s hipbone, his fingers stroking over Dean’s unresponsive cock. Nuzzling Dean and breathing heat onto his skin, Sam takes Dean’s cock in his fist and laps at the tip. Dean’s gaze flies downward at the change in sensations, unable to keep from watching. As Sam sucks the head awkwardly into his mouth and tries to arouse Dean with his tongue, a single tear courses down Sam's cheek.
"You’re still in there, aren’t you Sammy?" Dean whispers.
Sam says nothing, his eyes swollen red and never looking at Dean. His hands remain just this side of gentle so long as Dean doesn’t resist.
"Is there any way to stop this?" Dean asks. The quick jerk of Sam’s head looks like No.
Dean sighs, both frustrated and resigned. "Then do what you have to do, and let’s get it over with. I won’t make it harder than it has to be."
Sam’s mouth releases him, and a wet splash falls on his stomach as Sam moves up to Dean’s face. He grips Dean’s head a little too hard, but his kiss is tinged with unexpected softness. Sam’s mouth caresses Dean’s to no avail, kissing on and on despite the lack of response. Then suddenly Dean feels the soft brush of Sam’s fingers across his forehead. His breathing falters, stuttering sharply, as something inside of him shifts.
Dean knows the meaning behind that touch. Sam’s trying to reach him, through the haze of everything else that’s going on.
The sweetness of that small gesture steals a piece of Dean’s resolve, and his mouth opens under Sam’s. The kiss becomes real, turns passionate as Sam’s fingers stroke lovingly across Dean’s hair. Sam pulls back to gaze into Dean’s eyes, a brief flicker of pleading and reverence crossing his face.
Dean looks back steadily, without judgment, and then Sam kisses him again like there are no barriers left to contend with. Sam’s lips travel around to the side of Dean’s neck, the base of his throat, his chest, the soft spot under his ribs. At times the kissing turns into biting, Sam’s fingers digging into his skin as Dean hisses in pain. Half brutality, half tenderness, the experience shifts back and forth, dragging Dean through a sharp, edgy battle of uncertain sensations. When Sam lets up and mouths his way downward, Dean’s breath hitches in his throat and his hips writhe in anticipation now of everything he rejected before.
The ache inside Dean is one he has felt before, waking from forgotten dreams of something devastatingly perfect and unreachable. He never remembered what it was, this thing that was suddenly missing all those times he woke up. But oh, he remembers this feeling. It pulls within him as it slides slowly into Yes.
Sam’s mouth is skillful, eager, as it sweeps and sucks and drives Dean toward a fever pitch of too-long-denied release. I— We Can’t—Oh, Dean thinks, his head spinning through token protests for the reality that has fled this room.
Dean’s hands pull on the belt, wanting their freedom as Sam flicks and bobs over Dean’s desperate, throbbing flesh. Dean lifts and shudders and moans on the brink of fulfillment. "S-Sammy," he calls, arching his back in a wave of burning ecstasy, the vibrations of his orgasm shaking through his spine.
Sam groans in satisfaction as he swallows each wave of Dean’s release, his hands holding Dean’s hips and urging him in deeper. And fuck, that’s hot— the way Sam’s throat is milking him while he comes. Lust and self-hatred clash inside Dean, buried underneath the dirty thrill of how goddamn good this is. Sam sucks him dry, and god, no-one’s ever wanted it that much. But Sam keeps going beyond the end, after Dean’s passed the peak of need and crossed over into pain.
"Sam," Dean gasps, twisting with the prickling oversensitivity that touch is causing him.
Sam growls and pulls off Dean, leaning in to sink his teeth into Dean’s hip so hard that it leaves an imprint behind.
"Ow! Sonofabitch!" Dean yells. His legs draw up from the pain for a second, and then he kicks at Sam, pushing him as far back as he can.
Sam watches him with steely eyes, then spits into his hand and rubs it over his cock.
"Oh god—" Dean says, fighting down a moment of panic. Sam is huge, and it’s never mattered before this second, but now Dean’s fixated on how much that’s going to hurt. He’s not prepared for this, doesn’t have any training to fall back on for waiting this out. Dean takes a deep, shaky breath, focuses on staying steady. He is a hunter. A soldier in an Unholy War. He’s survived worse than this, he tells himself. Somehow, he will make it through.
Sam spreads and leans on Dean’s legs in one quick motion, pinning Dean down with unrelenting strength. He spits and rubs again, then positions himself and begins forcing his way in.
"God!" Dean yells. It burns, like it’s a piece of red-hot forge-metal in his ass instead of Sam.
Sam pushes in harder and Dean grits his teeth and gulps in ragged lungfuls of air against the spike of pain that claims his entire body. Dean tries to concentrate on relaxing, nearly impossible with this overwhelming agony. He battles the reflexive tendency to tense up, and tries to talk his stomach down from the verge of throwing up.
Sam begins in earnest, rubbing Dean raw inside with each searing, rhythmic stroke.
Dean can’t move, can’t do anything more than gasp and choke and wait for it to be over. A touch on the hip startles him out of the fog of torment. Sam’s hands soothe across Dean’s skin, urging him to let go. It’s back again, that duality of anger and guilt that twists inside him. Sam’s as helpless in this as Dean is himself, and though Sam can’t stop what’s happening he’s still trying to make it better. Make it less awful, if such a thing is possible.
It’s so very much like Sam that Dean can hardly stand being reminded of it.
Sam licks his own hand, places it on Dean’s cock and begins to pull. He works Dean with just the right speed and pressure, and Dean wonders how Sam knows the way he likes it, how to take it from starting-up to Yes without any hitches along the way.
Sam leans down, his tongue finding one of Dean’s nipples. Sam swirls over that sensitive flesh and Dean’s chest lifts into Sam’s mouth despite himself. Then Sam’s kissing him again, moaning and nipping as he thrusts into Dean and keeps jacking him off. The burning has lessened— transformed itself into something edgy and desperate, with Sam’s hand bringing Dean closer to a climax he knows he'll instantly regret.
But Sam suddenly shoves up hard and deep, once, twice, and then he’s filling Dean with liquid warmth and biting Dean’s lips with ferocious delight.
"Ow! Ohhh—" Dean spills over Sam’s hand in swift reversal, shocked by the rapid peak of arousal set off by the blending of pleasure and pain.
He lies there, face burning as he shakes under the weight of Sam’s body. He didn’t want to know this about himself, whatever he just learned. And he didn’t want this glimpse of Sam— or almost-Sam— this question of whether Sam’s roughness is his alone or the mark of the thing that controls him.
Sam kisses him sloppily, then pulls out and curls himself around Dean. In an instant, he’s asleep, the demon departed or quieted for the time being...
Dean is left alone in the half-light of the room, semen drying on his skin and his heart pounding through his chest. Sam’s arm across him slams Dean’s own heartbeat back through his ribs, and he is alert to every clashing, uncomfortable sensation he feels inside and out.
Sam murmurs in his sleep, and settles his head down against Dean’s chest.
Still trussed to the bed, Dean can only lie on his back as the consequences of this experience expand to consume his every thought.
In the early light of morning, Dean awakes to the fallout of the night before. The two of them are naked, Sam half-sprawled across him, and Dean’s arms are numb from being trapped overhead all night long.
It isn’t long before Sam’s awake too, lifting his head in bewilderment as he takes in their surroundings.
His eyes fall on Dean, on the reddened flesh around his bound wrists. On Dean’s bruised and bloody mouth, and on the bite marks that call forth from Dean’s injured skin.
"Oh, god." Sam backs away and just stares at what he’s done.
"Sam. Untie me— I gotta pee."
"Sorry!" Sam hurries to free Dean’s hands, barely able to control the shaking in his own. "Dean… I never—" But Dean’s off the bed, grabbing his duffle and heading into the bathroom.
It hurts to walk, it feels clumsy and wrong, and Dean stumbles inelegantly and tries to hold onto the duffle with pins-and-needles hands. But once inside the bathroom, he moves into action despite the pain and retribution that come to call.
The duffle contains a vial of Holy Water, and Dean knows the Latin by heart. He flushes the toilet for good measure, then moves back into the bedroom with the Holy Water hidden in his furthest hand.
Sam’s turned toward the far wall, already retreating into a cloud of remorse. He doesn’t notice Dean— maybe he’s afraid to look at him— and his brother moves closer and pours the Holy Water in a line from Sam’s heart to his groin.
"Aughhhh!" Sam yells, his body writhing under the assault of that powerful liquid. Dean chants over him resolutely, even as he worries whether it’s Sam or the demon he’ll destroy.
Sam coils and strains, sweat beading up on his face and shoulders as Dean continues on and never dares to look away. A black vapor rises through Sam’s skin, hovers around him as Dean chants louder. Then it vanishes— scatters through the air like smoke in the wind— and Sam collapses on the bed in an unconscious heap.
"Sam?" Dean approaches carefully. He touches Sam’s throat and there’s still breath there, thank god. There’s still life.
He sits down on the bed wearily, worn down to the very edges of his soul.
What is the "after" of something like this? He’s still struggling with the after-effects of losing Dad.
Sam sleeps on, and Dean finally goes into the bathroom. He washes himself over and over, kneeling in the tub while the water flows down in an endless, muffling cocoon. He’s too tired to stand, to even process what he’s thinking or feeling. He’s almost too tired to get out of the tub when he’s done.
Afterward, he dries off carefully and rubs ointment into the worst of the bites. He puts on boxers for now, but he’ll have to borrow some of Sam’s sweat pants later. And that’s a wrongness of its own, a loss of identity, because Dean does not do sweat pants. He doesn’t do sloppy clothes or unprepared, and he doesn’t do ‘victim’ either.
Outside the bathroom, Sam is still asleep. Dean checks Sam’s pulse, then secures him to the bedpost with the same belt Sam used before. The marks on Dean’s wrists are raw as he pulls and yanks on the belt, and the irony of the whole thing does not escape him.
Finished… and safe enough for now… he slips carefully into his own bed and lets sleep take hold.
Sam’s worried voice draws him out of slumber far too soon. Dean turns blearily toward Sam, reaching under his pillow for the knife.
"Dean…" Sam sounds reproachful, but given the circumstances Dean just can’t begin to care.
"How’re you feeling?" Dean sits up carefully. Sam’s eyes drift over Dean’s body, and recognition dawns once more.
"I did that," Sam whispers.
And Dean looks away. He can’t carry Sam through this, can’t be the shoulder for him to cry on. He’s too shattered to do more than just put up the mask of ‘moving on.’
"So how do we kill this thing, Sam?" Dean pulls on a t-shirt, because he feels so goddamned naked with Sam staring at him like he’s waiting for him to break.
"The demon, Sam, that did this! How do we kill it?"
"You already did." Sam’s just so earnest that it almost makes Dean mad. "With the holy water and the Latin— you forced it out. Without a host, it can’t survive."
Dean sits on the edge of the bed, arms on his knees. "So how is it that you missed killing it the first time, and it got inside you instead?"
Sam sighs. "I didn’t think that… those were just the initial interviews. I didn’t expect it to be waiting to jump me as soon as the last family opened the door."
"So what makes you sure it’s gone now?" Dean is taking no chances—they are not getting hit with this again.
"I felt it coming apart while you went through the Latin, and then it left. Unless it’s in you now, which I doubt, then it’s definitely gone."
"How would I… know if it’s in me?" Dean asks in a small voice.
"You’d either be ready to kill me, or you’d be over here trying to…"
Dean looks over at Sam in sudden anger.
"It was the same with all the families, Dean," Sam pleads. "Someone got angry and psycho, and then they attacked their wife or their son and—"
"Don’t say it," Dean cuts in.
Sam speaks softly. "None of them ever had an explanation for it. And it’s not like they could forget it after it’s happened."
"Dean, I’m sorry. I never would have—"
"I know that, Sam!" Dean stands up with a jolt, and stiffens in pain. He forces it back into hiding, but not before he’s seen the anguish written on Sam’s face.
"Let it go, Sam." Dean leans over the bed and unfastens the belt, tossing it to the floor before turning away.
He hears Sam behind him, and then Sam’s fingers close gently over the back of his shoulder. Dean startles and pulls away, the panicked pulse in his stomach telling him to move. He gathers up his few stray belongings, rummages in Sam’s duffle for some sweat pants without saying a word. He moves uncomfortably toward the bathroom, the wet hitch of Sam’s breathing sounding brokenly behind him as the door swings shut.
Dean turns the faucet on, to muffle the sounds outside the door or possibly his own. He knows he’s going about this wrong, but he’s got nothing left in him to figure out a better way. He’d be coming out of his own skin if he weren’t so tired. The water bounces off the stopper in a rush, and Dean puts his head down in the sink. He scoops water over his hair in lopsided, distracted waves. When he pulls his head up, he glimpses his own red eyes in the mirror before burying his face in a towel.
He brushes his teeth until the toothbrush is tinted pink, then swallows some Advil before sweeping everything into his bag. He uses the toilet again, washes up in short, jerky motions. After a few deep, uneven breaths, he opens the bathroom door.
"Let’s get out of here," he says. Sam’s over in the corner getting dressed with shaky hands.
Dean tries not to look at him— at the slumped set of his shoulders— as he packs up the rest of the room. In five silent minutes, they’re out at the car and Dean has finished loading the trunk.
When he climbs behind the driver’s seat, he’s surprised to find that Sam is sitting in the back.
"Sam," he says.
Sam’s facing out the window. His cheeks are wet, and there’s an obstinate set to his jaw that Dean knows too well. "You can’t ride back there." Sam swallows loudly, but doesn’t look at Dean.
"Are you gonna act like a big baby the whole way back?" Dean asks. "Or are you going to get your ass up here like a grown-up instead?"
"You’re never going to forgive me, are you?" Sam says quietly.
Dean sighs and leans his head back against the seat. "I already have, Sam." He is just so endlessly tired.
"I don’t believe you," Sam whispers.
Dean shakes his head, and drags himself up out of the car. He gets in the back beside Sam, closing the door and feeling like an idiot. "It’ll be okay, Sam," he says earnestly.
"It hasn’t been okay for anyone else who went through this," Sam says defiantly, "And they didn’t start off from anywhere as bad as you and me."
"It’ll be okay," Dean repeats. "We’ll be okay. You’ve just got to give it time."
"I’ve been giving you time," Sam says roughly. "We’ve both been going through everything alone since Dad died— your choice, not mine. You’ve left me hanging for weeks, and I’ve tried not to make a big deal out of it because I knew you were hurting too. But this isn’t better, Dean— we’re not better. And this could be the thing that finally breaks us apart."
God, but Dean doesn’t want to hear this. He doesn’t want to think or talk about anything to do with Dad, or about how he’s ‘handling’ the whole situation. It’s only Sam’s final words that really make him listen. He can’t push Sam too far away, or Sam will leave. Dean can’t lose the only thing he’s still got left, even though he’s done a poor job lately of maintaining it.
He reaches for Sam’s hand, the kind of thing he’d never do but right now it’s important. "I’m not mad, Sam. And I’m as sorry it happened as you are, I really am." What he’s sorry for is more than the last few minutes or even the last day. He hopes that’s coming through, because he’s no good at saying it and he’s still not ready to talk about it. Big apologies lead to discussions, and he can’t foresee a time when he’ll be ready to talk about Dad with Sam.
"You mean it?" Sam says. He finally meets Dean’s eyes, and there’s more devastation there than Dean had thought to find.
"Yes," Dean says sincerely. He still knows how to be the big brother, even when he doesn’t know how to be himself anymore. Sam’s fingers tighten down on his, clenching Dean’s hand. It’s the only comfort Dean’s given him in all of these weeks— not enough, but Dean can’t bring himself to open up more than that.
You’re such an ass, he tells himself, watching tears of gratitude slip down Sam’s face. You should hug him, but Dean knows he won’t. He can’t.
He waits until Sam’s gotten himself together, letting go of Sam’s hand and hoping it didn’t seem like he was eager to pull back. "Ready to get in the front now?" he asks. Sam nods, and then it’s over. They’re back into the rhythm of denial.
Dean gets back in the front, watching Sam unfold his lean body from the back seat and get out to stretch his legs before settling into the passenger seat. Dean swallows, remembering the heat of that body against his own. The sweetness of the kisses that were Sam’s, the burn of intimacy and desire tinged with wrongness all collide inside Dean’s head. He’ll never be free of those feelings, now that he knows them. Those images will haunt him when he’s lonely, or god forbid, when Sam has had it and has left him once again.
He is bruised and violated, his faith in himself quite nearly destroyed. He survived Sam’s assault, but the lasting damage has hardly begun. There were parts of it he didn’t hate… and Sam wouldn’t forgive him that. He doesn’t forgive himself.
"I wish we’d never come here," Sam says softly, as the car edges onto the road.
"Me too," Dean tells him wearily.
It is two days later now, a lifetime since arriving in this town.
They are strangers to themselves and to each other. The chasm between them has grown deeper after all.
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