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[ f l a t l i n e ]
Dean shuts down when that line goes flat, and he doesn't start up again. He didn't even know it was possible to shut down like that, didn't know it was something you could do. He's seen it before, sure, but he always figured it was shock. Something that wore off. Something that you worked past, got over, lived through. Came out the other side of. Always thought it was momentary. Not this.
He shuts down, and he doesn't even have it in him to let it freak him out. He doesn't have it in him to give a shit that he doesn't feel anything anymore. Doesn't have it in him to try and understand how he could put his father in the ground next to his Mother in a cemetery in Lawrence and not shed one single tear. He doesn't have anything left in him.
Sammy looks at him, watches him, and it makes his skin crawl. It makes his fists clench and his back go ramrod straight and his jaw tighten. He has idle thoughts that normally, Sammy watching him like he's about to break would make him want to beat his fists into his little brother, would piss him off, would make him go crazy. As it is, it just freezes him, like he's in a block of ice, seeing everything and doing nothing.
Used to be that Dean put on the face. Dean pulled the grin when the shit hit the fan. Used to be that Dean dug at the pit in Sammy's heart until he annoyed the pain away. He thinks Sammy's trying to do that, by watching him, by asking him questions, by poking at him and poking at him. He thinks that's what Sammy's doing, but it's not working. Dean hasn't smiled in so long he thinks his skin will crack if he ever does again.
Everything's in a fog, everything. Everything's swirling around him and it's all grey and dark and cold. He's disconnected from everything because none of it feels real. None of it is anything he can touch, can taste, can smell. Everything is fake, and so is he.
Sammy's what keeps him going, he knows that. If he didn't have Sammy with him, he'd still be sitting in that hospital watching his father's corpse. If Sammy hadn't grabbed his shoulder, hadn't walked out, walked away, Dean would have died that day too. Sometimes he thinks he did anyway.
Sometimes he starts to feel something. Welling up inside of him, in the pit of his stomach, this ache in his heart. Sometimes when he stares at the ceiling and he sees his mother. Sometimes when he's lying in bed and listening to Sammy snore and toss and turn he can hear his father's voice. Can hear his father's goodbye speech. Hear his confession.
It starts to claw its way around the edges, and he cuts it off, because he can't afford to feel it. He can't afford to let it start because once it does, it will consume him. The guilt, the rage. The sadness. The sense of loss, the sense of being lost. He's broken and he knows it, but as long as he doesn't feel it, as long as he keeps it away, he can still be here. He can still function. He can still keep Sammy safe, even if he can't talk to him anymore.
It's the last thing his father told him to do, and not even death can make him disobey John Winchester.