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[ his mission ]
by kHo

Lying in the dark, listening to Sam try to breathe like he´s not crying, Dean wonders when the last time was that he himself had cried.  He´s pretty sure it´s been years.

“Sammy?’  There´s a catch of breath and Dean feels it drag through his own chest, like it´s his heart that´s being trampled on and not Sam´s.

“What.’  Flat, not really a question at all, and Dean tries to not feel like the anger is directed at him, but he´s not stupid.  

The hotel room is pitch black, curtains pulled tight against the moonlight, so when he leans up to look over at his brother´s bed all he sees is black on darker black.  “It´s okay to cry, ya know.’

Short, bitter laugh, and Dean thinks maybe he should have just stayed quiet.  “Thanks for that, Dean.  Good to know.   Good to have your permission.’

Dean finds himself smiling, because this isn´t anything new.  Some sort of fucked up ritual between the two of them, where neither one of them wanted the other one to know they were ever vulnerable.  Like Sam had to be hard, couldn´t show Dean he actually had emotions.  That´s probably true with all brothers, but Dean has a feeling it´s even more so between them.  He thinks lots of things are like that with them.

“Whatever,’ he says on an exhale, lying back in the bed and stretching his arms behind his head.  “It´s just-- I can hear you, ya know?’

“What the fuck do you want from me, Dean, she´s dead,’ Sam says, and it´s almost impressive the way his voice hardly shakes on that.  It´s almost impressive, except this is Sam, damnit, and Dean´s tired of Sam hiding from him.

“You loved her, huh?’

Another laugh, this one a little softer, and Dean thinks maybe he wasn´t supposed to hear it.  “Yeah.  Stupid huh?’

Dean frowns at that but bites his tongue to keep from agreeing with Sam.  To keep from saying that yes, Sam is stupid, but not for any of the reasons Sam thinks he is.  “Why is it stupid to love someone?’

“Cause in the end, they leave.’   And that´s not easy to hear, because yeah, that´s how Dean feels too.  Doesn´t mean he ever wanted  Sam to feel like that.  “Doesn´t really matter much whether it´s by choice or death.  The point is, they´re gone.’

Dean knows he´ll regret it before it´s even out of his mouth, but he says it anyway.  “Yeah, except sometimes you´re the one who leaves.’

There´s rustling, probably from the sheets, before Dean hears something hit the floor.  He can picture it in his head, like he´s gone back in time, because Sam used to do this all the time.  Get mad, restless, kick the covers off the bed.  Like somehow the covers were what was bothering him.  

“Fuck you, okay,’ Sam says through gritted teeth.  “You don´t understand.’

“You´re right,’ Dean says, laughing.  Laughing, because that´s what he does instead of crying.  Has been ever since he could remember.  “I don´t understand.  How could I possibly understand what it´s like to never have a normal life.  Normal girlfriend.  Normal what the fuck ever.  Gosh, Sam, you´re so damn right on that.  I couldn´t possibly get that.’

“Maybe you do, Dean,’ Sam ground out, and Dean thinks to himself that if this keeps up, Sam´s going to grind his teeth into nothing.  “Maybe you do get that, Dean, but you don´t get what I´m going through.  Cause I had it.  I fuckin´ had it, man.’

And the question is, what does Dean have to say to that?  Because, Sam´s got a point there.  “I´m sorry, Sammy.  Really, I am.’  He shifts up on his elbows, wonders if maybe he concentrates he can see him even through the curtain of darkness.  “I just wish you´d stop holding it in.’

“What should I do, Dean,’  Sam asks, voice wavering with hysteria just barely contained.  “What do you want me to do?  Climb in bed with you and cry on your shoulder?’

“Do you want to,’ Dean grouses back, fisting his hands at his side.  “Cause fuck, Sam, if it´s that or have you bite my god damned head off every time I try to talk to you, you can crawl inside my shirt if you want to!’

He should have held that back though, or at least softened his voice, cause he can hear him breathing again, and it feels like nails on a chalkboard.  Breath hitching, muffled keening sounds barely audible.  He closes his eyes and wishes his father were here, cause he´d know what to do.  He always had.  He´d make Sam cry, hit him if that´s what it took, but damnit, it would be out of him by now.

“I had it,’ Sam says, far off and distant again, just barely loud enough for Dean to catch it.  “I had it, Dean, and they took it away.’

Dean closes his eyes and throws an arm over them, taking a deep breath, counting to five.  “They.’

“Yeah, Dean, they.  Them.  Him.  Her.  Fuckin´ it,’ Sam says, angry even as he sounds defeated.  “Whatever this is.  Took Mom, took her.  I wish it would just hurry up and take me and get it over with.’

Dean´s eyes fly open at that, his heart stutter-stopping in his chest.  “Take you.’

“Yeah, man, take me,’ Sam says, and it´s like Dean can´t even breathe anymore.  Like Sam´s turmoil has literally taken all of the air out of the room.  “It´s after me, Dean, don´t you get that?’

He closes his eyes to it, like maybe that´ll make it go away.  “The fuck are you talking about, Sammy?’  Because he doesn´t want to know, but he can´t just let it sit there, festering.  Can´t just let Sam keep it to himself anymore.

“This hasn´t happened to anyone else, Dean,’ Sam answers, and it would be better if he were still angry.  It would be better if he were pissed, throwing his covers off, heaving the phone out of the window.  Anything would be better than this calm acceptance.  “No other place, no other time.  No other country.  This thing, Dean, it´s only happened twice.  To Mom, and to Jessica.’

Dean digs a fist into his eye, taking a deep breath.  “You don´t know that.’

Sam laughs, short and harsh.  “I do know that.  You think Dad wouldn´t have found it?’

“Maybe no one´s ever reported it, Sammy,’ Dean says, knowing he´s grasping.  Not caring in the slightest.  “Hell, Dad didn´t even report it.  He knew the cops would never buy it.’

“No,’ Sam says, and Dean starts to wish he´d never spoken at all.  That he´d just gone the hell to sleep.  “No, he didn´t.  But he posted about it.  Since the internet got so popular, he´s posted about it at every single paranormal website there is, Dean.   Every single message board, journal, mailing list, whatever.  Never, Dean.  Never, not once, has anyone heard of anything like it.’

Dean flings the covers off of himself, sitting up and seriously contemplating picking up the habit of smoking.  Because that would at least  give him an excuse to get the fuck out of this room.  Maybe he´ll just walk down to the corner store instead.  Pick up the nearest bottle of whatever hard liquor they have, and down it in one gulp.  “Doesn´t mean anything.’

“Think about it, man,’ Sam says, and the way his voice sounds sends a shiver down Dean´s spine.  Like there´s anything even remotely amusing about this at all.  “Two cases in the history of the world, and they happen to the women I love.  They  happen while they´re in the room with me.  They happen, Dean, right over where I´m supposed to be sleeping.’

But the thing is, Dean doesn´t need to think about it.  He´s been thinking about it since he got the cold shivers up his spine when he left Sam alone at his apartment.  Hasn´t left his thoughts since he´d seen the raging fire in Sam´s room.  His hands clench into the mattress below him and he tries to slow his heartbeat before it beats right out of his chest.  “Stop it.’

“It would end, man,’ Sam whispers.  “It could all end right now, if it took me instead.’

Dean grits his teeth, his hands clenching beneath him so hard he thinks it might be possible that he´s breaking his own fingers.  “Shut.  Up.’

“How many times is it gonna happen, Dean,’ Sam asks, except it´s not a question at all.  “It´s never gonna stop.  I´ve loved two women.  Mom, and Jessica.’  Sam pauses and Dean can feel his gaze on him even if he can´t see it.  “I remember Mom, ya know.  I know I was too  young, but… we´ve never been normal, have we?  I remember her.  On the ceiling on top of me.  Blood dripping down on my head.’

Dean rocks forward and for one second thinks he might just vomit.  “Sam.’

“When I saw her? When I saw Jessica?  It wasn´t her,’ he continues, like Dean hasn´t said anything.  Like he didn´t even hear him.  “It was Mom.’

Dean can feel the tears behind his eyes and he refuses, flat out refuses, to let them fall.  Because Dean doesn´t cry.  Dean hasn´t cried in years damnit, and it wasn´t even his girlfriend that had died.  “Shut the fuck up.’

“I mean it, man.  It should.  It should just take me instead.  It could all end now--’

Dean´s hovering over him before he even knows he´s standing, his hands clenching into Sam´s faded gray t-shirt, pulling him up violently, every single nerve singing in his body.  “It´s not taking you Sammy, I won´t let it,’ he growls in his face, and he can feel the spit flying out of his mouth with every word.  Doesn´t give a fuck if it lands on Sam or not.  

He can see Sam´s eyes now, wide and staring at him in shock.  “Let me go, Dean.’

“No,’ Dean shouts, not loosening his grip, tightening it if anything.  “It´s not taking you, and if that means you never get to fall in love again, or never get to be normal, then fuck it, man.  Fuck it.’

Sam´s hands are on his, trying to pry them off, shove them away.  “Dean.’

Dean shakes his head and finally lets him go, pushing him back and not even wincing when Sam´s head hits the headboard behind him.  “No, fuck it.  I don´t care.  I´m not losing you too.’

He´s halfway to the door when the light goes on, and he stops in his tracks, looking at the floor because like hell he´s going to look at Sam.  “Stop, Dean.’

“Fuck you, Sammy,’ Dean says, his voice choked, and he still can´t breathe.  His hands are clenched by his sides and he thinks if Sam says one more thing, one more god damned thing, he´ll punch him so hard he won´t wake up for a week.  “Don´t you ever say shit like that to me again.’

“I´m sorry,’ Sam whispers, and in that moment he sounds five years old again.  Five years old, back when he thought Dean could fix everything.  Back when Dean thought so too.  “Dean, seriously man… I´m just.  I´m upset.  I´m sorry, I didn´t mean to scare you.’

Dean looks at him and when he blinks he feels that one lone tear fall out and hates himself for it.   “I lost Mom, I don´t know if Dad is alive or dead, and I just got you back,’ he says, clenching his jaw like maybe if he sounds angry enough Sam won´t see how weak he really is.  “So you can just take your self pity and shut the fuck up about it.’

And that was harsh, and Sam would have had every reason in the world to hate him for that.  Instead he stands up and walks over to Dean and stands there, just looking at him.  “I´m sorry,’ he says, nodding and stepping closer.  “I´m sorry, Dean.  I´m just fucked up right now.’

Dean shifts, facing him more squarely, looking into his eyes, trying to see if Sam´s even there anymore.  If maybe the past two years have changed him so much he doesn´t even know who his brother is anymore.  All he sees is the kid he helped to learn how to ride a bicycle.  “Don´t ever say that again, Sam, I´m fuckin´ serious.’

“Okay,’ Sam says, nodding and stepping that final step closer, his fingers gently pressing into Dean´s shoulders.  “I won´t, Dean, I promise.’

Dean closes his eyes as his arms go around his brother, and finally he feels Sam break, tears wet against his neck as Sam buries his face in it.  And this is what´s supposed to happen.  Sam´s always been the more emotionally available one, and Dean´s worked real hard over the years to make sure he got to keep that.  He thinks if Sam gets to keep that, he may not be whole, not completely, but at least he´ll be more whole than Dean is.  

Dean hasn´t been whole since he watched his mother burn to death in the house his father told him to run away from.

But that´s okay.  That´s okay so long as Sam´s safe.  Safe, and here, and alive in his arms.

It´s been his mission since he was four* years old, and like hell he´s gonna fail now.

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