grianchloch: (Dean Eyes Downcast)
[personal profile] grianchloch
Title: Never Let Me Go
Characters: Sam, Dean
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1752
Beta: [ profile] seleneheart
Disclaimer: Sadly, they aren't mine, I'm just playing with them for a while.
Notes: Set after 8.02 What's Up, Tiger Mommy? Written for [ profile] cydsa as part of the 2013 [ profile] spnspringfling fic exchange. The title is taken from one of the prompts "Never Let Me Go". Originally posted here. It started out as a fluffy piece, but has some major Sam angst at the beginning too.
Summary: With Dean newly back from Purgatory, Sam's having trouble reconnecting with his brother. Something he's left with after the auction gives him an opportunity to do just that.

Sam sits at a picnic table across from the motel room he and Dean had stayed in the night before and sips coffee laced with too much sugar and cream. Dean’s coffee, strong and black, sits waiting for him and Sam’s already torn open a bag of breakfast pastries. He munches on a bear claw while he waits for Dean to join him. Dean might have been first up, but his legendary love of taking his time in the shower has grown since Purgatory. Sam wonders if it’s because he’s missed hot water and showers or if he’s still trying to wash away a year’s worth of blood and dirt from under his skin.

In the weeks since Dean’s been back, he growls. He hisses and spits like a cat on the defensive. He can’t settle when they stop for the night. He paces, tiger taut, roaming along the bars of a cage he didn’t ask for. When he sleeps, it’s strategic, backed up into a corner, the weapon he forged in purgatory in his hand. If Sam had to wake him, he would do it from a distance, otherwise he knows he would risk his life against the deadly blade that Dean won’t let him touch. As it is, Dean wakes up the second Sam stirs, eyes razor sharp, glancing about and assessing threats.

The only time Dean eases back from the edge is when he’s driving the Impala. Sam wonders if it’s the familiarity Dean finds soothing or maybe being on the move and not stuck in one place. He guesses it’s a combination of both.

Dean hardly talks about Purgatory, and he doesn’t ask about Sam’s life while he was gone. He’s already made his mind up that Sam ditched the hunting life, and ditched him, for a girl. It’s as if he can’t forgive Sam for letting him go, for not looking for him, when in truth, Sam could never let him go. Sam doesn’t try to explain that Dean’s wrong because then he’d have to explain what did happen. How he fell deeper than Lucifer’s cage when he was left all alone. That the thought that Dean was gone, the last in a long line to die because of the life they lived, sent him into a dark place that he almost didn’t find his way out of again.

His mind was still fragile, healing after Castiel took away the torment. The memories Sam was left with were hard to bear, but he did it. Then Dean was gone, and there were no reasons left to keep going. Sometimes he drove until the gas ran out, mind in a loop, going through every memory he had of Dean sitting next to him. Laughing, making bad jokes, hell, even pissed off and angry. Other times, Sam booked into a motel, paid for a week, and stayed for longer, forgetting to eat, living in a daze where every time he woke up, for that first second, he didn’t know Dean was dead. For a second, life was as it should be, before the gut wrenching, heart breaking, nauseating truth hit him again.

Dean was gone.

Sam gave up subconsciously long before he came to a decision. Deep down, his battered soul understood that there was nothing left to fight for. He’d done everything he could to keep the world safe, given more than any one being should ever be asked to, and yet more had been demanded of him. The one person who made life worth holding on to been taken from him. He had nothing left to give, and no reason to care.

Just as he reached his lowest ebb, a dog ran out in front of the Impala and unwittingly gave him something to care about. Without Amelia guilting him into caring for Riot, he wouldn’t have been around when Dean got back. She was never his, not really, but he owes her for that at least.

Now he’s got Dean back, but nothing is the same. Sam doesn’t want to hunt, not forever, but he doesn’t want to be without Dean again. Dean always was a great hunter, but he’s even sharper now, and Sam knows he doesn’t want to quit hunting, probably never will. There are flashes of what they had before. If something goes Dean’s way, he’ll grin at Sam, just for a moment, before he remembers that he’s still pissed at him, and the smile vanishes. But it shows Sam that his Dean is still just below the surface.

Which is why the hammer he took off the Norse God at the auction gave Sam an idea, an idea he’s now halfway regretting. He washes the last of the bear claw down with coffee and starts to get antsy to the point of getting to his feet just as the motel door opens and Dean emerges from their room.

“Mornin’,” Dean grunts in Sam’s direction as he wanders over to the Impala. He runs his fingers along the edge of the trunk, then pops it with practiced ease. He glances one way and then the other, checking for observers before he lifts the lid to the lower compartment.

Sam knows the second Dean sees the hammer from the way he stops dead still and stares down into the trunk. It's the first time Dean's seen it. With everything that happened at the auction, Sam had forgotten to tell him that he'd thrown it in the car before they left.

“What the …”

As Dean reaches down, Sam gets to his feet, craning his neck to get a good glimpse of Dean’s fingers closing around the handle. He wanders closer, keeping his gait slow and casual. Dean’s shoulders tense, muscles bunching under the thin cotton of his t shirt as he strains to pick the hammer up.

“Son of a bitch!” he curses, then re-adjusts his grip, but still, the hammer won’t budge.

“What’s up?” Sam asks, looming over Dean to get a better look in the trunk.

“Where’d you get this piece of crap hammer from, Sam? It’s stuck to my car,” Dean growls.

“The old guy at the auction, the one with the virgin parts? He was a Norse god. I took it off him. Came in handy too.”

“You could lift it?” Dean asks, scowling.

Now Sam knows that Dean remembers his Avengers lore although Dean was always more of an Iron Man fan. Thor was always Sam’s favorite.

“Yeah, I took out the god and one of the heavies too. I thought it might be useful.”

Dean turns back to the trunk, the set of his jaw showing his determination. Once again, he grasps the handle tightly and pulls, pulls until his face starts to turn red and Sam can clearly see veins standing out on his forehead.

“Dean, give it up, man.”

“What’s the point in keeping the damned thing if it’s impossible to use!” Dean yells.

Sam bends down, and takes hold of the handle, deftly flicking away the small, sturdy catch that’s holding it down, and picks it up, waving it in front of Dean’s face.

“I can use it just fine.” He goes for casual, shrugging and holding back the smirk that wants to spread over his face.

Dean glares at him, then glances at the hammer, opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again, eyeing Sam with frustration.

“How did you …” he finally blurts out. “That can’t be …” He eyes the hammer again, a touch of respect warring with incredulity.

Hook, line and sinker.

“Oh it is.” Now Sam smirks, wide and toothy. “Here.”

Sam thrusts it at Dean, who’s hand closes around the handle instinctively, but he fumbles when Sam lets go, fully expecting, Sam can see, the hammer to pull him down to the ground. He compensates instinctively, and ends up almost throwing it back over his head.

For it’s size, it’s light and manageable, and Sam has wondered if that is down to it being a supernatural hammer.

Dean squawks, then steadies it and holds it up, hefting it in his hand. His eyes narrow when he realizes he’s been had, and he reaches into the trunk, fingers sliding over the metal until they find the almost hidden catch. Slowly, he straightens, and Sam can’t hold back the bark of laughter that escapes.

“Sorry, man, I had to.”

Dean stares at him and a moment stretches into an eternity. Sam’s stomach flip flops painfully and his thoughts spin faster and faster. What if it was the wrong thing to do? What if it’s too soon after everything that’s happened? What if this new, fresh from purgatory Dean has forgotten that pranks came naturally to both of them in the past? But all Sam’s what ifs dissipate as the corners of Dean’s mouth twitch, curving into a smile that morphs into a grin. He nods, then shakes his head, ducking it slightly, still grinning, and it’s the best thing Sam’s seen in a long time.

“You always did have a hard on for Thor.”

“He could beat Iron Man’s ass any day,” Sam counters.

Dean snorts. “In your dreams, Sammy.”

Sam’s heart swells, the ache in his chest that’s been an almost permanent feature since he lost Dean lessening. Dean smiles again, and walks over to the picnic table, twirling the hammer like a baton. He sits down and sips on his coffee, selecting a donut with pink icing and sprinkles from the bag and biting into it. Sam sits down opposite him and finishes off the last of his almost cold coffee.

They don’t talk while they eat, just glance at the hammer now and then and smile at each other, Dean shaking his head. It’s a comfortable silence, not the stilted awkwardness of not knowing what to say to each other and when their knees bump under the table, Dean doesn’t glare at Sam or jerk away. And that’s enough to give Sam hope that they can work out whatever comes next, however long it takes.

But in the short term, Sam decides that the next time they stay anywhere with decent wi fi, he’ll download a copy of The Avengers for them to watch.

After all, the Hulk rocks. That they can both agree on.
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