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She's Gone, I'm Here

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Jess was dead. Dean would never get the image of her body out of his mind. Her blonde hair splayed out in a halo against the flames, her leg twisted at an inhuman angle and her stupid Smurf t-shirt burning to a black crisp. Dean would never forget any of it.

That was why he knew that he was in danger of losing Sam to grief. He couldn’t begin to imagine what Sam was going through. Sam had lost the most important person in his life, the woman he was going to marry.

For the first time in his entire life, Dean didn’t know what to say to his brother. Banter, teasing and pissy comments were Dean’s first language. That left little room for consoling a grieving brother.

Dean had gotten Sam away as soon as he could. Away from the flashing red and blue lights, the questions, the sympathetic looks from bystanders. He bundled Sam into the front seat of the Impala and he drove.

Putting distance between them and Stanford seemed to be the best course of action. It was what Dean did when he wanted to put something behind him.

Every now and again, oncoming headlights would give Dean an opportunity to glance over at Sam. He didn’t like what he was seeing.

Sam’s face was pale, his lips looked dry and he was staring straight ahead, looking a thousand miles down the road. His eyes were heavy lidded and he looked exhausted. Exhausted, and yet, still wide awake.

The EMT had told Dean to watch Sam for signs of shock. How the fuck could Sam not be in shock? What had happened to his little brother was too much for anyone’s mind to begin to process.

“Sam. I’ll drive until I find us a motel, okay?”

When Sam looked over at Dean he seemed confused for a few moments, then he nodded. His eyes were distant, full of a bewildered kind of sadness that broke Dean’s heart in about a million places.

Tightening his grip on the steering wheel, Dean clenched his jaw so hard it hurt.

“Dean?”

“Yeah, Sam?”

“I don’t feel well.”

The car swerved slightly when Dean snapped his head to the side to check out his brother. He reached out and rested the backs of his fingers against Sam’s forehead. Sam’s skin was cold and clammy. Not a good sign. “Not surprised. There. We’ll stop there.”

The Napoleon Motel.

Better than the front seat of the car so Dean pulled off the road.

By the time Dean had ushered his brother into room number fourteen, Sam was shivering uncontrollably. He was standing in the middle of the room, looking around slowly with his arms wrapped across his chest. His knuckles were white where he clutched his jacket sleeves.

“Okay. Let’s get you warmed up.” Dean tugged Sam’s arms free and pulled his jacket off.

It was a little scary the way Sam just stood there and let Dean take over. It was completely out of character and made the furrows in Dean’s brow deepen.

He moved quickly and got Sam down to his boxers then gave him one of his own beat-up, old t-shirts. He guided him towards the bed nearest the bathroom.

Sam climbed into the bed without complaint and it reminded Dean of when they were kids. So many times, Dean had dragged Sam out of the back seat of the car and bundled him into a creaky, old motel room bed.

They kept ending up back where they started, no matter how many times they tried to move on. It really wasn’t fair, especially for Sam. Sam deserved more.

There was a ridiculously small coffee pot in the room by the tv. Dean fumbled with the small pre-filled filter and got the machine going. While the coffee popped and sputtered, Dean got a bottle of water out of his bag and twisted the top off. “Drink.”

Sam took the bottle and leaned back against the headboard.

“Drink,” Dean repeated. He stared at Sam until he finally lifted the bottle to his lips.

When the coffee was finally ready, Dean prepared one for Sam with too much sugar and cream. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get Sam to eat.

He gave Sam the coffee and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Get that into you. You’ll feel better.”

Better?. Stupid.

Sam wrapped his long fingers around the mug and stared down at it.

“You need anything else?” Fuck, Dean wished he knew what to do.

All Sam did was shrug a shoulder.

Dean sighed and reached out to cup the back of his brother’s neck. “Wish I knew what to say, Sammy. But I’m here. Whatever you need, okay?”

When Sam looked up, there were tears welling in his eyes. He squeezed them shut and a tear slid down his cheek.

Dean was lost, unsettled and more than a little worried. He took the coffee back from Sam’s trembling hands, set it down then pulled Sam into his arms. It was the only thing that he could do. There were no more words that mattered one goddamned bit.

Sam resisted at first, his body rigid, and then something seemed to release. He slid his arms around Dean’s ribs and buried his face against Dean’s shoulder.

The tears came slowly at first, but Dean just held on. He could be what he’d always been for Sam. He’d be the big brother, the one Sam could always lean on. That was all he had to offer.