Being possessed was not a funny feeling. In fact Dean felt rather rattled by it. He's never lost control over himself like this and it made him feel deeply unsettled, what with the remnants of his post-purgatory mindset clinging to him. He sat at the bar, guzzling whiskey like water, appreciating the burn as it went down. It was preferable to what he felt as he thought of what he saw in Sam's eyes as the spectre left him.
Not like he got to see Sam's eyes for long, the kid rarely met him stare for stare anymore. Mostly he walked around hunched, his bangs hiding his face from view. Dean wasn't complaining. He knew that Sam was hurting and it would show both on his face and in his eyes and Dean was not in the mood for that. He too was hurting and nobody cared so why should he saddle himself with Sam's guilt on top of his own issues? It was Sam's fault for not looking for him.
And he had the nerve to tell Dean off for his grudge and threaten to leave, the bastard.
Dean sighed, downing the last of his drink and standing up. He still didn't really feel like facing his brother but they were going to be on the road bright and early tomorrow so a hangover would not be appreciated on top of everything else.
He didn't even think of letting Sam drive the Impala.
Coming into the room (fortunately the bar was in a walking distance of their motel) he immediately saw Sam, sitting upright, his back against the wall, in his pyjamas like he'd been waiting for Dean to come back and fell asleep. That wasn't what made the older brother stop in his tracks. It was the gun Sam held in his slack hand, resting on his chest, barrel pointing up somewhere over his shoulder.
Now this was unexpected. What the hell was Sam doing with a gun in his hand like it was a stuffed toy?
Dean quietly came up to his brother and delicately extracted the weapon from his clutching fingers. The safety was on. Dean stuffed the thing under Sam's pillow and shook his shoulder. Sam jerked awake, his hands automatically curling into fists and Dean closed his eyes briefly, thankful for his foresight.
“What the fuck were you doing sleeping upright, Sam? Lay down, I don't want to deal with your mood swings when you wake up all aching” he said gruffly, turning around and heading to the bathroom to take a shower and get some sleep before tomorrow. Sam didn't say anything and when Dean came back into the room he was under the covers, his eyes closed and breathing calm.
Dean killed the lights and got under the covers into his own bed, pretending not to realize that Sam was faking sleep.
The next day was spent almost entirely in the car with only brief stops for food and bathroom breaks. Sam was unnervingly quiet the whole time, sitting with his head on the headrest and just staring ahead. Not one quip was made about Dean's music or eating habits and he went out of his way to pick the things he knew Sam loathed.
Dean didn't bother questioning what crawled up his brother's ass to make him give him the silent treatment. Probably just the fallout from the spectre. Sam, the hypocritical child, had his delicate feelings hurt and was sulking.
Whatever, Dean thought let him stew.
Silence reigned in the Winchester-land for the whole day.
During the course of the week Sam gradually got his fire back and for a while everything was relatively normal between them. They even argued again because that's just how it was now - they didn't know how to talk to each other normally anymore. And so, to honour the long Winchester tradition Dean decided to go to the bar, whereas Sam stayed at the motel to mope. He was asleep by the time Dean got back.
Strangely though, the situation from the spectre incident happened again. The next day Sam was pensively, sullenly quiet and Dean could count all the words his brother said to him on one hand.
Now, Dean wasn't stupid and as the saying goes - one is an accident two is a coincidence but three is a pattern. He didn't even have to wait long to confirm his suspicions. It happened yet again two weeks later. Argument, Dean off to bar, next day Sam does his best marble statue impersonation and for the next couple of days gradually regains the ability to speak.
And three is a pattern, so Dean, immensely and honestly curious (because Sam's never been like this - silent, yes but never this calm and accommodating. Everyone knew when he was upset, he made sure of that) of what Sam does alone in the motel room to be this serene, went as far as to stage another minor fight and then waited.
He barely had the time to scramble for cover as, around ten minutes after he had “left”, Sam got up, still all furious and hurt (and Dean didn't feel guilty about putting that look on his kid brother's face), stuffed his favourite gun in his pocket and left the room.
Dean would have guessed he'd go find another bar, except in this backwater town there was only one of those. No, Sam walked fast heading in the direction of the woods that grew eastside of the little town, beginning right behind the last row of houses.
His pace was brisk and he didn't stop until he found a tiny clearing where the last rays of sun managed to break through the foliage. Dean got pissed for real by that time because of course Sam would go trample through the forest where he's a bitch to follow. However Dean was the best hunter on the planet, so he somehow kept up without alerting Sam to his presence and then found a nice spot to watch his brother from as he finally settled down, leaning on a tree.
And then he just watched.
Sam, for his part, seemed to have walked off most of his anger. Truth be told he appeared more hurt and upset than irritated anymore. Leaning on the tree he sighed deeply and put his head in his hands, all hunched and still.
He was a picture of misery. Okay, Dean admitted to feeling a little bit guilty because this time it wasn't even a real fight, just an experiment.
Sam stayed in that curled position for a few minutes before suddenly taking a deep, shuddering breath and punching the ground beside his butt with a tiny whimper deep in his throat.
“Why is this getting worse?” he gasped quietly and fine, Dean was more than a little bit guilty now.
And then the younger hunter sighed, leaning back fully and taking his gun out of his pocket. Dean stilled. Sam gazed at the thing quietly and it was like a transformation was taking place right before Dean's eyes. All the remaining anger and tension was melting our of Sam as he stared at the gun and then pressed it flat to his chest like he was hugging it.
It was… seriously weird. Dean knew that this was Sam's favourite gun and all but it was a weapon Sam used to kill things and that has always been it. Now it seemed to have some deeper feelings attached to it and frankly Dean didn't like it. Who the fuck cuddles their gun like it's their best friend?!
Sam's head fell back against the trunk of his tree as he stared at the evening sky. He seemed so utterly defeated it was pathetic to watch. Not to mention boring, Dean thought closing his own eyes, because the damn kid wasn't doi-
The safety hammer clicked.
Dean stilled, not sure what was going on, his eyes flying open.
Sam held the gun loosely in a hand that lied on his bent knee, away from his body now, upside down and pointed at himself . Before Dean could gather his wits enough to run and intervene because what the fuck, was Sam going to kill himself now, was that why he came oh god he came into the forest, deep enough to insure nobody would find him in time and he was going t-
Sam leisurely swung the weapon so that it was now upright and the bullet would go into the forest. The safety clicked back on. Dean blinked, feeling like he had whiplash, completely nonplussed. So… no killing, okay, that was good-
and the gun was upside down pointing at Sam again, safety off. And then back up straight, safety on. Sam wasn't even looking at it, his eyes still lost in the darkening sky. It looked like he was… playing with the damn thing, from the lack of a better word. He held it in his fingers loosely, swinging it around, his breathing easing into a relaxed rhythm, all muscles loose…
Dean had a sudden vision of Sammy, age five, sprawled on the Impala's backseat, about to drop to sleep. That's how Sam looked right now - like the gun-love helped him unwind and find peace again.
Well, good for him. Dean, on the other hand, had so many questions now. He could only sit there and stare wordlessly as Sam swung the gun around until finally it was almost too dark to see anything. That's when the younger hunter clicked the safety on for the final time and stood, tucking the gun back into his pocket. Soon he was on the way back to their motel. Dean watched him go, still shell-shocked, noting the familiar calm expression on his face, underlined with that endless sadness.