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If he was being totally honest, Dean wasn’t sure how ready he was to open that door again. It had been sealed shut so tight for so long that even cracking it open could do irreparable damage.

 

But people were dying, and he had a job to do.

 

“Give me the rundown.” Dean requested of his brother, a crack in his voice that he desperately hoped he hid well enough. Sam seemed not to notice, or at the very least he didn’t acknowledge it.

 

“Four teenage boys dead, covered in scratch and bite marks, and they died of exhaustion. Like their life force had been sucked right out of them.” Sam explained the situation with the same lack of emotion in his tone that he always did, and Dean felt a shiver run down his spine. His brother could’ve been talking about him.

 

“Had they gotten dirty before they died?” Dean asked, hands tight around the steering wheel and eyes locked on the road ahead. But he saw Sam’s head lift to look at him from the corner of his eye.

 

“Had- what?”

 

“Had they all had sex right before?” Dean pressed, knuckles turning white as his grip tightened impossibly around the steering wheel. If Sam noticed how tense his brother was he didn’t comment.

 

“Uh, yeah. And all of their last whereabouts were being seen walking out of a bar with some chick. She’s the current suspect. How did you-?” Sam halted his questioning as he was jerked to the side by the sudden stopping of the car.

 

Dean grasped at the door desperately, shoving it open and spilling out onto the asphalt highway like a sack of bricks as his lunch came up in one painful heave of coughs. He could hear Sam calling his name as his brother hurried to his side, but his ears were ringing too loud to understand Sammy’s voice.

 

Hands landed on his shoulder and arm and he flinched violently, but the hands didn’t release.

 

Hands on him, hands on his jacket zipper and the awful sound of it sliding open, hands sliding up his shirt as a chill runs down his back, but there’s no pleasure, he’s in agony as these hands grip his wrists so tight the claws leave bloody marks in his skin. Hands hands hands...

 

But Dean knew these hands, and they weren’t going to hurt him. These were soft, calloused hands, meant to help, meant to steady him as he swayed against the spinning of the earth that he could suddenly feel, and no, that’s not right. He shouldn’t be able to feel that.

 

“Dean. You with me?” Sam asked, hands gripping Dean so tight there was no way Dean could fall over, watching the dazed and panicked look in his brother’s eyes warily.

 

“Yeah, yeah I think so.” Dean coughs wetly, shoving himself upright with his hands against the asphalt as leverage. Sam carefully removes one hand from Dean, keeping the other gently resting on his brother’s bicep, less for stability and more for comfort.

 

“What happened?” Dean questioned, and Sam heard the rasp in his voice, sure that Dean’s throat hurt. He stood to grab Dean a bottle of water.

 

“You had a panic attack,” Sam answered simply, hoping that being blunt was the best way to go. Dean nodded at that, not seeming surprised.

 

“Maybe you should drive,” Dean whispered, taking the water bottle from Sam’s hands with his own slightly trembling ones twisting the cap open. That threw Sam for a loop.

 

Dean just admitted that he wasn’t well enough to drive. What the hell is going on? Sam wondered, but he shoved the thought aside, deciding to interrogate his brother later. He held a hand out to Dean, who brushed it off and pulled himself to his feet with a steadying hand on the car.

 

The two of them climbed silently into their respective seats, and Sam paused for a moment, key in the ignition waiting to be turned. His eyes took in his brother’s tensed-up form, searching Dean’s face. Dean seemed like he’d had the wind knocked out of him like he’s in some kind of shock. Dean could feel Sam’s questioning gaze, so he nodded, leaning his head back against the headrest and squeezing his eyes shut, indicating he was well enough for the ride.

 

“Okay.” Sam started the car, his stomach churning. He’d never seen Dean react like that to anything . And looking over at his brother, who had now fallen fast asleep against the door, his hands bundled in his lap and his eyebrows furrowed together in a restless slumber, Sam can’t help but wonder what the hell got him to react like that now.

 

So despite how badly he would like to quell that train of thought, the following two hours in the car are filled with silence, although all Sam hears is his thoughts telling him all the things that could’ve scared Dean like that. And one thought keeps sticking out of the rest. 

 

You already know what it is. Look at this case. Look at your brother, a voice somewhere in the back of his mind whispers menacingly, and Sam grits his teeth, clenching his fists around the steering wheel and turning on the radio, knowing it wouldn’t wake Dean.

 

By the time they arrive at the motel Dean is still unconscious, and Sam isn’t sure he wants to wake him. He goes inside to check-in, puts all the bags in the room, and does every little chore he can think of to stall waking his peaceful sibling before he sighed and decided he had to get Dean out of that position which was surely kinking his neck. 

 

He climbed back into the driver seat and reached a hand out to place on Dean’s left shoulder. Dean jerked alive at the contact, shouting something along the lines of ‘don’t touch me’, hand dangerously close to grabbing his knife from his boot, and Sam hurried to pull his hand back.

 

“Dean, it’s okay. It’s me. It’s Sam.” Sam assured his bug-eyed brother, whose shoulders slump once his eyes settle on his concerned brother’s face.

 

“Where are we?” Dean muttered, running a tired hand down his face as he tried to slow his breathing. He’d been so deep in the throes of his dream he’d completely forgotten what town they were headed towards.

 

“Willmar, Minnesota. I checked us in, but I wasn’t gonna let you sleep in the car. You good?” Sam asked, and though the question was casual, Dean could hear the heaviness behind it. The thoughtfulness and the caring and the ‘I’m here for you, talk to me.’

 

“Yeah, just tired. Let’s get some shuteye and we’ll start early tomorrow.” Dean climbed out of the car, and Sam sighed lightly as he followed his brother inside.

 

By the time Dean managed to get into bed all of his tiredness had left him. He found himself lying on his back staring at the ceiling, images flashing through his mind, feelings flashing through his body, hands on his skin, hands on his face, hands on his clothes, hands hands hands, and he knew he wasn’t going to be sleeping tonight.

 

He waited until Sam seemed to have fallen asleep before he got off the bed and walked over to the mini motel table and chair setup, pulling open Sam’s laptop. He was going to regret this, he knew that, but what else was he supposed to do all night?

 

Google searching the thing that tried to kill you was never a genius plan. But the research was what he knew best. So he did research all night. And he ignored the clammy feeling in his hands, and he ignored his heart pounding in his chest, and he ignored his shaking body.

 

He hadn’t even noticed the sun come up until Sam’s alarm went off and his little brother groaned from beneath his blanket on the other side of the room. Sam pulled himself upright, shutting off the alarm with a quick slap and running a hand through his princess hair. It took him a moment to notice Dean.

 

“Why are you up?” Sam was standing up now, slumping over to the table to see what Dean was working on. Dean closed all of his tabs except Busty Asian Beauties and gave his brother a cheeky grin.

 

“I got lonely.” He offered, although that wasn’t true in the slightest. Dean only kept the tab open for this purpose. He wasn’t feeling particularly like watching porn right now. In fact, the tab glaring back at him was making his stomach churn so bad it was hard to keep it off his face.

 

“Dude, not on my computer man.” Sam groaned that baby brother groan, pulling the laptop away from Dean and sitting at the other side of the table. Dean forced his heart to start slowing down, but he couldn’t ignore it anymore, the way it pounded against his ribs like a jackhammer, so loud he could hear it.

 

“Sammy.”

 

“Yeah,” Sam mumbled, face half smushed into his hand as he scrolled through lore pages, not really listening.

 

Sammy .” Dean pressed, and that got Sam’s attention. His brother’s head perked up, face suddenly so concerned that it made Dean’s stomach twist. Was he really about to do this?

 

“I think I know what’s doing this,” Dean told his brother, taking the laptop back and beginning to type. He opened the same tab he’d been staring at mindlessly for the last two hours, turning the computer to face his brother. 

 

Sam’s eyes scanned the page, taking in the grotesque images and blunt vocabulary before his eyes found Dean’s face again.

 

“This could make sense. How’d you pick up on this?” Sam asked, gesturing down to the laptop. Dean winced, this was exactly the conversation he wanted to avoid.

 

“I uh, I hunted one before.” Dean took the computer back and hoped to god Sam would let it go there. No such luck today.

 

“When the hell did you hunt a succubus?” Sam now seemed fully invested in the story, and Dean sighed, wondering how much he could get away with sharing.

 

“While you were at school. Dad was gone, I went on a solo. No big deal.”

 

Please, Sam. Just drop it.

 

“Still can’t believe you’ve gone solo.” Sam trailed off, standing from the table to rummage through his duffel bag. Dean let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Looked like Sam was going to relinquish.

 

“Yeah, well I’m awesome like that.” Dean smiled his cocky smile, and it felt like someone was tugging on his face. Like his muscles were being manipulated by someone’s hands, hands hands hands , so he dropped the expression, focusing on the screen in front of him.

 

“Yeah, but seriously, you tousled with a damn succubus and you’re here to tell me about it? That is pretty damn awesome.” The stomach churning feeling was back, and Dean wasn’t so sure he wouldn’t be sick again.

 

It’s not awesome. There is absolutely nothing awesome about it, Sammy. Please shut up.

 

“It ain’t as much fun as it sounds,” Dean muttered, hoping that would get Sam to understand on a surface level. It did. He saw the microscopic change in Sam’s body language, saw his face fall just slightly, and suddenly Sam’s gigantor presence was back at the table.

 

“What does that mean?” Sam’s face was neutral, but Dean could see something underneath the calm surface. Some kind of dark understanding that made the churning upgrade to a twisting sensation that was less uncomfortable and more painful. 

 

Dean opened his mouth to speak, before licking his lips and finding he had nothing to say. So he shook his head and shrugged.

 

“Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. Ignore it.” Dean went back to looking at the computer, but Sam snapped it shut in front of him. Dean blanched up at his brother.

 

“What does that mean?” Sam repeated, stronger than before, and Dean knew there was no way to avoid this. Dean stood up and moved to sit on the bed, running a hand down his face and he tousled with the idea of actually telling Sam about any of this. Sam followed, sitting about a foot away from Dean, sensing he wanted space.

 

“Last August, Dad was on a ghoul gig, I went solo. Down in Missouri. Three men dead, my age. Same as these guys, scratch marks, bite marks, death by exhaustion. And they’d all had sex before they died. All seen with a woman before they vanished.” Dean wasn’t going to look at his brother while he told this story, wasn’t going to watch the complex emotions cross Sam’s face as he processed all of this information.

 

“I figure, the logical trap is to bait her right? So I head to the local dive bar and I hang around for a while. Around one am this chick comes up to me at the bar.” Sam doesn’t miss the way Dean’s entire body goes tense now, his muscles rolling against the strain.

 

“I knew it was her. I knew what she was. What I didn’t know is that her singing was poisonous.” Dean goes silent for a moment, and Sam doesn’t fill it. He’s going to let Dean do this at his own pace.

 

“I felt my mind turn to jelly but it could still think. It was like I had to do everything she told me, I had to listen to her, but I was still me under it all.”

 

“She took me to the next building over, this abandoned apartment building. We went upstairs and into one of the rooms.” Dean wiped his sweaty palms off on the thighs of his jeans, staring at the wall across from him as he ignored the sound of his blood rushing in his ears.

 

“Come on in, prince.” She cooed, and despite him screaming and pounding away at the wall, his body stepped into the room. She closed the door behind him.

 

“We were in there for about a minute before I broke through her mind control, or at least I thought I had.” Sam looked confused at that, but Dean wasn’t done.

 

Dean gasped greedily as he returned to his body, slumping to his knees. The woman, Carlina she called herself, slinked forward and placed a finger under his chin to lift his head.

 

He barely had a second to react before she kneed him hard in the chest, sending him hard onto his back on the wood floor. Dean panicked and hurried to lift himself up, but she was quick to climb on top of him. She straddled his waist, her hands gripping his wrists as they launched at her face.

 

“Do sit still, darling. You’re only making this harder on yourself.” She soothed, slamming his hands down into the wood above his head. Dean groaned as she positioned them so they were pinned together under one of her own, taking her free hand to tug the hem of his shirt up.

 

“I think I’m going to enjoy this. I think you will too. If you allow yourself to.” Carlina whispered, leaning down to mouth along his neck. Dean groaned uncomfortably, shifting under her weight. She took it as a sign of pleasure.

 

“See? We’re gonna have so much fun together.” He tugged roughly on his hands, desperate to pull them out of her grip, but she was far stronger than him. In response, she dug her nails into his wrists, causing him to cry out. With her free hand, she trailed a finger along his waistband, never taking her eyes off of his face.

 

Lips connected with his and he clenched his jaw, wishing he could break this bitches neck. She crushed his wrists even tighter, drawing blood as her sharp nails broke the skin, and Dean gasped, which gave her the opportunity she needed to jam her tongue down his throat. He gagged, bucking underneath her weight to try and throw her off of him. 

 

She moaned in pleasure and he froze, fists clenched so hard his nails dug into his palms. Her free hand had begun to work on his belt buckle, and Dean groaned in agony as she moved to gently bite along his collarbone. The belt came loose with a gentle tug, and he heard it hit the floor on the other side of the room. His flannel lay open on either side of his torso, shirt hem pulled up above his abdomen, and she began fiddling with the button of his jeans. 

 

That was when Dean checked out. He was still very present. Very aware and very alert. But he ignored her. Instead, he stared at the ceiling and hoped to god that she would just kill him when she was finished.

 

Minutes in, she leaned down to kiss him again as he felt the energy be sucked out of his body. It was a stupid plan. But he didn’t have any other ideas. So even though it killed him to do it, he released his jaw for her, letting her tongue in, before clamping his teeth down hard. There was a squish and an inhuman screech as she jerked up and away from his face, removing her hands to cover her face which was now gushing blood. He spat the muscle and blood out of his mouth, using his now free hands to grab the silver knife from his boot. He didn’t hesitate to plunge it deep into her heart.

 

She screeched louder, nearly an ear-piercing wail, before some kind of orange blast happened and her body slumped to the right and off of him. He took a moment to just heave in some heavy breaths, try to collect himself, and breathe. Finally, he managed to pull himself to his feet and catalog his injuries, though he stumbled.

 

Bite marks on his neck that were still bleeding, nail marks on his wrists, energy sapped that may or may not ever come back. He could handle this. He collected himself, pulling his clothes back on properly before he realized he had to deal with the body.

 

Sam stared back at his now trembling brother in shock. The kind of shock that gave him a wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights, kicked puppy look. Dean still wouldn’t look at Sam, staring intently at his hands as if he could force them to stop shaking.

 

“Dean…” Sam started, before he silenced himself, because what do you even say to that?

 

“Dad came back a week later and my energy had recovered. He never knew anything, and it’s gonna stay that way when we find him, am I understood?” Dean ordered, finally looking up at his brother. Sam was staring at Dean so intently that Dean felt like an ant under a magnifying glass.

 

“Yeah. I won’t say anything. But, Dean, why didn’t you come to see me at school? I mean, this must’ve messed you up, I would’ve helped.” Sam seemed so genuine that Dean nearly cracked right then and there.

 

“You were out Sammy. What was I supposed to do? Show up on your porch after two years of radio silence barely standing and tell you I got-” Dean cut himself off. He’d still never said it before. It was an evil word.

 

“Say it.” Sam challenged, turning further to face his brother. Dean closed his eyes tiredly.

 

“Sam…” Dean sighed. Why did Sam always have to push these things?

 

“No, Dean. Say it. Tell me what happened to you.” Sam pressed further, knowing he was poking the bear. Dean tensed further, his fists clenched in his lap, remaining silent.

 

“It’s not a bad word, Dean. It’s just a word. Tell me what happened to you.” Sam repeated, eyes not leaving his brother’s face. Dean scoffed, and Sam could tell he was getting angry. But he intended to keep poking this bear. This bear needed a good poke.

 

“Sam, stop,” Dean warned, and the warning was genuine. Dean didn’t want to blow up on his brother. That was the last thing he wanted.

 

“Tell me what happened to you,” Sam repeated once more, ever so calm. Dean shoved himself off the bed, his hand going to run through his hair.

 

“Damnit, Sam!” Dean snapped, his chest heaving up and down, and Sam could see how close they were.

 

“Dean,” Sam started, standing up as well and moving to stand in front of his very agitated brother. Dean met Sam’s eyes with pain behind them so clear it nearly halted Sam’s actions. But Dean needed this.

 

“Tell me what happened to you.” Sam pressed, resting two hands on Dean’s shoulders. Dean huffed out a gasp of breath, and with it went all his strength, all his bravado. Sam saw the moment the crack formed. He’d broken through.

 

“She raped me,” Dean whispered, so silent Sam barely heard it. But he did hear it, and his heart stuttered.

 

“She raped me, Sammy.” Dean’s body shuttered as his energy left him, and a sob formed in his chest. Sam saw it coming before it came, pulling his brother into his arms. Dean’s fists clenched around the flannel of Sam’s shirt, his face buried in his little brother’s shoulder.

 

Sam wrapped strong arms around Dean, holding him as tight as humanly possible, as the dam finally fell. The cries broke through slowly at first before they devolved into miserable, hysterical sobs that pained Sam’s heart in a way it never had before.

 

“I’ve got you. I’m here.” Sam assured his brother, rubbing a hand up and down Dean’s back, wishing to god he could do anything to fix this. Wishing he could kill their father for causing this. Wishing he could kill that monster for hurting his brother. But all he could do now was pick up the pieces of his brother that they left behind.

 

When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough you can fix it. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t just break. They shatter. Had Dean been shattered? Sam hoped to god he hadn’t.

 

They remained in that position for another ten minutes, before Dean managed to run out of tears. Sam offered to get them some food, guessing that Dean would want a little space after his mini-breakdown. Dean nodded, telling Sam he’d be in the shower.

 

Sam settled himself in the impala’s driver seat with a weary sigh. He sat there in silence for at least three minutes, just trying to process everything he’d learned that morning. It seemed impossible for the big brother, the big, brave, invincible brother that Sam had been looking up to his whole life to have such a vulnerable moment. To have such trauma and impossible mortality. 

 

When he returned with food Dean was still in the shower, even though Sam had been gone for over thirty minutes. Sam sighed once more, setting the food down and sitting on the edge of his bed. He hunched over, burying his face in his hands and taking a deep breath.

 

Sam didn’t know how to help his brother through this. They’d never talked about anything like this before, neither of them had ever had to. Sure Sam had that thing at Stanford but that wasn’t anything, that was almost anything and he didn’t count it, even though Jess liked to make a big deal out of it.

 

And sure, Sam had wanted to call his big brother, had wanted to have him hold him and tell him he was safe now. But he didn’t. And now he’s glad he didn’t because at the same time Dean was going through a hell that Sam couldn’t even begin to understand.

 

And neither of them thought they could call the other. That’s how fucked their relationship had gotten that year. 

 

Dean comes out of the bathroom in a t-shirt and jeans and Sam takes the opportunity to look down at his brother’s wrists, finding them encircled by short, white crescents. Sam’s stomach flips, and he pulls his eyes away.

 

“Are you okay?” Sam asked, knowing Dean had probably put his walls back up while he showered. He was surprised to find he was wrong. Dean glances at Sam, takes in his brother’s hunched form and genuine expression of concern before he softly shakes his head and falls onto the edge of the bed, mirroring his brother’s position.

 

Sam watched Dean warily. This was new territory for him. Dean was admitting weakness at every turn, he was breaking out in tears, he was having panic attacks. Sam wasn’t sure how to handle this Dean. But he was going to try.

 

“How can I help?” Sam asked, glancing over at his brother. Dean’s shoulders slumped and he shrugged.

 

“Let’s just finish this job and get outta dodge, okay? Then you can shrink me all you want.” Dean stood from the bed and began rummaging through his duffel for John’s journal. He opened it to the right page and tossed it to Sam.

 

The page was open to all of John’s information about Succubi. Sam winced, glancing up at Dean, who had moved to the computer once more. Sam thumbed through the lore, not having the stomach for most of it. 

 

A succubus is a demon or supernatural entity in folklore, in female form, that appears to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. According to religious traditions, repeated sexual activity with a succubus can cause poor physical or mental health, even death.

 

Sam felt the acid rise in his throat, but he pushed it down and turned to last August in John’s journal. He was curious to see if John noticed anything off about Dean’s behavior when they were reunited after their respective solo hunts.

 

Met up with Dean in Sioux Falls yesterday. The kid beat a werewolf all by himself. Pretty impressive.

 

Sam skimmed the page as John described the hunt he and Dean were currently on before he found what he was looking for.

 

I placed my hand on Dean’s wrist earlier to get his attention and he jerked it away so fast I thought I’d burned him. Did something happen while I was gone? He’s been acting strange since we met up. Jumpy, erratic, agitated. I’ll get to the bottom of it.

 

Sam’s stomach flipped at the image of Dean flinching so heavily away from his own father before he kept reading.

 

There’s something in that kid’s eyes. Some kind of pain. Different than before. Darker. This isn’t about Mary or missing Sammy anymore. The boy’s been through hell while I was away. Tried to ask him about it and he launched a beer at my head.

 

Sam looked up at Dean across the room, and he wonders if Dean himself ever searched for this entry. Surely he must have. Sam can see it now, the way the trauma sits in Dean’s bones. His jaw is clenched underneath where it rests in his hand, elbow propped up on the table. His shoulders are tense, fist clenched as one finger controls the mousepad of the laptop. Sam can practically see it weighing his brother down. 

 

“Alright, so what do we know?” Sam spoke up, breaking the silence that Dean had seemingly engulfed himself in. He felt guilty when Dean flinched slightly, turning to look at his brother.

 

“Silver blade to the heart, not much else,” Dean muttered, turning back to the computer. Silence fell upon them once more, and this time Sam let it be. 

 

They found the thing pretty easy, but getting to it was another issue. Sam was adamant that Dean not go anywhere near the damn thing. ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough of these things?’ And Dean was adamant that that’s exactly why it should be him they use as bait. ‘If something happens, I’ve been there, I can handle it. I won’t let them hurt you too, Sammy, I can’t. Not you too.’

 

The crack in Dean’s voice as he begged, ‘Not you too,’ was what broke through Sam’s resolve and he begrudgingly agreed, but he would be no more than fifteen feet away at all times. Dean quickly agreed.

 

And that is how they ended up at a bar, with Dean doing shots and Sam on the other side keeping a wary eye on his brother. Both of them noticed the woman before she spoke.

 

“Evening, sugar.” She purred, sitting down on the stool next to Dean. Sam saw the microscopic tension in his brother’s jaw, but he couldn’t move yet, or a lot of people in this bar would die.

 

“Evening, doll face. How are you doing?” Dean turned so he was fully facing the woman- no, the monster - and she grinned.

 

“I’m doing just fine. How about we get out of here?” She paused, leaning in real close to whisper in Dean’s ear, “I know the best spot.”

 

Dean’s whole body was tense, but he managed to loosen up enough to seem pliant. He nodded, a smirk on his face as he eyed the woman hungrily. She trailed her hand down his arm until their hands connected and she gave a gentle tug, leading him out the back door. Dean glanced back at Sam, nodding. Sam followed, keeping enough distance that she wouldn’t get suspicious.

 

When they reached the back alley, which was surprisingly well cared for, she turned so she could corner Dean against the brick wall behind him. Dean’s back hit the wall with a barely audible thud, and his heart was pounding, which he knew she could hear. Luckily, she took it as a sign of enthusiasm.

 

She ran her palm up to his neck and behind his head until her hand found purchase of his hair, holding his head back against the bricks.

 

“Are you gonna be a good boy for me?” She whispered breathlessly, her face so close to his he could feel her breath on his cheek. He chuckled once, before letting his silver blade fall out of his sleeve enough to grip the hilt.

 

“Sorry babe, I’ve had enough.” He growled, plunging the blade deep into her heart. She gasped, her eyes going wide with shock and pain. Her grip on his hair loosened just as Sam rounded the corner with his knife out.

 

The orange blast hit them as her body slumped to the floor, and Dean gasped out a heavy breath, slumping against the wall, letting his knife clatter to the asphalt.

 

“Dean?” Sam called out, hesitantly approaching his brother. He had no way of knowing just how out of it Dean was, how far he could push the boundaries right now.

 

Dean looked up at Sam with some kind of toxic mix of panic and relief covering his face, before his knees gave out and he crumpled the rest of the way to the floor.

 

“Dean!” Sam yelled, hurrying over to his brother. Sam kicked the corpse out of the way, crouching in front of Dean, placing his hands on his brother’s cheeks, and forcing Dean to face him.

 

“Look at me, De,” Sam ordered gently, and Dean’s eyes seemed to regain a bit of awareness at the nickname, and they settled on Sam’s own. Sam breathed a sigh of relief, pulling one hand from Dean’s face to run through his brother’s hair.

 

“We gotta deal with this body, then we’ll get outta dodge, okay? I promise. You with me?” Sam asked, steadying Dean with a hand on his shoulder. Dean took a minute to find the answer to that, before he nodded loosely, using the wall to pull himself to his feet.

 

“C’mon. I’ve got you. The car’s just out front.” Sam lead the way, the body bridal style in his arms before he dumped her carelessly in the trunk. Dean was in the passenger seat, clearly in no state to drive, so Sam climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. The familiar roar of the engine coming to life seemed to wake Dean up a bit more, and he turned to look at Sam.

 

“We leavin’?” He asked, still seeming a little out of it. Sam nodded determinedly, pulling the car out of the lot. 

 

“We’re leaving. I’ll handle her, you just go inside and start packing. We’ll leave tonight, if that’s what you want, okay? Unless you want to sleep first.” Sam was so caring that normally Dean would smack him upside the head. But this wasn’t normal and Dean was even sure he was Dean right now. 

 

“Leave now,” Dean muttered, climbing out of the car and heading into the motel room to shower first. 

 

By the time Sam returned corpse free Dean had packed the whole room and was practically bouncing on his toes with anticipation to get out of town. Sam packed the car, before he stopped everything, putting a steady hand on his brother’s shoulder. 

 

“Are you okay?” Sam asked, staring into Dean’s eyes intently. Dean hesitated, before he shook his head, not returning Sam’s gaze. Sam released his breath, pulling Dean in for a hug. Dean allowed the contact, which only concerned Sam more. Arms braced against each other, Dean’s face smushed into Sam’s shoulder, Sam made his brother a promise.

 

“Nothing like this is ever going to happen to you again. I swear. I’m watching out for you now.” Sam promised, wishing he could hold Dean like this forever. Because right now he didn’t feel like he was hugging his twenty-six-year-old brother. He felt like he was hugging the fourteen-year-old he watched beat the crap out of a bully to protect his baby brother. Dean was painfully young right now, and Sam sometimes forgot that Dean was still just a kid.

 

“Thanks.” Came Dean’s muffled reply from Sam’s shoulder, before they pulled apart. Dean patted Sam’s shoulder as he passed him, and then they were on the road. They weren’t quite sure where they were going. Just that they wanted out of Willmar.

 

They ended up a few towns over in Fergus Falls, holed up in another motel. Dean was pretty wiped from the events of the day, so he went straight to bed when they arrived. Sam decided it best to let sleeping dogs lie, so he flicked off the lamp and rolled over so he was facing Dean. No way was he taking his eyes off of his brother tonight.

 

Sam was woken up around one in the morning to the sounds of broken whimpering and a creaking bed. He flicked the lamp back on, looking over to find Dean moaning as he shifted restlessly against the mattress. His face was creased in pain as sweat drenched his skin and hair, fists clenched so tight his knuckles were paling.

 

Sam climbed out of bed and moved over to Dean’s, resting a hand on his brother’s shoulder and giving the gentlest shake he could. Dean didn’t wake, he only whined and curled further in on himself. Sam’s heart clenched tighter, shaking a bit harder. Dean’s eyes shot open as he gasped in a lungful of air, jerking upright so fast he nearly head-butted his brother.

 

“Woah! Dean, it’s okay. It’s okay, you’re safe. Just take a breath.” Sam assured him, hand still resting on Dean’s shoulder. Dean registered the contact a second later, and he jerked his shoulder back like it had been burned.

 

“Don’t touch me!” Dean growled, scooting away from Sam, who now held both hands up in surrender. 

 

“Okay, it’s okay. It’s just me, Dean. Just breathe.” Dean’s eyes raked Sam up and down, and when it seemed to register that it was, in fact, only his baby brother in front of him, some of the tension in his shoulders began to let up.

 

“Are you alright?” Sam asked, watching Dean’s heaving chest begin to slow back to a normal pace. Dean glared at him because god what a stupid question, before letting his head drop to his chest, arms wrapped around his knees.

 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” Dean muttered, wiping some sweat from his neck. Sam shook his head earnestly, hating that Dean was the one apologizing for scaring him .

 

“I’m fine. Do you wanna talk about it?” Sam was sure he already knew the answer, but he wouldn’t be Sam if he didn’t try. Dean silently shook his head, raising it from his chest just to drop it back against the wall behind him.

 

“Do you wanna go back to sleep?” Again, Dean shook his head, and Sam wasn’t sure how else to help. He didn’t know what Dean needed this time. This was still so new for him.

 

“Breakfast? Then we can do whatever you want. Maybe go shoot something if that’ll help. Or we could go stay with Bobby for a few days if you need it. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.” Sam suggested, and Dean’s eyes flashed with something Sam didn’t understand at the mention of Bobby. 

 

“Yeah, yeah let’s go see Bobby,” Dean responded, closing his eyes, and for a moment Sam thought he’d fall back asleep right there.

 

“Really?”

 

“I need,” Dean’s voice broke, and he paused, licking his lips and looking down at Sam. “I need a break, Sammy.”

 

“Okay. Bobby’s it is. Let’s hit the road.” Sam stood from the bed, stepping outside to give Bobby a heads up. Not that they couldn’t just show up unannounced whenever they wanted, but with Dean in this state, a warning was best. 

 

“Rufus, you bastard, this better not be you.” Bobby’s gruff voice picked up on the first ring, and Sam sighed as a warm smile graced his face.

 

“Nah, Bobby, it’s me.” He responded, hoping Bobby would be as happy to talk to him as Sam was.

 

“Sam? Where the hell have you been? Dean told me about your girl, and I’ve been worried sick. Would it kill you to pick up the phone every once in a while?” Bobby put on his dad voice, and Sam ignored the pang of guilt at the mention of Jess.

 

“Bobby, I’m picking up the phone now. Listen, can we stay with you for a few days?” Sam asked, already knowing the answer. Bobby Singer would never, could never say no to these boys.

 

“Of course. What is it? You boys alright?” The elder sounded worried now, and Sam wondered how to explain this without breaking Dean’s wishes to keep this between them.

 

“Not really. It’s Dean, Bobby, he-” Sam broke off, biting his lip as tears built in his eyes. He wasn’t going to break now.

 

“Is he hurt?” Bobby asked, full battle mode now. 

 

“No. Not in the way you think. But it’s bad, and I don’t- Bobby, I don’t know what to do.” Sam begged, hoping that Dean wasn’t spying on him.

 

“It’s alright, son. That’s why I’m here. Bad how?” 

 

“Nightmares, drinking, crying, panic attacks, I’m pretty sure he’s got some kind of post-traumatic stress. He’s letting me hug him, he’s letting me drive the car, the other day he freaked out so bad he puked. And from what he told me I’m not surprised. This is messed up, Bobby. A whole new territory that I don’t know how to help.” Sam allowed one single tear to fall down his cheek before he pinched the bridge of his nose to stem the flow of the rest. He heard Bobby’s sharp intake of breath and silent cursing in the background. 

 

“How far out are you?” Bobby asked, and Sam could hear the concern tainting his voice. And he took a moment to thank every god out there for Bobby Singer.

 

“About three hours. Two and a half if I hurry.” Sam sniffed, turning to look through the window, finding the room empty, but the light seeping through underneath the bathroom door. Dean must be showering again.

 

“Then hurry. I’ll see you boys soon.” Bobby promised before they hung up. Sam took a moment to collect himself, finding comfort in the knowledge that Bobby would know what to do before he went back inside.

 

They were on the road fifteen minutes later, Dean silent once more, staring out the window at the pine trees whizzing past. Sam felt the worry and anxiety gnawing at him, but they were only a few hours out of Bobby’s so he ignored it for now.

 

By the time they pulled up at Bobby’s porch, the sun had started to rise, casting the junkyard in a peaceful orange glow. Bobby greeted them at the door.

 

“Boys. Good seeing you.” The elder said, pulling them in for a hug. Sam melted into the embrace, letting the anxiety ease for this small little moment. But Bobby could feel how tense Dean was. How on edge.

 

“C’mon in, make yourselves at home. I’ll grab beers.” Sam and Dean made their way into the living room, and Sam situated himself on the couch, while Dean leaned against the doorway with his arms crossed, still tight as a spring.

 

“Dean,” Bobby spoke up, setting the beers down and walking up until he was dead in front of Dean’s face. Dean refused to make eye contact with the man, choosing to stare at the floor instead. Bobby placed both hands on Dean’s shoulders, and Dean tensed further at first, because hands hands hands , before he relaxed minutely under the touch. These hands have never once harmed him. These hands are good.

 

“Son,” Bobby spoke again, and Dean’s eyes shot up, connecting with Bobby’s. Bobby could see the pain in Dean’s eyes, could feel the agony under the boy’s skin. He’d been burned, bad. 

 

“You can relax. You’re safe here. Safe .” Bobby insisted, pressing on the last word. Dean’s eyes welled up as his muscles began to loosen further.

 

“It’s gonna be okay, son. Your brother and I, we’ve got you. It’s safe .” Dean’s muscles fell apart, and he sobbed once more as he collapsed in his pseudo father’s arms. Bobby caught him with ease, rubbing his hand up Dean’s back.

 

“It’ll be okay. It’s safe.” Sam watched in awe as Bobby broke through to Dean in a way that John never could. Dean trusted Bobby so completely, so wholly that he would break down crying in his arms and know that there would be no judgment. No belittlement, no lecture. Just understanding and caring. And why couldn’t John ever give that to them?

 

When Dean had cried himself out again, Bobby moved him so that he was sitting next to Sam on the couch, who subconsciously scooted closer to his brother. Dean scooted back so that the two boys’ shoulders were touching. If Bobby noticed the movement, he didn’t comment. The elder pulled up a chair, sitting two feet in front of the boys.

 

“Now, can one of you boys tell me what’s going on here? I can’t help if I don’t understand.” Bobby asked gently, not really expecting to get an answer. He looked at Dean first, whose eyes were fixed on the floor. He then turned to Sam, who bit his lip and glanced at Dean.

 

“He asked me not to.” Sam shrugged, but Dean spoke up.

 

“It’s okay, Sammy. You can tell him.” Dean’s voice was so weary that Sam almost felt tired just listening to him. He watched Dean for a moment for confirmation, before turning back to Bobby, who was waiting patiently for his answer.

 

“Um, last August while I was at school, dad was on a ghoul hunt so Dean went solo. And he ended up having a showdown with a succubus.” Sam stopped there, not feeling it necessary to say the whole thing, seeing as Dean already flinched so hard at the beginning of the story.

 

Bobby’s entire face fell, and his head dropped as he tried to take in what Sam had said. He looked back up to gaze at Dean, trying to understand. It made sense in hindsight.

 

Dean was hunched over on the couch, head down as he stared intently at the floor, refusing to look at anyone. His hands were bundled in his lap but his fists were clenched, and he was huddled so close to his brother that their shoulders rubbed together every time they moved. 

 

Damn it .

 

“Is it dead?” Bobby hated to be a drill sergeant but if it wasn’t dead then that meant it had Dean’s scent and-

 

“Yes, sir,” Dean assured him, nodding from his hunched-over spot on the couch.

 

“Good. You boys were right to come here. Stay for as long as you need, recover. The safest place on earth, this property.” Bobby smiled despite the agony clenching at his heart, and he patted the boys’ knees as he stood up to grab the beers he’d set aside earlier.

 

He didn’t miss the way Dean downed his bottle in fifteen seconds flat, probably too overwhelmed by his own vulnerability right now. He also didn’t miss Sam, not even touching his drink, instead staring absently at the lip of the glass as though it were the answer to all of life’s questions.

 

Boy, he had his work cut out for him. He moved to make lunch, while Dean headed out to work on the car and Sam started rummaging through Bobby’s lore book collection. Typical. Once the food was done, Bobby figured he’d talk to Sam first. 

 

“Hey, boy. How are you holding up?” Bobby asked, setting both plates down on his desk and sitting on the couch next to Sam, who was knee-deep in a pile of lore books.

 

“Oh, I’m fine, Bobby. Just worried about Dean. I’ve never seen him like this before.” Sam muttered, not stopping his reading while he spoke. Bobby understood the want for distraction, but he wished Sam would engage with him.

 

“You know Dean. He’ll bounce back.” Bobby assured him, taking his lunch and beginning to eat. Sam sighed, falling back to rest on his ankles, still staring down at the book though his reading had paused.

 

“I don’t know, Bobby. This is different. We’ve never talked about this kind of thing before.” Sam was fidgeting with the corner of the page he was currently on, eyes lost somewhere else.

 

“Well, you never had a reason to, son.” Bobby means it, but Sam only laughs in an angry, sarcastic tone, setting the book down with a harsh thud.

 

“What is it, Sam?” Bobby’s senses were dialed up to eleven as he watched Sam warily.

 

“I should’ve called him. Maybe if I’d called him then he would’ve called me. Maybe he would’ve known he could call me.” Sam muttered, rubbing his eyes with his right hand.

 

“Sam, what are you talking about?” Bobby asked, setting his plate aside and sitting forward, fully invested in Sam right now. Sam hesitated, looking back at Bobby.

 

“Nothing,” Sam sighed, waving a hand vaguely. “I just wish Dean would’ve called me. I would’ve come running, and he should’ve been able to trust that.” 

 

Bobby frowned, watching Sam go back to the books, clearly indicating that the conversation was over. He watched the youngest for a moment, before standing from the couch and heading outside to find Dean. This might be a bit more complicated.

 

“Dean?” Bobby called, before hearing a thud, followed by ‘Ow ! Shit.’ And then Dean was sliding out from under his Baby, covered in grease and sweat, a grimace on his face as the sun blinded him.

 

“Need something, old man?” Dean remarked, pulling himself to his feet and wiping his hands on a rag.

 

“Wanted to check on you. Sam in there is a right mess. Can’t imagine you’re much better.” Bobby handed Dean his sandwich, leaning back against the car and crossing his arms as he watched Dean suspiciously. At some point, this was going to stop being so easy. Someday soon Dean was going to shut down on them and put up his walls, and Bobby was not looking forward to it.

 

“I’m alright. Better, now that we’re here. Like you said, this place is safe, right?” Dean shrugged, taking a bite of his sandwich and copying Bobby’s movements to lean against the car. 

 

“Dean, you know it ain’t that easy. Being safe ain’t all there is. That melon of yours gotta be all kinds of twisted right now.” Bobby was hesitant to be so blunt, but sometimes that was just the way to talk to Dean. Dean flinched, looking down at the sandwich like it had offended him.

 

“Yeah, it’s… it’s twisted. I’m not-” Dean paused, setting the food down and wringing his hands.

 

“Bobby, I’m not sure how to do this.” The admission shocked Bobby so hard he felt chills, but he remained calm, taking care of his boy. 

 

“Well, first things first, you talk. And you talk a lot. I know how you are with that, son, but it will help, I promise. You get all girly and you tell Sam or you tell me your feelings like a chick flick. Second, cry your damn eyes out until you can’t cry no more. I’m serious.” Bobby was leveling with Dean, and it was hard but it needed to be said.

 

“And third, Dean. Listen to me. Sometimes you put these walls up and you shut us out, but you can’t do that, not this time. You hear me?” Bobby placed a steadying hand on Dean’s shoulder, who nodded as he chewed on his inner cheek. 

 

It took weeks, but Dean finally felt ready to leave Bobby’s place. Weeks of nightmares, which Sam always woke him from and helped calm him down. Weeks of crying every few days for no good reason. Weeks of hands hands hands .

 

On their third day there Dean told Bobby the full story. Sam sat on the couch next to his brother, forcing himself to listen to it again, because Dean needed the presence.

 

At the end of the story, Dean, gaze locked on the wood floor, manages to get out, “She raped me.” And then he breaks down crying once more, and he falls over into Sam’s arms, who holds him and reminds him that ‘this place is safe .’ Bobby watches his boys, one completely destroyed by the worst thing that he’s ever been through, crumpled in his baby brother’s lap like a little kid and sobbing heartily; the other, trying his best to be brave because finally, it’s him who’s needed, finally he’s the one who needs to be strong, but Bobby can see the torture on his face as he watches his big brother fall to pieces in his hands.

 

Bobby silently leaves the room, giving the two of them privacy and space to just be with each other and be safe. 

 

Three weeks later Dean insists on getting back on the road. Claims he ‘doesn’t wanna be pampered anymore.’ And that’s when Bobby sees it. The wall’s back up. The vulnerability that Dean’s been showing this month that Bobby had never seen before, it’s gone. Bobby takes one look at Sam and knows he sees it too. So they say their goodbyes and get gone.

 

And Bobby finds himself wishing they would stay forever.