“It’s like I never left. Like you left this place for me open all this time. And now that I’m back, you’re slotting me right back in there. Did you even try Dean?” Sam asks, frustrated that his brother isn’t taking up his side of this argument that’s been raging between them for days now.
Dean doesn’t say anything, gets up off his bed and grabs a beer out of the green cooler. He drinks half of it down in one long swallow, his back to Sam, obviously thinking about how to somehow respond without responding. “Yeah I tried, lost track of how many times.”
Talking to Dean’s back, watching his shoulders for any response, Sam says, “I don’t mean just one-night stands Dean.”
Dean spins around abruptly, leaning against the dresser for support, “What do you mean then?”
Seeing how unsteady his brother is, either from too much beer or too much conversation, Sam goes a little easy, “Like how I tried, with Jess, to make it work with someone else.” Someone else besides my brother goes unsaid.
“No, not really.” Dean shrugs, looking across the room with his chin lifted and his eyes blazing challenge.
Sam sees that challenge and takes it as is his role as little brother after all, “But you said you would if I did. You promised. I didn’t want you just pining away or whatever while I was gone.”
“Not how it was Sammy.” Dean shakes his head, looks furious and then sadder than Sam’s ever seen.
“It’s Sam. How was it then?” Sam corrects by rote, knowing it won’t ever sink in, just a ritual phrase between them forever and ever. But he’s curious, like rubber-necker on the highway curious, just how bad did it get while he was gone at school? He had tried (and failed) not to think about it too much, it wasn’t up to him anymore.
Dean finishes his beer, throws the bottle into the trash with a solid thunk, “Didn’t see the point.”
“So you just didn’t try?”
“I don’t owe you this. Can’t you just be glad for two seconds that we’re back together?” Dean reaches into the cooler for another bottle.
“I am glad, you have no idea how much. I just want to know.” Sam says, swinging his legs off the bed, bare feet touching the dirty carpet, barely stopping himself from crossing the room to hug the life out of this frustrating idiot that he loves so completely he can barely breathe or think straight anymore.
“What? About how you’re better at normal life than I am? I get it Sam, you win.” Dean drinks from his new bottle of beer, avoiding Sam’s eyes.
“No. It’s not that.” Sam says, sounding evasive even to himself.
“Well, what is it then? You really want to hear about what it was like after you left, how messed up I got? I’m pretty sure you don’t.” Dean sets his beer down on the dresser, crosses his arms and glares. “So messed up Dad even ditched me too.”
Sam can’t take it, seeing Dean close up like this, so he gets up off his bed and is across the room in a few strides, in Dean’s face, “No Dean, he didn’t. That’s not why he’s gone and you know it. Listen, you said to me the night you picked me up at Stanford that you didn’t want to do it alone. Well, I don’t either. I found out I can’t.”
“Seems like you were doing pretty well before I messed things up for you.”
Sam reaches out to grab Dean’s shoulders, shaking him a little, “Cut it out Dean. That’s not how it happened. Whatever Dad’s been hunting all these years finally made a move. It’s got nothing to do with you.” Sam can feel Dean’s body harden under his touch, the walls went up in his eyes a while ago, but now his body’s defenses are online, keeping him out, keeping them separate.
“You keep telling yourself that Sammy, but I’ll never forgive myself for bringing you back into this, you hear me? Never. You got out. But I dragged you back in because I was selfish, and weak.” Dean looks over Sam’s shoulder at his bed, wishing he’d just begged off with a headache and gone to sleep, avoided this whole thing.
“Is that what you think? Really? I knew we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of stuff, but wow dude. You’re so off-base on this. I was a naive fool to think I could ever get out, if I hadn’t tried, Jess would still be alive. You’re the only reason I’m still alive right now, I would have burned up with her in that fire if you hadn’t pulled me out. Guess I’m selfish too, ‘cause I’m pretty damn thankful you came back for me.”
“You really believe all that?” Dean asks, looking up into Sam’s eyes, searching to see the truth that lies behind the words, reading Sam’s face like the committed-to-memory it had to be while Sam was gone all that time.
“Yeah Dean, I do.” Sam says with total conviction, squeezing Dean’s shoulders to make the point.
“You don’t blame me?” Dean asks.
“No. Not for that. For not coming to see me all those years, I blame you for that. Missed you like breathing Dean.” Sam’s face begins to crease with holding in too much emotion.
“I couldn’t Sammy, I knew I wouldn’t be able to let you go again.” Dean says all in rush, wishing he could un-say the words immediately, that giving that up to Sam will just make it all so much worse in the end when he leaves.
Ah there it is, what Sam was looking for. The confession he really wanted to pull out of Dean lying there sparkling between them. Sam’s not stupid, he knows that his brother isn’t the hearts and flowers type of guy, but hearing this, explains everything. Now he can get comfortable again in the space Dean had left open for him all this time. But it’s going to be different, it has to be now, because there’s no Dad between them, he’s somewhere out there, waiting to be found.
Sam knows that Dean doesn’t want to say anymore, that he didn’t want to say any of this at all, so he leans down the last distance between them, seals their lips together so Dean will understand no more words are required. Not for tonight at least.