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Title: He Ain't Heavy
Rating: G
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing/Characters: Sam, Dean
Spoilers: vague for the end of season 5; ignores season 6
Warnings: none
Word Count: 813
Summary: They never talk about what happened, never cross that line into territory that will leave them both raw and aching by the time they're done talking, and they don't need to.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the Supernatural universe. It is the property of Eric Kripke/the CW Network. This story was not written for profit and no offense is meant to anyone.
Note: The title of this comes from a song by The Hollies.



When they were little, it had usually fallen to Dean to comfort Sam whenever a nightmare woke him in the middle of the night, even on the rare occasions that John hadn't just stayed at the motel with them long enough to check in and get them settled with food and a little bit of money just in case. It wasn't that John didn't care about his younger son's nightmares. He just always seemed to sleep heavier on the nights when he wasn't hunting because, let's face it, being a 'lone wolf' has its disadvantages. Dean never really minded, though, except for a few awkward nights during that period of time when most boys their age would balk at the very thought of comforting a frightened sibling or being scared in the first place. Once that initial awkwardness wore off, it became just another thing that Dean did for his little brother until the nightmares became a thing of the past.

Their roles reversed when Dean came back from Hell, though the comfort didn't come nearly as easily as it had before. What happened to Dean down in the Pit had changed him - 'carved him into a new animal', if Alastair's taunting was to be believed - made him more closed off than usual and even less willing to talk about anything that fell under the category of 'chick flick moments'. There were more than a few nights where Sam would end up with one body part or another bruised from Dean lashing out as soon as Sam tried to wake him, but Sam never once complained. After one particularly violent nightmare left Sam with a broken nose that had him laying low until it healed, Bobby had asked him why he didn't just let Dean deal with the nightmares on his own.

Sam's only response had been "He's my brother. He did it for me when I was little and I know he'd do it again if it came down to that, so I kind of owe him."

Two years later, it does 'come down to that' when Sam comes back from Hell not even a full day after he jumped into Lucifer's cage. Dean's never going to be sure just how much time had passed in Hell, and he really doesn't want to think about it anymore than he absolutely has to, but it was more than enough to leave a few mental scars. They never talk about what happened, never cross that line into territory that will leave them both raw and aching by the time they're done talking, and they don't need to. Not yet, because Dean can see just how broken Sam is, even if he can't see it himself, and his first priority right now is to help his brother regain even a little of his former sanity.

It starts with small things - letting Sam drive more often so he can feel like he has some control over what's happening to him now or even falling back on the old 'standard' of crawling into his bed at night, holding him as tightly as he can and whispering soothing words into Sam's hair whenever a nightmare interrupts their sleep. The nightmares happen almost every night, and every time, Sam drops off into a more peaceful sleep as soon as he calms down. Sometimes, Dean will stay awake the rest of the night, sitting up in bed just so he can watch Sam and make sure he's alright. Other times, he'll allow himself to go back to sleep, still holding Sam because he knows how comforting it can be to wake up feeling so completely safe after a rough night.

The routine isn't perfect and Dean knows damn well how fucked up they've both become over the past year alone, but for those few hours, he can pretend that everything's okay. But nearly four months after Sam came back, there's really no sign of the nightmares stopping and Dean's mental charade isn't enough anymore to keep him from worrying whenever he's awake. Part of him thinks that maybe it's the stress of trying to continue on with hunting while Sam recovers from whatever happened in Hell and if he's right, then there's really only one solution. Stop hunting until Sam says he's ready to start up again.

Of course, doing that right will mean settling down in one place for a while and Dean's lived on the road for so long that he's really not sure if he can handle even a half-assed and very temporary attempt at being domestic without going stir-crazy. But he'll do it for Sam and he'll deal with it for however long he has to because he knows in his heart that, even if it involves something that scares the crap out of him, he'd do anything for his brother.

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Guinea Maow

March 2011

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