Title: Trapped
By: elfin
Pairing: Sam/Dean
Rating: PG-13

He wakes sweating, heart racing, the memory of a scream on his lips.  There's a harsh, natural wind outside shaking the window in its frame.  It must have been what triggered the nightmare in his subconscious, he thinks.  Turning, he looks over to the other motel bed.  The moonlight seeping in through the cheap, thin curtains catch in stone green eyes.

"Nightmare, Sammy?"

He throws the cover back from his arms and chest, suddenly too hot as the sickening dread of the dream begins to fade.  "Yeah."


He turns onto his side and moves his head.  "No.  The past."

"Jess?"  Dean's voice is barely audible. 

"You," he whispers, "in the cabin."  The demon in their Dad's body, squeezing the life from his brother, crushing his heart, doing fatal damage to his liver and kidneys, the blood pumping from his skin, through his shirt, dripping from his lips….  He takes a deep breath, trying to wipe the vivid memories from his mind.  "I couldn't save you, couldn't do anything to help you.  All I could do was watch and watching you die is the very last thing I ever want to do."

He expects a sarcastic retort or an embarrassed shrug, his words brushed away.  But instead his brother reaches across the wide gap between the two narrow beds and surprised, Sam meets his hand halfway, grasping hold of it, squeezing gently.  He stares at their fingers, Dean's thumb stroking his own, and when he refocuses on his brother's face, he sees tears blurring the previously sharp glint in his eyes.

"Dean…."  In a second he's out of his own bed and crossing the space to crouch next to the other one, sliding his arm under Dean's shoulders, Dean's arms coming up around his neck.  It's the most vulnerable he's ever seen his brother and it's a scary thought.  Dean's the strong one, the macho one, the one who's been facing off demons and evil spirits since he was five years old.  Sam's the one who ran away from it all, who has the nightmares and cries at the gravesides of the ones they didn't save.

Now Dean's falling apart on him, shattering under the weight of the responsibilities he's had to carry, the burden he's had to shoulder since Sam was too young to know his older brother was willing to die for him.  He can feel the shaking body in his arms, trembling with the need to keep it together.

"Let go," he murmurs into his brother's ear, "let me carry it for a while."

"No…."  The pain is in his voice which is already breaking.

"Yes.  I can take it, Dean.  Let go."

Still, for a few long minutes there's nothing but silence and rain against the window.  Then the damn collapses and the silence is interrupted by the low hacking sound of Dean's hard sobs.  He wraps his arms tighter around broad shoulders and strokes Dean's hair like he remembers their Dad stroking his when he was younger, when he was ill or upset.

It's a long, long time before the sobs subside and the silence starts to creep back in.  Dean tries to break away but Sam holds on, laying an open palm against a rough cheek and jaw.  "Don't."  He climbs up onto the bed, his back against the headboard, and pulls with him until they're settled, Dean leaning into his chest and shoulder.

"Do I look like Elisha Cuthbert?" Dean mutters under his breath, but Sam ignores him like he thinks he's supposed to.  He isn't exactly being pushed away and there's no struggle to get out of his arms.

"Go back to sleep," Sam tells his brother softly.

And Dean responds, "Wasn't sleeping." 

"You can now.  It's safe now."

Again, Dean's retort should be as predictable as the sunrise but instead he takes a deep, shuddering breath and moves his head against Sam's neck.  "It's never safe, Sammy.  It'll never be safe."

Sam knows he's right, but he has to have the illusion of safety, and these motel rooms are the only places the illusion holds up.  He sweeps one big hand over Dean's hair, soothing out the angles, and breathes, "Go to sleep," once again.  Dean doesn't answer this time, and Sam realises a moment later that his brother is already snoring softly.