Title: Two Words
Author: Dhvana
Series: 1) The Monster Under the Bed, 2) A Little Help From Bob, 3) The Temptation of Dean, 4) Questions Without Answers, 5) Don't Lose Your Head, 6) Retribution and Remorse, 7) The Return of an Old Fiend, 8) Undulating Dynamics, 9) Personal Weirdness, 10) On the Road Again, 11) Doubletalk, 12) The Golden Agenda, 13) The Rescue of Dean, 14) Alone, 15) A Learning Experience, 16) A New Life
Rating: PG
Pairing: Sam/Dean, but the Wincest is implied and unrequited (so far)
Summary: Dean's love turns sour.


No matter how many hours he spent in this supposedly 'normal' life, Dean had a feeling he'd never be able to adjust to being just like everyone else. There was too much in his past haunting his present. He knew what was out there lurking in the shadows, making it impossible to pretend the world was a good and safe place to be. He was constantly looking over his shoulder waiting for the worst to happen, for something dark to strike out at him. He was suspicious of every chill that ran down his spine, of all the things that went bump in the night, of every time he felt like someone was watching.

Of course, someone usually was watching--coy eyes brightened with mascara, concerned eyes lined with motherly wrinkles, calculating eyes narrowed with curiosity--but never the thing hiding around the corner waiting to jump him that he'd come to expect. Days passed in this peaceful little town--uneventful, normal, boring days--but he couldn't settle down, no matter how hard he tried. The problem with spending a lifetime having to be aware of everything and everyone around him was that he didn't know how to let his guard down. Fran and Shelley were the only two he could even remotely pretend to be himself around--everything else was an act.

But he didn't give up.

If he was going to stick around, he was going to have to try to fit in. He'd already learned that a bit of charm and a smile would guarantee him a huge tip at work from the women, or that a bit of comradely ribbing would get him one from the men, but there were always those who didn't buy his shtick. Those he kept an eye on, just in case, but it usually came to nothing. They ended up simply being the kind of tightwad who would leave ten percent no matter what and were watching him to find ways to justify being lousy tippers.

He played nice with the locals, hung out with his coworkers when they weren't working, made friends with the shopkeepers up and down the main street. He acted the way he thought he was supposed to act, and it seemed to be working. Everyone welcomed him with smiles and made a point of greeting him when passing him in the street, but none of it seemed to help him relax. Eventually, he decided he had too much time on his hands. If he was going to fit in, he needed something to occupy his mind.

He started by going to the library and reading every book that passed through the 'Just Returned' cart. He read everything from histories to biographies to mysteries to horror to sci-fi to romance--though he tended to hide the latter between the pages of larger, more respectable books, which was just about anything else he could find. Whatever reading materials passed through the hands of the citizens of Fredericksburg also passed through his. He wasn't picky. He just wanted something to do.

When books stopped being enough, Shelley told him about an uncle in the construction business looking for part-time help. Dean started working for her uncle from seven to eleven and then he worked at the restaurant from eleven-thirty to five-thirty. Having a second job helped his body--the hard work wore him out enough that he could almost sleep through the night, but it did nothing for his mind. He was still jumping at every little thing, and he was losing focus, speed, agility, so he signed up for karate lessons.

The lessons helped, at first. He'd gotten a little rusty after all his time in the hospital and while on the road with Sam and his muscle memory seemed to have developed Alzheimer's for several of the more basic moves. Once he got back into the swing of things, however, he found that he was fighting at a level which equaled that of the instructor, and often surpassed him. He didn't know whether something had passed between himself and the demon to improve his skills, but to Dean, it was like a door had opened up inside of him into the minds of his sparring partners. He was able to anticipate nearly every move that came his way and was faster than he'd ever been, occasionally finding himself having to hold back to keep from hurting anyone. It frightened him a little, but for the most part, he relished his new abilities. He loved that he was finally getting something out of this warrior gig he could actually use.

The sensei noted his rapidly improving skills, and in exchange for Dean's assistance with the beginning and intermediate classes four nights a week, he agreed to act as Dean's teacher and sparring partner at nights when classes were over. With the sensei's help, he learned control and patience in addition to honing his skills, and slowly began to understand how to use his newfound abilities to his advantage. He felt invincible, as if he could take on any demon that came his way--if only there were demons around so he could find out for himself just how good he'd become.

Though he avoided mentioning this recent development to Bob, he knew from the laughter in the spirit's eyes that he was well aware of what was going on. Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, Dean rode the bike he'd bought at a pawn shop over to Enchanted Rock and made the arduous hike up the granite mound. There he would hang out with Bob for an hour or two, depending on what sort of mood the old man was in. Sometimes they would just sit in silence, taking in the world around them. Other times, Bob would lecture him on what it meant to be a warrior, or reprimand him on the stupid things he'd done. Occasionally, Dean would just sit and bitch about his week, the old man smoking on his pipe and nodding, not saying a thing. Though he often found the old coot's company infuriating, Dean kept going back. In his normal life, Bob was his only outlet to all the things supernatural in the world. Except, of course, for his father.

John would show up at the restaurant every couple weeks or so and sit in his section, chatting with Fran about how his son was doing until Dean's shift was over. Afterwards, the two would go back to his apartment and discuss John's latest job, or the progress his dad was making finding the thing that had killed his mother, or how Dean was adjusting to everyday life. They would drink beer, share stories, compare war wounds, and then his father's visit would inevitably end with a plea that Dean come with him.

"You're carving out a life for yourself here, son," John said, his tone sympathetic even though his words carried a warning. "The deeper you dig, the harder it'll be to find your way back out."

"I'm fine, Dad," he answered, trying not to sound too defensive. "I could pick up and leave tomorrow, if I wanted to. I'm just not ready, not yet."

John looked disapprovingly around the apartment and at Dean's growing collection of things--the potted plant Fran had given him as a house-warming present, the closet filled with the clothes he now needed for his various occupations, the used camera he'd picked up and stack of pictures he'd already taken, the decorative paper lantern Shelley had insisted on giving him after visiting his apartment and complaining about the lack of light, which he always joked made it look like he was living in a whorehouse and earning him a slap upside the head. All these things were signs of permanence, no matter how much he tried to deny it.

"You're becoming attached."

"I could leave all of this behind without a second glance."

"You sure about that?"

"Yes, sir."

His father nodded, but Dean could tell he didn't believe him, John's skepticism naturally leading to the next question.

"How much longer do you think you'll be here?"

Dean shrugged and responded vaguely, "Not much."

It was the same answer he always gave. John would nod again, and then they'd change the subject to a different topic, any topic, save one. His father never asked about Sam, and Dean never mentioned his brother's name. It was the one subject they'd silently agreed not to broach, which was fine with Dean. He was growing increasingly discouraged with that subject all on his own without any of his father's input to make things worse.

In the beginning, it hadn't been so bad. Dean figured now that a couple months had passed, Sam's temper would have had a chance to cool and any day now, he would start getting pissy little text messages or voice mails telling him what an asshole was. Which was fine. Sam had never been very good at the head-on confrontation thing. If he wanted to work out his issues indirectly for a while, Dean was ready to wait for him to finally get fed up enough to call him and yell at him in person.

Only, the pissy messages never came. He waited, and he waited, and he waited. He checked his phone so often that Fran once asked if he wanted her to tape it to the back of his hand. That way, he could save time actually getting it in and out of his pocket and just check the screen directly without having it interfere with his work. After that comment, Dean managed not to look at his phone for an hour before finally giving in and checking to see if he'd received any messages. As usual, there were none.

Awake or asleep, thoughts of Sam began following him around like hordes of gnawing, irritating rats scurrying after the Pied Piper. He would wonder if his brother was safe, though he figured if anything serious happened to Sam, he would know, or at the very least, Bob would tell him. He wondered if Sam would ever forgive him, or if this was the thing that was going to break them apart forever. He wondered if he should try calling, or if his brother would just ignore him.

He even wondered if he should force a meeting by demanding that Sam return his car--a discovery which had made him furious at first, but then he'd pushed it to the back of his mind. Not only was there nothing he could do about it, he knew Sam would take care of the Impala. No matter how angry he was, his brother would never be so stupid as to take his revenge out on the car. Blood or no, he had to know Dean would hunt him down and break every bone in his body if he so much as scratched the paint, so Dean wasn't too concerned about the car's well-being. All he really wanted was to have them both back safe and sound.

But if that day did come when he got his brother back, Dean couldn't help wondering what would happen next. Would Sam still want him? Would he still want Sam? He'd finally opened himself up to the possibility that a physical relationship with his brother would not, in fact, destroy their lives but might even make them stronger. Of course, right after his revelation, all hell had broken loose, but his feelings for his brother hadn't been altered by a near-death experience. His feelings were changing for other reasons.

After another month and a half had passed, he asked himself, did he still want Sam? What had once been an adamant yes was slowly becoming a furious no as his desire was poisoned by his brother's continued silence. Every day spent waiting for Sam to contact him was a day that his once hopeful thoughts turned sour. He stopped checking his phone every few minutes, instead glancing at it only once an hour, and then four or five times a day, and then not at all, choosing instead to leave it sitting on the kitchen counter at home. He no longer wanted to know if his brother had called. He was afraid of what he might say or do if Sam ever managed to actually get a hold of him.

His thoughts were no longer entirely colored by the sickly yellows and greens of guilt and self-recrimination, but by the pulsing reds and oranges of anger and disappointment--not in himself, but in his brother. He no longer spent every waking minute mentally punishing himself for the things he'd done. As each week was ticked off on the calendar without a word from Sam, he became more aware of how he'd always blinded himself to his brother's faults, but the blinders were slowly coming off.

He loved his brother. Nothing would ever change that, but as the weeks passed, Dean was starting to find he no longer liked his brother. Dean knew he'd done something terrible and he would gladly accept whatever sort of punishment Sam thought up to make him suffer--but not this. This complete disregard for him, for his life, for their relationship--especially after everything they'd been through--was something he could not comprehend. Even if Sam's heart had been so damaged that they would never be anything more, they were still family. Sam could have at least called to see how he was doing, to see if he'd ever woken up after being so callously abandoned at the hospital. Dean hadn't even had a problem with that, at first. Sam probably needed his space and if his premonitions had sent him hunting, Dean wouldn't have wanted him to stick around if it meant saving someone's life.

But to not even call and see if he'd survived?

That was unforgivable even in his normally forgiving eyes, if only because it hurt so much to know his brother cared so little. If he'd wanted a sign that everything between them was dead, this was it. Even when Sam had moved away, he'd never been completely shut out of his brother's life. They could still call or email and it didn't matter if their communication was stiff and formal, it kept the link between them alive. To realize Sam hated him so much that he'd severed their link left Dean feeling sad, and lost, and with an intense loneliness unlike anything he'd experienced in his entire life.

After six months of waiting for a single texted word, or even a call that left nothing behind except a name on his phone to let him know he wasn't alone in the world, Dean realized he was exactly that. Alone. It crushed him to know that the one person in the world he wanted to love him wanted nothing more to do with him. He tried to fight it. Once he accepted this as fact, he knew from then on part of him would forever be broken, but the evidence could not have been clearer. His brother never called, and part of his heart disintegrated into dust.

So when Dean walked into the small dining room to see Sam sitting there, waiting for him, his brief moment of joy was quickly smothered by memory of the hell his brother had put him through, and he knew he had to get out of there or someone was going to get hurt.

He practically ran back to his apartment, ignoring the shouts of his brother behind him. He was hoping to make it inside before Sam caught up to him, but he wasn't fast enough. His fingers fumbled trying to push the key in the door, giving Sam the extra seconds he needed to reach him. He was forced to stand there and listen to his brother's explanations, and he saw much Sam had changed while not changing at all. Looking at Sam, at the brother he adored, at the man he loved, Dean knew he would gladly erase the past six months from his memory and forgive him for everything, if only he would say the two words that would mend his heart.

Dean nearly gave in when Sam leaned into him and pleaded for his love. All the wanting he thought he'd safely reburied surfaced the second Sam's cheek touched his. His body ached at the whispered touch and he longed to finally feel the slide of skin against skin, to lose himself in Sam's warmth, but he resisted. He was still waiting for the words that would save them, but the words never came. As they stood there, Sam silently waiting for him to make his choice, Dean realized the words would never come. Though it killed him to do it, he made his decision. He kissed his brother good-bye and severed Sam from his life.

Dean shut the door and locked it, leaving his brother standing speechless on the other side. He leaned against the unyielding wood and heaved a sigh of sorrow, and relief. It was over. He could stop waiting. Tomorrow, he would give notice at his jobs and call his father. He understood now that things would never go back the way they were, and it was time to move on.

He covered his ears to block out the pounding on his door and the sound of his brother's anguished voice calling out his name. There was no point in listening anymore. It was too late; his brother had let him down. Sam had appeared on his doorstep offering up excuses and reasons for abandoning him, promising him love and redemption now that he'd returned, but those words rang hollow in Dean's ears. They might have been all the things he'd hoped his brother would one day say, and a small part of him did rejoice that that day had finally come, but it wasn't enough. Sam had come all this way to find him, and he had left out the only words Dean had ever really wanted to hear.

"I'm sorry."


Next story in series - Beyond Good and Evil.