Fiction: the talk
What can I say? The end of “Sharp Teeth” left a bad taste in my mouth. I’d like to think that this is how things might have gone the next morning if the boys weren’t so emotionally constipated and inarticulate these days.
“I don’t get it …” Sam stopped and drummed his fingers on his denim-clad knee. He didn’t need to look across the Impala to know he had Dean’s attention. He could feel his brother’s eyes on him.
“What?” Dean asked.
Sam shifted in the seat and looked at Dean. “You backed my play with Lucifer and jumping in the pit. You trusted me, and we won. What happened to that?”
The muscle in Dean’s jaw tightened, and he shook his head. “I don’t know, Sam.” He sounded defeated.
“That’s not good enough,” Sam said.
“I know.” Dean glanced across the car. “I know it’s not.” He turned his eyes back to the road. “I admit, I tried to bring you back. I couldn’t, you know? I thought about eating a bullet for that, but … you were right to send me to Lisa and Ben. I couldn’t do that to them, so …” He shrugged. “Cas brought you back.”
“Yeah, he did that for you, and look where that all led.”
Dean got that hard set to his jaw and stared out the windshield as fallow fields whipped by. Frost sparkled in the morning sunlight. Coming upon an abandoned barn, he hit the brakes and pulled the big Chevy into the lane.
“It wasn’t you,” Dean said. He cocked an eyebrow at Sam. “You know that. You were still in the cage while that thing …” He shook his head and threw the door open with a creak of metal. It slammed behind him as he walked away from the car.
Sam got out and followed him a few feet before Dean spun around and jabbed a finger at him. “He was all my worst impulses with your face, Sam, and that …” He huffed out a steamy breath. “That was wrong, backward … you keep me from turning into a monster, Sammy, but he was a monster. Every day this monster was sitting next to me.” Dean pointed at the Impala. “While my little brother was … I’ve been to hell.” He gave Sam a pleading look. “You gotta understand, I couldn’t leave you there while that thing was here, free, a mockery …” His mouth twisted in a disgusted mew. “Sam, you know the things he did so, yeah, I put your soul back, and I’m not going to apologize for that one.”
“At what cost, Dean? Cas told you what it could do to me, what it did eventually do to me,” Sam said.
Dean threw his hands up. “Was it worse than the cage?! Huh?”
They stared one another a moment before Sam nodded. “Fair enough.”
“I had to take the chance, Sammy. You have to know that,” Dean said. “You’d have done the same.”
“Yeah, maybe, but that’s just it, Dean, Cas broke the wall,” Sam said. “And that’s how it goes, they – whoever ‘they’ happen to be — use us against each other.”
“No, it didn’t stop me,” Dean said. “It didn’t stop us, and Sam how would any of it have made a difference. If we hadn’t brought you back, if you were still in the cage being tortured, then what? Hell, I probably would have been ganked by the djinn at Lisa’s. What would Cas and Crowley have done then? Eve? The leviathan?”
“You could have done it with Cas and Bobby and Meg …”
“No,” Dean said. “No, and even if I could … purgatory …”
“I didn’t look for you, I know, but Benny, you know, if I hadn’t interfered, he might still be alive.”
“No.” Dean licked his lips and sniffed. “Without you alive, I’d have had no reason to fight my way out of purgatory, Sam.” He shrugged. “I just wouldn’t.”
“But, Dean, this new thing with Gadreel, I can’t even …” He looked away, eyes burning.
“Yes, I do. I was wrong. I should have …” His throat tightened around the words, and he took a deep breath. “I should have let you go, but you were there because of me. I was fucked up when I got back from purgatory, and I punished you for trying to get on with your life and find some happiness.”
“It wasn’t like that, Dean. I thought you were dead. I was a mess, but last time I tried to get you back, and look what happened – I ended up listening to Ruby and starting the Apocalypse.”
“Hey, I was in on that too,” Dean said. “And Cas. There’s plenty of blame to go around.”
“Yeah, well, I ran,” Sam said. “I shouldn’t have abandoned Kevin. That’s on me and no one else.”
“The point is that I was wrong to guilt you over that the way I did,” Dean said.
“Yeah, well, I was wrong about Benny,” Sam said. “He was your friend.”
“Yeah,” Dean said. “So, I saw you lying in that hospital bed and it was on me.”
“Yes, it was,” Dean argued. “I shouldn’t have done that to you, and I should have done the trials. I let you down.”
“No, Sam, I just wanted to give you a chance to have that normal life with the girl and the dog and … what I did, I don’t blame you for not trusting me or forgiving me. What I did was worse than death. I get that now.”
“Look, I know I fucked up, Sam.” Dean squinted against the rays of the morning sun as he looked off across the field. “But the fact is you are important. You are, not just to me, but to the world. You save lives. And for all my fuck ups, I wouldn’t have done any good without you.”
“Dean, come on.”
“No, it’s a fact, and you know it,” Dean said. “You pull me back from the edge. I’d be a monster without you.” He sniffed again and walked around the Impala to the trunk. “I need a beer. You need a beer?”
“It’s seven a.m.,” Sam said, but he held his hand out when Dean pulled a beer out of the old green cooler.
Dean slammed the trunk lid and leaned back against it. “I know I need to treat you like a grownup,” Dean said. “We need to make decisions together.”
“Yeah,” Sam said. He took a long pull off the beer. “And you have to respect the choices I make about my own life.”
Dean gave a thoughtful nod. “I know I have to earn your trust back.”
“Yeah, well … I know habits are hard to break, but things do have to change.”
“I hear you,” Dean said, “and I promise to listen, but you have to call me on it when I try to bulldoze over you. And I will, because habit.”
They stood silently side by side drinking beer and watching black birds circle an old corncrib.
“Can I ask you something?” Dean said.
“With Dad, you were always butting heads, defiant … you never backed down. Why am I different?”
Sam huffed and smiled. “You really don’t know?”
Dean shook his head.
“Dad abdicated his right to be my father a long time ago. He wasn’t there. You were.”
Dean kept his eyes down as he scuffed his boot in the dirt.
Sam’s throat felt tight as he spoke. “That’s, you know, why I gave you the amulet instead of him.”
Dean’s brow knitted. “Sam, about that …”
Dean looked up and the sunlight caught in his eyes like maple leaves in the spring. “No, Sammy, it’s not. I’d give anything to take that back. For that, I am sorry – for all the times that I’ve hurt you.”
“I know.” Dean drained his beer and pushed himself away from the car. “So, fresh start?”
“No more lies and secrets?” Sam asked.
Dean nodded and held out his hand for a shake. “Partners?”
Sam took Dean’s hand and pulled him into his embrace. It took a moment for the tension to drain from Dean’s shoulders, and he leaned into Sam’s arms.
“Brothers,” Sam said.