Disclaimer: Nothing's mine.
Author's Note: So… I decided to give Let It Bleed a miss for the tags, because while I'm sure it's all very tragic and we should feel for Dean having to say goodbye to Lisa and Ben, I'm just glad they're gone. (I know. I'm heartless.) And I was in two minds about The Man Who Knew Too Much, but this kind of popped into my head.
This might be the last update to this series for a while. But I do have a couple of longer fics planned for the summer hiatus, the first of which should start going up in a couple of days. (And that's going to be my first serious attempt at writing entirely from Sam's point of view.)
Thanks to Cheryl for the help and for the title suggestion.
Thanks to Kathryn Marie Black, cold kagome, The Lilac Elf of Lothlorien, Sparkiebunny, cookjar, fanotheboyz, godsdaughter77, BranchSuper, SandyDee84, doyleshuny, TinTin11, jensengirl4eva, Scribble2Much, Jane88, CeCe Away, angeleyenc and casammy for the reviews.
Summary: Sam's sleeping. Some kid left a book in the motel room. After the events of The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dean reflects.
A is for Apple. And Angel.
Most of all at the moment, A is for Anger.
As in, the emotion that I would be feeling right now if my heart had any place for anything other than worry about Sam.
I don't mean that I'm not angry. I'm furious, beyond furious, and if I ever get my hands on Castiel I will do things to him that'll make Alastair seem like the Good Witch of the North. (I was going to say Santa Claus, but we've met Santa Claus.)
Oh, God, Sammy.
Sam rolls over, like I disturbed him by thinking too loudly. I reach out and rub his back. He settles down with a mumbled, "Dean," and I feel an ache in my chest.
B is for Betrayal.
And for Brother.
Sam's fast asleep on his front, one hand flung out towards me, and he looks vulnerable and adorable and young.
I don't get it. I really don't. I might've understood Cas hurting me, or even Bobby. I wouldn't have liked it, I probably wouldn't have forgiven it, but I could have comprehended it. I can't begin to wrap my head around how anyone can deliberately hurt Sammy and not feel like they've kicked a newborn puppy.
B is also for Book, the A-B-C book I'm reading. Some kid left it in the motel room and I grabbed it, because I had to do something to keep from going crazy. And I couldn't bear to touch Sam's books without being able to tease Sam about being a geek.
C is for Comfort, the comfort I wish I could give Sam but I can't because of…
Oh, yeah. C is also for Castiel. And for Crucifixion, which is the least of the things that's going to be happening to that son of a bitch when I get my hands on him. And Cage, which is where I'm going to shove him when I'm done.
Sam shifts restlessly in his sleep. I reach out and palm his cool cheek, letting my fingers rest there long enough for the flickering behind his eyelids to stop. The one good thing this whole freaking mess is that Sam's still coherent enough to be responsive to me.
D is for… Demons, I guess. The things I hate a lot, since they killed Mom and Dad and Jessica and, that one horrible time, Sammy. (Although I don't hate them as much as I do Castiel. I know what I said about blanket apologies, but some things don't get forgiven. Are you listening to me, you evil son of a bitch?)
D is kind of for Dean, too. Because that tends to be the only word Sam can get out when he's really tired or really hurting. Dean, choked and painful, to tell me when he's injured; Dean, desperate, when something's strangling him and he needs me to shoot it; and Dean, soft and low, when whatever I'm doing to help him is working and he wants to tell me how awesome I am.
E is for Eleanor Visyak.
I want to feel bad about her. I really do. She was nice enough, she didn't yell at me, maim me or try to kill me, and Bobby liked her. Than in itself should be enough for me to mourn her.
But there's just no place left in my heart to mourn. Everything that there is – everything that I am – is taken up with Sammy and Please be OK.
Sam rolls again, towards me this time. It's a king-sized bed (last one left in the motel) and he ends up close enough for me to run a hand through his hair while I flip through the book.
F is for Family. Right now, the future of mine is looking bleak.
Sam's strong – I know he is – but I also know exactly how much Hell can torture a person, and Sam's experience was so much worse than mine.
Sam shifts nearer, and who am I even trying to fool? I slide my hand under his back, lift him as much as I can – he's freaking heavy – and settle him against my chest. I don't know if it'll help him, but it helps me. As long as Sam's close, as long as I can feel his pulse and his breath tickling my neck, I can keep from going crazy.
G is for Gigantor.
Sam's big, and while I'm usually happy about that, because sheer muscle mass makes him a harder takedown for random monsters, which leads to more peace of mind for me, at times like this I wish he were little again.
Little, the way he was when he was four years old and came to me with a scraped knee and looked up at me with those great big dewy eyes like I was the answer to everything. When he was that little my promises were enough to make him feel safe, and my arms around him were enough to make the nightmares go away.
H is for Heartbeat, Sam's, steady and reassuring under my hand.
H is for Hugs.
Which, by the way, we're totally not having. I am not hugging Sam. I might have my arms around him, and his head is kind of on my shoulder, and maybe I'm sort of supporting his back (because the last thing we need is Sam whining about backache), but that doesn't mean I'm hugging him.
H is also for Hurt, which Sammy is. It's tearing me apart to see him like this and not be able to give him more than moral support.
H is for Hell, which is where a certain angel is headed if I have anything to say about it.
I is for Ignorance.
The kind that's bliss.
The kind that Sam had and I would've sold my soul all over again to keep him from losing.
The kind that I had, back when I felt I was the unluckiest guy on earth for having been forced to endure forty years under Alastair's knife. I'd do it again, a hundred times over, to spare Sammy.
Sam whimpers, and I almost burst into tears.
I is for the Impala, now in Bobby's yard. She needs fixing, and I'm going to do it just as soon as Sam's ready to go back to Sioux Falls and sit on the porch steps and watch me work.
J is for Jessica.
The girl I took him away from all those years ago. The girl he never talks about. The girl who could have given me a bunch of nephews and nieces to love as much as I love Sam.
Sam's called her a couple of times in his sleep tonight. I hope to God he's not going to forget that she's dead, because if I have to tell him that – if I have to break his heart all over again…
Sam mutters, but this time it's, "Dean." This is the inflection that means he's having bad dreams, and I rub his back.
K is for King of Hell, Crowley, the guy who used to be Number One on the list of people I'm going to subject to a slow and painful death. Kept that spot for a whole five days, until Castiel decided to take up spots One to Ten and push Crowley to Number Eleven.
Sam's warm. I can smell his aftershave and that herbal shampoo that he claims isn't girly. Right now it's hard to believe that the comfortable weight in my arms can turn into two hundred and twenty pounds of lethal, kickass hunter.
L is for Love.
The word I've said to all the people who've ever been second-most-important, because I know it makes them feel good.
The word I've never said to the person who's always been my reason for living. Because he knows.
Sam sighs softly. I wonder what he's seeing now. Maybe he's been lucky enough to catch a break and it's just a normal bad dream – bogeyman, evil clown, that history teacher he was terrified of in junior high.
Love, the word Sam's said to me because sometimes even the Awesome Dean Winchester is insecure.
The word I'm going to say to him as soon as he's awake. Because I know he's my reason for living and he knows he's my reason for living but he needs to know I know. Or something of the kind.
M is for Motel.
Specifically, the Green Mile Motel, which is where we're staying because Sam gave me that big, wide-eyed look that said he didn't want to go back to Bobby's. And I got it. Bobby's awesome, Bobby's the closest thing we have to family, but…
But there are still some things Sam doesn't want anybody but me to see. Like the breakdown he had as soon as I'd shut the motel room door behind us.
M is for Misery, a word Castiel is going to be able to redefine. After he redefines Grovelling, which he's going to do to Sam.
N is for Nightmares.
Like this one.
Sam starts to thrash. I restrain him – gently – and whisper to him, and after what seems like hours he settles down. He mumbles my name and clutches my arm. He's strong, but I care jack squat about the bruises he's going to leave.
"Hey, kiddo," I say softly. "You OK? You were just dreaming. You're safe, Sammy. I'm here."
Sam blinks his eyes open and smiles up at me with all the trust of a child, and it's all I can do not to crush him to my chest.
O is for Offense, Criminal. The kind that gets you sent to Maximum Security instead of letting you get off with half an hour of community service.
Of course, Maximum Security's nothing compared to what I have planned for Castiel.
O is for Obituary, the section of the paper that Sam would've been reading to find us a job if Castiel hadn't thought it would be a good idea to knock the wall down as a diversion.
I wonder how they'd write those in Heaven. "Castiel, aged five billion, died in a violent and painful manner as a result of messing with Dean Winchester's little brother. Anyone else who tries to mess with Dean Winchester's little brother will join him." Sounds about right.
P is for Puppy-Dog Eyes.
Sam's giving me those, because I'm frowning. I'm sure he doesn't think I'm mad at him (even Princess Samantha can't imagine that I'm mad when I'm cuddling him).
No, these are Sam's cheer-up-because-I'm-with-you eyes.
God, just when I thought it wasn't possible to love the kid more…
I hug him, fierce and tight. He squirms a little, and I loosen my grip just enough to let him breathe, but I don't let go. I can't let go.
P is for Pulse, Sam's, a quick but blessedly strong rhythm under my fingers.
P is for Prayer, which I totally don't believe in but I will totally do if it means someone up there will help my brother.
Q is for Quiet, which is what my life has been. Horribly so.
Much as I gripe at Sam for talking too much, I always miss his voice when he's not around. Missed it when we were kids and Dad and I left him alone to go on a job. Missed it when he was off at Stanford. Missed it for the three days he was dead. Missed it when I was in Hell. Missed it when he was in Hell. Missed it when I was living with Robo-Sam, who was super-efficient but never chattered the way my little brother did.
I miss it now.
I miss the bitchfaces and the rolled eyes and the random bits of pointless trivia he keeps pushing at me. I miss him snickering when a girl has such bad taste that she doesn't respond to my flirting. I miss him.
R is for Raphael, the word that Cas seems to think is an excuse for everything.
My back is starting to protest. I'm not exactly seventeen, Sam's heavy, and practically all his weight is on me. But that's OK. It's unlikely that he'll be ready for a long drive tomorrow, so we're not going anywhere. He's not even ready for me to leave him alone for half an hour to hit a diner.
Sam looks more peaceful now than he has for hours, and I know it's because of me.
That makes me feel pleased and proud and thrilled to bits. I'm a big brother, and if I'm doing that job right, then everything else can go to hell.
S is for Sammy. And Sasquatch. And Soul.
I never realized just how awesome the letter S is.
Sam's starting to fall asleep again, but, thank God, he seemed more lucid for the few seconds he was awake. That means he's getting better – for now, at least – and that means that – for now – I can concentrate on other things, like eating and drinking and figuring out ways to make holes in the new and better version of God.
I made the mistake of thinking out loud about what I was going to do to Castiel the last time Sam was having a lucid spell.
Sam gave me that look, and I said, "Come on, Sammy. You can't be feeling sorry for Cas."
"This isn't about Cas," Sam said. "It's about you. You can't do that to yourself."
I let it go, because I didn't want to worry him, but you know what? Cas hurt my baby brother, and so I totally, totally can.
T is for Torture.
And Sammy in the Devil's Cage.
Sam, not quite under yet, snuggles into my chest. There's no way I can hold him any tighter without cracking his ribs, so I rest my cheek on his head.
At that opportune moment, my cell phone chirps. I ignore it. It can't be from Sammy, because Sammy's right here and he wouldn't need to text me and his phone is on the table next to mine in any case. It's probably Bobby saying something about how to track down Castiel.
Much as I want to hunt him down and make him pay, that isn't important right now. The other half of my soul is battered and bleeding – but not broken, thank God – and there's no way I can do anything until he's back on his feet.
T is for the Tears Sam lets slip when he thinks I'm not looking, and damn it if they don't make me angrier than anything else.
U is for Unforgivable.
I wasn't lying to Cas – he was family. He was like a brother to me. I would've done as much for him as I would've done for Adam. I would have died for him, I would've forgiven him just about anything.
Hell, I trusted him with Sam. I trusted him so much that I let him plunge his hand into Sam's chest to touch his soul.
And he hurt my Sammy.
He hurt my Sammy as a diversion. To keep me occupied so I wouldn't mess with his stupid master plan. He made Sam relive the kind of pain no human being has ever known before, and that is the one thing I cannot forgive.
While I'm on the subject…
V is for Violation of trust. Violation of Sam's mind.
The problem isn't so much that Castiel proclaimed himself God when he was juiced up on millions of souls. That was probably the angel equivalent of drunk, and people say stupid crap when they're drunk.
The problem is that when he wasn't juiced up on millions of souls, he thought it was a good idea to do possibly irreparable damage to Sammy's mind as a freaking diversion.
Son of a bitch.
V is for the Violence that happens to people who lay their filthy fingers on Sam.
W is for the War that led to this stupid plan of Castiel's in the first place. Stupid angels can't keep their stupid family squabbles in their own stupid backyards. Oh, no. They drag us into their infighting once, and when Sam beat the hell out of Lucifer (and that is how I know Sammy's strong enough to beat this) they just decided that they were getting a do-over.
Sam pats my chest sleepily.
W is for Warmth, the heavy bundle of it in my arms. Sam's always been a furnace, and when he's hurting he starts running a low-grade fever and practically radiates heat.
I love it. It means he's still with me.
X is for… well, X isn't for anything. It's just X, a great big fat red one on Castiel's trench-coated back.
"Dude?" Sam slurs. "What?"
"Just waiting for you to fall asleep, kiddo," I reply soothingly, because, like I said, there's no sense worrying Sam. He can't change what I'm going to do to Castiel. All he can do is feel stupidly guilty, like it's somehow his fault for having sacrificed himself to save the world.
Sam looks like he doesn't believe me, but he also looks like he's too tired to argue. After a moment, he shrugs and snuggles down again.
Y is for Yawning, which Sammy is doing now, mouth open wide as it'll go. It's as ridiculous and as cute as a puppy.
I laugh – really laugh, for the first time in days – and start rocking him a little. He makes a muzzy protest that I completely ignore, and finally decides to stop talking and roll with it.
Sam's fingers tighten around my shirt, just like they used to when he was a little kid and he came scurrying into my bed because he heard something moving in the darkness. And, just like then, I find myself believing that big brothers can keep the monsters away.
Z is for…
You know what? Screw the alphabet. Sam's sleeping peacefully. That's all I need.
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