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    Junkyard Blues

    Title: Junkyard Blues
    Author: Mousedm
    Rating: nothing in particular to offend
    Word Count: 4700ish
    Genre: Tag angst
    Spoilers: All Hell Breaks Loose
    Disclaimer: Don't own them, but, oh, how I wish I did!
    Author's Notes: My first ever attempt at Supernatural Fic. I'm too hooked on the show not to write, but too immersed in the superb writing out there to spend too much time at it.

    Summary: Sam struggles to come to terms with his brother's sacrifice.

    Tags: Supernatural, fanfic, tag

     Junkyard Blues


    Sam kicked at the tire lying abandoned on the ground in front of him. It felt marginally satisfying, so he kicked it again, harder. This time it hurt his foot, but the pain actually felt good in a twisted, distracting sort of way. Anything was better than drowning in the morass of conflicting, discordant emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. His thoughts scrabbled furiously at the walls of his mind like trapped rats, their claws sharp and rending. With a snarl of baffled fury, he drew his foot back to inflict more damage on the hapless object.


    “I have a tire iron if that would help.” The cool, gruff voice wasn’t the one he was subconsciously expecting, and he spun around, aware that preoccupation had dulled his customary vigilance. It took him a moment to locate Bobby, the hunter’s stocky body oddly camouflaged among the rusting, aging hulks that littered the junk yard.


    Sam’s mind was whirling too fast for the words spoken to convey any meaning, unable to stop the ride for more baggage to hop on, so he simply stared blankly at the older man.


    “Here.” Bobby tossed him the implement in question. “Be my guest. Pick any wreck and beat the shit out of it. Continue the family tradition.”


    Sam caught the tire iron automatically, the metal cool and strangely alien against his skin. He gripped it tightly, an initial surge of mindless eagerness wilting to revulsion as the memory caught up with him. Dean, his customary mask  of self-control splintered by crushing grief and guilt, fragmented by what Sam would later recognise as intolerable responsibility, and shattered by his brother’s well-intentioned speech, swinging the tire iron in savage, almost frantic, fury.


    “I...it’s not...I’m not...” His throat constricted, making the possibility of intelligible speech unlikely.


    It was over a year ago. One year. I got one year. Different time, same place and the circumstances so heartbreakingly similar yet so utterly different. A year was an eternity and no time at all. 


    The sound of his brother’s name snapped Sam out of his reverie - the yank of the lifeguard’s hand hauling a floundering swimmer to the surface.


    Bobby was regarding him with a tolerant impatience that should have been too contradictory to achieve, and that told Sam that the older man had been talking for some time while he’d been oblivious. 


    “As I said,” The emphasis was marked. “He’s still asleep, and Ellen’s keeping an eye on him.” At Bobby’s insistence, they had returned to his house to regroup. Blood still tripping down his forehead, Dean had surrendered the keys without an argument and avoided further discussion by sleeping through the entire journey.


    “He’s still asleep?” A new pulse of panic joined the pounding rhythm of anxiety that Sam’s heart had maintained since he’d discovered the truth. He started to push past Bobby, needing to see his brother, to reassure himself that his last family member hadn’t already been ripped from his grasp.


    “He’s been asleep for over sixteen hours. He never sleeps that long. The concussion must be worse than I thought. I knew I should have taken him to the hospital, but the stupid idiot refused to listen to reason.” More anger and pain than the sentiment warranted spilled over in the babbling complaint.


    Bobby grabbed his arm as he passed, but Sam wrenched it free, glad to be provided with a convenient target for all the fury roiling inside. His skin felt suddenly too tight, and he almost hoped the older hunter would give him an excuse to lash out, but Bobby merely held his hands out in a placating gesture before leaning back against the battered Ford truck behind him, conveniently blocking the most accessible route back to the house. His eyes were wary but concerned. “Dean’s fine,” he reiterated calmly.


    “Sixteen hours of sleep is not fine,” Sam retorted, but there was a slight hitch to the conclusion of the statement that made it a plea for reassurance.


    “He’s a Winchester. He’s got a naturally hard head. He just didn’t get any sleep while you were...after...” the older hunter trailed off awkwardly, rubbing his neck.


    “While I was dead,” Sam finished flatly. The words were copper-coated and sourly smooth in his mouth. He’d been dead - not ‘I saw light at the end of the tunnel while the paramedics resuscitated me’ dead, but stone-cold, rotting-meat dead. He wasn’t sure how to wrap his mind round that concept. It wasn’t like he could remember anything about it - oh yeah, that’s because he’d been DEAD. What’s dead should stay dead. Of course, he still would be worm food, pushing up the daisies, if it wasn’t for... Dean. “God dammit!” His hands were shaking around the now-warm metal of the tire iron, and he gazed at it unseeingly. 




    He knew he was outside, but the air supply around him suddenly seemed limited, as constricting as it had been in the house. The acid burn in his lungs informed him that breathing was ineffectual, disconnected from the process of actually drawing in oxygen. 


    “Sam!” A hand clamped down on his arm, but he flinched from the contact, shaking it off automatically. That wasn’t the touch he suddenly craved. He needed his brother. Dean was like the earth under his feet, constant and dependable. His first memories, warm and baby-hazed, were of his brother’s smile and supporting hands. His first word was ‘Dee,’ and his first steps were impelled by the need to reach the older boy. Even at Stanford, the knowledge that Dean was just a phone call away had kept him strong in the loneliness of that first year.


    But now the foundation had shifted under his feet, leaving him totally off-balance. It had also revealed a crack - a fissure that would widen to the gaping maw of hell in one year. Everything had changed, and he couldn’t even start to sort out the tangled layers of his emotions, but he knew he didn’t need an audience for the meltdown that he sensed approaching in the cramping tautness of his muscles and the white fire coiled behind his eyes. 


    He struggled to keep his voice steady. “I appreciate the concern, Bobby, but I really need to be on my own right now.” He hoped he sounded convincing and composed, but he couldn’t bring himself to meet Bobby’s eyes, instead watching the toe of his sneakers rooting in the oily dirt.


    “Celebrating is usually something to do in company.” Bobby’s tone held no appreciable sarcasm, and for a moment, Sam gaped at him in incomprehension. “The demise of the yellow-eyed demon an’ all that,” the older hunter elaborated helpfully.


    Cross that off the to-do list. It had been a moment of incredulity and unimaginable satisfaction. The goal of killing the son-of-a-bitch had determined the direction of his entire life and been the blazing ambition of his last two years. Jess was finally avenged, his father was saved, and possibly his own forlorn destiny was averted. Yet despite these accomplishments, it still felt like they’d snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, because Dean’s revelation overshadowed everything.


    “I’m not in a particularly celebratory mood,” he grated out. Again choosing to focus on a diversion, he rounded on the older hunter. “You knew about it from the beginning. Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”


    Bobby didn’t pretend to misunderstand him. “Your brother begged me not to,” he stated bluntly. “He didn’t want you to know,” he added more softly.


    “Because that makes so much sense,” Sam scoffed. “Like I wouldn’t notice when he died, when he was dragged off to hell by slavering...” He couldn’t finish the sentence, but sucked in a shuddering breath as memories of the terrifying hell hounds shone vividly in his mind. Then as clear as if presented by a vision, except with accompanying heartache instead of blinding headache, came the realisation that he’d never have known. Dean would have sent him back to school or conjured some reason for their separation then simply disappeared, protecting him to the end.


    It was getting harder to hold on to his anger, but he had to because it was the only shield he possessed against the profound guilt and searing anguish that surged to crush his lungs and clog his throat. With a cry of frustration, he whirled and flung the tire iron through the window of a nearby wreck. It smashed resoundingly, and the impact was echoed by a frenzy of barking from Xerxes, Bobby’s guard dog, but the satisfaction of destruction was fleeting, and his hands now hung empty, aching with the pent-up need to demolish.


    “How could he do it, the stupid son of a bitch! What the hell was he thinking?” He hated the crack in his voice that made him sound like a teenager again.


    “You’d just died in his arms. He wasn’t exactly capable of rational thought.” The arid bleakness of Bobby’s tone robbed it of none of its impact, and Sam’s anger slipped through his fingers with the speed and thoroughness of a plummeting eel as he stared at the older man in stricken silence. Bobby’s gaze bore through him, but he didn’t seem to see the younger Winchester, caught up in the misery of his own memories. “I couldn’t even get him to move. He just knelt there, for hours in the mud, holding you like he’d never let go and...” His voice trailed off, obviously having revealed more than he’d intended, his haunted gaze clearing slightly as he focused on the hale man in front of him. He took his cap off and scratched his head before replacing it with the visor pulled further down.


    “Look, I’m not saying I condone what he did. In fact, I tore him a new one myself when I realised what he’d done, but,” he shrugged his shoulders, choosing his words carefully, “he did what he had to do.” He’s my brother.


    It wasn’t a particularly articulate explanation, but Sam nodded once, miserably, forced to acknowledge the unalterable truth of the statement. Nothing bad is going to happen to you while I’m around. In spite of his best efforts to prevent it, his natural empathy was kicking in. When he was honest with himself, he had a fair idea of how devastating his death must have been to his brother. He thrust his hands deep into his pockets to hide their faint trembling and ducked his head, allowing his shaggy hair to flop forward and obscure his vision. 


    In the last two years he’d been discovering his brother anew through adult eyes. To his shame, he’d been initially willing to accept, at least in part, the shallow persona that Dean so tirelessly promoted of an uneducated, self-centered horndog. But he’d soon realised that Dean was like an ocean, instantly eye-catching, even dazzling, his surface storm-tossed and violent or invitingly placid, but always potentially dangerous. Yet beneath that shining veneer, there lay unimaginable depths and layers of complexities. He treasured the glimpses he’d been allowed of those seemingly fathomless places, and the Marianas Trench of Dean’s personality was his deep love and willingness to sacrifice himself for his family. For you or Dad, the things I'm willing to do or kill, it just…it scares me sometimes."


    Sam had always been the main beneficiary of that devotion. He would probably never even know half of the things his brother had done to care for and protect him, but he’d always known that Dean would literally and unflinchingly walk into hell for him, so this development shouldn’t have come as a surprise. You can go on. Who says I want to?  Yes, he’d known that his brother would die for him without question, his protectiveness so instinctive as to be almost genetic, but to sacrifice not only his life but his soul to everlasting damnation went beyond the limits of courage and devotion. 


    Sam had known the truth when he’d confronted his brother by the car, not from Jake’s expression but from Dean’s, and everything had clicked into place with the finality of the hammer impacting the bullet of the executioner’s gun - Dean’s impromptu hug, his inability to look Bobby in the eye, the older hunter’s transparent excuse to talk privately with his brother. Most of all, he could see his death engraved on his brother’s face, like an afterimage burnt on the retina - raw pain reflected in a pallid face and red-rimmed eyes, the agonizing and rare sight of Dean emotionally flayed apart.


    Sam again restrained the urge to seek out his brother. In his present mood, he’d either pick a fight with him or start crying on his shoulder, and both courses of action were guaranteed to piss Dean off. HIs brother’s irritability tended to increase exponentially with the amount of hovering he endured. 


    The sun was setting on another day, twenty-four hours inexorably vanished from the meagre total now allotted to his brother. Sam’s sense of panic increased, his chest tourniquet-tightened as hours slid into days which would compact into a year. The shadows intensified, casting obscure shapes in a graveyard that was far from their normal haunt. Somewhat to his surprise, Bobby showed no inclination to leave him to his morbid musings, but continued to lean, statue-still, against the car, cap dipped obscuringly. There was something different in his posture, a hunch of diffidence, a tuck of the head that refuted the normal self-possession of the hunter.


    “What happened, Bobby?” The question surprised him more than it did its recipient. “You were with him.” It was supposed to be a genuine inquiry, but it shot out more as an accusation. He only caught Bobby’s flinch because he was watching so intently. “Bobby?” A tangible threat now swam below the surface of the word.


    “I wasn’t there,” the older hunter stated flatly. “I left him.” 


    “What?” Sam’s body thrummed with renewed fury and betrayal. “I’m lying there dead, and you just walked away from him? You bastard! It didn’t occur to you that he might do something stupid?”


    “It wasn’t like that. He didn’t give me much choice,” Bobby fired back. “He practically pushed me out the door. I never thought he’d do something that...that drastic. Not after your Dad. I just thought he might...” He broke off guiltily, but Sam heard the unspoken words as clearly as if they’d been bellowed through a foghorn. With two fast strides he closed the distance between them, slamming the older man back hard against the wreck and using his vastly superior height to loom ominously.


    “Thought he’d what? Blow his brains out? Eat his gun?” He pushed harder, spitting in horrified fury. “You knew he was suicidal and you just left him!”


    Bobby shoved back. He was unable to break Sam’s hold, but his volume matched the younger man’s, his eyes bright with pain. “Don’t you think it nearly killed me to do so? He’s like a son to me, you both are, but what else was I supposed to do? You have no idea. Your brother is one of the strongest men I’ve ever known and I watched him shatter in front of my eyes.”


    Sam tried to clear his throat, but he could scarcely swallow, frozen in stark horror, the words searing into him with sickening force as Bobby continued. “He wouldn’t leave that damn ghost town. He wouldn’t eat anything or sleep, just stood there, staring at your dead body. He’s a hunter for Christ’s sake and a suicidal hunter has no life expectancy. I couldn’t watch him every second of the day. If he wanted to kill himself, he knew a score of ways to do it and had the means at hand. I couldn’t prevent it.” 


    This time a quick twist of his arm freed him from Sam’s increasingly limp grasp, and the younger man backed away, his knees threatening to buckle. “You could have stayed with him until the worst was over...You could have...I don’t know... redirected his mind into other channels, like revenge.” Sam was aware that his argument was running out of steam, that these were the last feeble kicks before it stopped fighting and surrendered.


    “Revenge?” Bobby bared his teeth in more of a snarl than a smile, but Sam stubbornly lifted his chin to meet the glare directed at him. “Do you even know your brother? Since when has revenge ever been a motivating factor for him?  He was so lost in his grief that nothing else registered or mattered a damn. I tried to tell him the world was in danger of ending, but his world already had.” His gaze dropped, and he muttered as if to himself, “It was like he was dead already, and his body just hadn’t caught up yet.”


    Sam turned away, his muscles heavy and slow to respond. He took a couple of wobbly steps before bracing himself on the rust-encrusted hood of a car that was older than he was. It was absurd, under the circumstances, to feel guilty for not being there to support this brother through what must have been his worst nightmare, to feel responsible for the hell his brother had been through and was going to, but that didn’t stop the emotions from upwelling like a vomit of bile - hot, acidic and turbulent. He slammed his fist against the car in an effort to regain his composure.


    “Sam?” Bobby’s voice was now contrite, but that remorse merely abraded nerves already raw.


    “No, I’m sorry. It’s just...you know... it’s easier when there’s someone to blame.” A soft sigh reached his ears.


    “This isn’t about blame, son. I said more that I should, but this isn’t going to be easy for your brother and I just thought it important that you understood.”


    “I understand.” Sam’s voice tore like paper. It was true, maybe not completely because Dean’s pledge to keep him safe was so long-standing and all-encompassing, but he understood more than he ever wanted to. He now had to face the possibility of being the last of his family alive. It seemed to hold the inevitability of falling dominoes, each of the older Winchesters sacrificing himself to save the next in line until only Sam was left, the youngest and most protected. The loneliness of that fate invaded his chest, wrapping tendrils of anguish around his heart and squeezing with agonizing pressure. He simply couldn’t imagine life without Dean. Despite his yearning for normalcy, his life had been a continual whirl of change, and Dean had always been the only constant in a world of uncertainty - cocky, protective and indestructible.


    His throat hurt with the great lump choking him. Brother, de-facto parent, best friend, and pit-bull defender. He was also fairly sure that Dean was the only barrier between him and true loss of self, the fate predicted even by their father. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll save you. Sam was no stranger to loss, but Dean’s death would push him past the limits of sanity; he already felt like he was poised on the knife edge. Their lives were too entwined, their roots too entangled. To uproot one was to shred the other. Yes, he understood. Just the thought of life without his brother sent his misery plummeting to new depths, but in that void he strengthened his resolve.


    “There has to be a way to prevent this,” he asserted. “I don’t care what it takes. I’ll do anything to keep him alive.”


    The older hunter shook his head, weary warning against false hope and reckless sacrifice evident in his jaded expression. 


    “He thinks he has a monopoly on sibling protectiveness, but I swear that this time I’m going to save him.” Conviction was once again ripe in Sam’s mouth and it blazed from his eyes. He’d find a way, because the alternative was unthinkable.


    “Okay,” Bobby nodded, accepting the attitude if not all its possibilities. 


    “Hey, is this a girls-only party, or can anyone join in?”  


    “Dean!” The knee-weakening relief and sudden surge of affection Sam felt at the sight of his brother caught him by surprise. The older Winchester still looked pale, and the red scab that ran from his eyebrow to disappear into his hairline was eerily reminiscent of the almost fatal injury he’d received in their last encounter with the yellow-eyed demon. Even in the crepuscular light, it was easy to read the expression he’d seen on his brother’s face so often. ‘Are you alright little brother?’


    “I think your sleeping beauty act would qualify you for membership in such a club,” Sam retorted. “Bobby here was just saying he was going to come in and wake you in the time-honoured fashion.” 


    This response succeeded in his goal of dispelling some of the tension that tightened his brother’s shoulders. 


    “With that lovely image in mind,” Bobby commented drily. “I’ll go and start some macaroni and cheese for those who are hungry.” His stocky form quickly disappeared into the shadows, and Sam settled himself back nonchalantly against the car. If there was an Olympic medal for car leaning, he’d be a shoo-in for the gold. Dean settled in next to him, copying his stance, then pushing back to sit on the hood. Neither spoke for a while; the companionship was enough. 


    Dean’s face was expressionless, but in his eyes, always windows to his soul for those who cared to look, Sam could see a lingering fragility, but also a contradictory sense of peace, and he wasn’t sure which scared him the most. It was oddly peaceful, the only sound the faraway rumble of a truck on the highway and, closer, the occasional jingle of Xerxes’s chain as he scratched at an errant flea. They were sitting close enough that, with each inhalation, Dean’s shoulder brushed his, and the warmth of that brief, regular touch thawed the frozen portion of Sam’s soul. With sudden insight, he realised that Dean needed that contact, that reaffirmation of life, as much, if not more, than he did. 


    Dean had always communicated best through touch; words he normally used to mask, mislead and distract. He spoke more in pats of encouragement, slaps of admonishment, pushes to direct and pulls to shield. And when Sam was injured or caught in the midst of an agonising vision, his brother’s hands grasped, supported and soothed, conveying all that Dean was unable to say. Sam could think of a thousand things he wanted to tell his brother, but somehow nothing passed his lips either.


    He gave a small huff of laughter at the absurdity of feeling so content in a junkyard in the middle of nowhere. Dean raised a quizzical eyebrow but he seemed to follow his mood, if not the actual thought process, and asked no questions, merely bumping him with his shoulder.


    The shadows had faded into the general darkness when Dean shifted again. “Hey, Sammy?”


    The younger Winchester stretched out stiffened limbs. “Yeah?”


    “I’m hungry.” Dean pronounced with great consideration.


    Sam snorted lightly. “You’re always hungry. You’ve got a one-track mind.”


    “Well, food provides energy for more important activities,” This time the eyebrow was lecherous.


    “OK, I was wrong, you have a two-track mind.” 


    “An appreciation for the finer things in life just makes me smart.” Dean slid off the hood and extended a hand to pull his brother to his feet. 


    Sam brushed the rust speckles off his jeans, then used his longer legs to catch up with the older boy who had started making his way back to the house. “I don’t think macaroni and cheese qualifies.” He almost ran into Dean, who had stopped abruptly to stare at a wreck with a tire iron sticking out of a shattered window like the impaled hulk of a misshapen monster.


    “Hey Sammy, did you happen to bring a tire iron out with you?”


    “Nah.” Sam tried for his most innocent look, but he shifted his weight uncomfortably under his brother’s skeptical gaze. “I didn’t,” he defended himself. But Dean, with parental precision, had always been able to detect a half-truth as easily as a lie, and finally the younger Winchester caved. “Bobby brought one out for me,” he confessed. 


    To his surprise, Dean passed on the opportunity for teasing. “Bobby’s quite a guy. Macaroni and cheese and a tire iron. What would we do without him?”


    Sam sensed a deeper meaning to these words that made him wonder what his older brother had heard in the junkyard before he made his presence felt. However, he quashed the urge to raise the issue, not sure he wanted to hear the answer. They’d reached the back door and, even before they’d opened it, the pungent aroma of sharp cheese wafted to their noses. It was an odor redolent of comfort, of familiarity, of what meant home to him. Kraft macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and spaghettios were the three staples of his childhood, the limits of a young Dean’s culinary capabilities. Cheap motel rooms and bug-infested, short-term rentals may not have provided any sense of domestic security, but his brother had compensated for any lack of stability. 


    Sam stumbled over the doorstep, his mind caught between thoughts of the past and fear of the future. A strong arm caught and steadied him. “Whoa, easy there, Bigfoot. Bobby’s kitchen isn’t big enough for you to measure your length in it.”


    Sam had the feeling that the jumble of emotions he was sorting through were parading in a steady stream across his face because, with a soft sigh, Dean suddenly squeezed his shoulder. “Stop worrying, little brother. Everything will work out.” Then, before he could be accused of initiating a chick-flick moment, the older Winchester modified his grasp to give an insistent shove towards the table. “Come on, my gourmet pasta’s getting cold.”


    Sam allowed himself to be maneuvered to a chair. He doubted that his definition of ‘everything working out’ would match his brother’s since Dean never factored himself into that particular equation. Sam always came first. The younger Winchester ate his food automatically, tasting nothing, his mind already considering which sources might potentially offer a solution to their problem. 


    The splat of congealing material on his cheek startled him out of his reverie, and he looked up in shock to see another piece of macaroni poised on his brother’s spoon, a weapon loaded and ready to fire. Dean’s aim with limp pasta proved to be as deadly as it was with a silver bullet, and the next projectile caught Sam on the end of his nose. 


    “Dude!” he exclaimed indignantly, batting away the offensive food matter. “Leave off with the freaking...” He was silenced by a salvo of sticky yellow fragments that stuck on his face and in his hair.


    He met his brother’s green, mischievous and slightly apprehensive eyes as his hands slowly explored the mess on his head. “The hair, Dean? This means war, and you seem to have made a strategic error.” He gestured at the older Winchester's now-empty plate and then at his own, still half-full. “You’re out of ammunition.”


    “Hey, Bobby. Didn’t you mention seconds?” Dean jumped up and was hurriedly making for the stove as his brother’s first piece of macaroni flew at him. 


    They both ignored Bobby’s stentorian bellow of, “Boys!” Sam realised that Dean had the right idea. Tonight he would enjoy his brother’s company and pretend nothing had changed. But tomorrow he had work to do.

    belatedly jumping onto the bandwagon

     I've been posting fanfiction on fanfiction.net for several years, but I've become aware of so many good things out there in livejournal land and wanted to be able to comment on them while finding a place to house my own fic. 

    I have absolutely no clue had to upload, download or take advantage of the other technological goodies this medium offers, so I'll just have to see how it goes.


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