Power of Persuasion
Dean had sent Sam out to the car after his brother did the deed. No, not a deed, a last plea, a last request that she had begged Sam for, something that Dean had never ever in a million years wanted to watch his little brother go through. The look in his tear-assaulted eyes, the expression on his face, so lost, aching and broken and pleading for help yet knowing nothing else could be done to fix this. And Dean reluctantly tolerated the fact that Sam was losing some of his innocence that day, pointing the gun at the young woman's chest, firing off the round of silver into her heart. The only thing that could kill a werewolf. And the image of finding his little brother down on his knees, clutching her still-warm body in his arms, Sam's own body so turbulent that Madison's still, silent form quaked along with Sam's. Dean had laid his hands comfortingly on his little brother's shoulders before prying Madison's body from Sam's large arms and gripping fingers with gentle ease. Dean turned Sam toward him, holding his baby brother's face in his own hands, wiping away the traces of tears with his thumbs.
"It's alright, Sammy," Dean had told him softly." You go on out to the car and just relax and wait for me. I'll clean up this mess and get us out of here."
There was no conviction in Sam, no offering to help; instead he just nodded blindly while Dean watched his brother, bowed over by the weight of the world, disappear through Madison's apartment door. Once Dean had finished the most thorough cleaning possible of the place, making sure every single room had been wiped down of any trace that his brother had been there, removing the sheets and blankets, replacing them with new ones, Dean went outside to find Sam slumped against the Impala unmoving. The older hunter helped Sam get seated into the passenger side. Once the door was shut, and he was certain Sam couldn't hear him, Dean slipped out his cell and placed an anonymous tip to the police that there was a gunshot heard near Madison's apartment. After that he slid himself into the car and off they went.
That had been a little over an hour ago, and now Dean was sitting in the driver's seat of his beloved Impala, driving him and his brother away from their most recent stop at the motel room. All of their belongings had still been there, and if they were going to get out of town and as far away as they could, they still needed their clothes and weapons that still lay scattered across Sam's bed, some still taken apart from earlier cleaning. Dean had hurriedly packed everything while Sam sat motionless on the foot of his bed. He had quickly checked out and got his brother packed back up in the car again. The music on the radio wasn't very loud as Dean didn't want to disturb his little brother, but Sam seemed to be off somewhere far away anyway. Dean doubted that loud music would even fase Sam at this point. The younger Winchester was laying listlessly, almost lethargically, up against the passenger side door, the side of his face pressed against the window as he stared out at seemingly nothing, his eyes devoid of any emotion or life. Dean tapped the steering wheel with his thumbs in a steady staccato along with the music before clearing his throat to speak up.
"You know, Sam I was just thinking about something. They're probably going to be having a funeral for Madison, huh? Maybe we should stick around and pay our respects? She was a very classy lady, and she definitely was falling for you. I think it'd make her happy if-," but Dean was cut off by Sam raising his head to look over at his older brother, hazel eyes at a tired halfmast.
Sam slowly shook his head, closing his eyes. "No," was all that came out of his mouth, voice quiet and hoarse sounding. He slid his eyes away from his brother's and laid his cheek up against the passenger side window again, staring out into nothing, resuming the same, dead look in his bluegreen orbs. Dean sighed heavily and turned his gaze back out onto the road, concentrating on driving Sam as far away as he could from San Francisco. Leaving the beauty of Madison and tragedy and despair of her death in their wake. A few hours later, and Dean was still driving. Only once had he stopped in some backwater town to get gas, nip inside of the gas station, grab a few bags of M&Ms, some chips, a few bottles of water, pay for the gas and back out to the car.
Dean gestured toward Sam, showing him the food purchases, but Sam just shook his head declining and continued to gaze back out of the window. He let out a soft sigh before closing his eyes, and Dean knew Sam wasn't really asleep, pretend as he might. The older Winchester couldn't help but feel the worry creeping up the back of his neck for his younger brother as he observed Sam from the corner of his eye the next hour that they drove. This Sam was completely different from the sobbing baby brother he encountered prior to now after Madison's passing, and he realized that Sam hadn't even begun to try and deal with this. From Dean's experience this was definitely not a good thing. Jessica's death had been bad enough. He secretly hoped that this was not going to be another repeat of what they went through. It had been a week, maybe a few days more before Sam had finally broke down, truly accepting that Jessica was gone and not coming back. Another hour of driving, and Dean was finding himself exhausted and grateful to be pulling up to a motel just outside of town.
"Okay, Sam. I'm just gonna go in and get us a room, get our keys and then I'll be back. Maybe I'll head out and grab us some beer, food and we can just kick bad back and watch old movies tonight and get some sleep for a change," he told his kid brother, hoping to garner at least some sort of response from Sam, but the younger Winchester didn't move. He just stayed in the same spot he'd been in since Dean seated him in the car before leaving the motel room in San Francisco.
Dean rolled his shoulders at the uncomfortable tension that seemed to want to settle on them and made his way toward the motel office. There was an ancient looking woman there at the front desk, and Dean found himself needing to repeat what he said rather loudly a few times, telling her that he wanted a room with two singles. After she realized what the boy had been asking for she proceeded to dig out an old, floppy cardboard box full of old room keys and dug around for what seemed like ages searching for the correct key numbers for Dean. He fidgeted impatiently, peering out of the office window and into the Impala to make sure that Sam was alright. Dean's heart lept in his chest as he noticed that the front seat of the Impala was empty. At some point Sam had gotten out of the car and Dean hadn't even noticed it.
"Damn," Dean muttered under his breath. "Sammy, where the hell did you go?" He was pulled back toward the front desk when the old lady's voice piped up.
"AH! Here we go! The room keys. Room 7. I really should get around to organizing these someday, I just hav-," the old lady began carrying on but was cut off as politely as he could get by Dean. He grabbed the keys, gave her a smile and a quick nod before turning on his heel and hurrying out of the motel office door.
The older Winchester went straight for the Impala and saw the trunk lid had been popped open. Sam was behind the car, digging around in the trunk, grabbing his and his brother's duffels as well as the weapons duffel and filling it with what it needed. "Thanks for the help there, but you don't need to carry everything by yourself, Sam," Dean pointed out to his younger brother who'd thrown both duffels over one shoulder and was proceeding to toss the weapons duffel over his other. Sam just gave Dean a quick glance, his face still as stoic as earlier, before turning away and slamming the lid shut on the trunk. "Hey, hey bro! Easy there!" Dean scolded somewhat playfully, but the younger Winchester still seemed to just ignore him. "You don't even know what room we're in, Sam! I've got the damn keys!"
Sam paused and turned back toward his brother, his eyes lowered to the ground. "Sorry," he spoke in barely above a whisper as he held his hand out for his key, his voice as flat sounding as the look in his eyes.
"Nah, c'mon Sammy. Nothin' to be sorry for. Gimme those duffels. I'll carry 'em. Let's just get you in the room and settled for the night. Maybe a nice, hot shower would do you some good, huh?" Dean watched as Sam looked down at himself. His shirt still had Madison's bloodstain on it from earlier. The younger Winchester's hazels met Dean's worried eyes and something seemed to flicker through them before Dean lost sight of it. Sam just shook his dark head.
"I'm tired, Dean," was all that came out of his baby brother's mouth as Dean turned the key in the lock and pushed open the motel room door.
The older hunter had a feeling that this night was not going to bode well for neither him nor Sam, but especially Sam. Sam had locked his emotions away, just like always and turned himself into a robot. He did this when Jessica had died, doing nothing but throwing himself into the hunt, nearly getting himself killed and just not caring. Dean was not going to have this happen again if he had anything to say about it. At some point tonight Dean had planned on getting Sam to talk to him about all of this. Sam couldn't hold everything back forever. It was unhealthy, and Sam knew that it was, but it still didn't seem to matter. Not only that but it scared Dean, this expression being held in his brother's normally warm, emotion-filled, hazel eyes. Dean could only just begin to breech the surface and imagine the thoughts swirling in his little brother's mind right now. He wasn't sure if he really wanted to.
The brothers stepped inside the room and Sam went straight to his bed, throwing his duffel down onto the top of the spread. The older Winchester watched as Sam dug through it and pulled out some clean clothes, the small bag containing his bathroom supplies and headed into the bathroom. Dean waited to hear if the shower would come on, but Sam never turned it on. He heard the water from the sink turn on and assumed Sam was just brushing his teeth. Dean sat on his bed and waited and waited for Sam to come out, but the younger Winchester never did. He couldn't help but feel extremely worried and so putting on a facade, Dean got up and banged on the bathroom door.
"Hey are you about done in there? Some of us have to pee and would really like a shower!" Dean shouted through the door and hoping over the sound of the faucet. There was no response and Dean beat on the door again with his fist. "SAM! LET ME IN!" Still no response, and Dean decided to hell with it. He turned the knob on the bathroom door to find that surprisingly it was unlocked. He walked in to see his little brother, clothes changed into a fresh black t-shirt and jeans, and hunched over the sink, scrubbing fiercely at his hands under hot water that had already began steaming up the mirror above the sink. "Hey hey hey, what are you doing, Sam?"
"Blood. I have blood on my hands. Just trying to get it off," Sam replied in a monotone voice which scared Dean even more, but he didn't voice it. Though something was going to have to give though.
Dean grasped his little brother's hands which were hot and red from the scrubbing, but thankfully not raw yet, and shut the faucet off. "I think that's enough of that, little brother. Here. The blood's all gone. Let me get you a towel so we can wipe these dry." Dean grasped both of Sam's wrists in one hand while he snagged a white towel hanging off of the towel rack next to bathroom sink and began drying his brother's hands. Sure enough, there was no blood. Not even under his fingernails. Sam had done a pretty thorough job cleaning his hands.
"C'mon, Sammy. Let's get you ready for bed. Wouldn't you be more comfortable in some sleep pants instead of jeans?" Dean inquired, raising an eyebrow as he took in his brother's appearance.
Sam just shook his head, staring ahead now, not looking at Dean, not looking at his hands or the floor, just ahead. He took Sam by the shoulder and steered him out of the bathroom and seated him down on the end of the younger Winchester's bed. Sam mechanically sat down and did move. He just continued to stare ahead, no flicker of recognition that Dean was near, no hint of emotion, nothing. Dean sighed and ran a hand over his mouth before turning back to his brother.
"Hey, Sam? I'm gonna go out for just a few minutes, grab some beer and maybe something to eat. I won't be gone but maybe 15 minutes, okay? You gonna be cool hanging here?" he asked looking down at his little brother.
Sam just nodded his head slowly in affirmation, and Dean sighed, pulling his jacket back on and slipping out of the motel room door. His beer and food run was definitely quick, and Dean was hoping that Sam would be stretched out and sleeping by the time he got back. Despite this non-emotive side to Sam, the kid looked ready to crash at any given moment, and it was more than evident that the young hunter just needed some sleep. Dean tried to recall the last time the poor kid slept. Oh right. He had fallen asleep with Madison in his arms only to have her wolf out as soon as the full moon rose. He hadn't slept since then.
Dean was somewhat dismayed to find his younger brother still sitting at the foot of his bed where Dean had parked him before leaving, still looking ahead, staring into nothing, seemingly feeling nothing, hearing nothing, acknowledging nothing. Dean chose to brush it off, hoping that he would be able to pull Sam out of this stupor with beer and food. He sat the greasy bags down on the table along with the two 6-packs he'd purchased, thinking and hoping that maybe his little brother could at least get himself through one of them. Maybe Sam could get drunk enough to talk to him, to get himself to open up and pull him out of this languor he'd fallen into.
"Yo, Sam!" Dean called. "Earth to Sasquatch! I got food and beer over here. You interested?" The older Winchester knelt down in front of his brother, waving a hand back and forth in front of his face. "You in there?"
"Stop it, Dean. I'm not hungry," Sam responded, a twinge of irritation just barely touching his tone.
"Ohhh so I see you've finally come back from planet silence of the weird and are actually speaking to me now," the older Winchester replied as began pulling the food out of the bags, placing Sam a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad on his side of the table and pulling himself out a thick, double bacon cheeseburger and fries. He slid two beers out of their carrier and sat one on either side. "Well, I really don't care if you're hungry or not. I'd like you to come over here and try to eat something."
Sam shook his head stubbornly and averted his eyes from his older brother, staring downward at the carpet. "I said, I'm not hungry, Dean," the younger Winchester growled softly.
"Dude, you are not handling this properly at all," Dean told Sam, nonchalantly leaning back against the table, taking a swig from his beer. "You need to deal, man. Isn't that what you told me when Dad died? You can't just sit there and not deal with it. You can't brood over this for the rest of your life."
At Dean's words, Sam's head shot up, his hazel eyes narrowed. "And since when the hell did you even give a rat's ass if I'm dealing or not, Dean? You didn't care when dad died if I was handling it or not. You never bothered to ask if I was still dealing or not. Now that Madison's dead you're suddenly the concerned big brother? You're worried about me handling her death? Screw you, Dean. You have no idea. NONE."
"THEN ENLIGHTEN ME, SAM!" Dean yelled out but instantly felt bad. This wasn't what his little brother needed right now, but what he did need was some sort of outlet. He couldn't hold this pain inside of him for much longer and Dean could see Sam slowly beginning to waver as the anger consumed his expression and replaced it with rage. Dean huffed a frustrated sigh. "Why don't you perhaps give me an idea on what it's like to lose a woman you're falling in love with, or better yet, what it's like to a kill a woman that you were falling for and who turned out to be a monster. Why don't you tell me a bedtime story about that, Sam?"
The younger Winchester rose from the bed, his hands balling into tight fists at his sides. "She was not a monster."
Dean shrugged his shoulders and took another drink from his beer. "Yeah she was, Sam. Madison was a monster. You know it, I know it. She knew it. Don't sit there and try to deny it."
"No, Dean. You didn't know her. You didn't know about her life, her dreams, her ambitions. Madison was not a monster. She wasn't," Sam growled, his eyes staring straight into his brother's now, raging fire blazing through their hazel depths.
"She committed murder, Sam. She killed those men. Ripped their hearts right out of their chests," the older Winchester continued egging his little brother on.
"NO! She had NO idea she was even doing it, Dean! NONE WHATSOEVER!" His voice had risen, and was slightly shaking and almost desperate. "Madison feared the male dominance aspect of those men. When the wolf part of her took over, she killed them because she felt the need to protect herself! I know her ex deserved it," Sam's added through clenched teeth. "That son of a bitch was violent. He made her feel insecure and afraid!"
Dean just stared at Sam before sitting his empty beer bottle down on the table. He folded his arms across his chest. "Yeah, and? She was still a monster, Sam. A cold-blooded murderer, unstoppable and evil."
"SHE WAS NOT EVIL!" Sam screamed out, advancing toward his older brother, breath becoming erratic and chest heaving from it. "THERE WAS NOT AN EVIL BONE IN HER BODY!"
"Yes there was, Sam," Dean replied matter-of-factly. "Madison was just one of the many nasty, supernatural, evil things that we hunt, little bro," Dean continued pushing until he found Sam running at him, grabbing his older brother by the shirt and slamming him against the motel wall with a small "oof!" It shocked Dean, and it was certainly not something he expected. So instead, he just continued to stare at his brother's slowly breaking resolve. The anger remained flashing through Sam's eyes, but he could see the anguish beginning to replace it. It wouldn't be long now.
His little brother's teeth were bared, and he snarled at Dean like a rabid dog, his face just inches away from Dean's. "Don't you DARE say that about her, Dean. Don't you EVEN go there! Madison was NOT evil! She didn't even know what she was doing! She fell asleep, and she had no memory of what she was doing and you call that evil? It wasn't her fault, Dean! IT WAS NOT HER FAULT!"
"I don't know, Sam. She was still wolfing out, and she still killed people. If you ask me," Dean began leaning more into Sam's face, though his younger brother had him pinned against the wall. "I think she deserved to die," he told his kid brother in a very soft, almost deadly sounding voice, his green eyes piercing the agonized hazel ones in front of him.
Sam's eyes widened before they narrowed in newfound rage, and Sam drew back a fist, landing a right hook deep into Dean's jaw, sending him knocked sideways. Luckily Dean fell into the table before he could hit the floor. Dean stumbled a bit, cupping his jaw and forgetting how powerful of a punch his kid brother packed when he didn't pull the hit. And Sam hadn't pulled the hit at all. It was full on forceful hit as powerful as his the younger hunter could muster.
"SHE WAS NOT A MONSTER! SHE WAS NEVER A MONSTER! SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL PERSON AND AN INNOCENT GIRL WITH A WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF HER! SHE DIDN'T DESERVE THE FATE SHE GOT! SHE DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE! SHE HAD NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS EVEN DOING! SHE WAS INNOCENT, DAMMIT AND PURE AND BEAUTIFUL! SHE NEVER ASKED TO GET BITTEN BY A WEREWOLF! SHE COULD'VE HAD SO MUCH MORE LIFE TO LIVE IF I COULD'VE JUST FOUND SOMETHING TO SAVE HER! BUT SHE'S NOT NOW BECAUSE...BECAUSE I TOOK THAT AWAY FROM HER, DEAN! I DID! I KILLED HER! I KILLED HER! I SHOT HER AND NOW SHE'S DEAD! SHE'S DEAD BECAUSE OF ME! A BEAUTIFUL, SWEET, INNOCENT GIRL IS DEAD, AND IT'S BECAUSE OF ME, DEAN" Sam lashed out at his brother, throwing his own hands against his chest to emphasize that it was all his fault that this beautiful girl had to die, though Dean didn't believe that for a minute, nor did he believe all the words he'd just spoken to Sam either, but here was his little brother, falling apart right in front of him now. It was time to snap into big brother mode for the kid.
Dean knew his little brother all too well, and Sam was breaking into little bits. He watched Sam's chest heaving, the anger slowly drain away from his face to turn to sorrow and realization. Dean slowly approached his brother ready to hold all the pieces together, keeping his eyes focused on the kid. "She's dead, Dean. I killed her," the younger Winchester spoke more softly now, his voice thick with emotion, his big hazel eyes filling with tears. "I killed her. I shot her. She's dead, and she can't come back," Sam's breath hitched, and Dean watched as his little brother's legs began to collapse under him. He rushed in front of Sam and grabbed a hold of his arms as Sam went to his knees, going down with his kid brother. Sam's head hung, his hair covering his eyes. "I killed her, Dean. She could've lived. She could've lived an entire, full life all her own if only I had tried harder," Sam told his older brother in tremulous tones.
"Sam, there was nothing we could do," Dean told his little brother softly, his hands grasping Sam's biceps and squeezing them hard. "You know there's no cure for a werewolf. You know that there was nothing that could've been done, Sammy."
Sam didn't respond, but Dean felt a splash soak through his jeans. Followed by another and then another before Sam let out a pitiful keening noise and began to sob. Dean grasped his baby brother around the back of his neck and pulled him in closer, and Sam didn't hesitate or try to fight the comfort. He wrapped his arms tight around Dean's waist, burying his face into his older brother's shoulder as the sobbing became so bone-shattering, so profound that not a sound could be heard, only the heavy breathing, the sniffling and tumultuous shaking of Sam's body. Dean placed his hand on the back of Sam's head while he put his other arm around Sam's shoulders and reined him in as tight as he could possibly hold him. Sam's fingers had curled tightly around the back of Dean's shirt as the kid cried brokenly into his older brother's shoulder, seeking the comfort and warmth he'd needed since the moment Madison asked Sam to save her.
"It's alright, Sammy. It's alright. Everything's going to be okay. We're going to get through this. I promise," Dean murmured into Sam's ear, not minding that his brother's tears were completely soaking through his shirt. He just continued to thread his fingers through the back of Sam's hair, his other one gripping Sam tightly, trying to pour out as much comfort as he possibly could for his little brother.
After about fifteen minutes, maybe longer, Sam's sobbing had eased off, turning to gradual hitching, and his tears had slowed but had not stopped flowing. He turned his face so that the side of it was laying against Dean's shoulder, turned away from Dean's own face, giving him way to breathe. "I killed her, Dean. I know she wanted it. I know it was the right thing to do, but I killed her and I think I was starting to fall in love with her. There could've been something there, but you know? I understand something now," the younger Winchester's shaking voice still thick with tears spoke up.
"What's that, Sammy?" Dean questioned his little brother tenderly. "What do you understand?"
"The promise I made you make," Sam responded, his entire body shivering in Dean's arms. "Dean, I am so sorry. I realize now what I was asking of you. I never ever should've asked that of you. Dean, please. I just...I'm so sorry," Sam's voice cracked, followed by another sob. "Everyone around me dies, Dean. Why does everyone around me die, Dean? Why?" Sam questioned, sounding all of 5 years old, and his breath hitched again and his head turned before Dean could feel Sam's warm, wet face burrowing into his neck. Dean could tell from experience that flood was about to start again, but he didn't care. He'd stay here and hold his baby brother for days and let him cry if that meant Sam dealing with this and eventually being okay. If that is what Sam needed, then that was what Dean would do.
"Sam, let's not talk about that right now, okay?" Dean soothed, his hand finding it's way to the middle of Sam's back where he began to rub gentle circles in between his little brother's shoulder blades. "That's not important. What's important now is that we help you get past this, okay? And we'll stay here for as long as you need, alright?" Dean laid his cheek against Sam's hair who's shoulders just jerked in response before the new array of tears started and Dean could feel them on his neck and sliding down his shirt. He just wrapped his arms, if possible, tighter around Sam and didn't let go. He didn't want Sam feeling any more guilty than what he was at this very moment. "Sammy, you do know that those things I said about Madison, I didn't mean any of them. You were just scaring me man. I couldn't get any sort of reaction out of you. So I tried another method to see if I could. I just wanted you to try and deal with this. That's all. You know that, right Sammy?" Dean inquired and he felt his little brother's head nod up and down against his neck. Dean breathed a sigh of relief and resumed the stroking of Sam's back.
An hour passed, maybe two before Sam finally pulled back from his brother. "I'm sorry," he mumbled and tried to turn away from Dean before Dean grabbed the younger Winchester's shoulders and turned him back to face him.
"Hey, hey there is nothing, not a DAMN thing, to be sorry about here, Sammy. Not at all. You got me?" Dean questioned his kid brother, grasping his face and pulling it up to meet Sam's red-rimmed eyes. Just as he'd done before at Madison's apartment, Dean used his thumbs to wipe away the tear tracks rivering down Sam's face.
Sam's hazels just stared into Dean's grassy greens before he sniffed and offered a weak smile. "Thanks, Dean," Sam told his older brother before pushing himself to his feet. Dean stood up as well, ready with his hand out in case his little brother needed help in walking. Sam seemed a tad unsteady on his feet but nevertheless, made it into the bathroom. He left the door open, and Dean watched his kid brother bend over the sink, turn on the faucet and wash his face. Sam came out of the bathroom looking a tad refreshed, but his eyes were still red and puffy from his breakdown just moments ago. He gave a tired smile to his brother who offered him a beer and Sam accepted gratefully before seating himself on the end of his bed. "I'm sorry I hit you," he apologized, pointing the top of his beer bottle toward Dean.
Dean just waved a hand at his little brother. "Eh, don't worry about Sammy! Didn't hurt that much! I need to teach you how to really hit when you wanna hit because you still totally hit like a girl," Dean teased, but Sam just rolled his eyes. He could see the bruise that had unmistakenly began to form on the side of his brother's face. The two Winchesters sat in silence as they finished their beers before Sam stood up to toss his empty bottle in the trashcan and grab another. He turned and looked back at Dean with an earnest and grieved expression all mixed into one, but Dean knew that face better than anybody.
"Dean," Sam began. "We need to get our suits ready. I'd like to go back and attend Madison's funeral," the younger Winchester managed to choke out before swallowing hard and popping the lid off of his beer. "Of course, Sammy," Dean responded, hiding his surprise but not going to deny this of his baby brother. "We wouldn't miss it for the world."