Title: The Comfort of Lies
Author: Dhvana
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Pairing: None (gen)
Spoilers: Nightmare
Summary: What Dean's really thinking about Sam's new powers.
A/N: Some much needed post-Nightmare catharsis.


Dean tried to act like nothing had changed. He made jokes like he always did, teased Sammy like he always did, hunted down the things that went bump in the night like he always did, but it was all part of the act. It was all a lie. The truth was, he was afraid.

Yeah, they were freaks, always had been, always would be, but before, they had been freaks together. Now. . . now he was one kind of freak, and Sammy was something different. Sammy was becoming like them, one of those things they couldn't explain, one of those things they killed.

Not that he would ever kill his brother. He would still die for Sam--that hadn't changed. He would do anything to protect him, anything to keep him safe, but what if...

What if.

There couldn't be a 'what if'. He was either with Sam, or against him, no matter what he was or what he became. If Sam did become one of them, then Dean would do what he had to in order to save him, and if he had to save him by killing him, then that's what he'd do. It was his job. It was his duty. It was--


He jumped, his fingers nervously tapping the steering wheel. Did Sam know what had been going on inside his head? Was his brother reading his thoughts? Shit--would he try anything? Why wasn't he carrying his gun--

"Dean, you missed the exit."

"What? Oh." He twisted around in the seat to look behind him. "Shit. All right, hold on."

Sam rolled his eyes and went back to studying the map as Dean did a U-turn across the two-lane highway and headed back towards the exit. Following the ramp onto the interstate, he made sure to stay alert until he was settled into a good driving pace, then sunk back into his thoughts.

This was. . . it was insane, that's what it was. This was his brother he was talking about, not some sort of demon or monster or ghoul. He had no reason not to trust Sam. He had no reason to be afraid of him. Sam had never done anything to hurt him before--not intentionally, at least--and he didn't think he was going to start now. It wasn't like Sam could control what was happening to him--but wasn't that all the more reason to be concerned?

If Sam didn't have control over his abilities, wasn't it possible that something was controlling them for him? Something had to be guiding Sam towards those visions of his, and while Sam claimed he'd been the one to move the cabinet, what if it had only happened because he'd gotten angry enough to push through whatever was controlling him?

Unless there was nothing controlling him and it had been his brother all along. If that was the case, what happened if Sam ever got really angry? More importantly, what happened if Sam ever got really angry at him? Would he end up with a knife in the eye or his head exploding or something? Maybe Sam would start controlling him with his thoughts and he'd become this little Dean puppet, trapped in his own body, obeying Sam's every whim.

Oh, fuck no. He'd take the knife in the eye first. Sam could find someone else to be his puppet-slave.

Puppet-slave. Dean stifled a laugh, knowing his thoughts were bordering on hysteria. He was really going overboard here. It was all just idle speculation led by his so-far unfounded paranoia. For all he knew, Sam was still just his brother who happened to be going through some sort of supernatural puberty. Maybe he'd come out the other end of it just fine.

Or maybe he'd come out with horns and a tail and start killing people with a single look while laughing like a madman, which led back to the whole having to kill his brother thing, and he really didn't want to start thinking in that direction again because, while he'd do it if he had to, he really didn't want to have to.

Christ, he swore, drumming his fingers furiously against the wheel. How fucked up was he that he was actually considering killing his brother?

Dean glanced over at Sam, trying to be as subtle as possible so he wouldn't be caught staring. Looking at him now, he didn't see anyone different. Same abnormally long limbs, same brown hair seriously needing to be introduced to a comb, same frown creasing his forehead, same lips pursed in thoughtfulness, same hazel eyes so similar to his own. On the outside, he was still Sam, always would be. Dean just wished he could understand what was happening on the inside.



"Could we pull into that rest stop?"


Dean flipped on the turn signal and edged the Impala into the exit ramp. Other than an eighteen-wheeler and a minivan, they had the place to themselves. Sam got out and headed to the bathrooms while he sat in the car, staring at the trees ahead of him. Even though it was spring, they were still stripped of their leaves, their empty branches matching the depressing gray of the sky and the gloom of his thoughts.

A family of four spilled out of the bathrooms and piled into the minivan, mom and dad making sure the children were buckled up before continuing on their way. Cute kids, Dean thought with a smirk as the brother beaned his little sister on the head with a teddy bear, the girl hitting him back with a coloring book. He and Sam never would have dared start a fight while dad was driving, but then, that's why one of them was usually kept up front and the other in back. The only thing they argued about was whether Dean was hogging the front seat, or Sam was, depending on who was doing the arguing.

After a few minutes, Sam emerged from the bathroom and went first for the backseat. He dug into his bag and pulled out a bottle of aspirin. Dean flinched.

"Headache?" he asked casually as Sam slid into the passenger's seat.

"Yeah," he answered, popping a couple of pills dry.

"There's some water in the--"

"I'm fine."

"So, the headache. . ."

"Just a headache, Dean," he snapped.

"Okay, okay!" he said, holding up his hands defensively. "Just thought I'd ask."

Sam turned his head to look out the window, but Dean could see he was scowling in his reflection. Shit. He'd made him angry. If he used his powers on the Impala. . . Maybe they should just get going. The drive might calm him down.

"You ready to go?" he asked, trying to sound chipper.

Sam remained silent, then opened the door and got out, slamming it behind him.

"Guess not," Dean muttered, watching as his brother walked over to one of the picnic tables. He sat down on top of it facing the interstate, his feet resting on the bench, his hands buried in his jacket pockets. His eyes didn't once move over to the Impala. Dean waited a few minutes, then sighed and climbed out of the car. He joined Sam on the picnic table, sitting next to him but with a good foot and a half of space between them. Just in case.

"You wanna talk about it?"

"What? The fact that you're an asshole?"

Dean arched an eyebrow. "Okay, we can start there."

"You know, Dean, if you're that afraid I'm going to do something, maybe we should just go our separate ways."

"Whoa--hey! What? I never said--"

"You didn't have to." Sam turned to him. "I've seen the way you look at me, the way you start tapping your fingers every time you think I'm going to explode and do something weird. You don't trust me."

"Sam, it's not that--"

"Then what the hell is it? Are you afraid of me, Dean? Do you think I'm going to snap and start hurting people? Do you think I'll hurt you?"

"Don't be an idiot! It's nothing like that!"

"Then what is it like? Tell me what it is that's making you so nervous because I don't know what else it could be."

Dean's jaw snapped shut and he turned to glare at the road. The problem was, it was exactly that. It was all of it. He could try and lie about it, try to deny it, but thanks to Sam and his freakish new powers, he'd probably get caught.

"I think you should go."

He rolled his eyes. Not this again. "Sammy, I'm not leaving you here."

"And I'm not going to spend another minute with someone who could blow a hole in my head the next time I sneeze! You think this isn't scary enough for me? You think I'm not terrified to close my eyes because of what I might see? You think I'm not afraid to lose my temper because I might hurt someone? Because I might hurt you? I'm scared to death here, Dean, and having you freak out every time I get a headache is not helping!"

The branches in the tree above them started shaking and Dean quickly glanced up.

"It's the wind, you fucking asshole!" Sam shouted and pushed him off the table.

Dean landed on his butt in the grass, sharp pain shooting through his body. Oh yeah, that was gonna leave a bruise. "Jesus, Sammy!" he snarled, jumping to his feet. "What the fuck's gotten into you?"

"I don't know. A demon? A spirit? A leprechaun? I don't know! Or maybe there's nothing in me at all, maybe this is just how I'm wired! Did you ever think of that?"

"First off, I wasn't being literal, jackass. Second, as for what I think--damnit, Sammy!" he growled, rubbing his hand over his head, "I don't fucking know what to think!"

"Neither do I! And I can't figure it out with you constantly looking at me like I'm about to sprout a second head. If you're afraid of me, Dean, you can't help me."

"Well, you know what, Sammy? You're right. I am afraid of you. I'm also afraid for you. I want to protect you, but goddamnit, I need to know if I'm going to have to protect people from you!"

"To protect yourself," Sam said with narrowed eyes and Dean didn't bother denying it.

"Hell yes, to protect myself! I can't help you if I'm out of commission because you've got me pinned to a wall!"

"Dean, I'd never do anything to hurt you. Why can't you believe that?"

His shoulders sagged and he sat down on the bench at Sam's feet. "I want to believe you, but until we've get some answers, until we know what we're up against, I have to be careful. Not just for my sake, but for yours and for everyone around us."

"You'd kill me if you thought I was a threat, wouldn't you." It wasn't a question, but a statement delivered in a voice devoid of emotion, one that chilled Dean to his bones and he gave his brother a sharp look.

Had Sam known what he'd been thinking this whole time? Or was this something Sam needed to know for himself? It was possible his brother was just as terrified of himself as Dean was of him, and he needed to know that there was someone out there who would stop him. But could he do it? Could he really kill his own brother, his flesh and blood, his family? In spite of everything he'd told himself, he still wasn't sure.

"I don't know, Sammy. I just know that if it did ever come to that, you wouldn't go alone."

Sam stared at him for a moment, then nodded and looked away. He seemed to deflate in on himself, his anger vanishing as quickly as it came.

Dean let out a breath he didn't even know he'd been holding and turned his gaze towards the highway, nudging his shoulder against his brother's leg. "It's going to be all right. We'll get some answers, we'll get this bitch figured out, and then we won't have to worry anymore. Whatever it is, we're going to get through it, Sammy, you and I together, I promise. I'm not gonna let anything happen to you."

The moment he said it, he could feel the falseness of his words. He was saying them because, true or not, they were what he always said. Still, he felt Sam relax beside him and they let the lie comfort them both, like it always did.

"We should get going," Sam said after a minute of silence.

"Yeah," Dean nodded, but neither of them moved. The second they got back on the road, they knew their journey might take them closer to the truth, but it could also lead them to answers they were better off not knowing. For the moment, it was safer to just sit there on the picnic table and watch the cars pass by.