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Thursday, February 17th, 2011 10:28 pm
By Your Side - Supernatural - Gen (Sam and Dean) - Words: 2,683
Written for H/C Bingo February Mini-Challenge. Prompts: Arachnophobia, Alcoholism, Cursed, and Child Abuse (Emotional).
Summary: A fight with some unusual enemies unsettles memories in both Sam and Dean, leaving Sam wondering how he can possibly help.
Warnings: Spiders, Child Abuse. PG-13
Notes: Thank you to my fabulous beta Robyntacopants for the fabulous and snarky edit.
On AO3: By Your Side

Sam drove them back to the motel, having noticed that Dean's hands were shaking and snagged the keys before Dean had the chance to put up more than a token protest. All in all, it hadn't been bad. They'd taken care of the problem with a minimal body count, no one noticed anything strange, and they hadn't even run into local law enforcement. It would have counted firmly in the win column, which was rare enough that Dean should be looking out the windows trying to spot a bar where they could kick back for a few hours before they turned in. Instead, Dean was staring at the edge of the dashboard while his hands clenched repeatedly against his jeans.

The motel was at the edge of town, and judging from the lack of cars in the parking lot, they were practically the only ones there. Which, in their line of work, was an absolute blessing. Less chance of someone getting caught in the cross-fire when something nasty came after them, less chance of someone investigating or trying to help if they heard noises. Sam pulled into the parking space directly outside of their room and turned off the car. When neither of them moved for more than a minute, Sam chanced more than a glance over to his brother.

"Dean," he started, his fingers gripping onto the steering wheel as he tried to figure out exactly what he could say to help.

Dean got out of the car without a word, shutting the passenger door with a surprising amount of force considering how much he babied his car.

Sam sighed and waited until Dean had grabbed his bag from the trunk and disappeared into their room before he got out of the car and found his own bag. He stood outside for a few minutes, trying to decide if it was better to give Dean some time to himself or if he should be keeping an eye on him. He almost always to be by his brother's side, helping as much as he could, but he knew from experience that sometimes his brother was a lot easier to deal with after he'd had a chance to unwind by himself.

Finally, he looked at his watch and saw that it was past midnight, which was the deciding factor right there. If Dean wanted alone time, he could have it while Sam was asleep. His left side was aching a little where he'd taken a fall onto the concrete and a hot shower and a bed sounded just about perfect at the moment. He shouldered his bag and went into the room, taking care to lock the door behind him, not that the deadbolt and chain would do much good if something less than human tried to break in.

Unsurprisingly, Dean was slumped down in an armchair, the upholstery splitting at the seams and Dean's legs sticking out across the pathway that lead to the beds. Under most circumstances, Sam would simply bump into him and demand that Dean move his legs so he could get by, and Dean would make a sarcastic and/or rude comment in return and stretch his legs out further. But Sam had also seen his brother in this particular mood enough times to know not to mess with him. Dean's first reaction would be disproportional violence followed quickly by a shamed retreat and then several days of uncomfortable silence during which Sam would prod his brother back towards their usual banter, never quite sure when he was going to step over that invisible and ever-changing line.

So Sam just carefully stepped over Dean's legs and took the bed that didn't have Dean's bag tossed on it. A clinking noise caught Sam's attention and he glanced over to find Dean pouring himself a drink, and from the look of the bottle it wasn't the first he'd had that night. Sam bit his tongue and dug his toiletries kit out of his bag. He had never said anything about Dean's drinking, and probably never would. They all dealt with demon hunting in a variety of unhealthy ways; all the hunters they'd ever met had. As much as Sam didn't like it, he understood it. And, if it didn't nearly get them killed, Sam wouldn't bring it up. If it kept Dean going, it was worth it.

When he came out of the bathroom, having paused to examine his bruising side and thigh as he changed into a cotton sleep-shirt and sweatpants, Dean had tumbled onto his bed, still sitting with his glass in hand and a faraway expression on his face. Sam left the bathroom light on and cracked the door, even though neither of them had needed a nightlight since they were very little, and hadn't had one when they'd needed one either. He pulled down the blankets on his bed and set his cellphone down next to Dean's and by their revolvers before turning off the bedside lamp.

Sam rolled over onto his side, facing the wall and away from Dean, but found that he couldn't keep his eyes shut no matter how tired he was. He replayed the night in his mind, wondering if he should have gone in by himself as soon as they'd realized what had been killing people. But Dean had just loaded up on ammo and when Sam had paused, he'd shoved a rifle at him and slammed the trunk. And arguing with Dean, especially about things that Dean wouldn't talk about normally, when he had a gun in his side holster, another strapped to his ankle, and holding a shot gun was just not going to happen.

After a while, there was a clinking sound and Sam listened trying to figure out if Dean was stopping for the night or if he was just pausing for a refill. When there were no sounds other than Dean shifting around to get under the covers, Sam relaxed a little and rolled over. His eyes had adjusted to the low lighting, and he watched as Dean fell asleep.

The basement of the abandoned building had been fairly anticlimactic, or should have been, considering everything they'd seen. Giant malevolent spiders, all summoned through magic that Sam wasn't entirely sure he understood, had sensed their presence almost as soon as he and Dean had entered the basement. The few spiders that had followed them through the side streets of the town had been bad enough, and Dean had muttered about being cursed in order to have attracted that kind of attention just by stopping for the night.

Between the spiders swarming and the sound of their guns firing into the darkness, Sam had completely lost track of everything, including Dean. When he'd managed to stop firing for a moment, scrambling to reload as quickly as possible incase the spiders had just been driven back and there were more waiting, Sam had seen Dean backed up against a wall. Dean had lost his weapon and a spider the size of a labrador closing in rapidly.

Sam scrambled to the side, hitting the ground with more force than he'd have liked, and shot it with more accuracy then he would have given himself credit for. Sam found Dean's abandoned shot gun on the ground a few feet from where he'd landed, still with ammo loaded. He got to his feet and picked it up, bringing it back to where Dean was standing stock still.

"Alright?" Sam asked, when he didn't take the proffered weapon.

The sound of Sam's voice snapped Dean out of wherever he'd been and Dean snatched the weapon from Sam's hand. "Let's finish this bastard."

Sam watched as Dean stalked away, noticing that his backup weapon was still in his holster and the other still at his ankle. When they found the summoner, Dean cocked his shot gun and open fired, not stopping to ask questions or even make sure they had the right guy. Though, after Sam had taken a look around the room he was sure enough, but Dean hadn't even paused. It wasn't something Sam saw happen very often, and wasn't something he wanted to see at all.

Dean moved on the bed in his sleep, his head flopping back and forth as his hands roughly pushed the blankets away from him. Sam paused for a moment and sat up, once again not sure what to do. Somehow, when it came to Dean needing him, that was always where he was least certain of himself. Dean moaned and twisted around again and Sam swung his feet out of bed.

It was odd, to anyone who didn't know Dean, that he was afraid of spiders when he took out all sorts of far more dangerous demons and creatures without a second thought. But Sam knew things that he could only barely remember, things that he wasn't sure if he was remembering right or if his brain had just mashed a whole bunch of horrors together in his mind. He also knew that wasn't true; he knew what he remembered even if he didn't like to admit it. Dean certainly would never admit it, even though he probably had much clearer memories than Sam did. It was one of those things that Sam could never ask, like things about their mom and what things had been like before, because it would hurt Dean too much.

Sam shut his eyes briefly and pressed his hands against his face. Even though he could barely remember it still made him feel sick and angry. He couldn't imagine how Dean felt.

He kept his head in his hands as he listened to Dean struggling with the sheets and blankets and a plop as a pillow was shoved violently from the bed. Dean had only fought briefly, or at least that's what Sam remembered. After that it had only been gasped whimpers and sobs. Sam figured that's why his brother closed down the way he did; when Dean got angry or hurt his first reaction was always to isolate himself by any means necessary. The psychology overview course that Sam had taken in his first year at the university had provided plenty of insights into what was probably wrong with both him and Dean, and reading that he'd done in the library had suggested much more. None of the books gave much, if any, advice about what to do about it though.

Sam swallowed hard as he remembered edging closer to the bathroom, afraid he was going to get caught but also aware that he had to see and understand. There was so much he didn't understand, so many times Dean would be angry with him for not understanding, and he had to know what was happening. He still wasn't sure whether it was a good thing that he'd looked or not, if speculation about the event would have driven him mad or if he simply would have forgotten it entirely.

How their Dad had got the spiders in the bathtub was still a mystery to Sam, but the image of Dean sitting in a bathtub in nothing but his underwear as a dozen spiders crawled across him was permanently etched in his mind. Dean had his hands pressed up against his mouth, only somewhat blocking the panicked sounds he was making, and tears flooding freely down his face. Sam had just stood, pressing his body against the doorframe and watched; horrified, fascinated, and sick in equal parts. Dad was speaking to Dean, low and firm as the spiders climbed over Dean's shaking limbs. Even now, when Sam saw his Dad, one of the things he saw first was his hand on Dean's shoulder keeping him from escaping or even standing up, and his hands gripping Dean's much smaller arms to keep him from trying to brush the spiders off. Maybe their family was cursed, just not in the way that Dean had meant.

Sam let out a breath and opened his eyes, tucking his hands under his thighs to keep them from shaking. Dean had moved around enough so that he'd knocked both the pillows clear from the bed and the sheets were tangling tightly around his legs. Uncertainly, Sam stood up and took the single step necessary to cross the space between their beds. Dean shuddered as Sam tugged the sheets out from where they'd become caught and then pulled all the blankets out from where they were tucked in at the bottom of the bed. He resettled the sheet over Dean, only up to his waist so he wouldn't be as likely to push it away, and then went to the thermostat to turn up the heat a little. It wasn't exactly cold in the motel room, but it wasn't really warm enough for just a sheet either.

Dean had settled a little now that he wasn't being constrained, but he would occasionally twitch or make a small gasp for air. Sam made his way back over to Dean's bed and after a moments consideration sat down and placed his hand on Dean's shoulder. Dean jumped a little at the unexpected contact, but didn't wake up or pull away. Sam left his hand there for a minute and then slowly started to rub his hand up and down, remembering something he'd seen a mother do for her crying child one day when he was walking through a park. She'd knelt down and wrapped her arms around the boy and one of her hands had rubbed up and down his back until he'd calmed down. Sam imagined that his mother had done this for Dean at some point, maybe even at a park after he'd scrapped his knees jumping off the swings.

Dean's body relaxed a little under Sam's touch until he had stilled completely and Sam slumped down onto the bed. He let his head fall down so that it was resting on the mattress but kept his hand on Dean's side. The warmth from lying next to Dean and the already long day that they'd had was enough to send Sam almost directly to sleep, his eyes flickering closed before he had a chance to think about anything else.

Sam woke up when he felt movement next to him, his eyes snapping open and his hands fumbling for any weapon he could find before he came to full consciousness. The long term effects of being on the road and constantly on the look out for danger had come back quickly; it had taken him four full months of living in the dorms before he'd stopped automatically reaching for a weapon when awoken by a slamming door or a shout from the hallway.

Dean was staring at him, his expression guarded though obviously a little bit uncomfortable. "Do I need to ask why you're in my bed?"

"Bad dreams," Sam said simply. It was true enough, even though he hadn't specified whose dreams they'd been.

Dean stared a moment longer, looking at Sam like he was waiting for an ambush or a trap. After Sam was silent for a while, Dean dropped his gaze and nodded.

Sam wanted to reach out to his brother, but knew that if he said anything more it would undo whatever had just happened. He got out of Dean's bed and shuffled back over to his own.

"We need to get you a nightlight?" Dean asked, a mischievous grin just barely starting to show as Dean dug around in his bag for a change of clothes.

Sam let himself blush, and defensively answered, "no!" It was worth being teased if Dean was back to himself enough to tease.

"You sure about that? We can hit Walmart on our way out of here." Dean smirked as he disappeared into the bathroom, the door closing behind him. A steady off-key whistling accompanied the sound of the shower being turned on.

Sam rolled his eyes and flopped back onto the bed he hadn't slept in. Everything was fine now, at least until the next time.