Characters: Dean x Reader Words: 538 This is my one shot for @torn-and-frayed‘s
Songs of Season 1 Challenge. My song was “Hey You” by
slightly, your head still resting on Dean’s thigh in the Impala as he drove,
“You awake?” he asked softly.
bit,” you answered, keeping your eyes closed.
feeling okay?” he asked, rubbing your arm gently.
little sore,” you said, not daring to move because you knew if you did, you
would be in more pain from the nasty gash in your side that Dean had stitched
up for you the night before after the hunt.
his fingers through your hair, “You did great, ya know that, right?”
<p><b><p></b> <b>Sam & Dean:</b> *in the Impala*<p/><b>Dean:</b> Uh, Sam... You know, uh, Cas, uh.. He means a lot to me.<p/><b>Sam:</b> ... Yeah, I know. He means a lot to us both, Dean.<p/><b>Dean:</b> No, I mean.. He really means... A lot.<p/><b>Sam:</b> Well, yeah. He's family, right?<p/><b>Dean:</b> No, I-- *sighs* Here. *slips a cassette tape into player* *"Cherry Pie" blares from speakers*<p/><b>Sam:</b> ...<p/><b>Dean:</b> ...<p/><b>Sam:</b> *smiles* I knew it.<p/><b>Dean:</b> Shut up.<p/><b>Sam:</b> Does he know?<p/><b>Dean:</b> Yes... No. SHut uP.<p/></p><p/></p>
…that Sam is really the one who doesn’t have a single clue what to do without his brother. Dean is terrified by the thought of living without Sam, it’s simply not an acceptable outcome to any situation. Dean will do anything to save Sam. Dean gets angry, Dean gets frantic, Dean makes a plan, Dean does unwise and ill-considered things, but Dean isn’t really lost without Sam. Even “dead,” Sam provides the meaning and the mission in Dean’s life - even when he was living with Lisa & Ben, Dean was compiling “hundreds” of books constantly trying to find a way to save Sam and simultaneously keeping his promise to Sam. Sam, conversely, usually just seems lost without Dean. A world without his big brother in it isn’t terrifying for Sam, it’s simply unfathomable. He can’t even imagine an existence without Dean. For Dean, imagining an existence without Sam is excruciating, but he can imagine it. Sam seems to never really be able to imagine it - even once it’s happened. He can imagine the pain, but not the reality of Dean-less-ness (made up word, I know). I think you can see this in his actions as early as Faith way back in mid-Season 1. It underpins his panic in season 3 as Dean’s “due date” gets closer. It explains why he’s so easily led by Ruby in the interval between 3 & 4, the whatever-the-hell-that-was with Amelia between 7 & 8 (and into 8), and his reactions at the end of 11, as well. At the start of season 10, Sam wasn’t lost because he had to FIND Dean, even when he thought it was just Dean’s body there was some part of Dean in the world and he didn’t have to really come up with “what do I do”, Crowley made it pretty obvious, and he quickly learned he had to save Dean, but Dean was still ‘in the world’ just…different. Sam, for all his protestations about not wanting Dean to order him around…needs Dean to be there to order him around, just in case. He’s perfectly capable of being independent, as long as he knows Dean is out there somewhere in the world. A world without Dean in it isn’t paralyzingly painful for Sam, it’s just impossible to process. It’s like the world stops being real once Dean stops being in it.
In a way, this makes perfect sense. Dean can just about remember life without Sammy. He was almost 4 ½ when Sam was born, and nearly 5 when Mary was killed. He spent a lot of his formative years without being able to count on Sam for support or even really commiseration because Sam was 8 ½ (and Dean nearly 13) when he learned the truth and could start to be more of a cohort for Dean than the little brother who couldn’t be told things, had to be protected from the truth. Dean’s world had important parts of it that Sammy wasn’t involved with until Dean was a teenager. For good or ill, from what the audience can tell, Dean was a partner in his father’s hunt (very much a junior partner) from sometime during his sixth year of life - the age most children are starting kindergarten. Sam wasn’t a partner in the hunt until almost Dean’s fourteenth year of life. Sam, on the other hand, was in his nineteenth year of life when he finally got a part of his life that Dean wasn’t in/privy to (given the ostensible lack of much privacy in their lives), and even then, he knew Dean was out in the world somewhere. If he needed that support, Dean would show up (this is a bit different than Dean being unable to rely on a very young Sammy even if he needed/asked for support). That confidence, that Dean was always ‘out there’ and willing to show up if Sam asked, is I think clear from their earliest interactions on the show - Sam might be surprised to see Dean, even annoyed, but Dean is inevitable for Sam, he’s eternally there, somewhere, even if it’s just out of sight or at the other end of an emergency telephone call. Dean permeates Sam’s entire existence and always has (I think Sam’s college years were very much shaped by consciously getting away from his family, which is still his family being present in his narrative by his reaction against them/the lifestyle). This is all a really long way of saying that Dean knows and hates a world/life without Sam in it, so he fights against that with every ounce of strength and willpower he has, whereas Sam cannot even fathom a world/life without Dean, so he just ends up lost when faced with it. It’s not that one brother loves the other any more or less, it’s that even Sam’s gigantor brain can’t process what it means to exist without Dean.