I wrote this in response to 5x20 and metallidean_grl, and it felt so weirdly, deeply retro? It's not that I never write early-season fic; but I feel like barring my initial plunge into SPN fandom I generally write it with some reflection onto present canon. Writing this made me feel like, well hello there 2010, how nice of you to stop by??? Like it's exactly the tag I probably would have written if writing tags for episodes had occurred to me when S5 was airing.
That is... it's literally the exact same post I just wrote about 5x20, except in fic form and with no mentions of the dramatic zoom salt (alas). XP
Dean POV, 5x20 "The Devil You Know" tag, eight years late.
It’d be weird if he went for the radio, right? Dean gets an image stuck in his head, of people piled in the back of a pickup blaring music, rowdily celebrating their kill. The image takes place in that Apocalyptic world, Satan wearing his brother and Cas all strung out on meth or whatever, even though he knows that’s not what it was like there. Music attracts monsters. Those people were out there trying to live.
His hand leaves the wheel and flutters towards the knob, and Sam jumps away from him. It’s not a large movement—there’s only so far you can jump in a car—but Dean notices.
It hadn’t occurred to Dean to reach for Sam, but now that Sam’s pulled away Dean wants to.
Dean’s not sure what he wants. The only thing keeping him awake right now is pain—that and the nauseous sense that the world’s about to end, but if you live under it long enough you can convince yourself that even that is a blanket and a lullaby.
But with five hours to the state line, it’s not lullabies Dean needs. Besides, it’s not weird to hit some jams after a hunt, and that’s what this was. Sam killed a fucking demon; they do this every week. Just ‘cause that demon used to be a Stanford kid near a decade ago doesn’t change that. And if Dean wants to listen to some goddamn music, then he’s gonna listen to some goddamn music.
He can hear the unevenness of the pavement as the Impala rumbles over it.
Wind where the window seal’s not so good anymore.
He can hear the hitch in his own breath when he wants more air than his jacked up ribs will allow.
He can hear Sam, quiet.
Five all but silent hours later, they’re in the parking lot of a motel and Dean takes a slow, shallow breath to tee himself up for their conversation with the desk attendant. It’s about the last thing he wants to do right now, and there’s a lot of shit on that To Do list.
Sam’s out of the car, off to get some air, to wander down the highway never to return—who knows. But he’s back before Dean even has a chance to follow, tapping a room key on the windshield. He doesn’t say a word. By the time Dean makes it up to the room, Sam’s in bed, asleep or committed to faking it.
He’s doing what Dean’s always wished they could do—have the experience and then not fucking talk about it. Un-speak it out of existence and ramble on. Dean thinks he understands now why Sam had never wanted to let that happen. Without turning any lights on, the only thing Dean knows of his brother right now is that he’s a dark, hulking, breathing mass, and it’s not enough.
It’s just not. Dean needs to know where Sam’s at, and right now he’s utterly unknowable. Dean papercuts his hand on the note Brady had scribbled about Pestilence as he rifles through his pockets for—he’s not sure. Not anything in his pockets. He’s so tired.
He knows more about the Horseman Pestilence than he does about his fucking brother right now.
That’s probably how it’s gonna stay, too. Dean shrugs his coat and flannel to the floor, lifts his shirt to examine the damage the way he should have fucking hours ago, except he wasn’t gonna run the risk of Crowley’s commentary. He wasn’t gonna undress with Brady one room over.
Nothing’s herniated. There’s that. Color-wise, there’s a joke about Grimace in there somewhere, but Sam’s not awake to hear it so whatever. Dean slides his fingers down one side, then the next. Nothing’s floating.
Things are definitely broken.
In bed, Dean stares at the darkness in the ceiling and knows that he’s the one who fucked this up. He can’t ask Sam to share with the class because guess what, he burned that bridge when he ditched Sam in Blue Earth. When he packed his shit in a box and wrote a letter to Sam and almost fucking bunny ranched it. He’s not the one who gets to ask Sam anything.
Dean stares at the ceiling until he forgets that’s not his endgame, not what the night is for. The sun’s creeping under the curtains before Dean remembers what sleep is, and then he’s drinking instead and he’s not even sure if he’s trying to get to sleep or stay awake. He ends up making several hands too many Irish coffees because there’s a coffeemaker in the room and Dean’s in the room and he’s not sure what to do anymore but grab onto whatever’s handy.
When Sam wakes, he says, “I meant to tell you last night.”
Sam says, “That coffee’s not complimentary.”
Dean sighs, and adds more whiskey. “Nothing’s free in this world, is it.”
Dean surveys the spread of cups he has before him and, after Sam waves him off, resolves to drink them all. When Sam realizes this, he takes half the cups. Shares the burden. He doesn’t criticize Dean’s inanity. Not even as a joke. He doesn't joke.
“If we’re paying for it, then we gotta go big,” Dean reasons.
Sam sips one coffee, meditatively. He asks, “Do you think it’s worth it?”
“Hell yeah,” says Dean, though after finishing the third cup there are organs in him making it known that it’s not just his ribs’re busted. He can’t help but wheeze a little.
“I’ve been thinking about Lucifer,” says Sam, no segue, and Dean wishes to God they could just talk about Brady. That he’d slept. That he were sober. That he were ready to talk Sam down from whatever he’s about to say. Because Dean knows, he knows, it’s not going to be good.
“I’ve been thinking about Lucifer,” Sam says, “and I have a plan.”