sketchydean

smalltrolven

The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time


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Weight around my neck icon
smalltrolven

Fic: Weight Around My Neck - Part 1 of 3 (Sam/Dean NC-17)

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Deep in an archive room on sub-floor two inside the Men of Letters bunker, Dean sits back on his heels, running a hand through his hair.  He’s surrounded by dusty boxes, and the flashlight he’s using for extra light on all the faded labels is getting sketchy, flickering, so his time is running out.  One last box then. Sam won’t be happy that he hasn’t found anything else about the demon curing ritual, but there’s always tomorrow. Crowley’s not going anywhere. And Sam’s not here anyway, he’s supposedly upstairs napping for the rest of the afternoon.

He pulls out a large cardboard file box from the bottom shelf, and a smaller wooden box falls off the top shelf and hits his foot. Dean bends down to pick it up, - when a box practically jumps out at you, it’s not exactly easy to ignore. He secures the flashlight under his armpit so it shines on the small box in his hands. He feels for a clasp or trigger around the edges of it, it’s only the size of a deck of cards, no labels or marks.  There’s nothing at first, the whole thing practically smooth and seamless. Oh c’mon, I need a break today, something to help us, he bitches to himself and the world at large, just in case someone helpful is listening.

Then it’s there, a small indentation near one of the box’s corners; when he presses it, another dimple appears on the opposite corner. Pushing on them together pops the lid up just slightly on an ingenious, clever little hinge.  Dean can see that the inside of the box is lined in a deep purple, almost black, velvet.  He turns towards the light in the hallway so that he can see if the box has anything interesting in it.

In the inadequate light he sees a dull gleam, and opening the lid the rest of the way reveals a small brass charm.  An all-too-familiar face looks up at him.  It looks so identical to the one he remembers that he wonders if it’s actually his old amulet, or its twin.  A shiver of recognition surprises him, along with a wave of intense emotion, and he almost drops the box.  He steadies himself with a breath and reaches out with one finger to touch it, make sure it’s real.  The feeling of it is exactly the same as he remembers; cold at first and then warmer than it should be, as if it absorbs more than just your body heat.  He traces his forefinger slowly around the whole face, - it’s been so long since he’s seen this inscrutable expression.  Just seeing it again makes the inside of his chest feel suddenly empty, like it had felt in the weeks after he’d dropped it in a motel trashcan.

There’s no chain or thong in the box, just the charm. The tauntingly closed-off face looks up at him, and he groans at the realization that now he’s got to decide what to do with the thing.  Was he meant to find it? It did practically jump out at him, and right after he’d made that little plea to the universe for help.  Dean shrugs to himself and pulls it out of the box, grasping it in his warm palm for a moment before shoving it down deep into his jeans pocket.  He takes the clever wooden box with him, just because he wants to examine the inner workings of the hinge in better light, and leaves the archive box pulled out so he knows where to start his search again tomorrow.

The amulet sits in his pocket for a couple days, poking at his thigh as he bends in the archives, searching through box after box that Sam sends him in after.  They’re slowly getting ahold of the Men of Letters filing organization, so it’s getting easier.  And it’s good that Sam’s even up and around enough to be directing this search.  Dean doesn’t mind doing the grunt work, because Sam still looks like he could break apart into a million pieces if he just takes a wrong step or too deep a breath.  If being a go-fer in all the dust is what he needs to do to take care of Sam, that’s what he’s doing.  Nothing else is more important to him now, not after everything that’s happened.

Dean finds a selection of silk cords in one of the ritual supply boxes, and chooses a black one; because red isn’t a color he’s used to wearing. He quickly threads the amulet onto it and knots it around his neck at the correct length.  Soon he’s standing in front of his dresser in his room with the door closed, staring at himself in the mirror for a long while.  The picture of his teenage self and pre-teen Sam looks up at him from where it’s tucked into the edge of the mirror.  The amulet winks from his much smaller chest, framed on a backdrop of his usual uniform of a plain black t-shirt and a big smile as he holds a much smaller Sam closely tucked under his arm, like he’d never be able to do now.

Dean looks back up at his current reflection in the mirror and smiles, catching the sadness that never leaves his face even though he feels happier than he has in years.  Just seeing this amulet, even though it’s not his real one, is making him feel more like himself. He hesitates for a moment as images of what might happen assault him, - maybe he shouldn’t wear it. Just seeing it could make Sam mad, or bring up memories of that bad time. But the years without this thing around his neck are finally at an end, and hopefully so are the troubles between them.

!@#~!@#~

“Sammy, ready or not, here comes dinner. Get your nose out of those books. Make some room.”

Sam looks up from the sheaf of onion-skin parchment papers he’s been going through, his eyes exhausted from squinting at the faint, spidery calligraphy.  Dean’s walking up the stairs carrying a tray with steaming plates of food, looks like spaghetti and meatballs, and an actual green salad.  He grins up at Dean as he sets the tray down next to him. “Thanks Dean, this looks great.”

“Hope you can deal with my first attempt at meatballs,” Dean says, leaning over Sam to hand him a bottle of beer and a plate full of food.

Sam looks up to take the plate and sees the amulet swinging down from Dean’s neck.  He stifles a gasp and turns it into a coughing fit to distract Dean, mind whirling at what it could mean. How could he have found it? Has Dean been going through his stuff?

“You okay there bud?” Dean thumps him on the back.

Sam finishes coughing and smiles at him, holding up his hands so Dean can see they’re actually blood-free this time. “Yeah, I’m good.”

Dean smiles at him and clinks their beers together. “Eat up then.”

Sam digs in to the food, mind still spinning out theories and wondering how the hell to even bring it up, but then he sees that there’s a different look on Dean’s face.  Like he’s figured something out, or is happier than usual.  Sam decides to not address the amulet issue directly, like Dean would be expecting him to. “You seem happier than usual, - let me guess, your Busty Asian Beauties subscription finally started coming to our new P.O. box?”

“Ha ha, no, I’ve got plenty of that vintage stuff to keep me busy.  Just happy about making meatballs I guess, ‘s stupid I know.”

“No, it’s not stupid.  And they’re good by the way, really good, I hope there’s more in the kitchen.” Sam takes the opportunity to drink him in all at one time; Dean’s relaxed posture in his chair, no white knuckles on the beer bottle or fork, and no extra frown wrinkles in his forehead. But his eyes keep going back to the amulet, lying there on Dean’s chest, just below the buttons on his Henley.

“So your appetite’s finally back, huh?” Dean asks, curious if Sam’s examination of him has anything to do with the amulet or if he’s just impressed with his cooking. Or maybe there’s just sauce on his shirt.

“Looks like. Especially if you keep whipping up stuff this good.”

“You could pitch in too you know.” Dean says.

“Naw, you’re enjoying it too much, I don’t want to take it away from you,” Sam teases.

Dean doesn’t say anything in response, just laughs and keeps eating, twirling his spaghetti up on his fork. When he goes to bed after doing the dishes with Sam, he’s still surprised that Sam hasn’t asked about the amulet yet.

Later that night, after he knows Dean’s gone to bed, Sam digs out his old duffel bag from the floor of his closet.  In the sewn-in hidden pocket, there is still a familiar lump that’s been there for four years.   He sits down heavily on his bed with the empty duffel on his lap, tracing the outlines of what’s contained in the secret place.  The more Sam thinks about it, Dean wearing an amulet that looks just like his old one without saying anything to Sam about it is a little insulting, and it hurts.  If Sam’s honest with himself, it hurts like a bitch, a reminder that the raw wound in his heart never really healed over.

He finally rips open the stitching on the pocket and pulls out the old blue kerchief bundle, unties it and holds the original amulet in his hand. Sam traces the small face and remembers holding onto it tightly when Dean would hold him in the back of the Impala on those long drives with their father through the night. How it would make that deep red imprint in his palm that would last until the next day. He unrolls the silk cord and puts it over his own head for the first time since he’d had to wash his brother’s blood off of it. He never wore it again after Dean had thrown it away in that motel trashcan. Just kept it like the sentimental fool he knows he is deep-down.

!@#~!@#~

The next morning, Sam brings Dean a cup of coffee and a plate of bacon and fried eggs.  He leans over to place it in front of his brother on the table, amulet swinging down to catch the morning light. “One heart-attack special.”

Dean’s eyes go wide in surprise when he sees what’s got to be the amulet, his amulet, swinging right in front of his face. He barely schools his face in time, feeling like he has to practically sit on his hands to keep himself from grabbing for it. “Thanks Sammy,” He grunts out, taking a swig of coffee to calm himself down.

Sam sits down across from him with his own cup of coffee and bowl of yogurt, granola and fruit, smiling a secret smile that feels utterly foreign to his own face. How long has it been since he’s really smiled like this?  But it’s fun to see his brother struggle not to react.  Now he kinda sees why Dean did it, wearing it without saying anything.  The game is afoot. The question is who can get who to break first and actually ask or say something? Sam smiles even wider at the thought, and that makes Dean’s eyebrows go up in silent question. Which Sam chooses to ignore, like the amulet that Dean’s wearing, where did it come from?

Over the next week, they both find ways to highlight their new necklaces; forgoing over-shirts, walking around shirtless after showering, Dean even wearing his dead-guy robe with nothing  but boxers on underneath (but the amulet of course framed so nicely by the shawl-collared robe.)  Even with all this teasing, they’re both sticking firm with the not talking about it plan apparently, - there’s been too much raw emotion floating around since the failed third trial, leaving everything still a little combustible between them.

Kevin notices though, and asks Dean about it while Sam’s down in the dungeon for another session with Crowley.  They’re playing some Xbox, which Kevin is, of course, winning.

“If we were using real swords, you know I’d be kicking your ass, right?” Dean says.

“Yeah, yeah, tough guy, I know.” Kevin laughs.

Dean’s character dies a bloody, beheaded death onscreen. “God, again!”

Kevin sticks both hands up in the air in a victory V. “Woohoo, suck it Winchester!”

“I demand a replay,” Dean says with a scowl.

“First you gotta answer a question,” Kevin demands.

Dean gives up the put-on scowl to swallow the rest of his beer. “Shoot.”

“What’s with the matching necklaces all of a sudden?” Kevin points at the amulet hanging around Dean’s neck.

Dean peels the label off his beer, avoiding looking up at Kevin. “Long story.”

Kevin’s figured out a few things about getting Dean to talk by now, and hands him another beer from the repurposed silver wine bucket, ice sloshing noisily around in it. “And. . .?”

Stalling for a little time, Dean opens his beer and takes a sip, working out how to put it truthfully but without a lot of details, as he really doesn’t want to talk about it with Kevin, or anyone really. “Sam gave it to me when we were kids, and I always used to wear it, ‘til a few years ago, when I, uh, stopped. I found one just like it down in the archives here and started wearing it. I don’t know where Sam got his.”

Kevin sees how uncomfortable he’s made Dean and decides to risk just one last question. “Is his the original one then?”

“Maybe. I dunno. Let’s play again, c’mon, enough stalling. I need my revenge,” Dean says, clunking his beer back onto the table with a final sounding thud.

!@#~!@#~

When Sam takes a break from interrogating Crowley by writing up more demon purification ritual notes, and Dean’s out on yet another supply run, (something about needing a new video game that has cars instead of fighting), Kevin decides to ask Sam for his side of the story.

Kevin approaches the worktable where Sam has all his source materials spread out all around him. “Hey Sam, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, just let me write this down.” Sam finishes writing his sentence in the journal in front of him and looks up at Kevin.

“So what’s with the matching necklaces?” Kevin asks.

Sam reaches up and touches the amulet. “You mean this?”

“Yeah, that and the one that Dean’s wearing. They’re cool, I was just wondering if they were for something in particular,” Kevin says, hoping that he’s asked a leading enough question so that Sam will fall for it and give him a straight answer.

“I guess you could say that. I gave this one to Dean for Christmas when I was nine, when he first told me the truth about what our Dad was hunting. And he wore it every day until about four years ago. Then the whole apocalypse thing went down, and we’ve told you some of this, but the angels really messed with us. And he threw it away, but I picked it up and kept it.” Sam finishes by letting out a sigh he didn’t really realize he was holding, - telling the whole story without all the gory details wasn’t easy.

“Where did the one he’s wearing now come from?” Kevin asks.

“I don’t know, he hasn’t mentioned it, and I haven’t asked,” Sam answers, not meeting Kevin’s eyes because he feels stupid and petty just saying it. He knows he sounds like a third-grader.

“Why?” Kevin persists.

Sam makes an exaggeratedly irritated face. “You’re just full of questions tonight.”

“Don’t like seeing mom and dad fight, you know?” Kevin shrugs.

“Shut up, you brat. Or you’re taking the next shift of cleaning up after Crowley,” Sam threatens, shaking his fist in mock anger.

“Just seems like something that important would be worth a conversation, don’t you think?” Kevin asks gently.

“Yeah, you’re right. We’re working up to it, takes us a while sometimes,” Sam answers with a rueful grin.

Kevin drops the subject, realizing that he has no advice to offer on the subject of how to make it up to your brother/partner for throwing away an obviously important, meaningful gift, especially when you start wearing its duplicate all of a sudden.  He just hopes that they don’t put it off too long, because he really wasn’t kidding about the not wanting to see mom and dad fight bit. Sam and Dean are kind of playing that role for him right now, and it would suck to have them really at odds. Kevin hopes that by bringing it up with both of them, it will at least trigger a conversation.

!@#~!@#~

A few more amulet-conversation-free days pass, and then it’s time for Sam and Dean to meet Charlie for another LARP adventure.  They’re glad to be able to leave the Men of Letters bunker in Kevin’s capable hands. Crowley is securely locked in the dungeon and Kevin has sworn not to go near him while they’re gone.  Charlie, of course, notices their matching necklaces before they’ve even changed into their Moondoor gear.  Curiosity gets the better of her and she asks Sam as soon as she has him alone, (one of the good things about being queen is getting to order Dean around to go fetch her some mead.) “What’s with the necklace? Is that the one that I read about in the books? I thought it was gone. Didn’t Dean throw it out when you guys came back from Heaven?”

Sam’s response is at first a little confusion, - he’d forgotten that she’s been reading Chuck’s books and knows all this detailed stuff about their history.  He answers her with honesty though, he owes her that at least. “I fished it out of the trashcan the second Dean left that motel room, after he threw it away. Figured it might come in handy at some point.”

“Ah, I see, guess that detail wasn’t in the book. But, why are you wearing it now, Sam?” Charlie asks.

Sam shrugs, looking away. “Just felt like it, I missed seeing it.”

“Missed seeing it, or missed seeing it on Dean?” she challenges.

Sam mumbles, “Both I guess.”

“Has Dean noticed it?” Charlie asks, a little more gently but still insistent.

“I . . . uh, don’t know, he hasn’t really said anything.”

“Huh,” Charlie answers, dropping the subject for the moment.  If there’s one thing she knows after knowing them for a while (and reading all their history in those books), it’s that Sam will mull it over for a while and handle it in his own way with his brother, but it will take too long and probably cause them some problems. That means she’s got to bring it up with the other side of the equation, Dean.

Dean’s answer comes with an abrupt quickness that fails to hide the intensity of his feelings about the necklace and being questioned about it. “It’s a new one, I found it in one of the storage rooms in the bunker.”

“Why are you wearing it?” Charlie asks, handing him her tanker of mead across the camp table. It’s always too much to drink at once, and it tastes like crap when it’s been sitting out for too long.

Dean hears the unasked question, why are you wearing it when you threw the original one away and instead answers “I’ve been missing my old one all this time.”

“Does Sam know that?” Charlie challenges.

“Does Sam know what?” Dean challenges right back.

Charlie sees his defenses going up and softens her approach a little. “That you’ve been missing it?”

“I don’t know, yeah, probably, I guess.” Dean answers a little sheepishly, taking a small sip of mead.

“You know what you gotta do right?” Charlie asks, patting Dean’s knee under the small table.

Dean slumps a little in his chair. “I know.”

Charlie pushes, “You’ll do it right?”

“Yeah, yeah. God, you’re turning into such a pest! I think this is exactly why I never wanted a little sister.”

“You’re stuck with me now buddy. Like it or not,” she answers with all the power a Queen can command.

!@#~!@#~

The drive back from their LARP adventure is pretty quiet, both of them thinking on their conversations with Charlie, and how to bring up the subject of the amulets.  Neither of them find a way to talk about it, or chicken out, so they just put it off. Both hoping for a better time, not wanting to ruin the good weekend they just had off the clock for once.  Sam will never tire of seeing Dean in that blond wig, flowing locks bouncing as he strides about the camp, ordering everyone about like he’s been doing it all his life. Dean’s just thankful that Sam felt well enough to run around a little and have some fun.

The night settles around them as they get closer to home, stars coming out in the clear night sky. Dean wants to say something about the necklaces; he knows it will be better to get it over with, they’ve put it off long enough. Ripping off the Band-Aid and all that. But Sam looks so peaceful over in his favorite shotgun position, his left leg bent up on the seat and under him, body twisted to see out the windshield and be able to look at him.  He sees that Sam’s staring intently up at the sky.

“Whatcha see up there, Sammy?”

“Just remembering that night. When the angels fell, how beautiful it was.”

“You actually remember that?” Dean asks.

“Yeah, of course.” Sam answers.

“Thought you woulda blocked it out since you were in so much pain,” Dean observes.

“No, I remember it all,  - you leaving with Cas, me with Crowley, fighting Abaddon, giving Crowley all those shots of my blood and hearing him break down and beg to be loved.” Sam’s voice goes quieter, “You stopping me just in time, what we said, and the pain in my arms and throughout my whole body. Then you dragged me out and it seemed like the whole sky was falling. It’s a little fuzzy after that, until we were back here.” Sam’s voice tapers off, sounding like he’s tired all over again just revisiting the memories of that night.

“It was pretty cool. If we didn’t know what it was, we could have just been happy along with everyone else calling it the best meteor shower ever,” Dean jokes, grinning over at his brother.

Sam catches the flash of Dean’s white teeth, bared in a smile and returns one himself. “No such luck this time around.”

“Nope. And you didn’t miss much after the angels fell. I pulled Crowley out of that church and got him in the back seat. Hauled ass back here. Both of you slept the whole way,” Dean says, simply, even though they both know he’s leaving a whole lot of scary details out.

Sam shakes his head. “Guess sharing blood with a mere human was pretty tiring for him.”

“Yeah, almost turning human again really takes it out of you I guess,” Dean chuckles to himself, picturing Crowley in that weakened state, not able to protest being bundled up into the backseat of the Impala.

They both go quiet after that for a while, thinking about Crowley still not giving up what they need, Abaddon still out there who knows where, and the angels roaming around Earth causing havoc.

“Think we’re ever going to get this right?” Sam asks abruptly, interrupting the silence.

“What?” Dean asks, hoping this isn’t about what he thinks it is.

“Demons, angels, who to trust?” Sam says.

Dean blows out a small breath of relief. “Way I figure it. We’re working on the law of averages at this point. Pretty soon, we’re bound to choose the right path.”

Sam doesn’t reply, just seems to absorb Dean’s answer and switches off for the rest of the drive. They’re back home and inside the bunker well before midnight, as Dean had planned.

~*~Masterpost ~*~Part 2~*~

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