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Title: We All Sleep Alone
Disclaimer: If anyone owns anything in this relationship, Supernatural owns my heart. And won't give it back. And won't pay me for it.
Characters/Pairings:
Sam/Jess, Dean/ofc
Warnings:
loneliness
Rating:
PG (for language)
Word count:
1432
Spoilers:
none, Stanford Era
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] lavinialavender read it, but then life ate her, so I did the final grammar check. Remaining fail is mine.
Summary:
You’ve got to be strong when you’re out on your own, but sooner or later we all sleep alone.
Author notes #2: Usually, I SWEAR, I don’t combine Cher and Supernatural in my head. The styles just don’t fit. But every time I hear this song I see the boys missing each other. Possibly it’s the closet Wincest fan in my that says they are always alone if they’re not with each other. This was eventually going to be an Apo-verse fic (for some reason, ANYTHING goes in the Apo-verse, possibly it’s the deer!Impala) and a version may be in that verse some day, but this just came out gen.
Author Note #2: Even as I post this, I don't think I quite nailed what I wanted to say, but I was sick of having it floating around, almost done, in Gdocs. Fic is fic, yeah?

In the library of the house that he and Jess rent together, Sam sits at the battered desk, book unread in his hands, and stares through the glass of the one window into the night. He’s been there for—he checks the clock on the wall automatically, but the grandfather monstrosity always says eight thirteen, broken since they moved in—hours, and the insomnia shows no sign of fading.

Sam doesn’t know why he can’t sleep. He’d blame killer Stanford courses, law texts, that one paper, or the prospect of meeting Jess’ parents—God, last time he’d met someone’s parents as her boyfriend the someone was dead and Dad had been trying to figure out if she had come back as the woman in white responsible for a couple local murders—but he doesn’t think that’s it.

Classes are no harder than usual, he’s doing fine on the paper, and Jess is…amazing, just amazing. He’s charmed people a lot harder than he thinks her family will be. As long as he ignores the little voice that says this is real so they’ll see straight through him. He doesn’t even know what there would be to see, if he turned transparent in their eyes. He’s a polite, courteous, Stanford scholarship student. He’s head of his classes, and he loves Jess down to his bones.

What about your father? A crazy, drunk car mechanic on the run from the police, isn’t he, Sam? You have a brother too, I can see that through your skin. Even though you never talk about him. Even though, looking at you, I don’t see a Winchester at all…

Dean. Sam hasn’t thought about Dean in…well, he tries not to. Thinking about Dad can still make him angry, can piss him off even though it’s been two years since their last fight. Dad wouldn’t listen and Sam wouldn’t, after all, let himself be a prisoner of his father’s obsession. But when it comes to Dean…

Sam left him, he knows that now. Left him alone to face the night with nothing but Dad and a shotgun, and that is the greatest betrayal. They have only and ever belonged to each other. It’s a love that holds people together, like chains, and Dean knows the combination to Sam’s heart, and Sam always knew that his brother loved him. Sam’s leaving was his choice, but he knows it left them a hole that nothing can fill, because he feels the same emptiness when he thinks of where they used to be.

Though maybe he’s completely wrong. Maybe Dad and Dean are just fine without him. Dean was Dad’s favorite, always, but Sam never resented his older brother. He knew that even if Dean hadn’t been there, Sam still wouldn’t have been able to do it right. Dean and Dad are together, driving, laughing, drinking, commiserating about how much simpler hunts are now without smartass little brother, youngest son, the Winchester tagalong. Maybe he should have run years ago, like he ran to Flagstaff, but this time make it stick.

Yeah, Dad and Dean are together, two Winchesters against the world. And Sam, one Winchester, can survive just fine, thank you. He has to be strong, out on his own, even if the scariest things he has to face are oral exams, groceries, meeting Jess’ parents and actually wanting them to see him.

Thank God he has Jess. She doesn’t fill the hole (Dean, Dad, wherever you are…) but she covers it, making a new Sam from the bits he has left, one that can love her with all his heart. It’s only at times like this—after midnight, with sleep miles away—that he knows he has another heart, one that belongs to a brother, a father and a black Impala somewhere in the dark.

Nights like this, he wants to leave behind the life, the future, and the girl he’s never deserved and find home, wherever the hell that is.

But he never does, because Jess is waiting for him upstairs, probably asleep for hours already. She’ll laugh at him tomorrow, for his “jitters” about her parents and he’ll smile and pretend that’s all it is.

In the dark library, Sam turns out the lights, grateful that he doesn’t have to go to an empty bed. Grateful he doesn’t have to sleep alone.

~

Dean jerks awake in the dark hotel, with 4:21 glaring at him from the unnervingly bright clock on the nightstand. His heart is beating too fast, he’s got the running edge of a hangover and for a second he tries to hold onto the sound of another person breathing in the dark, to tell himself to go the fuck back to sleep, it’s only been two hours since he hit the sheets.

And then he sees a flash of peroxide-blond hair in the glow sliding through the window from the parking lot’s all-night lights and remembers.

He’s somewhere in the Northwest, can’t even remember the fucking state, and, honestly, does it matter? There’s no Sam, no Dad—fucking hunt in Texas, didn’t need help—and Dean doesn’t care. A guy’s got to be strong when he’s on his own. He doesn’t need anyone to watch his back. He doesn’t need the sound of their breathing to let him sleep. He doesn’t.

The girl shifts in her sleep as he pushes himself out of the king-sized bed. The cheap plastic of the comforter is stiff under his hand and it’s easy to find his boxers, pants and boots on the floor. He still has his shirt on.

Without bothering to turn on a light—there are only so many shapes that a hotel room can take and Dean is familiar with all of them—he shoves the last couple things (toothbrush, bowie knife, new bottle of whisky) into his duffel. Then he steps into the cool pre-dawn air and lets the door click behind him.

This is why he prefers to go to their apartments or hotel rooms, the back of the Impala or restroom stalls. Dean doesn’t like to make promises that he can’t keep, and when it’s just a random place there’s fewer expectations, not even the shadow of a commitment. No one expects to wake up next to him when they’re screwing over a toilet seat, fingers fumbling at buttons, condoms going on easy, no names asked.

The thing is, when he’s had a few, the girls are smiling at him—and he’s smiling right back—when the music and the alcohol pound through his veins like the high from a hunt, well, he thinks that it might mean more. But it doesn’t. He always enjoys a good fuck, needs it, wants it, but it doesn’t change anything, not really. No matter how pretty her face, that’s all she is, a pretty face and he’s just a good lay and it’s okay for both of them if they have other people to go home to.

If Dad were there—or Sam—he would never bring a girl back to the hotel. He wouldn’t wake up with the first fingers of dawn crawling through the shapeless hotel drapes and think—wrongly—that someone he cared about was beside him.

Dean throws the last of his junk in the Impala, not bothering to be quiet now, and turns back to the room, thinking, even though he couldn’t say exactly what about. He thinks about going back in—he left the key, but he has his lock picks and the bolts aren’t that tricky—lying beside her and pretending she’s enough to make him smile and that sex is enough to fill the hole in him that hunting, driving, and hamburgers can’t fill.

He decides eventually not to tempt himself, not to hurt both of them by pretending that fucking can be family. The room is paid through tomorrow, she’ll be fine.

Dean turns the key in the ignition and leans his head against the steering wheel when the Impala purrs to life.

“There’s my baby,” he says. “My good girl.”

Dad trusts him to be out on his own, trusts him with the car and hunts and his own life. Dean should be proud and he is, but he wishes that independence and loneliness didn’t taste so damn much the same.

He backs up the Impala and starts to drive, he doesn’t know where. Maybe if he drives her long enough, Dad and Sam will be there and he won’t wake up with strangers.

You can always fuck, Dean tells himself, hands tight on the wheel and the edge of his hangover nagging at his neck. But sometimes it’s better to just sleep alone.

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