Title: Dug a Hole in my Heart
Characters: Sam, Dean, Castiel, Amelia
Word Count: 875
Warnings: Spoilers through 8.10, Sam POV
Summary: Sam takes some time to clear his head.
Author's Notes: Completely inspired by listening to angsty Brandi Carlile songs on the subway ride home lol. Beta by fiercelynormal
When Amelia leaves, Sam heads to the shower.
The first night he spent in this motel, he took the longest shower he’d taken in years. The tile in the shower was familiar, cracked and worn and slick. His instinct after the first four and a half minutes had been to shut it off, to save some hot water out of common courtesy.
Then he had remembered that his brother was gone. Vanished and taken and dead, no longer in need of any kind of water or courtesy. So Sam stayed in there, minutes rushing by in a haze of steam and the scent of soap. The water down the drain had been long past dirty when he finally got himself together enough to step out.
Sam spent a lot of time fixing the old water heater at the motel when he worked here. As long as the water ran hot, there would never be a need to remember what happened past the four and a half minute mark.
Sam wonders now, as he washes the still-comforting smell of Amelia off of him—antiseptic spray and papaya shampoo and limes--who takes care of the water heater when it breaks. Who is the one that makes the hot water flow into minute five and ten and twenty. Surely someone must be doing his old job by now.
Sam bows his head against cracked, slick tile and huffs a halting breath. He thinks about how easily he was replaced in this world. About whether or not the stolen minutes of the life he led between these walls and in her arms were ever really his to begin with.
He closes his eyes and lets water rush down his face like an odd baptism.
Dean smells like motor oil and sweat and stolen motel bar soaps.
Sam never really forgets that.
Amelia gives him two days.
Sam sits on a bench and watches the world turn around him.
“Watching humanity…it never gets old, does it?”
Sam doesn’t know why he startles. Castiel zapping in at inopportune moments isn’t exactly a rare occurrence anymore. Add that as one more thing that Sam needs to re-adjust to.
“I think that’s the thing I missed most when we were in Purgatory,” Castiel muses, and Sam sits there and listens because he doesn’t get this from Dean and sometimes he thinks that’s part of their problem.
“The creatures there, the simplicity of it all…I think that Dean embraced that the best he could. But you humans are bright and complex, and I enjoy that. I enjoy how you struggle to make yourselves better, to do more than just exist.”
“Why are you telling me this, Cas?” Sam asks, because it feels important and he has to know.
“He misses you,” Castiel says, in his straight-forward way, and it twists Sam’s guts.
“He doesn’t even like me,” Sam replies. The words are sticky and sharp in his mouth.
Castiel’s eyes are too kind. “Do you feel like you deserve to do penance as well?”
“I’m a good man, Cas.”
Sam bites the words and chews them up and spits them out all over the ground in front of him. They sink into the dirt and fertilize the silence between them.
“My brother is dying." Castiel pauses and Sam glances over to see his chest rise and fall. It’s a visceral representation of survival and suddenly Sam is so fucking glad that they are all in this world.
“I want to help.”
Sam knows the moment that Castiel puts his hand on his forehead that he was never going to use those two days to begin with.
Dean gives Sam his blessing to leave him and Sam doesn’t know what to make of that.
Sam heads out of the cabin and down the pathway leading to a patch of tree stumps that Rufus set up for target practice. He sits down on one and just listens, the sounds of distant birds and the hum of insects filling him with calm.
He imagines Riot playing in the clearing. Running around the earth, rustling leaves and mud as he shakes his entire body with excitement. The dog would sniff everything, curious nose poking and prodding until he found a present to lay at Sam’s feet.
Sam misses him now, fiercely and unexpectedly, here in the lonesome quiet.
The first night in the motel, after getting out of that endless shower, Sam had wrapped himself around Riot’s body. Broken heart against broken body, breathing as one.
He gets up off the stump and heads back to the cabin, his brother, and whatever the future decides to throw at them.
Sam stays because Dean lets him go.
His love for his brother is like a calloused fist around his heart, the roughness both making it bleed and helping it to beat.
That night, Sam stares at the ceiling in the dark and listens to the fitful snuffles of his brother snoring. He wants to reach out, feel the breath against Dean’s lips, the proof of life.
Sam doesn’t, but in the space in between lies the possibility of it.
The cracks are wide and deep, but it’s a start.
Sam closes his eyes and sleeps.