Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Genre: Gen (as usual)
Warnings/Spoilers: Abusive!John (not too severe though), spoilers for 1x10 "Asylum" - Not a happy fic.
A/N: I've been fascinated for a while about how Dean will sometimes hit Sam, but Sam never hits Dean. So, this is me exploring that a little.
Summary: After the events of Asylum, Sam tries to mend the broken pieces of a simple rule.
Hours later and Sam could still feel the kickback on the shotgun, the way it had traveled up his arm, lodged in his shoulder. The way Dean had fallen. He could still feel the click of the empty handgun. How Dean had looked at him then. It wasn't Sam though, that wasn't really him. Dean had to know that. Sam would never...Sam had never...
It was a rule. Sam's rule. The only rule Sam ever imposed on himself.
Winchester Rule #1: We do what we do and we shut-up about it.
Sam Rule #1: Never hit Dean in anger.
It hadn't always been that way of course. When they were little they'd get into physical fights all the time. Battles over the remote that would lead to wrestling matches and their Dad either pulling them apart or egging them on, depending on his mood. There was training too, of course, but that wasn't hitting in anger so it didn't count. Training was calculating moves and feinting well. Training was the Winchester version of a friendly chess game.
And at first Sam didn't think anything of it. Kids accept their world as normal, long before they know what normal is. He didn't question the fact that every so often...rare, but still there...there would be a loud crack of knuckles hitting a jaw and then silence, and Dad would leave for the bar or a drive, and Dean would clean the guns, make Sam dinner, or just turn on the TV, and that was that.
Sam would try to tie it to alcohol, to hunts gone wrong, to anything other than the fact that sometimes their Dad just didn't have any place to put his anger anymore other than to take it out on Dean's face. Always just one punch, but one was enough.
Afterward John would lean over their bed and put a hand on Dean's shoulder. When they were younger, he would say "I'm sorry, Dean," and Dean would say "It's ok, Dad." As they got older, it was a hand on the shoulder and no words, or a look from the doorway, and Dean would say "Lay off, I'm fine."
He wasn't though. Maybe there wasn't anything special about the day that Sam realized that it wasn't normal. Maybe it was just that for the first time in his life, he REALLY looked. But he suddenly realized that it wasn't ok, that Dean wasn't fine.
By that time, he was just starting High School, and Dean was just finishing, and sometimes he would wander away from the mythology section of the library and research other things...like what exactly getting hit did to a kid.
And the more Sam read, the more he recognized the broken pieces of his brother. He recognized the patterns. Dean had always made sure that their Dad never hit Sam. He always knew when to cut into a conversation and either diffuse things or make himself the target instead. But Sam knew full well that abuse runs in patterns, that eventually it just flows down like a river. It's what all the books said, and if their Dad had taught them anything, it was to research their enemy well.
So Sam wasn't really surprised the first time Dean hit him. He knew the news about the Stanford acceptance wouldn't go down well, and he had wanted to tell Dean first - to prepare him for what was to come, because Sam wasn't sure how their father would react, but he knew it wouldn't be good.
Dean had hit him, just before Sam could say "you could come with me," but that was kind of an answer in itself. Then Dean had run.
Sam had followed Dean to the water. He tried to ignore the redness of Dean's eyes, and the way he stared at his knuckles. Sam wanted to tell Dean that it wasn't his fault, that it was only because of their father, that he had been conditioned his whole life to act this way...to take abuse and take abuse until he didn't know what to do with it anymore...but Sam knew that saying anything of the sort would only lead to another fist to his jaw, and would leave Dean feeling twice as horrible.
Instead Sam said, "You can hit me all you want, Dean. I'm not leaving because of you. I just want to see what I'm capable of. I want to try to be normal for once. I just don't want to be a freak anymore."
"Ok, Sammy," Dean had said, though Sam knew that it wasn't ok. Then Dean looked at him with open worry and said, "Dad's going to be pissed." And Sam wondered if Dean was worried about Sam, or worried about being the one left behind, and it broke his heart a little to admit that it was probably the first option.
Because Sam knew that he COULD hit Dean back, he could hit Dean again and again, and Dean would take it, just like he always did. Sam didn't want to think about what that said about his brother. And he swore that, for as long as he lived, he would never hit Dean in anger.
Sam flexed his trigger finger in the darkness of the Impala and looked over at his brother's chest, where the shirt was torn, and the salt was probably still embedded in his skin.
He didn't hate Dean for being the perfect son, for being Daddy's little soldier. He hated the fact that their Dad didn't deserve it.
"Dean..." he started, wanting to say he was sorry, wanting to say that it hadn't really been him.
"Lay off, Sammy, I'm fine," Dean said, cutting him off.
Winchester Rule#2: Don't vomit inside the car.