Dean's on his hands and knees and he’s rummaging through the dirt. There’s an unmistakable fire of panic that burns alarmingly in his chest, it’s got him breathless and on edge.
“Dean, what is it?” Sam’s hand comes to rest on Dean’s back, but Dean shakes it off with a growl.
They’re in the middle of a cemetery, the same one they salted and burned bones in the night before. Sam’s hair is still plastered to the side of his face, sleep still haunting his body. Neither of them got much time to get ready, because Dean was in a panic and woke Sam up in a hurry, ordering him to get his shit and get in the car.
And well, in their life, you just don’t ask questions--you just do.
Dean’s swearing as he looks back at his Brother, who stands behind him holding the hand he had shrugged off impatiently, like the action had burned the flesh of his palm. Dean closes his eyes and tries to breathe through his nose, tries to settle the electric fire of anxiety that rattles in his stomach.
It has to be here. It has to be here. He just needs to calm down and look. He just needs to breathe and he’ll find it. He has to.
Dean sits back on his heels and he splays his dirt covered fingers over the width of his thighs. He looks up at the morning sun and he slowly feels himself centering for the first time all morning. And when he’s ready, he looks back at Sam and waves him closer.
“Look, I’m sorry.” Dean mutters apologetically. “But it fell off last night and it has to be here, somewhere.”
Sam looks down at him and his brows furrow together, still not understanding what Dean is talking about.
“My necklace,” Dean whispers, his hands coming up to where it should lie against his chest. “The amulet.”
Sam’s hand comes to rest on Dean’s shoulder once again, his fingers squeezing gently with understanding.
“Dont worry, we’ll find it.” It’s a promise.
Four hours later, Dean has half dug up the same grave they had just done the day before. And the deeper he gets, the worse the pit in his stomach screams. Sam keeps catching his eyes, keeps promising him that they’ll find it, without ever saying a word.
Of course, Dean wants to argue, because how can Sam be so certain? How can Sam promise him something that he can’t even uphold. What if they don’t find it? What if it’s lost forever? What if… But Sam gives Dean a meaningful smile--another promise, and it calms the rising tide in Dean’s chest.
Finally, it’s Sam who spots the golden horned head. It’s clinging haphazardly to some weeds, near a grave a couple spots over. And when Dean feels the familiar cold metal hit his palm, he feels the burn of tears behind his eyes. He tries to fight them with everything in him, but then he looks up at Sam who is telling him something quietly with his eyes.
‘A promise is a promise.’
“‘S okay, Dean. We found it.” Sam says, his arms coming to wrap around Dean tightly.
Dean lets his little brother, who’s almost as tall as him now, comfort him. Lets the tears that have riddled his chest, finally break free. The worry and panic finally soothing out of shoulders as he clings meaningfully to the amulet and to his Brother.
He tries to tell himself that he’s only crying because he’s relieved, tries telling himself that it’s simply because he didn’t get enough sleep. He tries to tell himself everything in the book that skates around the true reason for his tears. Because he just can’t admit it, can’t put the words down in his head.
Refuses to acknowledge the four letter word that flops in his stomach and is hooked to the black cord of his necklace. It’s too big and means too much. And more than that, he doesn’t want to admit how much it fucking scares him.
When he puts it back on, he feels rooted to the earth again, feels whole. And he vows to never lose it again, to never take it off--not if he can help it.
Later that night, he lies staring at the ceiling of a hotel they found on the outskirts of a town, a couple hundred miles from the last. The necklace around his throat, weighs him down, secures him to this earth. And he thinks about how lost he felt when he didn’t have it on, thinks about how the body in the bed next to his calls his name, thinks about the aching fingers at his sides as they fight the need to wrap around his Brother like the roots of a tree.
Dean turns his head and he watches for the rise and fall of Sam’s chest. And as he settles into the rhythm of his Brother’s breathing, he wraps his fingers around the cord of the amulet. He roots his aching fingers there and he lets his own chest rise and fall in time with Sam’s.
And when he falls asleep, he dreams of his Brother’s hands wrapped up in his own.