And here is my (somewhat cleaned up) offering! (Anybody guess it was mine? Didn't think so. *winks*)
Title: An Influence More Powerful
Characters: Sam, Dean (gen)
Word count: 2045
Warnings: bittersweet, angst, mentions of canon character deaths
A/N: Written for keep_waking_up's wonderful prompt of 'Sam in Dean's jacket' for the 2013 round of spnspringfling. I rather doubt se was looking for angst, but my brain obviously thought this was a great idea. Originally posted here.
Summary: Touchstone [noun] - a criterion or standard by which something is judged or recognized.
Dean's jacket was warm.
"Jesus Christ, Sam!" Dean snapped, his voice going brusque and angry like it always did when Sam got hurt. Dean thought it made him sound more like Dad, Sam knew, but all it really did was show off how freaked out he was. "What part of 'stay off the goddamn frozen lake' do you not understand? Dad told you to be careful!"
Normally Sam would have retorted with a whole volley of scathing insults aimed to hit Dean where it hurt, but his teeth were chattering too hard for him to force out the words. The air was bitingly cold and Sam shivered in his soaked clothes, cringing at the feel of water dripping off his nose and chin. His hair was hanging in lank, frozen spikes around his face and the stiff folds of his clothes scraped painfully against his numbed skin. Sam wrapped his arms around himself, trying to hold in some body heat.
"Jesus Christ," Dean said again, this time with an eye roll. He stripped off his jacket and practically threw it at Sam. "Put that on before you freeze to death. Idiot."
Sam scowled. "J-jerk," he said as he tugged on the jacket with shaking fingers.
It was miles too big for him - stupid Dean and his stupid growth spurt - but it was warm and dry, which was all Sam cared about right now. He pulled the jacket in as tightly as he could, leaving the sleeves to flop over his hands and letting the dumb turned-up collar block the worst of the wind against his neck.
Dean smirked at him. "Look like a little kid playing dress-up there, Sammy."
"Shut up," Sam snapped, though it was hard to muster up the right tone of indignation when his shivers were finally stopping thanks to the cozy heat of Dean's jacket. "I'm going to drip all over your stupid coat and ruin it."
"You go right ahead and try, pipsqueak. Wouldn't be much of a jacket if a little water was enough to wreck it." Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder; Sam could feel the chill of Dean's skin even through the jacket. No surprise there - he was the one who'd pulled Sam out, after all. "How's about we get back to the Impala before you turn into a Sammy-sicle, huh?"
"I hate you. And how can you even wear this thing without melting?" Sam added, when Dean's smirk got to be too much. "The lining's way too thick."
"Cause I'm hot stuff," Dean said, with a smarmy sort of grin. Sam's brother was so cheesy. "Come on. Let's go tell Dad you fell in the lake."
Dean's jacket weighed a ton.
Sam sat on the curb beside the Impala, staring blankly at the familiar streets of Palo Alto. The slick smell of smoke and burning flesh clung to his clothes, his skin, his hair. It made Sam want to throw up, but the thought was absent, removed.
Shock, Sam's mind informed him matter-of-factly. It was probably right.
In the inky darkness, the sooty orange glow of the fire that was destroying Sam's life flared like a beacon. It was lower now, thanks to a hoard of fire trucks and the miserable fact that there probably wasn't much in Sam's apartment left to burn, but Sam couldn't look away.
It was better than way. Because when he closed his eyes, Sam saw Jess on the ceiling. And that was so, so much worse.
Shivering, Sam hugged his arms tighter to his chest, wishing he'd just wake up already. The dream didn't usually last this long. Sam didn't like it.
Somewhere behind him, Sam heard the Impala's shocks creak. Sam ignored them.
Footsteps crunched across the pavement. Sam ignored them too.
There was a shush of fabric and Sam startled when something big and bulky dropped onto his shoulders. He pulled his eyes away from the end of everything and looked down to see Dean's jacket draped over him like a blanket, warding off the chill of the evening.
It was heavy, Sam registered absently. Heavier than it looked, which was impressive considering the way Dean already wore it like a suit of armour. Defenses made of leather and quilting.
Sam stared at the familiar brown folds for a long moment, then looked up, puzzled.
Dean was standing a few paces away, his entire bearing radiating 'don't say a damn word' so loudly it was a wonder people couldn't hear it down the street. His eyes were fixed on the orange smudge that used to be Sam's apartment building and the creases of his frown carved deep shadows across his face.
Sam tried to figure out how he was supposed to react. It was kind of nice, he decided after a moment. Wearing Dean's jacket. It felt grounding, somehow, like the heavy bulk of it was keeping Sam from floating away with his grief and never coming back down.
Wordlessly, Sam turned his attention away from Dean's profile and back to the fire. He left Dean's jacket draped over his shoulders, curling his fingers around the edges as he and his brother watched Sam's future burn.
Dean's jacket didn't fit.
Sam sat alone in the hotel room with the two queen beds, staring at the untouched sheets on the one closest to the door. If he tried, he could fool himself into believing that Dean was just out on a coffee run, instead of in a pine box six feet under. Sam had spent most of yesterday doing that. And a good portion of the day before. And most of the week, actually, if he remembered correctly. He wasn't entire sure that he did. There'd been a lot of drinking as well.
Because Dean's deal had come due eight days ago and it was possible that Sam wasn't handling it well.
Sam had Dean's jacket stretched across his shoulders, and it fit so much more poorly than he had expected. The sleeves were too short, there wasn't enough give around the armpits and Sam's back was far too broad to fit comfortably. It was a staggering thing to realize, even though Sam knew intellectually that he'd been taller than Dean since he was 17. For some reason, the idea that he'd ever be too big to wear Dean's jacket had never occurred to him.
Dean's jacket had been safe in the back of the Impala during their disastrous showdown with Lilith, which Sam found himself entirely grateful for. It was… comforting to know that Sam could keep a small part of Dean with him in the aching absence of his brother.
But it was too small. And that made Sam want to scream.
Leather creaked as Sam clenched his fists, then consciously relaxed them. Dean wouldn't be happy to find out that Sam had stretched out his jacket while he was… gone, which mean that Sam couldn't keep wearing it. He'd have to put it back in the Impala, safe for when Sam got Dean back.
It could wait until tomorrow, though.
Sam sat alone in the hotel room with the two queen beds wearing a jacket that didn't fit, staring at untouched sheets on the one closest to the door and trying not to believe that Dean was just out on a coffee run.
Dean's jacket smelled like home.
"I'd say this was the dumbest idea you've ever had," Sam muttered. "But there are too many to choose from to pick just one." He tugged irritably at the sleeves of Dean's jacket in a futile attempt to get them closer to his wrists. "This is never going to work."
"Hey," Dean said, as though he was the reasonable one in the family. "If you hadn't been dumb enough to sprain your ankle running away from a freaking red cap-"
"I wouldn't have tripped if you hadn't shoved me into a freaking tree."
"-you'd be able to do the leg work," Dean finished. "But you're useless like that, so you get to be bait."
Sam made a face. "You let a black dog catch your scent and I'm the useless one?"
"Just telling it like it is, Sam." Dean slammed the trunk closed and hoisted his shotgun over one shoulder. "Give me ten minutes to get in position." His grin flashed. "Try not to get eaten."
"Do my best," Sam said dryly.
Dean gave him a cheeky salute before heading off into the darkness, looking more than a little silly in the too-large clothes he'd stolen from Sam's duffel.
Sam leaned back against the Impala and settled in to wait. The air was crisp with the promise of autumn and Sam hunched into the collar of Dean's jacket to stay warmer. The mingled scent of cordite, grease and cheap aftershave clung to the fabric and Sam couldn't help breathing it in with a nostalgic sort of sigh.
Of all the five senses, Sam knew, smell was the one most strongly connected to memory. Dean's jacket reminded Sam of life on the road, of saving people and hunting things, of Dean and fireworks and Spaghetti-Os and learning how to shoot. And maybe it was stupid of Sam to categorize a collection of smells as 'home' when they'd never really had one, but logic and emotions weren't on good terms at the best of times.
His cell beeped when Dean's ten minutes was up, and Sam checked the safety on his gun one last time before starting down the well-trodden path with a slow, slightly limping stride. Time to go pretend he was Dean so they could kill themselves a black dog.
Dean's jacket told the story of them.
Everything was sharp and distorted behind the glass wall that Lucifer had erected in Sam's mind. No matter how hard Sam threw himself at it, it wouldn't budge.
You'll want a front-row seat for this, Sam, Lucifer had told him, sounding cheerfully triumphant as he wormed his way into Sam's soul and made himself comfortable. It's going to be one hell of a showdown.
And it was.
Stull Cemetery was a blur of grave markers, dry grass and the expression on Adam's face as Michael talked to Lucifer through it. Sam felt Lucifer's anticipation, his sorrow, his determination. And Sam despaired.
Then Dean was there, with his cock rock and his bravado and his love, and Sam renewed his struggle against his glass prison. It didn't help. Sam watched Lucifer kill Castiel and Bobby, then watched some more as Lucifer hit Dean, over and over again, to make sure they both suffered.
And Sam wanted to tell Dean to run, to get as far away as he could from the monster Sam had riding inside of him, but Sam couldn't speak and Lucifer wasn't going to let Dean go after this display of defiance and Dean wouldn't have listened to him anyway.
Luckily, or unluckily, Dean wasn't listening to Lucifer either.
"I'm here," Dean said to Sam, through a face swollen and broken by a hand that didn't belong to Sam anymore. "I'm not gonna leave you."
Sam pounded against that wall with all his might, yelling Dean's name in the silence of his mind.
And then came the Impala, their car, their home, and not even Lucifer could have understood what that felt like.
Sam looked at Dean as if from a great distance. He saw his hand fisted in Dean's jacket, his too hot, too heavy, too small, too worn jacket, that smelled of grease and sweat and salt and Dean, that felt like home the same way the Impala did - a moment of solidity in a world that seemed determined to screw them over in every possible way.
The glass shattered. And Sam was Sam again, for the last time.
"It's okay, Dean," he said, wishing he wasn't too busy fighting with the devil inside his head to spare a comforting smile for his brother. "It's gonna be okay. I've got him."
Everything happened very quickly after that: the rings, the incantation, the Pit, Adam.
Until finally, Sam raised his arms…
Dean's jacket made Sam feel safe.
Because Dean's jacket was just like Dean.
Also available on AO3