Sam had never heard (or read) a definition of love that didn’t bore him to tears.
Of course he still wanted love, who didn’t? He wanted better insight into all those stupid clichés and contradictory absolutes. He wanted to say the kind of embarrassing shit at three o’clock in the morning that made him feel like a made for TV movie. And though he’d had a taste of those things, brief and bloody like everything in his life, there wasn’t any part of him that thought it was enough.
Sam didn’t have a whole lot of faith in words. However inspired the phrasing, Sam had never come across a writer who had managed to say more than: Ouch, love. Two thousand years and forty generations of geniuses, and not one of them had come up with a description that made sense to him. Not Chaucer: the life so brief, the art so long in the learning, not Shakespeare: bears out even to the edge of doom, not Byron: a spark of that immortal fire with angels shared, and not Nicholas fucking Sparks: more than there are stars in the sky and fish in the sea.
So Sam was really, really fucking surprised when it was Dean (Dean, who wouldn’t know an iamb if it crawled up his ass and bit him in the kidney) who put all of Sam’s doubts about love to rest.
They were just sitting quietly at the table together, reading, when out of the blue Dean said: “So Cas stole my pillow case.”
Which was the stupidest thing Sam had ever heard, even stupider that Dean was bothering to bring it up at all. Sam opened his mouth to say so and then stopped, because Dean was still staring at his book, his arms crossed tight across his chest like he was trying to keep something from showing on his face.
So instead, Sam asked, “Are you ever going to tell him?”
At first he thought Dean was going to pretend he hadn’t heard. The obvious, unspoken answer was “No, of course I’m fucking not. I’m a Winchester. We don’t talk about love, we just die for it.” But then Dean shrugged without looking up. Shook his head after that. Shrugged again, and mumbled, “Pretty sure he knows.”
And that was the stupidest thing Sam had ever heard.
“How could he know?” Sam asked. How could anyone but Sam know, when all Dean did was push the guy away? Call him heartless and childish. Refuse to look at him, refuse to talk to him. Stomp around the house muttering about Brutus and Caesar all day. How could anybody translate that as love?
Dean looked up at Sam like he was the crazy one.
“Dude,” said Dean. “He betrayed me. He broke the fuck’n world. He blew up Heaven. And instead of shanking his ass, I make him dinner every night.” Dean paused. “Besides, why else would he think he could STEAL MY FAVORITE SILK PILLOW CASE AND LIVE TO TELL THE TALE.” Sam jumped as Dean twisted in his seat suddenly to shout in the direction of the hallway.
“IT’S HARDLY A HEIST WORTH RECOUNTING,” Cas shouted back from somewhere else in the bunker.
“Asshole,” Dean muttered under his breath. But he was smiling.
Sam closed his book and looked at his brother, who was already reading again. Like he hadn’t just somehow, in his own broken language, answered the world’s most unanswerable question.
What is love?
Love is when he hurts me in ways I’ll never get over. And still I ask him to come home.