Author: graceofgod PM
Ghosts, Goats and Yodelling, Winchster Style...Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Humor - Chapters: 5 - Words: 15,938 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-07-10 - Published: 01-21-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5683556
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I finally crawl more-or-less awake around seven the following evening to find that I'm sprawled out in the same chair, legs stretched out beneath the bed, my head resting on Dean's arm.
My neck cracks loudly as I sit up slowly, wincing as I roll my head around and try to work the kinks out of my aching spine.
"You mind? Some of us are tryin' to sleep."
The feigned annoyance would be more convincing if he didn't squeeze my hand for a flicker of a second.
"Yeah, well maybe you'd like to get your lazy ass up so I can go sleep in a bed."
The thin promise of liberation has his eyes popping open instantly and he sits up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed before I can stop him.
"Whoa, whoa hold on."
He sways drunkenly, almost pitches face first to the floor and clings to my arm as I catch him, swearing so quietly I feel it more than hear it. Dean being Dean, he bites it back, grinds his teeth together and forces himself up on wobbly legs.
"Dean – "
"Wanna get the hell out of here, Sammy."
His voice is thick, slurred from the meds that have widened his pupils until there's only the thinnest ring of green around them and the black hollows are utterly, starkly terrified. He's too groggy still to hide it, not quite unaware enough to not realise I've seen it and the combination makes him defensive and frustrated.
"I know. Just take a minute Dean, okay?"
He glares at me, but sighs a little and sinks back to sit on the edge of the bed, refusing with a stubborn growl to lay back on it properly even though his feet don't quite touch the floor and he looks like a petulant five year old. I wait until my back is turned before I roll my eyes.
"I saw that."
"I'm gonna go find your doctor, see if he'll discharge you. Okay?"
The truth is I'm as eager to leave as my brother is. I've spent too much time in hospitals, seen that look of fear in his eyes too many times and every single one of them cuts me a little deeper. Because it's fear for me, fear that if he's laid up in a hospital bed he can't look after me, can't protect me and as much as I hate the risks it drives him to take, the feeling of safety, of being cared for and protected is one I never quite realised how much I missed, in the years we were apart, until he knocked me to the floor of the apartment in Stanford. Seeing him smirk down at me, feeling the slow ache of the punches he'd pulled already softening and fading, I finally understood that the walls he built around me, keeping me hidden from the dark and the things that lurk there as long as he could, then almost daring them to try and fight their way through him to get to me were probably all that saved me as a child.
So I leave him slouched carefully on the edge of the bed, his death-grip on the sheets twisting them into a knot at his side and take two steps down the corridor before I run smack into the young man in the white coat with the faint impression of my brother's fist bruising one cheekbone.
Given the tenderness in my hand where Dean had crushed it yesterday as this sadist wrestled his shoulder back into place, I can't really find much sympathy for the guy. He glowers at me for a moment before a mask of cool, professional detachment slides into place.
"Mr. May. How are you and your brother doing this morning?"
"We're fine. And we'd both like to be discharged."
He blinks at me, honestly startled.
"Well, you both took quite a knock to the head yesterday. I'd really like to keep you in for a while longer and your brother overnight, just to keep an eye on his ribs and that shoulder."
I'm tired, my neck is stiff and sore from the hard landing in the grass yesterday and from sleeping hunched over the edge of the bed and all I want to do is stuff my brother into the backseat of the Impala and leave this town in our dust. I've watched him dance too close to the edge one too many times on this hunt and I'm suddenly, unspeakably sick of it.
"Trust me, doc. I know how to take care of a concussion and some broken ribs, and I'll make damn sure he rests his arm."
The doctor blusters a little, but he fingers the bruise on his cheek as he finally pushes past me to give Dean one last check over before signing us out AMA. I grin triumphantly as I follow him back into the room, and the look Dean shoots me over the doctor's shoulder is conspiratorial and proud.
That's my boy, Sammy.
Then he yelps like a girl as the doctor lifts his arm and flexes the damaged joint carefully. I smirk and deliberately look the other way as Dean flips me the bird with his free hand before clutching at the sheets again and I'm sure I can hear them tearing. I pack the clothes the nurses had folded neatly into a white plastic bag, listening to the catches in his breath as the doctor probes his shoulder, ribs and head and I try not to gulp down too loudly the bile that rises in my throat every single time. But I can feel Dean's eyes on me through it all and when a muffled groan bursts from him I force myself to stop and turn to face him. I meet his gaze over the doctor's arm and the pain etching his face smoothes a little as he stares at me hard, finally sagging back into the pillows at the head of the bed as the doctor finishes his exam, shrugs and turns his back on my brother, missing the look that should probably have left him a charred, smoking corpse on the floor.
"Make sure he takes the painkillers and doesn't use that arm. The meds should stop the muscles stiffening too much, but the joint needs to rest. And keep an eye on the ribs, his and yours both."
By the time he'd left the room and I'd turned round, my brother was standing, leaning heavily against the bed, already fingering the thick sling on his arm.
"Don't even think about it."
His head snaps up and he shoots me a look so full of injured innocent I have to laugh. Of course, that makes my ribs ache even more fiercely and it takes a minute before I can catch my breath enough to help him into the wheelchair waiting in the corner. For once, he doesn't protest it, too busy watching me and worrying at his lip with his teeth to complain. The fact that just getting him across the room leaves him on the verge of passing out might have something to do with it too. Either way, I'm glad of the peace as a nurse takes the handles of the 'chair from me and wheels Dean out to the front doors, the Impala waiting in the nearest parking space I could find at three in the morning. It's
probably closer than the wheelchair was in the room. My brother fidgets restlessly until I slip behind the chair, taking over from the nurse who smiles politely at me as he heads back inside.
Dean groans, bracing his hand against the arm of the chair. I clap my own hand on his uninjured shoulder, squeezing firmly.
He twists around, wincing a little as his ribs protest the movement and then he gapes at me.
"You heard me."
"I'm not a damn dog, Sam."
He tries to lever himself out of the chair but I push down on his shoulder, just enough to stop him and he flinches away, a strangled gasp barely audible. I cringe as he pales, guilt stabbing at me while the skin around his eyes tighten and his lips thin to nothing, sweat beading on his brow and trickling down his face as he shivers.
"Stay in the chair, Dean."
I deliberately keep my voice brisk, stern, pushing as much of our Father into it as I can when all it wants to do is shake and crack apart. My throat locks up as he just nods and leans against my hand for a moment, instinctively turning his head towards the contact, his breath brushing my fingers as he sighs. I can't look away from the sight, my eyes locked on his almost transparent face etched with pain and weariness as I've seen it so many times before. And, just like I have every other time, I promise him silently, promise myself that this is the last time.
I manage to stop the heavy chair an inch from the Impala's bumper, hoping he doesn't notice my brief struggle. A breath hisses from him, whistling quietly between clenched teeth as I slip a hand under his arm and haul him up, easing him into the front seat. Impossibly, he's even paler than before as I hurry back to the hospital doors returning the wheelchair, giving it a quick shove that sends it into a corner with a thud and a small shower of paint and plaster. Then I sprint back and slide, panting a little, behind the wheel. Dean rolls his head across the back of the seat, quirking one sooty eyebrow at me.
"Getting out of shape there kiddo?"
He smirks, laughs a little but the sound dies with a soft moan as he grabs tenderly at his ribs.
"Dude, don't make me laugh."
He grins weakly at me, ducking his head in the way he always has when he thinks I'm being an ass for apologising, but understands that I need to say it anyway. I smile back and start the engine, my grin broadening as he leans back in the seat with a happy sigh, his hand slipping free of his side long enough to pat gently and surreptitiously at the door. I reach forward and turn on the radio but still hear him murmur softly,
"That's my girl."
He dozes most of the way back to the motel, surfacing groggily to peer out through the window once as I stop for a red light.
"No. Few more minutes."
I watch him as he blinks slowly, head wobbling on his neck and see that the creases around his eyes have faded, the tension in his spine more relaxed.
Pain meds are kicking in. Good.
"Go back to sleep, man. I'll wake you up when we get to the motel."
He hesitates a moment, something cold and hard surfacing briefly in his eyes.
"Dean. It's okay."
The things I don't say – don't know how to say send that fierce warrior tumbling back down into the drugged haze.
We're safe. I've got you. Just rest. I've got you, and I won't let go.
He drifts off again mid-nod, slumping over against the door. Thirty seconds later he's snoring softly and a thin trail of drool hangs from his lips, fascinating both me and the goat that keeps sticking its head over the seat beside my ear to stare at my brother.
The phone in my pocket is a heavy weight, tantalising, but I leave it there as I turn into the motel parking lot, not really wanting anymore reminders of tonight. Dean stirs as soon as the car stops again, mumbles something I'm not sure I want to hear. I know I don't want to hear it a moment later as I struggle to heave him out of the car and he snuggles his head into the crook of my shoulder and neck, lips pursing in an uncoordinated kiss.
"Hmm… taste gooood, baby."
My cheeks turn so red they probably do a better job of advertising the motel than the neon sign does.
"Dean, wake up."
"Jesus, Dean, wake the hell UP!"
I shake him and he freezes abruptly.
I don't think I've ever been so glad to hear my name.
He rolls his eyes up to squint at me as his cheeks heat to Saharan levels.
"We forget this. Right now. As of this moment, it never happened."
He nods, shoves at me until he's slightly more upright and we stagger to the room, still blushing furiously, both our mouths clamped firmly shut. I fumble at the lock until the key card slips into the slot and the lights blink green, then I kick the door open and drag us both inside. As soon as I cross the threshold, stepping carefully over the salt poured across the door, my knees sag, sudden and total exhaustion crashing down on me. We lean against each other, fall towards the closest bed, land on the mattress with more luck than judgment and sprawl there, side by side, staring at the nicotine stains on the ceiling. All I can see is the raging inferno burning behind my eyes, the smell of the smoke lingering in my hair and skin making it too close, too real for comfort.
His low call, more a groan than an actual word is a lifeline in the dark and I grab hold of it, drag myself awake again.
"Goat's still in the car."
A decidedly grumpy bleat from somewhere near our feet proves him wrong.
"No he ain't."
We're silent again for a while, getting used to being still again, re-adjusting to life without adrenaline for the first time in hours. Finally, the bed shifts beneath me as Dean levers himself up, leaning on his good arm.
"'M gonna hit the shower."
The thought of hot water, of getting rid of the smoke and soot makes me groan. The shudder that ripples through me at the thought of washing off the blood on my hands I keep to myself. My brother doesn't need to know that I'm long overdue for the hurling that has always been the inevitable outcome of feeling that slick, slippery heat between my fingers. I push the nausea away, climb wearily to my feet and stumble over to the door and the bag I'd dumped beside it earlier.
"Hold on a second."
Dean pauses halfway to the bathroom, leaning heavily against the wall, eyelids at half-mast again as he peers at me questioningly.
"I got some waterproof dressings at the hospital; need to keep the stitches dry." Yours and mine, I think, but I don't say it. One Winchester nursemaid is more than enough for this tiny room, and I've already laid claim to the role.
He doesn't answer, just seems to ignore me as he turns again and shuffles into the bathroom, but he leaves the door open and I hear him sigh out a soft groan as he drops down to sit on the edge of the tub. I find the box of dressings and kick the front door shut behind me as I cross the room, sidestepping the goat who decides to come and watch the floorshow in the bathroom.
"Gotta think of somethin' else to call you, goat."
It bleats at me, sounding strangely like Dean when he's irritable and my brother blinks at it.
"We gotta find a name for that thing."
I grin when he echoes me and reach out, turning on the taps to fill the sink, flipping down the toilet lid and shoving lightly at his shoulder to make him switch seats. He grumbles but complies, silently starting to work the buttons on his shirt undone one handed. A quick, heated debate breaks out between the warring factions of my tired brain over whether or not to help, but one look at his scowl and both sides shut up. Instead, I try not to grimace at the patchwork of bruises revealed as he slips painfully, jerkily out of his shirt. It looks as though there isn't a single square inch of skin that isn't marked, the worst of them flowering black as midnight around his ribs and peeking out beneath the bandaging on his shoulder. The long scrape across his belly only needed a few stitches but there are an even half-dozen deeper lacerations across his back and the cut on his cheek cost the hospital eight sutures.
We don't speak as I set to work, and by the time I'm done Dean looks like a poorly kept Michelin man, punctures patched with the white, waxy bandages. I don't laugh. He's even paler than my handiwork, the scattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose standing out in stark relief.
I wait for him to look at me, eyes tight, mouth turned down at the corners.
"Get some rest, man. I'm gonna wash up, have a shave," Throw up, violently and all over the place, but that's one more thing he doesn't need to know. "I'll leave you some hot water."
Worryingly, he doesn't argue, just accepts my hand as I pull him to his feet, and leans on me as I guide his faltering steps back to the bed. He's asleep – and snoring – before I can shut the bathroom door behind me. A dark-haired stranger stares at me from the mirror, eyes glittering as my throat locks up. When I raise a hand to my mouth, he does the same and I can see the blood on my fingers, almost black now. It's the last straw. My stomach rebels, churning viciously and I throw myself to the floor, barely managing to get the lid of the toilet up in time.
When it's finished, I flop onto the floor, sprawling there on my back, staring up at the ceiling but not really seeing it. I've lost count of the number of crappy motel room bathroom ceilings I've not seen, though the worst of them would be infinitely preferable to what parades across my mind; my brother, broken and bloody, a dead Skinwalker beside him; my brother, hanging limply from the ceiling in the cave, five bloody claw marks cut deep into his chest by the Wendigo, my brother, jumping in between me and a spirit, and a knife, and the freakin' truck he thought he could stop with his head when we were kids. Dad saved us both that time, swept us up out of the road I'd run into, swearing like the trucker.
Finally, I can see the cracked, stained tiles again. I'm lying there, panting heavily, hair and t-shirt plastered down with sweat and it seems like every single joint in my body has turned to granite. I claw my way up to my feet, stagger into the shower and turn the taps on full blast. The water splashes onto me, ice cold for a breath-stealing instant, then scalding hot, my skin prickling as I scrub ruthlessly at the soot and the blood. I'm as pink as a lobster before I stop smelling smoke, and I climb back out of the tub, considerably more gracefully than I got in. As I towel off, I find I'm smiling, relaxed, still achingly weary but I feel good and I dress quickly, stride out of the bathroom, steps hurried by a sudden craving for caffeine.
I stop by the bed, gently shake Dean awake, dodging the fist that swings wildly in my general direction easily.
"Wake up, Dean. Shower's all yours. I'm gonna run to the diner and get some coffee."
He mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like 'Morn'n sweetheart' and practically falls off the bed, stumbling off into the bathroom without ever actually waking up. I smirk after him and stamp my way into my shoes, earning myself a reproachful mheheh from the goat that has made itself comfortable on my bed. For a moment, it has the exact same look Dad always did when I dragged my shoes on that way as a child, and I can almost hear his exasperated irritation.
"You're gonna break those damn shoes you keep puttin' 'em on like that Sammy, just like the last pair."
Finally, he'd stopped buying me shoes altogether, though it had taken Dean's patient slaps to the back of my head each time I scrunched my feet into the battered sneakers to break me of the habit. Kind of. The goat bleats at me again with a self-satisfied grunt at the end as I sit on the bed and re-tie my shoes. My eyes narrow as I stare back at it.
"Just like freakin' Dad."
Shaking myself I head out, patting my pocket to make sure I've got a key before jogging across the road, suddenly filled with more energy than I quite know what to do with. Jigging around in the queue earns me a few strange looks, but I'm soon heading back out through the doors, laden with coffees and a large bag of donuts, brownies and pie.
Halfway across the road, I stop dead, riveted to the spot by the terrifying noise coming from our room. Some instinct makes me clutch tightly to breakfast as I lurch into a sprint, bursting through the door so hard it nearly comes off its hinges and the handle leaves a hefty dent in the wall. I'm two long strides into the room before I can actually stop, the fears of whatever god-awful creature feature had seemed to be chowing down on my screaming brother drowned by the greater horror. My hands finally lose their death-grip on the bags and cups and they fall to the ground, John Junior letting out an ecstatic bleat and scrambling out from his hiding place under the bed to start munching his way through cakes, pie, paper and all as I stand in the middle of the room, shell-shocked and traumatized for life by the sound of Dean Winchester yodeling at the top of his voice in the shower.
A/N: And that's a wrap. Looking back over this story has made me realize just how much I've changed, how much my writing's improved. There's things I'd kinda like to change in this one, but if I started that I'd never stop, and although it's – by a very long way – not the best thing I've ever written, I still really like it. It was fun, finding ways to make the boys yodel… and if anyone ever wants to borrow John Junior, he's always up for a change of scenery.
Thanks for the reviews! It's good to know you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
See you next time…