Author's Notes- Post 'Asylum'. Bad words and Owies.
"I just wanna say… I'm sorry."
The light bulb overhead exploded with a pop, sending thin shards of glass tinkling down upon them.
Dean Winchester looked at his brother incredulously. "Sam… we're in the middle of a poltergeist attack- can't this wait!"
The brothers flinched as the glinting nose of a 6-inch carving knife poked through the up-turned table they were cowering behind. The wood around it splintered with sickening finality, and their eyes met over the exposed blade.
Sam swallowed and shook his head. "It's waited for a week and a half! I can't-"
A lamp rose from the end table and smashed against the wall behind them, causing both hunters to duck under the cascade of glass.
"-I can't not talk about it any longer!" Sam finished when their gazes met again. His breath fogged in the frigid air between them.
Dean shook his head and bits of glass sparkled as they fell to the floor. "You have the worst timing, you know that?"
"So I've been told."
A porcelain Cocker Spaniel slammed against the far wall and shattered. "So what do you wanna talk about?" Dean asked, mockery thick in his voice.
"I just…" Sam sighed as the living room lights flickered. "I don't think you know how sorry I am. I mean, I shot you for God's sake. I pulled the trigger, I-"
Dean pushed him to the ground as five forks were thrown into the wall behind them, the handles reverberating as the prongs held the utensils firmly in the drywall.
"Sam, I know already! You were possessed by some whacked out doctor- I get it!"
Dean's breath was hot against his neck as they lay still, anticipating the next attack. The fine hairs on the back of Sam's neck stood up and he shivered. "Aren't you angry? Upset? Hurt? I mean, I could have killed you!"
Silence reigned over the house and Dean's weight lifted from his shoulders. Slowly, cautiously, they sat up.
"But that's the point," Dean started quietly, his eyes sparkling in the moonlight as he searched the darkened house. "It wasn't you."
Sam clenched his jaw before answering, "I should have been able to fight Ellicot off."
Dean's face wrinkled in disbelief. "What? Why? Because you have the Shining? I told you Sam- spirits are attracted to shit like that. It doesn't make you stronger."
Their gazes locked and for a moment, all was still. It was ironic just how right Dean could be sometimes.
Sam tilted his head as a wry smile curved one corner of his mouth. "Guess that's-"
Dean's eyes widened when the couch startled hurling across the room towards them. "Move!"
Sam was pushed to the side roughly- Dean propelling off him in the opposite direction- and the three-person sofa hit its mark, causing an explosion of wood and foam stuffing as their shelter was obliterated.
Dean was behind him, pushing Sam around the corner of the doorway and into the dark kitchen. They shoved the chairs aside, pushed the table over onto its side, and ducked behind the relative safety of the thick wood. The spirit seemed to stay in the living room; a lamp flew through the air after them, its cord wavering like a tail, and it smashed against the table's polished surface.
The brothers looked at each other, panting.
Dean shook his head. "You have the worst timing, ever."
"It's gotta be about done," Sam replied, ignoring Dean's barb as he glanced at his watch. "We've been here for almost fifteen minutes now."
"That would depend on how angry it is," Dean retorted. They winced as the cupboards began opening and slamming around them. "And it appears to be very angry."
"You think the doors are still locked?"
Dean glared at Sam. "Gee, I dunno Sam, why don't you run over there and find out?"
Sam glanced at the backdoor, which was roughly ten feet away across unprotected linoleum flooring.
So much for an escape. They'd have to ride it out. "So sue a guy for wishful thinking."
Dean just rolled his eyes.
"So you admit that you were upset by what happened?" Sam asked, getting back to the topic at hand. "Do you admit that you're only human, and you have feelings too, and that maybe what happened was more serious then you let on?"
Dean let out a groan of exasperation. "What do you wanna hear, Sam? That I was hurt? Betrayed? Mad? Scared?"
"Scared?" Sam hadn't thought of that one.
They ducked as a hardback copy of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' dented the wall over their heads.
"Ellicot had you, Sam. I could see it in your eyes. There was nothing there. Or what was there… it wasn't you. You weren't my Sammy."
Sam winced at the nickname but didn't challenge it. "I'm sorry." Spoken aloud, the words fell short and Sam opened his mouth to elaborate.
"Would you quit with the apologies?" Dean snapped. Something heavy thumped against the table and they leaned their weight into it. "I just said it wasn't you. Stop apologizing for things you can't control. That's why the gun was-"
Dean snapped his mouth shut and Sam's eyes narrowed.
"Wait a minute- what?" His left hand curled into a fist against the underside of the table. The realization hit him like a train. "Why was the gun unloaded, Dean? Since when do you carry useless weapons?"
The refrigerator door began opening and closing like the jaws of a giant beast. Bottles and cartons rattled and fell over inside.
Dean tensed, looking defiant. "It doesn't matter, Sam. Just drop it."
"It does matter!" The garbage disposal gurgled to life and sewage spewed from the sink. "Why being me along if you don't trust me? Wouldn't you be better off alone, where you don't have to worry about your kid brother getting possessed around every turn? Do you think I'm that weak? Do you think I didn't fight Ellicot with everything I had?"
"I can't believe this," Sam muttered, suddenly unable to meet Dean's gaze. "You're my brother. You should have told me."
"See? This is why I didn't want to talk about it! You always-"
But suddenly Sam was sliding across the floor, out from behind the table and away from Dean.
"No! Sam!" Dean scrambled to follow, his shoes scuffing the floor as he rose. Instantly, a blur of white raced towards him and he ducked, covering his head, and felt the breeze as the object hit the wall and shattered. He straightened a little, peeking under his raised arm and saw Sam, sliding feet first into the living room on his belly.
Braving the spirit's torrent, Dean raced after his brother. "Sam! Hold on!"
Sam was clawing at the carpet, leaving light marks in the plush fabric. His shirt was bunched under his armpits, surely exposing his stomach and chest to a case of rug-burn. Their gazes met, and Dean lunged, falling to his knees as he grabbed for Sam's wrists.
"I gotcha," Dean grunted, his knees digging into the carpet as he leaned back, fighting the invisible force still pulling on his brother.
Sam whimpered something unintelligible as he clung to Dean's forearms with an iron grip. His body was pulled so tightly that he was suspended above the carpet by a few inches. Dean could feel Sam straining, trying to buck off the force behind him.
"Sam… stop fighting…" Dean ground out, feeling his brother's skin sliding through his sweaty grip. He tried to lean back more, to put more of his weight into their Tug-of-War, but he felt something inside of Sam pop- saw something move under the skin covering his shoulder blades- and, startled, Dean's grip lessened fractionally.
And it was all the give the spirit needed. Dean fell backwards onto the beige carpet, watching helplessly as Sam was flung into the opposite wall, next to an oil-painted bowl of fruit. The painting jumped at the impact and Sam fell, sliding limply to the floor and settling in a boneless heap.
Like a comical afterthought, the painting landed on top of him, partially hiding Sam from Dean's horrified gaze.
"Sam!" Dean yelled, scrambling to his feet and coming to his brother's side. He threw the artwork aside and grabbed Sam's shoulders. "Sam, you okay? Come on buddy, talk to me."
Sam groaned, wincing as his eyelids fluttered open. Dean pulled him onto his lap as Sam shut his eyes tight. "Arm hurts…"
"It's okay, don't move it. I'll get us outta-"
But Sam was yanked from Dean's protection once more. Cold air invaded the space where Sam's warm body had been, and Dean rushed to he feet. He was getting angry. Nobody picked on his little brother and got away with it- not even the already dead.
Sam was flying through the air, feet towards the ceiling as he flailed and jerked in an effort to right himself, and suddenly Dean was glad that Sam couldn't see where he was headed.
Dean went numb as Sam was hurled through the first-story bay window in an explosion of shattering glass and torn drapery. The night swallowed him whole as Sam dropped out of view, disappearing in a deceptively beautiful shower of sparkling glass shards.
For a heartbeat, everything fell silent.
Then, belatedly, the left side of the curtain rod dropped to the floor, crunching the glass underneath it.
"Sam!" Released from his trance, Dean bolted for the window. He paused at the sill, looking down into the glittering ewe bushes cushioning his younger brother. Sam wasn't moving.
Dean grabbed the window frame, oblivious to his own pain as shards of glass sliced his palms, and leapt into the cool night air.
Branches broke beneath him as he landed next to Sam. Dean's hands were on Sam's back, easing him from the bushes and down to the ground. He wasn't worried about the spirit anymore. It wouldn't leave the house it was bound to.
"Sammy? Wake up." Dean rolled Sam onto his back in the damp grass. His knees turned cold as his jeans wicked the dew from the lawn. "Sam?" he pressed, giving Sam a light shake. "Come on, time to go home now."
That one usually worked instantly.
This time, however, his eyelids remained closed. Sam's face was scratched and the trails of blood glistened in the Louisiana moonlight. Other than a few cuts and red welts (that would surely be bruises tomorrow) Sam appeared to be unharmed. The sight did not comfort Dean; he knew the worst of the damage was internal.
"Come on Sam, wake up and tell me what hurts so I can make fun of you." Even as he was talking, Dean searched for the Impala. They were at the side of the house, and the car shouldn't be too far away.
Dean had just gathered his brother in his arms when Sam made a small noise. "Sam? You awake?"
The voice was weak, but the sarcasm was strong. "Don't even think about carrying me."
Dean dropped him gently, but just enough to get the point across. "Glad you're awake, Sleeping Beauty."
Sam grunted and began to move in restless pain. "I thought the prince was suppose to be handsome."
"Ow. You're cranky when you're hurt."
"Learn from the best."
"As long as I'm the best at something." Dean patted Sam's chest. "You think you can make it to the car?"
"It can wait," Dean replied. "It ain't goin' anywhere." He helped Sam sit up. "Now come on, let's get you to a doctor. We'll come back tomorrow."
Sam shook his head as Dean pulled him to his feet. "I'm-"
"Don't stand there and tell me you're okay," Dean snapped. "Drop the macho crap. That's my act."
"Yes sir," Sam muttered and Dean felt a twinge of guilt. He hadn't meant to sound like their father.
"I want you to know," he began as they started towards the car, "That I'm sorry too. About the asylum."
"Now who's picking bad times?"
"Just shut up and lemme talk," Dean said, his grip tightening as Sam faltered. "You're right, I should have said something."
Sam just snorted weakly.
"Okay, so we both made mistakes, and we both learned something. I shoulda stuck with you and you shouldn't have fallen for a prank phone call. Can we call a truce now? You know I hate this bullshit." The words and feelings of regret were foreign to Dean, and he pushed them out quickly. He preferred to take everything in stride- hold no grudges, just roll with the blows and get on with life. Everything was much simpler that way.
Sam smiled, triumph shining through the lines of pain. "Promise you'll talk to me next time?"
Dean was quiet for a moment, never one to make promised he couldn't keep. Flashes of that night- of the journals and wheelchairs and his own brother on top of him assaulted his mind, and finally, Dean allowed himself to realize exactly what he had almost lost. Sam was right to press about it. There had been two lives at stake that night in the asylum. The gun hadn't been unloaded because he doubted Sam. It was unloaded because he understood the power of Ellicot. Hurt feelings were a given in this job- in this life. He'd gladly risk upsetting Sam if it meant Sam would be alive to upset. Things could have gone very differently that night in the asylum, and Dean would never have forgiven himself if it had.
He blinked, realizing they had come to a stop in front of the Impala. "Yeah," he admitted quietly, looking at Sam's bleeding, too-young face in the darkness.