K Hanna Korossy is solely responsible for the inspiration behind this second chapter. I wrote for her and dedicate it to her and she has so kindly said I could share :) I hope you enjoy!
He woke three times the first night, each time with a lurch and pain-filled gasp; his body hated him. Oh, God, he hurt…
Each time, his brother was there with a calming touch and soothing voice. S'okay, Sammy… I got you… I got you, bro… you're safe. It made him almost feel like everything was all right. Almost. And then the memories like darkness pulled him down again.
The morning brought numbness. He lay in bed, his eyes opened but dully fixed on nothing as he listened to his brother moving around the room. Dean's voice prattled on about something, and he wished he could tell him to shut up. Not because he didn't want to hear him but because he needed to listen for something else. Something was not right there.
Swallowing dryly, he let his head loll slowly across the pillow so he could look at the other wall. He was forgetting something.
He was forgetting a lot of somethings…
"Hey, dude." The bed sunk on his other side, but he didn't have the strength to turn back. His brother placed a warm hand on his jaw and did the work for him. He felt pathetic. "You awake this time?"
"Please," he managed a whisper, his dry lips otherwise moving without sound. His eyes burned and something hot scalded his cheeks. "Please…"
"Please?" His brother leaned in closer and he closed his eyes. "Please, what, Sammy?"
He wished he knew what he was asking for.
Darkness welcomed him again.
Dean was slowly losing his mind. He watched as his brother shifted on the bed, Sam's quiet whimper driving coldness through Dean's bones. He shivered and moved closer.
"Easy, bro," he murmured as the kid flinched away from the closeness. "It's just me." He wasn't sure if Sam's comprehension was drug-induced or injury–dulled, but mere slits of green roamed the room at the sound of his voice, eventually coming to rest on Dean. Only then did Sam relax, such a minor shifting of tension that anyone else there besides the man who'd practically raised Sam would have missed it. "See," Dean forced his best smile. "Just me."
Sam blinked at him. One tear slowly marked a path down the pale and beaten face, and Dean hated that tear and everything it stood for: Sam's pain, Dean's not being there when Sam was taken. Fresh anger, hot and fierce, demanded an impossible vengeance; the men who had beaten, hunted his brother were already dead. Still, it wasn't enough. Reaching out to catch the tear with the tip of his thumb, Dean knew it would never be enough.
"Monsters, I get," he whispered to his hurting brother, his touch gentle as it ghosted over the bruised face. "People are just plain crazy."
Sam might have agreed, but Dean would never be sure.
He watched his brother sleep, his own breaths carefully measured to avoid pain and to keep from alerting Dean that he was awake again. It was hard and he fought instinct not to panic until, finally, he couldn't keep still anymore and new movement brought fresh torture. He groaned.
Instantly, Dean was awake and there. "Hey, hey," his brother threw off sleep, no blurriness or hesitation in his voice, "easy… nice and slow, Sammy… breathe through it."
Dean always knew what was wrong, even before Sam did.
He wanted to laugh; he wanted to cry. How could he breathe through it when breathing hurt? Damn sticks. He settled for a half sob as he tried to curl on his side, but that hurt, too. Everything hurt. He felt hands on him, gently trying to keep him from moving as the bed dipped under his brother's weight. Dean sitting beside him helped, but he still hurt.
Writhing against his brother's careful restraint, he felt fresh tears of frustration and fought to blink them back, to suck up the pain like he'd been taught. Then Dean was carefully pulling him up, sitting him up so he could lean forward. His forehead rested against a muscular shoulder and, God help him, as pathetic as they must have looked, it helped.
Propped against his brother, Sam could finally breathe again. He let out a weary sigh. "This. Sucks," he managed, and felt Dean's body vibrate with a soft chuckle.
A warm grip squeezed the back of his neck lightly. "Yeah, it does, doesn't it?"
He closed his eyes, hesitant to say anything else and not wanting to ask his brother for more when Dean had already given him so much, knowing that his brother would stay like this, without complaint, if that was what Sam needed, Dean's own comfort be damned. He knew because it was no less than what he would do if things were different. "Can't…," he whispered, "stay here… all night… like this…"
Dean seemed to seriously consider that because he didn't answer right away. The steady cadence of his brother's chest soothed, hypnotized, and Sam was almost asleep again when the older man began, "Well…" He pushed his eyes open at the hesitancy in his brother's voice. "There's always the car…"
Suddenly, he was flooded with images. Darkness. Steel. Cold. Warm. Protected. Dean. Safe. Home…
And suddenly he needed to be nowhere else.
"Please…," he whispered, and knew what he'd been asking for before. "Yes."
He barely felt the shift of his brother's nod, and then he was slowly being pulled up.
Moving Sam to the car was an exercise in itself. His brother tried to help and did help, but Dean knew Sam's consciousness was only due to pure stubbornness at its best. And he'd never loved the kid more.
The Impala, dark and quiet, had never looked so welcoming before as Dean carefully propped his brother against her frame so he could unlock and open the door. Even the door's squeak seemed more muted then usual, as if in understanding.
"My hair… hurts…," Sam mumbled, and it made Dean smile. He might not have much left in this world, but what he did was precious to him.
Carefully folding his brother inside the car, Dean cast a glance back at the room, hesitant to leave his brother alone but needing to get their things. He chewed his lip and considered the younger man for a few moments, then crouching down to his brother's eye-level, he asked, "You gonna be okay for a few minutes?" Not that there was much choice; once they left they wouldn't be coming back. "I gotta get the bags."
"Hmmm…" Sam's eyes were already sliding closed again and Dean took that as a yes.
Patting his brother gently on the leg, Dean straightened and quietly closed Sam's door. He'd make packing up quick.
Only once the bags were tossed in the back and he was sure Sam was as comfortably settled as could be, curled up half-asleep and facing Dean, did he finally and truly relax, perhaps for the first time since Sam had been taken. There was just something about being in the car that lent a different sense of security, of safety. Of home. He could protect his brother here.
Sam sighed heavily and seemed to actually snuggle into the black vinyl. Dean's smile broadened, a cross between amusement and affection. "Get a room," he whispered, then started the engine and slowly pulled away from the motel.
With each passing mile, Sam seemed more at ease. It was as if the kid didn't feel comfortable in the motel room and, upon reflection, Dean figured he didn't. Sam had been taken from their room, forced out of it by the hillbillies for their macabre hunt. It was no wonder the young hunter had been so fretful, as if his physical injuries weren't enough. Dean shook his head. He should have realized it before. Not that it would have really changed anything because Dean had needed somewhere more than the backseat of his beloved car to properly treat his brother first. But now, back in the Impala, the world was right again.
Giving a self-satisfied nod, Dean turned the music on low and hummed softly. Even if Sam was asleep, he wanted his brother to know he was still right there.
He wasn't asleep. Not yet. His aching body actually found the seats more to its liking than the lumpy bed had been, and sometimes he would swear the Impala had molded his body to hers over the years and not the other way around.
This car had been his childhood. He had laughed, learned, and been loved here. He had hurt, bled, and cried here. And most of all, he still lived here.
When he closed his eyes, he swore he could still smell the lingering scent of his father: a mixture of sweat, smoke, and something sweeter, an herb Sam could never place. He could see the ghost of his older brother, when Dean was younger, grinning at him from the front seat, confident that he could do anything and constantly proving it to Sam. And if he tried even harder, he was sure he smelt his mother's perfume –
But that was a stretch.
Sinking back against the seats, Sam closed his eyes and let the sounds of the tires on the blacktop, the rumbling of the engine, and even the sweetest strains of Def Leppard and his brother's humming lull him to sleep. The Winchester lullaby and promise that everything was okay.
"Dean," he murmured sleepily, "I love this car." I love you.
His brother's soft chuckle and gentle fingers pushing his bangs out of face were the last things he remembered.
This time when he slept, there were no hillibillies or sticks, just him, his brother, and a car.
And as the powerful black car maneuvered the twilight-lit back roads, her engine growled and warned the darkness away.