Author's Note: Okay, so I know I said in most of my review replies that I would update within the week, but that was before I knew I was going to catch the flu and miss some classes only to make up a ton of work and blah blah blah. So this had to sit on the back burner for a while. Sorry. Forgive me?
Thank for being patient everyone and I hope this lives up to your guy's expectations.
Within minutes of bundling up next to Dean, Sam's shivering slowed to a stop. Closing his eyes, Dean slowly relaxed, listening to his brother's soft breaths. Finally, the day seemed to be going in his favor.
Sam's still body rested comfortably against Dean's chest. Maybe the curse had been lifted. Leave it to his dad to give him a hell of a scare and the break the curse out of nowhere.
Smiling as he continued to rub Sam's back, Dean asked, "Feeling better there, Sammy?" His brow furrowed when there was no response.
Maybe he was just asleep.
"Sammy?" he asked again as he moved his body back to get a better look at the boy's face. Harsh breaths echoed throughout the room, previously stifled by Dean's shirt. Dean could barely contain his fear as he tapped his fingers against Sam's pale cheek. "Sam?"
Dean's heart dropped to his stomach when his warm fingers graced Sam's frozen cheek.
The curse remained in tact. Even more so, it had progressed to the next stage.
Sam remained motionless against Dean, looking impossibly small in the large sweatshirt. His shallow breaths rattled his chest, completely oblivious to Dean's poking and prodding.
On thing was for sure, Sam wasn't asleep.
"Shit!" Dean whipped back blankets and gathered Sam's unconscious body in his arms. "Sam, wake up," he pleaded as he rushed to the bathroom. He quickly turned on the shower, stationing the knob directly between the H and C, before placing the young boy and on the tile floor. Waiting for the water to warm up, he started removing Sam's layers of clothing, leaving the boy only in his blue boxers. Sam remained pliant through it all, his frozen limbs moving to Dean's will.
"This is your last chance, buddy. Wake up or face the music," Dean warned as he picked up the body and headed towards the shower. Dean closed his eyes and willed for his brother to wake up, but Sam remained limp in Dean's arms. "Okay," Dean breathed as he placed the boy in lukewarm water.
The change was instantaneous. Sam softly moaned as his eyes peeled open.
Fire, it was raining fire. He tried to move away from the scalding flames, but his muscles weren't cooperating. He tried to look around at his surroundings, but all he could make out was a bright light and a foggy shape looming above him. His chest felt like it was in a fierce grip as he struggled to breathe through the pain. Somebody, help me.He tried to move away from the scalding flames, but his muscles weren't cooperating. He tried to look around at his surroundings, but all he could make out was a bright light and a foggy shape looming above him. His chest felt like it was in a fierce grip as he struggled to breathe through the pain.
Dean tried to ignore his brother's anguished moans as rubbed Sam's arms and legs, trying to get the blood flowing again. "It's okay, Sammy, I'm here. It's going to be okay," he kept murmuring over and over again, more to himself than to the boy beneath him.
Someone was talking to him. Sam fought to understand what the figure above him was saying. It didn't matter either way. The figure obviously wasn't going to help him get away from the fire pelting down on his exposed skin. Fighting to regain use of his muscles, Sam attempted to scramble away from the flames. Searing hot hands clamped around his arms, halting his movements. Glaring up at the shadow above him, he cursed the figure and its abnormally strong hands. Help me, it burns.
"H-help...burns," Sam's weak whisper filled the air.
Dean struggled to understand, but, the moment he did, he wished he hadn't. "I'm sorry, Sammy," he muttered, hands still clamped around Sam's arms.
Maybe it had something to do with the way his mother died, but watching Sammy be 'burned' was his own personal hell. He knew Sam had a fear of fire, one he had tried to keep hidden from the rest of the family. It was why Dean conveniently always lit the match on any of their 'salt and burn' hunts.
Yet, unbeknownst to Sam, it was Dean's greatest fear too. Not fire, of course. On the contrary, Dean thought fire was a very powerful weapon. He blamed the demon not the flames for his mother's death.
But watching Sam's young skin get scorched by flames was a nightmare that woke him up more times than he could count.
So watching Sam hiss in pain as the warm water pelted against his skin made Dean want to snatch his brother and run away. Away from the curse. Away from the demon. Away from the hell of a place called Erie, Ohio.
Yet, Dean knew it wouldn't solve anything. He had to keep Sam's body temperature up. It was his only chance to survival. "It's only lukewarm, I swear," he promised, his tear-filled eyes begging for forgiveness.
Ignoring the water dripping down his face, Dean lingered over Sam, unsure what else to do.
He didn't have time to make a decision as Sam's body started convulsing in the tub. At first, it was so bad Dean worried he was having a seizure. But as the thrashing slowed down, he realized it was just the body's attempt to get the blood flowing again. As quickly as it started, the thrashing suddenly stopped, quickly reducing to slow tremors.
Releasing the breath he didn't realize he was holding, Dean sat back on his haunches, staring at his brother's pale face. As the gently spray of water dripped down his brother's lax features, Dean swore he would go on a yuki-onna genocide, killing every last one of the ice demons.
Sam's head lazily rolled back and forth, his pain-filled moaning becoming louder. "It's okay, Sammy. It's going to be okay," Dean whispered as he resumed his position over the boy's body.
Unaware of what just transpired, Sam clamped his eyes shut, shutting out the incoherent mutterings. If the figure wasn't going to help him, then he shouldn't have to listen to him. Getting his mind off the flaming rain, he set his thoughts on how to escape. He needed to get out of there. Like a slap in the face, he realized he didn't even know where he was. He was so focused on the figure and the scorching pain, he never he had no idea where he was or what had happened.
He felt the figure move its hand through his hair, much like Dean used to when he was younger. Eyes wide with hope, he realized Dean must be close by. It was unlike his brother to leave Sam in the hands of a monster. Dean would save him; he just had to let Dean know where he was. Dean!
It sounded more like a moan than a word, but Dean automatically knew what Sam was trying to say. Snapping his attention from Sam's limbs to his face, Dean frantically asked, "Sammy, what is it? What's wrong?"
Dean watched as Sam turned his head to the side, hazily looking at the side of the tub.
"Dean..." Sam called again, his voice regaining strength. "Dean!"
Sam panted with exhaustion. Dean must have heard him that time. Looking beyond the figure, he frantically looked for his brother to come rushing in. If only the figure would get the hell of his way. Didn't it realize his brother was coming?
His shirt dripping wet, Dean hovered over Sammy trying to get the boy to look at him. Sam seemed intent on looking around Dean, as if expecting something to happen across the room. "Sam, I'm right here!" Dean exclaimed, desperate for his brother to notice him. Sam merely moaned again as he attempted to lift his head up to look beyond the tub. Dean clasped his hands on Sam's head and forced the delirious boy to look at him. "I'm right here," Dean softly said, enunciating every word.
The figure was Dean. Eyes wide with disbelief, Sam weakly tried to grasp Dean's arm, yet his own arm didn't want to move. Looking down at his immobile limb, Sam breathed, "Dean...I c-can't move."
Dean followed Sam's gaze and whispered, "I know, Sammy...I know."
Sam looked up at him, his hazel eyes imploring for help.
The shower still raining lukewarm water on them, Dean quickly moved his whole, fully-clothed, body into the shower, ignoring Sam's quizzical look. With much maneuvering, Dean slowly lifted Sam up, ignoring his moans of protest as he positioned his body
behind his younger brother's.
"W-what are you...?" Sam asked as he collapsed against Dean's chest.
"Trying to help you," Dean muttered as he finally situated himself against the back of the tub. "I got your arms," he explained as he gently placed his hands around Sam's wrist. "You just focus on your legs."
Before Sam could question what the hell Dean was talking about, Dean steadily raised his arms, pulling Sam's arms with him. The pain was unimaginable. It felt like thousands of needles were being jammed into his arms. Sam pressed his head against Dean's chest, trying to breathe through the pain.
Trying his best to ignore the pain he was causing his brother, Dean warned, "Sam, you have to move your legs or else you are going to lose them to frostbite. And I'm not spending the rest of my life pushing your ass around in a wheelchair."
"I can...feel the love," Sam seethed out, clamping his eyes shut as Dean started bending his arms at the elbow. Breathing hard through his mouth, he focused all of his energy on trying to move his right leg. After a second, he peered down at his legs to see if they had moved without any luck. Determined to get his legs moving he glared at them until finally the right one moved up a bit, bending at the knee.
"That's it," Dean encouraged behind him, resting his chin on top of Sammy's sopping wet hair.
The needles now moving all over his body, Sam turned his head away from the pain and tried to focus his thoughts on something else. Feeling Dean's wet t-shirt against his bare back, Sam realized that he was only in his boxers. "You...took off my...clothes," he whispered.
"You're a quick one," Sam heard clearly through the pain.
"I'm glad I was...asleep," he said as he closed his eyes and tried to relax his muscles while his brother continued to move them.
Dean's answer surprised him more than the shockwave of pain surging through his calves. "Try unconscious, little bro."
Snapping his eyes open, he tried to move his head to have a good look at Dean's face. He didn't remember passing out. In fact, the last thing he remembered was falling asleep against Dean's chest. Surely he didn't pass out, he was just tired.
"Sam, you have to keep moving your legs," Dean said, jerking Sam out of his thoughts.
Sam looked back down at his legs. He thought he was moving them. Wait, why did he have to move them again? He felt fine, just a bit cold. But that was normal, wasn't it? After all it was September in the Northeast.
"Sam, move your legs," Dean stated more harshly.
There goes Dean again, giving him orders without telling him why. There was no reason to move his legs, he wasn't going anywhere and there was nothing chasing after him. He didn't feel like moving, so why should he have to? He could move his legs if he wanted to, he was just too tired to try.
"Sam, wake up." There was a sharp slap on his cheek, but he barely felt it.
"Sam, wake up." Dean's voice sounded a bit more urgent this time.
No. I don't want to. Stop telling me what to do.
"Don't you do this to me, Sammy, wake up." He felt a slight twinge in his arm. He supposed Dean was pinching him. Good thing he was too numb to feel it. "I know you can hear me! Open your eyes!"
Fine, if it will get you to shut the hell up. Sam slowly opened his eyes, blinking them against the harsh light. He saw Dean staring down at him, his face etched with fear. What was he so scared of? He was just sleeping. Unable to see Dean so frightened, Sam looked beyond him.
There was a figure standing behind Dean. Sam opened his mouth to warn him until the figure shifted into focus. Sam felt his heart stop in his chest. Tears flooded to his face as he recognized the woman with long blond hair staring down at him. Until now she had just been an illusion. Something he had only seen in pictures. And now she was here, smiling down at him.
Hearing the soft whisper, Dean's heart leapt to his throat. Following Sam's gaze, Dean looked behind him, only seeing the dirty sink and smudged mirror. He slowly turned his head back towards Sam, trying to hide his disappointment as he said, "Mom's not here, Sammy."
Completely oblivious to Dean, Sam slightly smiled as he closed his eyes. The whisper "Mom" died on his lips.
Hearing about hypothermia victims who suffered hallucinations before they died, Dean immediately jumped to action. He placed his arms underneath Sam's and pulled him out of the tub, never bothering to turn off the water. "Sammy?" he croaked, his voice caught in his throat. "S-Sammy?!"
Dean looked down at the pale body beneath him, desperately waiting for Sam to wake up.
But Sam remained still. Too still.
Holding his own breath, Dean put his ear next to Sam's mouth, listening for a breeze of air to whistle through. Too many seconds ticked by without a noise. "Don't you dare, Sammy," he threatened his voice thick with tears. He placed his hand over the boy's cold chest, his fingers still with fear waiting and desperately wanting for the steady thump. But it never did.
He had spent too many years protecting Sam for him just to sit by at watch Sam die. It seemed ironic for his mom to be taken by a fire demon, only to lose his brother to an ice demon fourteen years later. But the irony was lost on Dean. Everything was. The one thing he spent his whole life hanging onto was the same thing that slipped away beneath his desperate grip.
He spent the whole day trusting his father. He never once thought it would end like this. He knew it could end with Sam losing a finger or a toe to frostbite. He spent the whole day fighting against that.
But people can live without a finger or a toe.
People can't live without their heart.
Sitting back on his haunches, he blankly stared at Sam's still body.
The spent the whole day knowing father would kill it in time. His father always did. So instead of calling 911 and having the paramedics push warm fluids with him, Dean opted for sitting next to him, lending his own body heat. His dad was supposed to come home with another notch in his belt and everything would be fine. That's what happened every other time.
And now, with a sickening clarity, Dean finally realized it took just one time for everything to fall to pieces.
It took just one creature to get the upper hand.
It took one demon to turn their lives around.
And it took a second one to tear their lives apart.
Tears freely flowing down his face, Dean looked at Sam's lax face. It wasn't supposed to end like this...and it wasn't going to.
Practically pouncing on Sam, Dean placed his hands on the boy's chest and started doing compressions. "C'mon Sammy," he encouraged, ignoring the tears slipping down his cheeks. "It's not supposed to be like this, and you know it." Dean tilted Sam's head back and administered a few breaths, making sure his brain got the oxygen it craved.
Sam flopped bonelessly as Dean's compressions became harder, almost violent in nature. "Don't you do this to me, Sammy,: he warned through his teeth. Feeling Sam's ribs shift beneath the pressure, Dean swore, "Goddamnit, Sammy, breathe!"
As if on cue, Sam opened his mouth and took in a large gulp of air.
Speechless, Dean fell back on his butt. It was the one thing he had been desperately wishing for, but the last thing he had expected. "Sammy?" he whispered in disbelief as he continued to stare at his 'dead' little brother.
Sam continued to take in large breaths of air, as if he at just emerged from underwater. Making no move to sit up, he slowly brought a hand to his chest, rubbing his bruising skin. "God, Dean, angry much?"
Dean refused to look away, but couldn't help but smirk at his brother's comment. Only Sammy would come back from the dead only to complain. "You have no idea," he breathed, finally snapping out of his reverie.
"What the hell took you so long?!" Dean screamed the moment the front door opened to reveal a muddied and exhausted John. It was less than an hour after Dean brought Sam back to life, and, while Sam was happy spending most of that time cozy in his bed, Dean was stuck with the image of his lifeless brother in his head.
The demon was by no means easy to find. And after tracking it down, cornering it, and setting a flare gun off in its face, all John wanted to do was take a long shower and hit the sack. Evidently, Dean had to decide to take a page out of Sammy's book and start questioning him from the moment he stepped through the door.
"Dean, you better watch your mouth. I am not in the mood," John growled, trying his hardest not to scream at the boy. He could barely handle one rebel son. He knew if Dean decided to switch to Sam's defiant ways it would surely be the death of him.
Dean merely leaned against the door frame and crossed his arms. "So, you killed the son of a bitch." As Dean raised his eyebrows, It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"Yes, it melted the moment a flare touch its skin," John said as he collapsed into the old Lay-Z-Boy. His weary mind was going over twenty-five million different reasons why Dean would be acting like he was. Sammy must be alright if he was in the living room hounding him. But the only time Dean showed any emotion was when Sam was involved. "And, I trust that Sammy's alright," John stated, easily masking his concern.
Pushing himself upright, Dean finally found his opening to point out how wrong his father was, but for some reason he didn't. Maybe it was because, all in all, Sammy was alright. Or maybe it was because he could see how tired his father was and getting him concerned wouldn't prove anything. Regardless of his reasons, Dean's anger simply deflated as he muttered, "Yes, sir."
Taking one last look at John, he headed back to his and Sammy's room where Sammy was sound asleep. Evidently being almost frozen to death took a lot of energy out of the kid.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Dean placed a hand on Sam's shoulder and gently shook it. "Wake up."
Sam turned his head into the pillow and moaned.
Dean just shook him harder. "Wake up, Sammy."
Face still smothered in the pillow, Sam peered out with one eye. "What?" he grumbled.
"Just wanted to tell you Dad came home," Dean said innocently. He couldn't blame the kid for being so grouchy, after all this was the third time he woke him up since he crashed on the bed.
"Great, thanks for the update," Sam replied sarcastically as he turned to his other side, effectively shutting Dean out. He swore to God, if Dean woke him up one more time with some trivial statement, he'd have to slam a pillow in his face. First it was the cleverly masked, "I'm hungry, do you want anything?" Ten minutes after that he was awoken to, "Sammy, the Discovery Channel is doing some special on dolphins...just thought you may want to watch it."
Sam wasn't quite sure what happened in the bathroom earlier, but from the bruises on his chest he knew he must have given Dean a good scare. To be honest, the last thing he remembered seeing was his mother standing behind Dean. He knew it was just a hallucination, but she was exactly how he imagined her. It almost made the whole near-death experience worth it.
Thoughts of his mother filling his mind, Sam's practically melted against the bed and began drifting off to sleep.
Son of a bitch! He had forgotten his brother was still there. "What?"
Dean knew the kid needed his sleep, but after the past twenty-four hours, he also knew that there was a thin line between sleep and unconsciousness. And he wanted to make sure Sam never crossed that line again. "Sam, I'm thinking about going to the convenience store. Do you want anything?"
Screw his pillow, Sam didn't need it. And Dean's face was just asking for it.