It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end.
Is it any wonder that my mind's on fire?
-"Flaming Telepaths", Blue Oyster Cult-
Like those cartoons Dean so much loves (Sanguis)
There is a loud crashing noise as Sam comes flying through a window, back down. There are shards of glass that will etch their mark on his body and make a crunching sound as he lands with them, on them. Up to that moment, before the ghost put surprisingly solid palms against his chest and pushed hard and easily, all had gone in normal, real world time. Then all slows down. He can see the shards hanging in the air. The ghost tilt her pretty red head and look at him with strange bird's eyes. He can feel himself crashing through the warehouse first storey window. Then almost hover over the edge, in midair and all he can think of are those Warner Bros cartoons Dean so much loves, with the Roadrunner and Wile. E. Coyote always falling for it, always ending up in the air, always falling down a great canyon. In his mind, Sam can see the little puff of dust when the coyote hits the ground, and he's thinking, face up in the night sky (so many stars) shit. Shit. I'm screwed.
Then he hits the ground, back first, and some of the cartons break his fall, and the pain is dull and strong, and the pain is sharp and focused, and his chest near the shoulder hurts so fucking much that little white spots of light dance in front of his eyes, making the starry sky look even more star-studded, and he hurts, and there's metal taste in his throat and his breath and his mouth and he's thinking, shit. Shit. I hit something.
Then he can hear frantic, running steps and Dean saying oh shit dad, oh shit, and John saying Start the car, Dean, and Dean trying to hold him, carry him and John yelling Goddammit, Dean, just start the fucking car I got him! and then the world grows white and fuzzy and then real again and then more white and before it grows black he's thinking that the taste of blood sucks but so many stars…
The smell of mud (Terra)
At some point he regains his senses, because he's in the back seat and he hurts like hell and he's cold and shivering and has his own blood in his mouth, and there's dad over him, holding something over his chest, and he's sprayed with blood and his hands are bloody too and there's so much agony in those familiar eyes, and the car roars and the world outside is a blur.
"It's alright, Sammy," dad says applying pressure to stop him from bleeding out, "there was a rod sticking off the ground, you fell right onto it but we'll be in hospital in no time, you'll be alright, talk to me, son, Sammy, you'll be alright, we got you…"
Sam feels now kind of numb, and wants to say how he's made a bloody mess in the car and if they got the redhead bitch, but when he tries speaking he manages to cough on his own blood so stops. He feels light-headed. Outside the window the landscape is blurring and there's the throbbing of the car and dad's reassuring presence, smelling of mud and earth and dust because he had been digging out the bones, and it's familiar smell and comforting and makes him want to sleep again and he's thinking that he must have bled a lot.
And then the world shifts. It lasts only for a few seconds, but it makes him gasp and then cough again on his own blood and then blink through unclear eyes. The world shifts like a magic picture and it's John holding him, holding makeshift bandages over his wounds, but he's surrounded by a soft violet halo. There are ribbons of thorns wrapped around his arms and torso, mixing with the violet colour, and with each move John makes, they seem to cut through him, droplets of blood blossoming on him, but John seems oblivious to them, oblivious to any sort of pain as his mouth continues to move, but Sam barely hears him, eyes focused on John's chest. He thinks he sees a rose there, growing among the thorns, but the only thing blossoming is a deep dark red patch over his heart, like a flower, like a wound that will never stop bleeding.
Dad you're bleeding he wants to say, you're bleeding, but like a magic picture the world shifts again, and it's only John now and the only blood he carries is that of his boy.
"Stay awake, Sammy, we're almost there," dad says, and then the car comes to an abrupt and screeching halt and then Sam, still fading out, hears his brother yell for somebody to come for Christ's sake, my brother, it's my brother, and soon there's a gurney there and men in hospital uniforms carrying him over and Sam tilts his head towards the Impala, searching for Dean and Dad and takes another breath because he can't see the car, all he sees is a huge black horse, two front feet high in the air, neighing like thunder and then the gurney is pushed fast inside the hospital and dad's face is there, the thorns and the blood and then white mist and Dean's face and darkness.
Come into my garden (Aura)
The metal rod cut at the edge of his lung, through the shoulder. You're lucky, son, the surgeon says days later, it could have been the heart. Sam has a mental flash of a rose growing over his father's heart, but lets it go. There is no energy for that. All his strength is absorbed by his body healing.
He spends a few weeks there before they even let him get on a wheelchair and go around, and that only because he told the nurse (Beatrice, long blonde wavy hair, beautiful legs, a smile that could light up a room, and the best part? Not falling for Dean's charm, which Sam finds totally sane, considering that she's at least ten years older than them) that staying there drove him nuts and made his mind hurt and could she please please tell a doctor about it? Just a small walk on the wheelchair, it's been weeks and he's physically so much better and he looks earnestly at her and she has that bit down smile that means he's won. Dean walks in the moment that happens, then watches the pretty blonde thing walk away and whistles. Then shakes his head.
"Sammy, you'll never get laid if you do puppy eyes," he says. Sam cocks his eyebrows.
"I mean, hell," Dean continues, biting on a pen cap he found god knows where, "you don't want women to mother you, you want them to…"
"Father me?" Sam says, his turn to shake his head.
"Smartass. No, I mean, women got to get the right vibes from you."
"Which would be…"
"Not the I'm-a-stray-dog-please-cuddle-me ones," Dean grins. Sam shakes his head but can't bite the grin down, and then Dean's grin melts into a softer smile, more tender, looking at his brother, and Sam knows that look, and wants to say something like yeah, I know you love me, which Dean will dismiss as chickflick but Sam doesn't care. Then dad walks in with coffee in his hand and his eyes have the same quality as Dean's seconds before, and Sam feels safe. Doesn't think about how many times he's fought with dad. Doesn't think about how many times he's thought that he wanted something more of his life, something other than getting bruised and hurt and moving around all the time.
Those thoughts come at night, when he tries sleeping and ends up looking at the ceiling, how he'd like to become something else than a hunter, someone who'll live in one town and maybe have a pretty girl, as pretty as Beatrice, with her long blonde hair and her gorgeous legs.
Years later, when Jess is the sole owner of his heart, she asks him what she should dress up as for the costume party. He tells her to dress up as nurse.
For now he's content to be finally in a wheelchair, sitting upright, wrapped up and healing and bandaged, dad pushing him through corridors. He knows the hospital by heart now, and he really wants to go outside, but it's been raining. Today though, it's exceptionally dry outside and so John leads him to the little internal yard he's spied upon from the windows. There is grass, and some benches and people sitting there and it looks peaceful enough, and then suddenly, and totally unexpected, the world shifts.
There is Dean standing on top of a bench, except now it doesn't look like a bench, but like a cement formation. He's wrapped up in a white silvery light, soft and clear and he's wearing his black coat…what makes Sam gasp though, are the two large wings on his brother's back. Years later, with Jess, he'll watch City of Angels because she likes soppy movies, and for some reason he can no longer recall the image of the wingless coated angels will seem awfully familiar and will make him mutter they should have had wings (and then Jess cuddled and kissed him and told him he was a romantic and they missed the end of the movie).
Now he feels his jaw drop out of his own volition, but is too numb to tell dad to stop pushing him. Dean is standing there, basked in sunlight, wrapped in that soft halo, sporting his wings. And one of them is broken, broken and stooped, and there are little feathers trickling down, falling like petals beside him. Dean turns to look at him and there's infinite sadness on his face, and sorrow, and Sam knows he'll never leave, can't leave. Then Dean opens his mouth and the world shifts again, and it's just Dean again, Dean looking bemused at him, asking him what he was staring at like a moron.
Sam doesn't feel well, but he thinks he's still on medication, and it's Dean, and it's dad, so he forces it all out of his mind, and tries to enjoy the fact he's out of the building.
The world shifts more. He sees a little girl pass by down the corridor, brown haired pigtails, and there are butterfly wings on her shoulders, and a princess crown on her head. One time, at night, when Beatrice and a doctor came to check up on him, he thought he saw them both wrapped up in a pure grass green light and somehow knew that even if he was ten years older he didn't stand a chance, cuz Beatrice and the doctor were a couple.
Then the world doesn't shift. Not for some time.
Someday they'll stop falling (Aqua)
It's been a while since Sam's out and about and life goes on as usual, the medication he's still taking the only reminder of his Wile. E. Coyote stunt. In the car, with dad, and Sam's back to the bitching, and dad's back to the pushing and Dean's back to the mediating. Perfect balance. One day, when they hunt a golem down, Sam gets again shoved back and hits his head, but it's only a bruise, and they stopped the golem, so it's alright.
They find the closest motel to get cleaned up and dad, ready to take the shower, sends Sam to pick up some sodas.
"I need money, dad," Sam says.
"Wallet," John replies and hits the shower. Sam goes through his dad's jacket and takes out the wallet. It's brown and it's worn out, and when he opens it he knows he'll see mom's picture stuck on the place the ID should have been. It's a pretty picture, where she's laughing, light falling on her, making her hair golden. It never fails to make something clench in his chest, a regret of missing out of even the slightest memory of her. Dean thinks that that only makes the pain less, cuz you can't miss what you don't know, but Sam knows it's not true. There's something genetic about missing your parents even if you never knew them, and he feels that, and it feels bitter.
Then the world shifts again.
The picture changes, becomes like those 3D pictures he so loved as a kid, and his mother is no longer smiling, or rather, not just. Her hair is no longer in a chignon, but falling loose on her shoulders like a veil, and the light around her shifts from rose to blue to golden. There are tears falling from her eyes and Sam's thinking please mom, don't cry, don't cry mom and her face moves from sorrow to peace to happiness to love to sorrow again, like an illusion.
"Dude, you ok?" he hears Dean say. Dean has sat up on his bed looking concerned at him. "You paled all of the sudden. Want me to get the sodas?"
The world shifts back to normal again.
"No, am ok," Sam lies, takes some money and leaves, and tries not to think of how the homeless woman pushing the buggy across the street has the most beautiful golden glow and a pure white dress on when the world shifts again.
If you dare to look (Ignis)
The world shifts for a while, for few instances, as if someone mocks him and puts on special glasses on his eyes, and Sam avoids looking at the mirror more often than he has to, because a tight fear grips him. He tells himself, it's ridiculous. Maybe he's been under a lot of stress, or maybe the medicines they still have him take are messing with him, or maybe he has synaesthesia, though from his own research knows that that is not the case, because that would mean just a mix up and coordination of the senses, not a whole new world in front of his eyes.
He's seen a man in a suit walk by, and he had chains around his feet when the world shifted, and had no eyes, and Sam closed his eyes and the world got back in track. He wants to talk about it, but doesn't know how to, and maybe it's just the medication and the stress, he's thinking, and then his own voice mocks him. Look in the mirror, if you really believe that. Go on. Take a peek.
He doesn't want to.
He has no other choice.
One day, when Dean and dad want to shoot pools, he feigns tiredness. Waits till they leave, locks the door behind him, and stands in front of the full body mirror of the wardrobe. And waits. And waits. Patiently. It's him, a tall, lank, teenager, with hair that dad says he should cut but he refuses, with a T-shirt that still has ketchup stains from dinner and faded jeans. And he's still thinking about how he would have liked to leave this kind of life, leave and be normal, away from everything that is driving him insane.
When his mind is drifting, the world shifts again. What he sees makes him lose his breath for several seconds.
It's him again in the mirror. There are no thorns and no blood and no wings and no tears. And there is no soft coloured halo for him, no. Sam is wrapped up in a huge blazing fire, caressing him, hugging him, being part of him, dancing over his skin and clothes and hair, tongues licking at him, whispering, dancing, his hair and clothes moving and rippling along with its waves, till he no longer knows if the fire is born of him or him born of the fire.
He gives out a strangled sob, but doesn't take his eyes away, can't take his eyes away from his own idol, dressed in fire, looking back at him.
There are thoughts that form as feelings and images, not coherent but strong.
All my fault, fire for me, got to leave, got to keep them safe, got to keep myself from going crazy, got to leave, got to leave, got to leave, not talk about it, mom, all my fault, got to leave.
Then there's a key turning on the door, and he manages to breathe and the world shifts back again.
Look, how the world is shifting (Elemental)
Over the next weeks he starts sending applications for various colleges. When Stanford takes him, he leaves. He has enough load on him and he is unwilling and unable to explain and he wanted to leave anyway, and it doesn't matter if he's heartbroken, or if Dean and dad are. He wants out.
He becomes normal, cuts off all links, meets Jess. He doesn't let the world shift for many years.
When he returns from the hunting trip with Dean, when he sees Jess on the ceiling, for one second his mind thinks that what he's seeing is not real but in his head, that the fire can't be real, that the world shifted again.
Only this time, the world refuses to shift back.
Note: I actually had a dream where I saw Dean standing exactly like I described him, with the dark coat and the broken wing. Was beautiful beyond belief (and then Sam was there and we were arguing about something. Wow. I have an interesting dream life). I think that's one of the things that prompted this whole thing.
DISCLAIMER: The Winchesters belong to their rightful owners who are definitely not me. Am not making any profit, am just playing with them in my head, wishing I could play with their bodies. Oh well.
NOTE: This plot bunny was born because I was too bored to correct tests. It showed up, complete and plump and haunting, so I hunted the little bitch down. Hah.
THANKS: To my beta, e313. Did a fabulous job on this one.