Sighing, Sam leans back in his chair, fingertips firmly planted on the edge of the desk as he lifts the front legs off the floor, balancing carefully of the two back legs. This was hardly exciting, hardly a way to spend his Friday night. With the clock signaling just after midnight, Sam returns all four legs of the chair to the floor, eyes once again landing on the biology book, opened to page 309. Ecosystems. He learned about all of this back in the third grade, the outlines still strong in his mind. But with a huge test on Monday, he feels less than confident. Maybe tomorrow Dean can quiz him, offer him graphically unrelated metaphors to get the ideas to stick in his head. Until then, however, it's just Sam and this needlessly wordy book, because, for the first time in a long time, Sam is home alone.
He isn't exactly sure where his older brother had managed to disappear to; all he had gotten was a blatant, "I'm going out," that could cover anything between a trip to grocery store to jetsetting off to Europe. Not that Dean ever really did the latter, but to be honest he never really went much of anywhere. Dean wasn't exactly a "paint the town red" type of guy, unless the paint was a hunting trip and the town was in trouble.
Nevertheless, most places he needed to go translated to an offered passenger seat for Sam. The brothers tended to stick together, and it was something Sam quietly appreciated, especially on nights he was buried up to his eyeballs in assorted homework piles. Dean's roll shifted between over-involved parent to overprotective older brother and no matter the issue Sam knew he could trust Dean to be there. So, understandably, tonight is out of the ordinary. No Dean, no idea where Dean went and no Dean to tell him he's a loser for wasting his Friday night on a pile of textbooks.
Returning his attention back to the tundra, Sam's studying is interrupted moments later, eyes growing wide as he hears a loud, clattering noise coming from downstairs.
"Shit." His pulse instantly quickens, panic rising in his throat, as he instinctively reaches for the metal baseball bat he keeps near his bedroom door, a gift from Dean to club anything that didn't translate to a spirit. That's what the rock salt in his bedside table was for, what the pistol in his desk drawer was for, but something about this translated to one of the more scary options: an intruder.
Swallowing hard, Sam begins to creep from his bedroom, slinking down the hallway and the stairwell with an expertise of a sniper. Unnoticed, unheard, and, with the exception of a baseball bat, unarmed. He is surprised to find the light on in the living room, a closer look revealing a stumbling figure finding his way to the couch. His breath catches in his throat as Sam rounds the corner, nearly screaming as the intruder makes a sudden movement.
"Sammy!" Dean shouts, offering his brother a clumsy grin as Sam stares at him in disbelief. Dean. Not an intruder, Dean. But a very odd Dean…
"Dean?" he murmurs, glancing around. The lamp, usually on the end table, sits in a porcelain pile on the ground, the cream colored material jutting out in shattered pieces. "Oh, nice, man. How'd you manage this?" Sam snaps, bending down to inspect the carnage. Poor lamp.
"I think…" Dean starts, a giggle escaping his lips. "You!" Sam stops his inspection immediately, eyes flickering up to his older brother in horror. Dean had just giggled. His strong, tough-as-nails big brother had just giggled.
"You… a bat. I think… I think you… the lamp…"
"Man, what's wrong with you?" Sam asks, though deep down knowing the answer. "You drunk?" he asks the question in a hushed tone, the word sticking on his tongue with a foreign claim. His brother has been many things, but he has yet to come home drunk. Until now, that is.
"Yup!" Dean smiles widely as Sam stares, amazed, at the sight before him. His brother, giggling and grinning like a little kid. Part of this, if even a small part, is entertaining. Definite blackmail material, for future usage.
"I…" Sam starts, studying his brother as he stares in amazement at something on the ceiling, presumably the light. "I'm at a loss here, man." Once again, Dean giggles, this time making Sam shutter. Standing up, Sam glances towards the front door, noticing his brother had left it slightly agape.
"Oh, nice, Dean," he mutters under his breath as he moves to lock the deadbolt. "Let's just invite anything in that wants to come in." He turns back to his brother after, inhaling deeply as he watches Dean rock back and forth like a hyper four-year-old. A small smile creeps across his face as he makes his way back towards the couch, leaning against the arm heavily. His smile drops however as he notices a series of small cuts along his brother's temple.
"You got in a fight," he more states than asks, instinctively reaching up to inspect the damage. Dean mindlessly slaps the touch away.
"Stop," he whines. Sam frowns. Alcohol plus Dean seems to equal bratty three-year-old. The appeal is starting to fade.
"I need to check it out," Sam starts, teeth clenched. "Make sure your dumb ass isn't in need of stitches."
"My ass is fine," Dean groans, shrugging Sam's touch off once more. Sam can't help but smile.
"Good. Because you'd be on your own, there," he jokes, craning his neck to get a better look at the cuts. Dean jerks away from the stare, hitting at Sam's wrist blindly.
"You have to let me clean those out, Dean," the younger sighs, speaking to his brother like he's a small child.
"No," Dean protests, a snooty tone taking over as he drags out the word to an unnecessary point. Sam stares at him with wide eyes.
"Seriously, man. It will take three seconds, but you're not going to sit here and bleed all over the place."
"I'm not bleeding," Dean protests weakly.
"Yeah, not at the moment," Sam scoffs. "But you're going to manage to break it open again and then you're screwed."
"Screw you," Dean spits, as if suddenly reminded of the existence of the insult.
"Yeah, whatever," Sam mutters, retrieving the first aid kit from the bookshelf near the couch. "Now just let me do this and stop being such a baby."
"No," Dean repeats, increasingly insolent.
"Yes," Sam sighs, preparing an alcohol pad to cleanse the cuts.
"No," Dean repeats absent-mindedly. Sam stares at him blankly.
"Man, you really managed to get shitfaced, huh?" he asks, more or less rhetorically. Dean bobs his head.
"Great," Sam mutters, reaching up with the pad towards one of the cuts. Dean slaps his hand away, shaking his head.
"Dean," Sam begins through gritted teeth. "Come on." Once again he reaches up, this time receiving a different reaction in addition to being pushed away. Spit. Dean spits on him. Sam tries to dodge out of the way but it ends up landing on his sleeve.
"Are you kidding me?" Sam shouts, staring at his brother with wide eyes, repulsed. "That's… ew, Dean! That is disgusting!" Sam immediately tosses the shirt off, leaving him in a plain white undershirt. "Gross," he whispers, nose wrinkled. In response, Dean smiles at him, an action that pushes Sam to lash out.
"You think that's funny?" he snaps. "It's not, Dean. It's gross. Disgusting. And you know what? You want me to leave those cuts to get infected, then fine. But I'm not feeling sorry for you when they do. And I'm not leaving you down here to bleed all over everything. Come on, we're going to your room. You can bleed all over whatever you want up there, I'm not cleaning it up. Now come on!" Sam grabs his brother's arm, pulling him from the couch. Dean, however, leans his weight against Sam's grip, causing the younger to grunt as he tries to pull him.
"Back off," Dean growls.
"No," Sam snaps.
"I said back off," the elder repeats, sending his fist sailing into Sam's jaw as he clocks him in the face. Sam is instantly thrown back, barely landing in a nearby chair, as he brings his hand to his face in shock. Pain sears through his skin, pulsating with a strength that causes his eyes to water. Dean had punched him. Socked him. Clocked him. Hit him, seriously hit him. Which, amazingly enough in all their years of sibling arguments and self-defense lessons, Dean has never done before. And he hardly held back.
Sam is speechless as he watches the elder brother slumps back on the couch, mumbling senselessly. The only words that can be made out are, "I'm fine… Sammy," before Dean's muscles relax and he passes out, leaving Sam in a state of shock, his jaw screaming with the memory.
The journey to waking up isn't an easy one, nor a fast one. The first signs of alertness come from fluttering eyelids and lowering eyebrows, most likely an illustration of the splitting headache Dean is inevitably nursing. Sam watches this, his entire body tired and defeated. He managed a couple hours of sleep altogether, waking up every few minutes to a throbbing pain in his jaw. Each time he would readjust the small icepack, which inevitably seemed to slip each time he managed to fall into a shallow sleep. Normally Dean would be there, watching over him to make sure the wound was being tended to in the most effective way necessary. Normal is out the window right now, however… normal doesn't really apply to injuries inflicted by his brother.
The second sign of alertness is the pained groan, the half-roll on the couch where Dean's hands skim his forehead, his thumb and index finger settling on either side of the bridge of his nose. He kicks unconsciously, the subtle movement in his legs causing Sam to sit up a little straighter, studying him with a greater observance. In the same way he's never dealt with a drunk Dean, he has never dealt with a hung-over Dean. And, judging by last night, he is expecting the worst.
Pursing his lips, Sam leans forward, holding the icepack to his right jawline as he rests his chin in the palm of his hand, his elbow firmly set on his knee as he watches his brother curiously.
Dean mumble something incoherently, finally managing an more alert-sounding, "Sam?"
Swallowing hard his brother murmurs, "I'm right here, Dean." Dean's head shifts towards the holder of the sound, finally prying his eyes open.
His face contorts questioningly, his eyes morphing from squinting to wide as he notices the icepack against his younger brother's skin.
"What happened?" he manages, voice groggy and slurred. Sam purses his lips, taking in the concerned look on his face, his eyes narrowed with a questioning perseverance. Shrugging, he mumbles something that Dean can't make out.
"Let me see," the elder sighs, more concerned to see the extent of the damage at the moment than he is tracing the source. Sam rolls his eyes, wincing as he eases the icepack off his jaw. The coolness causes the skin to stick slightly, but once removed it reveals deep purple bruises, accentuated by the redness caused by the icepack.
"Shit," Dean curses, jumping to a sitting position. He leans forward, hand reaching gingerly towards the wound. Sam doesn't allow the contact, instead slapping his hand away with a force that prompts his brother's mouth to drop open.
"What is your problem?" Dean asks, staring at Sam out of disbelief.
"You." The response is flat, emotionless at first glance if the fire behind it isn't considered. A sardonic look crosses his face as he refers back to his brother's earlier question, "What happened, Dean? What do you think happened?"
"I don't know, man, that's why I asked you in the first place." Dean's hands find their way once more to his head, obviously in pain. Sam almost feels sorry for him. Almost.
"Okay, Dean, let's rewind this for a second," he starts slowly, partly out of impatience and partly out of anger. "You came home drunk off your ass. You yelled at me. You were apparently in a fight and were bleeding. I wanted to help you. You spit on me. And you hit me," at this revelation, Dean's eyebrows furrow, his mouth falling agape. "Any questions?" Silence. He watches as his big brother tries to process this information, mentally marking every slight movement in his face and translating it into a thought understood.
"I hit you," Dean repeats. Sam nods slowly, wincing as the movement causes a pain to shoot through his jawbone.
"I… I don't know what to say, man," Dean starts slowly, his speech carefully considered as if he's still trying to process the thoughts in his head. "I was really drunk and I guess I… I don't know. I'm sorry Sam." The apology sounds sincere enough, but the resignation in his tone irks Sam. It's like he isn't owning it, like the concept isn't real to him. He was drunk, yeah, but that doesn't release him from his responsibility.
"Yeah, man, you were wasted," Sam's voice is cool and unyielding. "Completely, couldn't even stand up on your own. But, uh, the Impala is out front. Seemed to think you weren't too drunk to drive home." Sam can't really identify the look in Dean's eyes, all of his other features frozen in a seeming state of shock. He chews on the inside of his mouth, watching with a stony stare as the older of the two struggles with realization.
"Oh," is all he manages at first, eyes resigned with the refusal to meet Sam's. "Not good." Now that- the vague emotionless response, dismissing the seriousness of the action- that enrages Sam.
"Not good?" he repeats, a disbelief in his tone and widened eyes. "Dean, honestly? Not good? You could have died. It's a life or death thing, it's not just not good." Dean's gaze stays fixed on the coffee table in front of his knees, steadfastly avoiding his brother's stare.
"You should have called me," Sam concludes, defeated.
"To, what? Tell you I was drunk?" Dean snaps, his fuse shortened by the pounding ache behind his eyes. His entire body aches and the last thing he wants right now is his little brother preaching at him.
"Yes," Sam hisses. "I would have come to get you."
"Right, Sam," Dean murmurs. "Because you have a car and everything."
"I would have walked," the younger snaps, taking the elder back a bit. Very rarely did Sam get angry enough to raise his voice. And very rarely did he have the guts to do it to Dean or more specifically a reason.
"I would have walked," he repeats, a pleading fire in his eyes that Dean can't look away from, no matter how much he tries. "I would have came to get you, driven you home."
"No way, not-" Dean begins, a slight laugh in his tone, obviously preparing to object to his younger brother driving his car, his baby. But before he can vocalize the rest of his thought, Sam cuts him off, voice booming.
"You don't have a fucking say in this, Dean!"
Sam catches the disbelief in Dean's stare, the amazement that Sam can't even begin to interpret. It fuels him to continue, knowing that he now has a captive audience in his wide-eyed brother.
"You're honestly saying that you, drunk off your ass, would be a safer driver than I am? You taught me how to drive, fuck you if you don't trust me." Silence.
"Sam, seriously? It's not about me not trusting you-"
"No, it isn't. It's about you getting drunk, driving home and punching me."
"Shit, Sam. I said I was sorry," Dean hangs his head, either ashamed or exhausted. "I don't know what to say, man. It was stupid, I know that. And you're right, I shouldn't have driven home. I guess I just kind of figured that if I didn't get home, like if I crashed in my car until morning you would be worried."
"I don't think 'crash' is the best choice of words right now," Sam murmurs, a small smirk on his face as he chances meeting Dean's eyes.
Dean studies him, lips upturning slightly. "Probably not. But I didn't, man. And I know that doesn't make it right, but I did it. I can't take it back, but I can promise you I won't do it again."
"I just don't get you," Sam admits in a low tone. "Half of the things you do… I mean, if I did half of the things you do you would kill me. I would never hear the end of it. I just don't get why you think it's okay for you to do dumb things, for you to put yourself in danger, but not for me to do it."
Staring at him incredulously, Dean asks, "You saying you want to go drive around drunk, or…?"
"No, Dean, that's not what I'm saying," Sam retorts, exasperated. Dean could be so… dense sometimes. "I'm just saying… I mean, I don't get why it's okay for you to do these things but not me. Why it's okay for you to put your life on the line. I don't get it."
"You act like you don't care half the time. I mean, you go out there, you act like your life is a crapshoot, like you don't care if you live or die and you don't-"
"I'm not talking about last night!" Sam interrupts, practically shrieking. "I'm talking about on hunts, how you always sacrifice yourself for the cause. I'm talking about how you put everyone above you, how you seem to value yourself that little. And, yes, maybe I'm talking a little about last night too, how you take these risks and don't even think twice about it. I'm not okay with that, Dean, and I don't know why you expect me to be."
"I just…" Dean begins after a long pause, seemingly at a loss for words. "I don't know, Sam. I guess I just don't realize I'm doing it."
"I just don't get why you think the whole brother thing is one-sided, that you're the only one who cares. I worry about you just the same as you do about me."
Dean sighs. "Yeah, I guess-"
"Just don't do it again, okay?" Sam forces a small smile, voice pleading. "I don't think my face can take much more."
Then, as if Sam has just flipped a switch, Dean is back in big brother mode.
"Are you alright?" he asks, eyebrows furrowed.
"I'll be fine, Dean," Sam sighs, touching the bruised area tenderly. "Just a bruise."
"Looks like a deep one," Dean comments, craning his neck to inspect the damage. "Have you been icing it?"
"Only like all night. Probably the only reason I don't have a grapefruit on the side of my face."
"A couple of hours ago."
"No, I mean aspirin?" Dean clarifies, motioning towards his head a pained expression crossing his features. "Where is it?"
"Oh," Sam mutters, shuffling around for the bottle. He glances at the miserable-looking teen across from him, shaking his head. "You know… I shouldn't even give you any."
"I'll keep that in mind the first time you come home with a hangover," Dean grumbles, snatching the bottle from his younger brother. He pours four into his hand and swallows them dry.
"You shouldn't take that many."
"No, trust me," Dean grunts, trying to get comfortable on the couch. "I should."
"I'm fine." Of course. He always is.
Sam watches as Dean pulls himself from the couch, staggering his way towards the kitchen.
"What are you doing?"
"Ice." Before Sam can protest, can offer to get it himself, Dean disappears into the other room, reentering a minute later with one icepack to his forehead and the other clutched in his opposite hand with the first aid kit.
"Here," he says breathlessly, crouching down beside his brother so that he is at eye-level with the injury. "Let me see it."
"Dean, I'm a big boy, I can do this by myself," Sam whines as his brother tilts his chin upwards to inspect the damage,
"Just… let me do this, okay?" Dean whispers, a pleading vulnerability in his tone that surprises Sam. Any ideas of protest dissolve on his tongue as Sam nods in submission.
Trailing his fingers along the area, Dean's eyes scour the bruises skin, finding a couple of cuts along the way. Sam winces as the pain of contact sears through his veins, but says nothing.
Carefully applying some ointment to cuts and bandaging them up accordingly, he glances up to Sam with a look dripping with guilt.
"I, um…" he starts, voice breaking. "It should be good now. Just keep it iced and it should start to fade." With that he's up on his feet, turning away.
Sam purses his lips, instantly feeling guilty for making Dean feel bad. "Don't worry about it, man. Could happen to anybody."
"Yeah," Dean plops back onto the couch, offering him a weak smile. "Just isn't supposed to happen to you."
This was kind of odd: I wrote the second half of this first, then went back to do the first part. I don't think I've taken that approach before, but I think it ended up working out.
Feedback is appreciated. Thanks for reading.