So, season 3 is about to begin and it occurred to me that with limited time left, Deans got to be wondering why he's still hunting, why he doesn't just throw it all in and spend the rest of his days on holiday. I'd be thinking that.
This story is a bit grim, a bit depressing, sorry about that.
Anyway, you know the drill, I've got no business messing with Supernatural.
Pina Coladas by the Pool.
Shit that hurt.
It's a lazy thought, no urgency behind it, no panic. Just another in a long line of hurts. Hit by something. Saw it coming out of the corner of his eye, movement too fast to focus on, too fast to get out of the way of and smack, he's down on the floor with a rip in his side and there's another injury to add to the list. That outrageously long list. There are scars on his body that he can no longer remember the story behind. And that's bullshit. If you're going to have a body patchworked with lines you should at least know how they got there. But increasingly he's coming across scars that have him mumbling, "Where'd I get that?" And that's not cool. That's getting ridiculous.
Lights and sounds dance around him, all of it indistinct, all of it wearying. Another day another ass kicking. Usually his. Sometimes Sam's. Not nearly enough times some creature's. It wasn't natural. Well of course it wasn't natural that was the point. But it wasn't a fair fight. Humans are way more fragile than freaky creatures, him even more so than others, he was being held together by sticky tape and spit. Every fight he went into he was the underdog. Every fight he went into there was a possibility of coming undone.
So why was he doing it? Seriously. What was his motivation? This was never his quest. It was something he grew up with, fell into, had thrust upon him. He used to be able to find a reason for it; proving himself to Dad, avenging Mom, saving the world, but none of those applied any more. Dad was dead, Mom was avenged and saving the world was never going to happen in his lifetime. His lifetime is short. One year short. Shit, not even, something less, way less than one year. He's saying goodbye to days at an alarming rate. See you August 25. Nice knowing you August 26. It was fun August 27. He should be doing more to make himself memorable, so that when next year comes around August 25 says What happened to that guy who was here last year? And August 26 says Yeah, he was a great guy. And August 27 says I miss him, I wish he was here now.
But instead he's on a damp floor, in a dark basement, trying to rid the world of something nobody knew was threatening them, doubled over holding his side which hurts like a bitch, breathing through pain that slashes like a knife.
There'll be no thanks, no gratitude, no key to the city. No money, no adoring women, no movie deal. There is nothing on offer that would make this worthwhile.
So why is he doing it? Touched in the head? Over-inflated ego? Misguided do-goodism? Just want to be loved?
He knows its nothing so glamorous. It's habit. It's what he's always done, thrown himself into danger. It's all he knows. What's he going to be doing if he isn't throwing himself into danger? Lazing by a pool drinking pina coladas?
Actually that sounds pretty good. He's going to suggest that to Sam.
There's a strong hand on his shoulder and a voice says, "Take it easy Dean."
Jesus! Is that Sam? Because he sounds exactly like Dad. Sam is chanelling Dad. No, more like Sam is turning into Dad. Which is funny. That is freaking ironically hilarious. Sam is going to die when he figures it out. Well maybe not die, that's a poor choice of words. Sam had better not die because that would be a waste of a good sacrifice.
Hands are running over his side, poking and prodding and its not particularly gentle. It's making his breath come in gasps, making him curl into himself, making spots appear before his eyes. He can feel his clothes getting wet with the escaping blood, his shirt is sticking uncomfortably to his back, but he has no idea if he's seriously injured, he was hit in an awkward spot that he can't quite see.
"I can fix this, it doesn't look too bad." His brother's voice is rough and matter of fact, sounding like Dad again, not too worried, not too perturbed, he's seen worse.
Who is that guy?
It's a reinvention of Sam. Someone tougher and harder. Someone closing off, shutting down, disassociating from the world, burying himself in frustration and bitterness because he's unable to find a loophole in the deal that's been made, unable to fulfil the promise he made to save Dean.
Where's the old Sam?
Bring the old Sam back.
Before he can object there are hands under his shoulders and he's being hefted up. It's excruciating, he's not ready for it, there should have been a warning. Christ he's dizzy. He must be leaking blood quickly to be feeling like shit already. But he stifles his groans, doesn't complain, because this new Sam may just tell him to suck it up, like Dad used to, and he couldn't bear to hear it coming out of that mouth, couldn't bear that sort of insensitivity from the most sensitive guy he's ever known.
Suddenly he's got memories of emo Sam running like a movie through his head, all care and concern, soft eyes and gentle voice, twenty four bittersweet years of it. And he feels so sad that that Sam is getting harder to find, that Sam is becoming more remote the further they get into the year, replaced by someone angry and unknown. He caused it, that's the worst part, Dean wrought this change. But what choice did he have? Out of dead Sam and angry Sam, angry Sam wins every time, because that guy has a chance at normality, that guy has a chance at happiness, that guy has the whole world on offer to him, he's capable of anything, much more than Dean ever was, so it was a good trade.
Dean's not sorry he made the deal but he is sorry that it has affected his brother so deeply. It's a long agonising goodbye with a metronome in the background overscoring and underlining everything they do, everything they say, tainting what remains and Dean's starting to wonder if maybe Dad's way was better; quick, sudden, gone.
He needs to concentrate as they're walking to the car, well Sam is walking, Dean is stumbling, staggering, faltering, trying to stay upright. Even with Sam supporting him he's having trouble putting one foot in front of the other, he's having trouble judging the distance to the ground. Sam hasn't said anything about the creature they were hunting but he's not looking around anxiously so it's either been dealt with or it got away, it doesn't really matter which, it's all just details.
At the car, Dean baulks at handing over the keys. He knows he can't be stupid about it, he can barely walk, forget about driving, but he's got a special relationship with his car and the thought of missing an opportunity to bond with her causes a flutter in his chest. It's not just time with Sam that is being counted down, it's time with the car as well and its not the same sitting in the passenger seat. He reluctantly presses the keys into Sam's hand without a word, but he hopes Sam can see it's a wrench for him and understands that he's giving up something important by handing over the keys.
On the way back to the motel Dean's eyes are opening and closing in a gradually decreasing rhythm. He's trying to stay engaged by focusing on the road, mapping out the route in his mind but he doesn't know this town well enough to know if Sam is taking the right turns and he can feel the strength draining from him. The motion of the car is so comforting, the engine is purring at him to go to sleep. Close your eyes Dean, close your eyes.
He's startled awake when his head hits Sam's torso and he almost ends up in his brother's lap, which is all kinds of embarrassing.
Sam takes a hand off the wheel and pushes him upright. "We're nearly there man. Just hold it together a little while longer."
Sam sounds jaded and beaten and Dean is determined that he will hold it together, he wants to do that for his brother. He's in a cold sweat by the time they pull up at the motel, but he's still conscious and it feels like a small victory.
Sitting on the bed Sam helps him take off his wet jacket, his sodden shirt, his drenched t-shirt, then lays Dean on his side facing away. Sam takes a shaky breath and says, "I don't think I can fix this. It's worse than I thought."
Old Sam is back, visiting for a while, with a tremble in his voice and a shimmer in his façade. It happens every so often, the hardness just drops, emotion breaks through, and whenever it does Dean is thrilled because it feels like his brother is really with him. Although right now the timing is unfortunate, now would be a better time for repressed angry Sam to take charge.
"You can fix it dude. You're going to have to, I don't have the energy to go looking for a hospital."
There is quiet as Sam thinks of alternatives.
"It doesn't have to be a great job Sam. It only needs to hold together for a few months."
There is complete silence, no movement at all and Dean flicks a glance over his shoulder to see what his brother is doing. Sam is looking into the distance trying to get his quivering jaw under control. He's coming unglued and its the opposite of what Dean intended, he was trying to encourage Sam, not make him crumble. He doesn't know what to say. As much as he wants to comfort his brother, tell him everything's fine, it's not entirely true, either for now or the future and it's such a loaded conversation, full of pitfalls, I'm okay but... You'll be alright however..., he'd need to have his wits about him to navigate through it safely, and he's lacking in wits at the moment so he keeps his mouth shut and waits for Sam to pull himself together.
After a few moments he hears, "You need to drink something." Sam's voice is steady, he's found his resolve.
"Like what?" Dean's too tired to follow the drift and he's really cold, his fingertips are icicles, which is probably not a good sign.
"Have you got some bourbon or something in your bag?"
Oh right. Alcoholic fortification. Should have known that.
"Probably." He can't quite remember what's in his bag but there's usually something to give him some sparkle, some artificial enjoyment.
Sam's off the bed and fumbling around then back quickly and something taps Dean on the shoulder.
"Drink this. Drink a lot of it."
He takes the bottle and downs as much as he can, grimacing as it burns all the way. Sam removes the bottle from his hand, takes his own large swig and pronounces, "I'm going to disinfect the wound."
Oh Christ, that's really going to hurt. And he was getting used to the dull ache.
Dean closes his eyes tight, braces every part of his body for what's coming, clenches his fist into the bedding but its still not enough, you can't really prepare for it. As the liquid pours over him, seeps into exposed internal areas, his flesh becomes white hot, every nerve ending stands on end and screams at him for help, he has to stifle the urge to reach around and punch his brother for inflicting this pain. His breath comes in grunts and it's the best he can do, its that or cry out.
He almost goes over the cliff, almost jumps into the darkness, but he doesn't quite make it.
And it floats through his mind, what am I getting out of this? Why do I keep letting this happen? Why do I keep getting myself into this situation?
"You still with me," Sam asks from a long way away.
"Yeah." Then after a pause Dean adds, "I really want a pina colada."
And he's not kidding, he wants it so bad, an idyllic location, sun overhead, sipping pina coladas by the pool, him and his brother smiling and having fun. Who wants to live this life when they could be living that life.
Sam breathes out a laugh. "Isn't that a bit girly for you?"
"Shut up dude. Don't rain on my parade."
"And I want it served in a pineapple."
"Okay." Sam is distracted, he's shifting around, getting ready for the next part.
"And I want a chick in a bikini to bring it to me."
"With a kicking figure. You know what I'm talking about."
"You want to take a drink before I start?"
Dean takes the proffered bottle and drinks deeply. "And she'd better have loose morals."
Sam stabs him with a knife the size of Texas, or it may be with a small needle its hard to tell. Dean jerks away reflexively, then hates himself for being such a wimp. Stay still wimp. But he's shaking all over, he can't catch his breath, he's freezing cold with a fire sweeping through him and he has no control over any of it, he's a passenger in his own body.
"Take it easy man." Sam lays a hand on his shoulder and it's not just to reassure, he's exerting some pressure, he needs Dean to be still.
Maybe they should go looking for a hospital. This is a bit much for Sam to have to deal with.
But then Sam's already started the patch up. And Dean really doesn't want to get off the bed. So he doesn't suggest it.
Dean feels exhausted, he feels it deeply, pervading every cell. What is this life they're living? Why are they still doing it? He's squandering a short time. Making a misery of something that could be great. It doesn't have to be like this, they don't have to follow the same old routines, with the yellow eyed demon gone there's nothing holding them to this path any more.
When Sam digs in for stab number two Dean doesn't know if he going to throw up or pass out. The second option is less messy and he's actually closer to that than the other so he figures he'll aim for the passing out. He's got no interest in hanging around for every stick of the needle, sometimes stoicism is overrated.
He takes a long run up and swan dives over the cliff into the darkness below.
Dean wakes up with no concept of time and as groggy as hell. Everything is spinning and rolling around him and he can't seem to shake away the cobwebs. He wonders if Sam gave him something while he was out, they do have some hardcore drugs in their kit, but they rarely break them out because its a bit like playing with fire. If Sam did give him something then it was overkill because a million stitches in his side is no biggie, he's coped with worse.
It's going to be a whistle stop into wakefulness, he's too tired to linger. Another day is slipping past without proper appreciation and he feels the sting of it. So long August 28, sorry I didn't spend enough time with you. He wishes there was something he could do to slow these damned days down because they're all going to be gone before he knows it.
He moves only slightly and a groan escapes before he can clamp it down.
"No... Yeah... I don't know."
Sam is in front of him which means the operation is over, and he notices that the pain in his side is back to a dull roar. But he can't focus on anything, he can't get his eyes to stop rolling so he gives up trying and just closes them.
"You want anything?"
"A pina colada."
Sam gives a short laugh. "You still on about that?"
"I want a pina colada. Served in a pineapple. And there was some other stuff about hot chicks I can't remember now."
"Sure man, I'll go and tell the bartender and have it waiting for you when you wake up."
New Sam is back, he's way more sarcastic than old Sam and isn't that a familiar self preservation technique. Didn't realise it was so annoying.
"You joke, but I'm serious."
Thoughts are slipping out of reach, there's a swirling fog starting to envelope him and it takes him away before he can explain to Sam just how serious he is. They could be having a ball, they could be having the time of their lives. Why aren't they doing that? Sometime in the last few months there was a role reversal, Sam needs to hunt, he's burning for it and Dean just wants some normal, a little less death, a little more peace. Shame they can't get in sync.
Sam gazes at his sleeping brother and thinks about where they could go so that Dean could have a pina colada served in a pineapple by some chick in a bikini. It's the craziest thing he's ever heard, the most bizarre request to come out of his brother's mouth in a long time and even though it came out in a delirium Sam wants to grant this request because it sounds great, it sounds like fun, it sounds like something memorable they could do together.
And life is short.