Title: First Aid for the Balance-Impaired
Characters/Pairings: Dean, Sam (gen)
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Supernatural do not belong to me. I make no money from this story. Please don't sue.
Warnings: Spoilers for 3x03 "Bad Day at Black Rock."
Summary: Sam had been a bit clumsy as a child, but this was ridiculous. Missing scene for "Bad Day at Black Rock."
Author's Note: I loved this episode on so many levels. As soon as Dean hauled Sam off the concrete and we saw his bleeding knees, I couldn't get this idea out of my head. This little snippet wouldn't leave me alone until it was written. Takes place after Bela steals the rabbit's foot at the diner and before the boys go back to the thieves' apartment. I'm counting this for the "fall" prompt on my spn25 table.
When a quick search of the area around the restaurant proved that the girl was long gone, Dean decided to bundle Sam into the Impala and get to a hotel. He needed a plan. He needed to regroup. And mostly, he needed Sam to stop distracting him by tripping and running into random objects.
He found the closest cheap motel and pulled into the parking lot, jumping out with one instruction, "Stay here."
Sam flashed him an injured look.
"I'll get a room, we'll get you cleaned up, and then…we'll fix this."
Never mind that he wasn't quite sure how to do that yet.
When he reemerged from the hotel lobby with a key in hand Sam was sulking beside the passenger door, grimacing as he studied his bloody knees. Dean retrieved the first aid kit and Sam's bag from the trunk and then gripped Sam by the elbow, ignoring the petulant look he received as he guided his brother towards the room.
Once he'd wrestled the door open he let Sam go on inside. Dean dropped his burdens on the nearest bed and then crossed back to the door. Habit made him check the area outside and engage the lock and the chain. When he looked back at Sam, he found his brother undoing his belt buckle and dropping his pants in the middle of the floor.
He arched an eyebrow. "Well, don't be modest on my account."
Sam paused to shoot him a withering look before he bent to peel the torn fabric away from his knees. Dean winced just watching him. Then he turned and reached for the curtains, thinking Sam might appreciate keeping this little striptease private. When he turned back the pants were loose from the wounds and pooled around his ankles. Sam was struggling to get them off. Dean felt his lips quirk as he watched. "You forgot to take off your shoes there, champ."
Sam grumbled something unintelligible and didn't bother looking up at him. He fished under his left pant leg until he found his laces and pulled. The knot wouldn't give. With a huff of frustration he balanced on one leg, lifted his foot and tried to yank off the shoe. But his weight wavered, his balance shifted, and as he was still caught in the twisted pants he couldn't right it. He toppled backwards onto his butt and kept going, grunting in pain as his head connected with the harsh carpet.
Dean could do little but stare. This whole thing had its amusing side, sure, but it was still Sam in pain. No matter how entertaining the mishap, there was something about that that struck a protective chord. He hadn't seen his brother like this since the days of that last growth spurt when he'd had to adjust to legs that were suddenly too long and feet that tripped over themselves. Sam was always a little balance-impaired through the awkward stages of his childhood. In fact, Dean used to be all too accustomed to his little brother's skinned knees.
"You need some help there?" he finally offered.
"I'm fine," Sam bit off.
"Yeah, I can see that."
"At least I've got no further to fall."
Dean had to concede that point, though it did little to reassure him. He kept a wary eye on Sam as he sat on the floor and finally managed to remove his shoes and pants. Meanwhile Dean sat down and considered his cell phone, debating a call to Bobby. But he knew the older man would call if he had something. Besides…there was no point in admitting they'd lost a cursed object if they could get it back before they talked to him next.
So that had to be their focus. They had to get the rabbit's foot back, that was a given. They didn't know who the girl was, but they knew someone who probably did. They should head back to that apartment and their inept thieves.
His eyes tracked his brother as Sam pushed himself to his feet and retrieved the first aid kit before making his way into the bathroom. Dean could just see the counter and sink from his position. He watched as Sam opened up the kit and then found a hotel washcloth, turning on the faucet to dampen it. He stuck the cloth under the water, then promptly yelped and jerked his hand back, popping his fingers into his mouth.
Dean was on his feet and headed to Sam's side in a heartbeat. "What?"
"Hot. Very hot," Sam said around his fingers. He turned back to the sink and started to reach for the faucet with his other hand.
"No! No, no, no. You just go, sit. I got it."
Sam frowned, but did as he was instructed. Dean picked up the washcloth and called over his shoulder, "Don't trip over your—"
Too late. Dean turned to find Sam picking himself up off the floor yet again. He aimed a kick at his discarded shoe. This move, of course, left him hopping due to the pain in his stubbed toe.
"Sammy. Please, just sit."
By some small miracle he made it to the bed unscathed and plopped down carefully on the end. There he sat, looking dejected and a little ridiculous in his boxers and socks with his bloody knees and hangdog expression. Dean didn't know whether to laugh at him or hug him.
He resisted both urges. Instead he focused on the sink, fiddling with the faucet until he had pleasantly warm water with which to soak the washcloth. Then he gathered some alcohol wipes, gauze, and tape before heading over to the bed.
Sam held out a hand for the materials. Dean ignored it as he knelt in front of him. "I can do it," Sam stated, though it wasn't very forceful.
"I know, but it's probably safer this way."
Sam didn't argue as Dean used the washcloth to carefully clean off the excess blood around the scrapes. Then he tore open a wipe before wrapping his fingers behind Sam's left knee.
"Little sting," he warned before touching it to the broken skin.
Sam hissed and flinched, though it was barely perceptible. More noticeable were the taught muscles under Dean's fingers. He tried to be quick, but the cleaning proved a bit more difficult than he would have liked.
"Sorry, Sammy. You've got some gravel in here."
"Of course I do."
Sam's tone was tight but resigned. Dean snuck a look at his brother's face. Sam was stiff, teeth clinched as he blinked at a random spot on the wall. He would never admit how much it hurt, but Dean was looking at the damage up close. It might not have been broken bones or gashes that would take stitches, but it still had to be painful.
He adopted a light tone. "Hey, relax. I'm not exactly new at this. You remember, right? Seemed like every other week it was skinned knees, or elbows, or palms…"
"You make me sound like a complete klutz."
"You have to admit, I patched you up an awful lot. Still do, actually."
"That's kind of a mutual thing."
"Yeah—but you've never dealt with my skinned knees. We can call that one of my many areas of expertise." He finished with the left knee, bandaged it, and moved on to the right.
Sam winced with the fresh sting. "Expertise?" he huffed.
"You wouldn't let Dad do it; only me. I'd pick you up and sit you on whatever rickety chair we had at the time, and clean you up just like this. And you would try to suck it up and keep the pain in because Dad was always telling us to be men about pain—"
"That's not why," Sam interrupted, his words clipped. "It was 'cause you did it whenever you were hurt."
Dean paused for a beat before he commented as if Sam hadn't spoken, "You've gotten much better at that, by the way."
"Anyway, you'd be sitting there with your jaw clenched and your fingers digging into the chair and I'd be chattering away trying to distract you, but that usually didn't work. So I'd resort to…" His grip on Sam's leg loosened and his fingers moved to scrabble at the back of his brother's knee, tickling sensitive skin.
The sound Sam made was a strange mix of a startled breath and a half-aborted giggle. He kicked out of reflex, but Dean was ready for it and easily caught his ankle. "And that would make you relax." He felt Sam's glare and just smirked as he fit the gauze over the scrape and taped it in place. "Dude, you're so easy. You haven't changed in almost twenty years. I bet your ticklish spots are all still the same." He reached up and tweaked Sam's side just above his hip and was rewarded when Sam jumped.
"Dean!" Sam shoved at his shoulder, just hard enough to send him rocking back on his heels. But the corners of his lips were turned up in a little grin, so Dean congratulated himself on his small victory.
He sat there for a moment and looked up at his 'little' brother. Sam had changed from that awkward kid, of course. Knees that used to be little knobs with Band-Aids now looked like snow-covered mountains.
A year from now, Sam would have no choice but to clean his own skinned knees…or whatever else he might need. Dean had a vivid memory of John stitching up his own arm before Dean was old enough to help. He shuddered to imagine that for Sam, to think of him having to get himself out of trouble with no one to look out for him. He knew Sam wasn't helpless, but seeing him like this and reliving childhood memories really wasn't helping.
And, not for the first time, he felt a little flutter of panic in his stomach.
He took a deep breath and pushed the feeling away. He stood, moving to clap Sam on the shoulder and pasting a confident smile on his face to mask his momentary slip. "There's nothing to worry about. We're gonna get this thing back and get rid of the curse, and you're gonna be just fine."
Sam didn't sound too confident. Dean moved away and rifled through Sam's bag until he came up with a pair of loose-fitting pants. He busied himself with recovering the discarded tennis shoes as Sam redressed and tried not to think of all the bad, unlucky things that could happen with a zipper. When Sam was safely clothed again Dean brought the shoes closer and placed them at Sam's feet, unwilling to tempt fate by tossing them to him.
"What do you say we go hunt us a rabbit's foot?"
Sam stood up and nodded with a touch of resignation. "Let's go."
"Just…don't go near any sharp objects, okay? Or anything electrical. Or anything heavy that might fall. Or any high places…"
"Dean," Sam interrupted.
"Right. No worries. Big brother's not gonna let anything happen to you." He patted Sam on the cheek and stepped away.
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm not a little kid, you know." He punctuated the statement by tripping over the shoelaces he'd forgotten to tie and toppling in Dean's direction.
Dean caught him with a grunt. "Nope. Not a little one," he complained.
Dean helped him regain his balance. "I got you, Sammy."
But as he watched Sam stoop to tie his shoes, he couldn't seem to shake a bad feeling about this. They needed a change of luck, and fast.