a/n: Reposted 1/06/14. This story has been a fave for me for some time now, and I've recently cleaned up a few typos, added maybe 10 words, but I think it's about as good as gonna get now!
It's bad this time.
It's really bad, and Dean's broken one of their most sacred and his most favorite rules: he's called for an ambulance.
There's being safe, and there's being stupid. Sam can say whatever he wants later, but Dean isn't being stupid right now, and it's not worth taking this kind of chance just to stay off the radar. Cops can TRY to get a hand on him, that's what he has to say. Some things are more important.
The dispatcher gives him a standard ETA of seven minutes, her wary tone betraying her experience and suspicion of the location and bullshit story he's fed her, and he figures that's just enough time to go back into the warehouse and kill the son of a bitch before the paramedics arrive. She tells him to stay on the line, but after he's given all the information he has to, he disconnects the call and drops the phone next to Sam's hand. He's not sure why.
It was stupid of them to take on this hunt. Sam had been preoccupied and only a hair too slow, but sometimes that's all that matters. It's too soon, and he should have known that, and Dean's thinking, dumb, dumb, dumb, you goddamn ASSHOLE. He never should have let Sam see that article. Not that he can really monitor Sam's internet usage or read every newspaper in the country before his little brother can get ahold of the articles online, but HE should have been the one searching for jobs, not Sam. Why would he NOT want to investigate this? And WHY did Dean let him?
Because I'm such an awesome brother. Because Dean needs Sam to be moving on, to be MOVED on. Past San Francisco and past Madison. He knows you can't carry shit like that around with you.
He doesn't feel all that awesome right now. He eases Sam to the ground next to the right rear wheel of the Impala, so he'll be the last thing Dean sees when he goes back into the warehouse and the first thing he sees when he comes back out. His little brother's insides are trying very hard to be on the outside, and Dean feels a mix of fear, desperation, and outright fury as he shrugs out of his jacket and presses it against Sam's middle. Sam barely makes a sound at the pressure, eyes closed and head lolling as Dean grabs his hands and tries to shape them around the heavy material. "Sammy, hold this here, you hear me?"
Sam frowns but doesn't speak or open his eyes. Dean leans forward and wrenches the car door open, careful to make sure it clears Sam's legs, and pulls the duffel from the backseat, dropping it to the pavement near Sam's feet. He scoots around and hefts the dead weight of his brother's legs to rest those giant feet on the bag.
Sam remains quiet. Dean doesn't want to leave but knows he has to. This inner turmoil intensifies, exiting his body as a kind of pathetic throaty whimper as he backs away from Sam, spins, and races into the darkened building.
It takes him maybe three, three and a half minutes to finish the job. He's just pissed enough that the werewolf has a hard time getting close enough to do any real damage, but it sure as hell tries. The thing's a BITCH, and Dean's painfully face-planted into the chipped concrete, his silver-loaded pistol scattering into a corner as his arms move reflexively to catch himself and end up wedged between his chest and the floor. The gun is close but seems so far, and Dean suddenly feels so slow.
He's barely standing when he takes a nasty clip to the head that sends him colliding with a thud against a much too solid wall, and by the time his vision clears he's HAD IT. He dives for the gun with a roll that would make Michael Bay drool and that's that.
The interior of the warehouse is still lit up with the flash from the three fired bullets as he sprints back out to the car and to Sam. He doesn't even stick around long enough to see the body hit the ground.
Sam has barely moved from the position in which Dean had so carefully settled him. One foot has slipped off of the duffel, and the right side of his head is resting against the gravel-scattered parking lot, eyes wide and focused on Dean as he hurries forward. His left hand is still somewhat gripping Dean's jacket to his stomach, his right arm stretched out in front of him, almost like he's reaching for Dean. It's dark, but there's that damned full moon, the one responsible for all of this trouble, and Sam's face is unnaturally white. Something is glistening on the ground around Sam's body, and Dean figures it's not the gravel.
He thuds to the ground close enough to disrupt the spread of the blood. It comes to a rest against the knees of his jeans, starting to seep in, warm and certainly uncomfortable if he wasn't past the point of feeling it. "Sammy? Sammy, man, talk to me."
Sam's eyes close and open again slowly, taking more effort than such a simple, automatic act should. It's not exactly encouraging, and Dean checks his watch. "Damn it!" It's been close enough to the seven goddamned minutes – where the FUCK is the bus?
"You've been watching 'ER' reruns again."
Dean realizes he's been talking aloud as Sam smirks and takes a long breath. He shakes his head with a smile but otherwise ignores the dig, focusing instead on stopping the flow of blood. When he pulls Sam's hand and the jacket away, he's appalled by the damage done. He chokes on a swallow as it gets caught in his throat and sits there frozen, just staring.
"S'it bad?" Sam has been staring, too, at Dean's face.
Dean snaps out of it and returns pressure to Sam's middle, turns him gently to rest on his back, shaking his head pathetically. Left, right, center.
Sam makes a sound that might have been a snort if he'd had the energy. "Why are we here?"
Sam's hurting, but he's a tough guy, and not completely out of his head. He's not in a state of Oh my God, where am I, who are you? He means why haven't they left for a hospital if Dean's looking at him like that, why are they leaning against the car in a warehouse parking lot in the middle of Nowhere, Midwest, USA? "Why didn't you drive us?" he asks when Dean doesn't answer.
"Had to take care of some things." Truth is, Dean's too scared to try to move Sam on his own.
Sam jerks his head; a nod, Dean guesses. "You get it?"
Hadn't he heard the shots? Dean nods slowly and settles against the car, his own aches starting to settle in his weary, shaky body. He keeps his hands pressing on the jacket and stares at the blood, which he has deemed to be too damned much.
"Good." Sam adjusts his position fruitlessly as Dean fights to keep him still. "Body?"
"We'll be long gone by the time they find it." Dean knows where his priorities are, and doesn't like how John Winchester-like Sam sounds right now. He wonders if Sam even realizes he's doing it. The words are on the tip of his tongue, but Dean understands that Sam is coming and going, and is right now on the verge of going again.
He seems to melt into the rough surface of the parking lot and gazes blankly up at Dean, like he hasn't ever seen him before or maybe isn't even seeing him at all now. Dean feels compelled to stare back, trying to find the words to make things seem better than they are. The ambulance should be here by now, and if he wasn't so scared to move Sam he'd have him packed into the backseat of the Impala already.
"Mom," Sam says suddenly and in a way that makes Dean's stomach clench.
"Yeah?" Dean forces out, speaking as though Sam's a child he's never talked with before.
"Tell me…something you remember about Mom. Her and Dad…when they were together."
Okay, random. Dean's torn between raising hell – Oh, hell, NO, we are not gonna do this right now – and giving Sammy what he wants. As much as he fights it, something surfaces in his unwilling mind, and his eyes slip to the side to focus on a safe spot of parking lot he can't really see in the dark.
"They were standing at your crib," Dean says softly, finally, because Sammy always gets what he wants. "I was out in the hall. Didn't want 'em to see me 'cause I was supposed to be in bed. Mom was just kinda staring at you, and she said, 'He's beautiful.' She was probably drunk or something."
Sam makes the almost-snort sound again and it snaps Dean out of it, makes him smile. He blinks, ducking his head, and continues. "Dad put his arm around her, and he said, 'You're beautiful.'" He shifts uneasily. "She was."
"You remember that?"
He knows Sam's not really with it. He shouldn't have to explain to him what sticks with you.
"What about after that?"
Dean punches a button on his phone to make the screen light up, curses the time. "What do you mean?"
"What do you remember after that?"
Fire. "Ah," Dean chokes out. "Not a lot. Sorry," softly. He realizes Sam isn't really even listening to what he's saying, only clinging to the auditory comfort of his voice. He swallows and forces a low chuckle. "I remember people always thinkin' you were a girl."
Sam makes some kind of noise in his throat.
"No, really. What a cute baby girl," Dean says in a high, mocking tone. "Can I hold her?"
Sam laughs, or tries to. The laugh doesn't get very far, gets caught in his throat and he hacks deeply, trying to roll to his side, which Dean isn't allowing.
He shifts his weight against Sam's side, preventing the movement. The change of pressure causes Sam to hiss, and Dean raises his hands, not wanting to cause his brother any more pain. "Sorry," comes out barely a whisper.
The stab of pain seems to have cleared Sam's head enough for him to actually take notice of Dean. His hand twitches against Dean's leg. "You're hurt," he says quietly.
Dean frowns, and the movement brings about a stab of his own, a pull on the left side of his face and head; a reminder of the trickle of blood drying there over a hell of a bruise. 'Trickle' might be an understatement – his head is pulsing, trying to push his brain through his eye sockets with every beat of his heart – but it's nothing compared to Sammy. It's a paper cut, a clumsy slice on a butter knife.
Sam himself frowns and shakily moves his bloody hand into his field of vision. "'S this from you?"
Dean drags Sam's hand away, shaking his head.
"You're gonna be fine."
"You're gonna be FINE. You ARE fine."
"Then why're you on top of me?"
"Because I don't think we're close enough, Sammy. Is it so wrong to wanna be close to your brother?"
It's taken five minutes for him to put up his defenses, and only an instant for them to come apart again.
This last utterance of his name sounds so small and childlike, Dean doesn't even know how to process it, let alone respond.
The distant, final whine of a siren saves him from having to.
He sits in the waiting room for what has to be hours, bleeding steadily into a wad of paper towels until they finally sic the hot nurse on him. She bends to meet his eyes and bats her lashes when he looks up, and he finally goes somewhat willingly to get his head looked at.
He has no easy cover for their injuries. Sam's a mess but Dean knows his own floor and wall-inflicted head wound and facial bruising aren't consistent with an animal attack, which would be his first choice for an answer to the staff's questions. He settles for the old 'mugged while takin' a leak at the back road abandoned building' story, Sam's near disembowelment to a BFK concealed by the mugger, and the untouched classic muscle car to years of experience driving country roads and an unlit parking lot. They seem to buy it. For now.
He doesn't know what time it is when they finally let him see Sam. Sam's propped up in bed, looking tired but eager to be unhooked from the IV lines in his arms. Dean's refused his own. The nurse has told him he looks a little too pale, mentioned dehydration. Same shit, different day.
Sam shifts his weight and winces, an arm wrapped protectively and defensively around his middle. The first thing he says is, "When are we going?"
That's all? Dean wants to ask. "Soon," he says. "As soon as you're okay."
"I'm okay now. Let's go." It's very convincing, what with the instantly colorless face as he tries to sit up further.
"Sam, you're not okay. Your insides were almost in all the wrong places, dude."
"Dean," Sam says, his voice low, eyes serious. "It's too public. We can't stay here."
Sam's thinking police but Dean is only thinking Sam. "I'll go," he says. "You stay. I'll swing by and spring you in the morning."
Sam deems this an acceptable compromise and nods his agreement. Dean nods in return, not wanting to put a voice to just how scared he was. How scared he's been. He just gives Sam's leg a pat and turns for the door.
Sam stops him. "Dean."
"You never told me that before."
"Never told you what before?"
"That…about Mom and Dad. You never told me."
Dean lifts a shoulder. "I was saving it," he says, much lighter than the weight he feels in his heart. "You know, for just the right chick flick moment."
Dean cracks the smallest smile. "I settled."
Sam's all serious again, and Dean doesn't think he can take it. It was a CLOSE call. "I'm glad you told me."
Dean says nothing, and Sam continues, looking more like a little boy than he has since he WAS a little boy. "You, uh, got any more stories like that?"
"Maybe," Dean says, his throat catching. "But I'm saving them."
Sam lifts his chin, recognizing when he's pushing something he maybe shouldn't be, but figures the stitches, staples, and transfusion might get him out of this one relatively unscathed. "I hope you tell me someday."
Dean's eyes narrow. "I hope I never have to."