The First Cut is The Deepest
Summary: Something unexpected happens to Sam after a hunt that solidifies the bond between the brothers. Set during S1 shortly after the pilot. Features Hurt!Sam and Protective!Dean because I proudly Pimp the Limp!
One moment he was standing at the sink, watching the scarlet colored blood bubble out of the wound in his palm. The next he was on the floor, blinking up at his brother who was on the phone.
The right side of Sam's head throbbed in time with his heartbeat. His eye socket felt like it would explode from the pressure. Even his teeth ached, and the gums felt swollen when his tongue brushed experimentally over them.
This wasn't a simple tension headache. He was suffering from a migraine.
He'd first developed them during his junior year at Stanford and Jess had finally bullied him into visiting the free health clinic on campus. The doctor had quickly diagnosed the problem and prescribed an orally disintegratable medication. The orally disintegrable part was extremely important since he was nauseated beyond belief when felled by the head bangers and there was no way he could swallow something down.
Sam pulled the medication, Maxalt, out of his bag and struggled to break into the packaging. He was glad he'd renewed the prescription before they left Palo Alto. After Jess's funeral. Was that really only a month ago? He shook his head, hair flying haphazardly around his face, as he pushed thoughts of Jess out of his mind. He couldn't deal with his memories and grief now. He could only handle one mind-numbing pain at a time.
Pealing back the seal he exposed the medication and tipped over the plastic so that the white, round tablet spilled into his unsteady hand. The same hand that shook as he concentrated on guiding the white substance into his mouth and letting it dissolve.
His impatient brother pounded on the bathroom door, startling him. "Hey, did you fall in?"
Sam swallowed back the bile and waited to make sure it had subsided. He rinsed his mouth and splashed some water on his face before patting himself dry and opening the door.
Dean, lounging on a bed with remote in hand, turned his head and watched Sam with interest. "Hey, are you about ready to hit the...holy shit! What happened to you?"
Sam lowered himself gingerly to his bed. "Migraine. I took something for it, though."
Dean sighed loudly. "That bites. I really wanted to take care of the Harpy today. Maybe I should just go it alone."
Sam dropped his head into his hands. "Just give me an hour. The medicine usually works."
He heard Dean get up and move around. The drapes were soon drawn, blocking out the bright sun. "Sure, I'll wake you in an hour. Get some rest. You look like shit."
Sam could hear the disappointment in his brother's voice and hated that he was the cause. He sunk back onto his pillow and willed his body to relax. He was aware of Dean moving around the room, trying to be quiet, but failing miserably as everything he did seemed amplified to Sam's sensitive hearing.
Finally the medication kicked in and the pain started to fade in small increments while the nausea subsided. The last thought he had before drifting off was that he couldn't miss this hunt. Dean was counting on him.
A hand gently shook his shoulder, rousing him from his nap. "Hey, Sammy, how are you doing?"
Sam opened his eyes and found Dean leaning over him a little closer than was comfortable. He performed a quick systems check and realized he was pain free. He decided to test his fitness by bolting up without warning and, grabbing Dean by the shoulders, he flung him to the side so that he bounced on to the other bed. He'd passed the first test.
Next, he swung his legs to the side of the bed and pushed himself to his feet. No dizziness. "I'm good. We can roll out whenever you're ready."
His brother gaped at him from his awkward perch on the bed before Sam's words sunk in. He jumped to his feet and pumped his fist in the air once. "Yes! I knew you wouldn't let me down."
The Harpy was something to behold; it had the torso of a woman, feather tail, wings, sharp claws and a stunning face surrounded by waving, long flaxen hair. Exotic. And deadly.
The creature stood in a patch of sunlight, statue-still. Dean wasn't even sure it was awake. His eyes strayed back to its torso. The most bodacious tatas he'd ever seen were pointed right at him. He wanted to pull out his cell phone and snap some pictures. He definitely wanted to commerate this moment for posterity's sake.
Dean tucked the silver koshigatana sword, honed to a fine edge, down to his side. It was a Japanese waist sword with no hand-guard and Dean treasured it above all others in his pantheon of weapons. When he strapped it on, he was samurai. Servant and protector.
He slowly fumbled the cell phone out from the inside pocket of his worn leather jacket with one hand. Apparently the Harpy was camera shy and shrieked its displeasure. It was a mind-blowing, ear-numbing noise that had him scrambling to cover his agonized ears. The sword and cell phone tumbled from his hands to the ground.
The winged death-spirit circled around him as he fought off the debilitating cacophony reverberating through his body. He was incapacitated and at the mercy of the fantastical creature before him.
Dean struggled to hang on to consciousness as the blurry image of his trusty geek brother zoomed in and awkwardly scooped up the sword he'd dropped. His brain barely registered the grimace on Sam's lips as he shifted the sword before ducking beneath the wings and claws.
In one smooth stroke, Sam thrust the sword forward and pierced its heart. Bye bye, Harpy.
Sam dropped down on a knee next to Dean and spoke to him but his ears were still ringing. His brother's lips were moving but someone had muted the volume. Sam gave up talking once he realized Dean wasn't seriously injured and moved on to dismember, salt and finally burn the Harpy.
By the time Sam had finished with the remains of the creature, Dean had pushed himself to his feet and collected the weapons bag along with his cell phone. He'd missed out on all of the fun. He loved wielding the sword and at heart he was a bit of a pyro. Slicing and dicing followed by a supernatural bonfire just couldn't be beat in his book. Pushing the disappointment aside he was at least grateful his hearing had returned. Although he'd probably be subjected to Sam's ribbing about the Harpy getting the better of him.
Slapping Sam on the shoulder, he congratulated his brother on the kill. It was sneaky but maybe he could preempt the lecture he knew his brother was itching to lay on him by being nice. "Way to go Sammy! You're a natural with the sword."
Sam winced as Dean's voice boomed next to his ear. His brother glanced down at his right palm and winced again. "Um, not so much. I had a little trouble. Doesn't that thing have a handle?"
Dean leaned over and saw the blood streaming slowly but steadily from a cut across the palm of Sam's hand. He pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wrapped it snugly around Sam's hand before pressing and curling the hand into a fist to keep pressure on the wound. "I'm thinking you're going to need some stitches there, Sammy-boy. But you've had worse. Let's get you back to the room and I'll fix this up."
He watched his brother covertly as they stowed their gear and started down the winding mountain road in the Impala with Dean at the wheel. He waited for his brother to comment about his preoccupation and resulting near death experience but Sam held his tongue. Although maybe his silence wasn't owing so much to his discretion as the gash on his hand. Or maybe it was the migraine medication that was making him subdued.
One thing he did know, he was grateful his brother had been along for this job. Otherwise he'd be the Dean worm special right now.
He and Sam had always made a great team.
Dean kept one eye on the winding road and the other eye on his pale brother. Sam seemed to be holding his own but he had to admit seeing blood on his brother's skin had thrown him for a loop. After all, he was supposed to protect his little brother, not the other way around.
The motel appeared over the crest of the next hill and Dean wasted no time in pulling the Impala into the stall outside of their room. He popped the lid on the trunk and walked back toward it. He waited until his brother exited the car and then tried to gage his stability. Sam was steady on his feet so he held the keys out to his brother. "Can you unlock the door while I grab our stuff? Better wash that cut out good and then I'll stitch it up for you."
It took some persistent maneuvering but Sam finally managed to slot the key into the door and get it unlocked. He considered himself to be fairly ambidextrous, a byproduct of his upbringing that mandated wielding weapons in either hand. Unlocking doors with his left hand apparently fell outside that scope as it took all of his focus to get the damn door open.
Mindful of the blood which had stained the handkerchief pink, he shimmied out of his jacket and dropped it on the bed. Gently unwinding the soggy cloth he dumped it into the bathroom sink as he turned the taps on and thrust his hand under the water. Picking up the small, slithery bar of soap he worked up lather with his left hand before rubbing it over the cut.
Bright red blood oozed up out of the wound and swirled gently around the drain. Sam blinked his eyes as darkness impinged across his peripheral vision. It was sort of like a migraine aura. Only his migraine was gone.
He dropped his forearms onto the sink as his knees tried to buckle. The sink and the mirror jumped around as he fought to hold on to his balance.
Sam cleared his voice hesitantly. "Dean? I don't feel very good."
He hated the plaintive sound of his voice. He sounded weak. His brother hated weakness. And so did their missing dad.
Unable to control his thoughts, voice or body, he let the dizziness and darkness claim him.
Dean turned away from the door once he was satisfied Sam had made it safely into the room and dug the weapons satchel out of the trunk. He didn't want Sam to accuse him of hovering. He didn't want to be overzealous and face the wrath of Sam but everything inside of him was screaming at him to drop everything and look after his brother.
But Sam was no longer his little shadow and even shied away from his protective streak. Things had changed while his brother made a new life for himself out west. He was more independent and mature.
Despite the changes in his brother, Dean was determined to keep Sam with him now and take care of him again. It's all he'd ever really wanted. It was what he'd been raised to do.
Slamming the trunk closed, Dean made his way inside. He saw Sam standing at the bathroom sink, assiduously tending to the cut. He set the weapons bag down on the table and pulled out the first aid kit. He quickly shucked out of his leather jacket and pitched it on the bed next to Sam's jacket.
When he turned back toward the bathroom, he noticed Sam had changed positions and was no longer standing up straight but instead was leaning heavily on the sink edge with his elbows on the rim of the porcelain.
Something was off with his brother's posture and he hustled across the room when he heard Sam's voice, soft and strained. "Dean? I don't feel very good."
Before Dean could make his way into the bathroom Sam abruptly turned and staggered a few steps before falling straight back right in front of Dean. Sam landed heavily on his butt before his head flew back and struck the linoleum that served as the kitchenette floor, hands landing behind his head.
Dean floundered for a moment. He couldn't believe it. Sam had passed out.
He didn't know if he should be embarrassed on Sam's behalf – after all, Winchesters did not pass out at the sight of blood – or if he should be worried. Maybe Sam had lost more blood then he thought.
That choice was taken away as abject terror flooded through him and adrenaline pulsed through his body on its heels. Sam's eyes stared into the distance, unfocussed, as his arms and legs spasmodically twitched in a rhythm only Sam's body understood.
Because Dean sure as hell didn't understand it. His brother was having some sort of seizure.
He started to kneel next to Sam's torso, unsure if he should restrain Sam or not. The jerking was continuous but not violent. Working on instinct now because his reason had fled him when Sam collapsed abruptly in front of him, he leapt back to his feet and pulled his cell phone out of his jacket pocket. He hurriedly punched in 911 and raced back to his brother.
The phone was on its second ring when Sam's arms moved from where they lay stretched behind his head to hang lazily in front of Sam's face. Shivers still rocked his brother's body but his eyes no longer had that faraway look in them.
Sam's voice, wobbly and soft, held a quizzical note. "Dean, why are you on the phone?"
Relief streamed through Dean, weakening his knees. He bent over and patted his brother awkwardly on the shoulder. Sam was talking to him. That had to be a good sign. "Just relax. I'm calling 911. You're having a seizure."
The shaking had abated to an occasional quiver. Sam's face was scrunched in concentration as he stared up at Dean, his voice still puzzled. "I am?"
That's all Dean needed to hear. Without thinking he disconnected the call. Sam was aware enough of his surroundings to be questioning Dean. Maybe it hadn't been a seizure after all.
One moment Sam had been leaning against the sink. The next he was blinking up at his brother who was standing over him.
Why was Dean on the phone? The last he remembered his brother was getting the first aid kit. Surely tending to a wound ranked higher than gabbing on the phone. "Dean, why are you on the phone?"
While he waited for Dean's response he realized he was lying on the floor. How did that happen?
Dean leaned over, his skin pale and his eyes wide and panicky. Dean didn't panic. Not ever. Except maybe that time a werewolf got too close and nipped at the then 10-year-old Sam. "Just relax. I'm calling 911. You're having a seizure."
Sam held his hands in front of his face, mesmerized as the blood dripped slowly from his palm to land on his chest or the floor. The suddenly hard floor. His arms were shaking and if he concentrated he could feel the tremors in his legs, too. "I am?"
Could a person talk when they had a seizure? He didn't think so but Dean was definitely upset about something. And he didn't want to further upset Dean. His brother had been so good to him since the fire at his apartment.
His eyes followed his brother as he abruptly terminated the call and stepped over Sam's recumbent body to snatch a thin, dingy white towel off the rack in the bathroom. Dean gingerly stepped back over Sam and crouched down next to him, gently taking his right hand and swathing the towel around it.
Dean's cell phone suddenly rang, making his brother jump. "Dammit! Not now!"
Sam wasn't accustomed to seeing his brother so jittery and easily rattled. After all, Sam knew who was calling. He'd been expecting it since Dean hung up. "Dude, it's 911 calling you back."
He wanted to explain that 911 always called back if you disconnected before they answered. In fact if Dean wasn't scowling so hard as he answered the call, he would have mentioned it. But then again his brother should have known that fact as emergency calls were, after all, something the family was all too familiar with. Something was wrong with Dean. He wasn't thinking clearly.
Sam followed the conversation loosely as Dean spoke to the dispatcher while his own brain buzzed over his brother's weird behavior. He heard his normally glib brother stumble over an explanation for calling 911.
He zeroed in on the tremor and crack in Dean's voice. He couldn't figure out why his brother was so rattled. His thoughts were pulled back to Dean's conversation when he heard his brother announce they were staying at the Super 8 off of Highway H.
Dean had given the wrong address. He tried to interrupt his brother and tell him they were at a Motel 6 but Dean frowned and waved him off.
Sam normally would have taken exception at his brother's dismissal of him but it took too much effort. Instead he closed his eyes and tried to ignore the low throb setting up at both ends of his spine.
"Sammy, you with me? I need you to open your eyes for me." Dean's voice was insistent, a buzzing in his ear that he couldn't ignore.
He never could ignore his brother when he took that tone of voice with him. At a young age Dean had learned to imitate John Winchester's authoritative delivery and Sam had learned to heed it. He shifted minutely, stifling a groan, before blinking his eyes open. "I'm here. Can I get up now?"
His brother frowned at him before nodding. Dean moved out of his vision and he heard his voice from behind him. "I'm going to lift you into a sitting position but I want you to relax and let me do all of the work here. On three…one, two, three."
His brother reached underneath him and hauled him up until he was sitting. Well, sort of sitting. He was actually leaning heavily against his brother. And the room was lazily rotating around him. Maybe getting up wasn't such a good idea after all.
Sam's limbs might no longer be shaking but the same couldn't be said about Dean's own hands. His heart was still jammed up in his throat as he crouched down next to his brother and touched his shoulder hesitantly.
Sam appeared to be resting peacefully but after the seizure scare, he wanted his brother awake and talking. "Sammy, you with me? I need you to open your eyes for me."
Even his voice sounded shaky to his own ears. But he was encouraged when Sam's eyes opened at his request. Okay, not a request but a command.
His brother shifted his body on the hard tile and emitted a soft groan. "I'm here. Can I get up now?"
He wasn't sure moving Sam was such a great idea but his brother seemed to have control of his faculties. And he knew the bed would be more comfortable than lying on the floor.
The last thing he wanted was to watch Sam pass out again so they were going to do this in easy stages. "I'm going to lift you into a sitting position but I want you to relax and let me do all of the work here."
Dean moved around until he was behind Sam's head and reached under his brother, hooking his hands under his arm pits. "On three…one, two, three."
Slowly Dean tugged his brother up until he was upright but leaning heavily against him. Dean was pretty sure Sam was conscious but it was frustrating because he couldn't see his brother's face and he was pretty sure Sam was fighting off dizziness by the way he slumped back against him. He shifted his brother slightly so that his right arm was bearing the majority of his weight. Sam swallowed visibly and closed his eyes. Dean pushed his brother's bangs to the side so he'd have a clear view of Sam's pupils when his eyes opened.
After a brief moment, slightly dilated but equal pupils stared into Dean's face. He was concerned when Sam seemed content to rest in his arms. In the past, his brother would have pushed him away and waved off his concern, injury or no injury. A conscious Winchester was a competent Winchester. Maybe he should have requested an ambulance after all.
Dean distracted himself by checking the wound under the towel and was pleased to see the bleeding had finally slacked off. He wanted to stitch it up and dress it. But first Dean wanted his brother up off of the floor. If Sam wasn't able to support his own weight then Dean would be forced to carry his brother over to the bed. His back didn't like that thought but he wasn't ready to watch Sam pass out again.
He jiggled his brother lightly in his arms to coax a response. "Ready to try standing?"
Sam nodded his head wearily in assent. Dean wasn't sure his sibling was up to it but if he could just get Sam to his feet he knew he could get him over to the bed.
Dean shifted Sam back and bunched his muscles in preparation for standing. "Same as before, on the count of three."
Before he could get the count out his brother was lunging forward awkwardly and pushing to his feet. Covering from his surprise at the unexpected ascent, Dean quickly hooked Sam's left arm around his neck and reached his right arm around his brother's waist to anchor him and hold him steady. "Easy. I've got you."
Sam's limbs were weak and coltish but Dean was able to guide him over to the nearest bed before depositing him less than gently on its lumpy surface. His brother might be the baby of the family but he was taller and heavier.
Snatching the pillows at the head of the bed to the side, Dean lowered Sam back. He didn't miss the groan that escaped his brother's lips as his weight pressed against the mattress. He raised Sam's legs and stuffed the two pillows underneath.
Sam's right hand, wrapped in the cheap motel towel, lay at his side while his left arm was folded protectively across his stomach. His brother's less than alert eyes followed Dean's movements as he swept the comforter off of the other bed and smoothed it over his brother's legs. He had done everything he could think of to counteract shock.
Before he worked on the gash in his hand, Dean glanced at Sam's face to make sure he was still awake. He was met with lazily blinking eyes in a too pale face. Damn, his brother looked so young and vulnerable lying there. Before he could stop himself he brushed a hand across his brother's forehead as if checking for a fever; the adult Sam wouldn't stand for such a gesture but Dean was way past caring how Sam felt about Dean looking after him.
For the record, his brother's skin was cool and clammy, not warm. Although it was disconcerting that Sam submitted to Dean's overprotective gesture. Something was wrong with his little brother and he would have to keep close tabs on him. Now that the brothers were reunited again he refused to let anything snatch Sammy away.
A/N: Massive thanks to my beta and friend, Faye Dartmouth, who encouraged me to finish this story. Actually, if she hadn't produced the draft after my computer crashed there wouldn't be a story to post. And as always, her suggestions and patience with me made this so much better than it would have been if left to my own devices. Also thanks to Gidgetgal9 who found me the title and re-checked the story after I fiddled with it. I feel extremely lucky to have these two talented ladies on my side.