Author: Maimat the Rat
Title: Out of My Head
Spoilers: Second Season
Characters: Dean, Sam. Gen
They'd talked a bit at first, and Dean was almost able to get Sam to laugh. The more miles that passed, however, the quieter things got, until Sam quit talking all together. Sam not only quit talking, he seemed to quit moving; he didn't fidget, he didn't ask where Dean was taking him, he simply sat and stared out the side window.
After a while, which didn't take too long for Dean, the silence grew unbearable. "Time for a break," Dean said, and Sam said nothing.
The blinking vacancy sign along the highway beaconed invitingly. The whole unnatural stillness that settled over Sam since leaving Bobby's house, (since being possessed), made Dean restless. At least renting a room meant doing something constructive, for the whole five minutes it took to register.
Sam didn't react when Dean left the car, and he didn't react when Dean got back in the car and parked in front of their room. Dean reached out to shake Sam's arm to get his attention but stopped short. It wasn't like Sam was sleeping and didn't hear him. It wasn't like Sam didn't know what was going on. Dean didn't know what was going on in Sam's head.
"Well, here we are," He said more gently.
A wall would have been more responsive.
Was there some kind of manual about how to deal with post-possession? Rules? Hints? Anything? It would help if more people survived the ordeal. This whole zombie act Sam had going was frankly freaking Dean right out.
When Sam did get up he moved like a ninety year old afraid to fall and break his hip. Dean walked behind, watching, and ready to help if necessary.
Sam walked straight to the bed and lied down on his back with his arm over his eyes.
Dean brought in both their bags and the laptop, the extra strain did do his shoulder any favours, but it did at least feel comforting to fall into a well-known routine; unpack, settle in. He thought about bitching about the lack of help, but didn't.
"How's your arm," Dean asked instead, referring to the burn on Sam's forearm.
Dean rolled his eyes. Fine, everything's just fucking A-OK. He hooked a thumb toward the bathroom. "You need the bathroom?" No response, not that Dean expected one.
Dean took his turn washing up, swallowed some painkillers, showered, cleaned the wound in his shoulder, and did all the normal routine stuff he always did. A new theory began to form; if he could just make Sam react to something, maybe he'd snap out of it. Kind of like breaking open the floodgates and letting everything start pouring out, and this was something Dean knew he could accomplish. If Dean knew how to do anything, it was how to provoke his little brother.
"Hey Sam?" Dean peeked out of the washroom while brushing his teeth. Sam didn't move. "Your breath reeks like ass. You think Meg could have at least brushed your teeth for you now and then right?" He waited for a reaction; the least Sam could do was flip him the bird. Nothing.
"You're wearing the same clothes you disappeared with. Think you could bring yourself to at least change your socks?" It might be unfair, but even a pissed off Sam would be better than a quietly traumatized Sam.
But Sam didn't react.
"Want some Tylenol?"
Well hallelujah, a word! Maybe he was getting through to him after all. "Come on, man, tell me what I can do."
"A shower sounds good." Sam's voice sounded low and hoarse.
Now they were getting somewhere. Dean stood up and moved out of the way as Sam rolled over and pushed himself up, feet on the floor, elbows on knees, and head down. Looking like an old man with bad arthritis; Sam got up and shuffled into the bathroom, and locked the door behind him.
How long did Sam usually take in the shower? The water ran for over three quarters of an hour, it didn't usually take that long, right? Was there even that much hot water? So what if Sam was taking a long shower, that wasn't so weird considering.
The water turned off and Dean listened to Sam brushing his teeth. Finally the lock on the door clicked open, and Sam came out wearing the t-shirt and sweats that Dean threw in while Sam had been in the shower. (Seriously, did Sam think Dean couldn't pick the lock on a motel bathroom?) He hobbled back to his bed and sat down again.
Dean waited for Sam to say something, like maybe, thanks I'm feeling better now, or better yet, glad that's over with now let's go grab a beer. But Sam said nothing, and Dean sat down and started feeling the exhaustion creeping in again.
"Did the shower help?" Dean asked. He saw Sam shiver. "You cold?" Dean turned up the thermostat, even though the temperature in the room was already uncomfortably warm.
"No. I'm fine."
"Right. Cause fine is exactly the word I'd use to describe you right now."
They won didn't they? Sam was back, Sam was safe, and Meg was gone. Sam didn't have to be perfectly okay, but he didn't have to be quite so broken either.
The burn on Sam's arm was all that was left of the mark Meg used to lock herself inside him. Biting back his annoyance and desire to shake his brother, Dean picked up the first aide kit and tossed it on the side table. "Let me see your arm." Sitting at one of the chairs, Dean kicked the other chair out, beckoning Sam over. "Come sit over here."
Sam locked eyes with Dean and the desire to resist briefly flared before fading out again. Gracelessly, Sam moved to the table, and took the seat across from him. Dean looked critically at the wound and placed antibiotic cream and gauze on the table. "Does it hurt?"
Sam stared at the wound on his arm.
"Sam?" Dean waited for a response, but Sam didn't answer, didn't even look at him. "Can you try not ignoring me just once? I swear to God, I'm doing the best I can here."
Sam leaned his arms on the table and stared down at the fake wood pattern. "Sorry."
"Sorry about what?" Dean saw the guilt in Sam's eyes and he felt his patience snap. He was frustrated, exhausted, damn tired of this zombie-post-possession-Sam and not knowing how to fix things for his brother, but he did know this... "It wasn't you."
In less than a second Sam was on his feet, the chair he'd just been sitting in flung across the room. Dean sat unmoving, too stunned by the sudden outburst to do more than just stare.
"It was my body."
"What Meg did while you were possessed isn't your fault." This was a good thing. This out of control and pissed off version of his brother was a million times better than the shell shocked automaton Sam had been until now. That was better than Sam doing nothing, right?
"Not my fault?" Sam's voice rose in volume. "Steve Wandell, had, a daughter. What I can do? Call her up and say, I killed your father but it wasn't really me so, you know, sorry. Somehow I doubt there's a hallmark card for that."
"We'll get through this."
"I should have been able to fight it."
"She locked herself in; there was nothing you have done."
"How do you know? Dad did it. When he was possessed he fought it off. Just for a second, but he did it."
"It's not your fault." Dean knew Sam didn't want to hear it, but Sam needed to hear it, and it had to be said now. The anger emanating off his brother was palpable.
Dean pushed it further. "You weren't in control. It wasn't you."
The defence of helplessness only fuelled Sam's growing rage. "It's like my skin doesn't even fit anymore. There's blood under my fingernails, and I don't even know whose it is. What else did she do that we don't even know about?"
"Whatever happened, we'll deal with it."
He gazed frantically around the room. "I've... I have to get out of here."
"Wait..." Dean grabbed Sam's wrist with his good arm, pulled him back and met Sam's panicked eyes. "Nothing we do is going to change what happened, but we can't let it stop us either, right? What we have to do... the only thing we can do is move on from here and do what we can to make it better, right?" He felt Sam try and pull away, and held on tighter.
"How can you say that? I shot you."
"Meg shot me, not you. We're going to get through this together. You and me." Dean swallowed. "But I can't do it alone. I wont. Don't you dare leave me again, Sammy."
"I don't' know what to do."
Dean nodded. "But I do. Just don't shut me out again. Like I've said before, Sam, we're stronger as a family, we just are." Dean let go of Sam's wrist.
Sam sat down beside Dean and nodded.