Holding Up the Walls

By: supernaturaldh

Summary:

Just after the run in with the coven of witches in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Dean has a conversation with the demon named Ruby; as Sam suffers the consequences.

A One Shot.

Beta: Kokoda2007 - Thank you again. You always make it better.

Timeline: Set during Season 3. Episode 3.09 – Tag to Malleus Maleficarum.

Disclaimer : I don't own them, but boy I wished I did.

It was late; the ride to the motel from the altercation with the coven in Sturbridge was quiet. Sam noticed his older brother was engrossed in his thoughts as he guided the Impala down the dark roadway.

Sam leaned his aching body back against the bench seat, concerned eyes focused on Dean. Was he okay? He had coughed up a lot of blood two hours ago…

"What Sam? You keep looking at me. What is it?" Dean barked across the front seat.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine, Sammy." Dean stated flatly. "Ruby made sure of that."

Sam shrugged. He'd already told Dean Ruby wasn't so bad . He let his eyes fall from his brother to stare out the passenger window, the hum of the engine lulling at his tired limbs; he slowly began to relax against the seat, sluggish eyelids falling closed against his cheeks.

Dean was glad Ruby had offered to clean up the mess after they eliminated the coven of witches. He was not up for digging and burning three sets of witch bones tonight. He didn't like witches, they gave him the creeps. He couldn't believe the revelation made by that Tammi bitch - Ruby was once a person? What was up with that shit? She'd been human? He glanced over at his sleeping brother, and turned his attention back to the pavement and the white line blurring down in front of him.

The oldest Winchester was scared to go to hell, but he couldn't let Sam try to get him out of the deal. No, he would not let Sam put himself at risk. One dead Sam, in Cold Oak, was more than enough for Dean. He cringed to himself. Yep – safe to say, he was a goner.

He pushed his emotional wall back up and held it there. The same wall he had worn most of his life, the one that kept him hidden, and safe. His fears and feelings all locked tightly away, right behind his game face. Always had to have the game face - for Sammy.

Sam jarred instantly awake, the Impala still droning along the dark road. A sudden pain spiked down his spine and slowly flared against his lower lumbar. It was intense. He squashed the moan that threatened to roll across his lips.

Okay, so maybe holding up a wall wasn't such a good idea.

He cast a quick look to his brother, who was still lost in his own thoughts. He closed his eyes again and struggled with the ache that seemed to grow more intense with every mile.

The tires grated on the loose gravel, rock flying as the Impala pulled into the Sturbridge Motel. Dean flung the car into park and leaned his weary head against his arms as they rested against the steering wheel. Thoughts of Ruby, the deal, and all the consequences kept spinning around in his head.

"Hey Sam, you can have the first shower." Dean murmured, never turning to look at his little brother. "I got this, I'll get the gear." His hand moved to the door handle, pushing open the creaking metal with a large heave. "Go on - hit the shower." He acknowledged. Just give me a minute here, he thought, need to absorb everything that just happened.

Sam heard his big brother, but couldn't muster the strength to reply. It took great effort for him to gather his aching body and just get it out of the car. His throbbing back did not want to cooperate. He pushed carefully against the passenger door and eased his gangly limbs upward. His hands gripped the doorframe tightly. It hurt like a mother just to stand up straight. He bit harshly on his lower lip and scuffled slowly toward their room.

-0-

Dean was oblivious to his little brother's plight. He was absorbed in his own inner battle, wishing like hell he could talk to that Ruby slut again. His eyes skipped to the stoop in front of their motel room, Sammy tiredly stumbling inside. The kid was beat . He moved unhurriedly around to the trunk and opened it, his hands reaching in for the ammo bag and their duffels. He slammed the trunk shut and stood silently, still wishing Ruby was here, the sudden urge to talk to her seemingly overwhelming.

And suddenly, there she was, standing right in front of him, a smug grin on her lips.

"Hey, short bus."

-O-

Sam moved at a snail's pace into the empty motel room, key left dangling from the doorknob, lights left off, as he made his way to the bathroom. Hot shower, that's all he needed. He pushed the doorway closed behind him and leaned heavily against the back of it, staring at the aqua green bathroom walls. God, his back was hurting . He reached gradually over and turned the shower knob to full blast. He let his shaky hands remove his jacket, his outer shirt, and he slowly slid his feet from his shoes. His back ached with the motions. He leaned profoundly against the sink and moved his hand down to the faucet. He gazed into the mirror at his pain laced features. He let the stream of cold water run caressingly along his palm as he cupped some of the wet liquid and lapped it against his face. His quivering fingers tugged his long hair back from his forehead as a small gasp tumbled lightly across his lips.

"Ghh" he murmured as his eyes met the pale face in the mirror again.

He heard muttered voices outside the bathroom window, but he was in too much pain to focus on them. He white knuckled the porcelain sink with both hands as his weak knees began to buckle, his legs refusing to hold up his increasing weight. The pain in his back rolled over him again as it slammed him slowly downward toward the ceramic tile. He slid with little resistance to the cold floor, curling his long limbs against his body, and panting against the pain.

-0-

"Better take care of little Sammy." Ruby's dark eyes sparked as they glared at Dean.

"What?" he gave her a curious look.

And she was gone.

Dean's eyes darted around the parking lot. Where did that little bitch go? She had just been here? He grimaced.

His little talk with Ruby was informative to say the least; he now knew there was not a way out of the deal he had made. He found it ironic that Ruby had once been human, so maybe he could get out of hell too? Maybe? Could happen?

Somehow, the reality of that notion was calming to him in a strange sort of way. He could focus on Sam now, getting him through this, teaching him, training him, so he was prepared for life without his big brother.

His hand yanked the duffle bags from the ground as his boots clicked lightly against the gravel. He grinned slightly as he made his way toward the motel room. There had better be some hot water!

He noticed the dark room as he approached, the doorway swinging in the wind, the key dangling from the lock.

Suddenly, Ruby's last words echoed in his head, "Better take care of little Sammy."

His chest immediately felt heavy as he dropped the bags to the concrete sidewalk and rushed through the open door, eyes squinting into the darkness.

No Sam?

The light skimmed around the bathroom door and the loud pounding of the shower calmed his nerves at once. Sam was fine, just in the shower. That little Ruby bitch, making him worry.

He quickly yanked up the bags and moved them into the room, plopping them haphazardly against the dirty carpet as he nudged the door closed with his boot. He flipped on the lamp between the two beds and listened to the shower streaming full force in the bathroom. He gave a fleeting look at the bathroom door, seeing waves of steam oozing out around the edges.

Humph , he arched his eyes up curiously; Sam was sure taking a long shower.

He stood and moved closer to the door, the heat of the steam making sweat beads instantly form on his forehead. His fisted hand banged unsympathetically against the door.

"Sam, come on man, you gonna use up all the hot water?"

Nothing…

"Do you want me to kick your ass?" Dean yelled as his fist once again met the wooden door.

Silence continued to greet him. The only sound - the constant patter of water against the porcelain bath tub.

Big brother senses kicked up a notch.

"SAMMY." His fingers ghosted over the doorknob.

"30 Seconds, Sam, and I'm coming in there, personal space or not." He muttered cockily, attempting to hold his peaking concern at bay.

Silence…

His heart pounded in his chest. Maybe Sam had been hurt by those three witches. His mind raced back over the evening, and recalled how his little brother had been dangling on the wall when he arrived.

His fingers abruptly gripped the doorknob and gave it a quick jiggle, it wasn't locked.

"Sam, I ain't kidding!" He yelled loudly.

Nothing happened, all he heard was the continued stream of water rolling into tub.

Okay, that's it.

He flipped his fingers around the knob and turned it open; it moved about a foot and a half and stopped mid motion, bumping up against something pretty darn heavy.

Oh shit.

Dean's head darted around the doorway, he gasped, as his eyes met the limp body of his little brother curled up against the bathroom floor, steam drenched face flushed from the heat and damp clothes clinging to his body.

"Jesus, Sammy."

Dean lunged his way around the partially open door, back scraping harshly against the door jam. He balanced precariously around his brother's long legs and the sink, as he wretched his hand through the flimsy shower curtain and turned off the now lukewarm water.

"Sammy," he whispered as he dropped to his knees against his brother's side.

His fingers moved to Sam's forehead, pushing back the waterlogged bangs that covered his eyes. He was surprised when pain filled lids blinked open to stare weakly up at him.

He squinted back in confusion. His brother was in pain.

"What hurts, Sam?"

"B...back." Sam garbled between anxious breaths.

-0-

It was slow going, maneuvering a gangly limbed Sammy off the ceramic tile floor. Every motion seemed to make Sam yelp in pain, and Dean cringed with every whimper.

The eldest Winchester bore his little brother's weight as they stumbled from the bathroom toward the bed. He slowly eased Sam's long limbs down against the musty bedspread, and then sank, winded, against the mattress himself.

"I'm put'n you on a diet dude." Dean said sarcastically.

"Mmmmm – Hmmmmm." Sam gritted through his tightly pursed lips.

"That bad, huh?" Dean glared down at his little brother's tense body, Sam's fingers gripping into the threadbare bedspread.

Sam's head nodded, his eyes begging Dean to do something.

Dean shuffled quickly to his duffle and yanked out the first aid kid, fingering open the large bottle of prescription pain medication and palming three in his hand. He grabbed a glass from the table, and filled it in the bathroom with tap water. He moved urgently back to Sam's side, and pushed the pills against his brother's tightly pursed lips.

"Here, take these." Dean's voice edged with concern.

Sam's eyes opened and looked at up at his older brother, silently allowing the medication to be slipped against his tongue.

Dean's hand moved beneath Sam's head as he held the cup to his little brother lips. Sam gulped down the moisture and washed the pain pills away.

Dean eased Sam back against the rough cushion of the bed and waited for the medication to take a hold, hopefully, toning down the sharp ache in the kids back.

"Sam, I need to see your back, alright. Can you take off your tee-shirt?"

Sam's green irises poked out from under his fluttering lids as he gave Dean a mumbled reply, "No, it hurts…"

"I'll help you." Dean offered as his fingers lingered over the bottom of Sam's white tee.

Dean moved the light material slowly up Sam stomach until his brother winched from the tugging fabric.

Dean stopped.

He reached his hand down and pulled his favorite knife from its sheath inside his boot, and, with one swift motion, the tee shirt was gone. Deans addle fingers moving it from beneath Sam's prone body.

Sam smirked at that. The pain medication was finally starting to kick in.

"Okay, kiddo. I'm rolling you over onto your stomach. Just go with me here, okay?" Dean whispered, and then waited for his little brother's reply.

"' Kay." Sam garbled.

Dean could see Sam's eyelids starting to droop into a medicated sleep as his strong arms slowly rolled the kid toward the middle of the bed.

He immediately gasped at the sight of Sam's damaged back. "That bitch."

Large black, blue, and green bruises ran up and down Sam's spine, several vertebras looking swollen and tight against his damaged skin. No wonder his little brother was hurting.

"Ya gotta quit holding up the walls, bro," Dean teased.

Sam's head turned slightly and silted eyes gazed at Dean," You ought to know about walls," he muttered.

Dean huffed lightly at that remark, and then eased Sam to rest on his stomach.

He tapped Sam on the back of his mussed hair, a reassuring voice saying, "Lay on your stomach Sammy, it'll feel better, I promise."

"That bad, huh?" Sam's weak words were muffled by the pillow.

"It's okay. I'll just put some heat and ice on it. You'll be fine. Stay in bed a few days…."

Sam vaguely heard his brother's words, as the drug induced bliss slowly started to wash over him, and the pain began to ebb gently away.

Dean grabbed up the car keys from the table, "I'll be right back, just getting the heating pad from the trunk."

Sam drifted there, enjoying the relief. He hadn't realized how tired he was till now. He let his eyes slowly close, as his face nuzzled deeper into the pillow.

-0-

Something felt funny to Sam, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He felt a slow warming feeling crawling up his spine, resting against his lower back. It was nice. Then, just as suddenly, the warmth was gone, and a cool icy feeling spread against him, he shuddered, but relished it, as his stiff muscles sagged limply. And then there was the warmth again, spreading back across him, and he smiled.

"Like that kiddo." Dean's voice drifted in Sam's head, droning on about the benefits of hot and cold therapy.

Sammy was too tired to listen, as he floated in a blissful pain free state. His body relished the hot and cold, and his mind took comfort in his big brother's constant chatter.

END!

Thanks for reading, if you like it, please let me know. All reviews are appreciated!!

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