Mad World

Dean looked at his mother, he knew it wasn't really her but… he really missed her. Sam had been too young to remember Mary, but Dean could, sometimes, like a dream from long ago – one of those feelings that you were unsure if it was a just a wish or distant memory.

He looked at his brother, "I'm sorry," he whispered apologetically as he tightened his grip and plunged the knife towards his own chest.

Part One

"Dean!" Sam shouted. He looked over his shoulder once more anxiously, searching the darkness for the Djinn. "Come on Dean, time to wake up…" he pleaded quietly, his whole body tense and wary of the darkness.

Something moved.

Sam froze, eyes flashing in the dim moonlight from outside. He was torn, he needed to move, someplace that wasn't as out in the open, but then he wanted to stay, he needed to stay to protect Dean. He looked at Dean, his brother seemed to be coming around and his eyes flickered ever so slightly. "Screw it…" Sam hissed through teeth. He pulled out his knife and began working on the ropes holding up Dean.

Then he heard something, and instincts took over. Sam fled, just in time to hide before a dark shape move into his field of vision. The younger Winchester watched as it approached Dean, who was now semi-conscious. "Sonova…" Sam heard Dean's gravelly voice say as his hazel eyes wandered in the direction of the Djinn, not having the strength to really focus. Sam gripped his knife, he couldn't…

The Djinn gripped Dean by the hair, forcing him to look at it. Its eyes glowed an unnatural blue with delight as it stared at Dean impassively. It had done this for ages and was unfazed by Dean's waking. The older Winchester struggled helpless, trying to back away from the creature although his feet barely touched the floor but the ropes still held and there wasn't much room for him to move.

Sam wavered in his hiding spot, he wanted the thing away from Dean so he wouldn't risk accidently stabbing his brother but at the same time he desperately wanted to throw himself at the genie – to kill it for what it was doing to the older sibling.

Blue fire grew from the creature's hand and rested it on Dean's head. Dean squirmed weakly before relaxing, his eyes once again distant, staring into nothing. Sam's heart dropped as Dean's chin fell to his chest and hands that had been clenched into fists had uncurled limp. The Djinn still had a hold on Dean, but the younger brother stepped out, brandishing his knife.

The Djinn's whole body seemed to erupt from it's body as it turned it's head towards Sam and too late did Sam realize it wasn't channeling that energy at him but either to or from Dean. The fire rippled along its arm and hand, licking at Dean's hair and face. Sam lunged at the creature but it sidestepped out of reach of Sam's blade.

The ropes holding Dean broke and the Djinn backed away, pulling Dean's body with it like a predator guarding its meal fiercely. It snarled, the energy surrounding it pulsing. The seconds passed by where the two were at a stalemate, silent and dangerous. The tension was broken by a small whimper, no louder than a small child and startled Sam looked down at Dean.

Still in the Djinn's grasp, the outline of his brother's face was covered in the dancing blue fire that was snaking its way down Dean's neck and collar bone, but unlike the serene empty expression that his brother had before Sam found him Dean was grimacing, eyes clenched in pain.

It was enough to distract Sam for a moment, and the Djinn pounced on Sam, knocking away the younger brother's knife. Sam rolled out quickly moved as fast as he could to be back on his feet with the knife. Sam had the advantage of weight, so as the Djinn once more moved to knock Sam off his feet the younger Winchester returned by plowing into the creature, driving his knife upward through its heart.

Sam's knees buckled as the creature became dead weight and forced the two of them down to the ground. He pulled the knife out and untangled himself from the dead body, unceremoniously shoving it aside to scramble towards his brother. "No… no, no, no…" Sam breathed anxiously, lightly patting the side of his brother's face. "Wake up Dean," he ordered. But Dean wasn't listening. His body trembled and a light blue glow lingered around him. Sam held his brother's shoulders, "Dean fight it man, you were gonna wake up…"

Dean seemed to struggle against Sam, twisting underneath his brother's weight. His eyes wandered the room aimlessly, although never quite settling on Sam. His eyes were flooded with the same bright blue as the genie's had been, but they were unfocused and fading fast.

Sam felt Dean grow still beneath him and his breathing hitched. "No… DEAN!" He barked, trying to get Dean to respond even though his brother was entirely too still. Thankfully, his brother's chest rose and fell, albeit much to slowly for Sam, and his pulse remained strong. He shifted his weight so he had better access to check Dean over. His brother had been missing for days, and Sam had no idea what the Djinn had done to him in that time. Satisfied with the once over and noting no obvious injuries, Sam couldn't spot any problems, except that Dean wasn't awake.

Pausing for a quick second, Sam gathered up his things he had lost during the fight before returning to his brother. He moved so he had Dean's arm over his shoulders and he lifted he and his brother up off the floor. God, his brother needed to watch those cheeseburgers… He struggled carrying his brother when he heard a whimper from his side. He turned his head to see a young woman strung up in the same manner Dean had been, only she looked as though she had been there many more days than his brother had. Dean would… Sam had come to a halt as he leaned his brother against the doorframe, easing some of the strain on his shoulder from carrying Dean. Sam was focused solely on getting Dean out of there and safe, but he knew he had other responsibilities too, such as that girl. Dean would kick his ass if he found out Sam didn't take care of her. Sam sighed and readjusted so he could resume carrying his brother making a mental note to come back to check on her once he got Dean to the car…

Once at the Impala he positioned Dean in passenger seat, he briefly tried in vain to wake Dean. Sam dropped his supplies in the trunk before running inside. The young woman was dirty and pale, but Sam make out a weak pulse. "Hey there," he whispered encouragingly, "I've got you…"

Her eyes fluttered open, but like Dean she couldn't focus on Sam as he cut the ropes holding her. Sam cut the rope hastily, spying where the Djinn still lay and she collapsed into his arms before he laid her out to in order to see the extent of her injuries. She wasn't injured, but she still needed to get to a hospital and fast, by the looks of it.

"Daddy…" she mumbled.

"What was that?" Sam asked in alarm. The girl grasped feebly at Sam's jacket but she didn't say anything else as Sam lifted her up in his arms. Her eyes closed again and Sam was worried that she wouldn't make the trip to the hospital. Laying her stretched out in the rear seat of the Impala, Sam doubled checked on Dean before crawling into the driver seat. He threw the car into gear and careened out of the abandoned lot.

His phone buzzed in his jean pocket and Sam fished it out to look at the caller i.d. Bobby… He put the phone to his ear and before the older hunter could say anything Sam said, "Found him Bobby. Some… warehouse in Illinois."

"He okay?"

Sam glanced anxiously at his brother, who had tilted so his forehead rested against the passenger window with his eyes still closed. "He's uhh… he's not hurt but the Djinn did something and he's not waking up."

"Shit…" Bobby hissed.

"There was a girl there too. She's worse off than Dean so I'm going to drop her off at a hospital and head to your place."

"Okay Sam, I'll dig up what I have on genies…"

Sam had to let loose a strained laugh, anxiously joking, "I hope you have more than just I Dream of Jeannie VHS tapes." Dean would have smiled at that and probably would've made some innuendo about Barbara Eden… the patented Winchester deferral when things got rough.

"Boy I do have a DVD player, and unlike your Daddy and Dean I try to stay with the times. Call me if there are any changes."

The youngest Winchester closed his phone looked in the rearview mirror nervously and at his two passengers as he sped along the highway. He turned the volume up for Pink Floyd's Wish you Were Here just a little louder in order to drown out the all-too noticeable silence from his brother.

--

When he finally reached Singer Salvage Yard, Sam was beyond concerned for Dean, thinking he should have taken Dean to the same hospital he had brought the other victim. Cooler heads prevailed and the older hunter greeted him as soon as the Impala pulled onto the lot.

Dean hadn't moved since Sam had tried to get his brother to drink and he was considerably paler than he had been only a few hours previously.

He and Bobby managed to carry Dean upstairs to the boys' bedroom hook him up to a saline drip Bobby had on hand so the older Winchester would stay hydrated. Despite most of their upbringing, they did actually have their own room always waiting at the older hunter's. Once, after a long hunt John had taken the boys to Singer's house where the hunter had set up a room for the boys and never really changed it back. The simple room had a side table and two twin beds. The closer of the two beds, the one Dean traditionally slept on, had been cleared of books and manuscripts while the other was still piled high with grimoires and the sort.

His brother looked so… calm. Sam felt he should be wildly freaking out, don't get him wrong, he was freaking out, but not like he had after Dean had been electrocuted. But this was just like Dean was sleeping, not even tossing and turning due to demons or monsters – he was so peaceful and if Sam didn't know otherwise he'd have thought Dean was having a pleasant dream.

But this dream was brought on by a blood-leeching Djinn that had been hell bent on sucking Dean dry, and for that reason, Sam was "freaking out."

Back downstairs, Bobby fixed Sam a cup of coffee and sat him down at the littered dining room table. Sam did his best to explain the hunt, up until he found and got Dean to the car and when he went back to rescue the other victim. Sam frowned at Bobby and crossed his arms, "When I was with the other girl the genie was holding, when she started waking up she had mentioned something about her father."

"Makes sense," Bobby replied gruffly, "Djinn are known to drain their victims, but to do so they put them in some sort of trance. Makes her think she's getting her wish… in this case her dad."

"Like some sort of… supernatural acid or something?" Sam pondered.

"Which would mean Dean's having a bad trip, overdosing on the thing's magic. Magic that powerful is dangerous stuff Sam, it would create a whole world for Dean. Enough of it might even warp his thoughts," Bobby warned.

"And here I thought LSD was bad for you," Sam mused grimly.

Bobby shot the boy a glare, "Still is ya idgit."

Sam thought of his brother, lying utterly still on the bed, his features pale but calm. "I wonder what he wished for…"

The older hunter bristled, "There may be a way… but I'm not sure if it might…"

Sam stiffened as Bobby looked at him, as if sizing the younger man up. The youngest Winchester waited impatiently and the suspicious look only made Sam even more anxious. What it was like for Bobby Sam would never guess, but the older hunter always seemed to regard Sam with an air of caution – he trusted John and Dean unconditionally, but Sam he was wary about. Sam knew that if there was another hunter that knew about him and his connection to the demon that killed their mother it would've been Bobby – he was probably the oldest friend John had and without a doubt in Sam's mind the first his late father would've turned to once he found out about the plans for Sam.

"Bobby if you're right then the longer he's trapped in his head…" Sam sighed, massaging his temple anxiously.

"I know son, I'm just worrying about that. We need to pull him out of it… and…"

"What Bobby?!" Sam burst, standing up and grabbing the older hunter by the shoulders, "If there's something we can do then spit it out! It's better than sitting around with our thumbs up our asses waiting for Dean to snap out of a wish."

Bobby grimaced but looked seriously at Sam, "Boy, you yellin' at me ain't gonna help your brother. So cool your jets and let me go get something." Sam frowned but let Bobby go, leaving his arms to swing down to his side. The older hunter stepped back from Sam, and returned the favor with a mixed expression of stubborn exhaustion. He shuffled away to what once had been a reading room or an office with Sam followed him eagerly.

Ruffling through various tins stashed in the corner, Bobby opened up maybe a dozen tins and checking all of them before opening one up for Sam to see. Bobby held up the old plant for Sam to examine the dried purplish flowers. "It's the cheap stuff," he shrugged, "Grows around places where Dream Root's been but not quite as potent. It's a way to see what's going on in your brother's head and try to wake him up. Only enough for one of us so I'm figuring you're the best bet to get your brother back. "

"Not sure how effective it'll be, seeing how old it is," Bobby busied himself by looking for the rest of the supplies, "So your ability to effect Dean's reality at all may and probably will be limited. You might be able to control things or just watch as an onlooker…" Bobby set the rest of the materials on the table and frowned pessimistically at Sam. "It might not even work at all."

Sam nodded somberly in reply but was torn… looking into his brother's mind seemed an awfully invasive thing to do. The younger brother knew there was more to his brother than met the eye, dark things that Dean didn't want anyone to see, especially not Sam. This would remove any of amounts of privacy Dean held and Sam was scared of the repercussions if the older Winchester found out what Sam did.

Not only that but if it was true that the Djinn created dreams where wishes came true… what was Dean's dream? It could be anything from women, booze, gambling, the Impala coming to life as a human and having wild sex with her…

Sam had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and a dark scenario formed in his mind. Dean missed their father… and John had died and gone to hell for Dean. What if…?

Bobby studied Sam. "I'm gonna go get this ready for you…" he said gently.

The younger Winchester returned to Dean's side. "What are you thinking about Dean?" He asked aloud wistfully. What if Dean wished John didn't sacrifice himself for his son? Would Dean be a spirit in his own mind? Or something worse…

--

Later that night Sam had an uneasy sleep, waking up several times in the dead of the night trembling and damp with sweat. He flicked on the light next to his bed and ran a shaky hand through his hair. He was sick, physically sick at the thought of probing the inside of Dean's head and uncovering his secrets but a part of him delighted in the fact he would be able to see where Dean was coming from, maybe understand his brother a little more. His stomach clenched in protest of the thought.

Look, you're my brother. And I'd die for you. But there are some things I need to keep to myself.

Wasn't that what Sam had said to his brother? Didn't Dean deserve that too?

He glanced over to Dean, who looked just like he always did when he was sleeping completely unaware and blissfully away from their nightmarish existence. Yeah he deserved it, but Sam would deal with the consequences if it meant pulling Dean out of that nightmare. Even if it meant pulling him into this one.

Sam straightened and stretched as he stood up off the bed. Going downstairs he found Bobby still awake in the kitchen hunched over a sauce pan.

Bobby continued to watch the pot and stir in slow circles but said to Sam, "Didn't think you were awake…"

"God Bobby," Sam said, crinkling his nose as he approached the stove-top, "That stuff stinks to high heaven." Indeed it did, akin to rotting eggs and burning plastic and Sam wondered how flowers had managed to make an odor that bad. The younger Winchester began to wonder if he was feeling sick due to his nerves or because of the mixture. It was a wonder Dean didn't wake up solely to grab a can of Febreze and get to work on the whole house.

"Yep," Bobby shrugged, "Nasty stuff. Should've made it outside though, the house'll smell like this for a week. This stuff is about ten times stronger than NyQuil when taken as is… give it a couple more ingredients and it'll give you a ticket for the dreamland express…" The older hunter moved a bit and motioned for Sam to take the stirring spoon from him.

Sam took up the reins of keeping the contents stirred while Bobby looked for a mug. Finding one, he once more took over from Sam and emptied the pot into the glass and offered it to Sam. The youngest Winchester looked at it dubiously; it was a translucent purplish brown color that fizzed slightly in the mug.

"Sam… I've been doing some thinking…" Bobby started slowly. Sam's eyes looked up from the glass at the older man, who immediately looked down at the floor to avoid eye contact. "I was thinking that it may be difficult to bring Dean back if he's convinced his wish is reality. Old wives tale is that if a person's about to die in a dream…"

Bobby trailed off and Sam scowled, "Are you saying I may need to kill him Bobby?"

He looked up apologetically, "I'm saying if you can't save him you may have to."

Sam mused over that, watching the concoction swirl in the mug – that's just what Dean was instructed to do by their father. But Dean was ordered to kill Sam only if the younger man went dark-side and couldn't save him… Sam would need to kill Dean if he was happy.

--