Title: I Just Need to Rest for a Second
Beta: Mad Server – I loved the suggestions, hope I did them justice!
Disclaimer: Just needed to curl up with Dean for a minute. Once he is rested up he'll be back out fighting evil.
Dean curls sideways on the bed, dredging up the energy to sit. He can hear Sam quietly shuffling in the bathroom, making the lulling noises of early morning preparation for the day. He levers himself up and sits forward on the edge of the bed, surprised when the room spins a little. He squints at the clock. 5:14. It's not even daylight. He's too old for this.
"Hey. What're you doing up?" Sam asks quietly as he exits the bathroom, clean and dressed.
"I could ask you the same thing," Dean intones as he wills his eyelids to clear half-mast.
He feels Sam's worried eyes search his face and he tries to shake off the heavy lethargy but then Sam simply says, "I'm hungry. Go back to sleep for a while. I'll go find us some breakfast." Sam's deep eyes encourage him to lie back down.
Dean topples. Concern wars with exhaustion. Sam seems kind of upset. Maybe more bad dreams. Maybe just general lack of sleep. And, was he limping? Dean's thoughts race but his body demands blissful unconsciousness. His eyes fall closed even as he feels the blanket pulled back up over him. A hand warm on his hip, warming him inside too. "I'll be back." It's all he really needs to hear to send him back to sleep.
He rouses again when he feels the bed shift beside him. A cool hand on his forehead. Then on the back of his neck. Then smoothing softly down his back.
"Are you touching me?" he mumbles, trying for threatening, but not really ready to move.
"No, you're dreaming. And I'm done. Go back to sleep." Sam leaves. Moments later, Dean feels him return and hears a muffled grunt as Sam settles in against the headboard, his hip and leg making a warm line down his back. He really should push him away. But the bed is warm and soft and he's so tired. And the support against his back is kind of comfortable. He sighs back into sleep.
"Mmmmph? Sm." Dean dredges himself into consciousness again.
"Dean? You need to eat something. Come on, Dean, wake up." Dean feels a gentle hand pervading his sticky warm sleep and tries to shuffle it off.
"Dean." A hand repeating the trail across his forehead, against his cheek, then curling around the back of his head. Warm and soothing, he snuggles deeper. "Dean." More insistent this time and a firm grasp shaking his bicep.
"There you go. You with me? You need to eat, Dean. Come on, I have food."
Dean, half awake, manages to squint one eye. His limbs feel heavy. Like his muscles have been used for too long and are mutinously abandoning cognitive control. "Sam?" Even his thoughts are sluggish. He hears the slur in his own voice as he mumbles, "What the hell?"
"It's okay, Dean. You're okay," Sam soothes. "You awake this time? Open your eyes. Come on. " Sam smiles at him as he pries his eyes open. "Hey," he greets softly. "You remember the hunt last night?"
"Sam." Dean dredges up murky memories of their hunt the night before. His brain struggles to focus and his attempts make him more tired than before. He remembers a pervading sense of impotence. The perception of the world around him moving too quickly and his body being weighted down and trapped in dream-like slow motion, ineffective and inefficient. He shudders.
"We were hunting the Valcry," Sam prompts.
Uhhh, oh. "Fucking energy-sucking demonic parasite?" Dean half-whispers, eyes falling closed again.
"Got it in one. It was tapping into your energy. Sucked you a little dry. I figured it out when you collapsed on me at Grayson's barn. Just as our mammoth parasitic friend showed up. But you're okay. We got it. You just need to rest. And to eat. Sit up. Come on, I'll help." Dean feels himself being levered up against the headboard and grunts along with Sam. He feels more tired now than when he woke up in the early morning. He shivers as the blankets fall and pool in his lap.
"Time is it?" Even talking takes work.
"Almost evening. You slept the day away."
"I know, Dean. But, it'll get better. Eat something and you can sleep till morning, okay?"
"You tired, Sam?" Dean squints and makes out the tired lines around Sam's eyes.
"Yeah, I'm tired too. Eat, and we can both sleep."
As injuries go, this one isn't so bad. Dean feels drained but the bed feels so good. He's warm and comfortable. There's no telltale ache in his ribs or abdomen. His head swims with drowsiness but his pillow cradles it just right.
The only thing that prevents perfection is a niggling sense that something is still wrong. That Sam needs him. He squints into the evening light, searching out Sam's face. Sam sits hunched at the small table, fidgeting and fiddling with something out of Dean's line of sight. The lines around Sam's eyes have deepened, his forehead furrowed as if his head aches. Dean struggles to focus. Is Sam in pain, or just tired?
"You 'k, Sam?" He gets out.
Sam's eyes jump to his in surprise and Dean sees him quickly cover a wince at the sharp movement. "I thought you were asleep."
"You okay?" Dean repeats even as he feels the darkness tugging him under.
Sam smiles, the lines softening but not entirely disappearing. "It's okay, Dean. I got a little banged up but I'm okay."
It's not okay, but even as Dean's worry spikes, his world fades to darkness.
Dean floats. The tight grip of sleep is loosening but he is unable to break free completely. Memories of the hunt hover vaguely in front of him, engulfing him, pulling him back into the previous night. Mixed up and skewed, but vividly real.
He is lying back against something hard and unforgiving. He sluggishly looks around. Sam is hunched over in the grass too far away from him, etching symbols into the hard dirt, chanting melodically, focused. Dean tries to call out. He can see the shadows lengthen around him ominously. He blinks rapidly in the twilight. He can see the gloom of the forest creeping towards Sam with oily blackness eating up the grassy field. The barn looms ever-larger overhead, the weight of its darkness crushing him, stealing the breath from his lungs and the energy from his spirit.
His eyes suddenly catch the dark figure of the Valcry, large and mishapenly bear-like, slowly approaching, stooped low and seemingly weak. Weak, but approaching Sam. Dean can't will his body to move. Fear that usually sparks action this time only increases his lethargy and as he weakens, the figure straightens and seems to grow stronger, quicker, more sure.
As he watches, adrenaline courses through him in a vain attempt to pull it together and come to Sam's aid. The figure becomes larger and more threatening. His brain sluggishly recognizes that it is his energy that is feeding the predator. Yet to still his reflex to help Sam is like deciding to no longer breathe.
"Sam," Dean whispers, ineffective even in his floating state of consciousness.
As Dean watches the memories play out, he sees the large figure emerge from the shadows and pulling back a mighty paw, it strikes Sam across the back. Sam sprawls, surprised and eyes wide, but he keeps mumbling the chant even as the wind is knocked from him.
Sam lies, reciting quietly from his ungainly position in the grass, almost without breath. The figure moves in, completely shadowing Sam from Dean's line of sight. Dean gives one more futile attempt to pull himself to his brother's aid. With his last bit of strength, he manages to surge upwards and then consciousness fails him and he falls to an undignified heap on the cold, hard ground.
Dean gasps himself fully awake. "Sam," he whispers, his thoughts jumbled and confused. He scans the dark room for his brother and sees him spread out on his stomach on the other bed. Dean slows his breathing and watches Sam's face as he shifts restlessly even in his slumber.
Drawing on energy stores that are slowly becoming replenished, Dean pushes himself gingerly upwards and when the room slows to a leisurely spin, he carefully levers himself across the divide and gently sits on the edge of Sam's bed, using the headboard to keep himself vertical.
Watching his brother begin to rouse, Dean slowly pushes Sam's shirt up as far as he can to inspect his brother's back.
"Sammy? Are you okay?" Dean leans his weight on Sam, keeping him still. "Just let me look Sam, are you hurt?" As Sam's shirt slides upwards, brilliant bruises emerge, spanning the breadth of his shoulder blades. Dean sucks in a breath and cautiously probes the bruises for breaks. Sam shifts uncomfortably under him but tolerates his examination.
"I'm okay, Dean. Nothing broken. Just bruises."
Pushing himself up a little, Dean takes his weight off of his brother and allows him to turn onto his side towards him. As soon as he shifts, Dean's hands continue their anxious exploration, across Sam's torso, to his chest and neck, checking his pulse at the carotid and the wrist. Sam's hands capture his and Sam waits until Dean's eyes find his.
"I'm okay." Sam's eyes are sincere in the soft lamplight. "When you passed out, the Valcry lost all the strength it was stealing from you and I was able to complete the charm. When it fell I thought you, that you…" Sam swallows and as he trails off, his eyes gleam with moisture.
Dean's reserves are once again tapped and he uses his remaining strength to pull out of Sam's grip and pat him haphazardly on the arm. He sways as he attempts to stand and Sam grabs out to steady him. Scooting backwards across the full bed and grunting with the effort, he pulls Dean towards him and Dean collapses on the welcoming mattress. Dean blinks dazedly at the sudden change in altitude and then focuses on Sam's face mere inches from his own. "Maybe I can keep a better eye on you from here" Dean mumbles as his eyes fall closed.
"Just rest a minute, Dean. Bobby says that if you want to regain your strength you're gonna have to really rest." Sam pats his arm lightly and then rubs it as if to warm him up.
Just as he is about to fall into the welcoming darkness, Dean again sees images of Sam under attack and feels the same weakness that had prevented him from protecting his brother. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
Sam, apparently reading his thoughts, rubs his arm again, warming him in more ways that one, and whispers back, "It's okay. You taught me well and I'm okay. Go to sleep, now."
Moments before surrendering to sleep, Dean cracks one eye and, with his last of his reserves, grates out, "Stop touching me."