A/N: Dean is 19 and Sam is 15 in this piece. A little apology to Sam fans. I've got Dean and John in here but have yet to master Sam's internal voice. I'm working on it.
It was just around midday in Athens, Georgia and there was a raging storm outside. Strong winds tore at at the trees and battered already damaged electrical lines. The power had gone out hours ago and in the stifling heat of summer, it was torture. With the humidity as high as it was, it was unlikely the heavy rain would help cool anything down. It was a miserable day and no one felt that more than Dean.
"Sam." When he got no answer, he tried again much louder. "Sam!"
A moment later, his younger brother stuck his head around the corner of the bedroom doorway.
"You bellowed?" he asked in a rather bored tone.
"I'm thirsty." Sam rolled his eyes.
"You've got legs."
Dean looked at him, indignant. "I'm not supposed to be up walking around."
Sam couldn't suppress a snort. "Since when do you listen to doctors?"
"You're so full of it. You just went to the bathroom an hour ago. You can walk just fine."
"That was then. Fetch me a drink, errand boy."
"Dude, no way. Get it yourself." Sam started to walk away.
"Sam! Come on, it's too freakin' hot and I'm totally suffering with this cast on. Have a heart, dude." Dean was aware he was practically whining but he'd been cooped up for three days now with nothing to do and without any fans to fight the heat he was borderline manic at this point.
"Fine. Can't wait till dad gets back." He mumbled the last part but it was loud enough that Dean heard.
"That's a first!"
Dean smirked when his brother left the room. It didn't take much to get Sam to do whatever he wanted. If you annoyed him enough, he always gave in. Perseverance was key. Dean didn't really have to try too hard in the last few days. His leg hurt like a bitch because of the break and the pain pills they gave him made him feel too out of it so he refused to take them. At least when Sam tried to push them on him. Dad was too busy trying to ignore them both. Speaking of dad, there was an upside. Dad was feeling guilty so Dean was pretty much getting away with murder. Strike while the iron's hot, as they say. Though, he was pretty sure his pity party was going to be ending sooner rather than later. Guilt or not, dad wouldn't let him slide for much longer.
Dean didn't blame him for his broken leg. Hell, it was his own fault for dropping his guard that the spirit was able to get to him in the first place. It was supposed to be a simple salt and burn in some old cemetary, once they figured out which corpse they needed to dig up. The prospects weren't hard to tell apart so Dad didn't want to wait. The plan was to lure the spirit out, identify it, and toast its ass. Sam, of course, thought it was a shitty plan. He wanted to do more research but dad said there wasn't time. Now, Dean's leg was wrapped in plaster, his brother was pissed, and dad was - well dad was quiet. Which meant he was feeling guilty. And for once, Dean wasn't saying a damn word to make it better. Part of him felt guilty about that. The other part was enjoying this way too much to ruin it. Dad was currently driving however many towns it took to find a store with power still on just to get them a few things to eat, including a few of Dean's favorites. He was pretty much going to milk this cow dry because he never got pampered even remotely like this since he was four. It was nice.
"Dean? Hey, Dean!"
Dean jerked away from his thoughts and stared at his brother. "What?"
"Dude, you were totally zoning out. Here." Dean took the glass of cold water gratefully. Thank God the ice in the freezer hadn't melted yet. "I'd say lay off the meds but since you're such a stubborn ass and won't take them-"
"Shut up, Sam. You talk too much."
"Stop making me worry and maybe I won't have so much to say."
"You're such a girl."
"And you're an idiot for going along with-"
"I already know where you're headed so just stop. I'm not getting into this with you."
"C'mon, Sam. Just- I'm tired. And hot and bored and going bat shit crazy. And I don't remember asking for a chick-flick moment with my water. So, go back to doing whatever the hell it was you were doing and I'll be sure to yell when I need you to be my bitch again." Dean finished off with a ornery smile, hoping to get his brother to go away.
Dean watched Sam walk away with a satisfied gleam in his eye. It faded as quickly as it came, however. Dean may not have blamed his dad but Sam sure as hell did and boy did he make it known. He was pretty sure dad wasn't going to stand for that much longer either.
John stared down at the junk food in front of him. He had to drive two towns over just to find a place the storm hadn't hit. He would've driven further if he wanted to admit to himself that he was running away from his children. It'd been a long few days and without a new hunt to focus on, the boys were driving him crazy. The only reason he was letting Dean's sour behavior go on for so long was because he knew the kid was in pain and pissed he had to take it easy. His normal "suck it up" speech only worked when John wasn't the reason for his son's pain. But with Dean bitching about being bored and Sam bitching about how careless he was, he just needed to get out of there before he beat both their asses. Sam was treading on his last nerve as it was.
John knew the second he told Dean to straighten up, he would without even blinking. But Sam fought him tooth and nail. He didn't respond to orders the same way that Dean did and it was driving a wedge between them. Sam wanted answers to everything and John just wanted his son to shut up and trust him. He'd been wrong this time and he knew Sam's attitude was justified, but that didn't mean he'd stand for it.
John sighed. He could just shoot himself for the last hunt. He thought he was prepared. Dean had readily agreed to be bait, fully trusting John to have his back. Things had gone south from there. The spirit got to him before John could even fire a shot off. Now Dean was out of commission for the next month and a half with a cast on his leg.
He knew Dean didn't blame him. That kid would blame the wind for making him bleed before he blamed his own family. That ate him up inside but he didn't think there was much he could do about it at this point. Dean was strong. Stronger than him. He needed him to stay that way.
Sam was another story. He'd made it perfectly clear that he blamed John for Dean's broken leg. Sam had been ordered to stay in the car and for once, he listened. John was blamed for that too.
"If you would've let me come, I could've done something!"
He could still hear Sam's angry voice echo in his head. As much as he knew Sam was right, all he could see were both his sons lying broken on the ground. He got lucky this time that it wasn't worse. He couldn't make that mistake again. He should've done more research, dammit. He shouldn't have argued with Sam and forced the kid to stay in the car. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. The damage was done.
He scrubbed a weary hand over his rough, drawn face. He couldn't stay away forever and it was about time he headed back. No doubt, the boys were terrorizing each other by now. Loading his arms full of crap that could never constitute as a decent meal, John paid and got out of there.
When John stepped into the place they were currently calling home, the first thing he heard was the boys in the midst of a war going on over the remote. He'd seen that the power was back on before he even pulled into the lot, but the place was still hot as hell and this was the last thing he wanted to deal with. He couldn't take it anymore and could actually feel his last nerve snapping.
"Give it back!"
"No, get off me!"
"I was watching that, Dean! Now give it back!"
"Dude, get off me!"
"Gimme back the remote, dammit, I'll write "Dean wears women's underwear" on your cast while you're sleeping!"
"You do and you're dead!"
Both Dean and Sam jumped at their father's angry tone. They hadn't even known he'd come back. Judging from the look on John's face, they knew they were in serious trouble.
John dropped the bag of food on the table roughly and clenched his fists. Dean swallowed the rock forming in his throat and even Sam had the forthright to look scolded. This moment had been coming for days but Dean had to admit, he wished he'd a had a few more to milk.
"You two will straighten up right now or so help me God."
"Dean, take your damn pain pills." Dean started to interject but John hushed him. "I don't care if they knock you out. That's kind of the point."
Dean's face flushed and he looked down. Okay, that kind of hurt. With the way he'd been acting he guess he deserved it. Sam didn't seem to think so and started to argue, a scowl on his face.
"Knock it off, Sam! Not another sound out of either of you unless you're dying."
That was pretty much the end of it. Sam was stewing, Dean was inwardly pouting, and John was just happy for the peace and quiet.
Hours later, after Sam had gone to sleep, Dean's leg had decided now would be a great time to hurt like hell. He'd taken his meds earlier but now that they'd worn off, he couldn't sleep. Funny, he thought, the pain wasn't as bad when I wasn't trying to stifle it. Stupid useless pills. Now he had no choice but to keep taking them or he'd never get any sleep.
Slowly, he climbed out of bed and grabbed for his crutches. When his hands came up empty, he cursed. Squinting through the dark, he realized they were across the room. Just freakin' dandy. After a few quiet grunts and some choice phrases that would make a sailor blush, Dean maneuvered himself towards the kitchen. At least he thought that's where he left the damn pills. The throbbing in his leg distracted him enough that he didn't see his dad sitting in the living room going through his journal.
"Dean? What are you doing up?" His voice was quiet but it still startled Dean a little.
"Sorry, didn't see you there." John got a thoughtful look on his face at that and got up.
"Leg hurting bad?"
Dean shook his head and lied, "No, it's fine. I was just thirsty."
John sighed. "Dammit, Dean. If you're in pain you need to take those pills."
"I just said-"
"Can it, son. I've broken a leg before. I know damn well what it feels like. Now sit down."
Dean did as he was told. Frankly, this was one time he was glad his dad called him on his bullshit. He'll man up tomorrow. John handed him a glass of water and dropped two in Dean's hand. He'd swallowed them, gratefully.
"You know why I want you to take these, don't you?"
"Because I've been a brat?" Dean attempted a smile but it didn't reach his eyes. John huffed a small laugh.
"Well, that too." He sighed and sat down across from his son. "I want you to take them because you'll heal faster. Pain puts stress on the body, Dean."
"Then why do you always bitch about taking them?" This time Dean really did smirk.
"Because I need to keep my head clear. Those damn things make me feel like I'm floating. Like I'm in some kind of tripped out disco." Both men shuddered at that.
"I'd rather be in pain," Dean groaned. John patted him on the shoulder.
"It's just for a little while." John paused, looking at his son's slowly drooping eyelids. "I should've been more careful, Dean."
Dean looked over to his dad and frowned. "Wasn't your fault."
"No, your brother's right." Dean snorted at that.
"Don't let him hear you say that." Dean quirked his lips. "On second thought, maybe you should tell him. Might wipe that look off his face. You know, the one where he looks like he was sucking on some ass?"
"You mean lemons."
"No, I mean ass."
John smiled and ruffled Dean's hair a little before letting it rest there. "Get some sleep. I'll talk to Sam in the morning." Bringing his hand down to Dean's shoulder, he gave it a little squeeze.
"Yeah," Dean replied, the word force out through a yawn. "If I dream of vinyl jumpsuits and Donna Summer, there will be hell to pay."
John let out a quiet chuckle, letting the could've been serious moment fall away from them. He could always count on Dean to break the tension. Both knew it was unlikely John would get to have that talk with Sam. It would end up being another regret and something else he could feel guilty about. Maybe one day he'd let the boys know a few things on that list he seemed to be collecting. He knew they deserved more than that but that was all he knew he could offer.
Dean slowly made his way back to the small room he and Sam shared, the effects of his pain pills already making him sluggish. He knew he'd sleep the whole night through with no problem but there were still nagging thoughts floating around his head that he couldn't shake. In a few days, their life would go back to the Winchester standard for normal and, quite frankly, Dean couldn't wait. He hated the tension. He didn't like it when Sam was pissed because then Dean couldn't relax. He didn't like it when dad got quiet because he knew what kind of thoughts could creep up on you in silence. Thoughts that could eat you alive if you let them. Dean was well acquainted with silence, so much so that there was a reason he talked so much about nothing at all. He thinks maybe dad got it. Didn't mean he didn't annoy the piss out of him every once and while. Like the last few days.
Dean let out a sigh as he collapsed into bed, his eyes already drooping when Sam spoke up.
"Dean? Everything alright?" He didn't answer right away. "Dean?"
"Yeah, Sam. Everything's fine." At least it will be.