I woke up face down in bed. T-Rex's 'Get It On' was playing at the edge of my hearing so Dean was somewhere around. I guess I'd slept a good long while because the sun was getting ready to go down and I'd closed my eyes at lunch time. I pushed myself up off the mattress awkwardly. My side ached and my arm was numb from sleeping on it. If I have to wake up, why can't it be worthwhile?
When I could move my arm without it feeling like electrified mud, I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. The door to the motel room was wide open, with the car parked right outside. The hood was open and Dean was leaning over the engine, gapping the spark plugs from the looks of it. His back was to me and I didn't bother him. But I stared at him a minute.
Six months. He'd been gone six months and now he was back like nothing had happened. Because until a few hours ago, he didn't know anything had happened. Because to him, nothing had happened.
I wanted to go out and sit on the curb next to Dean and watch him work on the car. Actually, what I really wanted was to glue myself to Dean's side. I wanted to grab a handful of his shirt and hang on for dear life like I did when I was little and something scared me. And I wanted to see his face if I did that. It would almost be worth it just to see if his expression matched what I thought it would be if I suddenly latched onto him like I was five years old again.
But - I probably scared Dean enough already today. I start grabbing hold of him like he's a security blanket and he's liable to -
No - if I was in a bad enough state to need to hold onto Dean, he'd stop what he was doing and reassure me and stay with me as long as I needed. He'd already done it today, sitting on the bed next to me until I fell asleep, and - knowing Dean - probably for a while after that too.
So I used the bathroom and then checked for something cold to drink to take some more painkillers. Except for the beer and Pepsi, I expected to find an otherwise empty microfridge. Instead I found it crammed full of food. I thought when Mrs. Clary packed us a 'lunch', it was just the peanut butter and milk Dean gave me before. What I found was enough food for a month.
A look into the wastebasket showed me that Dean hadn't eaten much, if anything, since lunch so I made sandwiches with the sliced turkey and veggies, and set the food out on the table. Then I took a couple bottles of Pepsi outside.
"Hey." Dean said, and he took the bottle I offered him. "Thanks. How's your side?"
"Hurts." The open stairway to the second floor was near the car and I sat down, a few steps up.
"You take some more painkillers?"
"Any more blood?"
He nodded and drank some Pepsi then reached into the car to shut off the music.
He took a seat next to me on the steps.
There are times when Dean yells at me like he wants to take my head off, and there are times when he's so freaking gentle it's like he thinks I'm brittle, and this was one of those times. He wasn't asking; he was offering. I could answer him or not, he wasn't pushing. And if I did answer him, I could say anything and he wouldn't get upset. I could be as upset as I needed to be and Dean would make it okay again.
"Yeah. Six months."
Dean looked at me, but I couldn't look at him.
"And you got shot."
"No, just a ricochet, like today."
"Musta been hard taking care of it yourself."
It wasn't what he meant, but I had to answer,
"It was harder just getting up every morning."
"It didn't take me very long to shut down. To just shut everything down. I just went on automatic. I mean I still hunted, but everything focused on finding the Trickster and getting you back."
"How'd you finally find him?"
"I didn't." I was surprised how much it hurt to admit that. "He finally led me to him. Back at the Mystery Spot."
"Hunh. Where it all started."
"Either he got tired of jerking me around or he got tired of me chasing him. I never woulda found him if he didn't let me."
"Either way, you made him cave."
That's my brother - I show him my failure and he sees a victory.
"So did he - how'd you get him to give me up?"
"I begged." That didn't hurt; there isn't anything I wouldn't have done to get Dean back. Dean must've thought it hurt me though because he put his hand on my back. "I promised him we wouldn't go after him. Even then he didn't give in right away. But then he -." I snapped my fingers, "- and I woke up Wednesday morning. The Wednesday morning you remember."
Dean rubbed my back in that way he has when I'm upset or he thinks I am and he wants to comfort me. Like I said, sometimes he wants to take my head off, sometimes he's gentle. And sometimes the gentleness is harder to deal with.
"And I thought you hugged me because I'm so awesome."
I laughed, because that was Dean's intent, and because it was funny.
"I just tripped and you caught me."
And Dean laughed because that was my intent, and because it was funny.
"What else happened those six months?"
"I survived." Other than getting Dean back, that's what mattered. "I organized the trunk."
"Dude - you touched the car?"
"I wasn't sleeping much, I needed something to pass the time."
Dean affected a very pained expression.
"But - the car?"
"Remember how Dad had the weapon box on his truck? With the upholstered foam, molded to fit each weapon? That's what I did."
"That trunk is perfectly organized."
"Sure it is." I agreed, sort of, and took a swig of Pepsi. "I made dinner."
"Really? You learned to cook during those six months?"
For a second I didn't know what he was talking about.
"What? No, I mean -." I gestured back into the motel room. "I made dinner. Sandwiches. Pickles. The chocolate chip cookies you didn't tell me about before."
"Hmm - I thought I hid those."
"I remember all your hiding places."
Remember. That was an odd word to use, and the wince Dean gave said he realized it was an odd word too. He rubbed my back again.
I thought about all the times I told myself, 'If I only had one more day with Dad, one more hour...' and here I got months back with Dean. I had the urge again to grab hold of his shirt and not let go. Maybe if I held on hard enough and long enough, I'd get dragged down to hell with him and we wouldn't ever be apart again.
"So, how'd it happen?"
"How'd what happen?" I asked and wondered - finding the cookies? C'mon - I find a paper bag in the freezer and I know it's something worth looking at.
"The last time - how'd I die?"
I started to tell him. I opened my mouth to tell him. I just had to say a few words 'you were shot'. It wasn't like that hadn't been playing on a continuous loop in my head for six months.
But the whole memory was there, the sound of the gunshot, the smell of the blood, holding Dean and feeling the heat leave his body, and every single minute of those six months knowing his death was permanent if I couldn't find the Trickster - they were all burned into my brain.
So I guess I didn't answer Dean's question and I didn't even realize until he put his arm around me and gave me a squeeze. He wasn't looking at me, he was looking away, thinking about something.
"It was in the parking lot, wasn't it? What's his name. From the diner. You wouldn't let me go down to the car the other day until he'd gone past. What'd he do? Shoot me?"
"Yeah. After all the other ways I died you told me about, figures for the grace shot, the Trickster'd make it something run of the mill."
"Ha. As if any way you died you could be run of the mill."
My intent was to make Dean smile, but he grinned like he was pleased and proud and a little embarrassed all at the same time.
"Damn right." He agreed. "So - you all right?"
"No. No I'm not."
Dean turned more to face me. His face was drawn in concern and worry.
"Your side? Does it hurt? It's not getting infected?"
"No. No, it's not that. I just -." I shook my head and looked away. I did not want a repeat of earlier this afternoon, especially out here in the open.
Oh God - the sound of his voice, how warm and real and familiar his hand was on my back, how close he was sitting to me, it was everything and more that I'd been missing those six months. It was -
- it was Dean, sitting next to me. Food and first aid and a way as much as a reason to sleep and right now I felt like I could sleep - well, for six months.
"I'm just still really tired."
"Let me pack up the tools and we'll go inside. Have that dinner you're so proud of. Then you can get some more sleep." He gave me his Pepsi to hold and went to close up his tool box and put it back in the trunk.
That was Dean too - he knew I'd want to wait with him and not go back into the room until he was going in. If he kept on being this nice to me, I was going to have another meltdown.
"Ready?" Dean asked. He held his hand out for his soda pop and I gave it back to him.
He'd been about to take a drink but he stopped.
"For what? D'you drink out of my bottle?"
"I'm sorry I could never save you."
"Of course you saved me." Dean said. He took his swig of Pepsi.
"Wednesday. This Wednesday, when you didn't let me go to the car until what's-his-name the psycho went past."
"That's not saving you."
"He woulda shot me, right?"
I shrugged and nodded and shrugged.
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess."
Dean smiled and drank more Pepsi and gave me his 'I'm so right you don't even have to tell me...' look.
"C'mon Sammy. Let's go eat."
I followed him into the room and we ate dinner and when I started to clean off the table, Dean stopped me.
"Hey - bed. I'll clean up."
I sat on the bed but didn't lie down. I was exhausted but now that Dean knew about the six months, I was even less inclined to let him out of my sight, even to sleep.
"Y'okay?" Dean asked as he crumpled up the napkins and paper plates.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay." I knew I should put myself under the blankets and my head on the pillows and close my eyes and go back to sleep. The sound of Dean moving around the room would be enough to settle me and reassure me and in the morning we'd be one day further away from Ground Hog Day.
Dean looked at me again but didn't say anything. He threw out the trash and came over to me.
"All right. Time for bed."
I actually put my hand up, ready and willing to grab a twist of his shirt to hold onto for comfort. But I stopped myself in time and put my hand down again. Dean didn't need to know how much I needed him right now.
"C'mon Sammy, you're so tired you don't know how tired you are."
"Yeah." So I laid down and pulled the blankets up and Dean straightened them out and as I started to fall asleep I felt him sit down on the mattress next to me and wrap his hand around mine.