Notes -- Okay, I'm not really sure what this is. Started from a joke that I could really imagine Dean telling and turned into this. It's basically a tag to "It's a Terrible Life" but tied to my tag for "On The Head of a Pin" (Bring Me Your Enemies -- go check it out first). I'm assuming that what Zachariah did to Dean and Sam didn't affect real time. It's just that I want an uplifiting moment for Dean so I decided to make one. It's just a little goof so I hope you enjoy.

Weathered Weakness

By: Suz Mc

It had been twenty-four hours of silence since Castiel had sat at Dean's bedside and sent him past the ability to cope. Well, that wasn't exactly true. When Dean would surface from medicated peace, he would mumble disjointed sentences apologizing for being weak and useless. It didn't matter what Sam said to him or how much he tried to soothe his brother's pain, the waves of self-loathing would keep pouring out until the nurse arrived with more blessed relief shoved into his brother's veins that would plunge them both back into silence.

In the silence, Sam would try to make sense of what Dean was saying, what tortured confession or plea for absolution he was trying to get out through drugs and broken bones. One word kept bubbling to the top every time. Weak. Sam had used that word weeks ago when the siren pitted him against his brother. Weak. The siren's poison had woven through his blood, searching for the most cruel, powerful tag to slap against Dean's psyche. Weak fit the bill perfectly. It was Dean's greatest fear, weakness. The siren found Dean's deep, dark Hell confessions somewhere in Sam's brain and jerked them out through his mouth to use them against him.

Weak. That one word caused all the damage. It didn't matter how much Sam had told Dean that he had no shame to carry for finally breaking in Hell. Thousands of words had been said in between the roadside confession and weak. Weak erased them all. It was Dean's death blow. He'd rather be anything than weak. Would rather be dead.

Some small change happened at the twenty-four hour mark. Three a.m. Dean's breathing changed from the monotonous in and out of drugged stupor to a more rapid, deliberate feel. It was enough to yank Sam back from his wavering, ridiculous dream of tech support drone turned hunter. The edges of his dream slipped away as Sam focused on Dean. He shook himself wearily, preparing for more of the same terrified babbling from Dean's half-waking nightmares, only to find his brother's green eyes slowly adjusting to the dim glow of hospital night lighting.

"Dean? You need anything?" Sam remained still, hoping to get an answer instead of incoherent pleading for help he couldn't give.

"What the fuck was that? Where is he?" Dean was looking around the room, his movements suddenly restricted by his puzzle-pieced ribs.

"Castiel's gone, Dean. Forget about him for a while." Sam already had the call button in his hand, preparing for the next dose of drugs to keep Dean from freaking into another bout of hysteria.

"No, Sam," he said, his voice strained but purposed, "the other one. The one who made me wear those fucked up suspenders." He coughed hard, jerking his head forward. "Prius. What the fuck?!"

"Dude, you're stoned. Chill out."

Dean leaned back against the pillow and accepted the straw Sam slipped between his lips. The drink eased the coarse sound coming from his throat. He looked hard at Sam, like he was seeing him clearly for the first time in a great while. He looked stronger, somehow. Pale and beat to hell, but something underneath the bruises and pain assembled into a more Dean-like presence.

"Oh, yeah. Stoned. That's it." Dean's head eased back against the pillow and he rubbed his wrist, searching for his watch. "How long have I been off the roster?"

"You've been pretty out of it for a day, dude. You with me?" He wanted Dean to be with him. He didn't have to confess anything or do anything. Just not die and not lose his friggin' mind so he could stay in the fight with him. That's all he had to do.

"Yeah, Sammy. I'm with you."

There were things running around behind Dean's eyes and Sam wasn't going to pry. Dean was mortaring some kind of walls together from the wreckage of the other night's battle with Alistair and Sam wasn't about to risk applying any weight to those fragile bricks.

"Look, I'm sorry about—"

Sam cut off his sentence quickly. "You got nothing to be sorry about. I told you that."

"Let me finish." Dean spoke with as much authority as a drugged up bloody pulp could muster. "Something hit me square between the eyes when I went at it with Alistair and I'm trying to get my shit together and deal with it. I'm sorry I dropped my lunch box over it, but I'm not going all Dr. Phil with you about it now. Just let me get my legs under me again and then I'll tell you, okay?"

"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, Dean." The begging was gone and Dean was back. "Just don't flake out on me again."

"No flaking zone, dude. Swear." Dean relaxed against the sheets, closing his eyes. Even as ravaged as his body was at the moment, he was stronger than he'd been in weeks. "God, I'm starving. This food pyramid in a bag is not getting it done."

"What do you want me to get you?" Food runs he could handle. Dean was clearly off his case about his secrets for one night and it seemed like they were in rebuilding mode. It called for a celebration. "Something easy to eat might be the best idea."

"Emo pizza."

"Emo pizza?"

"Yeah. It cuts itself." Dean started jerking with laughter, hyphenated by hoarse, rasping coughs. "I crack myself up sometimes."

"Yeah, you're one hell of a comedian, jerk."

Suddenly, Dean was laughing harder. "Hell of a comedian! I get it! The bitch's got jokes!" The laughter drizzled into the sound of sandpaper being hacked up Dean's throat.

"Dumbass." Sam headed out the door for some normal food and making any attempt to hang on to this brief moment of brotherhood they'd been able to salvage.

"Yeah, I'll be here all week," Dean said, sucking up his water again. "Go get my food and don't forget the pie."

"I won't forget."

Keys in hand, Sam headed out, hoping the Dean that had resurfaced would still be there when he got back.

The End