Junkie: A True Story
By Candle Beck
Just tonight, it's a good night, rain pouring down like judgment outside, and Sam and Dean are stuck in another motel room.
There's a scent like alkali in the air, sharp and bitter and making Sam's mouth curl. He's anxious, fiddling around on his laptop and watching his brother out of the corner of his eye. Dean is cross-legged on his own bed, leaned back on his hands watching television. Sam studies the way his shoulders are thrust back, popped almost out of joint, and the taut skin on the insides of his elbows where his arms are turned out.
All the details are showing up as if spotlit, too much to take in and Sam turns back to his computer, ostensibly searching for a case but his heart's not in it. The rain slams, hammers on the windows and it makes him faintly dizzy, short of breath. It won't fade into the background like it's supposed to.
Dean says something. Sam's head jerks up fast enough that something cracks in his neck.
Dean looks over at him, lifts his eyebrows. "I didn't say anything."
"Oh." Sam looks to his computer for help. "Thought you. Thought I heard something."
"It might be a tumor."
"It's not a tum-ah," he answers automatically, and Dean grins, his alley-oop successful. Sam grins back because there is no other option for him.
They go back to their separate pursuits. Sam starts up a game of spider solitaire, his eyes flicking to the clock in the corner of the screen. In twenty-three minutes, he can have some more.
He scratches absently at the back of his neck, under his hairline, then his shoulder, his stomach, his knee. Once he realizes what he's doing, he tries to stop, but immediately itches spring up like tufts of wool inside his shirts, under his skin. It's just because he's thinking about it, and Sam resolutely turns his attention back to the game.
"You hungry yet?" Dean asks after awhile.
Sam's eyes jump to the clock. Sixteen minutes now. "Yeah, starving." He gets up, folding his laptop up and tucking it under a pillow. "I'll go."
Dean looks up, his eyebrows ticked and his mouth open a little. Kinda surprised and vaguely suspicious but that might just be Sam being paranoid.
"Look who's so helpful all of a sudden."
Sam rolls his eyes, getting his wallet from the dresser and slipping it in his back pocket. "What do you want? There's that Chinese place we passed, or I could probably scare up a diner."
"Lo mein," Dean answers, his eyes traveling far away for a second, lost in a food daze. "Egg rolls and pot stickers and if you get any of it vegetarian I will murdalize you."
Sam snorts, fakes a little salute. He futzes around checking to make sure he has money and room key and car keys, until Dean has turned his attention back to the television, and then Sam goes over to his bag and digs for his pretty silver flask, gets it bundled in his coat as he pulls his hands out. He says see ya, and Dean doesn't even glance over at him.
Sam ducks through the rain to the car, fingering the flask in his inside coat pocket as he drives. His pulse is tripping along, his mind starting to clear like thin smoke dissolving in air. He puts in their order and tries to read one of the free neighborhood newspapers but he can't focus on the words. His hands are shaking a little.
His watch beeps, strident and making him jerk. It's been four hours and Sam can have some more now.
He walks quickly through the restaurant, past all the families and couples chattering, the chopsticks flashing through the air like miniature bolts of lightning. Sam's hand is buried in his coat pocket, clutched around the flask and it probably looks like he's holding a weapon of some kind.
Sam gets into the bathroom, hunches to check for feet in the other stalls before going into the last in the row, under a filthy window that seeps rain at the edges. The shakes are worse now, his hands rattling as if they'd like to flee, sweat slicking his palms. Sam gets the flask out, scrubs his hand dry on his jeans. His eyes feel huge and dry, his mouth wet.
It's got a specific smell, a specific color. Darker than blood should be, thicker and stickier, smeared on the heel of Sam's hand. He didn't like the taste originally, it made his tongue curl back, trying to retch, but it's grown on him. The oily feel down the back of his throat, the numbing buzz starting up in the base of his skull, it's all a part of it now; it's all something Sam loves.
He licks blood off his hand, taking his time because Dean's nowhere nearby, no rush this time, little dollops and streaks, pale skin of his palm shining beneath. He's slumped on the wall, a trail of rainwater eking down from the window and seeping into his hair, cooling his surface. He's burning up now, his lights cranked on high and all his signals firing.
Sam doesn't finish what's left in the flask. He takes it until his mind is smoothed out, his rough edges planed down, and then he's able to stop. His hands aren't trembling anymore as he screws the cap on and tucks it away in his pocket. There's enough left for another session, maybe two, and that will get him through the night. Tomorrow, he'll have to track Ruby down again, but for tonight he's okay.
Sam washes his hands with the water turned up as hot as it will go. It takes awhile for the old pipes to comply, for steam to start to boil in the basin, and Sam holds his hands under the flood until they're bright red and almost starting to blister, and then he draws them free. No pain, nothing. Even the scalded color fades faster than it should have, the heat leeching away, and Sam smiles at himself in the mirror, wipes blood off his teeth with one finger and goes to pick up their food.
He feels honed and clear-eyed, driving back to the motel with the grease-spotted cartons on the seat suffusing the air. Sam can see everything transpiring a few seconds into the future, weaving in and out of the sparse traffic as if in a trance. The stupid anxiety he fought earlier is gone, skinned away, and Sam is left calm, a current beating low inside him.
He's under control. This is what Dean doesn't get, that it's all about control, Sam's ability to control himself and the things he can do. He never asked for any of it, but here he is, and he can't be cured now. You have to make do with what you're given. Sam can keep it under control, never more than once every four hours, never with Dean in the next room, and these are important rules, oughta be carved in stone; this is how Sam is going to keep them safe.
Sam sucks idly on the heel of his hand, tasting nothing but soap and rain.
Dean attacks the food without sparing Sam a greeting, and Sam uses the distraction to stash his flask back in his dirty underwear. He whaps Dean upside the head as he passes, just to see Dean squawk and spray food, and then get his laptop, taking a seat at the table. He watches his brother, narrow-eyed and happy, cuts his gaze to the computer when Dean looks back.
"Didn't you say you were starving?" Dean asks with his mouth full.
Sam shrugs, eyes fixed casually forward. "I'll get some in a minute, I just wanted to look this thing up real quick."
There's no thing to look up, though Sam taps away diligently as subterfuge. He's not hungry anymore, if he ever was (can't really remember), his stomach feeling coated and warm. He keeps stealing glances at Dean, who's eating messily as ever and licking his fingers, swiping at the corner of his mouth with his wrist. Sam's heartbeat is still thrumming along, propelling him forward faster than he's necessarily comfortable going.
Dean cracks open a fortune cookie, reads, "'May life throw you a pleasant curve.'" He tips his head to the side. "That's not a fortune, that's just like, general well-wishing."
"They never are anymore. Actually, I don't know if they ever were."
Sam gets up, goes over to sit on his bed and reach for a fortune cookie himself. He snaps it in two, pinches out the little slip.
"'Someone is speaking well of you.'" Sam snorts, lets it flutter to the floor. "Kinda doubt that one."
"Dude, that's your fortune. You can't just throw it away." Dean leans down, scoops it up and puts it together with his own.
"It's not really a fortune, either," Sam points out, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. He can feel a flush on his face, creeping up his neck, his skin tight and alive.
"Still." Dean scowls down at the fortunes in his hand, then looks up at Sam, his eyes as green as spring and thin, cool. "Why aren't you eating?"
Sam tries to shrug it off again, waving his hand distractedly. "Ah, I don't know man, I think I saw a rat in that restaurant. Lost my appetite."
"The fuck are you doing letting me eat it then!" Dean demands, eyebrows hiked all the way up. Sam covers up a smirk, testing his teeth on the edge of his palm.
"Mostly for that reaction right there," Sam tells him.
Dean lunges at him, kicking the half-empty cartons of food onto the carpet. Sam is laughing, catching his brother's forearms and holding him off between the beds. Dean's face opens on a brief surprised smile but then twists it into a scowl, glittering eyes narrowed down. He yanks at Sam's grip and wrenches off balance but Sam's strong, maybe too strong but he loves the feel of Dean struggling against him, the resistance forcing the energy in him higher and higher.
Sam feels so good, feet braced against the floor and Dean snapping, biting at the air, fucking around and shooting Sam secret grins, making all the blood in Sam simmer and hum.
Then Dean jerks forward and it catches Sam off-guard, his grip slackens and Dean takes advantage, jamming all his weight into Sam and knocking him flat on the bed. Sam has one hand smashed between them and the other pinned down over his head by Dean, and Dean grins crazily down at him, panting slightly. Sam bucks up against him, something important fragmenting in his mind, and Dean pushes down harder, but Sam could overpower him if he wants, he could, he might have, but then Dean's eyes slide up to Sam's hand and he stops short.
"The hell," Dean says, twisting his grip on Sam's hand and shoving his sleeve down, turning it inside out. Sam cranes his head back to see and there is a spot of fresh black blood on the inside of his shirtcuff, still sticky, coming off on Dean's fingertips.
Dean looks down at him, and his face starts collapse, starts to warp and fall inwards. His teeth flash white, a sneer, his eyes lit suddenly with fear and anger, and Sam can't see him like that. He feels too good right now, he can't let Dean ruin it.
Sam rips his hand out from between them, reaches up and grabs Dean by the back of the neck, pulls him down. He brings his mouth to Dean's throat, sets his teeth to the place where Dean's pulse runs thready and terrified. Sam licks under Dean's jaw, sucks a small bruise there and feels Dean's whole body shiver above him.
They've never done this before. Dean tries to shove off him but Sam won't let him go. He knows he's not the only one who's gone crazy in this family. This disease, it is and has always been in the blood.
The energy is building in Sam, banking in his hands and arms, and he flips them easily, presses Dean down to the bed. Dean gapes up at him, face swallowed up by his eyes, his panting mouth. The blacks of Dean's pupils have eaten away the green, and he's half-hard against Sam's thigh and so Sam knows he doesn't mean it when he says, "Stop."
"It's all right," Sam tells him, nosing against Dean's collar. He can make Dean understand. It's just the two of them, concealed for the moment by the rain but that will never last, and Sam's not gonna lose him again. He's going to do everything in his power to keep from losing Dean again.
Dean's hands have found their way to Sam's shoulders, curled halfheartedly against Sam's neck, and Dean whispers, "What did you do, Sam?"
And Sam smiles, teeth against Dean's throat, tells him: