Title: Eight times Sam didn't get hurt (and eight times he did)
Summary: "So, Sam, what is it that you haven't been telling us?" Dean said. "Because you've clearly been having dreams, bad dreams, like you did back then. And don't give me that Florence Nightingale crap again."
There are things scarier than ghosts. Like fan fiction.
Spoilers: Up to episode 4.18
Warnings: Some mild Wincest, for parodic purposes.
Thanks to Fanny for ideas and to Adara-chan67 for beta-reading.
Dedicated to all writers of limp!Sam fic, good or bad.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not trying to do anything but amuse.
Sometimes, when a hunt took them to South Dakota, the Winchester brothers chose to abandon the tacky motels and stay with the closest thing to family they had. Sometimes, they even remembered to tell him beforehand, so that he had time to buy more food. This was not one of those times.
Dean came down the stairs, drawn by the scent of fresh coffee, and sat down as Bobby put bread enough for maybe two people – or one Dean Winchester – and canned pineapple enough for a small army on the table.
Dean raised one eyebrow at the unusual sight, and chuckled quietly at Bobby's stony "no questions answered" expression.
"Where's your brother?" Bobby asked and put a can opener in front of Dean.
"Couldn't wake him," Dean said.
Knowing both brothers, Bobby easily translated that as "didn't want to." His sharp hunter's brain immediately put together the clues to form at least a dozen theories, ranging from the highly improbable one including aliens,touching on discomforting ones involving Sam's darker side and his visions, and finally deciding that Sam probably was just tired from their last hunt.
Dean looked worn as well, even though two cups of coffee and one can of pineapple helped smooth some of the lines from his face.
"Why don't you take a cup of coffee upstairs for your brother?" Bobby said. "If we're going to get anywhere with research, I could use some brainpower here."
Dean just grinned at the insult, and took the whole pot.
Five minutes later, both boys came down the stairs. Sam looked like he'd slept in his clothes, or maybe not slept at all. He slumped down on a chair, and gave the makeshift breakfast a skeptical look, rubbing his eyes.
"Pineapple?" he asked, voice still thick with sleep.
"Don't ask, don't tell, bro," Dean said.
"That rule applies to breakfast as well?"
"Yeah, it's a useful one. Some secrets are best left unrevealed, especially something as dark and sinister as…"
"There's nothing dark and sinister about 'em," Bobby said irritably, "least not anymore."
"Is this supposed to make sense?" Sam asked.
"They were possessed," Bobby said. "Had a call from the guy I get most of my food from asking me for help with what sounded like a poltergeist in his shop. Turns out it was some guy who found out about his lethal pineapple allergy the hard way, and was looking for revenge. Silliest ghost I've ever come across, and that's saying a lot."
"And the guy paid you with pineapples?" Sam asked.
"No, the guy paid me with this," Bobby said and opened a cupboard to show three bottles of whiskey. "But he didn't really want the cans anymore, seeing as they nearly killed him and his daughter."
"Have some," Dean said and shoved a can in Sam's general direction.
"Possessed foodstuffs? I think I'll pass." Sam reached for the bread.
"It's not exactly fresh," Bobby warned.
Sam shrugged, and then hissed with pain. The bread was too hard to even cut, and he had managed to cut his own finger instead.
"See, now the bread's possessed instead," Dean said, grinning.
Sam's reply came out muffled; he was sucking on his injured finger.
At lunch – pineapple stew with potatoes, which was surprisingly good – they had to admit that the research had gotten them nowhere.
Sam had fallen asleep in front of the laptop and lay drooling on the k, l and m keys until Dean ordered him to go and help Bobby instead, and sat down to email some old contacts. When Sam almost fell asleep again with the fork half-way between plate and mouth Dean gave him a pointed look.
"I let you sleep in this morning, and this is what I get?"
Sam snapped awake and dropped the fork. "Sorry," he said. "What were you saying?"
"You seem…tired," Bobby said. "Didn't sleep well tonight?"
"I had some pretty weird dreams," Sam admitted and then, seeing the look on Dean's face, added, "Man, sometimes dreams are just dreams."
"Yeah, right," Dean said, "Maybe when it – " He was interrupted by his cell phone. He talked for a while, his voice dropping from professional to seducing.
"Museum lobby chick?" Sam asked after Dean had hung up.
Dean grinned broadly. "Yup. Told you that girl was gonna be helpful."
"She'll be free Saturday night, and likes zombie flicks."
"She what?" Bobby said.
"And she told us that on one of the old maps in the archives, the place where that haunted apartment building is built, is marked as a holy spot. Back in the days, they used to have human sacrifices to some particularly unpleasant storyteller's god there."
"Any remains?" Sam asked.
"Yes, and she told me where. The museum stores uninteresting stuff in an old barn just outside of town. Just waiting to be salted and burned."
"Exactly," Bobby said. "And we'll do a cleansing ritual at the old sacrificial place just to be sure. Let's go."
"What, now?" Dean said.
But Bobby had already left the room.
It was just a simple salt and burn, really, and Sam was just about to say something about how nice it was to have finished a hunt without getting choked or having things thrown at them for a change, when he tripped over a tree root.
Dean, always with the big brother's sixth sense, turned around to give him a steadying hand, but Sam had already managed to put his foot down, hard and with a twist that sent a ray of pain up through his leg. He let out a cry of pain and leaned heavily on Dean.
Dean's sarcastic comment about little brothers with long legs and no coordination vanished when he saw the pain in his brother's face, and turned into a much softer "God, Sammy, you're unbelievable."
"Yeah," Sam said, "I'm okay, really." He took another step, wincing and nearly falling again as he put weight on the twisted ankle.
"Yeah, I can see that. Come on, Sasquatch; let's get you to the car so I can have a look at that."
They slowly made their way to the car. Dean had his arm around Sam's waist, refusing to let him use the foot before he had bandaged it. Sam hobbled along with his arm over Dean's shoulder.
Dean opened the passenger side door and carefully helped Sam to sit down. He wouldn't even let Sam untie his own shoe –
Sam jerked awake, and found Dean looking at him, amused.
Sam groaned. His head hurt so much that his vision blurred.
"Dude, you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine" Sam muttered.
"Really? You look kinda green."
"I dreamed of you being turned into Florence Nightingale, that's enough to make anyone sick."
"Huh," Dean said. And a while later – "So, did I have one of those weird hat things?"
"No," Sam snapped. His head was clearing, at least, the ache reduced to a dull throbbing, and by the time they reached the haunted apartment building it was almost all gone, which was slightly disconcerting in itself.
It was a simple salt and burn, really, with a side of cleansing ritual in the basement of the apartment building that was cleverly built on old sacrificial ground.
No traces of the cult remained, except the bones that had ended up in the local museum, but it seemed to be enough just burning them. Sam and Bobby, who were doing the cleansing ritual in the basement, could almost feel the ghost's presence disappearing, and a few seconds later Dean called to report mission complete. Bobby insisted on an all-over EMF sweep, but at last even he was satisfied.
They met up at a nearby diner to celebrate with greasy food and pie. Dean had already ordered when Sam and Bobby arrived, and Sam kicked Dean under the table when he found out his brother had ordered donuts for himself and Bobby, and pineapple pie for Sam.
"Something wrong?" the waitress asked.
"What? No, we're just fine," Sam said. "Really."
Dean smirked at him when he had to eat his entire plate of pie.
"Always the polite one, eh, Sammy?"
"Shut it. We're finished?"
Without waiting for an answer, Sam went out to the door and promptly tripped on a discarded beer can.
"Ow! Fuck." Sam leaned on the doorpost, giving the beer can his best Death Glare.
"What happened?" Dean asked.
"Twisted my ankle," Sam muttered.
"You know what I say, man, it's not the size, it's how you use them. Those freakishly long legs of yours, I mean. You all right?"
"Think so," Sam said. He had suddenly remembered the dream.
"You sure?" Dean asked. "You look a bit freaked out."
Sam shook his head. "I'm fine. Let's go."
"Or in your case, hobble," Dean said.
Definitely not Florence Nightingale.
Sam hated being sick. Times like these, crouched over the bowl of a particularly nasty motel room's toilet, he pretty much hated the whole world.
He saved a whole big chunk of hatred for the fact that he had insisted on having something healthier than Dean's greasy cheeseburger, and that he was the one ending up with food poisoning.
The only corner of not-hate was reserved for Dean, who was just opening the door, a bottle of ginger-ale in his hand.
"I've known it all along, Sammy, salads are bad for you." Dean sat down beside Sam, who had crawled up to sit by the wall with his knees protectively drawn up against his chest. Dean gave him the bottle.
"Try to get some liquid inside you; you don't want to get dehydrated."
Sam took a tentative sip. When the drink didn't come back up, he took a larger gulp. He was really thirsty.
"Easy now," Dean said, and Sam put the bottle down. "Do you want me to go back and give the cook a lesson?"
"No!" Sam said without thinking. The thought of his brother leaving was suddenly unbearable.
His stomach did a somersault, and he leaned over the toilet bowl again, throwing up what was left in his stomach and then dry heaving, unable to stop. He was dimly aware of Dean steadying his forehead with one hand, and rubbing slow, comforting circled on his back with the other—
A horn sounded right outside the window.
"Yeah, same to you, jerk!" Dean shouted at the driver of car he was just overtaking.
Sam blinked a couple of times, trying to sort out dream from reality. The sick feeling remained. "Pull over," he said.
"What? No. Why?"
"Because if you don't, I'm gonna hurl all over your tape collection."
Dean turned the car so hard it left quite impressive tire marks on the asphalt.
Sam stumbled out on the grass, falling to his knees as his stomach tried to wrench itself inside out.
"Are you finished yet?" Dean called from inside the car.
"Not sure," was Sam's shaky reply.
Dean sighed theatrically and climbed out of the car. "Dude, you smell like pineapple."
Sam groaned, and then leaned forward and started to retch again
They stayed there until Sam's stomach finally settled. Dean even found him a bottle of not-very-old water somewhere in the back seat, and a stolen motel towel so Sam could clean himself up enough to be allowed back in the car.
"Just tell me if you need me to pull over again," Dean said nervously.
Sam didn't answer, just kept his eyes firmly on the horizon.
"So, what's going on with you?" Dean asked with see-through nonchalance.
"What are you talking about?"
"Dude, I'm not stupid. Something's up with you. Is it more of the…vision stuff?"
Sam swallowed. "Could we maybe, um, take this later? 'Cause I'm kinda trying to keep my dinner down here."
"Nah, that's long gone," Dean said, but his expression softened and he let the subject drop.
It was a silent agreement that they wouldn't start looking for a new case until tomorrow, and so Bobby's house was filled with the strange, empty feeling of having nothing to hunt other than something worth watching on TV. And, to Sam's oversensitive nose, with the smell of pineapples.
"Can't you smell it?"
"For the hundredth time, Sammy, no. Canned pineapple doesn't smell. But if you ask nicely enough, I might go buy something better for breakfast," Dean said. "I was going to do that on the way home," he added in Bobby's direction, "but Sam had other plans."
"Very funny", Sam said. "I might have been allergic or something. I think I am, now. And I think I'll go take a walk or something, before I go mad in here."
He grabbed his jacket, and followed Dean outside.
"Don't go too far," Dean said, and slammed the car door behind him before Sam had time to reply.
Sam smiled as he started walking, and soon he broke into running, the evening air cool and fresh against his face, and blessedly pineapple-free. It was nice, running like this. Not him and Dean running to get away from something bigger than they could handle, or the desperate running to get to his brother's side in a fight, just running for the simple joy of it. The sun was just setting, and dark clouds were massing in the east, so he chose a route that would bring him home again well in time before the rain started.
Then suddenly the sound of wind in his ears grew louder, accompanied by an increasing feeling of dizziness.
Dean knew when an injury was over his capacity to handle, and broken bones were definitely there. Coupled with heavy bleeding – now stopped, he hoped – from claw wounds all over Sam's chest and a mild concussion, it was more than enough to send him rushing to the hospital, not caring about how many speed limits he broke nor the way Sam was trickling blood all over the seat.
"It's gonna be fine, we'll be there soon," he chanted under his breath.
Sam didn't answer, too far gone into unconsciousness to do more than moan weakly at every sharp turn or bump in the road. Leaving him in the car for just the few minutes it took to get some nurses with a stretcher to carry him on was torture to Dean and to Sam as well. The injured boy was calling his brother's name in a hoarse, half-choked voice, and Dean ran the last yards to get to him.
"It's all right," he repeated, "you're gonna be just fine, kiddo." He held on tightly to Sam's hand as the nurses lifted the limp young man onto the stretcher, and winced when Sam gasped with pain at the movement.
The last thing Sam saw before he slipped into the darkness was his brother's face.
Sam woke sprawled on the ground. He must've had twisted his ankle again, and seriously this time. It hurt like hell, anyway. Or not exactly like hell, that– he shook his head to snap out of that line of thought. There was no denying it, now. Something strange was going on, and he really needed to find out what. Unfortunately, that meant that if he wanted any help, he would have to tell Dean about the dreams, and he really wasn't looking forward to that.
First, however, there was the question of getting home, preferably even getting home dry, but he was starting to give up on that one. Running home would take about fifteen minutes, but walking with a hurt ankle? He abandoned the scenic route for the more boring but hopefully shorter road, where there also was a chance of meeting Dean.
Five minutes later, it started to rain.
To Sam's utter relief, Dean saw him limping along the road, thoroughly soaked and shaking with cold, and immediately stepped on the brakes. The car screeched to a stop, spraying Sam from head to toe with dirty water and effectively getting the last dry spots of him drenched.
"Dude, you look like a drowned rat."
"You're welcome. Get something to sit on; there's no way I'm letting you drip on my baby."
"Nice to know your priorities," Sam said. He found a blanket in the back of the car that he remotely remembered Dean swiping from a motel in New Jersey, and draped it over the passenger's seat before climbing in.
"You should have told me your foot was that bad," Dean said. "Or better, wrapped it up yourself."
"It wasn't that bad, I tripped."
"What, again?" Dean's brow furrowed.
"Hm." Dean gave Sam a good look-over, and then turned up the heat.
After being dragged under the ice by a vicious water spirit, Sam had been so cold that Dean had wondered if he could ever get his brother warm again. The motel room had no electric blankets or hot water bottles, and he hadn't dared leave Sam to go look for it, and so he had spent the night curled up with his brother in a nest of blankets, trying to give him as much of his own body heat as possible.
When the morning came, Sam woke him by coughing until he gasped for air. Dean felt his own chest tighten at the sound, and the hand he put on his brother's back was to comfort himself as much as Sam.
"Water?" Sam whispered hoarsely.
"Of course." Dean was back within moments with a glass of water and a bottle of cough syrup. He helped Sam sit up and drink it, and then settle back against the pillows.
"I'll go pay for a couple of more days," he said after making sure his brother was as comfortable as he could be. "It looks like you've got a nasty cold there."
When Sam woke up that morning his throat felt like sandpaper, he could hardly breathe through his nose and when he rose, it took a few seconds for the room to stop spinning. He wasn't the least surprised.
Dean and Bobby were already down at the breakfast table, the abandoned remains of their meal pushed dangerously close to the edge of the table to make room for at least ten newspapers spread out. They both gave him such pointed looks that for a moment he wondered if he had put his T-shirt on inside out or something.
"Um… good morning? Have we got a new case yet?"
"Maybe," Dean said, unsmiling.
"Great, where?" Sam sat down and started to flip through one of the newspapers.
"Not in there," Dean said.
"You," Bobby said. "Dean's been telling me there is something going on with you."
"So, Sam, what is it that you haven't been telling us?" Dean said.
There probably was no point in denying anything. Sam poured himself a cup of coffee, and moved some books from a chair so he could sit down.
Dean was still staring at him, so Sam cleared his throat and tried to decide how to tell this without neither worrying Dean nor giving him too much to tease Sam about later.
"Is it about... Jess?" Dean said, completely throwing Sam off his course.
"What? No, no, I…"
"Because you've clearly been having dreams, bad dreams, like you did back then. And don't give me that Florence Nightingale crap again."
Sam tried to answer, but the room had started spinning again.
Dean let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding when the drug took effect and his brother's pained expression was smoothed out, and Sam's hard grip on Dean's hand loosened somewhat. Sam's face was drenched with cold sweat and Dean carefully wiped it with the cleanest corner of his shirt.
"What on earth possessed you to go up against a skin walker unarmed?"
"He was gonna kill you," Sam said matter-of-factly.
"And now he nearly took you out instead," Dean said, trying not to think about the way his voice nearly broke at the last words.
"Yeah, but he didn't." Sam gazed up at Dean, brown eyes with too-large pupils. "Couldn't let him hurt you. You're the best brother I have."
"I'm the only brother you have, Sammy."
"Yeah, so?" Sam giggled. "You're still the best."
"You're high," Dean said, but he couldn't conceal the grin that spread across his face.
"An' you've always protected me," Sam went on. He had started to slur a bit on hard words like protect. "So's only fair I should protect you, you know? 'Sides, you've all I got now."
"You're high," Dean repeated, and then, softer: "You're all I've got, too, you know. So please, don't do anything that stupid again." He ruffled his brother's hair affectionately to take the edge off his words.
"Yeah, right. Dean, man, didja know you've got like reeeeally green eyes?"
"But not as green as him," Sam added, pointing somewhere over Dean's shoulder.
"Sammy? What just happened?"
Sam pried his eyes open. He saw Dean's worried face hovering over him, and realised he'd been carried to the couch.
"You were out for well over five minutes," Dean said accusingly.
"Eh… sorry?" Sam said. He sat up, and gave a very unmanly whimper at the pain in his ankle when he moved the leg.
"Your foot?" Dean said. "Haven't you wrapped it up yet? I'll get something for that later, but now I want you to tell me exactly what's going on with you."
Sam made a pained face, which Dean promptly misunderstood. "Is it that bad?" He went over to Bobby's medicine cabinet to get some painkillers, and poured a glass of water. "Here, take an aspirin so you don't pass out on me again."
Sam swallowed the pill. The pain faded away almost at once, which Sam might have considered strange – the pills weren't that effective, really – but he seemed to be unable to concentrate properly.
"So. Now. Explanation," Dean said.
Sam sighed. "I think it's some kind of vision, only this time it isn't about people dying, it's…" He swallowed, and very carefully did not look at Dean. "I dream about me getting hurt, and you taking care of me." A much downplayed version of the ridiculous truth, but Sam didn't feel like admitting how pathetic he had been in those dreams, or how overprotective and soppy the dream version of his brother was.
"Huh." Dean looked about as confused as Sam felt. "Well, nothing strange about dreaming of me, but I'd rather it was somebody hotter than you doing the dreaming."
Sam let out a laugh before being able to stop himself. "No, the strange thing is that they all come true. I mean, not true like true, but kinda true."
"Dude, you lost me there."
Sam could feel his cheeks getting redder as he realised he would have to go into more detail about the dreams.
"Well, first there was one where I cut myself – stop sniggering, Dean – and then the next morning I got cut when I tried to slice that lump of rock Bobby tried to pass off as bread."
"Coincidence," Dean muttered.
"Then I dreamed about twisting my ankle, and I really did. Not over a root in the forest, like in the dream, but outside that diner. And then I dreamed about having food poisoning –"
"– and when you wake up, you puke your guts out," Dean said.
"Exactly. Then when I was running, I had one about breaking my leg, and since I pretty much blacked out on the road, I tripped and hurt my ankle again, worse this time. Tonight, I dreamed about getting pneumonia, I think, I had gotten dragged into the water by some kind of a water spirit, and you were really angry at it, and then I sorta blacked out and then when I woke up you were hugging me to get me warm again, and that was kinda nice, really, I was almost happy that I… what, Dean?"
"Am I?" Sam looked hard at Dean for about half a second before his gaze wandered off. He had started to fold and twist a piece of paper between his fingers, like he was trying to fold a paper plane and something completely different at the same time. "But the point is that whatever happens in those dreams or visions or whatever it is, happens for real, but not like in the vision, it's like it's translated to reality or something and…"
"Yeah," Dean said. "I think I get it."
Sam was quiet for a few minutes, looking like he was on the verge to say something. Then he giggled softly.
"An' you know, this last one… Dean, man, it was real good."
"Good?" Dean was lost now.
"Yeah… like, first I got hurt, but then there was this wonderful, floaty feeling. An' you were there too."
Dean looked over his shoulder to see who Sam was pointing at. There was no one there, unless Sam had been dreaming about Bobby's second-favourite crossbow, and even then, there was no reason for Sam to address it directly.
"An' then you told me I was all you've…"
"Sam," Dean cut him off, "would this last vision perhaps have been something with you being doped up?"
"Yes! Morphine, I think. How did you know?"
"Look me in the eyes," Dean said, and Sam complied without question. Dean studied him for a few moments, then hid his face in his hands. "Oh, God. This is just great. Bobby, what the fuck is happening to him? His pupils are the size of... well, I don't know. And I could swear they changed color — they were brown or something for a second, but they're back to blue now."
Bobby was on his feet in an instant.
"Hey, why did you do that?" Sam said. "Now my T-shirt's all wet."
"No demon," Bobby said to Dean as he put the bottle of holy water down again. "And then… I've no idea, son. Never seen anything like it."
"Me neither," Sam said, looking out the window. "What is that?"
Dean and Bobby both looked out the window, and then at each other.
"There's nothing there, Sammy," Dean said.
Sam muttered something and shook his head, looking bewildered. "Could've sworn…"
"For now, I guess we wait until Sam's making sense again," Bobby said, "and we'll see if we can get this sorted out. Try to keep him off the heavy stuff like aspirin, and whatever you do, don't let him have anything even remotely alcoholic. I'll start researching on what we've got so far."
"Dean, what's happening to me?" Sam could feel himself slowly starting to freak out. All his senses were numbed in a way that one small painkiller shouldn't be able to do, and he was quite sure that some of the things he was seeing weren't exactly real.
"Dude, you're on the cheapest trip ever. Enjoy it." Dean gave him a big and mostly faked grin, and then dropped into another tone of voice. "Just sleep it off, Sammy. Bobby and I are gonna find out what it is. Try not to dream anything, would you?"
Sam nodded hesitantly. "Dean?"
But Sam was already asleep.
"So," Dean said, turning to Bobby without really letting his sleeping brother out of sight. "What the fuck is doing this, and how are we gonna kill it?"
"I've no idea," Bobby said. Actually, he had several ideas, but most of them were dismissed at once and the rest needed some serious checking up. First, however, he would have to find Dean something to do before the boy exploded. He picked a pile of books seemingly at random and dropped them on the small table in front of Dean.
"It's definitely some kind of vision, right? Just not his usual kind. See what you can come up with. Make a list of places you've been and people you might have pissed off recently."
"I've checked for hex bags," Dean said. That was part of the packing up-routine by now. "There weren't any."
"Can still be a number of other things," Bobby said. "A curse, some spirit set on your trail…"
"Yeah, I know," Dean said. "Just…"
"Tell me when your brother wakes up." Bobby turned his own computer on, starting to research one of his hunches. Dean opened one of the books.
Prophetic visions. Right, except for the fact that this book seemed to be all about messages from God, and if God was doing this to Sam, Dean would have to have a serious talk with Castiel soon. And the next book was all about drugs, quite interesting, actually, and Dean probably would read it later, but now wasn't the time for interesting things to do with mushrooms and the leaves of a certain unpronounceable bush, not when Sam was in danger. Because whatever was happening to his brother was undoubtedly dangerous, and not knowing what it was, was driving Dean crazy right now. The next book looked promising at first, but then he remembered reading it through when Sam first started having visions – and it was such a long time ago, now – and that it was mostly crap and cryptic nonsense. Damn. Another book…
"God, this is absolutely pointless," Dean said.
Bobby gave him an approving look – the kid had lasted for almost two hours with the dusty books – but whatever he was going to say was cut off by Sam moaning softly and turning over, still asleep.
Dean decided that this was probably not a haunted house, after all. He went to get them something to eat, since he thought the house was safe for Sam to stay by himself and pack the stuff they had spread out to be ready for an exorcism. But the moment Dean slammed the door behind him, the ghost attacked. Sam was lifted through the air and slammed against a bookcase. Cold fingers pressed around his throat, and Sam's cry for help was reduced to a strangled gasp. However close his brother was, he could not possibly have heard that.
But that was not counting with Dean's sixth sense for Sam and trouble.
"Sam? Sammy!" Dean's worried voice pierced the air.
The sound gave Sam one last desperate surge of strength, and he tried to fight the ghost off, but the hands would not let him go, even though he clawed at them with all his might.
Just as Sam's legs gave out, leaving the invisible hands around his neck as the only thing keeping him upright, Dean kicked the door open.
"You let go of my brother, you undead son of a bitch!" Dean fired a round of rock salt at the ghost, who disappeared in a wisp of black smoke. Sam fell to the floor, and lay there, very still.
"Hey, Sam, wake up. Sammy, you all right? Sam, for fuck's sake, start breathing!" Dean pressed two fingers against Sam's wrist. There was a pulse at least. Then Sam drew a wheezy breath, and his eyelids fluttered open.
"Sch, don't try to speak. I'm right here."
"I'd never leave you, Sammy. Sam? Sammy, would you…"
"…please stop fighting me; I'm trying to help you." Dean would tease Sam to no end about this later, but right now it was downright scary seeing his brother apparently trying to strangle himself with his own blanket, and coming frighteningly close to succeeding. At last he got the fabric untangled from his brother and tossed is as far away as he could. It wasn't until then Sam opened his eyes.
"You're awake now?"
"I think so." Sam coughed and rubbed his throat gingerly. "What happened?"
"You went all suicidal with the blanket," Dean said. "Can't even trust you around bedding nowadays."
"Huh," Sam said. "God, I feel like crap."
"You look like crap," Dean said grimly. Then, without warning, he stood up and left for the kitchen.
Bobby turned to Sam. "I think I might have an idea of what's happening," he said. "I just need some more details first. How exactly does these dreams or visions feel?"
"They don't feel like my… other visions," Sam said, "but not like ordinary dreams either. Dreams are usually fuzzy, these are crystal clear."
"They feel real?" Bobby asked.
"No, not exactly," Sam said. "More like… in dreams, anything can happen, you have a bit of free will. In these, it's like I'm going through a… I mean, like it's playing by a script or something."
"Well, something like that," Sam said. "And then there's…" He broke off, and cast a wary look at the kitchen door. "In the visions or whatever, Dean's acting really weird. He's all overprotective –"
"Well, that's not really—"
"Yes, it is. Because, all right, Dean cares for me, but in there, he's acting like I'm ten years old and terminally ill or something. And I… I like it. It's horrible. I'm all needy and weak and…"
He broke off abruptly as Dean entered the room carrying three steaming cups.
"Coffee for us," Dean said, handing Bobby one cup, "and peppermint tea for you, lightweight."
Sam raised his eyebrows, but accepted the cup. He wasn't sure he dared to drink caffeine right now, anyways.
"So, any genius ideas yet, Bobby?" Dean asked.
"So…?" Dean said when it was clear that Bobby wasn't going to say anything more.
"Actually, boy, I'm not sure I ought to tell you."
"What?!" Dean exploded.
Sam took a large gulp of his tea to hide a chuckle, and winced as it made its way down his sore throat.
"And why wouldn't you tell me?" Dean asked after making a considerable effort to calm down.
"'Cause you'd kill her," Bobby said.
"Damn sure I would! Who?"
Bobby sighed. "Remember the nice tribe with the habit of human sacrifice? Well, I read some more about them. They believed their god could make stories come true. The sacrifice part was to make sure it was the right stories. And… it's still there, that spirit. Very weak, and dormant most of the time, that's why it didn't show up on the EMF sweep. It's in the computer of a fifteen years old girl living in the building."
"What has that got to do with…" Dean started.
"Those books, the Winchester gospel," Bobby said, smiling grimly at the boys' pained expressions at the name. "She's apparently a big fan of them. And she's writing – and publishing – fan fiction."
Sam caught on at once. "What, about…" He looked at Bobby, horrified. "God, I think I'm gonna be sick."
Dean gave him a worried glance, but saw that his brother's expression was of disgust rather than nausea.
"Unfortunately, Sam visiting the building made the connection complete," Bobby said. "Now this is what we're going to do: I'm gonna look up a couple of more details, then I'm gonna head there and sort it out. Dean, you stay here and, if possible, keep Sam from doing anything stupid."
Sam looked offended. "It's not my fault that…" He broke off with a grimace.
Dean rose from his chair to put a hand on his brother's shoulder.
"Sam, are you all right? Don't you dare pass out again."
"Dean, I don't feel too…"
"…good about all this."
"If you want me to stop…"
"No! No, I don't, it's just… what if Dad sees us?"
Sam was lying in Dean's arms on the couch. Dean rested his chin on Sam's head, breathing in the well-known scent of motel shampoo.
"Dad went back to the woods, you know he'll be gone a couple of hours." Dean let his hand inch downwards, and started unbuttoning Sam's shirt. Sam arched into his touch, and tilted his head back to look at his brother.
"So are you all right with this… with us?" Dean asked as the last button came undone. His face showed the concern that was barely restricting desire. Sam could feel Dean hard against his back and the answering bulge in his own pants. He let out a soft moan as Dean's hand slid under the waistband of his jeans. Dean's other hand was on Sam's shoulder, fingers searching for the ever-present tension, gently rubbing at the tight muscle.
"Hey, you're shivering. Is everything okay…?"
"It's more than okay," Sam said, and put one hand behind Dean's neck to press his face down for a kiss. Their lips met, sending sparks of electricity running through Sam's entire body. Dean struggled to deepen the kiss despite their awkward position…
This was the first time that Sam actually managed to wake himself from one of the dreams, and he felt dizzier than ever before. He decided not to open his eyes just yet.
Somewhere above him, his brother cleared his throat.
"Bobby just went back to… to fix that thing," Dean said. "He'll be gone a couple of hours."
Sam groaned, and turned his head. There was something odd with his pillow. For one thing, it was breathing. He tilted his face upwards, and opened his eyes to look straight into his brother's worried face.
"Are you all right?" Dean asked, and Sam sat up so fast he almost fell off the narrow couch.
"Hey, man, you're shaking," Dean said, and reached out to put a hand on Sam's shoulder, but drew back immediately as his brother flinched from the touch. "Are you okay?"
Sam shrugged, completely occupied with taking deep, calming breaths and trying to get his heart to stop racing.
"I… um, you remember when we found out about… about the books?" Sam said with voice carefully kept neutral and steady.
"I try not to," Dean said.
"Me too. God, yes. But… remember those… slash fans?"
Dean looked at him, horror growing in his face as he realized what Sam was saying.
"That's just sick," he said. And then, unable to help himself, "How far did we go?"
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," Sam said. "Bobby's gotta put an end to this soon. Hell knows what else will happen before… fuck, why me?"
"Beats me," Dean said. "Some people just have bad taste."
"We could look it up," Dean said. "Bobby said she published that crap, we could find it. Know what's going to happen next." He turned on the laptop standing on the coffee table. "What the… oh, just great."
"Bobby's turned off the internet connection." Dean slammed his fist against the table.
"Guess he really didn't want you to find that girl," Sam said. "So what…"
"…Do we do now? Not much we can do, except hope you don't pass out again." Dean sat down on the couch, carefully keeping his distance from the still freaked out Sam. "You up for a game of poker?"
They played a couple of hands for practice, both of them cheating like crazy, before going down to the bar to do it for real. Their father wouldn't give them money for anything not useful in a hunt, so if they wanted something to drink, for example, they would have to make the money themselves. Sam had suggested taking a job, but Dean hadn't wanted to hear about it. Instead, he had promised to teach his younger brother the noble art of winning in every game ever invented.
Sam felt a rush of pride as Dean winked to him across the table. He had just succeeded in losing spectacularly, making the other men think they were up for some easy money. How wrong they were! Slowly, the brother's luck started to turn, and before long, the other men had nothing more to lose.
"I'm gonna go take a leak," Sam said. The plan was for him to disappear up to their motel room, soon to be followed by Dean. But he was stopped just outside the door, by a very large, very drunk and, as of the last five minutes, very poor man.
"Don't think I didn't see what you're up to, you…"
Panic spread in waves over Sam as the man threateningly took a step forwards. He might be able to handle this on his own, but he was so used to be able to rely on – and then suddenly, Dean was there.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing with my brother, you scum?" Dean shoved the large man up against the brick wall, before turning back to his brother. "I'm sorry, Sammy, I shouldn't have left you alone. Everything okay?"
Sam nodded. His big brother was there, how could things be anything but great? Then the angry man reached for something in his inner pocket. Before either of the brothers had time to react – Dean was turned towards Sam, and didn't even see it – he had pulled out a small gun, and a loud bang pierced the air. Sam stared down in chock at the red flower spreading across –
– his chest, and then up into Dean's terrified face.
"Are you with me again?" Dean's voice was strained, and he pressed a now-ruined T-shirt to Sam's chest.
Sam coughed, feeling nauseous at the taste of blood in his mouth. "Think so," he managed.
"Good. What the fuck, Sammy? Can't you at least keep to blankets and stuff? What happened?"
"Gunshot," Sam said. "But I… I think I'm all right now."
"Yeah, because you look absolutely peachy," Dean said, but he removed the shirt enough to see that Sam had, in fact, stopped bleeding. When Sam pulled up his t-shirt his chest was covered in blood, but underneath that, the skin was smooth and unbroken.
"The dream… it broke off so suddenly," Sam said. "I think whatever Bobby did really worked this time."
"Thank God for that," Dean said with feeling. "You sure you're okay?"
Sam took a few moments to sort out dream from reality. "I think the blood loss was real," he said. He had caught a glimpse of himself reflected in the mirror on the wall, and seen that his lips was almost bluish in a very pale face. That corresponded very well with the light-headedness, the general dizziness and the annoying shivers that were running through his body.
"No kidding," Dean said, looking at the red mess the couch had become.
"But other than that… I think I'm okay."
"Hm," Dean said. "That was a lot of blood; you should probably get some rest. But no sleeping, and definitely no dreaming until Bobby's confirmed that son of a bitch is dead." Sam wasn't sure if Dean meant the spirit or the writer. "Here, let's get you upstairs," Dean said. "You've ruined the couch, Bobby's gonna have your ass for that."
"Yeah, and who was it that was supposed to keep me from doing anything stupid?" Sam said, but immediately regretted it when he saw the expression flickering by in Dean's eyes. "Sorry," he added softly.
"You should be," Dean said. "Look at the state of my Metallica T-shirt!" He helped Sam stand up, and half-carried him up the stairs.
One hour later, Bobby returned to find Sam in bed, nestled in blankets but very much awake – Sam didn't have much choice in the matter, since Dean either poked him hard in the ribs or force-fed him Coke as soon as he started to nod off.
"So?" Dean said. "You killed it?"
"The spirit, yes," Bobby answered. "The writer, no. I…ah, made her see the error of her ways."
"What? Did you tell her the truth? But then she'll just…" Sam looked as if he was expecting a mad fangirl to break into the room at any moment.
"Well, no," Bobby said. "Amusing as it would have been. No, I told her I was from Mr. Edlund's publishing company, and her writings were considered a copyright infringement that might get her sued. I made sure she removed all of that… garbage from her computer, where it was actually dangerous, and took down the entire website where she and her friends kept their work, because it was just plain embarrassing."
There was some real feeling in that last statement, and a wicked grin spread across Sam's face.
"Was there by any chance anything written about you?" he said. His grin grew wider as Bobby turned slightly red.
"Anyways, as I was saying, that rubbish is removed now, the spirit is put down, and you're safe – well, safe from that particular horror, at least."
"Until somebody starts it again," Sam said darkly. "Yeah, I know, it won't be dangerous, but it's still creepy."
"Yeah, about that… She seemed to be the leader of the pack, and I think I've discouraged her enough to keep her from writing at all, and if not, I might have happened to send her the two first seasons of Dawson's Creek, together with a small spell. She'll be writing nothing but angsty Pacey crap for the next few years or so."