Summary:E/O Challenge: Sam's a virus-magnet who catches everything. Unfortunately, whatever Sam catches, Dean ultimately gets. Mirrordance joins the drabble challenge beginning with 5 attempts at "Steady."
Thanks for letting me join in! I'm a little stuck on the other fics I'm working on, and I have a feeling this challenge does wonders for curing writer's block, haha. This is my first drabble effort so get ready for well-over 100-word installments – but I'm new, I'm wordy to a fault, I've already offered my warnings to Enkidu07, and maybe I'll improve eventually, haha. In the meantime, greetings to Woodburner and here's my take on "Steady" in 5 related but can-stand-alone attempts:
1: Dean's Nose
Dean had a nose for trouble and it was the only way Sam could explain why they did so badly anytime they were apart.
He leaves his brother alone for two minutes and Dean comes out with a heart attack, or runs into a genie, or gets sacrificed to a scarecrow. Sam runs away and Dean gets kidnapped. Sam dies and Dean sells his soul to get him back...
...They split up to interview witnesses and Dean stumbles into the demon behind a small town's plagues and gets stabbed for his trouble...
"I mean it's dead and all," Dean said to Sam over the phone. Sam could hear the rumble of the Impala in the background, and it sounded like broken speed limits.
"That's not what I'm asking," Sam snapped, "Are you okay?"
"Just..." Dean replied through grit teeth, "Just keep me awake, all right? I'm driving back now."
"Geez, Dean," breathed Sam, "If you're gonna pass out, slow down, damn it. Tell me where you are--"
"Can't stop," Dean gasped, "I had to kill her, man. The cops are coming, I gotta get outta here."
"Okay," Sam said, trying to calm down, "Okay. Slow and steady, bro. Just take it easy, slow and--"
"I'm not giving birth, Sam!" Dean growled, "Just... tell me a bad joke or something!"
2: Dean's Taste
2: Dean's Taste
Dean's sense of taste was, in a word, indiscriminate.
Sam attributed it to a childhood of their father's utilitarian cooking. And then his own or Sam's, the bad ingredients at their disposal, the crappy diners (with a few exceptions)... Mostly though, Sam attributed it to Dean almost always having to settle for less, asking the noisy kid brother what he wanted and then living with whatever was left.
"So what, you're picky now?" Sam murmured at Dean, coaxing him gently to eat, the spoon of soup pressed steadily and insistently against Dean's lips.
"Make," Dean gasped, incoherently, "Sick." He winced and shifted away from Sam, gasping again at the flaring pain on his side. The wound had been bad enough, now worsened by a raging infection that had finally plugged Dean's bottomless pie-hole.
Sam frowned and watched Dean's flushed, fevered face, and the downcast eyes that shifted from awareness to listlessness and vice versa.
"You gotta eat something," Sam told him, quietly.
Dean just grunted and closed his eyes, drifted away to sleep.
"I'm taking you to the hospital," Sam declared.
3: Dean's Eyes
3: Dean's Eyes
Dean's eyes fluttered madly beneath closed lids as if caught in a convulsion, gripped by a nightmare or worse, a memory. He shot up breathless, eyes still roving madly, looking for the villain, looking for the pain, and, in finding neither, looking for Sam to say that evil had already come and gone.
"Back to sleep, Dean," Sam murmured, voice level and almost hypnotic. He guessed Dean wasn't fully awake by the way he still looked around, unseeing. Sam reached forward from the stiff-backed seat he'd been spending his vigil on and pressed a calming hand against his brother's shoulder, easing him to lie back down on the hospital bed. His brother jerked against him, but did as he was bid.
Sam moved his hand to cover Dean's eyes, feeling the lids close and the eyes beneath them dart left, right, back again, fast, then slow, then finally falling steady and then still.
4: Dean's Hands
4: Dean's Hands
Dean's hands were mostly always warm, weathered and purposeful. Sam remembered them best from how they felt when Dean gripped his own hand whenever they crossed the street as kids.
If the cars were coming from the right side, Dean would stand to Sam's right and hold his right hand. If the cars were coming from the left, Dean would stand to Sam's left and hold his left hand. On a two-way street, he would move from one side to the other.
Sam was the first to let go.
Holding your brother's hand while crossing the street had long since been un-cool to Dean who was four years older, but the hand stayed steady and true until Sam was ready to let it go.
It was weird, how he remembered that exact day. Dean's open hand, Sam about to grip it until he saw one of his classmates – she was taller than Sam, smiling and her sunny blond hair in ringlets were shining – standing across the street.
Dean grasped at air and Sam led the way forward.
Dean knowingly ruffled Sam's overlong, shaggy hair. Sam tried to dodge it, but Dean left his hand on Sam's head until they crossed to the other side of the street.
But that was then, and this was now.
Dean's hands were shaking so hard he couldn't tie his own bootlaces.
Sam swatted Dean's hands away and wordlessly leaned over and did them himself.
"Only 'cos I really wanna get outta here," Dean muttered, letting his brother do the work. The AMA forms were signed, he was dressed, the car was waiting. The laces was the last damn thing in the way.
He ruffled Sam's overly long, shaggy hair as Sam worked.
That was then, and this was now, but some things weren't meant to change.
5: Dean's Voice
5: Dean's Voice
Dean's voice held a newly-acquired tremble; uncertain, weary, self-deprecating. Sam wanted to steady it, thinking maybe if he just grabbed Dean by the shoulders and shook him, he'd go back to normal.
"Yeah, Bobby," Dean spoke into the phone, "We're bunking out here a few days... What? Nah, I'm fine now."
Sam tried to snort in disapproval, but the air caught on his throat and he coughed instead.
"Hang on," Dean said, and Sam heard his brother's booted feet shuffle toward him.
"You with me, Sammy-o?"
It was a new nickname. His resigned acceptance of 'Sammy' and helpless living with 'Samantha,' put Dean on to finding a new annoying endearment.
"Guess not," Dean sighed, and Sam heard the sheets rustle when Dean sat on his bed.
"Yeah, he made himself sick looking after my sorry ass in the hospital," Dean reported, turning back to the phone, "Picked up a bug there. If there's a virus somewhere, Sam'll pick it up all right."
With their proximity Sam heard Bobby mutter something, making Dean laugh. It was a good sound, nostalgic lately. Sam couldn't remember the last time he heard it.
"Yeah," Dean said, "And what Sam catches, I catch from him... who else does Sasquatch breathe and puke on and whine at, right? I factored that in. We're bunking in for a few days, I said."
It could have been a second, an hour, or a day. When Sam next wakes, all is quiet. He pushes up to his elbows weakly; fever, he realized, and a bad one by the look of things, because he found his brother not in bed but on a seat next to Sam's, head lolling in exhausted sleep.
Sam wrapped a hand around Dean's wrist and found it fever-hot. He rose to his feet- belatedly realizing it was presumptuous because the world spun– and grabbed for the blankets on Dean's bed. He draped it over his brother and leaned to wrap it around him to keep him warm.
"Chick," Dean muttered, when Sam's ear was by his lips.
"I'd put you to bed but I have a feeling we'd both end up on the floor," Sam said, apologetically.
"Some rescue," Dean tried to snort, but the air caught in his throat and he coughed instead.
May 21, 2009
The uniting theme of the chapters is the five senses, either figuratively (like 'nose for trouble') or literally. The other theme of course, is the use of "steady" in its various definitions (as taken from an online dictionary), in two layers: (1) the use of the word itself in the dialog or narrative; and (2) the use of this same definition as the main theme of the respective drabble. Expounded:
Chapter 1: Nose / Smell
"Steady" as a word is used in dialog here to mean calm and not excitable, and this definition of "Steady" is also what the drabble is about: Sam is trying to stay calm given the situation.
Chapter 2: Taste
"Steady" the word is used in the narrative to indicate a firm physical position of the spoon, and coming to a firm position is also what the story is about: Sam coming to a decision.
Chapter 3: Sight / Eyes
"Steady" the word is used in the narrative to mean consistency in terms of movement, and is also what the drabble is about: a constant, waiting vigil.
Chapter 4: Touch / Hand
"Steady" the word is used in the narrative to mean a true, unwavering, kind-of loyal hold. The absence of change and the consistency of Dean is also what the drabble is about.
Chapter 5: Sound / Hearing
"Steady" the word is used in the narrative to describe strength of certainty as embodied in a voice. Its definition of unfaltering certainty is also the theme of the drabble, in the predictability of Sam getting sick and Dean getting it from Sam, right down to the last line, which was plucked from the same thing happening to Sam earlier.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope it went over all right. I tried my best and this was really fun and new to me :)
C&C's welcome as always and 'til the next post!