Okay. This is my first fanfic (takes a bow) and Supernatural (and its fabulous heroes) is a fairly recent obsession. So to all the purists... please be nice... If they're OOC, I'm still getting the hang of this!
Disclaimer: Yes! They're mine! My own! My precious - Ahem. Nope, don't own them...
Calvin Greves had been a dentist. He had worn gray suits and white shirts and had had a tendency to stutter when agitated. Those who could remember him had little to say about him, good or bad. He had been a singularly meek and colourless individual.
Which only went to show to what an extent dying could change a man.
Sam flipped another spadeful of dirt out of the way, trying to ignore the angry screech as Calvin's ghost got its fourth chestful of rock salt courtesy of Dean, and swiped at the sweat which trickled down his face.
"Remind me never to cheat on you with your wife," Dean commented, looking around warily.
Sam glanced at him, eyebrows raised.
"Uh – will do."
"Though maybe if Brother and Mrs hadn't taken him out he wouldn't be so -" Dean broke off and sent another salty missile, smirking at the resultant shriek. "Sam? Any day now would be nice. I'm running out of salt here."
"You've got the easy job," Sam snarked. "I swear they buried people more deeply in those days." He forced the shovel through the soil, hardened by the long rainless days, and ducked as Calvin hurtled over his head. Dean looked quickly around, and then jumped into the hole beside him, thrusting the rifle at him.
"Here, take a turn with this." He caught up his own shovel and removed a hefty spadeful. There was a hollow thud. "Don't know what you were moaning about, Sammy. Here it is."
Sam shot him a withering glance, but didn't reply. His attention was focused on keeping Dean Calvin-free, and as the shovel bit through the rotting wood, he peered around. There was no sign of the ex-dentist, but Sam had been in the trade too long to be fooled into thinking that was a signal to relax. These were Calvin's final moments – well, his second final moments – and he wouldn't be going that easily.
With an unpleasantly shrill yell of rage, the ghost appeared over the headstone. Dean didn't even glance up, his focus on the almost exposed bones before him, and Sam aimed at the flickering figure, knowing that a few more seconds were all they needed. He fired, but the hammer fell with an empty click.
He hadn't even time to complete the thought before he was airborne.
Dean sounds worried. What... am I late? This motel has awfully hard beds...
"Sammy? Can you hear me?"
Of course I can hear you, dumbo. You're yelling in my ear.
911?! What the hell... the ghost. The ghost!
"D'n?" Something seemed to be holding his eyes shut, but with supreme effort he forced them open. He had a split second impression of a blurred figure leaning over him before the light cruelly assaulted his senses and he realised that someone was doing dynamite excavations inside his head. He squinched his eyes shut again with a pained moan.
"Hey, hey, just lie still a moment."
"Seasoned with salt and barbecued."
"Wha... what happened?"
"Calvin gave you a complimentary flight on Ghost Airlines. You crash-landed into a tombstone." Dean's voice was light, but even through his confusion and killer headache Sam could sense the fear. He forced his eyes half-open.
"I... I think... did I...?" He swallowed, trying to organise his chaotic brain. "Head hurts."
"Not surprised... you gave it a pretty hefty smack."
"Mmmm." Sam closed his eyes again. He heard the sounds of Dean shifting on the sandy ground beside him. Then fingers were resting against his neck. Dean was checking his pulse. The hand stayed longer than necessary for its ostensible purpose and Sam sighed, appreciating the comfort of his brother's touch.
"Sammy?" The hand moved to his face, pushing his hair back.
He heard Dean's soft snort, and winced as fingers probed a particularly sore spot.
"Sam." The headache was a heavy metal band, pulsating to the rhythm of his heartbeat. He cracked his eyes open. This time Dean was clearer. Sam saw the concern in the familiar green eyes. Dean's fair hair was streaky with sweat, and a smear of dirt decorated his forehead.
"You need... a shower."
"What?" Dean's surprise huffed out in a laugh. "Yeah. Don't know what I was thinking... I had plenty of time while you were out cold. Could have gone back to the motel... taken all the hot water..."
"Was I... out long?"
"Long enough." The flash of remembered fear was gone in a second, but Sam knew his brother.
"'m okay, Dean."
Sam could feel the disbelief emanating from his brother, but he didn't have the energy to argue. He wasn't really alright, but he wasn't about to die either, and that was what mattered. He'd had head injuries before – they were an almost unavoidable occupational hazard – and this one didn't feel any more serious than the others. Which was not to say it wouldn't be unpleasant while it lasted.
"Sam? Open your eyes."
"C'mon, Sammy, I have to check for a concussion. Let me see those eyes."
Reluctantly Sam obeyed. The light was still unkind to his pounding head, increasing the nausea which was beginning to demand his full attention. He blinked at his brother.
I hate vomiting.
Dean's hand was on his back, calming, reassuring. He was muttering something which Sam couldn't quite hear. It didn't really matter. It sounded soothing.
He flopped down onto the grass, away from his resurrected breakfast, his eyes finding his brother's face. Dean looked rueful.
"Yep. Definitely a concussion." He ran his hand through his spiky hair. "You think you can sit up without hurling again? It'd be good to get back to the motel."
The Impala was only just outside the graveyard. Sam had wanted to leave it further away, so as not to advertise their position as much – a 1967 classic was fairly eye-catching and there were people who would recognise it – but now he was glad Dean had refused to park his baby anywhere but under his nose. For all his protestations to the contrary, he was not feeling too good. Dean didn't argue when Sam announced that he was fine, but Sam knew his big-brother sense was in overdrive. Dean had been concussed himself before now. He knew what it felt like.
Sam was conscious and reasonably coherent, but Dean could see he was in pain. The soft grunt he gave as he let his head flop against the back of the seat was a dead giveaway, as was the way his eyes were scrunched closed. He was paler than usual, although he'd regained some of the colour that had been missing when Dean first saw him after his aerobatics. Dean shifted abruptly in his seat, physically forcing away the remembrance of that moment.
He had seen his brother injured many times, sometimes seriously, but he had never learnt to handle it with equanimity. The mind that could look on monsters with calm, even humour, struggled to keep it together at the sight of a hurt Sammy. Those seconds before he felt the reassuring thump of a heartbeat under his fingers were always the worst. Then panic would give way to pulsing fear as he desperately assessed the damage. Even if the latter turned out to be minimal, he couldn't fully relax until his brother was back to his moody self.
The sluggish, unequal pupils were a clear sign that Sam had a concussion and the nausea only underlined it. He hadn't broken the skin, but the swelling bruise on the back of his head showed where he'd collided with the tombstone. Dean winced, remembering the crack he'd heard. For a moment, when he'd swung round and seen Sam crumpled limply on the ground, he'd thought that it was the sound of breaking bone. Fortunately, the final resting place of one Jeremiah Briggs had proved less hardy than Dean's little brother's skull.
"Neanderthal," he muttered aloud.
"Thought I was the geek," Sam mumbled. Dean snorted.
"I'm beginning to wonder exactly what you do keep inside that head of yours... You managed to crack that tombstone with it."
"Huh." Sam's comeback was hardly snappy. Dean flicked a glance across to him, and then back to the road, his foot urging more speed out of the Impala. Sam would be alright, but he was going to feel pretty miserable until then. He needed painkillers and bed.
Sam lifted heavy lids, wincing as the light jarred against sensitive nerve endings, and saw a hand holding two tablets out to him. Dean's other arm came round him, helping him to sit up. He accepted the assistance without protest, his nebulous thoughts only able to concentrate on one objective: the painkillers.
The wash of cold water against his mouth spurred a return of the nausea but he fought it back. Vomiting up the pills was counter-productive. Besides, retching hurt his head.
He heard Dean's voice ebb, the words flowing gently and unidentified around him.
Just want to sleep... Dean's shoulder... comfortable...
"Hey. Hey, Sammy...."
Sam could hear the concern in Dean's half-laugh. He looked at his brother, somewhat surprised to discover that he had to open his eyes to do so.
Bony... wouldn't buy you for my bed...
"Dude, that better be the concussion speaking."
Did I say that out loud?
Hands were laying him back on the pillow, and he turned his head, pushing his face into the softness. The meds were kind, bleeding the pain away, draining his consciousness with it. He felt a calloused palm on his face, fingers that soothed even better than the drugs. He wanted to open his eyes, catch Dean out in a chick flick moment... only when he thinks I don't know... but the lovely darkness was calling and he had to answer.
"Wakey- wakey, sunshine!"
Dishevelled chestnut strands half-obscured blue-green eyes which blinked vaguely open. Sam's gaze darted around and eventually came to rest on the jeans-clad figure of Dean, who had just emerged from the bathroom.
"You want a shower? I even left some hot water for you."
"Mmm. Yeah." Sam ran his hand through his hair, worsening its chaos, and pushed himself into a sitting position. Dean caught the grimace which flickered across his face. He didn't comment, but a moment later a hand holding two white tablets was thrust under Sam's nose.
"You up to leaving today?"
"Today? Why the hurry?" Sam washed back the ibuprofen, pleasantly surprised when his stomach didn't revolt.
"Those maulings in Rawsonville that you found. I thought we could check them out."
"Oh, yeah. The black dog." The nausea might have abated but the headache still clung, making clear thinking a chore. He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "We could... uh... yeah. How long..."
"Well, that was coherent."
"I mean, how far away are we? How long would we have to drive?"
Sam didn't feel up to leaving. The medication blunted the pain but didn't remove it entirely, and even the hot pounding jets of water in the shower didn't help. He knew Dean was restless, though. This little one horse town was all kinds of boring. Even the waitress at the only diner was about ninety in the shade. Dean wanted to move on, and Sam didn't want to be the reason he couldn't. Under cover of packing his duffle he swallowed three aspirins, hoping they would accomplish what the Advil hadn't, and straightening, he managed a grin.
Dean looked at him searchingly, but Sam didn't miss the relief that flashed through his eyes.
"Yeah. Just keep the Advil handy."
Sam was lying. Dean suspected it when he saw his brother swallow the aspirin, and knew for certain when he came out of the restroom at the filling station to see him screwing the cap back on the bottle of ibuprofen. He frowned as he slid back into the driver's seat.
"You still have a headache." It wasn't a question.
Sam jumped guiltily.
Dean lifted the plastic bottle and shook it gently.
"Next time, sneak the meds more subtly."
"I'm okay, Dean. Concussions leave headaches. It doesn't mean I'm incapacitated."
"Ooh, big word. Does it mean, 'I'm an idiot who messes around with head injuries'? "
"Ha ha. I'm not nauseous, I'm not dizzy and I'm not confused -"
"Well, that's a matter of opinion."
"Listen, that town was more than boring, and the bed in that motel was only making my headache worse. Besides, if it is something seriously – um – life threatening – there wasn't even a doctor for miles. So we're safer leaving." Sam sounded so reasonable, he was almost convincing himself.
Dean took a breath, one hand going to the back of his neck. What Sam said made sense, and he knew if he never saw that place again it would be too soon. But he also knew head injuries shouldn't be taken lightly. Guilt nibbled at him. Sam was pale, faint shadows under his eyes evidence that he was not recovered. They shouldn't have left.
"We're going to stop at the next town."
"Stop. Us. Next town."
"I've heard that the girls there are beyond hot."
"Something like Methuselinah back in Hicksville, you mean?"
Dean snorted. Sam obviously wasn't fooled, but he didn't argue, and that told his brother more than anything else that he was right to insist they stop.
The next town was an improvement. It had both a diner and a bar. The motel room was decorated in interesting shades of what Dean termed puke green, but the beds were slightly more comfortable the previous night's. Sam dropped a little too quickly onto his and reached for the Advil. Dean raised one eyebrow.
"How many of those have you popped today?"
"Uh... four? I think?" He opened the bottle, and grunted. "Dean? Were you planning to get lunch?"
"Can you get more of these?"
"More? I only bought that bottle -"
"Yeah, but now it's finished." The stiff set of his mouth warned Dean not to argue.
"There's some kind of maximum dose on those things." Dean had never been one to heed warnings.
"Dean, I said -"
"You said you had four. I'm assuming you threw the other eight in the bottle out the window?"
Sam's shoulders slumped, his expression becoming mutinous.
"My head hurts, Dean..."
"I know, Sammy." Why can I never resist that tone? "Okay, I'll get more. But maybe you should mix it up some. Take aspirin. I'm not dealing with you stoned on Advil."
"Aspirin doesn't help."
"It will if you mix it with Advil. Take half a dose of each. Seriously, I don't know what happens when you OD on those things but it probably isn't nice. And we use too many of them anyway. "
Sam sighed morosely.
"We wouldn't need to use them if we weren't always getting thrown into things. Or clawed by things. Or -"
"Dude. Not having that conversation." Dean's voice was almost a snap. Sam glanced at him from under lowered brows, and decided to swallow his frustration.
The heavy oak table shuddered, rose into the air and slammed into the wall with a shattering crash. Sam slid behind a conveniently placed dresser, looking around. Dean had been here a moment ago.
A knife thudded into the wood, inches from his head, and hung there quivering. Sam cursed. Poltergeists were at their worst in the kitchen. So many dangerous things to toss around. If he could lure it into the hall, he'd be in less danger of being impaled or crushed.
Too late. He squirmed under the weight of the chair, pushing it off his middle where it had landed and knocked him to the floor. That had hurt. It still hurt. He'd have a bruise there tomorrow.
A shimmer in front of him showed where his target was contemplating its next move.
"Bacon or sausages?"
"What?" Sam's eyes flew open. Dean was staring at him, brows raised, a paper bag in one hand. Behind him morning sun filtered through faded motel curtains. Sam blinked, rubbing his eyes.
"They're not that bad, Sammy." His mouth curved.
"Jerk. And it's Sam." Sam swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and caught himself before a grimace of discomfort twisted his face. One arm draped surreptitiously across his middle.
If it was just a dream, why does my stomach still hurt?