A/N Hi y'all! I'm still walking on air after attending the Vancouver convention! Had a fantastic time. I'm so looking forward to the next season, though while for most North Americans it starts tomorrow, for me well... I have no idea when I'll be able to watch since I've been forced to cancel my television and internet thanks to stupid, unexpected financial woes. :( Hooray for WiFi though, which is the only way I can post now. On that note, please don't spoil me if you read this after the premiere.
I started this last year, shortly after "Yellow Fever" aired but never finished but I've decided to finish it now. Originally a one shot this is now a two shot because for one, I'm still not happy with the second half and two, I really want to get this up, now. The episode was severely lacking in the comfortness and Sam was so out of character, so I wrote this to get more of my much craved h/c for Dean, and to try and see Sam's side of things. Anyway, I'm not too crazy about the first person narrative, but I wanted to challenge myself by trying a different style. I hope it works.
Nothing To Fear But Everything
I stand for a moment, bewildered at the sight of my brother as he storms off. He looked so haggard and weary, and manic and terrified and just as overwhelmed as I feel. The manic exasperated verbal diarrhea that escaped Dean's tongue, born of delirium and ghost sickness and maybe, a deep inner truth took me by surprise and it took me a moment to recover from the shock. Did Dean just say that? Did he just point out the absurdity of our job, our life? Did he just call me gassy? I wasn't gassy. Was I? Dean was the…. Wait a second, did Dean just throw in the towel and quit?
Dean was tired of the life, he confessed it more than once before he… died. But it was the only life he had ever really known. Where would he go, what would he do if he truly quit? Besides, he couldn't quit now. Not with the angel and the Seals and Lilith and Lucifer and….and what's going on with me. I know this is something I need to deal with on my own, but Dean would never just abandon me, never. Especially not after going literally to Hell and back for me.
It was the ghost sickness talking, the fear, both rational and irrational messing with his mind.
I suddenly exhale the breath I didn't realize I was holding when Dean's sudden outburst and exit gave me the freedom to let go of the calm, and maybe even callus façade I've been maintaining for Dean's sake.
Dean's been back not even a month and I could lose him again. It's a very real possibility. There's not a lot of time left on the clock and it hits me that with no body to burn, destroying Luther's ghost and curing Dean of his sickness is going to be more difficult than I had hoped. With shaking hands I reach for my cell, forcing myself to keep it together. I can't let myself come undone—Dean has already done enough of that for the both of us and then some.
Holding the cell in my hand I debate whether I should call Dean or Bobby. With Dean's sanity unraveling the way it is, I'm not very comfortable with the idea of leaving him to run off in the night on his own so I figure I should call him and have him come back, but at the same time… I'm barely keeping it together myself. Truth is that I still need a few minutes to swallow the desperate fear I have for my brother's life. The last thing Dean needs at the moment is to see that I too, am scared. I'm his lifeline at the moment, his one solid link to reality, and calm, and sanity and safety and…
Pull yourself together Sam. You can do this. You have to.
Taking a deep breath I consider calling Bobby instead because, I know I can't do this alone. It may be that the past few months following Dean's death, and those many months before in a different reality have proven that as a solo hunter, I'm capable—more than capable. Capable to the point that, in a way, scares me. But this is different. This is Dean's life on the line… again.
It's like the universe is playing one huge cosmic joke because I've watched him die more times than I could count and no matter what I do, I've never been able to be the one to save him.
Dad selling his soul was what saved him after the accident, when the Trickster killed him over and over, it was me begging and the Trickster finally agreeing that saved Dean from that deadly time loop (that time was Hell for me, and the worst part is that it is a grief I can never share), and the Deal, I couldn't save him from that either. I couldn't even succeed in bringing him back. I couldn't even sell my fucking soul for him.
All my efforts were in vain. I could save a hundred people, a thousand, ten thousand, but when it comes to saving my brother, I am a complete failure. Now Dean's head is on the chopping block once again, as Dean put it, and I can't fail him again, I just can't. I could be one of the strongest hunters out there, but when it's Dean's life on the line… with my track record for saving my brother… I just can't do it alone. I can't risk failing him again. I owe it to him a thousand times over to save his life.
I climb into the impala, and dial Bobby's number. Dean can't have run too far, so I figure I'll find him before he can get into too much trouble… I hope.
"Bobby it's Sam," I say to Bobby's voicemail, I feel a little frustrated that he isn't answering, but I realize the time, it's late, and all I can really do is hope he gets it soon. Very soon. "Dean's getting worse and I don't know what to do, the case just got a bit more complicated. Please call me as soon as possible, please, there's not much time left."
I drive for a little while, keeping my eyes peeled for my wayward brother. When I don't see him, I head back to the hotel, hoping he went there. In his state, I hate to think of him ending up anywhere else. For him to have a breakdown in public at this point would be… please Dean, be at the hotel. The last thing we need is for him to run into the nice people in the white coats. Guiltily, I feel somewhat resentful that I'm wasting time looking for him when we could both be back at the hotel already figuring out how to beat this illness. How am I supposed to save Dean's life when I'm too busy looking for him?
I decide that if he's not at the hotel I'd call him. He's so twitchy and jumpy, I don't know how he'd react to even the phone ringing. I relax a little when I see the light in our room is on so I hurry to get inside and get back to my brother all the while I concentrate on hiding the fact that I am growing more and more freaked.
Unfortunately me trying to come off as calm and collected doesn't work as well as I planned. I'm a little on edge because my brother is sick and dying… again. And since I'm edgy and trying not to come off as such, when I see him I sound harsher than I intended, "I looked everywhere for you Dean. How the hell did you get here?"
"I ran," he shrugs sheepishly, his eyes wide.
I sigh and sit down next to him, unsure of what to say to ease his mind.
"What do we do now?" he asks, "I mean, I got less than four hours on the clock. I'm gonna die Sammy," he whispers, sounding small and scared. He looks so lost, so young and fragile and I suddenly feel like the big brother.
I sit down beside him and try to calmly assure him, "No, you're not. We're going to figure this out. I promise."
He seems confused and worried (although worried is a look that he always wears now but that worry has just increased tenfold, a sure sign he's getting worse) and I get the suspicion that what I'm saying and what he's hearing is completely different. I continue to reassure him that he'd be OK, but I watch as his features shift from timid confusion to apprehension to fear.
"Dean? What is it? What do you…?"
Suddenly his eyes darken and he jumps to his feet but then he stumbles back up against the wall, hitting it hard as though he's been pushed. "No! You get out of my brother you evil son of a bitch!"
Startled I reach out to him, trying to remain calm, "Dean, it's OK, I'm not possessed. I'm me, I'm fine. This sickness is making you see things that aren't there."
He doesn't seem to hear me, instead he takes a determined step forward and then stumbles and crashes back against the wall, struggling weakly against an unseen force.
"Dean? You OK?" I ask carefully, cautiously rising to my feet swallowing back my own panic to keep my cool. Can't help him if I lose it now. I feel my stomach knot as I realize that he's hyperventilating. "Calm down man, easy. Deep breaths, all right?"
He doesn't answer, just stares at me, horrified and I wonder, what exactly does he see?
I approach him like one might approach a wounded animal and his breathing quickens into quick, harsh, useless gasps. He makes a strange gurgling sound, as though he's being strangled. His terrified eyes begin to roll in the back of his head and… shit he's really struggling to just breathe. The terror in his eyes mirrors the terror in my heart at the sight of my fearless brother in such a state.
Shit. Shit. He can't breathe. Shit! He needs to calm down or…
The calm, soothing approach isn't working and I quickly reach out to him, "Hey, hey, hey Dean!" I bark, trying to snap him out of his stupor. I place my hand on his chest, hoping the connection will help him relax but also to hold him steady as he looks like he could fall over any second. I can feel his heartbeat, pumping rapidly and erratically.
God, what am I going to do? He's getting worse, he's getting worse and less than four hours left on the clock is not enough. Shit, even when I had a year to prepare, a year to find a way to save Dean from the deal I failed, so how the hell am I supposed to with only four… I don't even know where to begin. Without a body to burn we're at square one, I need a plan B but there's not enough time.
OK angel… Castiel is it? You saved my brother from Hell, would it be asking too much for you to intervene and save him once again? Dean doesn't need this; he doesn't deserve this. I don't know if I'm right about why he's infected and not me, but I know it's not because of what I said. I mean, we both use fear as a weapon but it's just because I'm immune, right? Like that Croatoan virus. But still, why Dean of all people? He might be a jerk sometimes—who isn't once in a while?—but he's my big brother, that's part of the job description and besides, he means well and… come on! Hasn't he been through enough? What's the point of bringing him back to life if you're just going to take him away again a month later? And like this!?
As he stares at me, wide eyed, and fighting to take in a decent gulp of air, I meet Dean's gaze, hoping that my outer calm successfully contradicts my inner panic.
Finally Dean blinks and when he opens them again the look of pure terror is gone, and though fever bright and haunted, they are lucid. Relieved I take a deep, purposeful breath and silently encourage him to do the same. In turn he breathes in and out, slower this time.
"You all right?" I ask, maintaining eye contact, hoping he can see that my eyes are the same hazel they've always been and not oily black like I could only imagine he saw.
He nods ever so slightly and I pat him once on the chest and return the nod and reluctantly let him go. I start to walk away to get my laptop when suddenly Dean's knees buckle and he begins to slide down the wall.
"Whoa!" I dive towards him and grab hold of his arms, easing his decent to the floor. Dean's head lolls forward, resting on my shoulder. He's still conscious but it's clear the sickness is taking its toll and as my cheek brushes against his forehead I can feel intense heat radiating off him. He tries to push away from the closeness, but it's a weak effort on his part. I lean back and push him gently to rest against the wall. His eyes look so weary, so haunted it makes me want to hold him and assure him that it's going to be OK, even if it's not.
But I restrain myself. Dean has never responded well to that sort of comfort, and with his state of mind… I'm not sure how to react anymore. Never in my life have I seen Dean this way. Not even when we were on that plane that was going to crash, and Dean had been remarkably freaked then. Shit, even with seconds left to live, he still had his game face on, so to see him cowering like this is just… I can't even describe it. It's just not like him.
Thank goodness he doesn't remember Hell, or I think he'd drop dead right now.
"I don't want to die," Dean murmurs finally. His voice is hoarse and broken.
"Listen to me Dean," I say, shaking him to force him to attention, "you're not going to die. I won't let you so don't say it. Don't worry bro, you're going to be fine."
Dean shakes his head and absently begins scratching his arm.
"Don't scratch," I scold gently as I take his hand and place it on his knee.
He glances at me and meets my gaze. The fever and the fear in his eyes seem to bring out the green in his irises and I realize his eyes are searching for something. What exactly I can't tell. I try to focus on Dean and Dean alone, I try to block my worry and uncertainty, and doubt and keep that from reaching my own eyes. I try to show him confidence and compassion and I offer him a quiet, reassuring smirk.
I can't show him my own fear. If he sees how scared I am considering how terrified he is now, if I show him the horrifying doubt I have that I might not be able to save him in time, how then could I possibly convince him to hang on and keep fighting it?
Whatever he was searching for he seemed to find it and he exhales, relaxes even. Then he reaches to scratch his arm again but stops and shakes his head wearily with a moan. He shivers with discomfort and without taking his eyes off of me, gives a half-assed smile and pats me gently on the shoulder.
"Sam?" His voice is small, weak and pleading, "Promise me…"
"What's that Dean?" I ask softly.
"You won't… I mean…promise me you won't… you won't…." he falters, sucking in a breath of air, trembling, groaning in misery, "don't… please…" His eyes slowly slide shut and he sags limply to the side.
"Dean?" I nudge him but he doesn't move, doesn't respond, doesn't give any sign of life and my breath hitches. My first thought is, this is it and I have to I remind myself that there is still time to save him from this sickness. There's still time. He's not gone—just exhausted.
Can't say I blame him. Neither of us has slept since this whole thing began. I put my hand on his forehead, wincing at the intense heat on his skin. If it were a normal fever frying his brain and causing his delirium, I would know what to do, but I don't know how to deal with this. It's not like I could just give him some Tylenol, or take him to a hospital.
"Yeah doc, my brother's been infected with a deadly ghost sickness, do you have a prescription for that?"
Yeah, I can see that going over so well.
I give his shoulder a squeeze and climb to my feet and head into the bathroom. Regular medications probably wouldn't do anything for him—besides considering how much he had to drink drugs were probably a bad idea anyway—so I decided to try the only other remedy I could think of for a fever. I wet a cloth with cool water. It would do nothing to stop his paranoia (of course at this point I don't think paranoia is a strong enough word) and hallucinations, but at least it might bring his fever down enough to give him some comfort.
He's still passed out on the floor when I sit beside him and drape the cool, wet cloth on his forehead. I pull his limp body close so he's lying in my lap, his head resting in the crook of my elbow. This is an act Dean would never allow if he were conscious. Although he's so out of character right now, I'm honestly not sure if that's still the case, maybe he would allow it this time… or not. He might wake up scared of me again, or clingy, or push me away, I don't know.
I have no idea what to think or do. In the past I'd know how to deal with a sick Dean. He was always someone who would rather take care of himself than let someone else take care of him. His job was to take care of Dad and me, not the other way around. That was his way of thinking so when he was sick, everyone was better off to just let Dean be. Only when he was too sick or hurt to take care of himself would he let someone else take care of him, and even then it was grudgingly. After he was electrocuted I quickly learned the dos and don'ts of taking care of my sick brother. But this Dean is entirely different from the Dean I knew. Dean was never afraid—unless it involved Dad and me. But this sickness has turned him into someone I don't recognize, someone who is afraid of everything, including me.
Coming back to the hotel and seeing that Dean was so scared of me that he couldn't even breathe really has me rattled. Sure, his delirious mind probably made him think I was possessed but still… what if…
I think about our fight on the side of the road a couple of weeks back. I accused Dean of looking at me, and treating me like I was a freak because of the whole demon blood thing. That was honestly the way I felt at the time but later, belatedly I realized that that wasn't the case. Dean had always been supportive of me, always. And I realized that he still is, even after learning of the blood and the powers and how the angels feel about it. He didn't think I was a freak. He was scared. Not of me, but for me.
If I mentioned it to Dean as way of apology, he'd brush it off. But that was why it completely threw me for a loop when I saw how terrified he was of me. I'm just glad he snapped out of it. If he didn't then that would be bad. We've always been each other's anchors, especially when things get rough. But take one of us out of the picture then the other is lost. The last few months when Dean was dead are a clear testament to that. And right now, Dean is lost enough as it is.
Dean lets out a startled gasp, and bats off the cloth on his forehead and looks around the room wildly and pushes away from me, shuffling away in a crab-like crawl until he's practically cowering in the corner.
"Dean, hey, it's OK," I say, trying to soothe him.
"Don't you hear that?" He asks frantically, his breathing ragged, his eyes wide seeing yet unseeing.
He just shakes his head and closes his eyes and covers his ears.
I grab him by the shoulders. He flinches at the touch but I don't let go. "Dean, look at me!" I snap.
He startles to attention and obeys, his bright eyes stare into mine. My hands move up to his burning cheeks and I hold his face forcing him to focus on me and me alone.
I swallow and focus on keeping my voice steady so the panic growing inside me doesn't taint my words. I need to remain calm, steady, focused, I need to be confident or nothing I say would have any meaning.
"Whatever you see, whatever you hear you have to remember Dean, it's not real, OK? It's the sickness. It's making you see things. You're safe OK? I'll make sure of it. As long as I'm around, nothing bad is going to happen to you. Just keep telling yourself it's not real."
He blinks in confusion, his eyes are still searching for something that isn't there, he's still on alert listening for a noise that no one can hear but him, and then he finally nods, slowly, with uncertainty. He lowers his hands from his ears and begins scratching again.
"Don't scratch," I nag.
He nods but continues to scratch so I gently grab his wrist, causing him to jump, and place his hand on his knee but it takes me by surprise when he clutches my wrist in return. He grips my wrist tightly, like a lifeline.
"What am I going to do Sammy?"
"You are going to relax, take it easy and get some rest OK? I called Bobby and we're going to fix this, I promise, don't worry, we'll fix this." I say hoping that it's not a lie. Please call back Bobby, please call back and tell me you've got the cure.
"But how?" Dean asks, sounding like a four year old. "Like you said, there isn't a body to burn, what if…"
"Dean, do you trust me?" I ask.
Dean's eyes widen and I swallow back a lump in my throat because I can see that he is considering, deliberating, I can see the uncertainty in his expression. It could be because of the sickness and paranoia but it bothers me all the same. He doesn't trust me. My brother, who has looked out for me for all my life doesn't trust me…
Of course, lately since he came back, I haven't exactly given him much reason to trust me. But he has to know, in spite of the demon blood, in spite of Ruby, in spite of the lies I have told him, he has to know that I will not let this sickness kill him. Not if I can stop it. He has to trust me on that at least.
"I…I trust you Sammy," his voice quivers when he speaks and despite the hesitation, I can see that he is sincere, or at least he's trying his damn hardest to be sincere.
"Good. So trust me when I say that Bobby and I are going to take care of this."
"OK," he blinks, still doubtful.
"You know I will do whatever it takes to save you."
Dean sucks in a shaky breath of air and pulls away from me and makes a beeline for his duffle and pulls out a new bottle of Jack. He opens it and takes a swig and murmurs under his breath words that I know I was never meant to hear, "I think that's what I'm afraid of." He coughs a little and then looks at me and says more loudly, "I know Sammy. I know." He smiles wanly, a weak attempt at reassuring me that he's OK.
"We're going to get you healthy Dean, just you wait, this time tomorrow we'll be laughing."
"Thanks for the…" he chokes a little, "pep talk Sammy."
He chokes again and starts pulling at his tie. He winces, gags and then looks at me desperately, breaking into a full on coughing fit.
"Dean?" I rest my hand on his back as he doubles over miserably and guide him to the bathroom where he chokes up more of those damn woodchips into the sink in a mix of blood and saliva. It's a good thing those particular fits are far and between because I can tell by the gray pallor of his complexion and the wheezing breaths that follow that it had to be painful.
He continues to cough hard enough that he has to lean heavily on the sink. I keep my hand on his back in support, holding him steady. He spits up more blood and splinters. This fit is much worse than the first time and when it's finally over he sags into me, trembling.
"That's just not," he coughs and wipes his mouth with his sleeve, "natural."
"No it's not," I murmur in agreement. He pushes away and looks into the sink in a quiet panic. "You all right?"
He nods and replies in a hoarse, shaky voice, "Yeah, I'm fine."
I look at him and take in his pale, sweaty face, the wide frantic, fear-stricken eyes and the way he's glancing around the room, listening to something I can't hear, seeing something I can't see. I watch him finally take off his suit jacket and tie, I notice the blood on his arms and the material of his white shirt that was stuck to the raw skin. He coughs a couple of times, clearing his throat. I watch him wearily rinse his face with trembling hands, constantly looking over his shoulder at something that isn't there.
'Fine' he says?
I don't believe him.
Thanks for reading. The next part should be up soon. Please let me know what you think.