Warnings: Rating for Language (though there is less this time! *is proud*)
Disclaimer: Mot mine, but oh how I wish they were….
Summary: After a hunt gone wrong, Sammy …drifts.
Author's Note: This is an unabashed Limp!Sam fic with no redeeming value. There is very little plot. This is kind of experimental, flow of consciousness thing. Sorry about that…and if it's too confusing. And I was told that it is sad. *shrugs* For some reason I can't seem to get a lighter feel to anything lately. I will try to make the next one a little… brighter.
Thanks to Mikiya for the rapid read-through. Any mistakes are mine. Mine! All mine!
As always, any feedback, good, bad, or indifferent, is welcome.
Quiet. Still and deep and soft, in the way that true darkness could be soft after being too long in harsh light. Soothing like that. He wasn't cold. He wasn't hurting. He wasn't anything… except tired. And the darkness was helping with that.
Breathe, Sam! C'mon, damn it! Breathe!
The darkness was heavy…but comforting, the way a heavy blanket could feel on a cold night.
The night had been so cold….
It's okay, son. It's gong to be okay. Just breathe, Sammy....
A thin thread of heat moved down his throat, pooled inside of him. A brief flush of warmth and love and air.
He had been so cold, even before he'd gone into the water. Then there had been a few seconds of icy, acidic agony as his whole body screamed and burned in the cold.
C'mon, Sammy. Do as you're told for once and breathe…Quit scaring your big brother, man.
But he wasn't cold now. Just numb. And…comfortable.
Heat again. Forcing its way into him, sliding down into his lungs. He felt the numbing bite of the ice that filled him give way, as powerless in the presence of that heat as he was in the presence of its provider.
The darkness and the comforting cold melted, leaving him drowning. The same heaviness that had soothed him became a weight, a pressure, confining and compressing and suffocating.
His chest heaved, the agony of the movement making him want to scream… but his lungs were still filled with splinters of ice and water, and his nose and throat were flooded. That warmth attacked him again, invading, and the icy-water in his chest churned because of it – and he retched. There were hands, so hot they were scalding, pulling him over, holding him on his side as he vomited up the once ice that had filled him.
That's it, that's it, Sammy. Just keep breathing…
He didn't want to keep breathing. It hurt. Didn't they understand that the ice had been better? Had been softer…?
Good boy, Sammy.
He was so very tired.
The heaving had slowed; the water in his lungs was almost purged…but the shards of ice were still there, working their way out of him through his chest and back, burning and freezing as they moved. The darkness was still there, too – but it was… thicker, somehow, now. Encasing. It felt less like a warm blanket and more like a sticky cobweb.
I can't find the source of the blood, Dad! Too many damned layers. I can't get through….
He'd walked into a big cobweb when they'd been hunting that abandoned steel and wire plant last year. It had covered his face and neck and chest like a cowl. He wasn't afraid of spiders, but the thin, sticky, clinging mass that covered him had freaked him out just a little. Dean had laughed his ass off as he'd pawed at the stuff, trying to clear his eyes and mouth.
Dean, get his legs. I don't want to shift him too much until we get a look at him….
The scorching hands slipped under his neck; under his shoulders. The press of them sent a shockwave of fire and pain through his chest and back. He tried to scream – it came out in a bubbly kind of moan. How not pathetic.
The world flared in bright white pain.
The Mishi-bizheu had been white. White like the tips of the waves. White like the ice. White like the cold of its lake.
Mishi-bizheu. The Great Lynx. Why the hell would the Ojibwa call a water monster 'the Great Lynx'? Wasn't a lynx a type of cat? And the descriptions of the Mishu-bizheu were not particularly cat-like, outside of the four feet. More reptilian. White and slithery and clawed. The pictures got the tail right, though. Serpentish and barbed and spikes down its back.
Damn, he's cold.
I know. Slide in. Pull him…
He wasn't cold. Dean was the one who'd fallen into the water. Dean was the one who was cold. He was fine. And numb. Which was fine.
Hey, Sammy. Open your eyes for me. C'mon, kid. … Dad…!
Mishi-bizheu. Dean kept calling it a Mitsubishi. Which was funny – in a totally lame way.
How bad… bleeding?
Who would have thought that there was a sea-monster that looked like a snake-cat with white scales. Thing was known for dragging people under the waves. Known for creating floods, too. That was what had gotten Dad's attention. Reports of localized flooding in places that shouldn't flood, leaving behind drowned people.
No, we can't…it's…
Dad had tracked it to a lake in northern Oregon. The lake was frozen over. That was a good thing; it would work in their favor, Dad had thought. They would cut a hole, control where the bizheu surfaced; then shoot it with the flare guns. Heat against cold, fire against water.
There was heat around him now. The throb of the car engine, the dry heat of its vents. Ironically, the heat began to make him feel cold. Really cold. And it made the shards of ice in his side burn. Heat against cold, fire against water.
Dean's voice was shaking. He had to be cold. He'd gone into the water. Gone under when the bizheu came up in a new spot… it just broke through the crust of ice near the shore. And Dean had slipped, falling into their hole. He'd gone under the ice.
His heartbeat fluttered in remembered panic. He moved, limbs heavy and weighted with cold and wet, and gasped as his back and side flared – there was a new wet, warmer, almost lava-like as it ran down his side.
And suddenly he was burning. Burning and burning – the heat as massive and oppressive as the ice had been, and there was acid in his side, in his back, and he wanted it to stop, just to stop….
The car jerked as brakes squealed, and his world exploded as his body rocked from the motion and he felt the blood like water and fire on his skin –
And then it was dark, again.
It was dark and still and calm, and he'd just stay here, thanks.
But he couldn't. Because the fire was under his skin… the fire was feeding off of the ice, and it was chasing off the soothing dark.
He doing okay?
Good. Help me.
There was always fire. He'd been born to fire; it lived in him. Maybe it was just going to come out now, burst free, and his father and brother would find him pinned to the ceiling.
The fire bloomed. Every muscle in his body was cramping…a massive charlie-horse that was going to pull him apart, splitting him right at the place where the fire and ice were trying to escape his flesh. The cramp moved into his diaphragm…the pain of it so bad that he couldn't pull breath… and he just knew his dad was going to be pissed because he wasn't following orders….
Slow circles on his back, and he was draped over his dad's strong arm, and his voice wasn't pissed, or stiff, but deep and soothing like the darkness… but his hand was scalding – and he hoped it wouldn't stop, because it felt good and he reached up weakly, trying to hang on as the world tried to dissolve in bright and dark patches.
Just breathe, kiddo.
Water was running somewhere. Running off of Dean as Dad pulled him back to the edge of the hole, falling on the ice in a heavy patter as his coat drained and he gasped and shivered. Sam stood watch at the edge, waiting for the bizheu to resurface. But he'd shot it, before; when it had first come up.
It had screamed, and dove. Giving his dad time to grab for Dean before he went too far under.
And Dad had knelt down, his breath foggy on the frigid air as he reached into the hole and fished for Dean. It was too dangerous to dive in after him without a line. Swim away from the opening and you would never find a way out of the ice again…
And when it was almost too long and concern was converting to panic, John had suddenly strained, pulling a shivering Dean to the hole, his hand fisted in Dean's heavy coat.
The same coat that had poured water onto the ice.
The one he could hear pouring water onto the ice now…except that he was on fire now, and his wet clothes were gone, and his dad was rubbing soothing circles on his back.
And he couldn't breathe.
And Dad and Dean were both on their knees, on the ice. Both of them vulnerable – and it was almost predictable when the bizheu had lunged back out of the hole. Of course he hadn't managed to kill it. Of course it had come back after them when they were most vulnerable. He would have found it almost tedious – if he hadn't have been fucking terrified for his family.
Dad had tossed Dean clear, sliding him down the ice and away from the monster.
Leaving himself vulnerable.
He'd run at his dad in the fraction of a second that this had happed – moving down the slippery ice as John heaved Dean clear. He'd thrown aside the useless, empty flare gun, freeing his hands. He reached his dad as the bizheu's spiked tail started down. He'd used his momentum to shove his dad, intending on knocking them both out of the way. But he'd slipped on the ice, perpetual screw-up that he was. He'd pushed Dad away, but had ended up falling and taking his place.
Dean? Is it ready?
Yeah, we're good to go.
He felt the blow from the Mishi-bizheu all over again as his father pulled him up from the floor. He felt the slam of the tail into his chest; the hot, blunt pressure as the spikes on that tail pierced into his side, his back. The heart-stopping cold as the bizheu's tail pushed him through the ice and into the water, deeper and deeper… the sudden agony as the glacial lake encased him, every nerve shrieking in protest of the horrible, burning cold.
Easy, Sam. Easy! Damn it, why is he fighting?
It's the water. Even tepid, it's going to feel like boiling to him right now. Don't let him out of this tub!
He's bleeding again…!
It had driven him down, deep into the heavy black and cold. He'd looked up through the ripples to see the flash as his dad shot the Mishi-bizheu, the flare of light and fire above telling him where to swim for… but he hurt, and he was so cold, and so tired, and the light was so far away….
And the darkness was always so close.
And it was pulling at him now.
It's alright, Sammy. I know it hurts, but we've got you. I'm not going to let go. I won't let you go under again…
One, two, three, four, five, six,
Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve
Ladybugs came, to the ladybug picnic.
Sam pried his eyes open to the quiet, and quite annoying, sound of kazoos.
One, two, three, four, five, six,
Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve
And they all played games, at the ladybugs' picnic.
His side was burning. His hands and feet felt swollen and stiff. He really wanted a drink of water.
He was tucked firmly into a bed that was almost familiar in its unfamiliarity. The blankets were wrapped around him so tightly that he couldn't move much.
His brother was sprawled in the next bed over, mouth open and snoring. His dad was slumped in a chair across the room, having fallen asleep slumped over the table. He would have been very, very tired for that to happen. Sam had seen it before. His dad was kind of… twisted up in the chair, and Sam mentally winced, knowing his neck would hurt when he woke.
And they chatted away, at the ladybugs' picnic.
They talked about the high price of furniture and rugs,
And fire insurance for ladybugs
Ladybugs twelve, at the ladybugs' picnic.
Sam glanced at the TV and realized that it was playing Sesame Street. He knew full well that Dean would have been watching something else when he fell asleep… but Sam didn't have to let logic into this. As far as Sam was concerned, Dean had fallen asleep watching Sesame Street – and he was never going to let him live it down.
He snorted – and the soft laugh pulled at muscles that really didn't want to be pulled.
He hissed at the burst of pain; and lay still until it faded again. Laying still seemed like a good idea.
But he was so thirsty.
He pulled a steadying breath, and carefully tugged the blankets back with stiff and sore hands. He shuddered as he lost the heat of the blankets. The room felt cold to him…though Dad and Dean seemed fine. He sat up carefully, biting his lip at the fire the movement kindled in his side and back.
He checked himself out as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. He was, he thought, one giant bruise. New stitches tracked across his side, and he could feel others tugging in his back. His chest felt a little thick; his breath coming tighter than it usually did. His skin felt thin- overly sensitive and shivery.
All in all, he guessed he'd live.
He pushed himself to his feet, taking a second to find his balance. His feet hurt. How weird was that?
He shuffled to the bathroom, shutting the door with a soft click.
He turned on the faucet and palmed up a couple of handfuls of water. His eyes automatically found the mirror.
He stared at the boy staring back at him.
The eyes in the mirror didn't change… there was no betraying sign of his near death, nothing to mark him as any different than any other kid at his school.
Had he stopped breathing last night?
His knees felt weak as the memories hit, and he clutched the edge of the sink with clumsy hands to keep himself up. The tiny cake of hard soap fell into the basin with a clatter.
Memories of ice and fire and fear and pain… and more frightening than anything was the memory of how…comfortable he had been, how content. He wondered how close to death he had wandered – and knew that it was probably closer than Dad and Dean had guessed or he would have woken up in a hospital his morning.
There was a light, cautious knock on the door. "Sam?"
He cleared his throat, tearing his eyes away from the stranger in the mirror. "Yeah."
"You okay in there?" His voice was soft and concerned.
Sam smiled a little in the dim light of dawn that slid through the tiny bathroom window. "Yeah, Dad. I'm okay."
There was a hesitation. Sam wondered briefly if his dad would take the next step and come in. He wondered if he was more afraid…or hopeful.
"Okay," his dad said finally. "Don't lock the door, alright?"
In case he should fall or need help. "I won't."
"Just call if you need anything."
He listened as his dad retreated.
And that was okay, too. Outside the bathroom he could hear the TV change to morning news. He could hear his big brother coughing.
Inside the bathroom he looked again in the mirror.
He wanted to be that kid, the one with the steady eyes who looked like he'd never had to ask himself if he'd stopped breathing.
But he just wasn't.
Is he alright?
Dean's voice, sleepy and a little congested. It came through the door as disembodied as any EVP Sam had ever heard.
He seems to be…
His dad's voice sounded tight and distant… Dad's version of worried.
Was he alright?
The question floated for a minute, white and cold and sharp.
You don't sound sure…
…What do we do if he isn't?
It was the fear in the words that moved Sam. Dean shouldn't get scared. Not like that; not over him.
He will be. …He has to be.
His dad sounded so… tired.
Dad and Dean needed him to be fine.
…So he would be.
He looked in the mirror again – he could be that kid.
All the rest of it could just …sink. Sink into someplace dark and cold and white. Someplace so deep inside himself that even he wouldn't have to worry about it.
And he would be fine.
Because he had to be. For them.
Taking a careful breath, Sam forced his expression into pleasantness. He made his hands let go of the sink. He opened the door and shuffled out, ready to tell his brother that he was just fine.