Mud in Your Ear
Disclaimer: The brothers, the car, and the concept belong to Kripke. The love belongs to us.
Beta'd: By Carocali – thank you for all the great feedback including the title which is actually a song by the group, Muddy Waters.
Special thanks to Muffy and Phx!
Time Line: Eh, somewhere during season one or two. :) KKbeivis wanted a Muddy!Sam fic, and that's all the thicker the plot is!
Dedicated: To Kkbeivis who requested the fic and Carocali who shamelessly pimped me out!
"You do it."
"I'm not gonna do it. You do it."
"Oh, you know how to pop the clutch in this crappy old Datsun of Bobby's?"
"Didn't think so. Get outside and start pushing, Sasquatch."
A blur of ugly brown coat and annoyed puppy slid out of the passenger seat, slamming the door behind him. Dean chuckled, rolling down his window.
It was bad enough he'd swerved to miss a cat of all things and ditched the car. Rear-wheel drive cars were such a blast to drive in inclement weather. The sky was dark, rain pelting the asphalt, pooling in the low spots on the road. A cold wind whipped the downpour in all directions, attacking the car antennae until it whistled for mercy.
He was just glad it was one of Bobby's throwaway jalopies instead of the Impala, dry-docked due to four blown tires courtesy of their last hunt. To top it all off, the Datsun wouldn't start. The theory was for Sam to push the car out of the ditch, Dean to pop the clutch, and they'd go on their merry way. Of course, in Dean's experience, nothing ever seemed to go quite that easily.
The crux of the problem lay in the steep grade of the muck-filled ditch. If Dean had been driving the Impala, the weight of the heavy car would have propelled it down the embankment. As it was the hatchback was simply stuck, nearly hopelessly, in six inches of mud. It could have been worse. He could have been the one floundering in the clayish muck and rain pushing the car. Luckily, that's what little brothers were for.
"Are you ready?" Sam shouted from somewhere near the trunk. Rain and wind continued to pelt the car and Dean could barely hear his brother over the din.
"Ready!" he shouted back, leaning his head out of the window only to have rain run down his collar. It was coming down in sheets outside and for a moment he felt a twinge of sympathy for his brother. He tilted the review mirror to catch sight of Sam's bedraggled appearance.
He was going to owe the kid coffee and pie for this one.
A small bit of fortune was with them, however, as the B210 was a much lighter car than the Impala and only one of the back tires was off the road. Sam would be able to push it out if he put his back into it. Inexorably, the car rolled forward. Dean could feel the moment both rear tires made contact with the pavement, traction and stability returning. The compact vehicle lurched forward and picked up speed on the decline until Dean popped the clutch, hit the gas, and the engine sputtered to life. He eased the Datsun to a stop and pulled the emergency brake, leaving the engine running as he twisted in the seat to check for Sam.
The road was black and empty. The taillights lit the area a few inches from the rear of the car in an eerie red glow, past that it was nothingness. He snagged a flashlight from the weapons bag in the back seat, cursing as he exited the old Honey Bee. Dean ran down the road, heedless of the rain. "Sam!" No answering call from the night.
The car had traveled farther than he'd estimated before starting and it took several minutes to locate the spot where the car had been stuck. "Sammy!" He shined the flashlight in the ditch, searching for any sign of his brother. There was no movement, no sign of life at all in the steep, water-filled, muddy trench. Sam had to be here, he couldn't have just disappeared. Dean nearly groaned as the thought skimmed through his mind. They were Winchesters, of course Sam could have just disappeared. "Sammy!"
Then he heard it, a groan barely audible over rain and wind. "D'n?"
He sensed, more than saw, the tiny movement of tar-black mud to his left. "God, Sam."
Sam was completely covered in mud, hair, clothes, it looked like even his nose and ears were filled with thick glop. He struggled blindly up the slippery slope, hands trying desperately to find purchase on the saturated ground. He coughed and spit before calling out again. "Dean?"
"Sam, are you okay?" Dean asked, stretching out a hand. The gap between them was a good three feet. There wasn't any way Sam was getting out of the quagmire that way.
"Yeah, Sam, I'm here. I just need to find a way to get to you without both of us getting stuck in that crap." Dean searched for anything he could use to gain traction on the treacherous ground.
"Dean!" The muddy, vaguely Sasquatch-shaped form wobbled on all fours, clawing into the mud.
"Hold still, I'm coming for you!" Sam didn't stop moving, didn't acknowledge him, and that's when Dean realized that his brother couldn't hear him. He scoured the nearby area, ignoring Sam's plaintive call, as he continued his search. Rain saturated his jacket, adding to the weight of the bulky coat, until he seriously considered ditching it to speed up his progress. That's when the light bulb went off. "Dean," he growled under his breath.
Unzipping his coat, he ran back to Sam, only to find his brother had stopped moving, lying still in the mud. Dean could barely see the rise and fall of the taller man's chest, all 6'4" of him blending in nearly perfectly with his surroundings. Shucking his jacket, Dean lay on the pavement. Holding tight to one sleeve he tossed the rest of his coat at Sam. "Sam!" he shouted.
He didn't know if Sam heard him through the mud pack or if he somehow just sensed Dean was nearby, but long fingers grabbed the other jacket sleeve. "Dean?"
"Yeah, I gotcha," he murmured reassuringly, although he knew Sam couldn't hear him.
Sam for his part tried his best to hang onto the jacket sleeve, and slowly army-crawled his way up the steep ditch. When he was close enough to reach, Dean grabbed his brother by the seat of the pants and hoisted him onto the tarmac. The two of them lay there on the empty road trying to catch their breath as rain poured down on them.
Dean knelt beside his brother, using his ruined coat to wipe mud out of Sam's eyes. Relieved hazel made contact with concerned green, and Sam reached up to pat Dean affectionately on the shoulder. "Good to see you too, Sammy," he said.
He stood, extending a hand to his brother, pulling Sam to join him in one smooth motion. Dean waited for a nod, wrapping an arm around his brother's shoulders as he listed to the right. "Dizzy," Sam said, as if the drunken sailor act wasn't enough of an indicator.
"Easy," Dean said, bracing his brother against his side. "We're not far from the car."
It wasn't far, but the trip took an interminably long time with Sam stumbling every few steps and the cold rain penetrating every fiber of clothing he wore. He was freezing by the time they reached the yellow and black striped Datsun and Sam was shivering uncontrollably.
He kept one hand on Sam's shoulder, the other grasping the slick car handle. "Oof," Dean grunted when his brother's equilibrium failed, nearly two hundred pounds of muscle slamming him against the car door.
He twisted free, helping Sam into the warm car before running around to jump in the driver's side. The B210 lurched forward as he gunned the engine, heading for the lights on the horizon that signaled a town, motel, and shower were in his future.
The faint glow from the dash light illuminated the interior just enough for Sam's hazels to stand out brightly against a mud-washed background. Dean caught sight of his brother shoving one of his orangutan fingers into his ear trying to clear it. He slapped Sam's hand away.
"Dude, stop it. You're just going to shove it in further," Dean said.
Sam's muted look of annoyance burned from his eyes. "It itches," Sam shouted, his voice unnaturally loud to compensate for artificial deafness. "Making me crazy." He lifted his hand to drill into his ear again and Dean grabbed his arm, forcing it to the seat.
"Don't," Dean said, shaking his head.
Sam huffed, but apparently understood even if he couldn't hear because the hand didn't go up again.
The defroster blasted out hot air, valiantly trying to keep the foggy windshield clear and warm the inside of the car. Unfortunately, it couldn't win the battle against rain soaked and mud covered brothers. Sam shivered in the passenger seat, tremors racking his tall frame. He was unnaturally quiet, but Dean blamed it on his inability to hear anything.
He pulled the B210 into the first motel they came across, making short work of checking them in and unloading the car. He opened the passenger door, helping Sam out of the hatchback, no easy feat as his brother's long legs didn't fit into the confined space without acrobatic maneuvering. "Come on, Swamp Thing," he grunted, "you can do it."
Sam shook his head, confusion in his eyes and Dean narrowed his eyes in concern. He knew his brother couldn't hear, but the radio silence was disconcerting. "Sam, are you okay?" he asked, grabbing the younger man's shoulders to get his attention.
Sam nodded his head. Dean wasn't completely convinced; mild hypothermia was definitely a possibility. He palmed his brother's chest while he shut the door, but Sam's knees started to buckle sending him towards a pot-hole filled with mud and rainwater. "Whoa, whoa, stay on your feet," Dean said, pushing him against the car. "You still need a shower and a fresh set of clothes before you take a nap."
He pulled one of Sam's arms over his shoulder. "Bathroom's just fifty feet from here, Sammy, you can do it."
They lurched clumsily into the motel room, Dean kicking the door shut on their way past. He deposited Sam on the toilet seat and started the shower heating. Gripping his brother's chin in one hand, Dean tilted Sam's head to peer into his ears. Grayish-brown mud filled the canal, cracking slightly as it partially dried. He wasn't sure if he could get it out because it didn't look dry enough to get a good grip on it.
Dean fished through the bathroom bag until he found a pair of tweezers. He held them up in front of Sam, waiting for a nod of understanding before carefully inserting them into the other man's ear. Sam tensed under his ministrations, his hand fumbling for Dean's arm to stop him. He cringed, hating that he was hurting Sam, but Dean wanted to restore some of his brother's hearing and equilibrium.
A chunk of mud came out when he pulled out the tweezers followed by a slow trickle of dirty water. He tilted Sam's head, starting the process again. The younger man pulled his head away, eyes rolling in their sockets before settling. "Gah," Sam whispered under his breath, holding a hand to the ear Dean had just finished cleaning.
Sam swayed, a groan escaping past dirt encrusted lips. Dean couldn't see the color of his brother's skin through the thick layer of mud, but he had a sneaky suspicion it would be ghost-pale. "Are you gonna be sick?" he asked, placing a hand on Sam's back.
In response, Sam slid off the toilet, landing in a heap on the floor. As the heaving began, Dean man-handled his gargantuan brother over the toilet. He pressed a hand to Sam's back to steady him. He must have created pressure similar to high elevation ear popping, inadvertently causing Sam's dizziness to increase. "Sorry, Sam," he apologized, knowing his brother couldn't hear him.
When it was clear the heaving was finished, Dean quickly attacked Sam's other ear getting out a clump of dirt and water. The younger man clung to the toilet as a life-line, only rocking back on his heels when Dean tossed the tweezers into the sink. "Can you hear me?"
"Think so," Sam whispered. "Not all out."
Dean raised his voice slightly, attempting to compensate for the remaining blockage. "We'll need to flush your ears a few times," he said, scooping an arm under Sam's and hoisting him to standing. "How's your nose, can you breathe?"
One of Sam's giant hands flew to his face, covering his nose and mouth, eyes opening wide. "You are not picking my nose."
Dean raised an eyebrow, faking a move towards the tweezers.
"I mean it, Dean," Sam said as ferociously as he could with a nose packed so full of mud it sounded like he had the flu.
"Relax," Dean said, easing Sam to the commode, "it's the shower for you, kiddo."
"'M already wet," Sam protested.
"And yet you smell like a toilet," Dean said, tossing Sam's words back at him.
Sam pouted, honest to God pouted, lips pursing, forehead curling, drying mud flaking off his face. "Not my fault."
"Doesn't make you stink any less," Dean said with a smirk.
What Sam lacked in coherency he gained in succinctness, raising his middle finger in an unmistakable gesture. "I'm fine."
"I can see that." Dean gave his brother a once over, appraising his condition. Sam swayed slightly, shivering hard in wet, muddy clothes. "Do you need help?"
"I got it."
Sam's forehead frowned, mouth following suit. "I'm sure I don't want help."
"Let's see it, then," Dean challenged, nodding at Sam's shirt.
"No." Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, wincing.
"Yeah," Sam said, his voice rough. "I think I hit my head."
"And you're just telling me now?" Dean scolded. He pawed through the sticky strands until he found the lump on the side of Sam's head. He gently probed the bump causing Sam to hiss in pain.
"Knock it off," Sam grumbled.
"Looks like you already tried," Dean said. "No more argument, I'm not taking a chance between the crack on your head and your piss-poor balance." Without further preamble, he quickly stripped Sam down to his soiled briefs. "Shit, Sam," he said, hand ghosting over still forming bruises barely visible through the mud on his brother's side and back.
He just might owe Sam coffee, pie, and a new memory stick for the laptop.
"I'm fine," Sam repeated.
"Uh-huh," Dean said, helping his brother to stand. "I'm leaving those for you," he said, with an awkward gesture in the general direction of his Sam's underwear, propelling him into the shower. He waited for a thumb's up before leaving Sam unattended.
Sam let the hot water wash away the first layer of mud, thick blobs of clay, tiny rocks, and soil sloughing off his skin and hair, congregating near the drain. He kicked the first pile of sludge into the corner, then turned around to get the front side. Water ran in rivulets down his face and he closed his eyes, enjoying the warmth. He was cold deep into his bones, shivers chasing up his spine. He felt around blindly for the shampoo, lathering up three times to get most of the dirt out of his hair.
A tremendous sneeze nearly knocked Sam off his feet, echoing around the shower walls with phenomenal acoustics. The knock on the door was not only expected, he practically timed it to the second. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Sam said, sheepishly, "just getting the mud out of my nose, apparently."
"I didn't ask for details, Sammy."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Whatever."
"Hurry up, I'm starving."
"You're always hungry, Dean," Sam said, soaping up a washcloth. "I'll be out soon."
Sam couldn't hear if Dean walked away, but when no other retort was forthcoming, he assumed Dean had. His ears felt muffled, as if mud was still lodged inside. While Sam had been floundering in the ditch, it had been disconcerting not to be able to hear or see between the sludge in his ears and caking his face, and the night's pitch darkness. The knock to the head Sam had taken when he'd lost his footing as the car gained speed hadn't helped matters any.
He hadn't been able to move out of the ditch, the earth sucking him down, deeper into the cold water and thick clay. Sam had known his brother would come back, but he'd barely contained an edge of panic against the sensory deprivation. Now the water was warm, soothing, cleansing, but the pelting rain that turned soil into thick soup had been the enemy.
He enjoyed the spray awhile longer before finally turning the water off. Sam dried off, wrapping the towel around his waist before opening the door. Steam billowed out into the room, curling in white wisps that quickly dissipated in the cooler air. He'd just finished slipping on a clean pair of sweats, a t-shirt and his hoodie when Dean came back inside.
His brother had apparently made the fastest run to the pharmacy and takeout joint in modern history. Dean set down a bag on the table, two tall cups of coffee, what appeared to be a pie box, and waggled a white paper sack in front of Sam's face. "Back into the bathroom for you."
Sam raised one eyebrow, never one to take orders without questioning. "Why?"
"I couldn't get all the mud out with a tweezers, Sam," Dean said in a tone of voice a little too parental for Sam's liking. "I would have just ended up shoving that crap further into your ear."
"It'll come out," Sam said, shaking his head in disagreement. His eyes widened when Dean pulled out a large syringe with a bent nozzle and a glass bowl. "You are not putting that in my ears."
"Don't be a baby," Dean chided. He gestured to the bathroom, waiting until Sam walked in front of him. "You may not remember how cranky you are when you have an earache, but I do."
Sam frowned, sitting on the lid of the toilet. "I don't remember ever having an ear infection."
Dean turned on the taps, running his fingers under the water until he was satisfied with the temperature. "You were three and you wouldn't stop crying." He chuckled as he filled the bowl. "I think Dad held you and rubbed your back all night."
"Yeah, he did," Dean said.
Sam smiled, and then narrowed his eyes looking at the water-filled bowl. He stuck his finger in to test the water temperature.
"What? You don't trust me?" Dean asked with mock offense.
"Ugh," Sam said, "just don't want to hurl again."
"Yeah, the throwing up bit wasn't my favorite either," Dean said. He filled the syringe and patted the edge of the sink. "Let's get this over with."
Sam swallowed hard, not relishing the idea of an ear flush. "No," he said, shaking his head.
"You want to do it yourself?" Dean offered, holding out the syringe.
"You know, I think I'm good." Sam took a step towards the door. Dean had him by the back of the neck, face pressed carefully, but firmly, against the porcelain before Sam knew what hit him. "Let me up!"
"Nope, now hold still."
The end of the nozzle entered Sam's ear and he fought not to squirm away. The water was warm, gentle, heck it almost tickled as it slowly cleansed his ear. There was a pause while Dean filled the syringe and Sam turned his head so his brother could get the other ear. Then the water was back, efficiently washing the rest of the mud from his other ear.
It was only then that Dean moved his hand from the back of Sam's neck. He felt a tickle at the back of his throat, the sneeze winding up before he let loose. "Ahchoo!"
"Shaddup," Sam said, leaning forward to wash his hands.
"You know, they had a neti pot down there, I could go back," Dean offered, his tone sincere.
"Don't even think about it," Sam growled. He started to get up, when Dean pushed him back down again.
"Not so fast, Sparky," Dean said. "Let me check your head."
"Still there," Sam said, wincing as his brother probed the lump.
"Funny." Dean helped him up with a hand on Sam's elbow. "It's not bleeding, but it is one hell of a bump."
"And it hurts when you push on it," Sam said, twisting out of Dean's grasp and ducking his head. "Leave it alone."
"Stop whining," Dean said with a chuckle.
Sam scowled, then smiled as he took in Dean's appearance. "Ah, Dean?"
"You need a shower." He cracked a grin, dimples sinking into his cheeks.
Dean looked down at his muddy clothes. "Aw, man."
Sam chuckled, heading for his bed. His chuckle turned into a laugh when he heard the shower start running and the bathroom door shut. He shivered hard prompting a wave of dizziness. It sent bile rushing up his throat and he swallowed back the acrid burn. He was freezing and now that he was essentially mud-free, he couldn't wait to crawl under the covers.
He'd no sooner settled into bed when two more blankets drifted over him. "Here, eat it while it's still hot," Dean said, handing Sam a box of takeout.
"Not really hungry," Sam said, swallowing hard again at the thought of food, "but thanks."
"So, drink the tea." Dean jerked his head towards the tall, steaming cup on the bedside table.
"Tea?" Sam sniffed the contents. "Yeah, okay." He took a couple of sips, waiting until Dean walked away to shower, to rifle through his duffel in search of pain killers. Downing the pills he collapsed back against the pillows, burrowing deeper into the blankets. He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew an ice pack landed near his head, startling him. "What the – Dean?"
"Relax, there's one for your side, too." Dean climbed into the opposite bed and turned on the television.
Sam adjusted the ice packs and closed his eyes. The television droned on, Dean channel surfing through various programs. He cracked them open when Dean starting chuckling. "What?"
"Dude, it's your movie."
Sam narrowed his eyes trying to focus on grainy picture. He couldn't tell if it was the film or the television. "What is it?"
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy, we really need to work on your history." Dean smirked, tossing the remote onto the table. "It's a classic."
Sam raised an eyebrow, nodding his head and waving a hand in a 'continue on' gesture.
"Creature from the Black Lagoon."
Sam tossed a pillow at his brother. "Good night, Dean."
Dean tucked the pillow behind his back. "Night, Sam."
He drifted off to sleep to the unlikely lullaby of a prehistoric Gill-Man, a screaming woman, and the deep belly laugh of his big brother.
God, it was good to be home.
AN: Sometimes, you just gotta wallow in good old-fashioned H/C.
Thanks for reading!