A/N: Thank you guys for all the reviews; seriously, I feel spoiled. (That's not my telling you to stop, though; I'm totally okay with you guys sending more.) This was written as a prompt for the Hurt!Dean meme on LiveJournal. I don't generally beat up Dean, but the prompt was too good to ignore, especially as someone who's suffered sleep deprivation before.
The first day after the curse, it was still a joke with Dean. He still felt hyped, still felt fine, and called it the "Red Bull Curse". Capital letters and everything. Sam wasn't as enthusiastic or willing to join in, but so long as Dean was still okay, Sam was okay. Well, maybe almost as okay as Dean was, because the translated words of the curse were still haunting him. One week without sleep. And god knew he remembered Dean trying to stay awake after the dream root affair, and that had only been a couple of days. Cranky Dean wasn't something Sam was looking forward to.
Day two didn't dawn as bright. Dean started snapping at people, even the cute waitress at the diner. Sam made a decision to keep him back in the motel room for the duration, and Dean bitched him out for it. "For god's sakes, I'm not a freakin' two year old without a nap time," he hissed, then pounded his fist against the wall really hard. Yeah, two year old missing their nap seemed like a perfect comparison to Sam.
Day three and four left Dean quieter and more agitated, and Sam knew his brother kept trying to fall asleep. One time it actually looked like he had, and for the next ten minutes Sam didn't think he'd breathe, hoping that the curse had broken early, for whatever reason. When Dean opened his eyes, though, there had definitely been no sleep gained. The failed attempt just made things worse, and left Dean fidgety and upset. Twice Sam was sure Dean was on the verge of tears, but his brother poured it out in anger instead, punching the wall, kicking the chair, bouncing on the balls of his feet looking for a fight. Sam offered to give him one, then, but Dean shook his head. "No, I...no," Dean said. His arms were wrapped tight around himself, fingers digging into his skin. "I don't want you to do that. And for fuck's sake, Sam, sleep. You get to do it; don't want you up with me. Can't have both of us on a burnout, all right?"
It still felt wrong to sleep, though. Knowing Dean couldn't. So Sam opted for little cat naps here and there, refusing to let himself sleep all the way. Dean wouldn't face the empty, quiet nights alone. Not when Sam could stay awake with him.
Day five brought even more fun. Dean was losing steam, the agitation fading into bleary-eyed confusion. Simple sentences left his brother perplexed and barely understanding Sam at all. "You need to drink something, Dean," Sam said patiently. All patience for his brother, and a smoldering hatred for the goddamn warlock who'd made sure the curse would hit his brother. Dean looked up at him with bloodshot eyes, blinking and biting his lip, and Sam handed him the cup. "C'mon, Dean," he said softly, gently, and even then he had to guide the cup to Dean's lips.
Dean asked for a crossword puzzle a little later, agitation back, and Sam offered the TV controller instead. "No," Dean said, shaking his head. "Can't...gotta do-" He paused and covered his tired eyes with a tight grip. "Gotta do something, gotta think, can't look at the bright colors, s'too bright Sammy-"
The room got plunged into semi darkness, Sam closing the drapes and partially unscrewing the light bulbs to keep them from lighting up all the way. The room took on a luminescent glow, and Sam ruefully handed over the crossword puzzle that Dean's fingers literally twitched to take. Not even six minutes in and Dean was chucking the puzzle across the room, the newspaper barely going past the end of the bed from lack of strength and sleep. Both of Dean's palms were pressed against his eyes by the time Sam got to him, the pencil still locked in a death grip between Dean's fingers. "Fuckin' boxes keep...keep moving, and I don't understand what it says or what it's asking for-"
Touches were too much, but Sam still managed to rest a hand against Dean's shoulder. "Two more days," Sam promised softly. "We can do it, Dean. You can do it." Stupid words to say, weren't going to help Dean at that point but Dean finally nodded. He trembled under Sam's hand, and Sam knew two days was still too much.
On day six Sam woke from a small nap to find that it hadn't been a small cat nap. The alarm on his phone had been turned off (the alarm had been a vibrate one anyways, trying not to insert noise into the room) because Dean had his phone. Pushing buttons and holding it up to his ear before repeating. "Something's wrong with your phone," Dean said. "Same as mine. Can't get out to Dad."
Sam sat up in his chair, the kinks hard in his spine. "Dad?" he asked, feeling lost. "Dean-"
"He called earlier," Dean said, but he sounded confused now. "He...He called, and I can't call him back." He picked Sam's phone up again and shook it, then stared, shook again, stared some more. "The hell's wrong with your phone? It won't call Dad. Gives me some error message, phone's not...in service." The bewildered, lost look he gave Sam only made Sam want to hurt the warlock again. "But he called me. I know he did," Dean whispered. "He...he called..."
Sam moved slowly across the room to take the phone from Dean. "His phone might be on the fritz, too," he suggested. Dean nodded after a minute, still looking confused.
Sam ordered food in. He managed to get Dean to eat some of it, but Dean's continual attempts to call Dad made food tasteless and swallowing impossible. "Why do you need to talk to him?" Sam finally asked, needing to know.
Dean pushed away his mostly filled styrofoam box. "I just...I gotta talk to him, gotta tell him stuff. Need to hear him, need him to talk to me. I miss him," he said suddenly, and tears welled in his eyes. "Sammy I miss him," and the tears turned into hitched breaths. Dean's arms went around himself and he half bounced and rocked in his seat, biting his lip and swinging his gaze everywhere around the room as he cried.
The night was a long one. Dean finally moved and sat up against the headboard, legs curled up in front of him. Touches were no longer shrugged off, and Dean all but burrowed himself into Sam. The whispers of "Dad, don't go," and "Stay," left Sam hanging on as tight to his brother as Dean was clinging to him. "Not going anywhere, Dean," he promised, and his voice was rough and deep enough that he hoped Dean heard their dad.
The seventh day was the worst of them all. Dean was near incoherent, whimpering and confused and desperate. Sam felt exhausted, run over from emotional and physical stress. God knew how Dean felt. Dean moved to the corner on the floor, mumbling under his breath, eyes red and sore looking. His arms stayed tight around himself, though it didn't stop the shivering. Blankets were ignored, even when Sam wrapped them as best as he could around his brother's huddled form. The pillow between Dean's head and the wall didn't do any good, either. "Dean," Sam called gently, a cup of water in his hands. "Gotta drink, Dean."
Dean moved his bloodshot gaze to Sam's. "I...I don't..." and he shut his eyes and shook his head. "I don't understand," he whispered and began to cry. "I don't..."
That time, at least, Sam wasn't ignored when he set the cup down and wrapped himself around his brother. Dean kept crying, shaking and sobbing and leaving Sam with nothing left but the ability to hold on and keep Dean from cracking open any more than he already had. Sobs turned to hiccups, and then finally silence. Sam kept holding on, anyways.
It was only when he caught a glimpse at the clock that he froze. Exactly one week from the curse had passed only minutes before. Sam's gaze swiveled to Dean's, and found his brother's eyes closed, eyelashes and cheeks glistening. The evened breathing left Sam feeling light headed and ready to weep himself. Instead he maneuvered Dean into his arms and set his brother down on the bed. He didn't even look at the other bed, simply crawled in behind his brother and pulled the covers over them both, and if Dean bitched at whatever time they woke up, he could go screw himself. Sam wasn't moving.
When Sam woke up next, Dean was sleepily regarding him, their foreheads touching. "You look like shit," Dean said. "You thought about getting sleep?"
Sam settled for a pinch of his brother's arm, and when Dean smiled and closed his eyes again, Sam closed his own to follow his brother back into sleep.