A/N: This was actually finished before the episode aired on Thursday, but I figured we would all be freaking about what was going to happen, then freaking about what had happened. I would like to thank you all for your patience with me lately. Real life is... I feel like I live in a CW soap. Thank you all for your wonderful reviews and support, I can't say how much they mean, I was reminded in the past two week how much you all mean. I have found family here, and I can't thank you all enough! Here is a huge Dean to Sam, Sam to Dean kind of hug for you. Thank you to TRaSan
A Spot of Trouble
Bright morning sun slanted through a tiny crack into the curtains, managing to find a searing path into Dean's brain. He groaned and rolled over. The combination of beer, burgers, tequila and a bag of M&Ms wasn't sitting well, it wasn't quite a hangover, but it wasn't fun. Cracking an eye open, he peered at the clock, it was only nine. He sat up and noticed the bump of the freckle gone rogue out of the corner of his eyes. Without thinking, he raised a hand to scratch it, then stopped when he realized just how big it had gotten.
"Hey," Sam said. He was sitting at the table, laptop open, a pile of paper beside him.
"Hey," Dean answered. "How long have you been up?"
Dean didn't bother to call Sam a liar, they both knew he was lying, judging by the paper and the bleary look on Sam's face, his brother probably hadn't even been to bed. Dean sighed as he stood, he caught a glimpse of himself and the angry freckle in the mirror and quickly looked away. "Can I eat?" He couldn't remember if they'd said anything about eating or not, he'd heard the word biopsy and his brain had turned off.
"Can I have breakfast? I mean, did they say anything about..." He stopped, it was too late, Sam's forehead curled into a tight frown.
"They didn't say you couldn't. Do you want to get breakfast?"
"The all-you-can-eat pancakes?" Dean tried for a grin, it almost worked.
"Sure." Sam closed the computer.
Dean dressed quickly and they walked to where they'd left the Impala the night before. As he went to open the door, he caught his reflection in the window and looked away. It was getting hard to ignore the bump, and every time he got a glimpse of it the stupid thing started to ache. When they got to the restaurant, he actually sat with his back partially towards to door to avoid looking in the huge mirror that dominated one wall. He saw his brother frown, but Sam didn't say anything. Dean wondered how he'd managed to ignore the freckle for so long, he knew it had been getting bigger, but this last week it had been growing exponentially, and he'd been denying it was even there.
"Huh?" Dean looked up.
"Do you want coffee?" Sam's voice was full of concern.
"Of course," Dean snapped. He swallowed. "Sorry," he said to Sam when the waitress left with their order.
"It's okay, Dean."
"Yeah." Dean sipped his coffee, he was halfway through his second cup when Sam reached over and put a hand on his knee to stop his leg bouncing. He scowled at Sam and set the cup down. He watched the waitress bringing the food to the table, she put it down in front of him and the smell suddenly made him sick. The sweet scent of maple syrup reacted with the insane butterfly buzzing around in his stomach and made everything unappetizing. He pushed the plate away, saw his brother squinch, and pulled the plate back, doing his best to eat.
"We should get going," Sam said softly.
"It's almost time to check in."
"It is?" The butterfly stepped up its attack, bouncing through Dean's stomach and attempting to flutter up his throat.
"Yeah." Sam frowned.
"I'm okay," Dean said automatically.
Dean led the way out of the diner. When he went to unlock the car door he realized his hands were shaking so badly he couldn't get the key into the lock. Taking a deep breath, he tried again, studiously ignoring his brother's concerned look. If I don't get it biopsied they can't tell me its...
"Do you want me to drive?"
"Hell no," Dean said, sliding behind the wheel. He started the car, hoping the sound of the engine might calm his nerves. For the first time in his life it didn't work, the engine meant the car was on which meant he was headed to the doctor. What the hell had he been thinking? Doctors always mean trouble, and now? Now he had a freckle that went rogue and needed to be... When they got to the clinic he paced across the lot, stopping at the doors to take a few slow breaths. His hands were sweating. He couldn't open the door, if he went in it meant, or it could mean, they might tell him...
Sam reached around him and pushed the door open, gently nudging him inside. He led Dean to the reception window and smiled at the girl sitting there. "Dean has an appointment."
"I remember," she winked at Sam and put several papers in front of Dean with a pen. "You need to sign these so we can treat you today."
"Okay," Dean said, scribbling "Dean Perry"on the bottom of the forms.
"Wait." Sam stopped him and picked up one of the papers to read over it. "What meds?"
"Just something to relax him a little and then the local."
"Let me have it." Dean grabbed the paper out of his brother's hand and signed it, shoving it back across the counter to the girl. "Anything else?"
"No, have a seat, we'll call you back in a minute."
Dean walked over and slouched in a chair, when Sam sat down, Dean shifted enough so their shoulders were in contact. He felt Sam's look, but stared at his hands. There was a TV in the corner tuned to a nature documentary, the narrator rambling on about crocodiles or something. The freckle was pulsing on his face, in a counterpoint to the clock that was on the wall over his head. Tick, throb, tick, throb, tick, throb, tick, throb.
"Here." He stood and turned to Sam. "Coming?"
"Yeah!" Sam stood quickly.
They followed the nurse to the back. There was a faint scent lingering on the air that his brain recognized, but couldn't identify at first, when he did, he nearly lost breakfast. It was barely there, but the smell of burned flesh was mixed with the medicinal scent of the office. He swallowed the rush of nausea nervously as the nurse led them into a room.
It seemed empty when he first walked in, nothing there but a lounge-like chair and a huge light over the chair. She gestured for Dean to settle himself in the lounge. He handed his coat to Sam with a smile. His brother dropped the coat on a hard-backed chair in one corner of the room and came to stand beside him.
"I'm going to give you something to help you relax before the doctor comes in," the nurse said.
Dean barely had time to nod before he felt a prick and sting in his arm. Whatever it was hit him fast, one minute the butterfly was pinging madly through his chest and the next he was flooded with a warm floating sensation. When the door opened sometime later, he felt like he was wrapped in molasses.
"How do you feel?" Dr. Stern asked, walking up to the bed.
The doctor looked pointedly at Sam, Dean fumbled for his brother's hand. He didn't want to be alone for this, he couldn't be.
Sam's hand closed over his. "I'm staying," Sam growled.
The doctor flinched, then nodded. "Okay." He disappeared from Dean's line of sight for a moment, returning with a syringe in his hand. "This might sting. You'll want to close your eyes."
"Yeah," Dean mumbled, tightening his hand on Sam's, his brother rested his other hand on Dean's chest. He closed his eyes, focused on that and let himself drift.
The doctor was keeping a wary eye on Sam as he swabbed the side of Dean's face. Sam could tell the man wanted him out of the room, but there was no way Sam was leaving his brother. Despite the drugs in his system, Dean was holding onto his hand with a death grip, if the doctor really though he would leave, he had another thing coming. Sam moved a little closer to the chair, looming over the small man.
"M'brother stays," Dean muttered, shifting in the chair.
Sam patted his chest gently. "I'm right here, Dean."
"He needs to hold still," the doctor snapped, a long needle in his hand. "Don't move."
"It's okay, Dean, just hold still for a minute, okay? Can you do that?"
"Course," his brother said, somehow holding onto Sam's hand even tighter.
"Go ahead," Sam told the doctor.
Putting a hand on Dean's forehead, the doctor slid the needle into the area by Dean's eye. Sam swallowed, but didn't look away as the doctor moved the syringe around. He finally pulled it out, it seemed to take forever, and used the needle to poke the bump beside his eye. "Can you feel that?"
"Wha...?" Dean answered. "Feel?"
"Do you feel something on your face, Dean?" Sam asked.
"Feel?" Dean repeated, his face—half of it at least—scrunching up in confusing.
"Can you?" Sam prompted.
"No." His voice sounded a little panicked. "Am I s'posed to?"
"No, Dean. It needs to be numb."
"Okay, are you ready?" Sam said, nodding the doctor.
"Yeah. Wan' t'over."
"It will be in just a minute." Sam watched the doctor roll a tray over, there were several scalpels and other items on it.
"Here we go, son," the doctor said kindly, picking up one of the scalpels.
"Here." Sam clasped his other hand around Dean's.
Sam watched as the silver blade slid into Dean's skin, blood welling around it. He swallowed hard, but kept watching as the doctor carefully cut the freckle-turned-monster out of his brother's face. When he was finished, he cauterized the area, the scent of burning skin filled the room, making Sam gag. And just like that it was over, the doctor put ointment on the wound and bandaged Dean's eye.
"Doctor?" Sam asked.
"It was bigger than I thought, we will let you know the results in two days."
"But?" He heard the 'but' as plainly as if it had been said.
"It doesn't look good." The man met his eyes for a moment, and looked away. "We'll give you a prescription for pain, it's going to hurt for a few days."
"Wanna go, Sammy," Dean said, his unbandaged eye opening slowly. He blinked at Sam and tried to sit up. The doctor looked at Dean in surprise. "Wanna go now," Dean pleaded.
"Can we go?" Sam put his hand behind Dean's back and helped him sit up. He really didn't care what the doctor said, if Dean wanted to go, he could go, even if it meant Sam would carry him.
"Go." Dean moved to swing his legs and started sliding off the chair.
"Easy," Sam said, lifting Dean to his feet and steadying him with a hand under his arm. "I'll take him to the car, then come back for the prescription." He steered Dean past the doctor and out of the building. Dean was stumbling along beside him and when they reached the car, Sam had to hold his brother up with one hand while he opened the door. After easing Dean onto the passenger seat, he tapped his brother's shoulder to get his attention. "Stay here, Dean. Stay," he said sternly.
Sam chuckled as he closed the door. Sometimes drugs hit Dean harder than other times, or maybe it was a particular one, he had no idea, but despite the worry pounding in his head, he had to laugh. His brother was well and truly stoned. He double checked the door before heading in to get the prescription. The receptionist was chatting at him while he waited—about when they would call and how her younger sister was just like Dean and on and on, when a nurse appeared and finally handed over the slip of paper, Sam was ready to jump out of his skin. He could see Dean, but it didn't stop the near-panic throbbing in his chest.
"Dean?" he said as he opened the door.
"Hmmm?" Dean rolled his head to look at Sam, then frowned, lifting a hand towards the bandage on his eye.
"Stop." Sam grabbed his wrist and held his hand away from his face.
"Can't see out of that eye."
"It's bandaged, Dean."
"Oh yeah, the freckle." He stayed with his head turned towards Sam and closed his good eye.
Sam pulled out of the parking lot and turned to go to the pharmacy. Luckily they had a drive-thru window, and he really didn't want to risk leaving a doped-up Dean in the car alone for long. It always took longer at the drive-thru. Maybe that was because if he was in the drive-thru it mean he was in a hurry and chances were it was a life or death situation.
"What'd they say?" Dean mumbled, opening his eye.
"'Bout the freckle."
"They'll call in two days."
"'Kay." His eye slid closed again.
Something was shaking him, pulling him out of the warm blanket of sleep. Dean batted at the hand on his shoulder, pushing it away and trying hunch back under the covers, but he couldn't seem to get a good hold on the blankets.
"Dean, come on, just wake up enough to get into the room."
"It's not far, okay?" Sam was tugging on him.
"I know, but you can't stay in the car."
"Not in the car."
"Yes, you are."
Dean opened his eyes, only one opened. He blinked at the seat. "I'm in the car!" he said indignantly.
"I know." Sam pulled on his arm and Dean slid obediently out of the Impala. When he tried to stand, his brother steadied him with a hand under his arm. "I'm going to help, okay?"
"Okay." Dean blinked again. "Something's wrong with my eye." He reached up towards it, but Sam stopped him. "Sammy?"
"There's a bandage on it."
"I get hit?"
"Sorta." Sam's chuckle sounded a little strained.
"You okay?" Dean asked as he tried to remember what happened.
"Good." He closed his eye and sagged against Sam. "Wanna sleep."
"Just a few more steps, okay?"
"Okay." He let Sam guide him into the room—at least he assumed it was the room, the soft breeze on his face was suddenly gone. What happened? Why was his eye bandaged? "The freckle!" he exclaimed as Sam helped him lay down and pulled his shoes off.
"My eye, the freckle. S'what's wrong."
"Yeah. Get some sleep."
"'Kay, Sammy," he heard himself mumble even as sleep claimed him. The weight of a blanket settled over him as he drifted off.
A vague throbbing wound its way into Dean's dream, the world shifting the way it did in dreams until the landscape changed and he was trapped with a bird pecking at his eye. He tried to get it off his face, but it wouldn't go, the beak driving into his eye over and over. With a gasp, he woke and found himself staring at the ceiling, no birds in sight. Dean took a deep breath and let it out slowly, hoping to calm the frantic beating of his heart. The problem was, the further the dream receded, the more reality crept back in, and he was beginning to think the fast destruction of the bird would be better than what was actually happening. The best of the worst would be losing his eye.
"You're not going to lose your eye," Sam said gently.
"You're not going to lose your eye," Sam repeated.
Did I say that out loud? Dean turned his head to look at his brother. Sam was sitting at the table, laptop open and once again surrounded by papers, he was frowning in concern. "Looking for a hunt?" Dean asked, pushing himself up and shifted the pillows so he could lean against the headboard.
"No." Sam ran a hand through his hair.
"What did they say?" Dean had a vague recollection he'd asked before, but he couldn't remember the answer. "Sam?"
"They'll call in two days." He paused and looked away, Dean waited. "He said it didn't look good."
"Did he say anything else?" Dean said, worry creeping into his voice.
"He didn't really have a chance." Sam huffed. "You decided it was time to go."
"Yeah." He stood, swaying for a moment beside the bed.
"Dean..." Sam was halfway out of his chair before Dean could take a step.
"I need to take a leak," Dean growled, he headed into the bathroom, turning away from the mirror in the corner of the room. As much as he had hated seeing the freckle, he hated seeing the bandage even more. Navigating with only one usable eye was difficult and as he blinked he could feel the muscles in his bandaged eye twitch, worse yet, he noticed how many things he could actually see his reflection in, not just mirrors and windows. The coffee pot, a metal plaque on the wall... He turned away and managed to completely avoid looking in the mirror in the bathroom. When he was finished, he took a deep breath and stepped back into the main room. The throb on his face was quickly becoming pain.
"Here," Sam said, holding out a pill.
Dean squinted at it, recognizing the imprint on the tablet. And how sad is that? "Vocodin?"
"Yeah. Take it."
"No, I'm okay." He flopped back on the bed and realized that the mirror in the corner was now draped with a towel and the curtains had been shifted so that the light was still coming into the room, but the glass was screened from Dean. He looked up at his brother who was still holding the pill out. Dean scowled, but took it. "Thanks." For the mirror, window, everything, Sammy.
"Yeah," Sam said, his voice full of understanding. He walked to the fridge and brought a Coke back, handing it to Dean before sitting on the edge of the bed.
"What if...?" Dean began, the words out before he could stop them. I can blame the drugs later.
"There's no what if, Dean, you'll be okay."
"What if it's..." He still couldn't bring himself to say the word. "What if I lose my eye? Or what if it's worse than that?"
"You said it before, it's just a freckle, Dean. I was researching it, and it can happen sometimes."
"Yeah, cancer just happens." There, he said it.
"It can, but this probably isn't... cancer." Sam hesitated on the word. "It's probably just a freckle gone rogue."
"How can you make a joke?" Dean snapped, fear turning to anger as he spoke.
"But, Dean, you said..."
"What, that this," he gestured towards the bandage and his aching face, "this is some kind of joke? A freckle gone rogue like some pirate?" Dean sat up and took a breath, he'd said those words to Sam. He had. His brother was frowning at him in concern, his eyes bright. "Sammy," he said, ducking his head and running the back of his neck.
"It's okay. It's just a freckle," Sam whispered. Dean could tell his brother didn't believe the statement at all, from the way Sam's hands were clasped so tight his knuckles show white, Sam was completely panicked.
"I have a bad feeling about this, Sam." He sighed. "Every since I noticed it, I knew."
"That it was bad. I never thought it would end like this, you know? Taken out by something this small."
"No," Sam said fiercely. "No, this is not taking you out!"
"It might, Sammy. At best, I'll lose an eye."
"What? That is not the best!" Sam stood and paced away his back to Dean, his shoulders hunched forward. Sam huffed, then turned around. "It's going to be okay."
"It's not!" Dean shouted.
"It is!" Sam shouted back.
"NOT!" Dean stood up, the room flipped around him. He heard his brother call his name as he fell. Sam caught him, easing him back onto the bed. Dean kept his eye closed, swallowing the nausea that was suddenly threatening to overwhelm him. "Remind me not to do that again," he said when he managed to get his eye open.
"Yeah." Sam smiled wanly. He huffed and sat on the bed, dropping his hand on Dean's chest. "It's going to be okay."
Dean put his hand over Sam's, feeling the fuzziness of pain meds starting to creep into his brain. "And if it's not?"
"It will be," Sam said earnestly. "But if it's not, we deal."
"With cancer? With one eye?"
"With a freckle."
"Even if it's gone rogue?" Dean smiled.
"Even if it's gone rogue."
"With a ship and cannons?"
"What?" Sam laughed. "Yeah."
"It will be okay."
"Don't think it will." He closed his eye.
"It's bad, Sammy," Dean whispered, tightening his grip on Sam's hand.
"No it's not, Dean,"Sam replied gently.
"Yeah, it is."
"I am not going to argue about this again," his brother huffed.
"I'm not arguing," Dean said, wondering if Sam would take the bait.
"Yes, you are." Huff.
"No, I'm not."
"Not!" Dean couldn't stop the grin.
"You..." Sam stopped, Dean could imagine the look on his brother's face, no need to peek. "Shut up." He chuckled. "Get some sleep, Dean."
"Yeah." Dean drifted. "Hey, Sammy?"
Two days. Two days that took forever, and were gone before he knew it. Two days of jumping when his phone rang. Two days of a throb on his face that got worse every time he thought of it. Two days of dreams of birds taking his eye, of freckles drowning him, or something eating away at his body. Two days of looking away from every reflective surface as if it contained a demon.
Sam worked hard to distract him. The day after the procedure they went to a movie—an actual movie—and had incredibly expensive popcorn and Cokes and when the film was over, they sneaked into the theater next door and watched that film as well, getting free refills on the Coke and popcorn, until they had passed the day like they had when they were children. After the movie, they went stopped by the pub, ate food that had to give Sam epic heartburn and played darts until the bartender threw them out. Dean was surprised they hadn't been thrown out as soon as they started playing, having only one eye made his aim less than perfect.
As soon as Dean was awake the next morning, Sam had him out the door. At breakfast, then to a farmer's market at the far end of town. At first, Dean protested, a farmer's market? But it turned out that local arts and crafts and organic vegetables were "just really awesome, Sammy" when he was on Vicodin. The girl at the espresso stand noticed his bandaged eye and asked about it. Dean gave her the full-wattage smile, and she gave them both free blended coffees. A little frou-frou for Dean's taste, but it was free and Sam was enjoying his.
They were halfway through the market when Dean's phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and stared at it. Blinking at the number. "Doctor's office, I think," he said to his brother.
"Answer it!" Sam said.
"No." Dean shoved the phone into his brother's hand. "You do it."
"Fine," Sam huffed and answered.
Oh, god. Dean shifted nervously. He didn't want to know, didn't want to hear.
"Yes?" Sam said into the phone. "Yes." He frowned and glanced at Dean. "What does that mean? Uh huh." He swallowed, his eyes bright. "Thank you!" Sam closed the phone and looked at Dean with a smile so wide it had to hurt.
Dean met his brother's eyes, seeing the answer there without Sam speaking. He sagged against his brother in relief, his hands trembling as he took several deep breaths to calm the slamming of his heart. After a moment he pushed himself away from Sam.
"See, Sammy, I told you, it was just a freckle," he said with a smirk.
"Yeah, Dean," Sam answered, smiling, his eyes shining with tears. "You did."
A/N II: On a personal note, I learned the hard way, my mother had a serious stroke two weeks ago today. I beg you all to learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Minutes—seconds—make a difference. Time lost is brain lost. Please, for you and your loved ones, take a minute and learn the signs! And if you even suspect it might possibly may be be a stroke do not hesitate to call for help!