The very fabric of the space-time continuum

by wave obscura

Dean slaps Sam across the face with something that might be a moldy pillow, might be a rolled up pair of dirty socks.

"Dude," Sam mumbles.

"It's your turn to babysit." The bed sinks and bounces when Dean throws himself down. He swipes the bangs away from Sam's eyes, like peeling back a curtain to let the light in, his face so close Sam can feel the air blowing from his nostrils as he snorts a little laugh. "I asked if he wanted the bathroom, but I don't think he pisses."

Sam flips over, out of this brother's face. "He spew anymore blood?"

"Nah, he's just kinda drooling. It's pink. Like pink Kool-Aid," Dean says, laughing again.

Sam sits up and yawns and yanks on his bangs. "You been up too long, dude. Go to sleep."

"Not tired."

"Then why'd you wake me up?"

"'m bored. And it's your turn."

Sam curls up, resting his elbows on his knees, resting his head in the crook of his elbow. He yawns with a little more gusto this time, catching a whiff of his own corpse-y breath. It's a long time before he can convince himself to lift his head back up again-- man, sleep sounds good, his eyes are dry and stinging.

The whole time he's smacking his lips and yawning and trying to wake up, Dean sits beside him, drumming on his knees, maintaining a tuneless melody by sucking squeaky air through his lips and teeth.

"Dean," he snaps. "What's with the fucking mania?"

"Don't know," Dean says, bouncing a little. "Too much energy."

Finally Sam transfers beds; Cas has gone from back-sprawl to fetal position and Sam wedges himself in the space between his knees and chest. For no real reason he lays the back of his hand on Cas's forehead. Perfect temperature, of course. The angel's eyes squint tighter, his Adam's apple bobs.

"Think he's in pain," Sam says to Dean, who's still bouncing ever-so-slightly on the opposite bed.

"Should we... you think a painkiller would help?"

Sam shrugs. "Probably not. Can't hurt, though."

Dean launches himself off the bed to where all their shit is still piled unceremoniously in the doorway.

Sam knows exactly why his brother is so wired and goddamned if he has the energy to deal with it. All the shit tonight, with mom and dad, that means stress and refusing to talk about it, which means more stress, and more stress means nightmares, and there are only two things that keep the nightmares away: liquor and not sleeping. And not sleeping means caffeine pills and whiskey, cause Sam doesn't smell any coffee but he sure as hell smells booze, and that bottle they were sipping on earlier has mysteriously disappeared.

His brother returns with a glass of water and two pills and sits at the head of the bed.

"Lift up his head," Sam orders. Dean does, and Sam opens Cas's mouth, shoves the pills inside, pours some water in and pets his throat a little until he sputters and gags and finally swallows.

"You think maybe we should get him out of this stupid trench coat?" Dean says. "I mean. He doesn't look very comfortable."

Sam's about to say that he doesn't think Cas will notice or care, but he looks at Dean and his eyes are red-rimmed and soft, probably from being slightly drunk, and he looks so goddamn sad-happy that Sam nods and says "yeah. Okay."

They pull Cas up sitting and he doesn't even crack an eyelid as they wrestle off his jacket. Once he's laying down again Dean loosens his tie, then loosens it more, then finally takes it off and tosses it on the floor. Then he opens the drawer-- the one with the Gideon's bible -- and pulls out the bottle and takes a long pull.

He offers it to Sam and Sam does the same.

"How you doin', anyway?" Dean says. "You got an injuries I need to look at?"

Sam automatically pokes at the fatal stab wound he sustained just hours ago, which is gone but there's a weird, numb, artificial feeling left in its place. "Nah," he says. "Michael fixed everything, I guess. Not even a bruise."

Dean nods an exaggerated nod, throwing back another mouthful of whiskey.

"What about you?"

"Stomach hurts," Dean says, lifting his shirt. "Check it out."

You can practically see the indent of Uriel's boot and it's all black and swollen like someone actually mistook it for footwear and shined it up with polish.

"Shit," Sam says.

"Yeah." Dean drops his shirts and rests his hand over the bruise. "Hey Sam."

"Yeah."

"Does it weird you out at all? Like, I mean... you know that part in Back to the Future II when Marty was on stage playing Johnny B. Goode, and every time Crispin Glover misses a chance to kiss his mom, Marty starts to fade away?"

Sam scoffs, just a little, pulling the bottle from Dean's hand. "Of course. You only made me watch it like five thousand times."

"I just thought it was weird, you know. That that didn't happen to us. Remember-- remember what Doc Brown would always say? That a time paradox could 'cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroythe entire universe.'"

"'Granted,'" Sam quotes, because every line in the movie is burnt into his memory forever, "'That's a worst case scenario. The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy."

"Great Scot!"

"This is heavy," Sam replies without missing a beat. He pulls from the bottle again, this one hitting his stomach hard and spreading over his chest, into his head. He hadn't realized his shoulders were all clenched up until he relaxes them.

"Weirds me out," Dean says, now starting to slur just slightly. He surprises Sam by dropping a hand on Cas's head, petting. "He's... 'sposed to be..."

He doesn't finish his sentence, but Sam knows what he means. "Made me feel almost kinda... safe? Angel on our side. But like this."

"Yeah," Dean says, all contemplatively. Suddenly both his hands are in Cas's hair, sweeping it upward into a point, a faux-hawk. He laughs, short and kind of desperate. "Should we draw a dick on his face?"

Sam frowns. Somewhere out there, lost a long time ago, is a Polaroid of him passed out drunk on his sixteenth birthday, half a dozen hairy cock-n-balls dancing ring-around-the-rosy around his mouth.

"No," he says pointedly.

As if suddenly self conscious, Dean pulls both hands back into his lap. "It's freaky. To think."

"Think what?"

Dean itches his nose, fidgets, like he's about to have one of his heartfelt bursts of honesty. Heat that's got nothing to do with booze crawls over Sam's chest, his heart twinges and he braces himself.

"It's like..." Dean says, licking his lips. "If we can go back in time? Then that means it's always happening. Somewhere, I'm always telling mom about her future. And somewhere she's always burning on the ceiling, and you're always dying, and I'm always making that deal, and it's always happening, and it never ends. Never."

And somewhere Sam is always having that final fight with Dad, and being sent away for coffee, and sputtering like a weeping idiot to his father, a perfect stranger, apologizing and forgiving and trying to make peace though he knows goddamn well it's too little, too late.

"No point in thinking about it," he says lamely.

Cas stirs, twitching and groaning. They both reach out to squeeze each of his shoulders, and his eyes flutter open and then roll shut again.

"But," Dean continues, "Somewhere you and I are always finishing a hunt. Parking the car, having a beer, playing darts. And we're swimming that lake, you know, the one with the dock slide thingy? Teaching Ben how how to kick a bully in the nads."

"And you're getting me so drunk on my birthday that I puke in Dad's shoes," Sam says, "and you're always drawing dicks on my face."

"And you're crying into the bathroom mirror the next morning, scrubbing your cheeks fuckin' raw."

Sam can't resist an eye roll. "And you wonder why I don't drink with you."

Dean laughs. Then he wipes moisture from his eyes and stretches his fingers longingly toward the bottle of booze.

:::

The end.