Title: There Is No You (There Is Only Me)
Author: Mad Server
Characters: Dean, Sam, Castiel, Bobby
Word Count: 2500
Summary: Dean does some thinking. Sam, Cas and Bobby help him out. With gratuitous cold action.
A/N: This was written for a prompt of pkwench's on LJ. Great big thank yous to betas fleshflutter, who caught OOC bits and had excellent thoughts on manflesh; NewspaperTaxis, who found confusing parts and questionable spellings and on zero notice; and Hanson's Angel, who also looked this over on zero notice and gave me a ton of shiny love and support. You guys rock!!
Disclaimer: I don't own these guys.
Shoes squeak on speckled marble floor.
"That was messed up," Dean hisses, "right?" He glances into a classroom as they pass, catches a hostile stare from a teacher at the blackboard.
"Yeah. Something's off."
They push out into hard sunlight and the shrieks of recess. Lemon cleaner scent yields to dried leaves and woodsmoke.
"Half the class are absent, and the other half look like crap."
"What do you think, a shtriga?" Sam frowns down at Dean. His tie flip-flops in the breeze. "Working overtime?"
"It's draining 'em gradually, if that's what it is. Not like, 'Bam, soul, gone.' It's like it's just taking little sips. Of all of 'em." Dean crosses his arms over his chest as a biting gust balloons his jacket. "Man, that's a lot of kids." He glances up and sees a baseball.
And takes it on the head.
He's on his ass on the chilly pavement. His skull's pounding, swelling.
"Take it easy, all right? Take it slow."
Dean can hear Sam but he can't see him, just a kid running over and scooping up his ball, a worried teacher walking his way, skirt blowing around her knees. He grunts and cups his forehead.
"I got you." Hands pull him up. He reaches out and and finds chest, shoulders. Dean squints up at Sam.
"You wanna see the nurse?"
"Naw, let's just go."
"Are you all right?" The teacher's high heels click as she jogs across the parking lot.
"Rug rats," Dean croaks. "What can you do?"
"Are you driving?" She frowns at the Impala, dark hair whipping across her face. "Maybe we should examine you first."
Dean's face is hot. "Just passenging, ma'am."
Sam unlocks the driver's side, slides in and lets him in. The lady watches them until they lose her around a corner.
Dean's rolled up in the comforter like a giant burrito. A towel of ice numbs his headache.
"He's kind of out of it," he hears Sam murmuring into the phone. There's a pause. "Taylorville, Illinois. Twenty-Nine West Motel. Room six."
There's a flutter of wings and then two phones snapping shut.
A rushing inhale, and a liquid popping, mouths parting.
"Missed you," Sam breathes.
"Get a room," Dean growls. Then, "Ow."
When he opens his eyes they're on either side of his bed in matching puppy dog expressions.
"How you feeling, man?"
He squirms upright against the headboard and loses them behind a surge of spots. "Concussed."
Castiel's face emerges, intent. He lays his palm across Dean's cheek and shuts his eyes. Dean watches Sam watching Cas.
When Cas' baby blues open back up, he's got this look on his face, all the sympathy in the whole frigging world, like Dean is this broken thing. Dean doesn't want to be broken.
"What," Dean says, "I got a fever or somethin'?"
"Actually, you do."
Sam furrows his brow and scoops up the ice pack. He settles on the mattress and reapplies the wetness to Dean's forehead.
Dean shivers in the blanket. "Well that's just friggin' great. There's crap to do. Little tykes."
Castiel cocks his head. "Children."
"Their teacher's eating 'em for breakfast. A shtriga, maybe."
"That is unfortunate. What will you do?"
"You can only kill a shtriga while they're feeding." Dean glances at Sam, who shifts the dripping cloth and nods. "This one, it looks like maybe she's just feeding off her whole class, the whole time she's with 'em. Hard to take her out in a low profile way, y'know?"
"We could wreck those kids' lives," Sam softly adds.
"Can I be of assistance?"
"I dunno yet. I dunno what we're gonna do." Dean takes a shuddering breath and sneezes into the quilt. He sniffles. "Aw, come on."
"Be well." Cas passes him a box of Kleenex, catches and holds his eyes. "I will gladly aid you in any way I can."
"...Dean?" There's a pause. Dean trumpets into a tissue. "Y'don't sound so good, kid."
"What can you tell me about shtrigas?"
"Bobby says it's possible."
Sam pulls the door shut behind him, takeout bag in hand. "OK. Great. I'll check her place tomorrow, just to be sure."
Dean feels his face contorting. "Hhhh... h-hoo. Whew."
Sam raises an eyebrow and passes him a container of soup. "How's the cold?"
"Idcodvee-huh... H-H-HESHSSHOO! Idcodvediedt." He catches two more sneezes in a clutch of tissues. "I bay die."
"Too soon, man." Sam unwraps a salad and plunges in.
Dean's nose is tingling again, pressure mounting in his head. His heart slams rhythmically in his temples. Suddenly his throat feels scratchy, full of something. Something's in his mouth, bunches, thin and papery. That taste... salad dressing?
It's going down the wrong way and he coughs. He's breathing lettuce. Wildly he looks to Sam but Sam's not there.
Dean dives into the bathroom and spits green leaves into the toilet. Tap water soothes his larynx. His heartbeat slows as oxygen floods back.
"Dean. Hey!" Sam's gripping his shoulder, thumb digging in painfully. A cool palm checks his forehead. "Soup go down the wrong way?"
The toilet bowl's empty.
Dean gazes into Sam's eyes. "I dod't..."
"You're spiking, man. Crap. Maybe you've got swine flu." Sam presses a thermometer on him, brings some toilet paper to Dean's nose. "Here."
The thermometer beeps, but Sam doesn't take it. Dean waits for him. And waits.
Framed in the bathroom door, Castiel's never looked so tall. "This is not a suitable place to rest."
"Right." Dean squints. "Yeah."
Flapping wings, and Dean's wrapped in soft sheets, cushioned by a mattress. Cas is sitting close, watching.
"I duddo." Dean draws himself up into a ball and works on heating up the blankets.
"Did you see him leave?"
"Doe." His nose itches. He fumbles for the tissue box and sneezes messily into the cool paper.
"You are very brave."
Dean freezes mid-swipe. "'Scuse bee?"
"I will keep watch while you sleep."
Dean looks out the window at the black sky and wonders what time it is. "If you wadda help bee, just fide Sab."
"He's well, Dean. I give you my word."
Dean blows his nose and rolls over. "Well aid't you just a barrel o' bystery."
"Take your brother outside as fast as you can. Now, Dean. Go!"
He's choking on smoke. Roaring heat presses in. The precious bundle's tight in his arms.
He hurtles down the stairs.
Pain. He's on the ground, head spinning. His hands are empty.
Sammy's beside him, up against the wall. His neck's bent funny.
Dean jerks awake to something cold in his armpit and Castiel in his face.
Dean pants and coughs and digs a towel of ice out from under his arm. "What are you doing?"
"I am attempting to ease your discomfort through temperature regulation." Cas hesitates. "Is it working?"
"Dude. Stay outta my pits." Dean snuffles and throws on the light. "Is Sam back yet?"
"You are distressed."
"Let's not get too colorful."
"Tell me." Castiel's trenchcoat is strewn across Sam's bed. His eyes look tired.
"I, uh." Dean pulls the sheet up over his T-shirted chest. "It was a dream. About the fire. When we lost our mom." Dean plucks out a tissue and rips it in half. "I dreamed it got Sam too."
Cas doesn't say anything. Dean glances up and gets that look again, like he's a gazelle with four broken legs.
"That must have been painful."
"Goddamn it, where is he?"
"Hey." Sam pushes through the door. "You're still up."
"What time is it?"
"Uh." Sam checks his phone. "Ooh. Eleven thirty."
"Nice of you to show up." Dean's nose builds up a burn and he reaches for a fresh Kleenex. "Well, better late thad dever. HH-uhhh... hrrRKKTCHCHHH!"
"You give him his medicine?" Sam nuzzles Castiel's ear and plants a quick kiss on his temple.
The students droop in their chairs, smudge-eyed and coughing.
"Class, you remember Mr. Smith."
Dean fingers the gun in his pocket, glances at Sam, and nods out at the desks. "Hey."
On cue, Cas appears at the head of the room, obstructing Dean's view of the children. There's light and noise and confusion. His voice resonates, something about lambs and not being afraid.
Dean draws and fires iron into the startled shtriga's mouth. She vaporizes, clothes falling to the floor. Dean rushes forward and scoops them up. He steals a look at the kids and sees glazed, enraptured eyes.
Castiel motions him out.
"Thigk we scarred 'eb for life?"
Dean cuffs his nose, one hand on the wheel. He glances at the passenger seat.
Dean pulls over, stretches out and turns the music up loud.
Cas is crouching in the footspace.
"He's here, Dean."
The angel drops a hand to his neck. Dean feels peace spread through him. His fingers curl against Castiel's knee.
Somebody's frying bacon. Dean palms his face and sneezes so hard his hips come off the bed.
Cas approaches the footboard, flipper held stiffly in hand.
Dean gurgles into a tissue, sniffs appreciatively. "You're cooking now?"
"You require nutrition."
"Dean." Cas' blue eyes are startling. Bacon spits and crackles.
Dean looks at the empty bed, at Sam's duffel on the floor. "I... he's..."
Cas is perfectly still, wide open.
"C'mon, that's impossible."
He drives. He tells himself he's looking for Sam.
"Cold's soundin' better."
Dean holds his breath as a car approaches, rushes past. He digs a water bottle out of the glove compartment, fumbles the cap off.
"Dean? You there?"
"I got somethin' really crazy to ask you. Like full-on, Twelve Monkeys crazy."
Dean covers his eyes, then squares his shoulders and stares out the window into a pine forest. "Is Sam real?"
Through the phone Dean hears a clattering sound. "Where are you, kid? You alone?"
Dean swallows. "Cas is around."
"Christ on a goddamn sled. I always wondered if you'd..."
"If I'd what?"
"Dean. Son. Sam died when he was a baby. We lost him in the fire."
Dean's dizzy. He opens the passenger door and puts his head between his knees.
"You'll never know how much I love you, boy."
There's no air.
"Dean? Where are you?"
He flips his phone shut and vomits into the gravel.
Dean shivers in the motel doorway. Cas comes to him.
"You see." Castiel searches his eyes, grimly nods. "You're brave, to see. Strong."
"I don't... I'm not..."
Dean just sniffles until the angel steps closer, pulls him in. He hides his face in that snug neck and folds his arms against his chest.
"You're doing well, Dean. Remarkably well." Cas is leading him somewhere, guiding him down. Warm palms cup his cheeks. He feels lips on his brow, and a delicious sense of ease spreading out.
"You angel-drugging me?"
"I wish to ease your burden."
Castiel tucks him in, cuddles him through the blankets.
"If you gotta."
They're at a picnic table down by Clinton Lake, outside of Lawrence. Dean's memorized every detail of Sam's gravestone. The grain of the marble won't leave him alone.
"Everything changed when they died. I mean everything." He scowls out at the sparkles on the water. "What I did... it seemed like the only way to make things OK again." He drags a finger under his nose. "I messed up. I wanted to fix it. Man, I can't believe I forgot."
"It kept you alive," says Castiel. "You chose well."
Dean squints at Cas. "Yeah. I did."
A/N 2: Dissociative identity disorder is mostly nothing like this at all. For a firsthand account of personality integration and other aspects of DID, try Faith Allen's blog Blooming Lotus.
Dean/Cas(strong friendship/pre-slash)Cas/***Sam(slash)Sometime season 5/AU.
This one may prove to be a bit of a challenge and require some very special finagling.
Let's go a little Fight Club/Identity here. Basically, there is no Sam. Sam, who Dean loves, protects, and the whole bit is Dean's other personality. (Request that there's just the Sam personality in addition to Dean - no need for more, I don't think.) Dean sells his soul to save Sam, but he is Sam. Everything that Sam was up to while Dean was in hell is just what Dean made up to fill in the gaps. It's up to you to decide what actually happened and what was fantasy when Dean and Sam are parted as well as how to deal with other people who refer to both Dean and Sam. Maybe they know, maybe Dean doesn't hear them or see them not addressing Sam. Whatever.
The crux of the story, though, is Dean starting to realize that Sam isn't real. Not only is he having a massive identity and existential crisis, but he's heartbroken because he loves his brother so much. Much denial, violence, outrage, and man angst. Maybe he hurts Sam to prove that he's real and does injury to himself. Cas helps him cope, put the pieces together, and accept that Sam is part of himself. Cas, of course, having always known. As you can see from the above, I thought it would interesting if Dean and Cas are close friends and Cas and Sam-who-is-Dean are lovers. Author's choice on how that works and how Cas and Dean's relationship changes as Dean and Sam either merge into one or Dean excises the part of him that is Sammy. Author knows best in regards Dean as Michael's vessel and Sam as Lucifer's. Ditto on how to retroactively work things with Papa Winchester. Maybe there was a baby brother and he died in the YED fire. Maybe Dean snapped at that moment and John traveled the country with one messed up little boy. Maybe he got better and was just Dean while "Sam was away at Stanford", but relapsed when John vanished. Whatever works for you, however you want to make it work.
Too crazy? Could be fun. C'mon. You know you wanna. :D
Bonus points for manflesh. Rowr.