Summary: Sam is beset by visions and Dean can't help but worry over his brother. Featuring a little h/c along with a hunt that literally lands on their doorstep. S1, post Nightmare.
A/N: I whipped together a little something to honor my good friend Bayre's birthday. Gidgetgal9 provided the speedy beta and also wishes this special gal a supper happy b-day.
Dean could feel it in his bones, their luck was about to change. A heavy thud on the other side of the wall—the bathroom—quickly dispelled Dean's thoughts on luck. "Sam!"
Dean knew he should've grabbed Sam and headed for Vegas after Saginaw. Not because he wanted to put Sam's new skills of precognition through its paces on the gaming floor but because they needed a break. Especially Sam. Dean didn't think the kid had smiled since the whole thing with Max Miller had started up.
Of course there hadn't been much to smile about since they left Saginaw. Or before it for that matter. But Dean would gladly pin it on Las Vegas; Nevada was too far away at the moment but Dean had plotted a course for Cleveland—a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would work nicely as a distraction and it was just a half a day's drive. Too bad the Impala had decided it was time to act up. They'd made it to Fremont before the engine started coughing and Dean had exited I-80 to find a place to hunker down so he could fix their suddenly temperamental ride. Apparently the Impala thought it needed a break, too.
That would have been bad enough but then they'd been stuck in traffic while firefighters fought an apartment blaze and they had a ringside seat for the event. Black plumes of smoke funneled into the sky while flames danced up and down the façade of the building. Good times…not. Especially since the Winchesters had a long and storied relationship with fire and being stuck next to one was getting on Dean's last nerve. Sam hadn't fared any better, his legs restlessly shifting in the passenger seat, his eyes locked on the building, his harsh breathing filling the silence in the car.
Wanting to get Sam away from the smoke and memories, Dean bypassed a Comfort Inn and continued down the road. A sign for the Double A Motel loomed ahead and they practically coasted into the parking lot, the engine stuttering. Sam continued with the silent treatment throughout the registration process and Dean took special note of the way his brother rubbed the middle of his forehead several times. The events of the last few days were definitely catching up with Sam and it looked like they'd be riding things out in Fremont. What a waste.
Another loud thump on the wall sounded as Dean crossed the avocado colored carpeting—maybe that's what one of the A's in Double A stood for—as he raced for the bathroom door. He rapped his knuckles on the thin plywood door, just this shy of frantic. "Sam! You okay in there?"
There was no answer but the door shot inward, Sam stumbling out, colliding hard with Dean. "Oomph."
Sam was a sickly shade of green, not unlike the carpeting, and Dean's plans for a quick lunch at McDonald's flew out the window. "Stomach?"
Latching on to the sleeves of Dean's leather jacket, Sam's dazed eyes lifted to meet Dean's. "Vision."
It looked like their streak of bad luck was intact. Dean clutched Sam's shoulders and guided him back toward one of the double beds, hoping he could get him there before his legs gave out.
Not quick enough. Sam's skin washed from green to bone-white as his legs folded, his weight falling completely against Dean's chest.
Dean knew better than to ask Sam questions while he was in the throes of a vision. Sam hadn't had many of them but Dean knew from the little experience he'd had watching Sam, his brother was locked on pictures of the near future only he could see and he was oblivious to the present. Instead Dean tipped Sam back on to the bed, guiding his torso until he sprawled on his back, long legs stretched before him, feet still on the floor.
The stillness didn't last as Sam's legs began to jitter and the heels of his feet bounced up and down on the floor. It was the eyes rolling back in Sam's head that pushed Dean into panic. This wasn't anything like the visions Sam had experienced with the Millers. Dean's hand was dipping into the inside pocket of his jacket, grabbing the phone; a call to 911 wasn't out of the question.
Dean had his thumb on the nine; convinced Sam was having a seizure, when Sam bolted upright into a sitting position. The cell phone flew from Dean's hand as Sam's head made contact with his arm. "Easy, Sam."
A headache had been creeping over Sam since they left Saginaw but he hadn't wanted to take anything for it; it seemed like he did nothing but swallow down aspirin and Tylenol these days and he was trying to give his stomach a break. Now he wished he hadn't been so stubborn.
He was drying his face on the scratchy motel issue towel in the bathroom, trying not to keep Dean waiting, when the pain streaked across his forehead and wrapped around the back of his head. He could almost feel the blood vessels shrinking violently, and then expanding in time to his heartbeat. He'd somehow made it out of the bathroom and Dean had guided him toward the bed.
A wall of fire separated him from Dean. Dean's face was a rigid white mask. Except for his eyes which were rolling in terror and his mouth which was opened wide, a rictus of pain and suffering—
Sam struggled to get to Dean but he was locked in place. This couldn't be happening. He'd just lost Jess and now Dean…no, Dean wouldn't die. His brother would be okay. Dean was always there for him, he wouldn't leave him this way, not the same way as Jess and his mom.
Sam blinked his eyes to clear them but it was getting harder to see Dean through the wriggling flames in front of him. He could no longer make out the features of Dean's face but his brother's body was drawn up in a tight line as it wavered and melted behind the smoke.
"Shhh, it's okay, Sam. Just breathe through it. Everything will be okay."
Strong arms held him up, held him tight. The rocking motion only agitated him; nothing would be okay—Dean and the fire and…
"Damn it, Sam, quit struggling and open your eyes already. Tell me what you saw."
The impatience reached Sam; Dean always was more impatient than him. Dean who was going to leave him if he couldn't figure out how to save him.
"Not okay. It's not. You're gonna…and the flames…we've got to stop it!" Sam knew he wasn't making any sense but he couldn't get his brain to cooperate. With the other visions he'd been slow and sluggish but he didn't have the luxury of time right now. He had to make Dean understand. Save Dean…
"I'm right here, I'm not going anywhere. You need to settle the hell down right now, Sam. You're gonna stroke out or something if you keep this up." Dean's voice was right next to his ear but Sam's vision was still blurry and he couldn't see what Dean was doing.
Pain throbbed hard and fast behind his eyeballs and he whimpered. He didn't mean to—he didn't want to worry Dean—but it just slipped out.
Sam heard the rustle of Dean's leather jacket and then Dean was moving away from him. "No, don't, the fire…we have to save you." Sam thrashed on the bed, trying to find his balance, trying to push to his feet. Ignoring the sharp jabs of pain at the base of his head.
A hand on his shoulder pushed him back to the bed. "Knock it off, Sam. Here, take these."
Pills were pushed into his hand but when he was too slow to hold them, Dean gave a frustrated huff and then cradled Sam's cheek. "Open up. Good. Now swallow the water."
Sam only complied because the pills were preventing him from talking and he needed Dean to understand that he was in danger. Sam hadn't been able to save Max but he would save Dean. He had to save Dean.
The mattress sunk under Dean's weight and Sam turned, clinging to his arms. If he squinted he could make out Dean's face; eyes shining brightly while deep lines furrowed grooves into the pale skin around his mouth. "You don't understand, there's no time. We have to go. Dean!"
Sam was crushed against Dean's chest, a tight band around his back. "I mean it, Sam. Settle down. You're gonna burst a blood vessel or something."
Trying to pull away, Sam found himself more firmly entrenched against Dean. The arm against his back tightened, hand digging into his waist, while the other hand guided Sam's head to Dean's shoulder.
His breathing was loud in his own ears and he understood why Dean was concerned; he sounded like an asthmatic, his lungs wheezing as they heaved to suck in oxygen. Sam told his body to relax; he needed Dean to listen to him and his brother wouldn't until Sam calmed down. Dean always put Sam first. Ever since they were kids.
Sam didn't know how long he was perched on Dean's shoulder but when he finally got his breathing and heart rate under control, he realized his eyes were drooping. It didn't matter what he did, he couldn't keep his eyes open.
"Don't fight it, Sammy. Just relax."
No, Sam had to fight it. He needed to fight for Dean. Save him from the fire. He struggled weakly, pathetically, but Dean wouldn't relinquish his grip. "We have to figure out my vision. Can't sleep."
"We'll figure it out, together. I'll wake you up in a little while, okay?" Sam didn't want to agree but his body wasn't giving him a choice. It was weighted down. Lethargic.
As a hand tumbled through the hair at the nape of Sam's neck, Sam tumbled headlong into sleep.
Sam had finally relaxed and Dean allowed himself to relax a little, too. He dipped his head down and rested it lightly on Sam's head, his brother's soft hair tickling his nose.
Sometimes Sam accused Dean of smothering him but when the kid pulled shit like this; it was hard not to fuss. In a manly way of course.
First Sam had suffered what looked like a seizure and then he'd turned agitated. Dean supposed he'd been talking about his vision, spouting stuff about a fire and Dean and having to save him. Dean didn't want to die in a fire anymore than Sam wanted him to but right after the vision, Sam had been the one in distress.
Sam's face had flamed a bright, tomato red. The veins at Sam's temples, the ones that usually ticked in agitation when Dean picked on him, had beaten a wild tattoo. His breathing had been out of control, loud and wheezing and scary as hell. Worst of all, Dean knew Sam's head was aching; it was there in the stiff set of his neck and shoulders, the tightness of his face.
Dean had been lucky he had some prescription pills, pilfered from a stop at a clinic when he was still with his dad, tucked in the inside pocket of his leather jacket. The good stuff. Something that would knock Sam on his ass for a while. Just long enough to get him to calm down. Long enough to get the pain in his head under control. Sam had easily submitted to taking the pills but then it had been like wrestling a crocodile while Dean waited for them to take effect.
It took longer than Dean had liked but the pills finally kicked in. His breathing was calm, steady and measured.
Dean wanted to go out to their car and grab some of their stuff. Like their laptop. When Sam woke up, Dean knew he'd want to research whatever it was that he saw in his vision. Then they needed to be ready to go mobile because Dean wasn't going to let himself burn up in a blaze anymore than Sam was going to let it happen. They'd run like hell in the other direction. Once they figured out what direction the threat was coming from.
Easing Sam back, Dean laid him across the bed. It took more effort to finagle his long legs on to the mattress but he managed, Sam's head even rested on a pillow comfortable while Dean wiped at the sweat dampening his brow. Kid definitely needed looking after.
Taking a step toward the door, Dean paused when Sam twitched on the bed. Dazed hazel eyes blinked open, pinning him with accusation. "S'not safe. Have to leave."
Dean returned to Sam's side, touching his brother's shoulder. Pushing him back down. "We will, Sam. I'm going to get the laptop and then we're going to figure out what your vision was about. Okay?"
Sam frowned but nodded his head yes, wincing at the motion. "S'pose it's okay."
His brother was groggy but Dean could tell the pain was clearing in the way Sam melted into the too soft surface. His words might be a little slurred but he wasn't doing that panicky rambling thing he'd done after his vision. Sam was all about control and when he lost it like that, Dean knew something was deeply wrong. Although if Dean had a vision about Sam turning into a s'more then he'd lose it, too. Of course anything that wanted to get its hands on Sam would have to go through Dean first. Dean had meant it when he said nothing bad was going to happen to Sam while he was around.
Dean hustled out the door, heading for the Impala. Before they went anywhere he was going to have to dig around under the hood and see what was up with his Chevy. The engine had misfired too often to ignore, the hesitation getting under Dean's skin as much as the fire they'd been stuck watching. He was pretty sure some new spark plugs would do the trick but until he had a chance to get in there and poke around, he wasn't sure what he'd find.
Sam came first.
Dean was reaching into the backseat when he heard something whistling through the air. For a moment he thought it was a missile but he was in Ohio, not some war-torn country. Whirling around, he searched the sky. A streak of blue impacted with the roof of the motel and the queasy feeling in Dean's stomach—the same queasy feeling that had been there since he heard the thump on the bathroom wall—intensified like a lit match to gasoline.
The same instincts that had four-year-old Dean stumbling out of bed to carry his baby brother out of the house the night Sam's nursery had gone up in flames were alive and thrumming through Dean's body now; Sam was in trouble and he needed Dean.
It took seconds to sprint back to the motel room but those were some of the longest seconds of Dean's life. Barreling through the door he found a wall of fire barricading him from the bed Sam had been lying on. It was hard to see past the flames jetting straight up from the floor to the ceiling but he could see Sam was still on the bed.
Sam was still on his back, pushing clumsily at some flames licking too close to his face. It was a wonder the whole bed wasn't ablaze.
Dean charged forward and ran headlong into a bank of suffocating heat.
It stopped him in his tracks.
Shit, the flames were blanketing Sam's body although his brother wasn't acting like he was on fire. No writhing or screaming or scorched skin smell.
Cold sweat collected on Dean's neck despite the raging inferno in the room. He had to get to Sam. He took another step forward and his efforts were blocked again. Almost like the fire was playing with him.
It didn't matter. Sam needed to get the hell off of the bed and they needed to get out. If he couldn't get to Sam then Sam would have to come to him.
Between caught glimpses of Sam between the dancing flames. Sam bolted upright at the sound of Dean's voice, automatically turning toward him.
A/N: I'd also like to take a moment to encourage you to go to my profile page and read about the new project I'm involved with--it's a Virtual Season (22 episodes) that resumes after the end of All Hell Breaks Loose Part I. That's right, after Sam dies in Dean's arms. An especially good episode (episode 9), Beyond This Illusion, written by the very talented Bayre just concluded. I hope you'll check it out.