Fanfic: The Wound
Summary: Written for the LiveJournal Hoodietime Dean-focused hurt/comfort comment-fic meme. Prompt: After Hell, Dean's pain tolerance is ridiculously high. Sam is impressed, and disturbed by it.
Spoilers: Set in early Season 4; post Heaven and Hell
Genre: Gen, Hurt/Comfort
Characters: Sam, Dean
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or any of its characters. They belong to the CW and Eric Kripke – who'd best treat them well
A/N: No beta; all mistakes mine.

The Wound

The side of Dean's shirt blossoms red. Sam sees it from the corner of his eye but he's busy taking on two other nasties and can't be bothered right now. Sam twists quickly to the left, silver knife up and slicing even as his body starts coming down. The jagged feel of metal slicing through flesh, familiar, hot, messy as the blood and goo and whatall cover his hand and part of his arm. And then it's done.

The quiet is deep.

Sam returns his eyes toward Dean, who that moment plucks his arms out of another creatures gut, twisting the knife one final unnecessary time. His brother's eyes are far away. Sam thinks he should notice this. Thinks it should bother him. But the job is done and time is short and days of being able to think about those things are long past.

"You okay?" Sam asks perfunctory.

"Mmm," comes back the non-answer.

Sam forgets about his question and wipes down his blade. They're done.

Dean's been driving some ways when Sam feels something near his hand. There's a curved red line tickling his fingertips coming from somewhere in the vicinity of Dean's thigh.

"Dean!"

"Mmm?"

"You're bleeding all over the seat, man. Pull over."

Dean looks down surprised. His face twists when he sees the red droplets on his precious upholstery. "Son of a bitch."

The car eases over to the shoulder.

"Let me see."

Dean bats Sam's hand away and pulls up his tee-shirt twisting awkwardly to see his own injury low on the side of his abdomen. "Didn't see it nick me."

Sam has turned to get a better view. "Nick?! Holy crap. How did you—? You need stitches."

Dean has taken his shirt off and is wiping down the car's seat.

Sam twists again in anger. "Forget the car. You're hurt."

"Scratch. Hardly felt it."

Sam knows wounds. He's been patching up his brother since ever. Patched up their dad. Sewed himself back together. How did Dean not feel this?

He exits the car to get their first aid kit from the trunk.

His brother is pulling the stuck fabric from his wound as he returns. Dean's face is pale but calm. It hurts Sam just to see this. Dean has no noticeable reaction. Sam reaches out and helps Dean lift the tee-shirt off.

Dean's torso is pale except for the huge, red gore of where the creature's claw slashed across. In the dim light the blood appears nearly black. Christ, the cut seems so deep, Sam worries he'll see bone. Could have hit a major organ. He wonders if they should go to an ER. Knows what Dean will say.

Sam's own stomach clenches in sympathy. Dean remains still and impassive as if the wound was a paper cut. Blinking back his discomfort Sam reaches for the disinfectant and cotton gauze pads and tries to clean it as gently as he can.

Every touch makes Sam flinch. Dean hasn't moved. "Fuck, Dean. Doesn't it hurt?"

"Huh?"

"Don't you feel this?"

Dean doesn't look at him. Sam tries to follow his brother's gaze but it seems to go nowhere. "Nah. Lots of skin left. Doesn't hurt until way deeper than this."

It takes Sam a moment but then his hand stumbles as he continues to gently swipe away at the blood before looking for another gauze to cover it up until they can at least get to a motel and he can stitch it up properly. "You mean …" But he doesn't finish. There's nowhere to finish his thought.

Dean slides over wordlessly and Sam drives till they see a vacancy sign and Sam checks them in.

In the room, Sam pulls out what he'll need. Needles and thread and hydrogen peroxide to sterilize. He's not concerned about doing this but with Dean seemingly so desensitized to normal pain he's a little scared that the injury could be worse than they know. In a hospital they could take an X-ray.

"Dean, maybe we should get this checked out?"

Dean looks at him puzzled. "The scratch?"

Sam gets frustrated. "It's more than a scratch. How do you not—? Most people would have passed out. You were driving for miles before …"

Dean finally meets his eyes. "Told you. Takes a lot more. Just got used to it, I guess."

"Being sliced?" Sam asks despite himself. They still haven't spoken about it. Dean confessed what happened to him in Hell. What he became. And how long he'd been tortured. But Sam has never asked for details. Couldn't.

"Yeah. 'S what they did. And when there was no more left and nothing left to scream about. I'd be fixed. Good as new. And it would start again."

Sam nods because he has no words and sterilizes the needle before drawing the ends of Dean's wound together. He pierces slowly. Dean's been through so much. Because Sam couldn't stop it. Couldn't break the deal. Wasn't strong enough. Not then, at least.

"Let me know if I hurt you."

"You won't," Dean says. "I know … I know the difference now."

Sam makes another neat stitch. Dean has no scars now. Castiel brought him back renewed. He didn't want to be the one to create a scar on Dean's perfect body. Didn't want Dean's first scar to be from his hands. "Difference?" he asks absently, mind intent on perfect, ultra neat sewing.

"Real you and … not real. They, the demons sometimes looked … like people I knew. I knew, most of the time. Most of the time, I knew."

Sam's hand shakes and the needle goes wild a moment. "S-sorry."

"It's okay. Didn't feel it."

Sam didn't mean to apologize for the needle. Sam doesn't think there are enough apologies in the universe for what he has to be sorry for so Sam says nothing further.

It doesn't take much to see that the blood loss has weakened Dean. Thirty years, Sam thinks for the millionth time. And for some of that time, people Dean knew, faces Dean loves, were the ones doing the torturing. Why hadn't Sam thought of this before? He'd imagined a lot of scenarios. Never that one.

"I'm sorry," he says again because he doesn't know how not to say it.

"For what?" Dean's voice is low, not quite sleepy. Just less there.

Sam meets his eyes and holds on, stops the stitching for a moment. A remnant of his big brother looks back at him, eyes warming from blood loss and the sudden adrenaline drop and the feel of Sam's hands against his torso. " 'S okay, Sammy," Dean says.

No. It's not. It's so very not.

Sam finishes the stitches, extra tight and small and neat. It would scar. Was too deep not to. But damn if it would be anything more than a faint delicate line. Because this Sam could control. The other scars. Ridged and dirty and dark. Skin ripped from his brother's body by demons wearing his face. Those weren't going anywhere.

Dean looks relieved it is done. He disappears into the bathroom and comes back quickly wearing only his boxers. Silently he drops down on the bed on his stomach.

Sam disposes of the bloody bandages and puts away their supplies. He turns back to Dean unsure if he is yet asleep. "Be careful next time. Since, you aren't so aware if you're hurt. We should check."

Glazed green eyes peer at him sideways. "Yeah."

Sam rambles, isn't sure why he's afraid of silence suddenly. "I tried to be neat. You know how you have no scars anymore. Didn't want … it shouldn't be too noticeable."

"You did good, Sammy. Gentle. It didn't hurt."

Sam swallows and a bitterness fills his throat. Did it not hurt because he was gentle or because the torturers did their job exceedingly well? All the pain Dean isn't feeling squeezes around his heart. For a moment he can't breathe.

Dean has shut his eyes. Perhaps he's asleep. So he can dream about it all over again.

Sam sits for a long while on his own bed looking but not seeing. As his own eyelids start to hurt he rises toward the other bed. The white of the gauze stands out against the grayish tone of Dean's skin around it. Sam leans over to be sure there's no more bleeding. But it's white and pristine. His brother never felt that wound. Meanwhile, every moment Sam looks at Dean hurts.

Impulsively, he lowers his head and places a soft kiss near his brother's temple. Something else Dean wouldn't feel.

fin