Title: Bump in the Night, chapter 1: Dean.
Warnings: Violence, cursing, abuse, allusions to suicide. Dark!Fic
Characters: Adam, Dean, Sam, Bobby.
Word Count: 3845
Summary: Adam has lost both of his brothers. It's almost a shame that only one of them actually died.
Disclaimer: I cannot haz Winchesters. :(
Author's Notes: No idea where this came from. I went uber!dark for this one. Background assumptions for this fic: it's the end of an AU Season 2. Kate is dead and Adam has been travelling with the boys for about a year, joining them shortly after John's death. Other than that, most of the big things went down the same way. Most of them...
All reviews appreciated.
EDIT: Thanks to TheLadyPendragon for reminding me: I how a huge debt of gratitude to Lackadaisy's story A Healing Pain on livejournal. It was a large part of what inspired me to write this to begin with. You can read it here, with appropriate additions and minus spaces. (/ community . livejournal . com/somehotlazyday/11219 . html#cutid1)
"I loved him too, you know," he says. He knows it's a mistake before he finishes speaking, but it's too late to cut it off, and it wouldn't make it any less true.
That's the first time Dean really hits him.
Not the first time Dean has punched him, not by a long shot—they are half-brothers, after all, and similar in ways that can't be explained by blood alone. Being forced to live and work and drive and fight and die in each others' arms for months and months and months is bound to create tension between even the closest of friends. And he and Dean… well, half-brothers they might be, but 'friends' is stretching it.
But Adam knows as soon as it happens that every other fight they've had, every other time Dean socked him for pushing one button too many… those were nothing. He was holding back, probably because he had to. Now that he's experienced it firsthand, he knows—an honest-to-God, lay-you-the-fuck-out punch from Dean Winchester is not something he would have survived when he first joined his brothers. The year has hardened him, changed him in ways he never thought possible, showed him just how much he can take, pushed him against the very limits of his endurance, his strength, his will to survive, and then pushed him further, made him take even more.
After the year he's been through, the list of things that really, truly scare him is pitifully short.
Dean is on it now. He is Number One with a bullet.
All five senses are jumbled and tossed and ruined in the aftermath. He's blind for a few minutes, his vision going blacker and blacker until it hits bottom and bounces right back up into white. His ears are ringing; a high-pitched non-noise that drowns any actual sounds that may or may not be happening around him. Taste and smell are trying to tell him something, but they are talking over each other and getting everything all jumbled together. And touch… well, touch has to be fucked up because he doesn't hurt. He will, though. He knows that much. He'll be feeling this one for days, weeks, maybe the rest of his life.
When his senses finally come back—when the white recedes like a draining bathtub to reveal actual shapes, when the whine gives way to the steady rumble of the cheap motel air conditioner, when he realizes his mouth and nose are saying the same thing (blood), and his sense of touch finally oh fuck oh fuck oh FUCK OH GOD SHIT FUCK THAT HURTS LIKE A BITCH—he notices that Dean is gone, and doesn't know why he is disappointed. He isn't really expecting an apology. A hit like that isn't something you can take back. A regular punch, maybe, an angry, pissed off, half-drunk punch, sure. But that wasn't one of those. That was an I want you to fucking bleed punch. You don't hit someone like that unless you intend to lay them out for a long time—possibly forever.
Still. An ice pack would have been nice, even if it was tossed at him because Dean didn't want his face swelling and calling more attention to them. Or maybe a 'suck it up, pussy' telling him to get up off the ground and stop whining because Sammy could have taken that punch easy, taken it on his feet and given back just as well. Something, anything would be better than nothing. But nothing is what he gets in the aftermath. Dean is gone, off to some bar to hustle and drown, and he left like punching the shit out of his baby brother was just an item on his list to check off before he went.
Dean's To-Do List:
1. Clean guns.
2. Shower and shave.
3. Make grocery list.
4. Knock Adam's fucking head off.
5. Head to bar.
He knows he should leave. He's not a complete dumbass, no matter what Dean says to him every fucking day since Sammy (and there the sentence ends). He's seen the Very Special Episodes, he's watched the crappy Lifetime movies with his mom late in the evening after she got home from work, and he knows what this is. He knows it won't end here, not unless he ends it himself. But where is he going to go? Who is he going to go to? Dean is it for him, and he thinks it's pretty fucking sad that he is pretty much it for Dean as well. So he stays.
It's the first time Dean really hits him.
It's not the last.
He fights back at first, because fuck Dean; he's not weak, and if Dean expects him to take this shit lying down, he's got another thing coming. He knows a thing or two about fighting, even besides the things his brothers taught him, and Adam Milligan is no one's bitch. That's what he tells himself. At first. Unfortunately, Adam's year of experience pales in comparison to Dean's entire lifetime, and he quickly learns that fighting back is the quickest way to turn a hit into a full-on, savage beating. And while a hit will leave him disoriented and reeling for a few hours, a beating will wreck him for days, and that means he can't hunt. Hunting is the only thing—the ONLY thing—that makes him feel better, that lets him keep going.
Dean's not even angry when he does it. He's never angry. He's never anything, which is the scariest part of all. Dean will be telling him how to clean the guns, he'll fumble a bit, and wham. Adam will ask a question about Shapeshifters that Sammy would have known by heart, and pop. Dean will toss him a bag of take-out that spills on the bed because Adam's fingers are broken and he can't catch it, and boom. A punch, a kick, a backhand just for added disrespect. Each and every hit is like lightning from a clear blue sky, and Adam is just shy of being ashamed enough to swallow a gun when he starts flinching at the sound of Dean's voice. He half-expects Dean to draw some kind of twisted pleasure out of it, but his face remains the same stone-cold slate it has always been since Sammy (line over).
It's fucking pitiful, is what it is.
In the quiet moments, when Dean is not around and Adam is not constantly on high alert waiting for an ambush, he sits and contemplates the fact that he is now a real-live After School Special and just finds it pathetic. He wonders; if Dad would have hit him like this. If Dad ever hit Dean like this. If Sammy would have been the same way without Dean. And he knows it's useless, but when you're forcing yourself to stay awake because you have another concussion and your next nap could be the Big One, sometimes, you can't help where your mind goes.
Sometimes he is pissed at Sammy, which is just completely off-the-map as far as Acceptable Targets for His Anger go. But things were going so well, before. Sam was everything he could have asked for in a big brother. He was always ready to teach, ready to listen, ready to tease and cajole and motivate whenever he was needed. He made Adam laugh, and laughed at Adam's lame comebacks. He took to the task of Big Brothering like he learned from the best, and when he talked about Dean, it was half hero-worship, and half full-on verbal apotheosis. But Adam was never a believer in the Church of Dean, and Dean didn't exactly want him as a convert. They fought and argued and bitched and picked at each other constantly, and it nearly drove Sam crazy. He once told Dean that if his and Dad's arguments were even half this annoying to listen to, then he could not apologize enough to his big brother for putting him through them.
It wasn't perfect, but it was getting better. The more he and Dean were around each other, the easier their interactions seemed to get, and towards the end (which he didn't even know was coming), Adam even entertained the idea of them being kind-of-friends. And then Sammy (did more than this sentence can hold). And now? Well, isn't that funny—that idea is dead. It died suddenly. A smile. Relief. "Dean." A knife. Blood. Pain. A body. And then nothing. Forever. Fuck. And he thinks if Sam had just… if he'd just… (murdered someone? Executed an unarmed man?)
Something. Something that isn't this. Because he is having a pretty fucking hard time thinking of something that wouldn't be better than this, and the only reason he has this is because Sammy (stopped, like this sentence). But he can't change anything, isn't sure if he would. Isn't sure if he could ask Sam to kill in cold blood for him (for Dean, too). Doesn't think so. Loves him too much. Loves him. Loves him. Loved him.
He makes another mistake that night.
When Dean walks through the door at dark-thirty in the morning, Adam is pointing a gun at him with tears in his eyes, because how the fuck did his life turn into this? Dean doesn't even blink. He walks up to Adam without a care in the world, pauses for just a second like he's waiting for something, and when nothing comes, he snatches the pistol from his hand and cracks Adam across the nose with it, knocking him to the floor.
A muddy boot slams into his chest, and he feels a rib crack. "First rule of firearms," Dean says with nothing in his voice.
Adam clenches his teeth and tries to curl into a ball, but Dean just kicks him again.
"First rule of firearms," Dean repeats. "Say it."
Adam grunts through clenched teeth. "Never point a gun at anything you aren't ready to kill."
The gun makes a hollow clatter as it hits the ground next to his head. "Maybe now you'll fucking remember."
He does. He never forgets it again.
The night he finally breaks, he tries to rationalize it away. Everyone has their limits, he tells himself. It isn't shameful to want out of constant misery and fear and pain, and it isn't shameful to ask for help. It makes him feel no less ashamed when he fucking whimpers into the phone "B-Bobby…" and hangs up hoping that Bobby didn't hear him because he's not this weak. He shouldn't be breaking already. And yet, when Bobby appears a day later, having tracked them down after nearly having a heart attack because he thought they were dead, he nearly cries with relief. Bobby looks him over and makes some kind of comment about going a couple of rounds with an elephant, asks what the Hell happened to him. When Adam doesn't answer, Bobby has no trouble connecting the dots, because he's been at this for years, and he knows how to tell the wounds a hunter gets from the wounds a hunter gives, and his face is the perfect mixture of unfettered grief and the coldest fury Adam has ever seen when he hands him the keys and says "Go wait in my car, son. You don't need to see this."
Adam doesn't even bother to grab his stuff; he just goes, because he is tired. He doesn't even realize how utterly and completely drained he is until he sits in the passenger's seat of Bobby's Chevelle and his entire body from hair to toenails just sighs, and Adam goes completely limp. As limp, he realizes, as Sam was the last time he saw him. It isn't until he sees Dean going into the room and realizes that Bobby has not left that he understands what Bobby probably doesn't want him to see. He sits. He sits for what seems like forever, waiting for something, anything. After a while, his stomach churns with dread as he fears that maybe Bobby isn't coming out, that maybe he can't. He quietly gets out of the car and goes to the door, just in time to hear Bobby uttering words that cut marrow-deep. "…ever thought I'd see the day you sunk lower than your daddy. You're worse than what you hunt, and you're lucky I don't put a hole in you right now. But you hear this, Dean; I'm taking that boy with me, and if I see you near him again, I won't think twice."
He wants to see Dean's face, if only to prove to himself that there's some part of him alive enough to feel. But Bobby told him to wait in the car, and he doesn't want to piss Bobby off so soon, so he goes and waits. Bobby joins him shortly thereafter, and they drive for a long-ass time with nothing but silence between them.
"Son," Bobby finally speaks. "I wish I knew what to say. God, Adam. Why didn't you tell me before?"
Adam shrugs. "Thought he'd stop." It's the weakest lie he's ever told.
"That's horse shit, and you know it," Bobby says.
"The fuck you want me to say, Bobby?" Adam asks, and for a moment, his voice is just as dead as Dean's. "I don't know. I don't fucking know, okay?"
"I'm just trying to help, Adam," Bobby sighs, looking as old as he is for the first time since Adam's known him.
Adam grinds his teeth. "Find me something to kill," he says. "That'll help."
It's two months and five hunts with Bobby before he hears another word from Dean, and to say he's shocked is kind of like saying that night hags are a little on the ugly side. He figured Dean was happy to be rid of him. Bobby hears the phone and answers, and Adam knows by his tone alone that Dean is on the other line. "…and floss your ass with it, Dean. I got no time for you." Silence. "He ain't got nothin' to say to you, boy." More silence. "You can go fuck yourself with a tire iron for all I care. I told you before—you send me proof, we can talk. 'til then, you go find whatever whore's ass you crawled out of this morning and crawl yourself right back in." Too much silence. "Dyin' my ass. You sound fit as a fiddle to me. A drunk fiddle, maybe." That gets Adam's attention, and he is just as shocked as he was to hear from Dean to suddenly learn that he doesn't want him to die. He moves into the room. "Nothing to talk about, Dean. I'm done, and I'm hanging up. You're making my goddamn teeth hurt."
Adam snatches the phone from his hand, holding up his own to silence Bobby's protests. He puts it up to his ear.
"Goddamn it, Bobby, this is important!" Adam freezes completely at the sound of that voice, because it sounds like Dean. Not the Dean-shaped zombie that munched on Adam's soul for months and months. Living, breathing, feeling, Dean. "Bobby, you there? Please don't hang up on me."
"Dean," Adam says, keeping his voice as neutral as possible.
"Adam?" Dean whispers his name like he's afraid to scare him off. "That you, kid?"
"What do you want, Dean?" Adam says, because the conversation is two sentences long and he already feels drained.
"Just listen to me, Adam, please. I'm sorry, kid. Please know that. I am so goddamn fucking sorry…"
"No," Adam cuts him off, and has to fight to keep from hanging up. "No apologies, Dean. It's too late. What you did to me is way beyond 'sorry.'"
"I know, Adam. Believe me, I know. And I'm gonna make it right, I promise."
Adam is taken aback at Dean's arrogance. "Make it right? You stupid, self-centered jackass. How can you even say that?"
"I am, Adam, I swear to God. And I know, kid. I know you loved him," and Adam rising fury screeches to a halt. "That's why I trust you to do this. You're the only one I can trust."
"Dean, what are you talking about?" Adam asks. Dean is rambling, and if he didn't know his brother's drunk voice so well, Adam would suspect he was three (or ten) sheets to the wind at this point.
"You'll see," Dean says, and Adam's heart stops for a second.
"Don't you dare," he seethes, and Bobby moves to take the phone away from him. Adam barely dodges him. "Don't you dare come up here. I don't wanna see you."
"I'm not, kid, don't worry about that. You won't ever have to see or hear from me again after today. I just need you to do one thing for me, okay? One thing, and I know you can do it. You're the only one I can trust with this."
"Dean, what are you talking about?" Adam says, seriously starting to lose his patience because he's been getting violently bounced between mood extremes for the entire length of this conversation and it's making him nauseous.
"Take care of Sammy, Adam."
Adam's heart stops. Again. He's pretty sure that isn't good for him. "Dean… Sammy's…" And for the first time since it happened, he forces himself to say it out loud. "Sammy's dead. Are you okay? You're not making any sense." Bobby's eyes make a valiant attempt to leap straight out of his head and into the phone to confront Dean personally.
"You'll see. I… you won't believe me, and I don't blame you, but I do love you, kid. Be good. Take good care of Sammy."
The phone is suddenly back in Bobby's hand. "Dean! You stupid, stupid son of a bitch, what the Hell do you think you're doing? Dean? DEAN!" Bobby hurls the phone across the room. "What'd he tell you?"
"What did he say! Damn it, boy, this is important."
Adam can barely bring himself to repeat it. "He told me to take care of Sam."
"Damn it, Dean," Bobby growls, before snatching Adam by the collar and dragging him out the door.
"Where are we going?" Adam asks.
"To stop your damn fool brother from killing himself," Bobby says, and Adam no longer needs to be dragged.
They are, of course, too late. Bobby gets a friend to trace the signal on Dean's phone, but when they get to the motel, they find everything but Dean—all of Dean's possessions in neat, clearly labeled boxes. The Impala, pristine and brilliant as the day she was bought, waits for them unlocked with the keys inside. For Adam is written on the keychain. There is a tiny box in the passenger's seat labeled For Sam, and Adam has no qualms about opening it (because Sammy's dead, damn it). It holds Dean's amulet, one thing he has never, ever seen his brother without.
He does not wear it. It's not for him.
They stay in town for three days, putting up posters, questioning the locals, but Dean is nowhere to be found. Adam has every intention of continuing to look, until there is a knock on their hotel room door, and Adam opens it to discover all ten feet of Sam Winchester standing on the other side, his entire form caked in dirt and his eyes as lost and frightened and confused as Adam has ever seen him. It is a testament to the fact that Adam has only been a hunter for a year when he immediately wraps his brother in a frantic, desperate, disbelieving hug. Bobby has trouble prying them apart to do all the appropriate tests.
He passes. And just like that, Adam has Sammy back.
So where is this massive sense of dread coming from? Why isn't he happy about this?
And what the Hell happened to Dean?
He and Sam both set out to answer that question, and Adam learns more about demons and crossroads and deals than he ever thought possible. The investigation consumes them, but Adam can't really bring himself to care, because he is so thrilled to have Sam back that he is momentarily blind to all else. He is blind to the fact that Sam sneaks off alone at night without telling him on a semi-regular basis. He is blind to the fact that he has been seen with a mysterious woman who may or may not have black eyes (and not the kind Adam used to have). He is deaf to the early morning phone calls when Sam thinks he is asleep, where phrases like 'Lilith' and 'powers' and 'to protect him' are thrown around. He is oblivious, until the first night that he isn't—when he can no longer ignore his curiosity, and he follows Sam to an abandoned warehouse to find out what he is up to because even if he didn't actually get around to promising Dean he would take care of Sammy, Dean trusted him to do it. And it's not like he doesn't want to.
So he goes, and watches his brother and the woman he has been conducting his late night trysts with 'interrogating' a demon tied to a chair inside a Devil's Trap. He arrives in the middle of the confession.
"…held up our end of the bargain. We had no choice, since he held up his." The demon's laugh makes his hair stand on end, but it doesn't scare him, not really. "Dumb bastard didn't even ask for a day."
"You're lying," Sam growls.
"Not even a little. Dean knew he was downstairs material anyway," the demon sneers.
"Bull. Shit. If anyone I have ever met deserves Heaven, it's Dean." Sam's voice is dangerous in a way that Adam has never heard before, and the woman is smirking.
"Is that so? Maybe you should ask your other brother what he thinks. Oh-hoo, if you only knew the things those two did in the dark…" The demon starts to laugh again, but it is cut short when Sam savagely thrusts a hand towards him. The chair shatters into splinters and the Devil's Trap circle is broken instantly, no longer needed, as the demon is pinned to a wall with nothing but the force of Sam's will. The screaming starts shortly thereafter.
Adam can only watch slack-jawed as the demon shrieks in a way that he didn't know was possible for a living thing. Sam twists his hand, and the demon is twisted in response, screaming, and screaming, and screaming. And then, after what seems like an eternity, Adam Milligan witnesses something he didn't even know was possible: a demon, falling to its knees to weep at his brother's feet and beg for death. Sam delivers.
After the year he's been through, the list of things that really, truly scare him is pitifully short. Tonight, it gets a little longer. Tonight, Adam updates the list.
Tonight, there is a new Number One.