Author's Note: When I was a teenaged McQueen, I was prone to incredibly long stints of depression. During these stints, my mother would knock on my door six times in quick succession and say, "Deanie, sweetheart, get up." But I couldn't get up. I was far too sad to get up. I wouldn't bathe, but I would eat. I would eat lots and lots of delicious ice cream and try to lose myself in the flavor. Ice cream, I have since decided, is a divine creation. My father, Thomas McQueen, invented all sorts of unique flavors as a young man and he would also knock on my door (twelve times, because he was very obsessed with his own masculinity and anything my mother did, he had to do it, too, only in a bigger way) and bring me this ice cream, each time telling me that it was a very special flavor that would cure me of this unfortunate sadness. Now, the ice cream was usually just a few scoops of vanilla with store-bought sprinkles and chocolate chips, but I would smile and eat it and tell my father that I felt better because it made him smile. And when he smiled, I smiled. Thus, in my long years of wisdom, I have decided that smiles cure sadness. I hope you enjoy the following story.

Of Light, Empty Dreams
by Deanie McQueen

Sam's limbs were heavy against the mattress. So heavy, in fact, that he couldn't lift them, not for anything. And he was pretty sure there was something living inside his stomach, something that was also incredibly heavy and very, very mean.

"Sam?" Dean's voice was gentler than usual. Usually he would be telling Sam to get the fuck up by now, but apparently, Dean was in one of his more sympathetic moods. "Sammy? Are you awake?" Sam felt his brother's strong hand grip his shoulder and shake it just slightly. It remained there, even after the shaking stopped, the touch warm and familiar.

Sam scrubbed his runny nose against the pillowcase and turned his head the best he could to look at Dean. He blinked at his sibling through bleary, red-rimmed eyes.

"You okay there, Sylvia?" Dean asked, his voice still soft. He sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Uh huh," Sam sniffled.

"You wanna tell me what's eating you this time?"

Sam shook his head and buried his face back into his wet pillow. He heard Dean sigh heavily behind him.

"Do you want me to get you one of those fancypants coffees you like so much?"

"Nuh uh."

"How about a nice, fresh salad?"

Sam shook his head.

"Softcore porn?"

"No, thank you." Sam could be very polite when he was in one of these moods, and very quiet. Dean usually responded to quiet politeness by saying "Well, alright" and patting him once on the arm and then going off to do whatever it is Deans do (girls, booze, pool, the usual).

"Hardcore porn?" Dean prompted instead.

"No, thank you, Dean."

Dean's hand was still on Sam's shoulder, and it stayed there for the next several minutes as Sam blinked his tear-laced lashes against his pillow. Sam wasn't going to feel better any time soon. The thing in his stomach was really mean. And his limbs were really heavy. And he just wanted to close the curtains and shut off the lights and sleep forever. Maybe his dreams would be nicer to him.

"Does this have something to do with last night, Sam? 'Cause I didn't mean it."

Last night. Sam didn't want to think about last night. He just wanted his dark hole to creep into and never come out of.

"You told him to-"

"It was a joke, Sammy. M'sorry, okay? I really, truly am."

Dean was sorry. Dean was tapping his long fingers against Sam's shoulder blade and humming "Girls Got Rhythm" in that soft way Sam could still remember Dad humming to him when he was just a wee little wisp of a Sam.

But sorry didn't take away the memory of that clown chasing after him with that balloon through the promenade. Sorry didn't take away the memory of Sam's own shriek and his stumbling over small children, and the way he singlehandedly took out that lemonade stand.

Sorry didn't take away the memories of all those eyes, just...staring at him. Judging him. Or Dean's hearty laughter and pointing finger, the tears of hilarity rolling down his cheeks.

"You paid him to do it," Sam said in a quiet voice. No anger. Sam wasn't angry. Sam was just very, very sad. "And you laughed. And everyone was looking at me, Dean."

"I know," Dean said, sounding regretful. "I know. I'm an ass."

"You are," Sam agreed softly. "You really, really are."

It was a long time that Sam laid there, with that thing living and breathing that poison in his stomach. His lashes dried sticky against his face. Dean stayed with him during, patting his shoulder, sometimes humming, and promising him they'd leave soon. They'd leave soon and they wouldn't come back to this place unless they had to.

"I'll shoot the clown if you want me to, Sam," Sam heard Dean say as he drifted off to sleep. "I'll shoot it right in its stupid red nose. Just for you."

Sam succumbed to dreams that were light and empty.