Title: Swallow the Sky

Author:wave_obscura

Rating: PG

Word count: ~3,000

Genre: H/C

Summary: Dean chaperones Sam's Halloween date. Sam is NOT happy. Written for hoodie_timeHalloweenish comment fic meme for the prompt: John leaves Sam and an injured teenage Dean alone on Halloween - Sam begs him to go trick-or-treating like normal kids, and even though Dean's really hurting, he takes Sam out for a whole, long night of walking around. Dean can be, I dunno, 16, and Sam is 12? Is 12 too old to trick-or-treat? I just don't like seeing kid!Dean hurt (it makes me sadddd), so he has to be a teenager... MAKE IT WORK!

Warnings: Permanently injured!Dean, female OCs, sap

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.

If I could swallow the sky

and the mountains too

I'd do it

So there'd be nothing to fall on you

-Jamie Lidell

Swallow the Sky

by wave obscura

"So, yeah, my brother Dean..." Sam begins, and feels a droplet of sweat sneak into the crease of his eyelid. He quickly wipes it away, and smiles into the face of Shannon Ferris, Shannon Ferris who is so, so perfect with her shampoo commercial hair and smart-person glasses and plump plump lips and of course there was more to women than breasts but Shannon Farris' breasts were awesome, too, so awesome he forgets what he was going to say.

Her teeth are so, so bright, and the burnt autumn colors in the trees behind her frame her face like a school photo, like better than a school photo, and the chilly October wind has pinked her cheeks and reddened her lips.

"I'm hungry," Shannon's little sister Shelly says. She jumps with both feet into a tiny puddle in the road.

"Don't whine. We're almost there," Shannon snaps, brandishing the bag of McDonalds.

Sam points up the road a little. "It's just a couple more blocks. Left at the light."

"Whenner we gonna go trick-or-treating?" Shelly tugs on Sam's arm, her little face-Shannon Ferris in miniature- squishing up with impatience. "You said we were gonna go trick-or-treating."

Sam trips over a pothole in the road and nearly face plants, and Shelly laughs uproariously.

He can't believe this is actually happening. Now. Here. With Shannon Ferris.

"We're going soon." Shannon runs her hand through her shampoo commercial hair and bites her lip-gloss commercial lips. "So you were saying something about your brother?"

"He's uh. A few years ago he got, uh, hit by a car and broke his back? And-"

"Oh," Shannon says, at the same time her sister skips forward and sings out, "STEP ON A CRACK! BREAK YOUR BROTHER'S BACK!"

"Shut up, Shelly. That's rude." Shannon yanks her sister by the collar of her shirt, stopping her in her tracks. She turns to Sam and smiles sweetly.

Sam gulps. "Just a head's up, in case he wants to meet you."

He has no idea why he feels the need to warn. But he does.

They've reached the light, and turn into the parking lot of the motel again. Sam flushes with embarrassment. The motel didn't look that bad before but now that Shannon and Shelly are here he can see that it looks like a crack den and if her parents knew this was where she was going after school with her little sister, they probably would have said hell no.

Shelly charges ahead of them, head down and arms stretched behind her like an airplane or a superhero. "STEP ON A CRACK!" she calls. "STEP ON A CRACK!"

"SHUT UP, SHELLY. GOD."

"There's tables in the breakfast room straight back," Sam says. "I'll be out in a just a minute."

Sam opens the motel door just enough to squeeze through. He thought maybe he'd have them inside to meet Dean but now he knows he can't, seeing the room through her eyes- clothes everywhere. He hasn't done the laundry yet so the room smells like their dirty socks and like Dean's been drinking. A few beer bottles are scattered here and there and the food Dad left before he took off a couple of days ago hasn't yet made it to the kitchenette.

Dean is asleep on top of the bedspread, his hands laced on his belly, a magazine on his chest.

"Dean wake up," Sam calls, and rushes into the bathroom to smooth down his hair. He looks back at the bed. Dean groans and rises up stiffly, propping himself up with both arms, adjusting the position of his bottom, adjusting again, letting little short bursts of air escape his mouth. His hand automatically reaches around to the small of his back, kneading.

Sam sits across from Dean on the other bed. "You're sore today."

Dean adjusts himself again, squinting one eye. "No."

"Yeah you are."

"Where's your little girlfriend?"

"She's not my girlfriend."

"Where's your little not-girlfriend?"

"In the continental breakfast room. Eating with her sister."

Dean uses his hands to guide one of his legs off the edge of the bed, then the other, breathing slow and steady as he does so.

"You're hurting," Sam says. "Where are your pills?"

"Already took 'em. I'm fine, Sammy, really." He reaches for the forearm crutches, between the bed and the nightstand, and pulls himself to his feet, yawning as he gets himself situated.

Sam watches him crutch gracefully into the bathroom. He's almost jealous sometimes at how fast and quiet Dean moves. Sam's legs grew four inches this summer and he can't seem to keep them underneath him, his feet are gigantic and sometimes it feels like he has four knees.

"Lemme piss and then we'll go," Dean says before he nudges the door shut behind him.

"We'll go? What the hell do you mean we'llgo?"

"Dad'll fucking kill me if I let you go out on Halloween by yourself."

"Dad's not here. Dean. You can't come with us."

Silence while Dean takes a piss. The toilet flushes, the sink runs and Dean comes out, the sleep combed out of his hair.

He still looks tired.

"You're not going by yourself, Sammy. End of story."

"Then I won't go at all." Sam stomps one foot before he can stop himself. "I'm fourteen, Dean. I don't need a babysitter."

Dean sits at the dinette set under the window and begins to shrug on his coat. "I agree. Tell it to Dad. Write your fucking congressmen. And change your shirt. You got some kinda stain."

Sam looks down and sure enough there's taco sauce on his shirt. He grabs a cleanish replacement off the pile and pulls the dirty one over his head. "We're gonna have to walk around a lot."

"Yup."

"Dad's gonna be pissed if he finds out you're up and around when your back's hurting."

Dean snorts, zipping up his jacket. "I'm fine, Sam. Woke up a little sore, took something, I'm fine."

Sam knows his brother's more than just a little sore and shouldn't be spending time on his feet making it worse. He also knows that there's no way Dean's gonna let him go by himself but he hears Shannon Ferris, beautiful perfect Shannon Ferris outside screaming bloody murder at her little sister, and he wants to believe that Dean is fine so bad.

He goes to the mirror above the desk to make sure nothing's stuck between his teeth, that his fly is done up.

"Are you wearing a costume?"

"Fuck no."

"Is she wearing a costume?"

"No."

"What about her sister?"

"She's dressed as a... raincoat person."

"What the fuck is that?"

"A person in a raincoat."

"Alright."

"Dean," Sam says, "Please please please don't embarrass me."

Dean feigns insult. "You're nice enough to let your crippled brother come out trick-or-treating with you. Major points with the ladies."

"Stop calling yourself that."

"You're nice enough to let your diverse-abled brother-"

"Dude, shut up. Are you ready?"

Dean pulls himself back to his feet, and Sam doesn't miss the strain on his face.

But if he says he's fine, he's fine, right?

He follows Dean outside.

OOOO

The first meeting between his brother and the woman who is surely the love of his life goes better than Sam expects. Having eaten her McDonalds, Shelly the little sister is hopping on one foot in circles around the continental breakfast room, slapping her ketchup-sticky fingers on the bins where the dry cereal goes.

"Nice to meet you," Shannon says to Dean, and she extends her hand to shake, but at the last second swings her arm around and smacks her sister on the shoulder. "THAT'S FUCKING GROSS, SHELLY. DON'T TOUCH IT."

Shelly spins around, her lips quivering and little fists curling with hatred. Then she notices Dean and her face goes slack. "You look like a movie star," she says accusingly. "Why do you have those crutches?"

Dean smiles. "So I can shake hands from far away, see?" Learning heavily on his left crutch, he holds the right one out to her hand. Scoffing a laugh at him, Shelly shakes the crutch.

"That's silly," she declares. "Did you get in an accident?"

"It's rude to ask questions like that," Shannon warns.

"I fell out of a tree," Dean says.

"Sam said you got hit by a car," Shannon says.

"I fell out of a tree and then got hit by a car," Dean covers smoothly. "It's a miracle I wasn't completely paralyzed. Who wants to go to the Dollar Store and find a costume?" He turns and makes his way out the breakfast room door.

"You're too old to wear a costume," Shelly says with a laugh, skipping after him. "You should... what's your name again? You should be a pirate, Dean."

OOOO

Sam's more than bored of telling the story of his brother's accident but like so many girls, Shannon is fascinated and can't stop studying Dean like she's dying to know every detail.

Sam sighs. It always happens like this. He and Shannon observe Dean from across the room, arranging himself precariously against the wall so he can use both hands to force a Medusa wig over Shelly's head.

"He cried a lot," Sam tells her. "Like, a ton. He'd lay in the dark and cry all day."

Sam is lying, of course. After Dean got tossed down the stairs by a poltergeist and didn't stop falling for three flights, he was all about stupid determination and pushing himself farther than anyone thought was healthy. He practically needed a sedative before PT and wouldn't stop until they told him he risked fucking himself up even more.

Sam only caught him crying once, on a day it rained really hard and Dean woke up with his back so sore he couldn't get up. That was when he realized the debilitating and totally unpredictable back pain was never going to go away, that some days he was going to be floored no matter what he did or how hard he worked.

"Sometimes he throws things," Sam says. Yeah, he feels like an ass trying to make his brother look bad, but he watches Shannon watching Dean, her dreaming eyes, the sigh that escapes her picture-perfect lips as she contemplates his bravery and stoicism, and Sam knows he's losing her, and fast.

"He can't feel his dick or pee by himself," Sam lies, because he knows Shannon's not listening anyway.

Dean buys an eye patch and a tee-shirt with a skull and cross-bones on it. He and Shelly decide together on a pair of sparkled, purple wings.

"I'm a Rain Fairy!" she announces proudly. "Tie these to my back, Sissy."

"Can you fucking say please?" Shannon says, spinning her sister around.

OOOO

Sam's whole chest falls into his shoes when Dean crutches to a bench outside the dollar store to change his shirt. His collection of natural and surgical scars in combination with his ridiculously chiseled arms make him look almost unbearably cool, not even Sam can deny it.

Shannon stares unabashedly, tucking some loose hair back behind her ears and breathing shakily like her heart is beating a mile a minute. "Let me carry your shirt," she says, and runs over and stuffs it in her backpack.

Dean says thank you but barely acknowledges her, instead smiling conspiratorially at Shelly. "Do I make a good pirate?"

"Yeah," Shelly practically screams, her little wings flapping limply against the back of her raincoat. "Can we trick-or-treat now?"

Dean nods and winks. "You betcha."

The little girl lets out a whoop and charges at Dean, flinging herself into his lap and squeezing him around the waist.

His face pinches immediately with pain. "FUCK careful," he blurts.

Like a reflex Sam steps forward and pulls the little girl away. "Careful," he repeats, trying to keep his voice low and calm. "His back hurts him, okay? You gotta be careful."

"JESUS CHRIST SHELLY," Shannon explodes.

"She didn't know," Dean says, raising a hand to silence her. His voice is still thin and strained, and he's breathing very, very carefully. "It's okay. She didn't know."

Shannon flares her nostrils murderously at her sister.

Shelly's lower lip comes out again, quivering dangerously. She stares down at her galoshes and digs her toes into the pavement. "I'm sorry," she says. "I'm sorry, Dean. Can we... can we trick-or-treat now?"

Dean nods, working his jaw and trying his best to smile. He gives Sam a meaningful glance, which, with the eye patch, looks twice as pathetic as it really is. Sam leans down, offering a shoulder for Dean to brace himself on as he struggles to his feet.

Sam shouldn't say anything. He really, really shouldn't. But he sees Shannon's glistening eyes, the way she's clutching both hands to her chest and he knows he has to do something.

"Let's go home, Dean. You know what's gonna happen if you stay on your feet."

"It's fine, Sam. You're going trick-or-treating with your loud little girlfriend." Dean settles himself on his crutches, and Sam lets go.

Dean swings himself toward Shelly. "Arrrrrrr," he growls in his best pirate impression, in a voice that only Sam could tell is forced. "Ready to get some candy, sweetheart?"

Shelly jumps in the air. "Yeah!"

OOOO

They make their way south, to a decent area with lots of houses covered in autumn leaves, cracked driveways lined with jack-o-lanterns and fake cobwebs. Every other house is blaring generic haunted house music and though it's not even five o'clock, the streets are already crowded with costumed children, pillowcases sagging with candy.

"TRICK OR TREAT," Shelly screams. "TRICK OR TREAT."

"Let's find a door first," Dean says with a laugh.

Sam and Shannon stand at the end of a driveway while Shelly and Dean make their way up to the closest house. With a crutch Dean stops the little girl just short of the door. He reaches out an rings the doorbell with the crutch, and Shelly claps her hands and squeals like it's the most hilarious thing she's ever seen.

Shannon crosses her arms just under her breasts. "Your brother is so nice."

"Uh huh," Sam agrees flatly.

"How old is he? Twenty-one?"

Sam sighs. "He's eighteen."

"Did he graduate last year?"

"He got his GED."

"How long has he... you know?"

"He was my age. When he fell out of a tree. And then got hit by a truck."

"He's so nice," she repeats.

Sam nods, can't bring himself to say anything in return. Up the driveway, the owner of the house is piling handfuls of candy into Shelly's bag.

"My sister is so annoying," Shannon says.

"So is my brother."

"I don't think your brother's annoying."

Sam shrugs. He kind of wants to go home. "I don't think your sister's annoying. Neither does my brother."

Shannon rolls her eyes. "This is so boring."

OOOO

They make their way down the street, Sam staying several paces ahead of Dean to disperse the crowd a little so none of the over-sugared children slam into him. Shannon doesn't talk, but the way she keeps her arms crossed presses her breasts together and Sam can't stop looking any chance he gets. Her hair shines in the streetlights, her eyelashes are stunning against her moon-paled cheeks and Sam wants nothing more than to get the fuck away from her.

He looks over his shoulder at his brother, who has a mouthful of something gooey and pink and is chattering stupidly with little Shelly, who by now can barely lift her bag of candy.

Dean catches his glance and nods. He bends down as far as he can to Shelly and says, "It was fun hanging out with you, kid. Don't eat all that in one day. You'll get cavities."

Shelly shoves him gently, sticking out her tongue and blowing a raspberry at him. "You sound like my mom."

Dean holds out his crutch and they shake goodbye. Then he swings up to Sam and Shannon. "My back's killing me, Sammy. I think it's time to go."

Sam shakes Shannon's limp hand and says goodbye.

OOOO

"You didn't have to flirt with her," he finds himself saying when they're halfway home. It's slow-going, Dean is moving lopsided and lingering longer and longer with both feet and both crutches on the ground.

He shoots Sam a look of horror.

"She couldn't take her eyes off you after you took your shirt off."

Dean just looks at him and says nothing, because they both know Sam is being totally ridiculous.

They walk for a few minutes. Dean's breathing grows more and more labored.

Sam sighs for the forty thousandth time that night. "You wanna sit down for a minute?"

They lumber to a nearby bench. Sam offers his shoulder again, and Dean squeezes it hard as he lowers himself down.

"I'm sorry I dragged you out here," Sam says.

"You didn't drag me nowhere. I'm sorry I stole your thunder."

"You didn't steal nothing."

"She had nice tits."

"And hair," Sam agrees. "And that's about it."

They look up at the giant orange moon, the stars twinkling behind the shadows of autumn leaves. Dean untangles himself from the crutches, lets them fall to the ground. One hand wanders to the small of his back; the other goes flat on the bench to support him as he tries to squirm into a less painful position.

Then he laughs. "You know when you were three or four, you went as a magician for Halloween? Dad found this... it was like one of those wands that the flower came out of, he found it at some thrift store somewhere and it didn't really work- you had to stuff the flowers back into the wand one by one every single time. And of course you had to show every single house we went to. I think we came home with five pieces of candy that year."

"You're making that up."

"Nope," Dean says. He continues after a thoughtful pause. "I miss taking you trick-or-treating. You know we stopped going, after-"

"After you fell out of a tree and got hit by a car?" Sam finishes quickly.

It's a long time before they stop laughing, not until tears leak from Dean's eyes and his face flashes back and forth between mirth and pained grimacing.

Sam gets ahold of himself, reaches over and idly knuckles the spasming muscles in his brother's back. "You're gonna be fucked up for days, you know that?"

"Worth it," Dean says, wincing. "Totally worth it."

::::

The end.