Title: and the words crumbled in my mouth like moldering mushrooms (1/1)

Author: wave_obscura

Rating: PG-13

Word count: ~3,000

Genre: h/c, horror, gen

Summary: Now he's screwed. He might as well be a rock who can taste and smell and touch. Deaf Dean trapped in the pitch-black bank vault from Nightshifter.

Note: I did my best to be accurate, but some ASL phrases have been English-ified for purposes of clarity and some signs have been fudged due to the circumstances in the fic. Please forgive.

Note 2: Title stolen from a line from the film The Believer. I was unable to locate the original origin of the quote.

Warnings/Spoilers: Takes place during Nightshifter. Deaf!Dean, hurt!Sam, language

Disclaimer: Not affiliated with Supernatural. No copyright infringement intended.

and the words crumbled in my mouth like moldering mushrooms

by wave obscura

When Dean gets angry, he punches walls. A therapist once told him it had nothing to do with being deaf; it was all about being repressed and angry and some other stuff Dean didn't catch because he was too busy rolling his eyes.

Hearing people scream instead, he knows because he's spent a lifetime watching Dad and Sam turn red and flap their lips at each other, shove their fingers in each other's faces.

And yeah, he's tried it a few times in his life and it feels kinda good, his whole chest vibrating and lungs emptying of air. But when Dean makes noise people look at him like he's some kind of retard, Dad and even Sammy once or twice, so for the most part he sticks with punching walls.

But he's pretty sure he screams when the bank vault door drifts shut. Maybe because he's in the middle of the room and there's nothing around to punch. Maybe because it happens slow and he's powerless to stop the slice of light on the floor from thinning and thinning until it's it gone, until darkness rushes over him and everything is black.

Now he's fucked. He might as well be a rock who can taste and smell and touch. Bodies swish past him, bumping him, a shoulder knocks him to the ground and for a horrifying second he's not sure which way is up, and when he scrambles back to his hands and knees he doesn't know where the exit is anymore, he's totally lost.

He smells blood. He keeps his eyes open until they feel like they're shriveling up in his sockets and then he frantically blinks like blinking is magic that'll turn the lights back on.

Someone or something grabs his shoulder and shakes him. He reaches up to its face. Long, soft hair, soft skin. A woman, maybe a young one. He gropes around her ears until she knocks his hand away and shakes his shoulder again, her fingers digging painfully into his skin. He can feel her hot breath blowing in his face. He knows she's screaming but he doesn't know if it's out of anger or fright and he doesn't know how the fuck to ask her and even if he did there's no way she can tell him.

He successfully untangles himself from the woman and tries to scoot away but she follows him, won't let him go, and her breath is still puffing in his face and it's sour in way he'd probably never notice if he had his sight and makes him want to gag.

He's never been much for talking because that requires making noise and at any rate, he's been to a school for the deaf for maybe a year in his entire life and most of the time they didn't bother teaching speech in the special ed classes at crappy public schools. But he has a feeling that's the only way he's getting rid of her, so he works his tongue for a moment, and tries to remember where to place it in his mouth to form words, how to push the air out the way he was taught so many years ago.

"Deaf," he says in her general direction. "I deaf."

He's not sure how well he did, but it must have been adequate because after a moment the woman stops shaking him, her hot breath and the sensation of her hands disappear into the darkness.

He'd wanted her gone but now he's hanging over the edge of cliff without her, no point of reference and nothing pinning him to the earth but the cold floor underneath him, and even that feels as if it might drop away at any moment.

He slides one hand across the floor, then the other, and then forces his knees to follow, inching along like he expects to fall down a rabbit hole.

Stupid, he thinks. He knows where he is, he knows what the room looks like. An over-waxed, over-shiny bank vault. Five or six people had squeezed through the exit before the door slammed closed and seven or eight people were still trapped, including Sam.

The shape shifter had shot the gun. People fell to the ground. With all the flailing, all the bodies running back and forth, he's lost track of his brother.

He has to find Sam.

So he forces himself to stop slip-sliding across the floor like a pussy and crawls forward with purpose. He doesn't want to stand up- too many people, too many things to trip over, and all he needs is a broken arm on top of everything else.

If he can find a wall, he can check the parameter, and if he's lucky maybe Sam will stumble over him.

The smarter thing to do, he supposes, would be to stay where he is and see if he can remember how to scream Sam's name. But then, he can tell by the air that people are moving around him- if he screams, anyone could come running to comfort the poor blind-and-deaf guy and lords knows if he'd ever be able to escape.

Sam could tell them to back off, though.

But Sam could be hurt.

He jets forward at the thought, stretching out one arm and awkwardly propelling himself with the other. He feels the air move on his right side and tries to duck but it's too late, something blunt slams the side of his face, a knee or a shoe, perhaps, and it sends him sprawling, his vision exploding with the white light of pain.

And then it's dark again, and there are fingers on his arm, shaking him. He fumbles along the arm, tries to feel the face but can't reach it. It feels like it might be Sam. He thinks it might be Sam.

But the person falls away, suddenly, sucked back into the darkness and Dean's in the void again. He blinks, and this time he's fighting tears, but he picks himself up and keeps going.

It's not long before his fingertips hit a wall. He stays close to it, crawling along until he feels something hot and wet soak through the knee of his jeans. He stops, reaches down and accidentally smears it all over his hand. He lifts his palm to his nose to smell it. He can tell what it is just by the way it slides down his fingers.


He gropes around the puddle until his hand hits something warm and firm, something that is definitely a body. A kneecap. He slides forward across the floor, patting up its leg and then resting his hand on its belly.

It's warm and breathing.

It snatches Dean by the wrist, and then a hand drops into his open palm, forming an S and rocking slightly back and forth.

His sign for Sam.

Dean tries to keep his breathing under control, tries to keep the panic at bay but how the hell is he supposed to do that when he's blind and Sam is bleeding? He smacks his lips and presses his tongue to the roof of his mouth. He does his best to say his brother's name, then knocks an S into the body's chest.

The hand in his bobs forward: yes.

He wants to say Sam's name again, because there's so little else he can do, but he doesn't want to attract attention, doesn't want the other people in the vault to rush them.

Sam covers Dean's hand with his own, and brings them to his chest. O-K, he spells into Dean's palm, blessedly slow, giving Dean plenty of time to feel his fingers and translate. O-K, and then a finger twisting into his bicep, Sam's hand flapping meaninglessly against Dean's chest in the dark.

He catches Sam's and hand brings it to his shoulder, shrugs sharply and hopes Sam knows that means I don't know what the fuck you're saying.

Sam positions his hand so his fingers are in Dean's palm. H-U-R-T, he spells slowly, then pushes both their hands into Dean's chest. You hurt?

Rather than switching so he can answer, Dean brings both their hands to his forehead shakes his head no. Then he pushes their hands back at Sam and hopes Sam knows it means he's asking a similar question: what happened to you?

But Sam doesn't answer. His hands are cold, so cold, and trembling badly. Dean slides his fingertips over Sam's body, searching for a wound. His hand brushes over something hot and gooey and wet near his brother's shoulder, and Sam jerks and bucks underneath him in what Dean knows is pain.

He wants to sign happened? with his brother's hands, but when Dean touches the arm of the injured shoulder Sam flinches in a gesture that clearly means don't.

Dean pats his brother's cheek, slides his hand down his neck to his chest, feels him breathing rapid and shallow. Sam slides his fingers into Dean's hand. S-H-O-T, he spells. O-K, he spells. O-K-O-K-O-K-O-K.

He's telling Dean not to worry.

Oh, but Dean's worried. Everything inside is telling him to do something, to find help, to figure out how to fix his brother's wound, somehow, in the dark. He hopes fleetingly that perhaps his eyes will adjust but there's nothing for them to adjust to, there's no light in the vault, none at all.

Dean drops one hand in his brother's hair, the other clutches his uninjured shoulder, and it isn't enough. He wants Sam closer, head in his lap, back against his chest, anything more than this, but for all he knows Sam could be shot somewhere else, and there's so much blood-

With an open hand, Sam pushes down firmly on Dean's arm. Calm. He does it again, and to emphasize the words he reaches up and rests a hand on Dean's heart, then spells into his palm: W-A-I-T. H-E-L-P S-O-O-N.

Dean licks his lips. He puts one hand to his throat, to feel the vibration, to make sure he makes noise because this is important for Sam to hear.

"Help now," he says. "Now."

Sam stops spelling. He brings Dean's hand to the side of his face and leaves it there.

So they're just going to wait, then. Be calm. Wait.

It seems to stupid to wait. How can they just wait?

Dean takes a breath. There is blood everywhere. He needs to apply pressure to the wound or his brother is going to bleed out. But if he does that Sam will scream, and try to fight him, and the hearing people will come running, and everyone's blind and they won't know what's going on and one of them could hurt Sam before he had a chance to explain. Assuming they would listen at all. Assuming Sam is strong enough to talk, and judging by how clammy he is, how he trembles under Dean's hands, Dean knows that's a big assumption.

Sam's right. Waiting is all they can do.

Dean moves his thumb along the ridge of his brother's face and he hopes Sam knows it means he won't let anything bad happen.

A few minutes or maybe a lifetime goes by. Dean tries not to jump every time the air moves, and the air is restless. Every hair on his body is standing at attention, his sense of touch and smell so sensitive now he can barely stand it. The puddle of Sam's blood-he's just sitting it, and it's cooling, growing sticky. It smells, and beyond that smell, the odor of women's perfume, of body odor and bad breath and cigarette smoke. The vibration of feet stomping and bodies moving makes his skin crawl.

But Sam can hear them, he reminds himself. Sam knows what they're saying, can probably tell more easily what they're doing. And Sam's just lying on the floor, breathing. Calm.

Or maybe dying.

Dean rests one hand on Sam's chest, monitoring his breathing, which is still too fast and shallow but it's steady. He fumbles for Sam's pulse and finds it strong.

O-K? He asks Sam after a while.

He's answered only by hot air in his ear.

A hand clutches his, a hand that can't belong to Sam. He tries to bat it away without jostling his brother, who begins to squirm, and suddenly he doesn't know how many hands are on him, there are fingers everywhere, all over his body it seems, and he loses track of where he is, that fall-over-a-cliff feeling comes back and he clenches his teeth and isn't sure whether to try to protect Sam or kill the hands and jesus christ, if he could only just see-

The arms grip him hard around both shoulders and spin him around. Hot breath in his face. A warm, dry hand pries open his fist and plants an S in his palm, rocking back and forth like cradling a baby, over and over.

Sam. Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam

For a long moment Dean is too fucking scared to move.

T-R-U-E, the fingers spell into his palm, Sam Sam Sam Sam

Dean squeezes his eyes shut against the darkness, absolutely frozen with the weight of what this means.

The hands forces Dean's arms over his head, waving them around. Monster. Then the hands form the shape of a gun. I shot. I shot monster. I-S-H-O-T, the hand spells frantically. I-S-H-O-T. T-R-U-E.

At the same time the injured Sam behind Dean is rhythmically pinching his elbow, two fingers on one side, thumb on the other. No no no no no no no, he's saying.

Dean feels around in his gut, hoping to find the truth.

Of course he wants to believe and stay with and take care of the Sam that's injured.

That means nothing.

Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam

No no no no no no no no

Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam

No no no no no no

Dean crushes their fingers in his fists and screams. It vibrates painfully through his chest, his clenched teeth, all the way up his jaw.

In one hand, the fingers struggle to break free.

In the other hand the fingers pause, and soften, and reach up to his cheek, and though the hand is cold and sticky with blood, Dean knows he has his answer.

He pounces on the figure before him. For a moment it's a confusing rumble of fists and nails and an elbow to his belly that damn near floors him. But he has a silver knife in his sock and soon enough he has the creature on its back, pinned to the floor with his knees.

For a moment Dean doesn't know if he can do it. He recognizes Sam's build underneath him, the texture of his skin, the stubborn tension in his muscles. He'd felt these things his entire life, since they were children and Dad would force them to spar until they'd both fall to the floor in a heap, too tired to move.

It feels like he's about to kill his brother.

But he's right, he knows he is.

With a final breath, Dean drives the silver knife through the shifter's throat.

Tears well up and slide down his face, when he feels his brother thrash and die beneath him.

But it's not Sam, he tells himself. It's not really Sam.


After a time the vault door opens and the light returns. Dean sees shifter goo and dead bodies and almost wishes for darkness again. But other people survived too and they are huddling in the opposite corner, shying away from the light and scowling as if seeing again is a whole new trauma.

Sam squints up at Dean. Every inch of him is smeared in blood and he's white as all hell but Dean knows he's going to live.

How you know me? Sam asks with badly shaking hands.

Dean could tell the truth. It would easy. He could say it's because Sam's hand at his cheek said brother more clearly than any words ever could.

Instead he shrugs. Only real Sam get shot. Stupid.

Dean clutches Sam's hands between his own, silencing him until help comes.


The end.