Another brick out of the wall. Another seven minutes of Dean not knowing if Sam would come back while he arced and spasmed and relived hell all over again. Another forty-five minutes of Sam coming back, groggy and disoriented and insisting he was fine, until he was coherent enough to admit that this time he felt like he got hit by a planet and a small moon.
This time, at least, they were in a halfway decent motel when Sam crashed, and he crashed half on his bed so Dean was able to muscle him all the way onto the mattress and keep him there until he came around. And when he finally felt OK enough to admit how bad he actually felt, he took one of the "effective" painkillers.
And they were effective.
So now, he was sound asleep in his bed, and Dean was sort of awake in his. It was late enough to go to sleep, early enough to not go to sleep, and Dean was tired enough to not be able to make up his mind. But Sam was asleep; the pill had taken him out so fast and deep, he was still in his clothes. But he was asleep. And Dean figured he should get his own sleep while he could.
He slid down, mostly sitting up against his pillows, and closed his eyes. Sleep still took its own sweet time and he'd just about decided to put the TV back on when he felt something moving on the mattress right next to him. He shot awake and sat up fast, and saw - Sammy, sitting next to him on the bed.
Not Sam; Dean's big little brother was still asleep over in his bed. No, sitting next to Dean, looking up at him with somber, sober eyes, was Sammy, Dean's little little brother, maybe about three and half or four years old, if Dean was remembering correctly.
"Guess I fell asleep after all." Dean muttered to himself. Because this was a dream, or maybe an hallucination. Or maybe it didn't really matter.
Sammy kept looking up at Dean. He was wearing a green sweatshirt over a blue shirt that was inside out, black jeans, and one white sock and one black sock.
"You dressed yourself this morning, didn't you?" Dean asked.
"I dunno." Sammy answered.
Well, he wasn't asking who Dean was, which was typical in dreams, wasn't it? You knew who were people were and they knew who you were, even when none of you were who you were supposed to be.
"Okay...so - where'd you come from?"
"Okaaaay." This was a weird dream. "Um - so - what brings you here?" Dean tried next. He knew it was maybe a stupid question but he wasn't sure what else to ask Dream-Sammy. But then the little lip went into a little pout, and the little chin went into a little quiver.
"It was scary." Sammy whispered, and - dream or not - Dean reacted.
"Scary?" he asked, leaning forward to put his arm around Sammy and pull him closer. "What was scary?"
Two of the fattest tears Dean had ever seen rolled down Sammy's face.
And then Sammy reached his arms up and - dream or not - Dean pulled him in close to comfort him and to protect him. Sammy wrapped his arms around Dean's neck and burrowed his face into his shoulder, shuddering and sniffling and hanging on for dear life.
"Hey, hey, don't worry, Sammy. It's okay. I'm here. I'm here. It's okay, there's nothing to be scared of."
"Nuh unh." Sammy insisted, with a long, long sniff. He sat back just enough to look Dean in the eyes. "Clowns you said be scared of."
"Oh, Sammy - that was just -." But Dean stopped. He could tell Sammy that clowns weren't scary, but then he'd have to admit he'd lied to Sammy all that time ago just because he wanted to go to Burger King when Sammy wanted to go to McDonald's. He couldn't let Sammy know his big brother lied. "Yeah, Sammy. That's right. Clowns are scary."
And Sammy nodded solemnly and reclaimed his spot against Dean's shoulder. His hands were warm around the back of Dean's neck and his little puffs of breath tickled at Dean's collar bone.
"So, it was clowns that scared you?" He asked, but Sammy shook his head.
"Just something scary, hunh?"
And the vigorous nod of agreement was accompanied by another long sniff and a desperate squeeze.
"Okay, Sammy. Don't worry. There's nothing scary here." Dean looked over at big Sammy, down for the count. "At least, not right now."
They stayed that way for a few minutes, Dean shushing and soothing, and Sammy slowly relaxing against him.
"So, how're we doing?" Dean asked after those few minutes. "Hunh? You feeling better?"
"Okay, good. So, why don't we see about getting some sleep, and maybe we'll both wake up where we belong."
He slid down against his pillows again, keeping Sammy with him, and pulled the bedspread over the both of them.
"It'll be okay, Sammy." He said it to the little bundle sleeping in his arms, and to the giant bundle sleeping in the next bed. "Everything is going to be okay."
In a few minutes, Dean was asleep.
to be continued...