Author: James Parker Lombard
Rating M: Language, Wincest (Sam/Dean? and maybe a Sam/Dean later?), Violence
Spoilers/Set: Season 3 between Ep.10 "Dream a Little Dream" and Ep. 11 "Mystery Spot."
Characters: Dean and Sam Winchester (Chapter One, Dean POV)
Word Count: 8584
Summary: It was supposed to be a joke. But, when Dean decides to go walking around in Sam's head he quickly figures out that some dreams aren't very funny.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
They were doing laundry, and as he emptied out his jean pockets there it was—the last of the Dream Root, twisted in the corner of a sandwich bag. Dean thought it would be funny. There was just enough for a little walk in Sam's head. At the very least he could spy a bit, gather some ammo from Sam's girly dreams to taunt him with later. Or even better, he could scare him; get a little payback for the shit Sam pulled last week when Sam threw a pillow at him in the middle of the night. A pillow which wound up sliced to ribbons and tossing polyester stuffing all over the room. Instinct was a bitch. He yelled at Sam until he cleaned it up. There was fucking fuzz everywhere. Sometimes being with Sam, who had stood there dazed with a chunk of fluff in his bed-messed hair, was like hanging out with a twelve year old. And maybe Dean was like hanging out with a fifteen year old, the pillow thing may have been payback for a pantsing at the library last week, but at least Dean's jokes were better.
Dean shoved the baggie down in his pocket, and tried not to laugh.
Silene Capensis, the proper name for African Dream Root, sounded remarkably like the name of a high-school virgin who played the cello. And it tasted nine times more assy than magic mushroom tea. Dean shuddered remembering just how assy it was, as he filled the back of the coffee pot with water while Sam was out getting a soda from the machine. He also swiped a few of Sam's long hairs from his hairbrush in his duffle. The things were so long that Dean thought he'd choke on them. He lay the hairs and shook the Dream Root into the tiny, two-cup hotel carafe before arranging himself nonchalantly on the bed.
Sam eyed Dean quizzically as he entered the room, careful to step over the salt line at the door. "Not going out tonight?"
"Nah, Sammy, I'm bushed. Too pooped to whoop. Thought I'd just watch a little boob tube, you know, rot the melon."
"Good, god Dean, I hope that's not a euphemism?"
"A what?" It was moments like this that Dean believed that sometimes Sam just said words to say them. He rolled his eyes.
"Mm, hmm…I know what it means Sam, I'm not retarded." Dean tossed him his own version of the ubiquitous "bitch face," then shook his head, "No actual boobs. I just said I was tired."
"Okay then." Sam sat at the table and cracked open his, of all things, diet orange soda. Jesus, Dean thought. "I guess I'll do a little look see."
"Yeah," Dean perked up, "find me a case, I'm booooorrrred!"
"Whining helps." The laptop chimed as Sam fired it up. "Dude, are you sure you don't wanna go out? Get a beer? Hit on the ladies? Leave me alone?"
"Aw, baby," Dean smirked, "Don't want you getting lonely, right? Big brother's here. And, you're all the lady I can handle tonight, Sammy, Sammy, Samkins. "
"Great," Sam snorted, and was that a blush? "If you want a case, you gotta let me work though."
"Okay, all work for Sam. I'll be out before you know it." Dean stood and did a little shimmy dance across the room which Sam ignored. So, he grabbed the channel changer and a swig of Sam's soda.
"Yeah, like I said, get your own."
Dean pouted, stripped out of his jeans and over shirt, flipped on the TV and thought about behaving, but not too much-didn't want Sammy getting suspicious. As he stretched out in his boxers and tee on his bed (the one closest to the door, the one always closest to the door) he was surprised to find that really was tired, not even the Barrett Jackson auction on SpeedTV could hold his attention. He didn't mean to fall asleep first.
He awoke to Sam shuffling around in the dark. Glancing over at the shaking digitals of the clock he read 3:21 a.m. Another night of Sam dead on his feet and hauling his gigantic body into bed, then passing out still clothed, usually on top of the covers-something was wrong. If Dean were being honest, he'd known something was wrong for a while now. It had to be something to do with the deal. And although, the Dream Root could be the basis of some pretty hilarious payback Dean wondered if it also might help him figure out what was bothering Sam so much.
He heard Sam hit the mattress with a thud, and he felt a quick stab of pity for the kid. Dean lay in the dark, listening to Sam breathe, trying not to sync his breathing to his, because who does that? He knew when Sam was deep asleep because could hear the familiar catch in his breath, the familiar rhythm of inhale and exhale; he had been listening to Sam his whole life. Dean slid as silently as possible out of the bed, padded across the floor like a super-ninja and flipped the switch on the coffee pot hoping it wouldn't make too much noise as it heated the water.
Sammy stirred, but didn't wake. Dean heard him making little moans in his sleep, and hoped that meant something good for once, lord knows they were both plagued with some fairly horrible nightmares on occasion; just a by-product of the things they saw during their waking hours. One could push down the horrors and fears of the hunt, but they always found a way back to the surface somehow.
Anguish and pain. Sleepless nights. Those, Dean guessed, were to be expected. But, it would be nice, he thought, to lay down with some little sliver of peace. Who was he kidding? He thought of the old maxim, "Sleep when you're dead." It both did and did not apply to Winchesters. They moved from hunt to hunt with hell on their heels, staving off sleep with caffeine and adrenaline to get the job done. But there was no rest at the end. Dean had dreamed of what was to come. The night with the Dream Root and that stupid fucking Jeremy asshole hadn't been the first or last time Dean dreamt of the day his deal was up, or what would become of him after that. He'd get no sleep even in death.
The day got closer. And Dean knew Sam had been sleeping less and less. He'd even dragged Sam's boring bookish ass to the bar for drinks, just so he'd get to that mellow drunk point where sleep came so easily it was like falling into water…dark, empty and, hopefully, dreamless. That was a dangerous tactic, not one to be taken lightly—one shot too many and some chick-switch could short circuit Sam's filter. It had happened before. He'd get maudlin and touchy, his eyes gone all mushy he'd loll his head on Dean's shoulder, effectively killing any chance Dean had to get lucky with a waitress or random bar skank. Cockblock extraordinaire! Dean sighed and the coffee pot sputtered a little.
Sam shifted, in the spare light that shone through the cracked curtain, Dean saw Sam's hand grasp and twist the covers, but he didn't make a noise. And, thankfully, he didn't wake.
Time to go Sam-spelunking, Dean thought as he poured the slightly sweet smelling, but bitter mixture into the cheap Styrofoam coffee cup the hotel provided. Sometimes Dean wished they could spring for a nicer room just once in a while. He knows Sam would appreciate it; he had said as much on several occasions, but they both knew why they stayed where they did. These off-track roach motels were cheap, the managers asked no questions, and everyone left them to themselves. Still…
The smell of the mix was deceptively less pungent than it tasted. The stuff was awful; Dean swallowed and tried to let as little of it touch his tongue as possible. Total ass. As he walked over to his bed he reached out and placed his hand on the back of Sam's neck for a brief touch. To ground me, he thought. It was light enough not to wake Sam, but still enough to soften Dean's resolve. Although it was too late, he thought that maybe this had been a less than well-thought-out idea. As he lay down on top of the coverlet he listened to Sam breathe and watched the cracks of light creep across the ceiling with passing cars. And then he was gone.
Dean woke, okay maybe woke was the wrong word, in the backseat of the Impala, fully dressed. The sun was shining overhead in a cloudless blue sky. He swung his legs around and sat up to get his bearings. The car sat on the side of a newly-paved blacktop highway. On either side fields of hay, almost ready for the thresher waved in the breeze. Ahead and behind the road winked out into nothing, the sun on the road made it waver like a mirage. Then the radio flipped itself on, and he couldn't help but smile when he recognized Van Morrison's "Stoned Me." It had been a favorite of Sam's when he was younger, before he decided that classic rock wasn't cool. Sam sang it loud and off key while Dean laughed a little. The song always seemed sad, considering it ended on the idea of going home—someplace they never really had. But, Sam had loved it, begged Dean to sing it with him, until Dean had explained what Van Morrison meant by "jelly roll." Then twelve-year-old Sam was grossed out.
Dean cracked the door and stepped out into a moonless night.
The road was the same, the field dark to his right. The road or the field, he wondered, until something glowed among the tall grasses. At the edges of the field a forest loomed black and bare of leaves. A winter forest, although there was no snow, and it was not cold. There—a well-worn path, bent grasses on either side. Everything was stark, nearly black and white. The glow gathered strength until it seemed that Dean walked in a circle of light. Although he was unable to see its source above him, it shone down like a helicopter spotlight, moving with him as he walked on through the field. He spread his arms and let his fingers ruffle the tops of the grasses. Then he heard them, whispers at first as he turned his head to catch the scrap of a voice. The wind picked up and made a soft hiss moving across the field in waves. There were more voices there hidden in the soft noise it made.
"Never loved you."
"Couldn't save me."
The voices were too soft, he did not recognize the speaker…no speakers? But the sentiment was clear.
Dean called out into the darkness, "Who are you? Are you talking to me?"
"Sam isn't here, right now, can I take a message?" Dean would have laughed, but the voices were pretty fucking creepy to be honest.
"Sam is here."
"I said he isn't here. It's Dean." he repeated.
"Sam is here. Sam is here. Sam is here." A chorus of voices responded, ignoring Dean entirely, or mistaking him for Sam perhaps. Then again, Sam had to be somewhere here, this was, after all, his dream. Sam could be anywhere, Dean thought. The voices got louder:
A figure stood in the dark just outside of the circle of light, too still to be real. It did not walk, but glided forward. As it came to the edge of the light he recognized her long blonde hair. The blood soaked nightgown she wore must have been the same one Sam had seen as she was pressed to the ceiling, before she burst into flames.
She moved closer, looking not at Dean, but through him. Like a death echo, Dean thought, something for Sam to torture himself with…great. Her voice rose as anger tinged with sorrow and bitterness. "Sam, why? Killed me. How could you leave? Knew what was coming. Left me. Left me. Let it have me. Wanted it to. Didn't need me." Her accusing voice rose and fell on top of itself, echoing from all directions as if there were many Jessicas speaking instead of just one.
"It's not Sam. I'm Dean."
"Dean." There was a laugh, bitter and sarcastic. "Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean. Loved him more than me. Wanted to leave me anyway. Dean came. Took you away from me. Didn't love me. Killed me. Wanted Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean. I was nothing. Threw me away. Loved you. Killed me. Your love is poison. Your love is a curse. He'll be gone too. No one can love you now."
Dean was bombarded by her voice from all directions at once. Is this what went on in Sam's head? All this self-accusation? If this was normal for Sam, he should have broken into his Cro-Magnon grapefruit long ago. He should have put a stop to this, set it to right. Sam was beating himself up still. Reliving all this shit over and over again. No wonder he looked tired. No wonder he researched until he was on his last legs, so that Dean almost had to force him to bed just like he had when Sam was a stubborn kid.
"Listen, bitch. You ain't real. I'm not Sam. And Sam didn't know. So, can the 'poor me' routine and back the fuck off."
Her thousand-yard-stare snapped into focus, and she met his eyes with focused hatred. Maybe this wasn't a death echo after all?
"Dean." She hissed, raising her hand towards him, palm flat. The wind picked up and blew against him hard from her direction, almost as if she were controlling it. "When you showed up that day, you were my death sentence."
"The demon killed you, Jess. I'm sorry. We didn't know." Dean was sorry, and despite Sam's premonitions or whatever, it was true that they had no way of knowing that the Yellow-Eyed demon would come for her. It appeared that vengeance, the death of the demon who had killed her, had done nothing to alleviate Sam's guilty feelings. "We killed it, it won't hurt anyone else. We didn't know it would come for you."
"Doesn't matter. You were the death sentence. When Sam walked out that door with you, our life was over. He was never, ever coming back to me. You took him. You. You stole him. Stole my life."
"You stole him and he stole my life." Jessica rushed towards him her features stretched and distorted with anger. But as he balked and steadied himself for the blow, she passed through him.
"Jesus," Dean rolled his eyes. "Even Sammy's personal demons are melodramatic and girly."
He didn't expect the blow when it came. Something cuffed him soundly on the back of the head and snatched up a handful of hair. The hand wrenched around to turn him, and Dean found himself staring directly into his father's eyes.
"Samuel," John sneered. John had been a dick at times, but he had never seen a look like this on his father's face in life. The disgust was clear on his features; his eyes tight and full of hatred, his mouth set.
"Dad?" Dean stepped back from the hatred emanating from John. This wasn't right. Dad didn't hate Sam, he thought. He loved Sam. They fought, but…Dean shook his head with disbelief, there wasn't hate. It pained him to think that Sam thought their father would, could, ever look at him with such a face. This face, this hunter face, was only ever directed at things, at monsters…not at them, not ever, no matter how much they fought amongst themselves or butted heads.
John moved forward, looming, it seemed much larger than he did in real life.
"Why didn't you stay dead? You think you're worth Dean? I died for him. You? He was supposed to kill you, not sacrifice himself for you. For you?"
Not that, Dean thought. That was too much. How could Sam, Dean swallowed, how could he believe these things about himself? The thought of his brother standing in this field, confronted with all his magnified guilts and regrets nearly broke Dean's heart. His father kept coming, moving closer with a steady plod and that mask of hatred.
"What's dead should stay dead," John said. The same words, Dean recalled, that he had said to Sam after that lovesick Greek-writing-geek had brought his dead crush back from the dead and they were forced to return her to her 'natural' state.
"Sammy will not die for me or for anyone." Dean tried to control his voice, but he wanted to shout, to scream. "Not while I can stop it."
"You don't deserve Dean. Always better than you. You should have died in that nursery. All our lives carting you around, Dean doing everything for you, and you left us? We should have left you. Dean should have left you. He should have left you dead."
Dean's hand struck his father before he even knew he was reacting. "Is this what you tell him when he comes here? God dammit, Sammy. " He spoke as if Sam could hear him, maybe he could? "Sammy, please, you have to know this isn't true."
When John pulled his hand away from his mouth, there was blood, vivid and red as a crayon, smeared across his cheek. The look of anger and disgust was gone, "Dean?"
"Fuck you. You're not real. Dad would never…" Dean started, afraid of what this "Dad" might say, he prepared himself for the worst, for the things that Sam likely told himself.
"You should have killed him like I asked. Now you're doomed, and it's his fault. All his fault. You would have been better off without him."
"You asshole. You fill Sam's head with this bullshit? I'll tell you a secret: you're imaginary, and I would have mown down my real father with no remorse to save Sammy." Dean had never said anything like this aloud, but he knew in his heart it was true. "I loved my dad, and I would have died for him, but Sam, Sam's another story, you get me?"
"You'd save that abomination?"
"Don't you call him that. You don't get to call him that. You're not real. You're just fear, you're guilt. Sam doesn't deserve that. He deserves to live. To live unhaunted and unburdened by this bullshit, but we don't get that, do we? He doesn't deserve to die because some asshole demon thinks it's his destiny. And he's not going to die because you think he should, either. He's my responsibility and he will not die on my watch; I don't care what it costs me."
"It's a shame, Son, you just give your life away so easy. Do you think he cares?"
"You wouldn't be here, if he didn't care. He cares too much. I think it kills him, but I'm a selfish son of a bitch. I know he'll get over it. But, I wouldn't be able to live long without him anyway."
"You think that? You'll regret it. You will regret it a hundred times over. I'm sorry Dean."
"Fuck you." Dean spat. His father smirked and looked him over as if he were sizing him up for something. Dean stood firm in the face of scrutiny, although he wanted to cringe he would not back down.
His father laughed. Derisive cold laughter that bubbled up from all around him, echoed back from the stark trees of the shelter-break. Dean blinked and, click, John was gone.
Then came a silence. The wind, a constant shush, went still. And Dean saw him.
There—a boy. He stood in the field. Fourteen-years-old if he was a day. His face a concerned scowl that Dean knows by heart. A scowl he still saw traces of flittering over Sam's sharper adult features.
"We love him." The boy whispered. His eyes red, his cheeks tear-stained and pale. His mouth a tremble. "We love him. You know we love him. You can't do this. Fix it. Fix it. We can't be alone. We can't be without him. Please. Please. Don't let him go." Sammy dropped to his knees in the field, sobbing uncontrollably. "I hate you. We love him. We need him. He'll be alone. You said we'd never leave him again. We promised he'd never be alone."
He knows this field is meant to torture Sam. Sam designed it to punish himself, but Dean knows that if Sam had seen into his heart at any point, looking for some image, some thing to destroy Dean as well, he would have found this moment, these tears, these words, this still small and timid boy always so afraid, still so vulnerable. The very thing Dean was ingrained to protect above anything, to the limits of his endurance even. How could he endure this, this manifestation of all the things he was hell bound to protect?
Dean could not keep from reaching forward. He knelt on the ground beside him. He scooped him into his arms. He pulled the little body to his. As Sammy's body shuddered through wide-mouthed sobs, Dean tried to pull himself together, to build a wall against the temptation to collapse along with him.
"Don't cry Sammy. I'm sorry."
The boy buried his face into Dean's shoulder. I forgot how scared, Dean thought.
"We love him. We love him so much. Can't let him."
"No, Sammy, I'm here." Dean couldn't tell if this was another dream figure, or the real thing, but the third person plural deal seemed a little weird. Please let this not be now-Sam in some weird form, Dean thought, not knowing what else to call him.
"Dean?" The little face lifted into the light, a perfect oval of brightness. "Dean, don't go. Dean, don't leave me behind. I'll be good I promise."
"Sammy, baby boy," Dean remembered Sam at this age, and has to choke back the tears. This is the same thing Sam would say when Dean and their Dad would leave on hunts. What was Sam trying to do to him, pull out all the tear-jerkers at once? He bit back the sob that built in his chest, "I would do this for you again and again. I need you to understand, okay?"
Sam arms were small and light around Dean's neck, "I love you. Don't forget I love you. We both love you so much it hurts. You can't forget that, okay?"
"What do you mean both, baby?" This Sam, still raw, unformed, stuffed to the gills with worry, had Dean falling into old habits and old nicknames.
"Sam and I. I thought maybe you don't know?"
He wanted to yell, "Don't, say that, please. Don't think I don't know." But instead forced out a, "Sammy, I know."
"Sam doesn't say it. You don't say it. We love you. It's like a big fire, burning everything. You take the light."
"What? Baby, I don't understand." Cryptic crap again? A fire? Sam's brain was all riddles and poetry.
"You. You take the light. Fills us. All our light is in you. Without you we are so empty. And afraid."
"You're not afraid." Dean brushed the hair back from Sammy's forehead.
"You don't know. Afraid of the dark without you. I tell Sam to change it. Let us keep you forever, big brother. We are yours. We want to go too."
"You can't go with me." Dean shook his head. "Sam can't go with me, that's the point, kiddo."
"Sam is afraid. What if he can't save you?"
"We deal with that later. Tell him not to be afraid." He didn't know if that would work, passing a message through a dream, but it was worth a try.
"You tell him. Tell him. He comes here and cries. We love you."
Little hands reached up to cup Dean's face, and Sam pressed his lips to Deans. Dean was too stunned to move, too stunned to shake his head and tease Sam for being a girl. The kiss was chaste and sweet and full of love, innocent and dumb. Sam pulled away and looked Dean in the face, a little smile playing at his features, like he was proud. Sam straightened his head and back, to seem taller, more serious. Dean remembered this look too, it meant Sammy had been thinking of something very seriously, and that Dean should listen.
"You keep our love." He said very deliberately, pronouncing each syllable with importance. "You keep our life. Maybe you didn't know? You will now." Sam smiled at him, dimple fully dimpled.
Dean was still stunned, still reeling with sorrow and nostalgia, when Sam faded out still smiling. He held nothing but empty air.
In the pale light that surrounded him, the stalks of grass began to sway again. Dean stood on shaky legs, brushed the dirt from his knees with the back of his hand and stood looking at the night sky. The stars so bright and distinct that he knew Sam could name every one. The Milky Way stood out as a wide blur across the darkness. Dean loved the sky, loved watching it from the road, or seated on the hood of the Impala with Sam, but he could never remember the constellations, no matter how often or how patiently Sam pointed them out. He knew the North Star and the North Star only. Dean could zero in on it like he was magnetic. He turned. There. It pulsed out brighter than the rest, and Dean chuckled a little. One little bright spot in the universe beckoning him…how fucking cheesy.
He couldn't take much more of Sam's head. It was like that old movie Dreamscape or something. All these little bits of Sam's unconscious were eating away at his emotions and strength, and they had already destroyed his original purpose for being here. Jess had seen to that straight away. Why had he thought this would be fun? He knew he would not only not get anything prank-worthy out of this dream walk, he might have just punked himself.
The things Sam believed, the pain in here, the ways he tortured himself, berated himself, lay himself bare, was startling. More so…it was numbing. No wonder Sam kept working himself to the bone, only stopping when his body or brain finally shut down from lack of sleep. Who would want this? Who would want to be here? Dean wondered if it was every night? Sam was haunting his own dreams and all of his fears were laid bare here. This had to stop. Dean would stop it. He would find Sam, somewhere in this field of emotional landmines, and smack some sense into him if he had to.
Dean had a purpose, and that was good. A goal was good. Find Sammy. Slap Sammy. Easy-peasy. He turned towards the North Star—Polaris throbbed like a beacon. He walked keeping his eyes on it. The field narrowed, trees hemming him in on either side. And something moved in the darkness there.
A man. Darkness upon darkness. Moving naturally through the tall grass, not gliding, not flickering in or out like a ghost. He came closer, and Dean was unsure of what to expect. Then he recognized the gait, having seen it enough in reflections as he passed…"Shit."
Unlike the other "ghosts" who haunted Sam's psyche, this one, this seventeen year old Dean, blonde hair pushed up, skin unlined and sun-kissed, wasn't confused. As soon as he came into focus, illuminated by the glow of light, he stared at Dean and chuckled, "Oh, damn man, you should not be here. Why are you in Sam's head? Aren't there enough Deans here?"
At least Dean would have no qualms about kicking his own ass, in Sam's brain or not. He shook his head imagining the thing Sam's subconscious might have Dean's seventeen year old, cocksure self, say.
"Oh, this is bullshit! What idiotic crap do you spew at him?"
Dean took an aggressive stance and the two of them circled each other like captive tigers: each narrowing their eyes, analyzing their prey. Dean figured he was stronger by quite a bit, but at seventeen he had been fast as lightning. If it did come to blows he'd have to hit hard and first to keep the upper hand. Although, he thought, in his old age he had learned some dirty tricks. Still, he'd hate to smack around some weird Sam-construction of himself, and it would be a shame to ruin such a pretty face.
"I don't have to say anything. Everyone else talks and talks. Big disappointment this and that. Sam knows he broke our heart. Broke it a million times, didn't he? He knows. He sees our face and he thinks we hate him. I just let him believe it. I don't have to say a word."
"Listen, asshole. We…I mean I, I could never hate Sam. Sam knows that."
"Oh, you don't have to tell me, cupcake. I know. Does he?"
"Yes, he fucking knows."
"Stupid, Dean. Sammy was our world."
"Is, dick. Sammy is our world."
The high-school Dean tilted his head back and laughed. "Don't do this."
"Snoop around in here. You're as bad as he is, always wanting, wanting, wanting to know. Questioning me. All the stupid questions." High-school Dean stared directly at him, "Some things we should keep quiet. What you don't know can't hurt you." He rolled his eyes and sighed deeply. "You're both scab pickers. Pick. Pick. Pick. Fucking needy co-dependent motherfuckers." He laughed hard, head thrown back, white teeth flashing. "Maybe that's not the right word? You wanna know stuff too, huh? Oh, Sammy wants us to love him so badly. Plead, plead, plead. 'Dean look at me. Dean, say something. Dean, I'm sorry. Dean, Dean, Dean.' Your name is half his fucking vocabulary, and yet he still thinks he's so smart."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"Just keep walking asshole, maybe you'll see something you like."
Then he disappeared. Out like a light leaving Dean alone again.
"What is with all you fucking cryptic ass motherfuckers?" Dean shouted to the empty air, flailing his arms like he wanted to punch something. "Even Sam's dreams are confusing as fuck. Where are the pretty girls? Where's the teddy bears and tea parties? The dancing around to emo music?"
The spot of light illuminating him shut off, leaving him in blinding darkness. "For fucks' sake, what now?" His eyes slowly adjusted, and the field around him got brighter, and then brighter. In the sky the moon was rising full and round and ridiculously, hypnotically big. He started walking towards it, and looked down to see that the path was parting through the hay ahead of him. The grasses were actually bending away from him as he stepped forward.
Looking up at moon again Dean was startled to see it had transformed itself into the hotel marquee for The Blue Moon Hotel and Apts. Dean remembered the place, it was clean and freshly painted, each room with a different color door. He wanted to say theirs had been orange, no red, that summer. He had been seventeen, Sammy fourteen. Dad was gone almost all the time. Half the summer by the pool, just them in the little clean room with the tiny kitchenette. Each had their own twin bed with blue coverlet. Everything around them smelled of chlorine, from the sheets to the pool, to their swim-wrinkled and sun-pinked skin. Sam had loved this place. Dean just loved that Sam loved it.
The stars twinkled on above his head, and the pool sent up turquoise ripples across the courtyard. A girl sat in the glassed in reception area filing her nails and flipping through an issue of Seventeen. Dean recognized her too. Sam had had a crush on the older red-head, and had found every excuse to speak with her that he could. It was so sad and puppyish that Dean decided the girl, Melissa, Melody, something, was "off limits." He didn't want to break Sam's heart, although he knew she was interested by the way she perked up when he was around, twirling her finger through that strawberry blonde mane.
A little chime sounded as Dean pushed open the door and made his way to the counter. Everything looked too clean, the leaves of the fake plants seemed freshly polished, the girl's skin was flawless, her lips a full and glassy Hubba-Bubba pink. Her strawberry hair too perfectly arranged.
She looked up at him with a practiced smile, as he placed his hands on the lemon yellow countertop. "Need something? Towels?"
She was almost uncanny. Her eyes a brilliant blue, off-putting in their brightness.
"Um, no." He cleared his throat. "Actually, I'm looking for my brother."
"You," she said with a smile, "you look different."
She cocked her head to the side and studied him with those weirdly intense blue-violet eyes. "Different." She said matter-of -factly.
"Rough day, I guess?" He offered, thinking about how he was eight years older than she was probably expecting him to be.
"That must be it." She nodded her head. "Isn't Sam in the room?"
"Um, yeah, I um, forgot my key."
"But if he's in could you knock?"
This was getting ridiculous. He felt like he had been lost in Sam's dream world for hours and nothing was getting him any closer to Sam. At this point Dean just wanted out. Too many road blocks, too many confusing dream-people.
"I…" he started, "Yeah, but could you just give me the key?"
"Sure thing, Dean."
He was instantly impressed that she could remember his name and felt bad that he didn't know hers. But, then again she wasn't exactly real. She was part of Sam's weird dream-memories-somethings. She pulled the key from the hook under number 12, and turned back around facing him.
"Oh," she said with a surprised noise.
"I just noticed, you're…" she paused, "you're you, Dean. That's what's different."
Jesus, more nonsense? Dean thought, it was like Alice in fucking Wonderland. Or Dante's Inferno. "Yeah, been me for a while now."
"No, really you." She studied him, dangling the key from the tips of her fingers, the black "Blue Moon" key fob with room number spinning slightly. "Are you sure you want to do this, Dean?"
"I just want to see my brother." Dean said.
"Okay then," she handed the key over to him and brushed his palm with her fingers as she did.
As he turned to walk away, key in hand, she called out to him. "You shouldn't go in there. It will change everything."
But the glass door shut with a soft thud behind him as he crossed the lot to room 12. Orange, their door had been orange.
Standing outside the door, he heard Sam, and he was moaning. Pressing his face to the lit window he saw only shapes through the print sheers, but knew instinctively what those shapes meant: sex.
"Ha, ha, Sammy Boy." Dean chuckled. He scratched his head, though. This was unexpected. "At least it isn't all pain and sobbing in your head, kid." Now he had a dilemma though. Should he wait until the noises settle, or knock? He certainly didn't want to barge in on Sam's naughty dreams. Dean shuddered, thinking that there is no telling what he'd see and that some things are better left to imagination. Not that he'd ever imagined Sam having sex. Another shudder. Well, except…shudder.
Amid the groaning and panting, Dean heard something "off." Sam's voice calling his name, "Dean! Don't! Oh!"
Shit, Dean thought, not sex, not sex. Sam was being attacked, or hurt. He never noticed how much sex and pain could sound alike.
Dean had nothing, not a single weapon. Opening the door cautiously, Dean tried to be silent in the hopes of catching whatever's hurting Sam off guard. If he could, maybe he'd get the upper hand and banish whatever evil thing was fucking around in Sam's dream world.
The door opened silently on well-oiled hinges. The lamp on the side table was throwing out golden light and Dean was…Dean was…there?
Sam too, eyes closed in…pain? Cuffed to the bed frame? Moaning?
Moaning his name? Writhing under him?
Sam was stretched out, shoulder blades digging into the mattress, lifting his pelvis towards…Dean? Who had his…hands? Down Sam's boxers and was…no? No.
It was like watching a car wreck, but the wreck was Dean fucking around with a handcuffed and very aroused little brother who seemed incapable of keeping his dirty moaning to himself.
Dean thought about turning around, actually took a step back, too shocked and suddenly nauseous to do much else. That's when the other Dean, the one who has been slowly stroking Sam off and rubbing his obvious erection against Sam's thigh noticed him.
"Well, aren't you a handsome son of a gun?" He sneered. The fucker actually winked at Dean. Rage bubbled up in him. How dare this person wear his face, do these things, he thought.
The not-Dean's eyes flashed silver. Then, Dean's heart sank, they flashed black.
Looking directly into Dean's eyes he licked Sam's chest, trailed his tongue up to Sam's neck and opened his mouth to bite the tender muscle there.
"Get away from my brother!" Dean yelled, his momentary paralysis broken. He ran full steam at the "Dean" about to sink his monster teeth into Sam's neck. "Sammy!"
He heard Sam respond in a confused voice, "Dean?"
As Dean pushed Dean to the floor he knocked over the lamp. It stuttered out, momentarily startling him, but the light from the open door was plenty to see by. Dean's fists pounded into the body beneath him. "What are you? Shapeshifter? Vampire? Demon? Did you hurt him?"
He heard Sam struggling with his restraints, "Dean?"
As he took a quick glance over his shoulder to look at Sam, and the other Dean disappeared. He was just gone, like that!
But Sammy was still there, and still half naked. His face registering not fear but confusion as he said Dean's name again, "Dean?"
"Sammy? You know that wasn't me, right? He hurt you? God, Sammy. Why would you dream that? I would never hurt you like that, Sammy. I would never." He shook off the recollection of his brother's face while that other Dean molested him. Why would Sam dream that? Why would he accept it? What kind of monster did he think Dean might become?
Sam smiled, a smile that went full-dimple, one Dean hadn't seen in a while, one with only a touch of "my brother is an idiot" laced beneath it. Sam raised his eyebrow, "Hurt me? What? Who are you talking about?"
"That thing, that, me imposter? He just fucking vaporized or something. He was going to bite you." Dean clambered to his feet, trying not to think about what he walked in on, or why Sam was still sporting a rather sizable erection. Dean averted his eyes.
Sam smiled, "What are you talking about? We're the only ones here."
"Sam, that is you, right?" Suddenly Dean was suspicious, maybe this was another figment of Sam's imagination, but what for? This Sam wasn't berating himself. This Sam recognized him right away…or did he? Dean realized, Sam didn't know he was real here. To Sam he was just another dreamt Dean, like the one in the field said, there were more Deans here. It suddenly felt weird being the real one.
"Come here. You're acting weird. Take the cuffs off. We don't have to play this game."
Game? Dean shook it off, getting Sam out of the cuffs was his first priority. He'd deal with the "real" discussion later. "Where's the key? Did you see where he put it?"
Sam tilted his head looked at Dean with a face that said, "I'm trying to figure out something." Sam narrowed his eyes, "It's in your pocket."
"No, Sam, that's imposs…" Dean patted his pocket and there, a small silver key. Dreams are weird as shit, he thought. He walked towards the head of the bed, leaned his body across and uncuffed his brother quickly, trying not to think about what that other Dean was doing, or how Sam had seemed to let him do it.
"Dean." Sam sighed deeply and rubbed his wrists once the cuffs were released.
"What Sam?" Dean asked, unsure he really wanted to know.
Write it off, Dean thought, this is just a weird psycho dream brought on by too little sleep and too much stress. He suddenly wanted to move away, further from the bed and his very confused acting brother.
"You should finish what you start." Sam purred. He fucking purred.
Sam's long arms were suddenly pulling Dean down onto the bed, onto him. Sam flipped him over, straddled Dean's thighs, and looked down at him with a look Dean has seen before. Gross! Sam was giving him fuck-me-eyes. And before Dean could squeak out an appalled, "What the fuck are you thinking?" Sam kissed him. This was no little sweet fourteen-year-old innocent (albeit weird as fuck) Sammy kiss. This was a grown up kiss, the likes of which should not be directed at one's own brother.
Dean pushed Sam away, and lashed out, hitting Sam hard, right across the jaw. This is the second time he'd popped one of his family members' lips tonight. Soon he'd be beating the fuck out of every single one of Sam's dream people. Well, he would if he had to, Dean thought.
"Ow, motherfucker!" Sam grabbed his jaw, and looked down in shock.
"Sammy No." Dean tried to push him off, but Sam didn't budge.
"Dean, what the fuck, man?"
"Sammy, it's me. It's Dean."
"Um, I know. What the fuck?"
"'What the fuck?' Seriously?" Dean mocked, finally getting enough leverage to shove Sam off of him, and scrambling off the bed, "I should be 'what the fuck'-ing you."
"Um, no, you should be fucking me." Sam said rubbing his jaw with the flat of his hand.
"Jesus Christ, Sam! What the fuck are you dreaming about?"
"Dreaming, Sam, as if that fucking field of torture weren't messed up enough, I find you rolling around on the bed with some 'dream Dean.' And I thought you were being attacked, I thought you were being tortured, raped, I mean…" Dean sucked in a huge breath, "were you…I'm going to puke." Dean felt his insides get hot and sloshy. His heart was beating like mad, he leaned over and put his hands on his knees.
"Dreaming?" Sam repeated. "Dean, are you okay?" Sam ran to him, rubbing small circles over his back, "Are you sick? What's going on?"
Dean threw Sam's hands off of him and backed up against the wall, trying not to panic, trying not to be disgusted. "Sam this is fucked up. Right? Tell me he was attacking you. Please? Tell me you were fighting him off and this is some fucking metaphorical subconscious dream thing about me going to hell."
"Dream, Sam, dream. D-r-e-a-m. Wake up, dude. Oh, god, wake up and explain this shit right now."
He saw the realization seep into Sam in slow-motion, his eyes growing impossibly wide and blinking in rapid bursts, his breathing speeding up to near hyperventilation level, his hands shaking. "Dream?"
Sam tilted his head to the side and Dean was surprised when tears immediately ran down Sam's face. He swallowed hard, looking at the carpet. Shook his head slightly, his voice was a whisper, "Tell me you didn't? This is just part of it. You're not you." Sam's lip curled in a grimace of pain, "No, you. That's not…" He stopped, looked up at Dean, who had flattened himself against the wall. "You didn't? Dean?" Sam's eyes were hopeful. "You're just a dream."
Dean thought about saying yes. For a split second he thought, I'll just say yes, and no one will be the wiser. Then he thought, fuck that, I'll be the wiser. Teenaged Dean was right, they were scab pickers. And now the motherfucker joke made sense…fuck that kid. Dean shuddered.
"I took the Dream Root Sam. I wouldn't have if…I'm sorry. You have no idea how sorry."
Sam's face crumpled, and his body with it, he was on the floor, his arms around his knees, long legs pulled up close. "Oh, god." He put his forehead down on his legs and started to rock. "You didn't have the right to do that. What am I supposed to do? Why would you come here?"
"You weren't sleeping." Dean thought it would be best to leave out the bit about it being a funny way to pull a prank on Sam.
"Then you ask me about it, you don't. Oh my god, what did you see?"
"I thought he was attacking you."
The noise Sam made was as close to a cry of pure anguish as Dean had ever heard. He'd heard plenty of things in anguish. He'd pulled this sound from the throats of innumerable demons and creatures, he'd heard it made by humans too, when he was too late to save them. Hearing it from his brother almost…almost…had him crossing the room. But the shock of what he had seen, the shock of that kiss kept him plastered against the wall.
Sam's voice was a whisper, "This will ruin everything." Then he snapped to, looked straight at Dean, "It's not what you think. Dean, it isn't. It's like a metaphor. It isn't…it isn't what it looked like." There was little forced smile at the end of that statement, but it didn't ring true.
"Sam, I don't want to talk about it, I just want to go."
"But if you go," Sam said, slowly getting up from the floor and rising to his feet again, "you'll hate me."
"I won't," Dean stepped away from the wall and towards the door, eyeing Sam suspiciously, "hate you."
"I need to explain."
"Explain on the other side; I need out of here."
"No." Sam's voice was forceful, he shut his eyes tight, and suddenly the door and window to the room disappeared, as if they had never been there at all.
Dean scrambled over to the smooth blank wall, feeling for any indication of a way out. "Let me out, Sam. Let me out." Dean was actually starting to panic now; he could feel his chest constricting.
"Not until you listen to me. It wasn't what it looked like."
"We'll talk later, let me out." Dean turned back to Sam, "I'll fucking hit you again, let me out."
"No, I need you to listen to me. Now. We have to talk about this. And once we wake up, if you want to go then, take off. "
Talk? Maybe Sam was right, not about the talking, Dean thought, about the possibility of Dean hating him for this, and about the very real possibility of Dean running. Taking off in the middle of the night didn't sound half bad right about now, Dean thought. Oh, this had been one stellar fucking bad idea.
Dreamscape. Dir. Joseph Ruben. Perf. Dennis Quaid. 20th Century Fox, 1984. Film.
Morrison, Van. "And it Stoned Me." Moondance. Warner Bros., 1969.
Supernatural. CW. WNUV, Baltimore. 2005-2011.