Summary: Tag to 7.01 – Injured/Limp Sam, Big Brother Dean, Awesome Bobby – Missing scene after Sam's collapse at the lab – "First one..." Dean glanced at his brother. "...and then the other," he finished, following Bobby's gaze to the wrecked Impala.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for Season Seven premiere...and usual language.
A/N: Being the fangirl that I am, it really annoyed me that we got cheated out of what could have been a sweet BroMo between the boys after Sam collapsed at the lab.
The space between...is where you'll find me hiding waiting for you. ~ Dave Matthews
There was silence.
No familiar flutter of invisible angel wings to signal Castiel's sudden departure.
No flash of blinding light to indicate God had left the building.
No thunder, no earthquake, no sign whatsoever that Castiel – or God, or whoever was wearing the familiar trench coat now – had flown off to parts unknown.
There was just silence.
The kind of silence that usually fills the space of time it takes to figure out if what just happened really happened.
And as Dean glanced at Bobby and saw his own dazed expression mirrored on the older hunter's face, Dean knew he was not dreaming; that no matter how bizarre the past few minutes had seemed, the events were real.
Cas was gone; a new God was in town; and predictably, they were at the top of his shit list.
Dean sighed harshly, still clutching his injured arm against his chest, and opened his mouth to speak but stopped when Sam made a strangled sound, like he was choking on a cough or...on his own blood.
The thought was equally startling and disturbing, and Dean's attention immediately focused on his brother. "Sam? You okay?" he asked as Sam turned to face him, blood trickling from the kid's nose and undoubtedly down his throat.
Sam looked as though he was going to respond but made the same sound again before collapsing to his knees, hands splayed on the floor in front of him; scattered glass shards crunching from the force of his fall.
In the next instant, Dean was across the room and on his knees as well, forgetting his own throbbing arm and grabbing Sam by both shoulders, lifting him up. "Sam!"
Sam swayed in Dean's grasp, his face contorted in a mixture of unspeakable fear and pain as blood continued to flow from his nose.
Dean felt his stomach clench. "Sammy..."
Sam seemed to hear Dean calling his name, but his eyes fluttered, unable to focus.
In the next breath, Sam went limp in Dean's arms; his head lolling forward, supported only by Dean's hand cupping his cheek while Dean's other hand bunched the fabric of Sam's coat, holding him up.
Dean's heart stuttered to a momentary stop as he shook his head in denial. Because this was too familiar, too much like Cold Oak; both on their knees as one slipped away.
"No," Dean whispered, his eyes scanning his brother's face as panic spread through his chest. "No, Sam! You hear me?" He shook his brother slightly. "Sam?"
Sam flopped in Dean's grasp as Dean shook him again, only harder.
"Dean..." Bobby crouched beside the brothers; ever the voice of calm and reason; knowing exactly which memory Dean was reliving. "It's okay," he assured, two fingers held against Sam's neck. "He's alive."
And Bobby knew that was all Dean needed to hear; that even though Sam was undeniably not "okay" in the general definition of the word, as long as Sam was alive, they – Dean – could deal with anything else; everything else would be okay.
Dean blinked, feeling some of his panic scatter as Bobby's words sank in.
"It's probably just an adrenaline crash," Bobby continued to soothe, his fingers still monitoring Sam's too-rapid pulse.
Dean nodded that he understood, because he did. He knew all about adrenaline crashes, and in any other situation – a situation that did not resemble his brother dying in his arms – Dean would have probably been the first to say it.
Sam's body had been feeding on raw fight or flight instincts for hours; pure adrenaline. It had sustained him through the maelstrom and now the immediate threat was gone. His body no longer needed that ragged edge of focus and wanted nothing more than to shut down.
So it did.
Sam had just passed out.
That was all.
Dean's eyes scanned his brother's face as Sam continued to slump in his grasp.
Bobby frowned. "Dean...you hearin' me?"
"Yeah," Dean responded, his voice distracted and ragged. "I just..." He shook his head.
"I know," Bobby agreed.
There was a beat of silence, each hunter shaking off the Cold Oak PTSD and gathering himself for the situation at hand.
"He hurt anywhere?" Bobby asked.
Dean continued to hold Sam at arm's length and gave his brother a once over; eyes cataloging every inch of the kid until he saw the wide swath of blood smeared across Sam's right palm.
"There," Dean reported and pulled Sam closer, so that his brother was against his chest; Sam's head resting on Dean's shoulder as Dean continued to support Sam's weight while inspecting the kid's injured hand.
Bobby shifted from where he was still crouched beside Dean. "How bad?"
Dean frowned at the amount of blood and at the tiny fragments of glass embedded in the torn flesh of his brother's hand. "Hard to say, but it's definitely not good."
"Dammit," Bobby muttered and shook his head. "Well..." He sighed. "Ain't nothin' we can do about it here, but we can be back to my place in a few hours."
Dean nodded his agreement, gently lying Sam's hand against his own knee. "Sounds good, but how the hell are we getting outta here with the Impala in the shape she's in?" he asked bitterly, pissed that his car was upside down in a heap when they needed her most.
Bobby sighed harshly and shook his head again. "Hell if I know..." he confessed, standing and then grimacing at the tingling sensation in his legs. He was getting too damn old to crouch. "But Sam sure as hell didn't walk here. He had to drive something."
Dean snorted fondly. Leave it to Sam to spend hours alternating between seizing and being comatose, only to wake up at the last minute and drive several hours to join the fight.
That's my boy.
Dean smiled faintly and glanced down at his brother as Sam continued to lean against him; the kid's face partially hidden in Dean's jacket as his head rested in the hollow of Dean's neck and shoulder.
Bobby stared down at his boys. "Need a hand?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Dean shook his head. "Nah, I got him," he responded, grasping Sam's shoulders and easing him back. "C'mon, Sammy..." he said conversationally, gently wiping the blood from Sam's nose and lips with the cuff of his own jacket before sliding his hands beneath Sam's arms. "Let's get you up, huh?"
Bobby watched as Dean simultaneously stood and lifted Sam to his feet as well, moving forward to help only when Dean nodded in his direction.
"So..." Bobby began, wrapping Sam's left arm across his shoulders and carefully grasping the kid's wrist for further support as they began moving toward the exit. "Any idea what your brother would drive?"
Dean chuckled, thinking of the numerous smartass answers he could give if the situation was different.
Dean shifted under Sam's weight as they slowly ascended the stairs. "I don't know, Bobby. Whatever was convenient."
Bobby nodded. That made sense.
"Maybe," Dean grunted as they cleared the top step. He reached for the doorknob, cracking the door wide enough to squeeze his boot through and then kicked it open.
There was silence as they cleared the threshold and continued down the hall; Dean casting glances at Sam every few steps.
"He's gonna be okay, right?"
Bobby felt his heart clench at the vulnerability in Dean's tone. "Yeah," he assured, hoping he was right. "He's gonna be just fine."
Dean nodded, looking slightly embarrassed that he had even asked – because Sam was with them...and more importantly, Sam was with him...so, of course Sam was going to be fine.
There was more silence as they reached the end of the hall and exited through the main door.
"You think Cas is really gone?" Bobby asked as they descended the front steps.
Dean felt an unexpected icy chill of hatred at the mention of the former angel's name. "I hope so," he responded coldly, remembering how Cas had touched Sam's head in that alley, had purposefully shattered his brother and then had refused to fix him.
Bobby nodded his understanding, deciding to leave that topic for another time, and focused on another sore subject as it came into view – the Impala.
Bobby glanced at Dean to gauge his reaction as they came to a stop beside the twisted heap of metal, rubber, and glass.
But Dean was looking at Sam, the kid's head having lolled onto his shoulder when they had stopped moving forward. "Sammy..."
There was no response.
Dean sighed and shifted his attention to Bobby. "Go find your truck...or whatever."
Bobby nodded and carefully eased out from under Sam's arm. "I'll try to be quick. You sure you're good?"
"Yeah," Dean assured, shifting to bear the extra weight of his brother.
Bobby nodded again before walking in the direction of the main road.
Dean watched him disappear into the darkness and then glanced again at Sam. "Can you believe this shit?" he asked disgustedly, shaking his head at the mess that was his car.
Several minutes passed in silence – Dean standing guard over his two most precious possessions – before a familiar rumble echoed through the dark.
Dean smiled at the sound and felt an added burst of relief when Bobby's truck rounded the corner and came into view. "Alright, Sammy..." he said, watching as the truck came closer. "What d'ya say we go home, huh?"
As if on cue, Bobby braked and leaned across the seat to open the passenger side door. "Y'all headin' my way?"
Dean chuckled. "Only if you'll have us," he replied, turning Sam and carefully maneuvering him up into the truck's cab.
"Well..." Bobby began, sliding his hands beneath Sam's arms and gently pulling the kid toward himself on the bench seat. "You're both a pain in my ass...no arguin' that." He patiently held Sam as Dean climbed into the truck. "But I think I'll keep ya."
Dean smiled, closing the truck's door and settling in beside Sam. "Thanks," he responded as he wrapped his arm around his brother and leaned Sam against his shoulder.
Bobby nodded, knowing Dean was thanking him for more than could ever be put into words. He glanced out the windshield before putting the truck in reverse. "I'll make a few phone calls and send somebody out here to pick her up."
"Yeah," Dean agreed, absently carding his fingers through Sam's hair as the kid rested against him. "First one..." He glanced at his brother. "...and then the other," he finished, following Bobby's gaze to the wrecked Impala.
"Sounds like a plan," Bobby approved and eased the truck onto the main road, heading back to Sioux Falls.
How they ended up at Bobby's place several hours later was still a blur to Dean. One minute he was tending to Sam...the next minute he was dozing himself...and then the next minute they were home sweet home.
Or something like that.
But one look at Bobby's haggard appearance proved the trip had been a rough one – accomplished in record time – and Dean felt somewhat guilty that he himself had slept through most of it.
Bobby had called him an idjit when Dean had said as much while Bobby had helped him get Sam upstairs and to their room; and then, after Dean waved off any further assistance, Bobby had promptly excused himself to his own room, and Dean had not seen him since.
Dean sighed and shifted on the bed, his back beginning to cramp from leaning over at such an awkward angle to clean Sam's hand.
Beside him, Sam – freshly changed into his sleep clothes because Dean was awesome like that – lay motionless on the mattress; the sheet and quilt pulled over his chest and tucked in at his sides; his dark hair fanned out over the white pillowcase even though his bangs stuck to his sweaty forehead.
Dean shook his head, still cradling his brother's hand within his own calloused palm. "Is your fever from this gash or from something else, Sammy?" he asked, redirecting his attention from Sam's flushed face to the torn flesh of his brother's hand.
"No telling what is on this glass..." Dean commented, squinting in the light provided by the lamp on the bedside table as he meticulously removed tiny fragments of glass from the edges of the wound.
Several minutes passed with the only sounds being the rhythmic breathing of his sleeping brother and the tinkle of glass as it struck the bottom of the trashcan.
"Okay..." Dean sighed, dropping the tweezers into the open first aid kit on the bedside table and then inspecting the gash once more.
Sam continued to sleep
"Looks like I finally got 'em all, Sammy," Dean reported, holding the kid's hand over the plastic basin Bobby used for washing dishes – currently resting in Dean's lap instead of in the kitchen sink – and slowly pouring bottled water over Sam's skin, watching the remnants of blood, dirt, and glass particles flush out of the jagged cut.
Dean waited several seconds and then set the basin on the floor before grabbing the towel draped over his shoulder and gently drying his brother's hand. "This looks like it hurts, Sam," he commented as he pulled back the towel and gave the wound a final once over.
Sam did not respond.
Dean dropped the towel to the floor and reached for the roll of gauze in the first aid kit. "Ah, Sammy..." he sighed, carefully wrapping Sam's hand. "I really need you to wake up, kiddo."
Dean smoothed the bandage over Sam's palm and then turned Sam's hand down to rest on his blanket-covered chest.
Dean returned the gauze to the kit before closing its lid. "You hear me?" he asked, reaching around the kit and lifting a washcloth from the bowl of cold water he had brought in earlier. "Whatever's going on in that head of yours...whatever you're facing...whatever you're going through..." Dean twisted the fabric, wringing out the excess water before folding the washcloth and swiping it under Sam's damp bangs. "Whatever it is, Sam...just wake up and we'll face it together, okay?"
Sam did not move.
Dean sighed and briefly closed his eyes as he continued to hold the washcloth against his brother's overly warm forehead.
Several minutes passed, and Dean felt himself dozing off when he became aware of a feather-light touch on his leg.
Instantly alert, Dean snapped his attention to Sam and saw that his brother had opened his eyes just a slit and was watching him.
"Hey," Sam whispered hoarsely.
Dean blinked against the sting of unexpected tears. "Hey, yourself," he replied casually and smiled as relief flooded his chest. "How you feelin'?"
"Hmm..." Sam sighed and closed his eyes.
"Sam..." Dean called urgently, leaning slightly forward to hover over his brother. "Sammy..."
"Sam, look at me."
Sam sighed again but did as he was asked, staring blearily up at Dean.
"How do you feel?" Dean repeated, his hand still lightly resting on Sam's forehead.
"Yeah, I bet," Dean agreed. He paused. "What else?"
Dean felt his heart beat faster within his chest. "What hurts, Sam?"
"Head." Sam said it as though he had expected as much and then blinked and glanced down at his hand as it rested on his chest. "Hand?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah. You cut your hand when you fell, and you're running a fever, but it's okay. I'm taking care of it."
Sam ghosted a smile. "Always...do."
Dean returned the smile and nodded again. "Yep. Always do..."
That's what big brothers are for.
There was a beat of silence.
Dean chuckled. It was so like Sam to ask that. "Yeah, Sammy. I'm fine."
Which wasn't entirely true, but whatever. One thing at a time...
Sam swallowed. "Bobby?"
"He's fine, too," Dean assured. "We're both fine. Just worried about you."
Sam closed his eyes. "M'fine."
Dean snorted. "Yeah, you look fine."
Sam scrunched his face. "D'n..."
Sam opened his eyes. "'Pala?"
Dean quirked a smile. "What about her?"
Dean shook his head. "Not yet. But soon..." he promised.
"Good," Sam approved and closed his eyes again. "S'our home."
She's our home.
Dean nodded, emotion clogging his throat and making his voice hoarse. "Yeah, Sammy. She is."
And it was true. Even though Bobby's place had become their unofficial home over the past few years, the Impala was their true home; had literally been bathed in their blood, sweat, and tears.
"Shut up, bitch," Dean lightly admonished. "That's enough for now. Get some sleep. I'll be here when you wake up – or maybe Bobby will – but we'll talk more later, okay?"
"'Kay..." Sam readily agreed and faded back to sleep.
Dean smiled affectionately and removed the warmed washcloth from Sam's forehead, returning it to the bowl on the bedside table. He shifted, pushing himself back on the mattress until he rested against the headboard; Sam alongside him.
From where he now sat facing the window, Dean could see the outline of the garage in the yard where the Impala would sit once she was hauled back, and he was reminded of what he had said to Bobby earlier about fixing what was broken.
Bobby had praised it as a good plan, and Dean agreed.
"First one..." Dean repeated quietly, glancing down at his brother and brushing Sam's bangs from his eyes. "...and then the other," he finished, directing his gaze out the window to the garage.