Title: Winternight Tragedies
Genre: Fluffy hurt/comfort with a side dish of angst and horror.
Pairings/characters: Sam+Dean (platonic or preslash depending on your preference)
Word count: 4500
Warnings: Some language. Takes place in season 7 but before 7x09.
Disclaimers: I own nothing – not even the idea, which is a comment-prompt by maypoles in hoodie_time's winter-themed Dean-centered h/c comment-prompt meme (on LiveJournal), and man, what a monster of a name that is.
Summary: "Don't open the door, Sam, the world's gonna end if you do!" he whispered, and Sam froze.
A/N:Maypoles wished for an apocalyptic snowstorm, a feverish and/or guilt-ridden, miserable Dean, and awesome, comforting Sam. I tried to cater to my best ability – though as this was written in bits and pieces whenever I could spare a few minutes from schoolwork, and finished at 5 am, I'm afraid that I didn't do as well as I would have liked. ._. Still, I'm a conclusion away from finishing my BA thesis and I seriously needed a SPN break after days of abstinence.
Hope you like it, maypoles.
Name stolen from the band Catamenia because I have no imagination.
Dean was keeping guard when he woke up.
Keeping guard, Sam thought, staring at his brother groggily from his bed. In a motel room. Perched on the window-sill, like a green-eyed gargoyle with a shotgun held against his chest, on display for anyone that happened to walk by.
"What the hell you doin', Dean?" he muttered, voice gruff from sleep, as he crawled out of the bed, reluctantly letting go of his blanket. He had a feeling that his hair was sticking up in some very interesting ways, which was just great – more ammo for the cut-your-damn-mop cart was just what Dean needed.
Then Dean glanced at him over his shoulder, glassy-eyed and pale, before quickly turning back to the window, and Sam decided that he needed nothing of the sort and probably wouldn't even have noticed if Sam had woken up pink-haired.
"Dean?" he asked, frowning and walking to the window. His brother was balancing on the narrow window-sill with his knees up against his chest, the shotgun wedged between the cotton of his t-shirt and the denim of his jeans, staring intently at the bleak world outside.
And okay, so maybe no one was going to walk by and see Dean glaring at them through the window, because holy shit, did that even qualify as a snowstorm anymore?
The wind howled, the sound seemed to curl around the motel, searching for a way in, and Sam realized that it was the sound of the tin roof rattling that had woken him up.
"'M takin' the firs' watch," Dean finally replied, his words blending together like when he was seriously, seriously drunk.
Sam frowned. "I can see that. Why don't you get some sleep now?"
For a moment, his brother didn't react; now standing directly behind him, Sam could see the goosebumps running down his neck and arms, could see the nervously twitching fingers on the shotgun. Then Dean turned to look at him, or something around his left eyebrow, eyes unfocused and shiny and cheeks and the bridge of his nose flushed pink.
"Takin' the first watch," he repeated, like a child refusing to accept that it was way past bedtime.
"You already did," Sam reminded him.
Dean looked confused at that. "'M... 'm takin' the second watch," he said, then, with a questioning tilt towards the end of the sentence.
Jesus, what a brat Dean could be. Sam was resorting to his best imperious scowl now – the other man was practically falling asleep where he sat, he had to go to bed. "No, you're not. You're going to bed, Dean, don't make me manhandle you there. You already got the cold, you don't want to make it wor..."
He trailed off, because it suddenly dawned on him that Dean had already made it worse. The glassy, shiny-eyed look, the petulant behavior, the paranoia – that was all sick Dean, alright.
Sick, stubborn Dean that was currently snuggling closer to the undoubtedly chilly glass of the window, turning his face to press his cheek and fingertips against it and making it very clear that he had no intention to move toward the bed on his own.
Sam heaved a frustrated sigh. "Dean –"
"Gotta keep watch," he murmured into the glass, startling him. "Things out there, Sammy, wanna get in. Gotta keep 'em out."
Fine, so there were things out there, big news, but since when had Dean kept watch on the window-sill to keep them out?
Sam's mind very helpfully flashed him a half-remembered memory of a much smaller Dean, ridiculously tiny in comparison to the shotgun he'd been cradling in his lap even then, sitting on another window-sill in another motel-room, in another time and place.
"There's nothing there, Dean," he said slowly, starting to reach over to take the gun from his brother, movements small and delicate and as nonthreatening as possible. "I mean, sure, there are monsters out there, somewhere, but nothing should be after us right now. We're as safe here as we'll ever be anywhere, okay? So please come down and go to bed. You... you need sleep so you can take the watch after me, right?"
But Dean was shaking his head, eyes darting frantically between his little brother and the world outside; the wind was picking up, making the old building screech and the sharp, icy snowflakes twirl around in crazy patterns. "Get down, Sammy," he was saying suddenly, so urgent and terrified that Sam almost found himself obeying before he could think twice. "They're lookin', they'll see you, get down, Sammy!"
"What? Who? Where?" Sam blinked and leaned over his brother's knees to get a better look (going directly against his orders, but when had he ever done what Dean told him to?), but all he could see was snow, snow, so much snow that he couldn't see the world through it, stained pale yellow by the lamp above their motel room door.
Tomorrow he'd have to pay for a few nights more, because the car had to be six feet under the white stuff by now, and in any case Dean would need time to recover from his cold.
The cold that seemed to be well on its way to developing into something much worse, he decided, as the older hunter paid no attention when he extracted the shotgun from his trembling fingers and put it down, but actually started rocking back and forth in tiny, jerky motions, arms folded between his chest and knees. "Everyone," he groaned, "everything, they're all there, they want us to go, Sammy, promise me you won't open the door, promise, please?"
He could still see no one, but Dean was clearly not entirely in this world, so he decided to just go with it, agree to anything – it wasn't like Dean would remember a thing later, if he was this far gone...
"Okay, man, I won't, promise," he assured, starting to reach around his brother's shoulders to attempt to move him to the bed, when Dean suddenly clutched his forearms and locked his glazed eyes with his.
"Don't open the door, Sam, the world's gonna end if you do!" he whispered, and Sam froze, suddenly back at that church with Lilith and Ruby lying bleeding on the floor, Dean's fingers curling in the material of his jacket, Lilith's blood slithering on the floor like little red snakes, all drawn to the same point.
The snowflakes and the glittery powder snow that the wind had raised from where it was already lying on the ground seemed to circle around each other in narrow pillars, like little tornadoes, and sometimes Sam thought he could see figures in them, glowing eyes staring at them through the snow. The wind wailed past their window like the scream of a banshee, and a cobweb of frosty little flowers spread over the glass, making a small, hollow sound like rapidly freezing water. Sam gasped and pulled his brother away from the glass, away from the window and down onto the floor and into his arms.
This couldn't be happening. This couldn't be happening. They'd stopped the apocalypse – it wasn't going to happen again. No, this was just Dean's fever-talk getting to him...
Sam pressed his thumb into the almost-healed wound in the middle of his palm behind Dean's back, dug it in and stared out, desperately willing the figures to disappear, figures he knew would belong to people long gone – people they'd lost, people they'd fought so hard to kill – and almost sobbed in relief when suddenly snow was snow and frosty windows and wind were only frosty windows and wind, no vengeful spirits involved.
It wasn't happening. God, for a moment he'd been afraid... but no, the apocalypse had been averted – at a great price but averted nevertheless. They were safe, or as safe as Winchesters ever would be.
Then he realized that if he hadn't sobbed, the choked sound had come out of the shivering man in his arms.
"... Dean?" he asked, trying to pull back to get a look at his brother's face, but the fingers on his forearms tightened suddenly, as if afraid that he was going to leave.
"I thought we stopped it," Dean murmured into his shoulder in a broken whisper. "I thought we stopped it, Sam, you had to go to Hell and I couldn't help you, but I thought we stopped the apocalypse, Sam, why do they keep following us? Is it because we started it, is that why they want the world to end now, because they want us to end?"
Sam bit his lip. Dean was burning hot against him even through his clothes; it was no wonder he was delirious. But from experience he knew that it was very hard to get a delirious, paranoid Dean to calm down – he would always either go on raving until he passed out from exhaustion, or, in the very few cases when their father had been with them when he was sick, settle down and fall asleep, secure in his knowledge that Dad was taking care of him.
And Dad was kind of unavailable at the moment.
"Dean," he said, trying to sound as calm and convincing as possible, "the world isn't ending. It's just a blizzard, okay? And I'm not in Hell anymore. I got out. You got out, too. We're alright."
But Dean was shaking his head and struggling back into a sitting position, had already stumbled into a crouch by the time when Sam realized that he was trying to return to his place on the window-sill and pulled him back down. He protested, mumbled something about keeping watch, about keeping them out, keeping Sammy safe, but Sammy was a grown man now and it was barely any effort for him to fight one feverish big brother down.
"Come on," he urged, bringing one of Dean's limp arms around his shoulders and wrapping one of his own around his waist. "Let's get you to bed. You're gonna need all your strength to shovel the car clear after this snowstorm..."
Dean's head fell forward and he let out a miserable moan. Walking, even supported by his brother, seemed to be a huge effort; he was panting softly, and the pink across his nose and cheek was even more pronounced against the white of the rest of his face than before. "The 'Pala's gone," he said, pleasantly surprising Sam with his apparent grasp of the now-and-here. "Gone in the crash, with the, the... the truck," he then continued, and Sam's heart sank. "Not in the wind," he added after considering it for a moment.
"Not in the wind," Sam agreed with a heavy sigh.
Dean echoed the sigh. "Dad's gonna be mad," he muttered and lurched dangerously to the left when his legs gave out. Only Sam's arm around his waist saved him from crashing onto the floor. "He left her with me and I broke her. Always break everything Dad leaves with me..."
There was a lump in Sam's throat as he eased his brother down on the edge of his bed. There were so many things wrong about those words that he didn't know how to start correcting – no, Dean, you don't, I was the one driving, remember, I broke her, and Dad's not gonna be mad because Dad's not gonna be here – but before he could get a word out of his mouth, it got worse.
"... broke the car. Broke you. Broke the world..."
"What?" Sam choked out. "No, Dean, you didn't, I did, and besides I'm not broken anymore, not really! And you didn't... Dean, you didn't 'break the world', okay?" It was his turn to take his brother by shoulders and shake him a little in an attempt to get him to meet his gaze, but Dean was limp and unresponsive and clearly somewhere else. "And we didn't 'start it', or we did, but it wasn't our fault, right? The angels said that it was meant to happen all along, they'd planned it way before we were even born, so it's not your damn fault, okay?"
Dean shuddered. "Broke Cas," he added, and then, in a somewhat morbid imitation of said angel, let his head fall to one side and blinked slowly up at his brother, this time actually managing to focus on his face. "'M cold."
Right, of course he was. Sam cursed himself for letting his brother's fever talk get to him again and released the man to arrange the bed for him; Dean just sat there and stared at the window as if someone was staring back at him. In fact, he probably thought someone was staring back at him, Sam realized, and wondered what the world looked like to his brother right now. He'd been through his fair share of delirious phases, both fever- and withdrawal-induced, and knew how it could be.
He stopped for a moment, following his brother's gaze to the window. Their lives had always revolved around death, and the past few years even more so than usually. There were plenty of people Dean could be seeing there, pressing their dead faces into the glass and whispering, whispering for him to open the door, to let them in.
They were probably faces of their friends and loved ones, because Dean had been worried that Sam would actually open the door for them.
And yet he was convinced that they wanted to kill them, to bring the apocalypse on them once again.
He didn't need to ask why these people would want to kill them, if they were their friends. He knew the ghostly figures standing in the snowy world behind the window would include Castiel, Ellen and Jo, Rufus and Pamela, Mom and Dad, and he knew that the answer would be, "Because we got them killed."
When he turned back to Dean and pushed him down onto his back, the green eyes finally left the window. "Sam, I'm sorry," he murmured, and the lack of the frantic edge of his voice told Sam that his fever was probably even higher now. "'Sposed to keep you safe, 'm sorry I couldn't. Should still be on the rack, Sammy... no stupid seals breaking, no apocalypse... Cas'd be alive..." He watched with mild interest as Sam moved his legs from where they were dangling over the edge of the bed and tucked them under the blanket. "You'd be alive."
Sam's lifted his eyebrows at that. "I am alive, Dean," he reminded his brother, but he didn't seem to be listening; instead, he was tugging at Sam's sleeve, eying the window and the door nervously, until he bent down to hear what was so important.
"C'mere, Sammy," Dean whispered, scared and panicked again, the look on his face wide-eyed and heartbreakingly young. "Here, get under the blanket – like this," he attempted to pull his blanket over his little brother's head and ended up draping it over his shoulder, "so they can't see you..."
"What the..." Sam stared at his brother, then at the window, at the blanket, and finally at himself, half-sitting on the bed next to his brother, leaning on his elbow; Dean's hand was on his shoulder, weakly trying to pull him down, and he was still casting worried looks at the door. "... Are you trying to hide me?" he asked, because honestly, hadn't Sam gotten a little too big for Dean to hide more than fifteen years ago?
But either Dean had not received the memo or he was currently at a time more than fifteen years earlier, because he just kept staring at him with pleading, glassy eyes, still tugging at his shirt in a feeble attempt to get him to lay down.
And it wasn't like he was ever going to calm down if he wasn't sure that Sam was safe, so Sam did the only thing he could think of and obliged.
"You know what," he said as eased down onto his side, facing his brother, even as Dean was tugging the blanket to cover him from head to toes, "let's both hide here, so they can't see either of us, okay?" He lifted the blanket to peer at his older brother. "If they see you, they'll know I'm here, too, right?"
It was kind of playing dirty, but Dean was convinced, and Sam was left utterly speechless by the ease with which he pulled the blanket over his own head as well and snuggled closer to him, probably thinking he could still bodily shield his baby brother, which was kind of cute and kind of sad because holy crap, Sam had never really realized how much bigger than his larger-than-life big brother he'd grown. He felt a burst of warmth and protectiveness towards the shivering, miserable man curled up into a ball right next to him, and it was only to let Dean keep his image of being the one doing the protecting here that he forced his arms to stay where they were instead of wrapping around his brother.
The blanket was stifling, and Dean was radiating heat like a small sun, but there was no way Sam was giving up the relative safety of their cocoon. At least here Dean couldn't see any unwanted faces.
He didn't consider the sounds, strengthened by the absence of sights. Soon the wind seemed to pick up, rattling the tin of the roof and shaking the house; even Sam could almost hear whispers against the glass of the window, hands trying to open the door, floorboards creaking under bare, dead feet. Dean was shaking like a leaf and breathing erratically, and once or twice Sam could hear a sound that was somewhere between a sob and a whimper.
"Hey," he finally whispered, reaching up to touch Dean's shoulder, "Don't worry, I'm here. They can't hurt you. They can't hurt us."
Dean let out a wounded, choked little sound, and suddenly he was flush against Sam's chest, face buried in his shoulder, shaking from voiceless sobs and cold and fear. Sam reacted instinctively; it was only when his arms were tight and secure around his brother that he stopped to reconsider, but damn it, it felt right and Dean obviously needed this.
He remembered Dean complaining of him being clingy whenever he was sick when they'd been younger. He didn't recall Dean ever asking for a hug or for someone to sleep next to him, sick or not. He'd always thought that Dean was just tough like that, but maybe he'd just been too tough to ask.
Maybe he'd thought that big brothers were supposed to give hugs, not receive them, just as they were supposed to protect, not be protected.
"Dad," Dean sobbed, and Sam was acutely reminded of that one time when the angels had removed his lungs for a moment, "Dad, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I tried to – tried to keep Sammy safe, I tried and I couldn't, I'm sorry I couldn't, please don't be mad, Dad..."
"Dean, it's okay," he said quietly, stroking Dean's back slowly. His voice was soothing and gentle but kind of wet and quivery around the edges. If he didn't get his brother to calm down, he was going to break down in tears as well, they'd have a massive emo-fest and cry a damn Nile between the two of them, and wouldn't Dean just love that when he recovered. "I'm here, Sam's right here, and I'm okay – you did well, you kept me safe, over and over again. You did better than anyone else could have..."
Dean was silent besides the sobs, but the body in his arms was tense and trembling and didn't feel at all convinced. Sam wasn't sure if he even realized that it was his brother, not father, who was talking to him, but he decided that for now, he didn't care as long as it helped.
"That's right," he continued, digging through his memory for all the times Dean had saved him and coming up with way more than he could ever say out loud – it was a wonder the man had had time to do anything else. He didn't want to go for the obvious ones, like bringing his soul back and going to Hell for him, because he didn't want to trigger any memories, so he chose the more innocent ones. "Like all those times when you went to 'talk' to some boys at school when you thought they were bullying me. Remember? And that time when I was fourteen, and you caught me when I fell from the roof, and –" and broke your leg, he was going to say, but neither of them really needed any bad memories, here, "and then that time when you saved me from that spirit in San Francisco – remember? You've always had my back, Dean."
Dean was shivering violently. Sam couldn't see his face, but it was probably more flushed than ever, and his breath was coming out in soft, labored puffs and going in in tiny gasps. Then he realized that some of what he'd taken for shivering was Dean trying to shake his head. "... 'Member... shouldn' have... let you climb... tha' roof... not fallen," he mumbled into Sam's overshirt. "Remember... I remember... I don't... remember..."
"What do you remember?" Sam hummed softly, silently berating himself for not realizing that of course Dean was going to think that every time he'd saved Sam had somehow been his fault to begin with.
The body against him twitched a little, still shaking uncontrollably. Dean's fingers twisted into the material of his shirt, released it, and twisted it again. "... Remember," he whispered slowly, confused, having clearly lost his earlier train of thought. "Remember – I remember... the... fifth of November..."
Sam sighed. He guessed it was logical for Dean's subconscious to pick on something like this as the only association he had with the world remember. "What happened on the fifth of November, Dean?" he asked gently, if only to lead his brother's thoughts away from the more apocalyptic thoughts his feverish mind had been steering towards. He was probably going to hear all about the gunpowder treason and plot, if Dean was even conscious enough to stick to one thought for long enough.
Dean pulled back slightly, enough to turn his flushed, glassy-eyed face upwards, but his fingers were still twisting and untwisting Sam's shirt. "On the fifth of November," he murmured, looking like he was putting all his remaining strength into forcing this one coherent sentence out of his mouth, "I realized... that Mom... wasn't coming back." Sam's breath hitched at the unexpected confession; Dean blinked slowly and kept going, pushing on though he hardly seemed to know what he was talking about anymore. "Dad'd been crying and drinking for three days, and, and... you'd been just crying... and no one had put us to bed and I didn't know how to feed you. So that was... that was when I realized that I'd have to learn. I was... I... Dad was..." He paused, frowned, coughed a little, and his glittery, unfocused gaze wandered over Sam's face. "Sammy, when'd you get so big?"
Sam swallowed. "A while ago."
This seemed to satisfy Dean, because he curled up against Sam's chest again, feeling marginally more stable and less melting hot. Soon he fell into a half-sleeping state, every now and then muttering things, sometimes waking up enough to ask why they were cuddling under a blanket, though never enough to actually care. He murmured strange things that probably made a lot of sense to him but to Sam's ears were a string on unintelligible words, and things that Sam thought he recognized from their childhood, indicating that he was still not in this time and place. Sometimes he called Sam Dad and apologized over and over again for not having taken better care of his little brother; sometimes he seemed to mistake Sam for Castiel, and could barely even apologize through his tears. Most of the time, he recognized Sam for his brother, though at times he seemed to be utterly baffled by his sudden growth, and at regular intervals he reminded his little brother to stay hidden because there were things out there.
When Dean had finally drifted into a restless, feverish sleep, his body an uncomfortably hot but otherwise reassuring weight in Sam's arms, Sam finally deemed it safe to pull the blanket down for some fresh air. He noticed only now that the howl of the wind and the rattle of the roof had disappeared at some point during their stay in their safe cocoon, leaving them in an utterly silent world, bathing in the pale yellow light that landed on the bed through the window. With the wind had gone the apocalyptic snowstorm and the sense of impeding doom.
Sam expected to feel kind of embarrassed and silly for overreacting, for letting Dean's wild stories get to him, for all his fears to appear ridiculous in this still, serene night that had somehow replaced the stormy, dangerous night they'd hidden themselves from – but instead he felt as if they had just won a long struggle, managed to outlast an enemy.
He glanced down at Dean; his skin was still burning and flushed and he was still breathing somewhat unevenly through dry, slightly parted lips, but he looked a little better, and at least he was sleeping. He'd probably be more like himself in the morning – which meant that he was going to flip a bitch if he woke up snuggling his baby brother.
Almost reluctantly – fine, then, pretty damn reluctantly, because it was kind of nice to be trusted and depended on like that, and especially by Dean – Sam tried to disengage himself from Dean, only now realizing how intertwined they'd somehow managed to become, and was promptly stopped by an unhappy whine and a hand tightening its grip of his shirt.
Which was honestly all the indication that Sam needed to decide that there was absolutely no way he could persuade Dean to let him go, and settle happily back into his earlier position. He was rewarded with a nose nuzzling his shoulder shortly before Dean once more fell limp against him, this time with an arm draped over his chest.
And if it turned out that Dean was right and there was an apocalypse waiting to happen, again, well, then it'd just have to wait.
Did I just write a SPN fic with no scifi references? XD
Please tell me what you think. All comments will be loved and cherished!