A/N: This was written in response to a prompt at the OhSam comment fic meme by Checkthemargins: Dean gets self-destructive someway post 7.10. Like maybe drinking and then purposely driving, or just driving super reckless in general. Or being stupid on hunts. Or starting bar fights just because he wants to feel something other than the grief that never seems to end. Or he could have a complete breakdown and get into self-inflicted stuff. Whatever the case, Sam, in a completely logical attempt to put an end to it, finds some kind of hoodoo voodoo shaman witch curse spell something so that every injury Dean gets is transferred to Sam.
I drifted somewhat from the prompt, but I hope this is close to what she wanted. Also, this fic is unbeta'd, so all mistakes are completely mine.
The Chemicals Between Us
Dean stumbled into the room, loudly swearing when his elbow knocked over a lamp and sent it crashing to the floor.
"Shit … who put that there?"
Dean bent down and picked up the downed lamp and fumbled to reset it on the table beside the door, letting it wobble precariously until it finally settled.
Sam jerked up from the article he'd been reading on his laptop and sighed tiredly before rubbing his burning eyes. It was fourth night that week Dean had been 'out' and came back reeking of cheap whiskey and while Sam had been worried about his brother's drinking before Bobby … (fuck … it was still hard to even think that he was gone) … things were just getting worse at an exponential rate and Sam was running out of words to try and convince his brother that he had lost control over this problem of his.
But bringing the subject up only seemed to cause more problems than it solved and the exasperation and frustration it created made Sam feel like he was beating his head against a wall – and he really didn't need any more concussions, thank you.
Dean tossed his keys onto the table next to the lamp and didn't pay Sam any attention as he flopped face-first onto his bed.
"God … tell me you didn't drive like this." Sam demanded.
"Shuddup – I was fine. Din' crash. So what?"
"So what? You can't keep doing that, Dean. You're gonna get yourself or someone else killed."
"Drop it, Sam." Dean closed his eyes and muffled into his pillow.
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he could stave off the building headache and shut off the constant noise of nagging worry in his head. But he couldn't – he could see what his brother was doing – this was suicide – maybe he didn't have a gun in his mouth, poised to pull the trigger, but it was all the same, just slower and more painful for Sam to watch as Dean tried to cram all of his feelings down his stomach and drown them in a sea of bourbon so he wouldn't have to actually deal with them.
And Sam knew all of this because he'd been in Dean's shoes before - he knew all about grief and addiction. After Dean went to Hell, he didn't think he could make it a whole day with the despair and pain of knowing his brother was suffering in the pit without a consistent numbness that only alcohol could give him and even after Ruby sobered him up from the booze, he managed to only swap that drinking problem for a different kind of drinking problem.
So yeah … Sam knew what Dean was doing to himself – he just didn't know how to fix it.
Dean was quiet and Sam thought he had fallen asleep until he heard his brother speak, "You find us a hunt yet?"
"Not yet … " Sam looked back at the screen of his computer, he'd been searching for hours while Dean was out getting himself wasted, trying to find anything of interest to check into next, but so far he's only found bupkis , "But I'm gonna keep looking – there's bound to be something out there …"
"Go to sleep," Dean mumbled an interruption, "You can geek out again in the morning after you get some rest."
Yeah right … sleep was hardly restful these days between the nightmares and the soft whisperings of Lucifer in his ears … he'd rather stay awake. But then again, he was exhausted and it was creeping up on 3 am and when he was tired it was harder to keep the sounds of clanging chains, meat hooks, and screams at bay. It was a catch 22 – sleeping brought on nightmares, yet not sleeping brought on hallucinations – there was no winning.
But as it was now, Sam wouldn't be able to hold off sleeping for much longer, so he closed the screen on his laptop and set it aside on the bedside table and then crawled under the covers of his bed and waited for sleep to take him and for the flames of Hell to begin burning his flesh.
There still wasn't a hunt to find the next day and by the time they finished their dinner of take-out Chinese, Dean had already polished off the contents of his flask and was practically crawling out of his skin, itching to find more.
Dean knew that his drinking was a bone of contention for Sam, but dammit … his life was almost bearable when the alcohol muted the pure shittiness of their existence and without it … well … physically it wasn't good … and since withdrawal sucked worse than being kicked in the nuts – he chose to drink.
Yeah … this was bad – he wasn't kidding himself - he knew that pouring liquor into his wounds wouldn't heal them and wouldn't bring Bobby back, but it was better than dealing with the fact that everything he loved was being taken from him one death at a time and slowly but surely he'd lose his last tie to this imploding planet when Sam was taken from him as well.
It was only a matter of time - and when it came he didn't plan on sticking around for the grand finale.
Until then he had only one mission: kill Dick Roman.
More than likely that would end in bloody deaths for him and Sam, so there really wasn't much point in looking forward to a future beyond it, so why not drink? It's not like it could kill him before the baddies did. And who care if he got into a few bar fights along the way - he could handle himself and sometimes the fighting and the pain of his fists smacking into some dumbass' face gave him a little rush and a chance to feel something besides the crushing weight of the world on his shoulders.
Dean's hands started to twitch a clear signal that it was time for him get up and get out of the confining space of the motel room and steady the rising tide of symptoms that would strike if he didn't get some booze down his gullet soon.
Grabbing his jacket, he got up from his bed and flicked off the TV. From the other end of the room, Sam perked up and lifted his eyes from the computer screen for the first time in hours, "Hey … where ya goin'?"
"God, Dean …" Sam huffed, his voice bordering on a whine, "Is it too much to ask that you stay sober for one night?"
"Gee, Sam … I dunno – is it too much to ask for you not to act like a goddamn prison warden?"
Sam sighed and rubbed his forehead like he was coming down with a migraine, "I know you're going to a bar. I just don't want you to do anything stupid –"
"I'm just gonna get a few beers –"
"Right… followed by 10 shots of whiskey." Sam muttered under his breath.
"Sam –" Dean warned, feeling his temper rise and if his brother didn't stop pushing soon, he was going to be eating Dean's fist. "I'm not going to do anything stupid, okay? "
"Oh no? Nothing stupid like the fight you got into last week that left you with two black eyes … or … like last night? - driving back here so drunk you can barely walk in a straight line – yeah – nothing stupid there."
Dean was well on his way to being pissed now, "Fine … you don't want me driving – I'll walk." Dean turned his back on Sam and yanked open the door, "Don't wait up."
"Dean, Stop!" Sam slammed his laptop shut, stood up, and closed the distance between looking as if he might start throwing punches to keep him inside, but instead the anger faded just as quick as it came on and he threw up his hands in resignation with a heavy sigh, "You know … whatever . I can't stop you from going, so I guess I'm just gonna have to come with you."
"Oh for fuck's sake, I don't need a babysitter."
"No … but you do need a ride, so I'll drive."
Sam set his face in stubborn determination and Dean gave up – it didn't matter if Sam followed him or not as long as he got a drink soon, he didn't care.
It wasn't exactly busy in the bar that night, but Dean still managed to find a couple of local yokels to sucker into a few rounds of pool while Sam sat at the bar and nursed a coke. Sam glanced up from the newspaper he had been skimming when Dean laughed loud enough to be heard from the pool table at the other end of the bar. For a moment, Sam thought about how it was good to hear his brother's jovialness - he just wished it didn't take a fifth of Jack to create it.
He watched Dean collect a wad of bills from the disgruntled guys he had just hustled and saunter back to the bar where Sam sat. He paid Sam little heed as he pulled a five dollar bill from his winnings and slapped it onto the bar top to get the bartender's attention, "Hey, Sweetheart ? Can I get another round here?"
The dark-skinned woman behind the bar turned and put down the glass she had been wiping dry and nodded, pulling a bottle off the shelf and pouring a couple of fingers into a clean glass before walking back to Dean. She leaned over to deliberately show off her ample cleavage as she slid the drink across to him, "$3.50, Hon."
Dean tapped the note and winked, admiring the view, "Keep the change."
She grinned and took the bill as Sam grabbed his brother by the arm before he could walk away, "Last one, right?"
Dean rolled his eyes, "Fine … let me get another game of pool in and we'll go. Okay, mom?"
Dean shrugged out of Sam's hold and walked back over to the pool table, offering the fools he had just fleeced a chance to win their money back in a double or nothing game. Stupid morons were going to lose their pants.
Sam blew out a breath and tried to go back to his paper when he noticed that the bartender had turned her attention on him, "Can I get you anything else?"
Sam looked up and made eye-contact then smiled politely. She was a pint-sized beauty with dark braids cascading down her shoulders and she wore a simple, but tight tank top that left little to the imagination. But she had engaging eyes that spoke of an intelligence and insight that captured Sam's attention and he suddenly didn't want to lose her gaze on him, "Well … maybe just another coke."
"Just a coke, huh? Not too many people that come in here on a Tuesday night just to read a paper and drink coke." She said, turning her back and filling another glass with coke from the fountain behind the bar.
"Well … I didn't really come here to drink." Sam explained without going into detail.
"Yeah, I kinda figured that out about you," she rested her elbows on the counter top then looked across the bar to Dean and nodded her head in his direction, "But him? Now there's a different story. Lemme guess, you're here to keep an eye on him? Make sure he doesn't go overboard?"
Sam was taken a little aback by her question, "What makes you say that?"
"Intuition … plus I work in a bar and I've seen all different kinds of drunks."
Sam looked down at his hands, he didn't like hearing the term 'drunk' to describe his brother, "Yeah … I bet you have."
"He's your brother, ain't he?" She asked, and Sam was caught off-guard yet again.
"How'd you know?"
"I can see the resemblance."
Sam raised his eyebrows. Hardly anyone would say that he and Dean looked anything alike, "Really? We certainly don't get that very often."
"It's not in how you look. It's in how you act around each other. I had a brother too once – you guys kinda remind me of what we had."
Her eyes took on a sad, haunted shine, "He passed away a few years ago."
Sam was reminded of the pain losing his brother had caused him. He wouldn't wish that on anyone and he felt a pang of sympathy for her, "I'm sorry."
She shrugged her shoulders, "It was a long time ago … I miss him and I wish that I had been as diligent as you."
"If you don't mind my asking, what happened to him?"
She took in a deep breath and blew it out, "He … well …Long story short - he liked to drink and fight and the combination eventually ended with him getting stabbed."
Sam swallowed hard. He was always worried that that was how it was going to end for Dean as well.
"But at least you have a chance to do something about your brother now," She continued, "you still have him around to keep an eye on and you have a chance to turn things around. I don't have that anymore."
Sam looked down at his glass and turned it around with fingers while quietly saying, "Yeah … I just don't know how."
Sam couldn't believe he was opening up like this to the woman. He didn't know her from a hole in the ground, but what did it matter if he talked? It felt good to vent a little and as a barkeeper, she had probably heard every sad story and complaint known to man and by tomorrow night, they'd be out of town and she'd forget about him and he about her. But in the meantime, he just wanted to talk.
"Sometimes … I uh … I just wish he could see what he's doing to himself, ya know? Maybe if he saw things from my perspective he might take a little better care of himself. I'd do just about anything for that - for him to want to change -"
The woman nodded thoughtfully, but Sam attention was diverted to the pool table once again. Dean was facing down two irate men who had just lost another good chunk of money to him and Sam could see trouble brewing.
"Well … looks like it's time to go." He got up and pulled a ten from his pocket to pay his tab and handed it to the bartender.
She took the bill then extended her hand, "I'm Jolie, by the way."
Sam took it quickly, "Sam."
Jolie took that opportunity to wrap her other hand around Sam's. Her fingers exuded a warmth that he could feel travelling up his arm and while he wasn't used to touching strangers like this in such an intimate manner, he couldn't deny that it felt nice. She leaned across the bar so that she could speak softly enough for only him to hear, "You said you would do anything for your brother …"
"Trade places with him? Shoulder his burdens?"
"If I could, I would."
She smiled kindly, "Well then … May all your wishes all come true."
Sam looked into her dark, brown eyes, captivated. It felt like for just a moment her hand grew even warmer on top of his and there was a tingle running up and down his arm, but in the next moment it was forgotten as there was a crash from the other end of the bar and the sounds of fists meeting flesh. Sam broke off contact abruptly, running across the room to rescue his brother.
Jolie watched the two men carry each other out, both of them sporting bloody noses and she knew she had done the right thing.
She didn't share her gifts with just anyone, but that kid, Sam … she could feel that he sincere in his wishes to help his brother and she was glad to grant them. Though she didn't want to see the boy get hurt, she knew he could handle it and he had told her himself that he would do anything for his brother and she believed it. However, would it be enough for his brother to come around?
If only she could have granted the same wish upon herself years ago when her own brother needed her, but she had never had the ability to make her own wishes come true - she could only give them away to others and hope that some good might come out of them.
Dean woke the next morning expecting to feel like he did every morning: perfectly shitty. But this morning he turned over and didn't curse the sunlight hitting his eyes, there was no stab of pain nailing him through the forehead as usual, and his hands were perfectly steady as he pushed himself out of bed.
He actually felt good.
What a strange, foreign concept that was.
Dean glanced over at the other bed. Sam had his face turned to him, dead to the world and snoring noisily through his puffy nose. Dean's memory of the previous night came back to him all at once and he felt a pang of shame for getting into that fight and allowing Sam to get involved and punched in the face – come to think of it - Dean had taken a pretty good knock to his nose as well, but when he reached up to touch it, it felt fine - not even a little sore.
Well … small mercies and all that shit, he figured. But it was too bad Sam didn't look like he was going to get off as pain-free this morning as Dean.
Which was weird too. Dean hadn't drunk as much as he could have, but he had enough to warrant some kind of hangover, yet he felt fine – great even.
Maybe his tolerance for booze was going up – he didn't know, but that was a good enough explanation for him and he wasn't going to look any horse-shaped gifts from Greeks in the mouth.
Sam woke slowly to the sounds of the shower running and Dean singing in it.
Sam didn't really have time to contemplate the strangeness of that before a sharp, white-hot poker stabbed him in the head. A groan rattled from deep in his throat as he rolled over, aware of just how damned bright it was in the room.
He squeezed his eyes shut and sat up slowly, bringing his knees up and resting his elbows on them while rubbing his pain-riddled temples, praying that the nausea assaulting his gut would just go away.
Seconds later, Dean emerged from the steamy bathroom, clean and polished with a chipper grin on his face that made Sam want to smack him.
"Hey … 'bout time you woke up."
"Gah … not so loud." Sam mumbled, "What time is it?"
"It's almost noon, you lazy ass."
"Really?" Sam couldn't remember sleeping in this late in a very long time, "Why didn't you wake me up?"
"You seemed to need it," Dean explained, pulling on his clothes, "But I managed to get a little research in while you were playing sleeping beauty."
Sam moaned and rested his head on his knees. Even with all of the sleep he managed to get, he felt like complete and utter shit, "Please tell me you weren't 'researching' any more of that anime porn crap on my computer."
"Nah … I think I found us a case."
"Really?" Sam asked flatly, in no hurry to move.
"Sounds like a chupacabra – small fry stuff, but better than sitting around here doing nothing."
"Chupacabra?" Sam couldn't believe his brother had actually abandoned his obsessive compulsion on anything Dick Roman related to go hunt something that only preyed on livestock, "You feeling okay – you haven't already been hitting the bottle this morning, have you?"
"I feel fine – you're the one that looks like he got hit by a manure truck."
Sam would have rolled his eyes if his stomach hadn't chosen that moment to make its complaints known in a violent way. As painful as moving was, he had to practically run to the bathroom and fall on his knees beside the toilet before the upheaval started. His stomach clenched in spasms, bringing up what little was in there and he heaved so hard he was sure his head might explode.
"Dude …" Dean filled the doorway, "That guy didn't hit you that hard, did he?"
Sam's gut finally settled down enough for him to push himself away from the toilet and press his back up against the wall and close his eyes. He felt hands on his face and he opened up to see Dean filling his vision and looking into his eyes.
"Well … I don't think you have a concussion, but that nose has gotta hurt."
Yeah … check on that.
"M'fine now." Sam uttered honestly, the release at least made his nausea ease.
"Yeah … just lemme take a shower and we can go."
Sam did feel marginally better after taking a shower and letting the heat of the water soothe his muscles and after he was dressed and packed, Dean led the way out of the motel room and to their P.O.S. of the week with a slight spring in his step and an air of energy that Sam hadn't observed in his brother for far too long.
"You seem cheerful."
"Yeah? Well … Can't be all doom and gloom everyday"
Sam couldn't help but grin a little, even if his head still pounded within his skull and he had a nagging feeling that Dean's good mood wouldn't last for long.
The chupacabra case was only a four hour drive away, but there was no hurry. Those creatures rarely came in contact with people and most of the damage they wrought was on chickens and goats, but still, Dean was looking forward to taking it down - it had been a long time since they had hunted one of these suckers and it might even be fun.
Fun? Now there was a word he hadn't associated with hunting in a very long time.
They were about half-way to the job when Dean's stomach started to growl impatiently and loud enough for it to wake his brother from his nap.
Dean glanced over at Sam who rubbed his eyes and sniffed congestedly. He looked terrible – his nose had swollen to twice its normal size, he had dark, puffy circles under his eyes and he was knitting his brow together as if he had the mother of all migraines.
"Hey – you feeling okay?"
Sam nodded his head miserably, looking as if he had been the one on the bender last night.
"I was thinking about stopping and getting some lunch," Dean said, "Sound good to you?"
"Yeah, fine … whatever." Sam agreed half-heartedly.
Dean pulled up to a Waffle House a few minutes later and as soon as they were seated, Sam excused himself to go to the bathroom.
Dean watched him get up, noticing for the first time a slight tremble in Sam's hands.
What was up with him? He wondered absently, but put it out of his mind a second later as he patted his jacket pocket to make sure he had his trusty flask with him - wouldn't hurt to make his coffee Irish while Sam wasn't looking.
Sam practically stumbled into the bathroom and went directly towards the sink, turning on the cold water before splashing his face.
He'd been feeling better for a while after they hit the road, but since waking up from his unexpected nap in the car, he felt … off.
He couldn't put into words what it was, but his hands were shaking, his headache had flared again, he was sweaty and he wanted nothing more than to crawl out of his own skin, find the nearest corner, and curl up into a small ball.
God … what was the matter with him?
You're just losing your marbles one at a time, Sammy. Nothing new there.
Sam looked up in the mirror and jumped back seeing Lucifer staring back at him instead of his own face, "Shit …"
He closed his eyes and grabbed his shaking hand, squeezing his palm, digging in with his nail until he could feel it break the skin.
"Go away … go away …" He whispered to himself until his heart beat could catch up with his mind and remind him of what was real once again.
Sam chanced a look back in the mirror once he could breathe freely again, seeing only himself this time and he breathed a sigh of relief. Damn – he hadn't had a hallucination that vivid in a while.
He went straight to a toilet stall after that and dry-heaved.
Dean accepted the two coffees their waitress served with a half-hearted smile then glanced towards the door to the bathroom. Sam had been in there for over fifteen minutes already, but he reminded himself that his brother was a big boy now and could zip up his own pants so there was no need to worry about him.
But then again, worry about Sam was his job, even if it was exhausting - he just hoped Sam wasn't boarding the crazy train again – Dean didn't think he could handle that - Sam was all he had left and he wasn't about to let him lose his grip on reality again. The first time had been bad enough with Sam trying to shoot up an invisible Lucifer, not trusting that Dean was who he said he was – the wild, terrified look in his eyes …
No. That was not happening again.
Thankfully though, Sam seemed to be getting better since then. Yeah, he still had his moments – he still stared off into space, woke up in a cold sweat from nightmares, and pawed at that damned hand so much that Dean didn't think it would ever heal, but he had to believe that Sam had a handle on things because admitting anything else would be too much to bear and would be the final straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
Pulling his mug closer, Dean grabbed his flask and emptied a good measure into the coffee and took a large swallow, never minding that its heat seared his tongue. Sure, it might only be three in the afternoon, but he hadn't had a drink all day and it was always better to prevent the shakes from coming on before they started, even if he hadn't felt even a hint of withdrawal all day.
He finished off his coffee just as the waitress was walking by to refill his mug and he repeated the process, expecting the bourbon to take effect soon, to numb him a little to the thoughts starting to close in and darken his mood.
The waitress came back asking if he was ready to order, but Sam still hadn't returned from the bathroom.
Well, screw it, he thought and he ordered food for the both of them and if Sam didn't like it, he would just have to deal.
The waitress refilled his mug yet again before she left to place their order with the kitchen, but Dean still felt the same even after adding the rest of his flask to the fresh cup and drinking it down in in only three, large gulp. He wasn't even a little buzzed.
He turned around again … what the Hell was Sam doing in there?
Sam was rinsing out his mouth even though nothing had come up when he realized that he was feeling much, much better – His hands had stopped shaking and he felt relaxed and even a little hungry. It was a strange turn of events going from miserable to loose so quickly, but he wasn't about to question it - he just wanted to enjoy not feeling like utter shit for the first time that day.
Relieved and ready to eat, Sam left the bathroom and headed back towards the table. Dean had his eyes on him the whole time until he sat down, "What?" Sam asked.
"Dude … what happened in there – you lose a tampon or something?"
For some reason, Sam found that quip amusing and he giggled. Dean looked at him sideways, like he was growing horns.
Sam blew a raspberry and waved his hand, "Yeah … M'fine, why?"
Dean shook his head, "It's nothing," He said then drank his coffee.
Sam grabbed a menu and tried to read it, but the words kept going in and out of focus. He closed one eye and that seemed to help until Dean took the menu from his hands, "I ordered already."
"Yeah – I was hoping to eat at some point today and you were taking your sweet time, so I got us both some omelets."
Sam shrugged and drank some of the coffee sitting in front of him, it was cold, but he didn't mind which struck him as kinda odd since he normally hated cold coffee, so why would he drink it now? It all didn't make sense – nothing made sense now that he thought about it – and even thinking was getting hard …
"Hey – Sammy! Didn't you hear me?"
"Wha?" Sam hadn't even realized Dean was saying something, he was too busy thinking about his cold coffee and wondering why that was even something worth thinking about – God – he felt dizzy - but in a good kind of way.
"I said, let's eat quick – I'd like to check out that chupacabra before it gets too dark and we still have another couple hours of driving ahead of us."
Sam nodded … right … chupacabra.
"Chupacabra – that's a funny word." Sam giggled, "Gotta shoot a chupa - cabra
Dean glared at him, "What is wrong with you?"
"I dunno … wha's wrong with you?" Sam couldn't hear himself slurring his words.
"Are you drunk?"
"Of course not." That was a stupid question – how could he be drunk? In order to be drunk you had to drink and he hadn't drunken … drunken? Or was it drinken? … drunk?
Bahhh – either way, he wasn't drunk … couldn't be … not possible….
Even if he did feel loose like he had just put away a six-pack of beer – he was just – Hell he didn't know what he was – but he did feel pretty good, so Sam was just going to roll with it.
"Whatever …" Dean muttered and narrowed his eyes at Sam, but didn't say anything else about his behavior.
After they had eaten and were back on the road again, Sam was still pretty relaxed, but he was also feeling sleepy and he didn't fight it, he just closed his eyes and let his body melt into his seat, unafraid of any nightmares that might come chasing after him.
Dean drove while Sam snored next to him.
He was at a loss to explain away his brother's strange behavior at the restaurant and now he was passed out, drooling onto the window he rested his head against.
And what was with the naps? Normally, Dean had to practically tie his brother to a bed to get him some shut eye, but Sam had not only slept in till noon that day but had also taken two naps – it had to be some kind of record.
He pulled the car off the road and onto a narrow, dirt lane that lead to a ramshackle farm house owned by a couple that reported seeing a strange-looking dog-like creature having a feast inside the family's henhouse.
He killed the engine as soon as he parked then reached behind into the backseat for his duffel bag. He pulled out a couple of ID's that claimed he and Sam worked for the EPA and while he was at it, he felt around for the bottle of Jack that he had stashed in there as well.
He unscrewed the cap and drank a couple of swallows. He could feel the liquid burn in his stomach, but beyond that, there was nothing – no tingling, no buzz.
He brought the bottle into the light and examined it – it looked like whiskey, smelled like whiskey, but he was having a hard time believing there was as much alcohol in it as the label claimed – sure, he wasn't feeling shaky at all, so it must be having some effect, but the numbing effects he had been seeking just weren't coming.
He took one more swig, still felt no change then tightened the cap back on and tossed it back into the rear. He'd have to get a new bottle later, but for now, they had a job to do.
Dean slugged Sam on the shoulder, "Sam! C'mon, wake up, we're here."
"Wha?" Sam mumbled and blinked awake, squinting at Dean, "Already?"
"Yeah …" Dean handed Sam his ID, "C'mon let's go talk to these people."
Dean exited the car while Sam slowly pushed the door open on his side and stumbled out to follow him. He led his brother to the front door and knocked, moments later a woman answered and gave them her story of seeing the animal.
"I saw it in my chicken coop and that damn thing was one ugly mother, that's for sure," She told them in an accented drawl while puffing away at a cigarette, "I thought at first that it was a wolf since it was so big, but it couldn't have been – it had no hair and its head looked more like a horse than a wolf's. I tried to scare it away and I yelled at it to 'git' but it just turned its head and looked at me all mean like. And I was so scared – it had these, bright, red eyes, like lasers, ya know? I ran back into the house after that and called the sheriff. He came and took a look, but he said it was just a dog. I ain't never heard of a dog that could eat twenty chickens in one night though. A couple days later I saw it again out along the tree line by our back pasture."
"You sure it was the same thing you saw in the coop?" Dean asked, chancing a glance over at Sam who was holding on to the doorframe and rubbing his eyes.
"Yeah … it had the same glowing, red eyes."
"Okay … we'll check it out. Thanks for your time, Mrs. Turner." Dean shook her hand then headed back to the car. Sam was slow to leave the front porch to follow him and Dean had to stop and wait for him to catch up, "What's going on, Sam? You didn't say a word back there and I felt like I was doing the whole interview on my own."
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head, "Sorry … I just … I dunno … I felt a little dizzy that's all."
"You gonna be able to hunt this thing?"
Sam nodded, "Yeah … I'll be fine."
Dean stared hard at his brother, concerned by how heavy and sluggish his eyes were, "You sure? 'cause I need your back if we're gonna do this. We can always come back tomorrow night."
"No … I'm good." Sam took a deep breath, "I'm feeling better actually - I think it was just caused by being cramped in that little car all day."
Dean sighed, torn between calling the whole thing off or believing Sam's claim that he was okay, but decided to trust his brother, "Okay then … let's get this over with."
Sam scanned the tree line, shoulder to shoulder with Dean, hunkered down behind a large, felled tree, watching and waiting for the creature to come and take the chicken they had left out as bait.
He still felt a little out of sorts, but he told Dean the truth that he was alright to hunt even if couldn't really explain the dizzy spell he had back at the farmhouse. However, the weird, buzzing feeling in his head that had come over him after he awoke in the car was fading and the cool, night air was chasing away the remains of the fuzziness in his head.
Dean suddenly raised his fist then pointed towards the trees, "You see it?" He whispered.
Sam strained to see where his brother was pointing then made out a dark shape slinking out of the woods about twenty feet away. It's turned its head and two, red, glowing eyes became visible.
Sam nodded his head silently while Dean whispered, "kay, get ready."
The funny thing about killing chupacabras was that they not only needed to be shot with a silver bullet, but they needed to still be alive when they burned the body or it would just regenerate and be back in a few days. It could be tricky – they had to make sure they incapacitated the animal, letting the silver poison it without killing it and the best place to aim for was its rear end so it couldn't run. Then a blast from the flare gun would finish it off.
Dean took aim with the rifle while Sam raised the flare gun, waiting for the creature to come closer so they could get a good shot in. As far as hunts went, it was a piece of cake and Sam could remember killing his first chupacabra when he was only twelve.
The creature approached the chicken they had left for it and sniffed at its carcass. It didn't seem to appreciate the fact that it was already dead and snorted its displeasure, blowing a puff of steam out of its nose. It made to move on, but Dean already had it in his sights and pulled the trigger.
Rifle fire cracked and echoed across the woods followed immediately by the creature's howl of pain as it fell to the ground.
"Now, Sam!" Dean ordered.
Sam pulled the trigger of the flare gun, but nothing happened, "What the hell?" He sputtered, smacking on the gun and trying to clear whatever was causing the malfunction, but nothing was working and his fingers wouldn't cooperate properly so he could fix the jam.
Dean was growing impatient and the chupacabra was growing angry, gnashing its teeth and snarling viciously, attempting to get back on its feet.
"C'mon, Sam … anytime." Dean barked.
"I'm trying … damn thing …"
"Gimme that." Dean snatched the flare gun away and tossed it aside, "Time for plan B."
"What plan B?"
Dean didn't answer right away; he was too busy digging through the duffel bag he brought along. He pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid and tossed it to Sam, who barely had time to catch it in mid-air before Dean produced a green aerosol can and then reached into his pocket for his lighter.
"Bug spray?" Sam asked, "How long have you had that in there?"
"Remember that case with all those bugs a while back?"
"Dude … that was seven years ago."
"So? You think I'm going to go anywhere without some DEET after that?"
Sam caught on quick to what plan B entailed and he groaned – they were going to have to get close to the beast in order for this to work and the chances of the creature pouncing on them as soon as they got within a couple feet of it were pretty high, even with a silver bullet lodged in its thigh. But they didn't have another option that Sam could think of to kill the thing.
"Alright – count of three – we jump out, you hose it down with the lighter fluid and I start the flambé. Got it?"
Sam nodded and unscrewed the cap to the lighter fluid while Dean raised his can of bug spray and started the count.
"One … Two … Three!"
Simultaneously, they both jumped from their cover behind the log and ran towards the beast. Sam squeezed the bottle of lighter fluid as hard as possible, squirting it as soon as he was close enough for the stream to start soaking the animal. The creature didn't take kindly to the action and howled, ignoring its injury, climbing to its feet, and charging directly towards Sam.
There wasn't any time for Sam to move and get out of its way, but at the very last second before it could pounce on him and begin tearing him to shreds, Dean flicked his lighter and began spraying, creating a great plume of flame as the fire ignighted the flammable cloud of liquid.
His make-shift flamethrower showered the animal with fire. It screamed a terrible, shrill howl and writhed in agony as its flesh erupted, engulfed in a violent fireball fueled further by the flammable lighter fluid.
Despite its pain and the fire charring its body, the animal rallied for one, last final act of desperation and lunged for Dean. Reacting immediately, Dean aimed the aerosol can for the beast again and applied his lighter to the spray. However, Dean misjudged how close his lighter's flame was to the can and how hot the can had become after the last spray of fire and in one blinding and confusing moment, the can in his hand suddenly expanded under the pressure and exploded in his hand. The can launched from Dean's hand, tossing him backward. From an outsider's perspective it might have seemed comical the way it sailed through the air in a flash of fire and made a beeline for the ugly muzzle of the creature, smacking into it with enough force to stun the beast and cause it to collapse to the ground.
The moment the can erupted, Sam collapsed in blinding, unexpected pain. His hand was on fire, he was sure of it, but Dean was in trouble and he didn't have time to think about why his hand felt as though he had been the one holding the can – he didn't have time to be confused about it – he had to get to Dean.
The chupacabra made a few final shrieks that filled the air as its body became overwhelmed with fire and it became a smoky, foul-smelling bonfire, its flesh burning away and blackening until it was difficult to even make out its body under the orange and red flames, but Sam was no longer paying it any attention, he was preoccupied with rushing to his stunned brother's side.
Sam ignored the pain in his hand, grabbed Dean under his arms and pulled him backwards away from the flames.
"You okay?" Sam gasped.
"Yeah … you?"
Sam nodded but held his hand close to his chest.
"Liar … " Dean called Sam out on his omission and took Sam's hand, turning it over as he examined the reddened skin, "what happened?"
"I dunno. I must have gotten too close to the fire when the can blew up. What about you? That can was in your hand –"
Dean held up his hand, it was perfectly fine and there was not a scratch on it. He furrowed his brow, mystified that he hadn't hurt himself, "Weird … must have thrown it just before it blew."
"Must have." Sam agreed, finding his brother's lack of injury relieving and strange at the same time. He could have sworn that he saw the can explode while it was still in Dean's hand, but things had happened so fast, that he could have been mistaken. Hell … he hadn't even realized that he was so close to the fire that he had burned himself, so he must have been confused.
"Well … " Dean gave Sam's hand a thorough look then let Sam have it back, " Doesn't look too bad, I think you'll live, but I'm sure it's gonna hurt like a sonufabitch. Let's make sure this puppy doesn't start a forest fire then get outta here and wrap that hand up, huh?" Dean suggested.
They allowed the chupacabra to continue burning until only charred embers remained then covered the ashes in dirt to ensure that the fire didn't spread. After that, they headed out of the woods and made their way back to the car so they could find a place to sleep for the night.
Dean located an old, abandoned farmhouse a few miles away for them to squat in. It was a miracle to Sam that the building hadn't collapsed seeing how termite eaten the old timbers holding the structure vertical looked, but a roof was a roof and he was so tired that he really couldn't complain about the accommodations. He just wanted to curl up on his blanket and sleep – he'd deal with the nightmares as long as he could get some rest.
By the time they had set up their make-shift beds, Sam's head and hand were both throbbing and the same shaky feeling that had come over him earlier in the day was back. He sat heavily down on his blanket while Dean brought over the med-kit and kneeled beside him.
"Here ..gimme that hand." Dean ordered. Sam complied wearily and allowed his brother to smear some burn ointment on it then wrap it up in some clean gauze, but he had a difficult time keeping his hand steady and Dean was starting to notice the tremors, "There … that should do it." Dean stated, looking up and meeting Sam's eyes, "You sure you're okay?"
Sam shook his head, "Actually … I dunno … I've been feeling weird all day."
Sam shrugged his shoulders, dismissing Dean's concern with a wave of his hand, wishing he hadn't said anything. The last thing he wanted was something else to set Dean off and worry him – that almost always leads to Sam finding Dean passed out surrounded by empty beer cans and whiskey bottles. So far, Dean had managed to stay sober all day and he didn't want to give his brother an excuse to drink away his problems, "I'm sure it's nothing. I'll be fine … just need some sleep." Sam assured him, laying down and pulling his pillow under his head, "Thanks for fixing my hand." He added before closing his eyes.
"Sure … " Dean muttered, but Sam could feel Dean's eyes lingering on him and cursed internally, certain that he had set off his 'protect Sammy' alarms, so he rolled over onto his side and pretended to sleep until Dean finally got up and headed over to his own pile of blankets.
Sam heard the unmistakable sound of a cap being unscrewed from a bottle and he knew that his brother wouldn't be asleep for a while.
Dean settled down on his blanket, knowing that Sam wasn't asleep, but unable to bring himself to call his brother out on his bullshitting. If Sam wanted to pretend he was fine, then what could he really do about it? Yet still, he had a nagging concern that Sam's strange behavior that day and his admission that he was feeling 'weird' meant that his brother slipping again and what would be next? How long could he keep Sam from going off the deep end and how long would it be before he had to convince Sam that he was real again?
He just wanted to turn off the swirling, darkening thoughts crowding into his head, so he pulled his back up against the wall and leaned his head against it, ignoring the peeling flakes of paint that landed in his hair as he reached for his duffel and the bottle of whiskey it held inside. He might not be able to do anything about his crazy brother, or Dick Roman, or the Leviathans chasing them and looking to turn them into their next buffet, nor could he bring Bobby back from the dead, but he could tune it all out for a little while with help from his good buddy, Jack. He knew alcohol wasn't a permanent solution to keeping those problems at bay, but it helped and at least when he was drunk, he got some kind of reprieve and it helped him sleep, which was something his body refused to give him without his nightly booze-a-thon lately.
Dean put the bottle up to his lips and took a healthy swallow.
An hour later, most of the bottle was gone, but Dean still couldn't sleep and felt none of the effects he would have expected by then.
Dean finished off the bottle then tossed the useless, ineffective stuff aside … yeah, his tolerance for alcohol had gone through the roof lately, but this was ridiculous. He should have been wasted by then – he shouldn't be able to see straight or think , the room should have been spinning—but there was none of that - he wasn't even slightly buzzed.
Sam at least appeared to have settled into a deep sleep. He still had his back turned to Dean with a blanket wrapped snuggly around his shoulders so that he could only make out a few tufts of Sam's hair from under it and he was snoring softly except for the few times he moaned and muttered unintelligibly, locked in whatever replay of Hell he had going on in his brain.
Sam loudly moaned again then rolled onto his back, shivering and rolling his head from side to side, "Nuhhh, nuhhh" His face grimaced in pain and his back arched off the floor.
Dean pushed off against the wall - it was time to wake Sam up from his nightmare. On those nights when Sam actually slept, Dean often woke to the sounds of his brother tossing and turning and he usually didn't try to wake him up since it normally freaked him the hell out to be touched while he was asleep, but this appeared to be particularly bad this time and it was pure instinct that drove him across the room to lay a hand on his shoulder and soothe his troubled dreams.
The moment Dean touched Sam though, he knew something far worse than a nightmare was plaguing him. His skin was cold and clammy, and his face was almost translucent it was so pale. Dean grabbed his shoulders and gave them a shake, "C'mon, Sam … wake up."
His brother gave no sign that he heard Dean and fell back against his pillow, deathly still. Dean's anxiety jumped when in the next second Sam's body suddenly jerked, his eyelashes fluttered uncontrollably showing only the whites of his eyes as they rolled up into his head, and his legs and arms flailed about on their own accord.
"Sam! Shit , shit, shit …" Dean grasped his brother's face between his palms. He could feel the muscles in Sam's jaw clench and hear his molars grind together as a deep-throated rattle issued from his chest. Panic gripped Dean as the seizure went on for one minute and then two without showing any signs of stopping. He was powerless to do much more than try to keep his brother from injuring himself as the spasms went on and on.
Finally, an eternity went by before Sam's movements suddenly stopped and he went utterly and completely limp. Sam's chest rose once and he let out a long sigh, but no inhale followed.
"Sammy?" Dean gasped, "No … "He fumbled for Sam's neck, feeling for a pulse, finding it weak and thread. He leaned in close to his brother's mouth, praying that he would feel any kind of air moving in and out from his lips, but there was nothing … Sam wasn't breathing.
An icy hand of fear grabbed ahold of Dean's racing heart as he quickly tilted Sam's head back, pinched his nose and covered his mouth with his own, blowing two breaths into his little brother, praying that Sam would catch on and do the whole breathing thing on his own.
Sam gasped after the third time he repeated the rescue breathing and Dean nearly collapsed in relief as he continued to take inhales and exhales, but as soon as Dean had thought the worst had passed, Sam started making choking noises. Coming to his senses again, Dean realized Sam's stomach was heaving, and he quickly turned his brother onto his side as he puked onto the floor, but knowing that he was still in danger of asphyxiating on his own vomit, Dean tried pulling his listless brother up into a sitting position so he couldn't choke on the liquids coming up from stomach.
Sam's head hung loosely as Dean fought to stabilize him, holding his limp, unresponsive body close to his own as he reached into his pocket and fished out his phone to call the paramedics - he needed help that was beyond Dean's expertise but he didn't have the slightest clue as to where the nearest hospital may be and driving around trying to find one would only waste time that Dean feared they didn't have. Sam had been through some pretty nasty seizures since the return of his soul, but none had scared Dean half as bad as this one and Sam still wasn't coming around and his shuddering, weakening breaths were making him even more anxious.
"Hold on, Sammy. I'm getting help … just hold on."
Dean almost missed his alias of the week being called as he had been counting the tiles on the floor mindlessly for the last hour, waiting for word any word on Sam and trying to block out any thoughts that didn't include his little brother not being okay, because he had to be okay - he just had to. His name was called again and he suddenly snapped out of his distracted thoughts and glanced up to see a middle-aged man in green scrubs walk his way.
Dean gave the man little chance to introduce himself as soon as he stopped in front of him, going straight to the questions he needed answers to right the hell now.
"How's my brother? Do you know what's wrong with him? Is he gonna be alright?"
The man raised his hands in surrender, "Whoa … I'll try to answer your questions, but one at a time, okay?"
Dean swallowed hard and nodded.
"I'm Dr. Hirsch, I've been treating your brother since he came in," The doctor pointed to a row of seats, "Do you mind if we sit for a moment? I have a few things I need to discuss with you."
Dean didn't care if they sat or not as long as this guy didn't beat around the bush and gave him the facts without diving into mind-boggling medical speak he couldn't understand.
Dr. Hirsch took a seat and Dean sat in the one next to it, "First off, I just want you to know that Sam is holding his own right now. He was having difficulty breathing when he was first brought in, but we've got him stabilized now and his breathing has improved enough for us to not have to worry about intubating him. He is however, still deeply unconscious, but hopefull he'll start coming around soon. Now … as to how your brother ended up in this shape, I'd like to ask you a few questions."
"Sure, anything." Dean answered, even if he wasn't about to tell the truth about Sam's noggin being damaged by Hell.
"Do you know how much your brother had to drink tonight?"
The question took Dean off-guard, "Drink? What? …" he sputtered, thinking the guy must be on crack to ask such a stupid question, "Nothing … he just went to sleep and then started having convulsions."
"Really?" The doctor pulled confused face, "Are you sure he couldn't have been drinking when you weren't paying attention?"
"Why the hell are you asking this? What's wrong with my brother?"
"I'm asking because Sam has a blood-alcohol level of .35 – high enough for the glucose level in his blood to drop and cause the seizure you witnessed. It also created a severe depression of his respiratory system, but since we started him on glucose for his low blood sugar and hemodialysis to clean the toxins out of his system, he's showing signs of improvement. However, he's got other issues that I'm concerned about that will need to be addressed after he regains consciousness – he'll most likely start experiencing delirium tremens as he detoxes and his blood work is showing that his liver is starting to show early signs of fatty change which is an indicator of chronic alcohol consumption. Now ... I know of a few good treatment programs -"
Dean blanched, "What? Sam hardly drinks –"
"I know this has got to be hard for you to accept and I'll admit that his case is a little baffling for me too since he didn't smell of liquor, yet maybe he's just good at hiding his problem – he wouldn't be the first patient I have seen that has kept his drinking problem as secret from their family …"
"Whoa … my brother is not an alcoholic, got it?" Dean felt the heat of anger rise in his cheeks. This doctor was an ass and didn't know what he was talking about, "If anyone has a problem with drinking it's –"
Dean stopped cold while a rush of nausea came over him and the pieces fell together, clicking into place like a goddam puzzle: Sam acting like he had woken up with a hangover while Dean woke up feeling fine … his strange behavior at the restaurant, like he was drunk while Dean couldn't even get his buzz on … the burned hand Sam got while Dean walked away unscathed … Dean drinking an entire bottle of Jack and never getting drunk while Sam ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. It all slammed into Dean at once – how had he not seen this before? How could he have been so stupid to not notice?
Something had put the whammy on them. Something was causing his brother to absorb whatever injury or intoxication Dean should have suffered. Dean should be the one in that hospital bed, not Sam.
God … what had he done to his brother?
Dean abruptly stood up and left the bewildered doctor to stare at him as he raced for the nearest bathroom where he promptly vomited into the nearest sink.
Sam was cold and he really wanted to find out where his blanket had gone to and why it was so damn freezing in there. And it wasn't just the lack of warmth that was drawing him out of his slumber; he was growing increasingly aware of a nausea growing in his gut, an annoying itch under his nose, and if he thought his head hurt before he had fallen asleep, it was nothing compared to the stabbing pain coursing through it now.
He groaned and made an attempt to throw his arm over his face so he could block out the light flooding through his eyelids and go back into the darkness and sleep … God, he was so tired … but its momentum was hindered by something pulling painfully on his hand and his eyes opened involuntarily to a blurry, fuzzy image of an unfamiliar room.
Confusion overwhelmed his pain and exhaustion and his eyes darted about, brow furrowed as he looked about him for some kind of explanation for why he had fallen asleep on the floor of a dirty, dilapidated farmhouse and was now waking up in the clean, antiseptic confines of a hospital bed. Almost immediately a face filled his field of view.
"Sam?" Dean asked. He looked awful – his eyes red-rimmed, face unshaved and hair disheveled. God … what the hell happened? Is he okay?
"Dean?" Sam croaked weakly, barely hearing his own voice and annoyed again by the itch under his nose. He raised his fingers and felt them brush up against a plastic nasal cannula.
"Hey … try not to pull that out okay?" Dean took hold of Sam's hand and gently pulled it away from the cannula while making an attempt to crack a smile, but it was a poor imitation his genuine grin – in fact, it was somewhat ghastly given the unease in his brother's eyes and it sent a shiver of concern through Sam.
"Wha's …?" Sam swallowed to moisten his cottony mouth and tried to piece together his thoughts through the murk that lingered in his head, "What happened? You okay?"
Dean sat down heavily in the chair beside the bed, shaking his head, "I'm fine, Sam … you're the one that's been sick."
"Sick? With what?" Sam asked, feeling heavy and uncertain of how long he could keep his eyes open.
Dean looked down at his lap, hiding his eyes as his shoulders slumped, hesitant to respond. "Uh … you uh …"
"God … I did this to you, Sam … I'm so … so sorry,"
"You didn't do this …"
"No … listen, I did." Dean was suddenly out of his chair and pacing, running a hand over his mouth then watching the floor as he walked back and forth so he wouldn't have to look Sam in the eye, "I drank last night … a lot … too much in fact, but nothing happened, I didn't get drunk – not even a little, but then you – " Dean stopped his pacing and sighed then looked up and Sam could see the guilt and shame crisscrossing his face, "you just started seizing worse than you ever have before and I freaked, called an ambulance and they brought you here. The doctors … they found out you have alcohol poisoning."
Sam wouldn't have believed that if it hadn't some from Dean's mouth, "What? But I didn't –"
"I know." Dean interrupted talking too fast for Sam to cut in, "You didn't drink. I did … and you paid the price. And that's not all – yesterday I should have burned my hand when that can exploded, but didn't – you got hurt instead. Then there was the restaurant – I had three cups of coffee with whiskey in them and you're the one that was acting like Lindsey Lohan falling off the bandwagon again. So, don't you see? - we've been cursed, or hexed or something, I dunno … but, something is making you take on all of the shit that should be happening to me."
Sam sighed, still a little confused by what Dean was trying to tell him, "S'not your fault."
"No, it is. And I'm sorry, man … I should have seen it sooner ... I should have known something was wrong -"
"Well then, I should have too. I knew I was feeling off, but I tried to rationalize it and explain it away."
"Speaking of which … you remember when you started feeling that way? We need to find the thing that did this and make them reverse whatever this is."
Sam closed his eyes wearily, trying to search his fuzzy memories, "Well … I guess it all started when I woke up the morning after that bar fight we got into the other day."
"You talk to anyone at that bar? Notice anyone suspicious?"
Sam shook his head, "I uh … I dunno … I talked to the bartender – I think she said her name was Jolie."
"Just uh … " Sam stopped cold, recalling the conversation he had with the woman, the way she touched his hand – the strange tingle he felt which he promptly forgot about as the fight between Dean and those other mooks broke into an all-out melee, " crap …"
"We talked about you, actually … about your, uh … problem … I told her that I wished you could see what your drinking was doing to you and … to me. She must have been the one to do this – she must have somehow granted my wish."
"You telling me you wished for this to happen?"
"Well … not like this and not in so many words, but … I guess so."
"Dammit," Dean growled, shaking his head.
"Okay, we got to cut out the apologies here and fix this," Dean straightened and eyed Sam with a mixture of worry and regret, "I'm gonna take care of this, okay. Think you'll be alright while I'm gone?"
Sam nodded, feeling what little energy he had had for his conversation with Dean slipping away, "I'll be fine … think I'm just gonna sleep for the next twenty hours or so."
Dean gripped the wheel tight as he waited in the parking lot of the bar for it to open. His thoughts came on non-stop, but for the most part he was successful in blocking the worst of them out, except for one: the instant replay in his head of Sam's long legs and arms flailing about uncontrollably on the floor of that filthy farmhouse.
Normally by this time, he would have been hitting his flask up to chase these unwanted feelings of guilt and hopelessness away, but he knew it wouldn't do any good. And when he thought about it, he realized that it had been almost an entire day since he had a drink and knowing how his body worked after that long without a swallow of booze, he dreaded thinking about what Sam might be experiencing right then without him - the physical cravings, the tremors, and the pains of withdrawal weren't supposed to be Sam's problems - they were supposed to be his.
How did I let this get so out of control?
Dean was getting sick of waiting and he had a deep desire to get back to Sam as soon as possible and he grew more and more impatient by the minute until finally, an old VW Beetle pulled into the parking lot and took a space by the front door. He watched as a dark-skinned woman exited the car and headed for the door and right off the bat, he recognized her as the bartender that had served he and Sam.
He got out of the tiny compact car they stole a week ago and snook up quietly behind her as she slipped a key into the lock on the front door. She didn't hear him approach and was taken completely off guard when he came up from behind her and clamped his hand around her mouth, pulling her backwards towards his chest.
She muffled a choked off scream into his hand, but it wasn't not loud enough to be heard by anyone that might be near, but Dean knew he had to be quick before he could draw any unwanted attention.
"We need to talk," He spoke into her ear as she struggled. Trying to fight him off, she bucked against Dean's hold, but couldn't break free from his grasp before he let go of her mouth and spun her around to pin her against the door and look her in the eye, "What did you do to my brother, bitch?"
She shook her head, he eyes wide with fear, "Please … don't hurt me … you can have my purse, please just take it." She lifted her purse with shaking hands, but Dean pushed it away.
"I'm not here to take your money … I need to know what you did to my brother – you did something to him the other night when we were here, didn't you? What was it? A spell? A hex? You slip something funny into our drinks?"
Recognition crossed her features, "Oh … it's you."
"Yeah … me. You remember Sam too?"
She nodded quickly.
"Good ... Now open the door so we can take this inside."
She gulped harshly then turned to open the door, visibly shaking so much that she struggled to turn the key and once the door was open, he took her by the shoulders and pushed her inside, closing the door and locking it behind him.
She turned, openly gasping as he pulled a gun from his waistband. She raised her hands in surrender while frightened tears rolled down her face, "Please … I only tried to help your brother. I only gave him what he said he wanted."
"What did you do to him?" He asked, seeing how spooked she was by the weapon, he held back on raising it, but was ready to use it if he needed to.
"I just granted him his wish … that's all."
"How? You some kind of witch?"
"No! I'm not a witch. I don't know … maybe I'm psychic or something? I don't even know exactly how I can do it - it's just something I've always been able to do for people that I feel really deserve it. Your brother seemed to really want to help you and I just wanted to make it happen for him."
"Well, it backfired big time. Sam almost died!"
"What? How? That wasn't supposed to happen." She looked genuinely shocked, but Dean was still seething.
"But it did and you need to reverse this wish or whatever it is."
"You don't understand, I can't un-grant a wish."
"Then grant my wish and change us back."
"Because I can only grant one wish at a time and Sam's wish hasn't yet come true completely."
"What do mean?"
"I mean his wish was for you to see what your drinking was doing to you, so you could see things from his persepective, even if it meant that he had to trade placews with you– which I think you see now, but the more important part of his wish was for you to change – to take a little better care of yourself, for you to quit throwing your life away because he can't stand seeing you fall into the deep, dark pit you keep tossing yourself into,"
She lost some of her fear of Dean and her voice turned emphatic and laced with sympathy, "Don't you see? The only person who can truly turn this around is you. You have to want to change and let Sam know that you'll do whatever it takes get rid of your crutch and walk on your own. Once he sees that, his wish will be complete and things should go back to the way they were."
Dean stood in the open doorway to Sam's room and watched his little brother sleep, curled up on his side, his mouth open and dripping drool onto his pillow with one hand extended out and dangling over the edge of the bed – it was probably the most peaceful rest he had seen Sam get in a long while and despite his brother's overgrown size, there were times such as this one where he had trouble not seeing the little boy he had a hand in raising. And maybe that was part of his problem … he spent the majority of his life looking out for him that it was hard to ask for his help or accept his wanting to watch out for Dean in return.
But he had to be honest with himself this time - he needed help and he couldn't trust himself to change on his own.
Pushing away from the door, Dean crossed the room and stood over his brother. His skin was still far too pale, and the hand hanging from bed trembled even as Sam slept, but his doctor had assured Dean that he was doing much better and could be released in the morning.
As relieving as that news was to Dean, he still had a huge hurtle to jump over and that was to make amends with Sam for being such a self-absorbed dickhead the last few months and for being so wrapped up in his own grief and hopelessness that he hadn't seen that hurting himself was only hurting his brother until it was almost too late.
Dean pulled the chair beside him closer to the side of bed where he could face his brother, purposefully scraping it loudly against the floor before he sat down to announce his arrival. The noise of the movement caused Sam to jerk awake and blink at Dean through bleary eyes.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake ya." Dean lied.
"Yes you did." Sam rasped in return, licking his lips as if he was experiencing a deadly case of cotton mouth. Dean reached over to the table beside the bed and poured some water from the pink, plastic pitcher sitting there into a cup. Sam struggled to sit up and swayed a little as soon as he was upright then reached out and took the cup from Dean, his hands shaking so badly that he nearly spilled the water before the cup finally made it to his lips.
After Sam finished off his water, Dean pressed the button on the side of his bed to raise the head of it so Sam could sit up comfortably and make it easier for him to follow along to Dean's soon to premiere, epic chick-flick moment of Little House on the Prairie proportions.
Once Sam settled back against his pillows, Dean took a seat. "How ya feeling?"
"You know – awful with a touch of crappy, but better. You talked to Jolie?"
"Yeah. I guess she's got psychic powers or something and she thought she was helping you out by granting you the shittiest wish ever."
"What did you do? You didn't -"
"Kill her?" Dean finished for him, seeing a flash of Amy come into his mind's eye. It was a subject neither of them talked about, but Dean had the feeling that Sam hadn't forgiven him completely for killing her or lying to him about it, which was well within his rights. But, Dean hadn't been able to bring himself to harm the bartender in any way. Yeah, he left her rattled and gave her a stern warning about being careful with her 'gifts', but he couldn't do that to Sam again, "No … she's fine. I don't think she meant to hurt you."
Sam looked relieved, "Was she able to help?"
"Yeah … she told me what I needed to do." Dean had thought about what he was going to say to Sam on his way back. He knew that he had to keep the conversation he had with Jolie vague otherwise Sam might think he was just giving him lip-service and might not believe he was being honest about this. But despite all of the mental rehearsing he had done, now that he was faced with actually spilling his guts … he didn't know where to start or what to say.
Jesus, Dean ... just get it over with already.
"So uh … here's the thing ... I've been an ass, Sam. Here you are in the same boat as me, dealing with all the same crap I've had to handle since Cas and Bobby ... and plus you've had Hell and Lucifer on top of it all, but I'm the one wallowing in self-pity, fucking up my life and dragging you down with me. It's not right … and …" Dean stalled and his eyes stung with tears he desperately tried to hold back.
Shit … why was all of this so hard to admit?
"And I get that now and I get why you made that lame-assed wish just so you could show me how much this has been hurting you as much as it has me. So … this is me, telling it like it is and taking that first step of twelve and admitting that I'm a fucked up drunk. I'm an Goddamn alcoholic, Sam - and I can't seem to get a handle on it and I need some help to fix this – I'm gonna need you to help me get back on track."
Oh God … now Sam was on the verge of tears. This was an even bigger girl moment that Dean was expecting and his own water works weren't far behind.
For once Sam was speechless and openly gaped at Dean then shook his head as if he couldn't believe his ears, "This is uh … is this really happening?"
"I mean it." Dean added seriously, "I need to change – and I'll do whatever it takes to not let you down."
"You know, this isn't about you letting me down … it's about you not letting yourself down. And this …" Sam gestured towards himself and the hospital room, "was all worth it if you would only care about yourself as much as I care about you and if you're willing to do that - you know I'll be there. Just like you've always been there for me."
"It's just ... this shit isn't easy for me." Dean turned his head away and felt the little knot in his throat get tighter, making it damn near impossible for him to speak as the first of many tears slipped from his eyes.
Dean felt Sam rest his hand on his shoulder and squeeze it supportively, "I know, man. Trust me … I do."
Dean glanced back up into his brother's face and wiped away the offensive tears streaming down his face. Sam's skin had picked up a rosy color and his eyes showed little signs of the exhaustion and pain they had taken on before. At the same time, Dean felt his hands begin to tremble, head throb, and gut twist with nausea, but he smiled – this was the way it should be and he welcomed the pain to come because Sam's wish had been fulfilled.
And along the way, so had Dean's.