Disclaimer: Supernatural doesn't belong to me except for in my mind where schmoop abounds.
Warning: Spoilers for season 6 through 6.14 – Mannequin 3: The Reckoning. Also, I make no apologies for the amount of schmoop in this story…but I will warn for potential cavities.
A/N: This is my attempt to break my pre-series and season 1 habit. I'm not giving up my hurt/comfort addiction though. This ficlet was written for a challenge over at the LJ Silverbullet schmoop community – write and post a story within 24 hours of receiving your prompt. Jennytork gave me this prompt: He's out of his mind!
Chasing That Feeling
"I think your friend is ready to call it a night," the bartender says, tipping the beer bottle he's just uncapped toward the booth Dean is occupying before moving down the bar to place the bottle in front of a waiting customer.
Sam takes another slow sip off the brown bottle he's been nursing for the last half hour, shifts on the swiveling bar stool, and glances over his shoulder. Sure enough, his brother is slumped forward, arms resting in a haphazard sprawl on the heavy wood table, head pillowed on one bicep. His mouth is slightly open and his eyes are closed, but his head is tilted and facing the bar area as though he fell asleep while keeping watch over Sam.
Beer bottles form a wavering line across the far edge of the table, those at the start of the line noticeably more precisely placed than the ones at the end. Shot glasses are turned upside down in a row, reminiscent of the drinking game scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark; the one Dean always gets such a big kick out of.
Tonight, Dean had matched every one of Sam's beers with three or four of his own followed by whiskey chasers, not to mention the pills he'd popped from the small bottle in his jacket pocket. Sam's not sure what the pills are for or what they do and the only thing Dean would say about them was that they were 'effective.' Whatever that means.
Dean had been on a mission, chasing his own private oblivion, and Sam hadn't been about to stand in his way. He wouldn't have been able to even if he'd wanted and heaven help him, he hadn't wanted to. It's not as though he can deny his brother anything. Not now.
Not when he already has so much to atone for.
Cas had filled him in on some of what his soulless self had done and Sam is still having a hard time wrapping his head around most of it. How could he have tried to kill Bobby? How could he have let his brother get turned by vampires?
No matter how many times Dean tells him it wasn't him, Sam knows it was. He just doesn't get how. Or why. Not that the hows or the whys really make any kind of difference. It would just be nice to understand.
Shaking his head to banish those thoughts, Sam turns to scan the hole-in-the-wall dive. The Monday night crowd is sparse and the possible threats minimal. Oak timbers along the ceiling give the open space a barn-like feel and the music piped in from overhead speakers is a mixture of twangy country and pop. Something for everyone, Sam snorts.
The pretty young thing sitting next to his brother on the bench seat is idly toying with the short hairs at the nape of Dean's neck, possessively twirling her index finger in coy little circles while she smacks her gum and watches a couple locals shooting pool in the back.
She doesn't look like she's planning on leaving anytime soon and Sam wonders how anyone can be that dense. Dean is obviously done for the night. She's not getting any action from the nearly comatose hunter at this stage in the game.
Sam finishes his beer, places a few bills under the empty bottle to pay their tab, and strolls over to Dean's booth. He's in no real rush. It's not like his brother is going anywhere without him.
When he gets to the booth, he stands at his full height, cocks an eyebrow and waits patiently for Little Miss Clueless to take the hint. She doesn't.
"Sorry Miss, but you may need to look for better company somewhere else." Sam looks at his brother pointedly and smiles. He's trying to be nice. This is a very awkward situation and he'd feel shitty about sending Dean's 'date' packing except that if Dean had wanted the type of recreation she's offering, he would have taken her up on it before he passed out. "I need to get my brother home now."
She leans over like she's just now noticed Dean is no longer holding up his end of the conversation and strokes the shell of his ear with one long, red-lacquered fingernail, sighing in a petulant way when Dean doesn't even twitch. Then she looks up at Sam and her eyes take on a hungry gleam.
"My, you sure do look…athletic." Staring at his arms, she tucks a strand of shoulder-length, brown hair behind her ear. "You play any sports? Football maybe?"
"No, no football." Sam reaches out and cups her elbow, urging her to stand up. "I'm sorry, I've really got to…" He leaves the sentence hanging there and Miss Fickle finally gets the message that she's outstayed her welcome. She gives Dean one last wistful glance, then saunters over to the guys at the pool tables.
Sam takes a moment to watch her go, make sure she isn't going to cause any trouble, then he lowers his gaze to his brother's completely lax face, contemplating how he's going to get Dean out to the car.
It's sort of amazing to Sam how peaceful and genuinely relaxed Dean looks in moments like these when he's basically dead to the world, lost in blissful unconsciousness.
Sliding into the now unoccupied space in the booth next to his brother, Sam shakes Dean's shoulder. "Hey cowboy, you ready to blow this popsicle stand?" A strange feeling, half amusement, half satisfaction, makes him smile when Dean immediately responds to the sound of his voice by lifting his head and blinking bleary eyes at him.
"Hey Sammy," Dean says in a sleepy drawl. A lopsided grin materializes from out of nowhere as he tries his best to resume a vertical position, making it only part way.
Now comes the fun part, the entertaining part. Dean is…okay there's just no better way to put it, he's down right affectionate when he's shit-faced drunk. His personal space boundaries become non-existent, his no chick-flick rule goes out the window, and his smiles come a lot easier. The long, rambling sentences that usually don't make any sense and the goofy, little boy grins by themselves are worth the price of admission which, admittedly, hadn't been very high tonight at all.
Dean rarely lets himself get like this and when he does it's only because he feels safe. It's only because he knows Sam has his back.
He drinks, sure. He drinks a lot. As with so many things, Dean has mastered the fine art of being drunk. His battle-weary brother takes being a 'functional alcoholic' to an entirely different dimension.
This isn't drunk though, this is wasted.
Sam wonders if Dean ever let himself get like this around the ruthless hunter Sam became when he didn't have a soul. He fervently hopes not.
"Yer my fav'rit brother, you know that Sam? An' I don' care what Cas says, I'm glad I did it. It had to be done. You know that, righ' Sammy?"
"Hold up there, Tipsy. Run that by me again. What did Cas say?" Sam decides to leave the 'favorite brother' remark alone and concentrate on the rest of that slurred jumble of words. At times like these, trying to decipher Dean's warped and befuddled logic is half the fun.
His brother's eyes cross with the effort to focus on Sam's face. "Cas is being a prissy little bitch," Dean says in a conspiratorial whisper. "He says I shoulda left yer soul down in the cage with Lucifer, but I couldn' do that, Sam."
Holding a finger up to stop his brother before he can continue babbling nonsense, Sam narrows his eyes and says, "Let me get this straight. Do you mean to tell me that our good buddy Cas, the Angel, thinks I would be better off if my everlasting soul was left in the pit to be Lucifer's chew toy for all eternity?"
"Mmm hmm." Dean hums his agreement, closing his eyes and slipping down in the vinyl covered seat.
Sam puts an arm out to keep his brother from sliding under the table and onto the beer-sticky floor. He feels like the father of a small child in a minivan, restraining said child when he presses down on the breaks too hard.
"You'd think with Cas bein' an Angel an' all tha' he'd understand 'bout the importance of a soul. He's all caught up on the damaged part, but I figure – hey, a damaged soul's better'an no soul at all. Cas says if I wanted to kill you I shoulda jus' done it outright." Opening his eyes to half-mast, Dean catches his bottom lip between his teeth.
And just that quickly Sam is furious. "He's out of his mind!"
Dean nods so vigorously that he loses whatever balance he had and tips sideways until his head comes to a rest on Sam's shoulder. His next words come out muffled by the fabric of Sam's shirt. "Tha's what I tol'im."
Sam pats his brother's chest, looking around to make sure they aren't attracting the wrong kind of attention or any attention at all for that matter. He's definitely not cuddling with his brother. Still, their current position could be taken the wrong way.
The warm weight of his brother gets heavier as Dean lets his body go limp, snuffling softly into Sam's neck. His next words are nearly inaudible. "So Dude, you gotta stop scratchin' at that wall 'cause I don' want Cas to be right."
Internally berating himself for not telling his brother how he feels before now, Sam presses his cheek into the top of Dean's head. "No matter what happens to me from here on out Dean, I want you to know you did the right thing. I actually can't think of a worse fate than walking around without a soul for the rest of my life. And hey, if you'd listened to Cas, my soul would have stayed in hell even after my body died. At least this way I have a chance of going somewhere better."
"My blue heaven." Dean sighs.
"Funny movie." Sam smiles. "So, are you going to walk out of here or am I carrying you?"
"Carry me." Dean makes a sound that Sam guesses is supposed to be a scoff or a challenge, but comes out as a spray of spit.
"Dude, keep your shower to yourself."
In one effortless movement, Sam stands and pulls Dean's unresisting body into a fireman's carry, long limbs hanging all loose and floppy.
Dean doesn't even put up a half-hearted struggle, not even to keep up appearances, and that just goes to show how far gone he is.
Sam readjusts Dean's weight and heads out the door toward the parking lot and the patiently waiting Impala. On the way, he thinks about what he wants to tell Cas the next time he sees the Angel.
A/N: Thank you for reading. Yes, I totally bashed Cas in this fic, so go ahead and let me have it. LOL Tell me what you think.