A/N: I apologize for my absence. I've been really lacking creative energy lately. It's been months since I've drawn or painted anything, and you all know how slow I've been on the writing front. It kinda sucks, to be honest. Just know that my unintended hiatus was, well, unintended, and I have every intention of finishing my WIPs.
Notes: Nothing plot-heavy or profound here. It's mostly just them being tired and smarmy and angsty, and dealing with Sam's fingernails. I'm not labeling this as complete just yet because I have a few other 7.17 plot bunnies that I might put to use. If I do I'll just add them here.
Warnings: 7.17 spoilers, language.
"Got them sad eyes
Got them cat eyes
Got the angels tired
Of saving his life."
-Citizen Cope, Lifeline
Dean hates it, but they have to drive. They're too close to dead demon vessels, too close to the hospital he just stole Sam from, too close to everything to stay in town. They have to ditch their current car too, so hey, add that to the list of things that sucks. They find a new car parked next to a wilting house covered in orange foreclosure signs. It's a gray, sun-bleached Cadillac Cimarron. The motor makes an annoying clink-clunk sound every five miles, the interior smells like stale French fries, and the radio's broken. Dean's never hated a piece of machinery more. Sam's quiet and motionless in the passenger seat, cradling his hands protectively. Dean glances at the ripped up nails and grimaces, wondering if it hurts or if Sam even notices. Sam's awake but checked out, blinking slowly and staring straight ahead. If it weren't for Cas (God, Cas) coming back and stealing Sam's hell, Dean would be worried that the listless expression on Sam's face was his sanity slipping away. But it's not. Sam's just tired.
They've been driving for just over an hour, the Ohio border is some twenty miles behind them, and Dean thinks that this is far enough. Tomorrow, after they've both slept for fifteen hours, they'll burn some real rubber. He pulls into the first motel off the highway, right outside Defiance, Ohio. It's a two building dump in the middle of nowhere, but Dean can't even be bothered by it; if they have beds, he's happy. He checks in without saying more than, "One night, two queens," to the clerk. Sam's waiting when he gets back to the car. He's leaning heavily against the hunk of metal like it's the only thing holding him up. It probably is. Dean gently nudges Sam in the direction of room 8, while handing him the room key.
"Get inside, I'll grab the gear," he says.
While Sam stumbles into the room, Dean grabs the weapons, the salt, and the first aid kit from the trunk and leaves everything else.
Inside, Dean covers the window sills in careless layers of salt, letting it spill over the cracked wood to make small piles on the floor. He moves to the door and dumps an even thicker trail of salt in front of it, and then drags it so it reaches from one corner of the room to the other. By the times Dean's done, the room looks like a salt mine. Sam watches as best he can with half of his face smushed into the starchy pillow. Dean tosses the empty salt bag on the floor and looks at Sam and shrugs.
"Don't wanna take any chances."
What he really means is he just wants a small slice of peace, even if it's just for tonight. He wants to block off this shitty little room and let his brother sleep for days and not think about Cas, Bobby, Dick Roman, or fucking Lucifer. The only way he knows how to do that, the only way he knows to even try, is to douse the place in salt, and make it as safe as possible.
Sam doesn't say anything but he stares like he understands.
Dean sighs quietly, feeling weariness take over again. He fights it back because he has one last thing he needs to take care of before they can crash. "Lemme see your hands."
"Wha?" Sam slurs from his place in the pillow.
"Hands, Sammy. I need to do something about your fingers."
Sam slowly slides his hands across the mattress, wincing as the movement pulls on his damaged fingernails. Dean moves across the room and sits on the bed next to him, wincing as he looks them over.
"Gonna need to clip one or two of these, then all we can do is wrap them. Doesn't look too bad, though, should be fine in a week or two," Dean says as he moves to grab the med kit from the other bed.
He grabs the clippers, Bactine, and gauze, and sets to work.
"Ready?" Dean asks as he pinches the clippers over the nail.
Sam grunts in return, jaw tensing in anticipation of pain.
The nail clips off about mid way into the nail bed. Sam hisses sharply through his teeth.
"Sorry," Dean says softly.
"S'ok," Sam replies as he breathes out through his nose, "Sleep deprivation is a funny thing."
Dean snorts, "Yeah, this has been a real bag of laughs."
"Your hair and nails fall out, you hallucinate, your pain tolerance drops to nonexistent…all because you didn't sleep. Did you know that sleep deprivation is considered a legal method of torture?"
Dean looks up from Sam's nails, feeling acute sadness and helplessness wash over him as he takes in his little brother's beard and cut up face. There are smears of water right under Sam's eyes, as if tears had formed but had been smudged by blinking.
"That's fucked up, Sam," Dean says as he goes back to fixing Sam's nails, but he really means is, I'm sorry you ever had to go through this.
Dean clips the second nail and Sam jerks. Dean holds onto his wrist tighter, "Shhh, almost done." He pours Bactine on the worst of the nails and lets it dry before he gently wraps up the tips of Sam's finger in gauze.
"It's gonna suck while it's healing but hey, you'll be able to do a mean ET impression."
"Awesome," Sam murmurs as he pulls his hands back towards his chest.
"Damn straight. ET's a classic."
Sam hums in agreement as his eyes shut, exhaustion taking over. "You made me watch it like thirty times when we were kids."
"Yeah," Dean says softly with a half smile. He looks at Sam's closed eyes and allows relief wash over him. He didn't really have time to let it sink in at the hospital, but god, he finally feels like he can breathe again. Sam's alive and in one piece; safe, for the first time in months, and Dean…he doesn't really have words for it.
Tomorrow they'll have to get back in the fight; get back to hunting, back to figuring out what to do with Dick friggin' Roman. But tonight they're gonna be safe. Tonight, they're gonna be ok.