.

The luscious, red apple tossing in the air, cupping back in Dean's hand provided by the fall of gravity — it feels like nothing. Perfectly ordinary… apple weight, considering. Though, there's nothing ordinary per se about its origin when a strange and mute little girl leaves it behind in her place while she flickers out of view.

Yeah, that's gotta be a dead ringer for ordinary in his life, maybe.

Dean examines the fruit with a small frown. Its coloring deep and vibrant, no pale marks, no signs of yellowing or rotting, and no bruising. That's perhaps the really eerie part… besides the spirit hypnosis or whatever Sam was calling it. He takes a quick sniff of it, brushing his nostrils to the cool, fresh skin. Even smells good. Dean's mouth waters on base instinct for something to snack on (breakfast had been promptly skipped to talk to the latest victim of fairy-tale related attacks).

His stomach gives a noisy, slow gurgle.

"What could go wrong?" he murmurs, fiercely optimistic for the moment, and crunches sloppily. The burst of the apple's savory juice trails out the corner of his mouth.

Oh lordy, it's so much better than good — it's awesome.

Distantly, he hears Sam approaching and crossing asphalt, hears Sam stop cold in his tracks. Dean munches contently on his mouthful, eyes lidding.

He presents the rest of the apple out to his brother.

"Want any?" Dean asks, helpfully.

Sam's green-grey eyes stare down at the object before taking in the sight of Dean, and Dean's stomach begins forming what feels like a clenching knot when they round out in horror. "What the hell did you just do?" Sam yells, snapping out of it to charge forward, his gigantor, warm fingers shoving into Dean's jacket shoulder. "Please tell me you weren't stupid enough to take a bite of that apple, Dean!"

In all honesty, Dean kinda wants to tell him to 'piss off I was friggin' hungry cause you bitched and whined about wasting time at Denny's' — but there's something certain about the fear ebbing from his younger brother, from his eyes, and his mouthful of red apple curdles in his throat. The words he wants out — 'didn't mean to make you freak like that' — stalls on his tongue as a lurching wave of dizziness hits.

"Dean? No… no no, hey, c'mon…" Sam's fingers grip onto Dean's shoulder, to the point where there's gonna be Sam-shaped bruises in the morning, as the older man shuts his eyes against the lightheaded sensation and his knees collapse under him. Sounds of passing traffic and bicycles in the neighborhood. Softly chirping birds. Sam's frantic and loud breathing muffled in his ears. "Dean!"

.

The dusty, overhead fan hums and rotates sluggishly on the ceiling.

It's only half past two in the afternoon and the window shades are drawn closed, blocking out any trace of sunlight from filtering in. Lamps in the motel room switched off, light bulbs unscrewed. Sam settles himself down in the ruddy glow of darkness like it's a security blanket, like it's all one big bad dream. If he's not awake, then Dean stays alive. Dean never fell catatonic, Dean keeps on grinning with that telltale gleam in his eye like he's not terrified of going to Hell, Dean keeps making naughty references and bad jokes at Sam's expense, they keep doing their job and no one dies today.

The life from him is just… it's gone.

He had swabbed out the bits of chewed up apple and saliva coating the inside of Dean's graying, unresponsive mouth. A nearby jogger had pushed him away and performed CPR, and... eventually, he had drove back to the room and carried him in, laid him on Sam's queen. He had folded Dean's heavy arms across his stomach and then unfolded them, wiped the flecks of apple off his lips.

Sam's laptop open on the coffee table, faintly lit with a manual screensaver, but unused.

He can't bury him. Not in the cold, black earth. Not like this.

Not before Sam could get a chance to kill the crossroads demon holding Dean's contract.

The heels of Sam's palms mop away the streaks of air-cooled tears on his cheeks. "Dean, you can't sleep forever," he whispers to the room humming with the ceiling fan, to the darkness, and it's just a bad dream. "We have to solve this case." The chair beside Sam's bed shifts when he leans forward towards the body arranged on his back, sandy eyelashes still, expression flatly serene.

"You know I can't do this alone," Sam admits, red-rimmed eyes cringing up with another stinging tear squeezing out.

He clenches the rows of his exposed teeth until they tingle with pain, running a hand over his tight, glaring features.

"It was the poisoned apple from Snow White, you idiot." Sam curls a lip, cruel in the way he talks to no one. "Maybe if you weren't busy trying to download every shitty piece of porn since you knew what to do with your dick, maybe you'd be…"

The hollow, building silence envelopes the rest of those words.

"Did you do this when I died? Propped me up bleeding on a cot and told me off?" Sam eyes Dean's bloodless, unmoved face, licking at his top lip and shaking his head. "No," he answers for himself, sighing, "No, you probably blamed yourself the whole time and threatened to knock out anyone who got too close to the situation."

Sam dislodges himself from the chair, cradling a hand against the line of Dean's neck.

"You're not dead, Dean," he insists, jaw gritting. "It didn't kill Snow White in the story, okay? You're not going anywhere without me."

He pushes a hand through Dean's cropped hair, holding it there. His psyche fuzzily clues into the taste of his own dripping tears, salty-sweet on Dean's pliant mouth, when Sam's lips budge up against it, hungry for a response, needy, desperate.

"Dean, please," the whimper hot and wet, sealed against their skin, against Dean's stubble-scratchy skin, "please…"

A choked, foreign gasp back into Sam's opening mouth. He pulls back, eyes blinking and wide as Dean's entire body jolts in place. His older brother turns his head on the other side of Sam's pillow, dry-heaving. He coughs and shudders weakly, fighting down another round of meaty gags, Dean scrunches up his face, lightly sheening with a layer of sweat. "Sammy," he mumbles out, and Sam nods down at him, grasping wordlessly onto the fine-haired wrist outstretched to him.

"…This is why health food sucks," Dean says with some cynicism.

He groans when Sam uses his other arm to punch him with half strength, but without an ounce of kindness. "CHRIST! Sam, what the fuc-!"

"You suck, jerk," he replies, bitterly.

Dean sits up fully on Sam's bed and rubs at the injury. More Sam-shaped bruises included on the same shoulder.

His frown clearer when his younger brother marches away, twisting open the shades, chasing away the gloomy shadows. "How much time did we lose?" Dean asks, scraping a finger against the spongy flesh of his jowl and wiping the sticky film against the knee of his worn jeans.

"Couple hours, at least."

"We gotta find the little girl," he reaffirms. "We check the local hospital for starts."

Sam cautiously watches him stand with the aid of the motel chair. "You feel alright though? You were…" Dean cuts him off with a snort and a wave of his hand.

"Alive and kickin'. That's all that's important."

Alive and kicking.

Sam's fingers tug impulsively on the collar of his orange plaid shirt.

"Are we going to talk about…?"

"Nope," Dean says, evenly glancing away from the dulled bemusement in Sam's eyes. "Everything can wait until after we solve the murders, right, fairytale boy?"

He grins, a Dean grin.

You're not going anywhere without me.

Because it's not a dream.

.


Not one hundred percent if someone has attempted something with Dean chomping on the apple left by spirit projection!Callie.

But, damn, I couldn't resist the fic idea.