I Shut My Eyes
A/N: This is a little tag to And All the World Drops Dead/And Arbitrary Blackness Gallops In. I originally planned to have this be a part of AABGI but the story went and ended on me before I got a chance. I had a go at it by itself and it ended up being in Sam's POV so it's... sad, I guess. Not much comfort or hope or all that, 'cause Sam's still in a bad place.
It's not a big deal. It's really not a big deal. It's just Dean.
Sam has to keep reminding himself but the mantra isn't working, isn't soothing the feeling of ants beneath his skin. No, not ants, worms or snakes, something slippery and slimy crawling through his veins, raising goosebumps on his arms and trying to slither up his throat.
It's been a month now, almost exactly, ribs mostly healed and staples and stitches removed, leaving him with harsh crimson scars creeping over his face. Dean says they'll fade but he sounds doubtful and Sam can't bring himself to ask how much. He doesn't think they're ever going to go away.
His hair's grown out enough that Dean says he's pretty sure he can even it up without taking too much of the length, and Sam was fine. He was completely fine but now he's sitting in this chair and Dean's behind him cutting his hair off and Sam didn't even think he remembered this part but he does. He does and he can't stop thinking about it.
It's not a big deal. This is different. This is Dean. It's just a haircut.
('Want a haircut, Sammy?')
He can't stop the flinch when Dean snips near his ear. Shh, the scissors hiss and he tries, bites his lip to hold back a scream, because he doesn't want Dean to stop. He wants his hair to look freaking normal again because he's sick of looking in the mirror and not recognising the person looking back at him.
"You okay?" Dean asks, and Sam nods, because he doesn't trust his voice, doesn't trust the scream to stay in the back of his throat if he opens his mouth.
There's a pause behind him, as if Dean's considering the validity of his nod, or maybe just inspecting his work so far, then, apparently satisfied, he starts snipping again. Sam digs his fingers into his thigh to stop himself from jerking away.
He can tell that Dean's trying to think of something to say, some way to lighten the moment but he bets that Dean's mind is in the same place his is and the basement doesn't leave much room for light-hearted conversation.
Shhick, the scissors say and Sam flinches again, harder than before.
Dean freezes behind him. Sam can tell even though his eyes are on the scattered hair on the floor. Why do the bathroom tiles have to be grey? Grey like concrete, grey like the basement floor with Gordon standing behind him, Gordon's knife at his throat and his hand in his hair.
('Maybe I should cut out your tongue.')
Suddenly Sam wants to throw up.
"Sam?" Dean asks.
"Are you almost finished?" Sam blurts out, which is better than throwing up but he thinks he still might if he has to sit here much longer.
"Yeah. Yeah, nearly done, Sammy." Dean clears his throat. "Do you need a break? We can stop if you want."
Sam shakes his head, feels snips of hair shift on the back of his neck, working their way down the back of his t-shirt. "No, just finish it."
Silence returns as Dean works the scissors and in the silence Sam feels Gordon all over him, Gordon's hand in his hair, Gordon's elbow digging into his back...
It's the sensations he remembers most, more than the actual events. He remembers the sharp snap of ribs, bones grinding together, the air rushing from his lungs and returning too slow, the smash like a thousand tiny electric shocks to his face, the sudden tearing fire-
"Shit, Sammy. You should have told me to stop," Dean says, and Sam's stunned to see his brother's face suddenly right in front of his. He hadn't noticed him move.
"Whoa, you okay?"
Sam thinks he jumped but he's not sure. Dean reaches out to steady him as if he did so maybe yes.
"Yeah," he says because that's what Winchesters always say, and Dean reaches out a hand to brush Sam's cheek. It comes away wet.
Oh. He can feel the damp on his face now. "Oh." He scrubs the heel of his palm under his eyes. "Sorry, I didn't..."
"You don't need to apologize," Dean says, like it shocks him. "Jesus, I'm sorry. We should have waited."
"No," Sam says, because the last thing he needs is Dean blaming himself all over again. "I want it fixed. Did you finish?"
Dean nods, looking suddenly anxious as his eyes flick to Sam's hair and back. "Yeah. All done."
"Good," Sam says but it takes a long moment before he's willing to stand and look in the mirror. It can't be that bad, he tells himself. Surely anything is better than the butchered mop he's been sporting for the last month.
As always when he looks in mirrors now, his eyes first go to the scars on his face. Still vivid and even after a month they manage to take him by surprise. It's not like when he first saw his reflection after leaving the hospital, when he finally saw the extent of the damage and could only think, 'That's not my face. How is that my face?' but it's still shocking.
"What do you think?" Dean asks nervously, reminding Sam of what he's meant to be looking at.
Well... it's even now, at least. No more hacked at patches, but it's still shorter than it's been in years. Longer than Dean's hair but...
The person in the mirror still isn't him.
"It's fine," Sam says. It's not like they can do anything about it.
"You don't like it," Dean surmises.
"No, it's fine, it's just..." Is he ever going to recognise himself again?
Dean places the scissors down on the bathroom cabinet. "I know it's not the same, but when it grows out some more..."
"Yeah," Sam says, not sure about what he's actually agreeing with. He can't stop looking in the mirror, at the not-him staring back.
"Well," Dean says after a long moment. Sam watches his fingers flex as he clears his throat, a sure sign that Dean's uncomfortable, left over from the brief period Dean spent as a smoker. "Um... do you want lunch? I know it's not... but it's getting on, so... I could just zap to the diner, if you want..."
Sam doesn't in a million years believe that Dean wants to eat. He just wants to get out, out of this motel room and all the memories in it and just be normal for a minute. Sam can't blame his brother for that. He guesses he should just be happy that Dean isn't suggesting that Sam should come with him, the way he's started to this last week or so. He can't explain to Dean why he doesn't want to go out, he just doesn't want to. Not yet. Maybe when he looks more like himself.
"Yeah," he says, because he's feeling kind of shaky and maybe they could both use a moment to breathe by themselves. He sees the relief in Dean's eyes, just a flicker but enough to show Sam that he's done the right thing, letting Dean go now.
"What do you want?" Dean asks as he turns and steps out of the bathroom, like he can't stand to be in here any longer. Sam follows him and hovers in the doorway. What does he want for lunch? He doesn't know. Is it really only midday? Time goes so slow. People say it heals but it doesn't do it fast enough. Dean's always saying 'they'll fade' or 'it'll grow back'. Sam's sick of waiting.
"I don't care," Sam says, because he doesn't, and he knows Dean will pick something that he can probably force down. "Get anything."
Dean shrugs into his leather jacket, even though the diner's only across the road – the reason Dean picked this motel, Sam's willing to bet – and the weather doesn't call for it. Sam thinks it's a comfort thing.
"Sam." Dean pauses as he flattens out the collar. "If you want me to hang round for a bit..."
Sam appreciates the offer but if Dean needs a moment, Dean gets a moment, so he says, "No, I'm fine," as convincingly as he can, and watches his comfort thing walk out the door.