Author's Note: This was written for the Summer Gen fic exchange on Livejournal for Disasteriffic Kaz's prompt:
"Set between 7x17 and 7x18 I would really like to have the scenes they didn't give us: Sam crashing from the week of forced wakefulness, Dean caring for him, the angst and paranoia of both Sam and Dean not believing Lucifer's really gone, basically the surprised comforting from Dean that despite everything he thought, Sam not only didn't die but is free of the hallucinations thanks to Cass. I'm a sucker for the increasingly rare moments of caring between them."
Story title comes from the Linkin Park song "Castle of Glass."
(Show Me How to Be) Whole Again
After what was probably his hundredth pass through the news alerts he'd set for Dick Roman, Dean sighed and leaned back in his chair. He rubbed a hand tiredly over his face. He wasn't getting anywhere, and his urge to punch the leviathan's smug face was growing, but he didn't think Sam would appreciate a hole in his laptop.
Speaking of... Dean glanced over at the far bed from the door. Sam was still asleep, having crashed almost immediately after they'd gotten him out of the hospital two days earlier. He'd slept like a rock, curled against the passenger door with one of Dean's jackets bundled up as a pillow, while Dean had driven them as far away from the demons—both literal and figurative—they'd left behind in that place.
It was only when he'd swerved their POS of the week into oncoming traffic for the third time that night that Dean finally decided to pull off of the road and hole up. Sam needed a real bed to sleep in, anyway. And Dean, for his part, needed some time to process everything.
He checked them into a no-tell motel and roused Sam just long enough to get his brother into the room and changed into some sweats and a t-shirt before Sam had gone out like a light again. And aside from the occasional turn, Sam had been out cold since. It was the first time in more years than Dean cared to think about that he could remember his brother sleeping so soundly. And that sure was a sad commentary on their lives. But after the nightmare of Sam being on the brink of death from sleep deprivation, Dean would take what he could get.
He was never going to forget finding Sam completely nonresponsive after Cas had tried to heal him; Sam had mistaken both his brother and the re-mojoed angel for Lucifer, forcing Dean and Cas into a corner to stay out of his line of vision. Not even being able to sit at his brother's side at what he'd thought was going to be the end had been the worst torture of all—and Dean knew a thing or two about torture.
No matter what Dean did, the image lingered. He hadn't been able to get more than a few restless hours of sleep since they'd stopped despite his exhaustion; every time he shut his eyes, he saw Sam in that hospital bed, losing a battle with unseen tortures. He didn't think he'd be able to get any rest until he knew Sam was going to be okay.
So maybe never, a cynical voice in his mind told him.
Cas had said what he'd done would get Sam back on his feet, but Dean had no idea what that meant. Sam had been with it long enough to get dressed and sneak out of the hospital, but after his extended beauty sleep, Dean had no idea what shape his brother would be in—and that was assuming he woke up at all, though that was a thought Dean refused to entertain. If he periodically checked to make sure Sam was still breathing, no one had to know.
But as much as he wanted Sam to wake up, to be Sam again, Dean was also wary. Winchesters never got a break, so why should they get one now?
Dean shook his head and checked his watch. It was midafternoon and he was contemplating a coffee run when Sam jerked awake. He bolted upright in bed and gasped for air with his eyes blown wide. Dean's breath caught in his throat as Sam scanned the hotel room—looking for any sign of his invisible tormentor, Dean assumed—for what felt like an eternity. But finally Sam's eyes settled on Dean and recognition flashed across his face. Dean let out a relieved breath.
"Hey," he said.
Sam swallowed. "Hey," he rasped.
Dean quickly got to his feet and filled up a glass of water. He made his way to the bed and handed it to his brother. Sam took it with a grateful nod and downed it. Then he dropped his hands to his lap, the glass hanging loosely from his fingers. He watched it like it was the most fascinating thing in the world, and his hair fell like a curtain across his face. Dean sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed, but Sam didn't look up.
"How're you feeling?" he asked finally.
Sam shrugged, eyes still trained on the glass.
"Sam." No response. "Sammy."
Finally Sam looked up. He looked like shit. He hadn't had a chance to shave his unkempt beard and his girly hair was a mess. His features were sunken and his eyes haunted. And he still looked exhausted, though his shoulders were tense, like Lucifer might jump out from behind the bathroom door or under the bed at any moment.
"You hungry?" Dean asked, deciding not to push his brother.
He'd paid cash for the motel so it wasn't like the leviathan could track them here. They'd stay as long as Sam needed to get back on his feet—which would end up being a far shorter time than he'd really need; Sam was a Winchester, after all.
Sam's stomach chose that moment to growl loudly, and Sam gave Dean a rueful grin. It was small, but genuine. And that was a beautiful sight.
"I guess so." He glanced at the clock on the nightstand and frowned. "How long have I been out?"
"Day and a half," Dean replied. Sam blinked. "Well, it's been a day and a half since we checked in," he amended.
Sam looked startled at that, since the only times he slept for more than a few hours at a time anymore were the rare times when he got sick, but he nodded. "Any news?"
"About Cas?" Dean clarified, though the angel's name stuck in his throat.
Sam gave him one of those infuriatingly understanding looks but didn't comment. "Yeah."
Dean shrugged. "Meg's in, but no other news." Sam nodded thoughtfully and Dean cleared his throat, ready to change the subject. "I can pick up some grub. You good for a few?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm not going anywhere Dean. Except maybe the bathroom."
Dean snorted and pushed himself off the bed. He grabbed his keys and headed for the door. Sam was slowly pushing himself out of bed when Dean looked back, but he waved a hand to forestall the inevitable question.
"I'm tired, Dean, not broken. I can make it to the bathroom on my own."
"Well excuse me, princess."
Sam huffed a weak laugh and Dean smiled to himself before heading out.
Dean made it to the diner down the road and back in record time. It was between lunch and dinner so there weren't many customers in. The waitress had offered a fond, motherly smile when Dean said he was getting food for his sick brother. He'd ordered up a cup of soup and some fruit for Sam, figuring his brother could use some mild food, and a burger and milkshake for himself.
When he got back to the room, the television was on and Sam was under the covers. He looked like he was out cold again, so Dean dropped the food on the nightstand and grabbed the remote to turn the volume down.
"Dean," Sam said. Dean started but glanced down at his brother. Sam's eyes were open and there was a troubled expression on his face. "Leave it on."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "You were watching Antiques Roadshow?"
Sam shrugged. "It was the first channel that got decent reception."
Sam pushed himself up to lean back against the headboard. "It was too quiet," he said softly.
Dean dropped the remote as realization hit him with all the subtlety of a two-by-four. He felt like an idiot for not thinking about it earlier. Sam had become so used to Lucifer's voice in his head these past months that of course the quiet would be disconcerting.
"Well at least find something less girly to watch," he said in a vain effort to save face, but a brief glance in Sam's direction told Dean that his brother hadn't missed a beat.
Damn kid was too perceptive for his own good, even when dead tired.
Dean busied himself digging out the food. He handed Sam's over and rested against the headboard of his own bed with his burger in hand. He snagged the remote once more and started searching for something more watchable.
"Tomato and rice soup?" Sam asked as Dean settled on SportsCenter.
Dean shrugged. "It was the special." Which was a total lie. The special had been clam chowder and the motherly waitress had suggested chicken noodle soup for a sick brother, but Dean had been adamant about it being tomato and rice.
"Thanks," Sam murmured appreciatively.
It was only when Dean bit into his burger that he let the satisfaction wash over him.
The next few days passed uneventfully. The TV stayed on all hours, with offerings ranging from sports and infomercials to B-movie marathons and procedural crime dramas, and Sam slept on and off as his body caught up with his mind. Dean went out for food when they didn't order something, and Sam started spending time on the laptop or with a paperback he'd pulled from his duffel as he stayed awake for more than a few minutes at a time. Finally Dean had dared to get some sleep himself, though every time Sam woke up, Dean was right behind him.
Slowly Sam's skittishness seemed to subside; he still had nightmares that would wake him up gasping for air, but that was nothing new in the life of a Winchester. Loud noises still made him jump—Dean accidentally slammed the hotel door shut after coming in from a food run and Sam had nearly fallen out of bed—and his eyes would scan the room for something that wasn't there every now and then, especially when he woke up, but his shoulders loosened every day.
On the fifth night in the motel, Dean felt comfortable enough with Sam's progress to go out to hustle some pool in the neighboring town so they could extend their stay for as long as Sam needed, or was at least willing to put up with bed rest.
He came back with a wad of bills and some Chinese takeout, only to find Sam fast asleep with his book open on his chest. Shaking his head, Dean gently pried the book from his brother's fingers, replaced the bookmark Sam had fashioned from an old hex bag and found a Ghost Hunters marathon to make fun of as he worked through the food for two.
On the morning of the seventh day, Dean woke up to the sounds of movement. He blinked blearily, the news on the TV and Sam bent over the edge of his bed, tying his sneakers up coming into focus. Dean frowned and glanced at the clock and groaned; it was too damn early o'clock.
"Sam," he muttered, "what are you doing?"
Sam looked up apologetically. "Sorry man, did I wake you?"
Dean rolled his eyes. "No, I always wake up at the ass crack dawn for the hell of it." Sam snorted. "So what are you doing?"
"Going for a run," Sam replied with a shrug.
Dean sat up at that, memories of getting a call that Sam had been hit by a car and was in the hospital coming back with full force. "Is that a good idea?"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Why wouldn't it?"
"Gee, I don't know," Dean retorted, crossing his arms.
Sam sighed. "Dean, I'm okay." Dean raised an eyebrow at that and Sam relented. "Fine, but I'm doing better. Look, I can't sit in bed anymore. I just need to move."
That Dean understood, though it also gave him pause; Sam had always been the type to run from things that were bothering him. It was how he'd been dealing with his hallucinations for the months leading up to his breakdown. But it was when he stopped that things crashed down on him like an avalanche. So if Sam felt the need to get moving again…
Dean threw his legs out of bed. "I'm coming with you."
Sam's eyes widened. "What? Why?"
Dean shrugged as he grabbed sweats and sneakers from his duffel. "I can't sit around anymore either. Besides, when was the last time we went on a run together?"
"Years," Sam murmured as Dean headed into the bathroom.
A stab of guilt hit Dean at that. They'd trained together as kids, going on countless runs together before and after school during Dad's boot camps. But that had stopped as Sam had drifted away from the family in his last year of high school, and despite picking up on sparring and weapons training when Sam had joined Dean on the road again, they'd never really worked out together.
Maybe it was time to change that. Dean had nearly lost Sam just a week earlier, so he was not going to take their time together for granted. If that meant he had to get his butt out of bed to run with his Sasquatch of a brother, well, he'd always been happy to run circles around his little brother in the past.
He came out of the bathroom to find Sam sitting on the edge of the bed. Sam smirked at the sight of Dean in his sweats. Dean shoved past his brother toward the door to avoid the look. So what if he wasn't a workout freak like some little brothers he could name? He could still get the job done.
"Let's do this thing. Don't worry Sammy, I'll go easy on you."
"Thanks Dean," Sam replied with long-suffering patience.
Dean grinned and they took off at a jog. Sam was still dealing with after effects of his exhaustion so couldn't go too fast, but that didn't stop them from taunting each other or racing to various landmarks along the path. And when they decided to turn around and head back to the motel, Dean peered at Sam and noticed the grin on his face as sweat trickled down his cheek. The rising sun gave Sam a lively glow from Dean's angle.
And looking at his brother, it hit Dean that Sam wasn't running from anything; he was just enjoying being out in the crisp spring air, getting his blood flowing. He was enjoying living.
And for the first time since Sam had jumped into the Pit, Dean thought they might be all right after all.
- fin -