Written for glovered's prompt at the current ohsam commentfic meme: Sam was on antidepressants the whole time Dean was gone, which helped but led to a general apathy. Now that Dean's back, he's trying to go off of them without telling him. It's hard. Dean realizes something's up.
This is my first time writing for a prompt so I'm actually pretty nervous posting it! Hope it's okay. Also I'm not used to writing stuff that requires research for symptoms etc, so I also hope that worked out? It got a bit long so no dice with the commentfic thing. Also I seriously need to be studying.
The ceiling above the bed in their room was very pale yellow with a crack in the corner that looked to Sam like a jagged smile. He thumbed his palm absent-mindedly as he stared at it, wondering if maybe it was slowly spreading. He should plaster it, or maybe it would keep spreading and take over the entire ceiling and swallow everything up. That was the kind of thing that would have happened right before his eyes last year, but he didn't have a lot of trouble with that at the moment, having since mostly learned the difference between what he saw and what was there. So the ceiling stayed whole, for now. He'd patch up the crack soon, just not today, not yet. He was really quite tired.
It was freezing cold and rolling over into a patch of sunshine didn't help matters. The space heater next to the bed was busted and he hadn't gotten around to fixing it yet, despite Amelia's constant and fairly justified complaints that he was a handyman, right, and she pretty much broke any household object she touched with an intent to fix so she couldn't take care of it herself, and they were seriously going to get pneumonia any day now so please just do it already? Sam decided he was going to fix the heater that very day. He didn't have work so there was nothing else for him to do. Just get to it. Step by step. Swing your legs out of bed, try not to wake Amelia; get dressed; make coffee, skip breakfast; grab the toolbox, get to work…
He ground to a halt just after the coffee stage. Amelia found him sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of shitty tasting instant coffee in front of him. He was rubbing his hands together and thinking about icy ghost breath, and then about cleaning guns, and then about how when he lived in motels it had been pretty good not to need to vacuum even though there was usually mud all over the carpet that Dean-
He drank some coffee. It had gone lukewarm and he'd forgotten to put milk in it, so withering bitterness clung to the insides of his mouth. He wondered if he could taste the acrylamide. Maybe after everything it would be shitty coffee that killed him. He took another gulp before Amelia grabbed it off him and stuck it in the microwave, then drank it herself without so much as flinching at the taste. Sam watched this with an odd empty feeling in him. Riot wandered in, probably wanting an early walk, and Amelia patted him absently. Sam's temples were starting to throb.
"Sam, I wasn't going to ask, but…you did take them, right?"
"You know what I mean."
This was the relationship he was going to do right, wasn't it? Honesty, Sammy. No playing dumb.
"Yeah," he said after a moment. "Last month." Just mild, really, but he thought maybe something had started to change in the past couple days. Like whatever that was broken apart in his lungs had smoothed over and he could breathe better. It was kind of peaceful. He watched her drink his coffee and thought maybe he could just stay sitting here in the numbing cold and that would be fine, and maybe Amelia wouldn't tell him he was still acting like that one cat with depression she'd treated once. Maybe.
She nodded and looked at him closely. "Okay. Okay, good."
Sam wanted to kiss her cheek, but it was very cold and he was tired and he didn't really feel like moving. He stayed where he was, and only remembered about the heater that night when he had gone to bed, and was staring up at the crack in the corner of the pale yellow ceiling watching it grin at him. That was okay though. He didn't really care to be honest.
When Dean came back and Sam didn't feel a whole lot, he figured it was probably time to lay off the Prozac. Dean was here. Dean was alive, and he didn't need help anymore, something messing with his head and making him feel – different. Not stronger, but possibly not as weak. He was done.
He'd thought if this happened, if his brother returned - which he thought perhaps he'd always known would happen, deep down, because Dean always did come back – he'd thought things would be better. Instead he just felt flat and he wondered if he was really there at all, because nothing felt quite as important as it should. He hugged Dean and nothing in him seemed to change, and when his memory threw up a card and he realised that was a familiar feeling, he nearly panicked. Soul, he thought - what if I don't have my soul, what if that's why I'm like this - what if real me is trapped somewhere else again and I'm just a shell? How the hell would I know? (He never quite reached that state of panic he'd been aiming for.)
It was only when he checked his phone and it had a little alert on the screen that said meds 2day and he was halfway through popping a pill out of the foil that he thought, wait. Hang on. Hold up. Dean's back. Dean came back. He stared at the pill for a moment. It was a spur of the moment decision that made him fold the foil back over it and tuck it away in his bag again.
They were in a diner choking down a greasy breakfast when Sam remembered what withdrawal was like. He swallowed down another mouthful of cardboard-like hash brown and looked at the rest, stomach turning over and his head going all light. He leaned back carefully and looked at the ceiling, which just made the world tip around frighteningly.
"Somethin' wrong with those hash browns?" Dean said curiously. Sam felt like if he said anything the hash browns would be making a return appearance. He decided against nodding, breathing as deep as he could, and gestured with one hand to indicate go ahead man, not hungry. He was feeling hot all over and could feel sweat starting to soak through his undershirt.
He imagined saying nah man, think I'm just starting to go into withdrawal from those happy pills I've been taking. Thought about did you look for me? and that whole year and thought maybe, maybe Dean might like it. Maybe, he thought pathetically, it'd prove something to him, prove that he did care, he'd been torn up enough to get hooked on something else – not morally dubious this time, just regular old human medicine, but did that make a difference? He cared and he'd been devastated, and he'd needed something to help him like Amelia said because Dean wasn't there, goddammit, Dean was gone. He clenched his teeth as something zinged through his head making his whole head shiver and his vision grey out. Or maybe Dean would be even less impressed with him. He'd been running for his life in Purgatory and Sam had been up here with someone else Dean didn't know feeling sorry for himself and taking drugs. Sam remembered the long hours detoxing back during the Apocalypse, and thought, no.
He decided, watching Dean, that he didn't need this to prove anything to him. Sam didn't need to prove anything period. He was back, they were back, and if he started going through a little withdrawal, well, he didn't know if he cared a whole lot. Been there, you could say, done that.
He wasn't getting a whole lot of sleep lately. One night when he did, he woke up sweating and screaming in the middle of the night for the first time in a while. You dumbass, he thought, Dean being here has never stopped nightmares before.
No going back now, though. He lay back in bed and tried to stare at the ceiling, calm his breathing, but he couldn't focus and couldn't get back to sleep.
"Sam," Dean said from across the room. Sam didn't say anything.
"Sam, you okay, man?" Dean said. Sam could hear him swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and getting up.
"Is it hell stuff?" Dean said, coming closer, and Sam squeezed his eyes shut and whispered, "go back to sleep." Dean paused and Sam laid his hands out flat on the bedspread.
"Don't shut me out, Sammy," Dean said.
"Dude. My line."
Dean waited for a moment, then dragged a hand over his mouth and went back to bed.
It was going to be hard, Sam realised once he started getting tremors, to hide the whole withdrawal thing now. They were in the car and his hands were practically rattling against his legs when Dean found out.
He clenched his fist and opened it again but it wouldn't stop shaking. Stop shaking you're not meant to shake. He imagined he was tied down, locked to a bed, every limb restrained and his hands shook anyway.
"Sam," Dean said, hands on the steering wheel, "I, uh, wasn't gonna bring it up, but is there some wagon you've taken a swan dive off you're not telling me about? 'Cause…the sweating, and the shaking, and you're pretty pale." He looked at the road and his face was kind of like stone. "Sam, don't make me remind you, but I know what you look like when you're detoxing."
"I'm fine," Sam whispered, rolling his head back against the seat. "Shut. Shut up."
Every new line in Dean's face hardened and set. "Sam."
"You're lying," said Dean, "and I don't even know why."
"None of your business," Sam said faintly, then hissed out as a sensation almost like an electric shock flashed through him, making his muscles seize. "Goddamn-"
Dean nodded twice and then swerved, pulled over at the side of the road. "Tell me Sam, are you okay?"
"'Course," Sam managed hazily, clenching his shaking hands. "Shut up."
"Bullshit." Dean wasn't backing down. He didn't look tired, he wasn't reaching into his coat for a flask. Sam must have been out of it after all because he thought he might be feeling a slight twinge of something. Fear.
He grabbed onto it and held fast. Fear, he thought, that's only a step away from caring.
"What is it?" Dean demanded. "I can't believe I'm asking you this. Sam."
"Not demon blood, Dean," Sam snarled. "I just –" He took a couple of deep breaths and clenched his teeth –then there was a jolt, and he groaned. It was like someone had just touched a live wire to his naked brain. It was a sick, horrible feeling.
"Dude, I didn't say –" Dean began, then shook his head and grabbed Sam's shoulders.
"No blood," Sam said through gritted teeth.
"I," Dean said, and his face opened up for a split second, like a stone cracking open. "I believe you, Sammy."
Good, Sam thought. Okay, that's good. Okay. Done here. He sagged back and wished he could just sleep.
"But something is happening and you know it," Dean said. "I need to know if it's supernatural or not. You can't lie to me, man. Don't."
Sam licked his lips and said, "Sorry. Yeah. It wasn't…I just." He swallowed, found he couldn't quite choke out any more words.
"Sam," Dean said, "Sam."
"My duffle," he got out.
He heard Dean rooting around in the back and was looking at the roof of the car when the door to the front slammed shut again. It was very cold.
"I'm guessing you're not trying to tell me you're having a fit over those dog biscuits," Dean said in an odd voice.
Sam shook his head.
"These are…what are these? Happy pills?" Dean was holding the cardboard box. Sam couldn't do more than nod. "You were taking these? You were depressed?" Sam nodded again.
There was a pause while Dean held the box awkwardly. Then he put it down and said, "Why?"
"Asshole," Sam said. "You were…" He took a breath. "You were gone."
"Oh," Dean said. "Uh. You're…uh, this is withdrawal though, right?"
"Dumbass," Sam said.
"You stopped taking them," Dean pressed.
"You came back, dumbass," Sam said, and shut his eyes. The light was too bright and it was pissing him off. He needed about a week more sleep than he had.
"Okay, then," Dean said, sounding kind of strangled. Subdued. "Okay." He put the box down next to him and then he reached out quickly and gripped Sam's shoulder tight like he was afraid he might chicken out halfway. "You shoulda told me, Sam." Sam, vaguely aware of what he was doing, reached up and held it there. The trembling wasn't so bad then.
"Sorry," he croaked. He did mean it, he realised. Old patterns, old habits that kept coming back. Keeping secrets was what broke them. He didn't even know why they did it anymore.
"It's okay, man," Dean said. "You're gonna be just fine. We're gonna be okay."
After a few moments disengaged gently and started the engine. "Okay," he said again gruffly. "I guess we better hit the nearest motel. Hole up there and figure this one out. We can take some time off, right? Kevin's not getting any more found."
"Sure," Sam said. Then a thought struck him. "Hey, uh." His throat worked. "Dude, could you…turn up the heating? It's freezing."
"It's not so bad."
"Yes it is. It is so not okay. Do it," Sam rasped, finding he meant it.
"Oh, fine, you little bitch. You know you're gonna overheat in about five seconds, right?"
Dean reached for the heat knob and Sam watched him screwing around with it, vaguely content though he was shivering all over, covered in a cold sweat. He was still very tired, but that was nothing new. He thought, you're back, Dean, Dean, I missed you, I knew you'd come back, and he wished he could say that out loud – and he thought, and I'm so, so glad, and found that he meant that, too.