Sam had fallen silent for awhile now, and Dean chanced a glance to see how he was doing. Slumped against the passenger seat, his head cushioned by his jacket, Sam dazzled and glittered as a streetlight lit up the interior of the car. Dean would have smiled had Sam's injuries not also been illuminated.
He couldn't see much, he acknowledged, but Sam wore a distantly pained expression. His eyes were closed (perhaps trying to get Dean to think he was sleeping) and he had his arms wrapped around his torso. Sam rarely held that posture in the car; if anything, he spread out over the bench seat as much as possible in order to get comfortable. Dean was never happy about that, but right now Dean would have rathered it.
"Hey, Sam?" Dean ventured authoritatively.
"Yeah what?" Sam responded, opening his eyes slightly.
"Yeah," Sam answered hoarsely. Dean grimaced and glanced at Sam again from the driver's seat. He shot Sam a skeptical expression. Sam would have rolled his eyes if he hadn't been in so much pain. Instead he made sure his breath – and voice – was steady when he spoke.
"I am. It's just the comedown off the adrenaline."
Sam gave a small huff.
"You could say that," he laughed lightly and pulled his arms around his waist and chest a little more.
Dean figured if Sam could still manage a laugh, he was fine. He'd sleep it off. He stopped talking and Sam remained silent, but definitely still awake, throughout the forty-minute drive.
Dean went to grab the bags as Sam maneuvered out of the car. His right forearm remained pushed against his side, but stood up straight and limped over to the truck.
"Y'need help?" Sam murmured, sidling up to Dean just as he shut the trunk with both their bags in his hand.
"No I got it," Dean replied easily.
"Dean, I can carry my bag," Sam insisted, exasperated. Sam gave an involuntary shiver in the cold winter air and Dean pushed him forward in front of him, dismissing Sam's objection.
"C'mon get moving 's cold out," Dean ordered.
Sam stumbled a little bit, his arm still at his side, but did as Dean asked. He reached the motel door a few feet ahead of his brother and opened it.
The sight of a bed had never been so attractive to Sam.
"Ah god, I just want to sleep…" Sam moaned, stepping his way towards bed.
"Ah ah ah ah! What're you doing?!" Dean suddenly exclaimed as he saw Sam's trajectory was not into the bathroom.
Caught off guard, Sam stopped and blinked at Dean.
"Dude, you can't go to bed like that. We're both going to have glitter all over us for weeks on end if you don't get it off you right now."
As Dean spoke, Sam's spirits lowered further and further down into the pit of his stomach. All he wanted to do was sleep.
"You're not gonna make me do this, are you? Dean, I just want to sleep, man-"
"Dude. No," Dean said adamantly, then pointed to the bathroom. "Take a shower," he demanded harshly.
Sighing with exhaustion, Sam relented. He wasn't sure if it was because he was so fatigued, injured, susceptible to suggestion, or specifically susceptible to Dean's suggestions, but he angled his body left and dragged himself to the bathroom.
He turned the corner and closed the door. Dean heard the soft click as the door shut.
Sam still had his hand on the handle when he let out a quiet groan of pain, followed by several gulps of air. He was out of breath, having hidden the severity of the clowns' assault on him from Dean. As far as Dean knew, they had gotten in a couple punches and squirted Sam with water from a flower button. It would stay that way, too. Dean didn't need to know. Bruised internal organs weren't treated with much else other than a visit to the hospital in most circumstances… And even then, it's for access to painkillers which Sam could easily get without having to consult a physician.
Crouching now, his one free arm reached from the door to the sink for balance as he used the other to hold his stomach. Searing pains were flashing and throbbing through his entire body every time he even attempted a straight posture. He tried to look into the mirror from his hunched-over position and couldn't help but give a small snicker. His entire face and clothes were freckled with sparkles; hidden was his own bloody, beaten, scarred body.
A sharp ache shot through his side and chest and Sam grunted his way to sit on the toilet seat, unable to stand any longer. Both hands clutching his side, he started to rock back and forth a little bit, trying to ride out the pain, if it was possible. A few minutes had passed when a quick, loud bang on the door startled Sam, causing another streak of pain to whip through him. He grimaced at the sound of his brother's voice after the knock.
"Sam? You okay? What's up- you don't have the shower on," Dean announced seriously. Sam rolled his eyes as he bit his lip against the pain.
"Ye-Yeah Dean, I'm fine," Sam said shakily. He felt the need to compensate for it, so he added,
"The glitter it's - it's just taking awhile to wash off."
Sam cursed himself; he'd placed emphasis on the wrong word: 'glitter' and he'd stuttered. He looked back down to the floor, feeling sick now that he knew he'd blown it. He didn't want Dean to come in here and find him like this. Dean had enough problems as it was and he could handle this. He'd been injured like this before.
In the back of his mind, he knew there was another factor involved. Sam just didn't want to acknowledge it.
He'd been injured, he'd treat it, he'd survive and move on. Case closed.
But in truth, Sam wasn't just injured by a monster – a monster he'd never known about until one of Bobby's books had enlightened him. No, Sam had just been nearly beaten to death by a thing he'd been scared of ever since he could remember as a child.
"If it bleeds, you can kill it," had turned out to be useless advice tonight, and what Dean had hoped would be a reassurance had only fostered the conviction that Sam would die at the hands of his worst childhood nightmares – right before they had exploded. Into glitter.
That had added insult to injury.
So, no. Sam didn't want Dean to see him like this. He was still upset about the experience and he was hurting like hell, and to boot, he was ashamed of all of it.
Sam's senses narrowed as he kept his eyes focused on one oddly-shaped scuff mark on the tiled floor. He heard the door click open a few feet away.
"Hey you okay?" Dean asked, his voice echoing in the small acoustic space. A vent hummed loudly, Sam noticed, as Dean started to rustle around him.
"Man you look hilarious, still," Dean chuckled as he moved around. Sam coughed weakly.
"Dean, m'okay. Sorry," Sam murmured, doing a terrible job if he was still trying to convince Dean to go away. Sam wasn't sure what he was trying to do anymore, though.
He felt a hand on his shoulder; Dean crouching down to get near his line of sight. He tilted his head in Sam's direction, searching for his young brother's eyes. Sam didn't want to, though. He had to calm down and get a handle on the pain before he could look Dean in the eye.
"Sammy?" Dean prompted gently, no longer joking.
Sam blinked, trying to clear his head, and sniffed a few times, clearly on the verge of tears. Dean's arm moved from Sam's shoulder to his back, giving a couple of rubs in sympathy as he watched his brother try so hard to keep it together in front of him.
"Sam? Sammy? Are you in pain?" Dean asked hesitantly, but he needed to know. Sam gasped in relief at the easy question and gave a brief nod.
"Yeah I can't, like, move," Sam said weakly, indicating his chest and side as best he could while still hunched over himself on the toilet seat.
"Okay," Dean said after a brief moment of thought, then Sam felt him move away. Two seconds later he was back with Tylenol and water. Sam begrudgingly took the medication, and hoped he'd be done.
"Can I please just go to bed, Dean-"
"No, c'mon Sammy you gotta stick it out a little longer for me," Dean requested absently from somewhere above him. Sam glanced over: Dean was standing by the sink, examining something – their med supplies. Sam sighed, his breath nearly catching. He was so tired and Dean was pushing him over the edge. It was overwhelming, the injustice of being forced to sit still on a hard toilet seat under brilliantly white florescent lights just after having been bludgeoned by killer clowns. Sam just wanted bed; that was all he needed right now.
Dean interrupted Sam's thoughts with warm hands rubbing his back.
"I gotta see your injuries, okay? You can't move, so that's serious," he said gruffly, and while Sam normally would've objected, Dean's massage on his back was the only measure of comfort he'd had in ages.
"'Kay," Sam mumbled.
"Okay," Dean parroted, and reached Sam's shirts (he'd doubled up that day), and slowly unraveled them off Sam's torso. After a series of grunts and gasps of pain, Dean had finally managed it.
"Okay lean back – or at least move your hands," Dean whispered carefully, now thoroughly worried. Sam nodded, but didn't make a move to let Dean see.
"Here, Sam." Dean reached his hands to Sam's, "Move with me, Sammy," he spoke, pulling Sam's hands off the injury along his waist. "Good job, good," Dean coaxed, and Sam followed his brother's lead, eventually landing his hands on his knees where Dean placed them.
"Good job," Dean whispered, brushing Sam's downturned head affectionately before standing up and moving over to look more closely at Sam's side.
Dean gave a slow inhale, feeling his brother's pain as he looked at the significant bruising covering Sam's side: shades of black, blue, purple and even yellow around the edges had puffed to the surface, mottling Sam's skin. Dean leaned in closer and Sam jerked away.
"Hey sh, Sam, no, stay still," Dean hushed delicately, his eyes glued to the welts and bruises that were higher up along his torso. Dean put a hand on the center of Sam's back reassuringly and leaned in.
"Okay relax," Dean whispered, and extended his hands out to press against Sam's ribs, feeling around and giving each a light pressure in his touch while he watched for Sam's reaction. He checked the right side, then had barely moved to the left side when Sam gasped in pain, hunching over and clutching his stomach again.
"Hey-hey-hey okay, you okay?" Dean asked solicitously, eyes wide with worry. Sam gulped, trying to manage the pain that had shot through his entire torso.
"Okay. Well, you definitely have one broken rib, if not more. I can't really tell-" Dean spoke as he turned to grab the largest ace bandage wrap they had (which was huge; it wasn't as though either of them hadn't had to deal with broken ribs before).
"Uh… I'm gonna be sick," Sam moaned over Dean. Dean stopped dead and turned around.
"Uh, yeah," Sam replied, and continued to make the frightening, "uh," sound that tends to signal a bout of illness. Dean cringed, but moved fast, smoothly reaching around and pulling Sam off the toilet seat, setting him on the floor and against the tub, all the while successfully avoiding any pressure to Sam's ribs. Dean lifted the toilet lid and angled himself behind Sam as he picked him up again under his arms and gently moved him over to the bowl. Sam was heaving with the strain and effort of Dean's forced movements when he arrived at the bowl. Dean just continued to hold his brother on a slight lift from the floor.
"Thanks," Sam said breathily, now not even sure if the effort was worth it. "You-" Sam stopped, then tried again, "You distracted me," he finished.
"What does that mean?" Dean asked worriedly as he stood over Sam, holding him up above the bowl rim.
"I don't… Need to-"
Before Sam finished, Dean lowered Sam to the floor and pulled him against the tub again. He stepped around him to get the bandage off the sink counter and held it out as he came over to kneel in front of Sam.
"Okay while I've got you, you ready for this?"
"Don't we need to clean-" Sam trailed off at the sight of Dean's shaking head.
"No not right now – you're just bruised-"
"Feels… A lot worse… Than-"
"Yeah well. And a broken rib. Happy?" Dean bantered, and felt a quick flash of pleasure at the sight of Sam's small smile.
With that, Dean started to wrap the bandage around Sam's ribs, his practiced hands securing the bones in place with enough room for general comfort. Whenever he had to roll the bandage around Sam's back, he could hear his brother's raspy breathes. Whenever he came back around to Sam's front, he noticed his brother's half-lidded eyes.
Dean wasn't surprised; he'd given Sam Tylenol PM and they were lasting awhile on the floor here. Dean had had no idea Sam was this injured.
"Okay, done," Dean announced quietly. Sam nodded, his face turned down to the floor, looking dejected as ever. Dean tilted his head with renewed sympathy. He reached out and started rubbing Sam's shoulders and arms.
"Hey - can you make it to bed?" He asked.
"What about the glitter?" Sam asked, still somehow genuinely believing that it was going to be a problem. Dean snorted.
"Dude, I don't care; I didn't know you got this messed up."
Sam nodded again, but kept his eyes down to the floor. Dean considered, but let it go.
"Okay, let's get you into bed," he said as he started trying to lift Sam up. It was more a gesture; Sam needed to work with him in order to succeed. He did, though, and tried his hardest to repress any sounds of pain or discomfort so as not to worry Dean as they left the bathroom together.
They ambled their way to Sam's bed and, both of them now covered and sparkling with glitter, sat down on the mattress. Dean let Sam's arm fall off his shoulders and got up again to hover over him. With one hand on the back of Sam's head, the other against his upper back, he helped Sam to lie down. Sam was set on the pillow and felt Dean untie his shoes and rise his feet up onto the mattress. Sam felt it as Dean moved to sit beside him on the edge of the bed.
"God, Sammy," Dean whispered, placing his hand on Sam's shoulder and surveying the injuries littering his kid brother's body, "Who knew clowns could do this to you…" Dean spoke sadly, with sympathy, as he looked into Sam's eyes.
Sam, exhausted and in pain, felt tears well up in his eyes again.
"I did," he said, his voice breaking.
"Hey-" Dean clasped Sam's hand and felt Sam grip back hard as he started to cry.
"Hey, Sam, c'mon, sh," Dean murmured, brushing Sam's glittered hair back from his face. Tears streamed down Sam's temples as he choked back cries under Dean.
"It's gonna be okay, Sammy, it's over," Dean soothed. Sam nodded as he kept his gaze steady on Dean, his tears starting to taper off in the midst of Dean's voice.
"It's over, you just need to sleep," Dean whispered, and Sam's eyes dropped a little, "Sh you just need to sleep," he repeated. A thought occurred to him, then, and Dean thought to run with it, maybe. "-And, Sammy, tomorrow? I'll go get you that girly holiday special drink you like from Starbucks." Dean waited on pins and needles to see if Sam would take the attempt at humor.
He smiled when he heard the soft chuckle from Sam. Perfect reception.
"Peppermint mocha," he whispered. Dean licked his lips into a grin and pulled Sam's bangs back again.
"Yeah I'll get you a peppermint mocha, okay? Now you going to go to sleep?" Dean asked, acting like Sam's answer was incredibly important.
Sam nodded, then swallowed dryly.
"Yeah," he said, closing his eyes on Dean. Dean squeezed Sam's hand and Sam squeezed back before Dean, smiling, released his hold. Sam felt the covers pull over him and the bed stand light go out. He fell asleep less than ten seconds later, listening to Dean rustling around and murmuring curses at the glitter he was now blanketed with - compliments of one pain-in-the-ass little brother that was still, apparently, supremely terrified of clowns.
A few minutes later, after Sam had gone to sleep, Dean took a look at himself in the mirror, shocked at how much of the stuff had actually gotten on him. After two seconds' deliberation, he gave a small shrug to himself in the mirror and started to change, absently murmuring aloud.
Writer's Note: Please comment/review if you can spare the time! Thank you so much! ~ Alex