Summary: Post 8x17 – Hurt Sam / Big Brother Dean – Dean stared at Sam motionless on the bed; his heart hammering in his chest as his mind tallied his brother's symptoms and produced a diagnosis – internal bleeding. The kind of internal bleeding that was worse than just a few bloodied tissues hidden at the bottom of a trashcan.
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: General spoilers for events in the last half of season eight and usual language
No one may ever see me bleeding...how inside I quietly bleed. ~ DieMonsterDie
The first realization to occur to Dean when he opened his eyes that morning was that Sam wasn't up yet.
And that was...strange.
Because unless the kid was sick or injured – or drugged unconscious because he was sick or injured – Sam was always up before Dean, had usually even showered and dressed and would be in the kitchen brewing coffee and making a lot of unnecessary noise.
Noise that obnoxiously happy morning people liked to make to announce that they were up and ready to seize the day.
Noise that echoed throughout the place they now called home...or more affectionately, the Batcave.
Noise that would travel down the hall, under the door to Dean's room, and wake Dean as reliably as any alarm clock ever could.
But today was different.
Today there was no noise.
Today there was silence.
Today there was cause for concern before Dean even got out of bed.
And wasn't that super fantastic?
Dean blinked at the ceiling and groaned, not liking the dread that was beginning to settle uneasily in his stomach.
Because actually, this wasn't super fantastic.
This was the opposite of super fantastic.
Something wasn't right.
Dean had 30-some years of big brother experience to vouch for that hunch.
And something wasn't right.
Dean sighed loudly and pushed himself up on the mattress. "It's too early for this shit," he grumbled, preferring not to wake up worried about Sam, and simultaneously lifted the sheet and comforter as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat there, listening.
But there was nothing to hear.
No cabinets slamming, no coffee mugs clinking against the countertop, no drawers rattling shut, no water splashing in the sink, no banging on the toaster.
The Batcave was quiet, as if Dean was the only one there.
The big brother scowled at the thought – not liking all the different dark directions his mind could go with that possibility – and glanced at the clock on the bedside table, blinking at the time.
Because he had known it was later in the morning than usual, but...
"Eleven o'clock?" Dean blurted, feeling the dread in his stomach quickly morphing to a familiar mix of panic and fear.
Because a healthy Sam Winchester did not sleep until 11:00, which only confirmed that all was not well with Dean's little brother down the hall.
Dean sighed again, rubbing his hand over his scruffy face as he stood and reminded himself that separate rooms had been a good idea.
Even if he missed the reassurance of hearing Sam's steady breaths in the bed beside his every night; even if he couldn't listen for the subtle changes in the kid's breathing pattern that would warn of something wrong; even if a little brother died alone.
"Alright, stop..." Dean told himself sharply, hating his tendency to assume the worst...especially with Sam. "Just stop."
But experience had taught that with Sam, it usually was the worst.
Why would today be any different?
Dean shook his head. "He's fine," he further told himself about his brother; his bare feet padding softly across the cold floor as he crossed his room and wondered why he bothered to lie.
Because Sam was not fine.
Dean hadn't even seen the kid yet, but he still knew.
When it came to Sam, Dean always knew.
Had known Sam had been weak and unwell since that first trial.
Had known Sam had thought he had been successfully hiding his symptoms from Dean.
Had known Sam had been bravely carrying the burden alone – the burden of the other two trials to come and the possibility of the further toll they would take on the kid's already damaged body.
Sam, you're damaged in ways even I can't heal.
The only thing that had haunted Dean more than Castiel's words to his little brother several nights ago outside of that warehouse was the candid concern that had colored the angel's tone and expression.
Dean swallowed at the memory, freshly hating how those words constantly echoed inside of his head...and knowing they did the same within Sam as well.
Being damaged in ways even an angel couldn't heal was some pretty scary shit.
Dean sighed, reminding himself that he and Sam had faced some pretty scary shit before – like every fucking day, it seemed – and usually came out on the other side...preferably together on the other side.
And they would do the same with these trials.
After all, Dean meant every word when he had told Sam that he would carry him through this.
It wasn't like Dean hadn't carried the kid before.
Dean quirked a smile. "Damn right," he heartily agreed and opened his bedroom door; the swinging motion briefly swirling air around his sweatpants and the sleeves of his t-shirt.
Dean paused, once again listening for the familiar sounds of a noisy little brother.
But as before, there was nothing.
Only silence so loud it hummed.
Dean frowned. "Sammy..." he called, his voice chasing itself down the hall as it bounced along the floor and walls while Dean followed behind it.
Sam didn't answer.
Dean's frown deepened, calling Sam's name again as he continued to walk down the hallway toward his brother's room.
And again, Sam didn't answer.
Dean clenched his jaw. "Dammit, Sam..." he growled, once again wondering if maybe they needed to reconsider this separate room crap.
Because if Sam had been in the bed next to his, Dean would've known the instant something was wrong with the kid during the night.
But instead, it was now 11:00 the next morning and who knew how long Sam had laid in his room alone and sick...or hurting...or any number of possible problems.
Dean sighed, feeling dread and worry and fear rise into his throat as he approached Sam's door; not even bothering to knock or announce himself before barging in, his brother's privacy be damned.
Not that Dean expected Sam to be conscious enough to notice the intrusion.
And he wasn't.
As expected, Sam was lying motionless on the bed.
But what wasn't expected was that it looked like Sam had never even officially gone to bed last night; was still completely clothed in yesterday's jeans and plaid button-up shirt.
The only indication that he had been preparing to turn in was his boots within inches of his sock-clad feet – as if Sam had taken the boots off and then had gotten tired.
Or maybe Sam had gotten dizzy from leaning over.
Or maybe he had already been on the edge of conscious at that point.
Maybe Sam had sat up; had leaned back on the mattress to gain his bearings and rest before attempting to change clothes.
Or maybe Sam had fallen back on the mattress, unconscious before he had landed.
Maybe Sam had laid like this all night with his upper body on the bed and his legs bent at the knees and his feet resting on the floor.
Dean swallowed, not liking the implications of this scene one fucking bit.
"Sam..." Dean called, glancing around the room still lit by the lamp that had never been turned off last night as he entered and crossed to his brother. "Sammy..."
But Sam didn't move.
And although every instinct he had told him to, Dean paused before touching Sam; instead scanning every inch of his brother for any indication of what the hell was going on.
It didn't take long to figure it out.
Sam was pale with a fine sheen of sweat glistening across his cheeks and dampening his bangs.
Dean palmed his brother's forehead, frowning at how clammy the kid felt, and then focused on Sam's chest, noting the quick, shallow breaths.
Dean's hand slipped from under the wet strands of Sam's bangs and slid down the kid's temple and jawline; pressing his fingers against his brother's neck and narrowing his eyes at the weak but rapid pulse.
Dean stared at Sam still motionless on the bed; his heart hammering in his chest as his mind tallied the symptoms – both now and the weeks following the first trial – and produced a diagnosis...internal bleeding.
No, scratch that – severe internal bleeding.
The kind of internal bleeding that was worse than just a few bloodied tissues hidden at the bottom of a trashcan.
The kind of internal bleeding that would damage a person beyond an angel's repair.
The kind of internal bleeding that plunged people into shock right before they passed out...and then drug them deeper into the kind of unconsciousness impossible to escape.
Dean shook his head, refusing to believe that was happening to Sam; refusing to allow his brother to go where he could not follow; refusing to allow the kid to slip quietly into a coma and then quietly out of his life.
"I don't fucking think so," Dean growled, denying his brother that option, and fisted his hand; roughly rubbing his knuckles against Sam's sternum. "Sammy..."
But Sam didn't react.
"You're not doing this," Dean sharply informed his brother. "You hear me?"
Because as Sam had said all those years ago when Dean was in a coma – they were just starting to be brothers again.
And Sam wasn't leaving him.
Dean rubbed his brother's chest again, harder this time but still receiving no response.
"C'mon, Sam..." Dean yelled and reached for the kid's shirt; his fingers shaking but still quickly slipping the buttons from their holes.
One, two, three, four...and how many fucking buttons did this shirt have?
Five, six, seven...holy shit.
Dean froze as he snatched open Sam's shirt, staring in shock at his brother's torso.
Because this was bad – this was really fucking bad.
Dark bruises covered Sam's chest and abdomen, marring the kid's pale flesh in unsightly shades of blue and purple where the blood had seeped internally and had pooled beneath the skin.
Dean's gaze tracked the multicolored path, following the edges of the bruises as they leached to a soft gray and then webbed with tiny red vessels that stretched outward – the internal bleeding eager to lay claim on more of Sam's internal organs, aggressively forging its path and marking its territory.
Mine, mine, mine.
Dean shook his head – because Sam was his and he was not losing the kid like this.
Carefully, Dean eased Sam completely out of his shirt, tossing it to the floor and revealing more bruises covering Sam's arms and shoulders.
No wonder Sam always wore long sleeves these days.
Stupid, secretive, damaged kid.
"I am so kicking your ass over this," Dean warned Sam about the consequences of keeping this type of situation a secret.
But Dean's voice shook with emotion; his threat empty and his chest tight with panic and fear.
Because at this point, Dean just wanted his brother to survive the trip to the hospital.
Dean sighed, pulling himself together; knowing he couldn't help Sam if he unraveled.
The word hung in the air as Dean stared at his brother, trying to decide the best way to move Sam to the Impala without causing further damage.
Sam, you're damaged in ways even I can't heal.
"Shut up," Dean growled to the echo of Castiel's voice in his head and reached for Sam; gathering the comforter and wrapping it around his brother's bare, bruised shoulders as he carefully sat the kid up.
Unexpectedly, Sam moaned with the movement, shrinking away from Dean's touch.
Dean blinked, his heart suddenly beating fast for a different reason as he felt a brief flutter of hope. "Sammy..."
Sam stirred restlessly on the edge of the bed, held in place by his brother's strong but gentle grip.
"Sammy..." Dean tried again.
Sam swallowed noisily and turned slowly toward Dean's voice, his eyes opening to thin slits.
Dean forced a smile. "Hey. You with me?"
Sam hummed a response and shivered as he became aware of the cool air on his bare skin.
And although he was confused and consumed with pain, Sam's mind immediately seized on one word, one name, one person...the person he vaguely remembered trying to call for last night – Dean.
Sam didn't realize that he had actually spoken the name until he felt a familiar hand affectionately brush back his damp bangs and then rest on his head.
"D'n..." Sam repeated.
"Right here," Dean assured, rubbing his thumb over Sam's forehead to help anchor his brother, to help focus the kid's gaze. "I'm right here, man."
Stone number one.
"Look at me," Dean ordered, crouching to be on eye level with his disoriented brother.
After a few seconds, Sam did as he was instructed; his eyes squinted with pain and exhaustion as he stared at Dean within inches of his face.
"Talk to me," Dean told his brother, eager to keep Sam awake. "Tell me what's wrong. What hurts?"
Sam's eyes dipped closed before blinking open with more effort than usual.
Sam sighed, his face twisting in response to the shudder of pain that passed through him with the simple exhalation.
"Easy..." Dean soothed and readjusted his hold around his brother, carefully gripping the kid's shoulders.
There was a pause.
"How long?" Dean asked, wondering if Sam would even remember, would even know what he was referring to.
But the information was crucial – how long had Sam been bleeding internally like this?
"How long?" Dean repeated, his tone reflecting the urgency of the situation.
Sam shrugged and sagged forward; his head landing in the hollow created by Dean's neck and shoulder as he once again lost consciousness.
Dean swallowed, having his answer – long enough.
...which he had already assumed based on Sam's symptoms, on the amount of bruising beneath his brother's skin.
"Okay..." Dean allowed. "Okay, okay..." he repeated, formulating his plan to fix this – to fix Sam.
First, get Sam to the Impala.
Next, get Sam to the hospital.
And after that...
After that, whatever it took.
Dean nodded in agreement with himself and sighed, briefly cupping the back of Sam's head with his hand; burying his fingers in the kid's hair and closing his eyes; startling when Cold Oak suddenly flashed – the image of a fading little brother bonelessly resting against him.
Dean's eyes snapped open as he clenched his jaw, freshly determined he was not losing Sam again.
Not ever again would he be left behind.
Whatever they went through, they went through together...and then came out on the other side together as well.
That was their deal.
That was Dean's promise.
"I can carry you", he had told his little brother.
And Dean had meant it.
Dean still meant it.
And he was going to do it, starting right now as he carefully gathered Sam into his arms.