Summary: A short one-shot taking place immediately after the angel fiasco. Written mostly because I have a sneaking suspicion they're just going to skip past all this and dive right in to the next story arc. I know it's probably been done to death but whatever. This is just my feeble attempt at remedying until October.
Disclaimer: Boys still aren't mine...still theoretically a good thing. Dean swears...what else is new? (Also, it's probably important to note I just took Kevin out of the equation. Partly because he wasn't necessary and partly because his character kind of annoys me in general).
Ok, I'll stop talking...y'all go read!
The entire drive home, Dean's hand never leaves his brother's shoulder.
The horrible fear that if he lets go, Sam might slip away causing him to grip a little harder than he should.
Sam doesn't even seem to notice.
The perilous bombardment of falling feathers had eventually forced Dean into action. Painfully hauling Sam up into the car, settling him as best he could, and driving them the hell out of there.
Sam had spent the first few miles choking on feeble breaths as he struggled against the gnawing pain tearing through his body. Dean had debated on taking him to a hospital, but decided that would do more harm than good in the long run. They would chalk up Sam's current condition to drugs or worse and no way was Dean letting anyone stick his brother in a psyche ward a second time.
Besides, no one knew how to take care of Sam better than he did. Whether the kid was sick, stressed, or scared, Dean would always fix it. It was his job. Always had been. And secretly, he knew Sam didn't want anyone else trying to fix it, though he would never admit it. Anyone or anything else was like a band-aid posing as antibiotics.
Eventually, Sam would always come to Dean, asking without words for his big brother to make it better. And this was no different. No different. The kid would heal with time, he would. Dean was sure of it.
Sam's breathing is calming a little and he's huddled against the passenger's window, slipping in and out of consciousness and shivering violently through his drenched clothing. The occasional labored wheeze has Dean wincing, tightening his grip a fraction.
"You're doing great, Sammy," he encourages. "We'll be home in no time. Just a few more minutes."
Sam's only response is another shuddering gasp as he inhales a painful breath.
"That's it, Sammy. You just keep breathing, you hear?" Dean moves his hand up to the back of his brother's sweat slicked neck and massages in quick, repetitive motions. "You're doing so good. Just a few more minutes and we'll get you into some dry clothes, warm bed, how's that sound? We can even watch your damn African ferret documentary. Knicks can wait."
A few seconds pass, no sound except for the patter of rain against the windshield before Dean hears a quiet huff, the barest shadow of a laugh.
Dean's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. "Come again?"
"Meerkats, D'n. N-not ferrets."
Dean smiles in spite of himself, a wave of relief rolling through his gut. At least Sam is lucid - in excruciating pain but lucid. And not blabbering about imaginary trips to canyons, grand or otherwise. Meerkats Dean can deal with. Flatulent donkeys? Not so much.
He'd take what he could get.
"Whatever, geek. Rats are rats. I don't discriminate." He allows his grip a little slack. Just enough to get some circulation back in his fingers.
He watches the ghost of a smile play across Sam's cracked lips before he's doubling over, gasping again, suddenly seized in a coughing fit. Hands reflexively gripping his knees and arms trembling with the intensity.
Dean's hand resumes its post on Sam's shoulder. He can't help his grip, he just holds on and doesn't let go because now Sammy's spitting up blood and he's reaching for Dean and tears are running down his cheeks and he isn't breathing and just fuck…
After an eternity he's finally coming up for air, crimson staining the corners of his lips, chin, and a few rivulets sluggishly winding their way down his neck.
"Okay…m'okay." Sam coughs as he clumsily wipes his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt.
Dean digs for a bottle of water hiding underneath the steering wheel. He pops the cap and hands it over. "Drink," he orders.
"Nuh," Sam falls back against the worn leather, energy reserves beyond depleted. "Ju…jus' come back up…"
Sam makes no move to obey.
"Sammy, please. Please try."
Another moment passes before Sam reaches over and grips the bottle with shaking hands. He takes two tentative sips before the plastic nearly escapes his grasp. Dean rights the bottle and recaps it.
"Alright," he says. "We get inside and I can water and dope you to the gills to my hearts content."
"Yeah," Sam slurs. "Drugs r'good."
"You bet your ass they are."
Dean hums Enter Sandman the rest of the way home, mostly because if he doesn't he's going to lose it and he'd like to get Sammy home in one piece.
Oddly enough it seems to calm his brother - so much that eventually he sees Sam's shoulders relax and then Dean's listening to soft, congested snores for the last few minutes.
He pulls the car to a stop behind the Batcave and wastes no time in hustling around to the passenger's side door.
Sam's passed out against the window, all smooshed nose against glass and drooling. He's kind of a mess.
In a different situation, in another life, a million years ago, Dean might've taken a picture. Big brother's prerogative. For a fleeting moment he's lost in memories that don't even belong to him anymore.
A funny image of a floppy-haired geek boy prissily batting a plastic spoon out of his mouth and bitching at an arrogant, care-free young man he barely even recognizes.
Poor fucking kids.
He closes his eyes, opens them and the image is gone. Vanished like it never happened. Careful not to startle or jar his brother, Dean slowly shakes Sam awake.
"Hey, we made it. Come on. T-minus two minutes 'til bed."
"Mmm…" Sam is vaguely disoriented and far too pale. Except for the fever flush of his cheeks, any color he might've retained hightailed it a long time ago.
Gently, he maneuvers Sam's long legs outside and then eases the rest of his body out of the car.
Sam nods weakly and tries his best to help as Dean begins hoisting him upwards.
And he weighs nothing, nothing at all and he's shaking so badly that he can barely get his feet underneath him.
Suddenly, the white-hot shock of pain ratchets inside his skull and his legs buckle. Dean catches his flailing arms and quickly eases him down onto the grass.
Sam's cradling his head and panting noisily against the fresh assault of agony while Dean holds him close and murmurs soothing sounds against his hair. Cause that's all he can do. Hold Sam together and promise and soothe and lie out his ass for both of them. It's gonna be okay, Sammy…I'm gonna fix this. I am. Don't you worry little brother.
"You're alright. Just breathe. Breathe. In and out, Sammy."
Dean breathes long and slow, pries Sam's right hand away from his head and plants it firmly against his chest.
"Feel that? Do it with me. Come on, Sam."
Sam gurgles and gags as he struggles for oxygen. Fingers tangling in Dean's jacket as he tries to match his brother's pattern. Puffy eyes red and wide with desperation.
Two full minutes later and veins are no longer threatening to pop out of his forehead. He's still wheezing but no longer hyperventilating.
"That's it, Sammy. That's right. Just keep breathing."
Sam's fingers relax their grip and his glassy eyes roll in their sockets before drooping shut.
"Heyheyhey," A light pat on his cheek brings Sam back to momentary awareness. "Not yet, okay? Keep your eyes open for me. Once I get you inside you can sleep for a year. Almost there."
"Hurts," Sam whispers. "Tired…" His head begins slumping onto his chest.
"I know," Dean swallows against the uncomfortable tightness in his throat. Controls the urge to shoot something. "I know, buddy. Let's get you inside." He eases an arm underneath Sam's shoulders. "We'll go slow, okay?"
Moving at a snail's pace, he finally manages to get Sam upright and his legs moving in the right direction.
Five feet from the door Sam staggers and bends over, one arm clutching Dean's jacket, the other holding his stomach.
"Sam? We're almost there. Come on, man. Just a little further."
"S-sorry, d'zzy…m'd'zzy," Sam gasps. He pants for a moment before relinquishing his grip, falling to his knees, and vomiting bloody bile onto the grass.
Shit. Dean's brain shuts down almost immediately and now he's on autopilot as he brusquely hauls Sam back up and does his best to ignore the bright red patch of grass. Too much red.
He never would've thought he'd have a preference for puke. But right now he'd gladly give his left arm to be staring down at yesterday's dinner. Except Sam hasn't eaten anything in fucking days.
Once inside, Dean leans Sam against the frame of the door while he locks it. It's just for a second but he turns around and Sam's taking the express route down to the floor. Dean catches him, mid-air and Sam's nearly unconscious.
He clings onto the back of Dean's shirt just to keep upright, groaning as he presses his hot goddamn forehead against Dean's collarbone and Christ, Sammy.
Dean moves quickly past the library towards Sam's bedroom, then pauses and screw it heads for his own. He probably imagines it, but his brother's shoulders seem to unknot a little as Dean opens the door to his room.
He gently deposits Sam on his bed and gets to work replacing sopping wet clothes with dry ones and hunting down med kits and make-shift IV drips.
On his way to the kitchen he bumps up the thermostat ten degrees. Yeah, the kid's burning a hole through the bed sheets but he's also shivering like he's hypothermic and every time Sammy says, cold, it breaks Dean's heart. So yeah, he turns up the stupid thermostat.
He's digging through their med-kit in the bathroom when he hears the strangled, "De-…"
He races back to the bedroom, supplies literally dropping out of his arms and forgotten on the floor.
Because Sam's curled his gigantic frame into a shivering ball on the bed and he's hugging his knees to his chest and he's fucking crying.
"Sam?" Dean kneels beside his brother and lays a hand on his forehead.
And Sam opens his big, wet eyes and he just looks all of five years old and the relief is so evident that Dean's chest hurts.
But he doesn't stop crying and shaking and Dean doesn't know what to do to make it better. And he should. He should be making it better. He should know what to do. He feels completely helpless, useless.
His brother is in so much pain and all Dean can do is ride it out with him. Useless.
"Hey, I'm right here."
"Y-yeah…" Sam hiccups. Tears pooling in his eyes as he tries to breathe through the waves of pain, sobs hitching in his throat.
"God, Sammy, don't. Please don't."
Sam sniffles, draws another shaky breath and clenches his teeth. Dean wraps his arms a little tighter. Holding together all the pieces.
"S'okay. I gotcha."
Sam bites down on a scream and weakly clenches a fistful of sheets. The other hand pulls at his hair in agony.
"Hey," Dean grabs his wrists.
"H-hurts…really bad. I don-…" Sam swallows hard and grinds his teeth.
"Okay, okay…" Dean turns back to his discarded supplies and finds the syringe. He measures a strong dosage and pries Sam's arm away long enough to swab it and bury the needle and its painkilling contents inside a vein.
Dean holds his breath.
For a moment it seems like Sam's relaxed a bit, his eyelids fluttering closed and his grip on the sheets unclenching just a hair.
Then his face pales, turning a ghastly color, and he's panting again, struggling to roll over onto his stomach.
"Hey, hey, just take it easy."
"N-nuh…" Sam gags. "Gonna…be…sick…"
"No. No you're not, Sam. You don't have anything to throw up. Just take some deep breaths. Let the medicine work its magic, huh?"
But Sam isn't really listening. He's hanging his head over the side of the bed, his throat working ninety miles an hour, and now he's on the verge of tears again.
"D'n…" he pleads. And he's looking up with those stupid eyes of his and Dean's about to lose it for the twentieth time tonight.
"Don' wanna...get sick…" he pants. "Not…on…your stuff…"
And Dean could care less about his fucking stuff but it'll make his brother feel better so he grabs Sammy a trash can.
The second it's under his chin, Sam chokes on his next swallow and starts retching for all he's worth.
It's just like Dean suspected, pinkish saliva and nothing else. But try telling that to Sam's rebelling body. He's dry heaving miserably over the trashcan, gulping air in between bouts.
"Aw, kid…" Dean rubs a steady hand up and down his little brother's back and can't do anything but wait.
When its finally over, Sam doesn't even try to roll onto his back. He just slumps down across the side of the bed. So Dean grabs him under his arms, like when Sam was a baby and asking to be picked up, and levers him gently onto his back.
He grabs one of the Gatorades he snatched earlier and cups a hand underneath Sam's head.
"Here, just a little okay? Make your throat feel better," he tries.
Sam doesn't even bother to crack his eyes, just obediently opens his mouth when the plastic touches his lips. He swallows a tiny amount of the blue liquid on reflex. Dean readjusts his head on the pillow and immediately Sam's asleep. Or just passed out from exhaustion.
Dean makes sure to attach his DIY drip. Sam's already malnourished. Least he could do was keep him hydrated.
He pulls the blankets over Sam's shoulders and brushes away the strands of sweaty hair plastered across his unconscious brother's forehead before switching off the overhead light.
He stands for a moment, looking at his brother. His brave, stupid, pain-in-the-ass brother. His living brother.
And suddenly it's too hot and Dean can't breathe and why the hell did he turn up the heat so high.
He stumbles into the bathroom and collapses onto the floor with his back to the bathtub and knees drawn up to his chest.
His gaze lingers in the hallway and he can see the open door to Sam's bedroom, just across from his own. It's dark and empty and Dean's breath hitches in his throat and the ache in his chest is suddenly an invisible hand crushing the life from his heart.
Because what if he hadn't have been in time…what if he had come home and Sammy's room just stayed like that, dark and empty. What if Sam…
A painful, gut-wrenching spasm breaks free from Dean's throat. And then he's sobbing. His gut aches like hell and he thinks he might be dying. He cries for everything they've lost. For what he came so close to losing…again.
He's just so damn tired of trying to fix everything. He tries to put everything back together, make things right, and all he ends up with is a broken brother.
He wants to take Sam, stuff him in the Impala and drive until nothing and no one can ever find them again. And fuck, if Jason Bourne could do it…
And it's not like they have the American government hunting down their asses or anything. Nope. Just heaven and hell and all the supernatural bastards in between.
Piece of cake.
Dean wipes his face, scrubs a hand over his eyes and nearly jumps out of his skin when he looks up and the light in the hallway has been replaced by a wavering shadow. Suddenly the bathroom lights flick on and Dean's eyes are flinching against the unexpected brightness.
"Jesus, Sam. What the hell are you doing up?"
"Heard somethin'…was w-worried." Sam's looking down at Dean with an expression pin-balling between fear and confused concern.
His pupils are blown, his eyes glazed, and the doorway is the only thing keeping him vertical but for now at least, some of the pain seems to have dulled. There aren't as many tension lines crisscrossing his forehead. But he's swaying on his feet, looking woozy.
"Yeah, well everything's fine. Come on, Sasquatch. Back to bed." Dean jumps up from the floor and moves to grab Sam before he face-plants.
"D'n…" Sam slurs. "Why're you on th'floor?"
"I tripped. Now shut up and move your legs." Dean wraps an arm under Sam's. His body still feels overly warm, but it's an improvement from the sun's surface.
"M'kay…bu' you shou'd'n be 'lone 'n th'dark…mon'sers."
"Duly noted, Cheech."
Dean drags Sam's giraffe limbs back into the bedroom and lays him on the bed. Determines he's going to stay there. Sam's getting his damn beauty sleep. He reattaches the discarded drip and orders Sam to stay put this time around.
His brother is loopy and drowsy but still coherent enough to grab Dean's arm before he moves to turn out the lights again.
"Hey," Two orbs of glassy hazel blink up expectantly at Dean. "M'here too D'n…not goin' anywhere."
And fuck now the kid's gonna make him start bawling again. But he clears his throat a few times.
"Yeah, damn straight, kiddo."
"Y'know," Sam's almost asleep. "Since we're both here, we shou'd go on'a trip. Like Hawaii or somethin'…somewh'r we've n'vr been, bu' with sun."
Dean can't help it when his eyes well up. This time, he can't say anything.
Sam no longer sees his brother, but he smiles before his heavy eyes finally get the better of him and his breathing finally evens out in deep sleep.
Dean pulls his chair from the corner and settles himself beside the bed, one hand resting on his brother's arm. No slipping, Sammy.
Moments later he's on a beach.
I was tossing around the idea of writing a short tag to this story taking place the morning after. Thoughts? In any case, thanks for reading! ~P