Crash Pad
K Hanna Korossy

"Yeah, right. No way would she look that good."

Sam sighed for the eighth time, rolled his eyes for the…well, it had been a lot. "Dude. You're the one who picked this." He shifted on the sofa, grimacing, and adjusted the melting ice pack between his legs. "I just wanted to watch TV."

"You wanted to watch Judge Judy," Dean shot back. At Sam's jab to his ribs, he swallowed hard and pressed the pillow more firmly against his bandaged side. "Hey, wounded man here!"

"Take a number," Bobby muttered from the easy chair he was sunken into at their right. He still looked sallow and pinched, and Sam gave him another sympathetic wince. Secretly, he couldn't help being glad he didn't remember what it felt like to have your soul "angel-groped," as Dean had tactfully put it. And Bobby's hadn't just been touched; he'd had energy siphoned off. It looked like a few years of his life had gone with it, Sam couldn't help but think.

"Dude, seriously?" Dean exclamed. "Look how clean that road is. Where's all the horse—?"

"Castiel!" Sam quickly called back over his shoulder. "Y'all right over there?"

"Yes," came the simple answer.

Sam twisted back to see if it was the truth, flinching at the pull on inflamed muscles, and saw Cas in the exact same position he'd been an hour before, slumped in a chair in the entrance hall, staring at the wall. Which, knowing angels, was maybe perfectly normal. Sam sighed—ninth time—and sunk back into the sofa.

"Oh, come on! Look at him—he just rode in and his shirt's white."

Sam returned his attention to the person sharing the sofa with him. "You gonna be like this whenever we watch a Western now? Because remember how Dad would get when we watched anything with Marines in it? You're, like, ten times worse."

"Dude," Dean insisted, undeterred, "it's just wrong."

"Dude," Sam answered impatiently, "I don't care."

Dean glowered at him, then crossed his arms, flinched and uncrossed them, and proceeded to sulk.

Sam counted to ten in Latin, reminding himself how he'd felt a few hours before.

The euphoria of first returning to the twenty-first century, then of receiving the package from Samuel Colt, had finally receded. The aches of hours of horseback riding the previous night had begun to flare into a fire along his thighs and groin, and Sam surreptitiously sought an exit. That was when he noticed Dean slipping out of the living room, arm pressed suspiciously against his side.

He'd followed, wincing with every step. "Hey. Y'all right?"

Dean turned back, startled, oilskin coat flapping. Sam was pretty sure he glimpsed a dark stain underneath. "Me? Sure. Why?"

Right, not dubious at all. "Did he clip you?" Sam's memory played back those last few seconds in 1861, and he frowned as he remembered two shots fired, not just Dean's one. "Let me see."

"Dude, it's—" Dean's lie fell apart in a gasp as he tried to turn away and Sam simultaneously tugged his coat back. The discolored spot over his left ribs shone wetly in the light above until he yanked his coat back. "It's just a graze, okay? No big deal."

"Yes, Dean," Sam said flatly, jaw bunching and unbunching with aimless anger. "You getting shot anywhere, let alone in the Old West with its million germs, is a big deal." He grabbed his brother's good arm and towed him toward the kitchen.

"You're a buzzkill, you know that? And a complete hypocrite." As Sam looked back with a raised eyebrow, Dean innocently goosed him in the rear. His very pummeled, very sore rear.

Sam absolutely did not squeal like a girl.

"Looks like that horse rode you, too," Dean said smugly.

Just for that, Sam didn't bother being gentle as he yanked Dean's duster off.

It was just a graze, after all, albeit a deep one that cut a furrow through Dean's abs and skimmed his ribs. Sam cleaned the wound a half-dozen times and put in some stitches while Dean cursed and drank "good rotgut" and complained about the amenities in the 1800s.

Sam didn't miss his brother's increasing pallor, however, or the very tight grip he had on the edge of the chair. In a burst of contrition, Sam dished up bowls of Bobby's chili from the fridge and cracked some beers, smirking as Dean moved on to extolling the merits of modern cooking and brewing.

Sometimes it amazed him how easy his brother was to please. Some good food and alcohol, a woman who didn't look like the poster girl for VD, his car, and his family, and Dean was a happy guy. It had always been Sam who'd yearned for more. He'd sighed at the thought, adjusting himself, and grimaced at the pull on all kinds of muscles he didn't usually think about.

And with only a knowing look and a mutter about pains in the ass, Dean had left his bowl and beer and gotten up to fetch an icepack, giving it to Sam with no more than a look of profound empathy.

That, Sam reminded himself, was why he wasn't smothering his brother now.

Dean snorted at the TV. "You see that? Those lanterns aren't even smoking. You remember how bad they smelled when we lit 'em, Sam?"

"I'm about to light you up, boy, if you don't shut up," Bobby growled.

Dean blinked at him in surprise, then leaned a little toward Sam, speaking low. "You think he's feeling left out that he didn't get to go with us?"

"Yeah," Sam said dryly. "I'm sure that's it."

Dean looked at him uncertainly but was soon distracted by the movie again.

Sam peered over the couch. Yep, Castiel was still there, haggard but more composed than Sam would have felt if one of his own had betrayed and tried to kill him. At least the angel looked better than he had that afternoon.

A snore announced that Bobby had finally succumbed to his obvious fatigue and was sawing logs in the easy chair with his head tipped back.

Then there was the sudden drag on his shoulder. Sam looked down to find that Dean had given up critiquing the Western and was similarly sacked out. His head was tipped toward Sam, arm still curled protectively around the pillow that covered his wounded side. Neither of them had slept the night before, and between fatigue and blood loss, Sam was surprised his brother had lasted this long.

Sam felt his own eyes getting heavy. Dean wasn't the only one who'd missed sleep, and Sam had spent his night on a horse. One hundred and fifty years earlier. Marveling, he settled back, careful not to jostle the sleeping invalid on his shoulder. They must make quite the sorry picture, he thought with a flicker of humor: Team Free Will, battered and drained and nursing various injuries, but still there.

They really should be looking for Eve. Now that they had the phoenix's ashes, they could go on the offense instead of just reacting, and it was time to end her before she unleashed more monsters on the world. Sam yawned. There was also still the threat of Raphael, and the civil war Cas seemed to be losing even with Heaven's weapons. And, oh yeah, the flimsy wall in Sam's head that was apparently all the protection he had against a lethal flood of memories of the Cage. He blinked slowly. Plenty of reasons they should be burning the midnight oil, at least figuratively. Dean was right, real oil lanterns stank…to high…

The End