Characters: Sam and Dean
Warnings: Season 10, serious injury, swearing, worshiping the porcelain god
Summary: Missing scene. Dean's a day into being human again ... so far so good. Now, Sam can melt.
Author's Notes: This started as an insmallpackages fill that got a little bigger than its box. Request: "SPN ficlet featuring hurt!Sam or sick!Sam. A bittersweet feel would be awesome. Gen please." I tried!
Very special thanks to my legion of betas who saved my bacon at the last minute! No better folks, this is truth: balder12cassiopeia7riyku and nwspaprtaxis.
UPDATE: Now, with a banner! A lovely birthday present from milly_gal. You're the best, babe!
There’s a soft rap at the bedroom door. Dean almost doesn’t hear it, for all the loud thoughts in his brain.
You were the disease. You liked it. You liked the feel of your fist splitting a face and the black flick of your eyes and the chaos you caused, oh, you really liked that best.
On and on, he can’t shut it off. His poisonous rhetoric keeps up its constant loop until the second set of knocks and the doorknob jiggles. Only then does he snap out of it. Dean didn't lock the door because he doesn’t dare. He wants to be sure someone—Sam, Cas—can find him and trust him at any given moment.
Because he still can’t trust himself.
“Dean?” The door opens just enough for Sam to slide his head and one shoulder inside. It’s the arm with the sling, and the ugly burn of regret blooms somewhere deep in Dean’s chest. Emotional indigestion. He didn’t clip Sam’s wing, but he wasn’t there to stop it either. He was still somehow personally responsible for all the choices Sam had to make to drag him back to the human side of life, or whatever.
Dean rolls off the bed, boots and all, and pastes a smile on his face. The heartache eases up a touch as he gets to his feet.
There’s a beer caught between the sling and Sam’s chest, a plate and a bag of Sunchips juggled in the other hand. Sam’d always been decently ambidextrous, and Dean can’t help but feel bitterly glad for it. Yesterday, if Sam hadn’t been able to give Dean pause with a knife to the throat, stymie him long enough for Cas to sneak up behind, Sam might well have had a hammer lodged in his skull right now. Gray matter all over the floor like moldy scrambled eggs...
“Made you a BLT, heavy on the B, light on the L.” He’s wedged, half-in half-out of the room, and it finally dawns on Dean that he’s waiting for permission to come inside and throw food at him.
It’s a clumsy sort of thing between them, after years of sharing the same car and motel rooms and shirts and air, for fuck’s sake.
Dean waves his hand and fakes a scoff at Sam’s sudden manners. Doesn’t feel like courtesy, feels like fear or shame, wrapped in nineteen different flavors of guilt. He tugs his sleeve down over the Mark as Sam steps into the room, kicks the door shut again with one foot. “Not interrupting your ‘me’ time, am I?” he says, a sidelong glance and smart-ass grin just barely edging out the droop in his eyes.
Sam looks like shit, there’s no two ways about it. He’s sporting the purple-green, abraded remnants of a shiner, and Dean’s pretty sure he outweighs him now. Then there’s the arm. It has to be bad if Sam’s actually wearing the sling because showing weakness? Giving your foe something to work with? Is so not the Winchester way. Dean has to swallow back the cringe of knowing that the ‘foe’ was, in fact, him.
He takes the beer and chips from Sam and watches as he perches on the edge of the desk, fidgeting to get comfortable.
“Ay. Get your bony ass off my dinner table. Go sit on the bed, for Christ’s sake.”
Sam huffs. “Yes, ma’am.” He leaves the sandwich and swaps spots with Dean, sighing audibly and shoulders sinking as he eases onto the bed. He’s even got a ghost of a grin, which manages to lift Dean’s sour mood in some small way.
It’s a good sandwich, too, despite the brown bread with bits of what Dean can only imagine are nuts or fiber or health nuggets in it. He hadn’t realize how hungry he’d been, or how good food tasted when there wasn’t the weird cling of something sulfurous in the back of his throat...might’ve been his imagination, but that doesn’t matter now. He’s powered through the sandwich and half a beer, is ripping open the chips, when he notices Sam has flopped back onto the mattress, still smiling vaguely towards the ceiling but his eyes are shut.
He must feel Dean’s stare on him because he exhales and cracks an eye. “Okay, I’ll give you points for the Memory Foam. This is some good shit right here.”
“You don’t gotta babysit me while I eat, you know,” Dean says around a mouthful, shakes the bag of chips at his brother, but Sam just hums and ignores it.
“Not doing that,” he says, eventually. “Can’t I just hang out here? Listen to you chew with your mouth open? That acceptable?” He sounds a little snippy and a lot tired, the words starting to slop together.
“You pass out on my bed and I’ve got a Sharpie with your name all over it.”
Dean gets a lazy offer of Sam’s middle finger.
The words stick on Dean’s tongue. “I just. Man, I...”
Then it’s Dean’s turn to “Hmm?”
Sam sighs. “You don’t have to say anything. Not right now, ‘kay? You’re back. I’m okay, you’re okay. Okay?”
“But what if I wanna talk? You actually telling me not to? Mr. Touchie Feelie?”
“You really wanna talk?”
“Then shut it.” Sam says on a yawn. “We got time, Dean. We got all...the...”
Dean stops, mid-Sunchip, and looks over. Sam’s mouth is slack, and he’s honest-to-God snoring. Asleep, just like that.
Nothing. Dean sets down the chips and debates. Sam's all over the bed, two legs and one arm flung wide. Dean could just nudge him over, probably; the bed's the next step up from a twin, but it'll be tight the way Sam sleeps. Always was a restless sleeper, like he could never quite turn off. Flopping and twitching, murmuring nonsense that often sounded like Latin. Or worse, Enochian.
Nope, Sam needs to get into his own bed, Dean decides. Or Dean could sleep in Sam's bed, but, crap, no Memory Foam. There are just some things Dean doesn't feel like sacrificing at the moment, rehumanized or not, and his mattress is one of them. It's the little things that make him feel normal again, or however close to normal a Winchester can get, which arguably, isn't very.
“Okay, you're outta here.” Dean stands up and nudges the bed with his knee a few times. Sam lolls, but does little else, maybe a foot twitches. Dean pokes Sam's forehead and gets the same response. He must really be out, to not so much as grunt back something half-understandable or annoyed.
Dean takes a couple of aborted stabs at grabbing Sam, but the sling makes it almost impossible. He can't haul Sam up from under his arms or pull on his shoulders. Hell, he's hardly certain Sam should even be sleeping with the damn sling on. Dean plants his fists on his hips and lets himself scowl on this for a minute. He's not really irritated, though; he just wants his bed tonight. Alone. Willfully alone.
He theorizes that if he gets Sam upright, he'll rouse enough to stumble to his own room. It seems like a viable, if sketchy, solution. Dean leans over and gets his palms under Sam's back, catching a whiff of why Sam isn't stirring.
Whiskey. All over Sam's breath, practically oozing out his pores. Well, that answers a question or three, but poses a bigger one … makes him wonder when Sam had gotten so good at drinking that Dean couldn't even tell anymore.
Dean sloughs off the thought and shoves on Sam's back, gets himself behind his brother to lever him into an awkward upright slump. Sam's head flops forward behind a curtain of hair.
“Come on, Sammy, you gotta help me out, here,” Dean says into Sam's ear, leaning against him, but Sam remains silent and lax. Of course it wouldn't be easy, because this is Dean Winchester's life. “Fine. This ain't gonna be pretty.”
Dean, one arm still around Sam's waist to keep him vertical, winds around to the front of him and gets a shoulder under Sam's chest, letting him flop over Dean's back. He takes a deep breath and huffs into a fireman's carry, his thighs straining but Sam is lighter than he should be. He's just long as hell and dangles limbs across Dean's back like a … well, the best thing Dean can relate him to is a dead body. Good thing they only have to cross the hall, or they'd both likely go down in a heap and smash Sam's other shoulder and Dean's bum knee, maybe a skull or two.
He manages to kick open the door and get into the hallway, narrowly avoiding knocking Sam's head into the door frame. Maybe it's all the jostling, but Sam finally groans and shows signs of life. Dean can feel him lift his head and mumble out a “What th'fuck...”
“S'okay, just doing a little redecorating,” Dean grunts out.
Sam's head thumps back down. “Cool.”
He gets Sam to the bedroom—Sam's sterile, undecorated, bedroom—and drops him onto the pristinely made bed. Sam's always spartan, but this borders on un-lived-in. Orderly notes are tacked to a corkboard, and his desk has exactly three pens, one each blue, black and red, sitting on a closed notebook. The lone shelf in the room has books stacked on it, in descending size order: the Encyclopedia Daemonica, several fat files, and a bunch of Game of Thrones paperbacks, but that's it. No used plates, no clothes in piles or a trashcan full of wadded up notes. Dean wonders if Sam had slept elsewhere, like in his bedroom instead.
“Dean,” Sam says, dragging himself upright and lifting red, puffy eyes.
All the color leaches out of Sam's face in a flash, and that's all Dean needs to see to hustle for the empty trashcan. He makes it, mostly.
There's a fair amount of disgusting splashback, all over Sam's shirt and the damned sling, because clearly Sam drank his lunch, but Dean rears back in time to avoid most of it and still manages to keep the trashcan under Sam's mouth.
He hurks twice more, down to dry heaves, as Dean patiently looks at the ceiling, breathing through his mouth.
“You done, there, sunshine?”
Sam drags a shaking hand across his mouth. “God, if I'm not, I'll be throwing up my intestines.”
“Maybe next time, solid food for a change, huh?”
“Alright, alright.” Dean sets the trashcan far, far aside. Like, in the hall. “Let's get you out of those clothes before the stink soaks in.”
Sam slides him a weary scowl, but concedes to being manhandled. As Dean unfastens the sling, he counts his few blessings that he hauled Sam to his own bed in time.
“You got another one of these?” he asks as he flings the sling to the corner.
Sam shakes his head.
“Great. We'll find you another. That one is toxic now.” Dean undoes each button on Sam's ubiquitous plaid shirt and eases the good arm out. Sam extends his wounded one, wincing. It's noticeably scrawnier than the good arm, so Dean's extra-special-careful when he slides off the shirt. A livid bruise runs down to the elbow from under Sam's t-shirt, which has to go, too. Dean rolls the shirt up from the bottom and pulls it over Sam's head, leaving the bum arm for last. He lobs both garments at the soiled sling, and hopes there's some Febreeze in the bunker somewhere.
“God. Sam.” As suspected, the shoulder is officially bad. Fucking bad. Dean expected it to be grim, but seeing it up close and in graphic detail is another thing altogether. They're used to being banged up. He's witnessed Sam in a coma, hell, dead even, and the shoulder still makes him cringe. Not only is it one massive bruise, there's a line of staples pinching closed a slice that runs from the top of Sam's shoulder, down over the back of his arm. It's probably seven inches long, angry around the edges, and the fact it's not hand-sewn means that Sam had to drag himself to the hospital, something they usually reserve for near-death experiences, for a metric shit-ton of reasons.
“It's getting better,” Sam mumbles stubbornly.
“How the fuck, Sam?”
“Demon. I told you.”
“Were you alone? Tell me you weren't stupid enough—”
“Stop lecturing. I'm a God-damned grown-up, Dean. Cas was there too.”
“Well, fat lot of good that did!”
“He got me to the hospital, didn't he?”
Dean straightens, clears his throat. “Alright, then.”
Sam exhales, shuddering briefly. Goose flesh prickles over his bare chest, which Dean notes, doesn't yet have an anti-possession tattoo re-inked. Sloppy, Sam. His collar bone and sternum are clearly outlined, and he's as pale as the belly of a fish.
“Can I get some water?” When Dean doesn't move straight away, Sam adds a plaintive “Please?”
Dean forces his voice to soften, swallows back the irritation rising at Sam, at himself. “Dude. You've got to take better care of yourself. This is … not …”
“I know. Had a few more pressing things on my mind the past few weeks.”
Dean swipes his palm over his face and his heart constricts.
Sam looks up, eyelids at half-mast. He knows. “Don't. This isn't blame, man. It is what it is. You fucked up, so did I. Acknowledge, move on. It's what we gotta do to keep on keepin' on. Okay?”
Fuck you, Sam. For understanding. Dean nods.
“Great. Water, then?” Sam licks his dry lips, pulls a face.
“Right.” Dean hops up and jogs out to get a bottle of water from the kitchen. He passes big chunks of bunker wall smashed by a hammer. A shredded door. By the time he returns, Sam is flat on his back again, his destroyed arm clutched protectively to his chest, eyes closed and cast in shadows. If not for shallow breaths, the rising and falling of his ribs, he could be dead. It's too familiar.
Dean hopes to hell Sam won't remember any of this in the morning.
And because once in a very blue moon, the Winchesters catch a break, he doesn't.
Two weeks later, they're sitting by a lake in a pair of stolen lawn chairs, drinking beer and watching a powerboat streak across the water, when Dean hazards to bring it up again.
“Alright, so you've been kicked, bit, scratched, stabbed, possessed, killed … and you sprain your fucking' elbow?”
Sam's brows quirk above his sunglasses, and he's faking righteous indignation. “Dude, it was more than a sprain, alright? It was my shoulder, and it was a fuckin' demon, but— ”
“But what? That sling come with a slice of crybaby pie on the side? Please.” The sling that Dean spent an hour washing, the day after...
Sam snorts, lets it ride, gives it a few minutes and shifts gears. Like he does. “So, how you doing?”
Dean smiles, and for the first time in for-freaking-ever, it feels … hopeful. “I'm golden, man.”
“Come on .”
“Seriously, I'm good.”
But what he means is, We're good. They knock beer bottles and for the day, yeah, they're good.