Summary: Everything’s not okay, but Sammy’s here. Five times Sam took care of Dean.
Characters: Mainly Sam and Dean, with a little bit of John.
Rating: PG-13 (Genfic.) A bit of cussing, violence, and gore.
Word count: 3,700
Disclaimer: Don’t own them. Not making money off of them.
Author’s Notes: This is a belated birthday fic for swanseajill, a great beta reader and friend. She’s kind and funny and supportive, and I’m very glad to know her. :) Happy (belated) birthday, dear! Also, thanks to marinarusalka, not only for the beta on this fic, but also for helping me pin down a title. Your advice and suggestions are much appreciated!
This story is also available as a podfic, courtesy of twasadark.
Mommy walks up to Dean’s bed, flames eating her body, and tilts what’s left of her head to the side. “It’s okay, Dean,” she rasps. She smells like smoke and rotting meat. “Mommy’s here. Everything’s okay.”
Dean shakes his head, hard. It’s not okay. Mommy burning is not okay.
She reaches toward him, and he scrambles back against the wall, opens his mouth to scream --
And jerks awake in a different bed, a different room. He’s breathing hard, heart a fist banging on a door, pillow damp with sweat. Running the back of an arm over his forehead, he takes a deep, shaky breath and blows it out. Tells himself everything’s all right.
Mommy -- Mom -- isn’t burning.
Sheets rustle in the bed to Dean’s right, and in the darkness, he can make out Sammy’s small, pajama-clad shape, sitting up and clutching a teddy bear.
Sammy doesn’t sound as sleepy as he should, and Dean wonders how long he’s been awake.
Sammy sets his bear down, slips out of bed, and comes over to Dean, footsteps soft against carpet. In the faint glow of the Mickey Mouse nightlight, Dean can see the crease in Sammy’s forehead, the way he’s biting his bottom lip.
Willing his heart to slow down, Dean sits up and forces his fists to unclench from the comforter, tries to look like a big, bad eight-year-old, not a freaked out little kid who wants and doesn’t want his mom.
“You okay, Dean?”
“Fine,” he says, and thinks he sounds pretty okay, all things considered. “Go back to sleep.”
Sammy gives him a long look and frowns. “You were making funny noises.”
Heat rushes across Dean’s face like a fever, and he slides his eyes away for a second. He shrugs. “Just a bad dream. I don’t even remember it now.”
Except he does. It’s the same one he’s had every November 2 since Mom died.
“You look scared.” Sammy cocks his head to the side and nods, as if answering some question in his head. “I’ll get Daddy.”
“No!” Dean grabs Sammy’s arm so tight Sammy winces. He lets go, and Sammy rubs at bare skin, looking more worried than hurt. “Sorry,” Dean says softly. “Just … let Dad sleep.”
Although Dad’s probably not sleeping. He usually doesn’t on this night.
Sammy watches Dean for a moment and then stands up straighter, expression so serious and grown up, Dean almost laughs.
“You need a story,” Sammy announces, and turns on the lamp.
The brightness is like a flashlight shining in his eyes, and Dean squints and blinks as his vision adjusts. Sammy does the same, then starts pawing through the small stack of books shoved up against a dingy wall.
Dean almost tells him Forget the book, let’s just go to bed, but if it’ll keep Sammy from bugging Dad, or staring at him for the rest of the night, it can’t hurt.
It takes only a few seconds for Sammy to find what he wants, and Dean purses his lips. Harold and the Purple Crayon. Sammy’s insisted on it at bedtime every night for three weeks, memorized it after two.
Sammy gets up on Dean’s bed, clutching the book like it’s the prize from a cereal box, and Dean shifts to make room, lifts the covers so Sammy can get under them. After the pillow’s flipped and fluffed, they stretch out, Sammy’s left arm on top of Dean’s right as he opens the book.
Dean can’t help feeling a little stupid as Sammy turns to the first page. He’s supposed to read Sammy bedtime stories, not the other way around.
Sammy clears his throat and starts reciting the book, slow and careful. “One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.”
As the story continues, Harold using his purple crayon to draw everything he needs to get from one place to the next, Dean’s self-consciousness fades. Sammy’s voice is a warm blanket wrapping around him, and his body relaxes, inch by inch, and then grows heavy. His eyes slide shut.
Everything’s not okay, but Sammy’s here.
Sam’s sprawled on his bed reading The Screwtape Letters when he hears the front door creak open and shut, and then Dean and Casey’s voices. He rolls his eyes. Great. He knew he should’ve stayed at the library. Now Dean’s here with her, which means all sorts of kissing and touching are about to happen. They’ll start in the living room -- Dad’s still at work -- and end up in the bedroom, possibly half naked. Or worse.
A shudder works its way through Sam’s body, a mini earthquake of horror, and he sets his jaw. He is notgoing to watch Dean in action. He doesn’t deserve to be scarred for life at age twelve.
He’s eyeing the window, wondering if he can squeeze through without the latch squeaking, when he hears it.
“Dean. Umm … I don’t want to go out with you anymore.”
Sam’s head jerks toward the door, whiplash fast, because this is new. Nobody’s ever broken up with Dean.
“Come again?” Dean says, sounding as shocked as if Casey just said there’s no such thing as ghosts.
A heavy sigh, and she continues. “I’m sorry, Dean. I really like you, but … there’s this guy, Preston -- ”
Dean snorts, disgust obvious. “The captain of the football team?”
“Dean … I’m really sorry.”
Sam winces. “I’m really sorry” isn’t going to make getting dumped for some dumb jock any easier. Not when Dean likes Casey as much as he does, so much that he stole carnations for her out of Mrs. Simmons’ garden.
“Dean,” Casey says softly. “I just -- ”
“Dean, you home?” Sam yells, barreling out of the bedroom and into the middle of the conversation. It’ll probably piss Dean off, but he has to stop this. He waves at Casey, all fake cheer. “Hey, Casey! I didn’t know you were here. I had the headphones on.” He turns to Dean, whose ears are pink. Tight lines frame Dean’s mouth. “You need to meet Dad at the garage, like, right now. Someone called in sick.”
It’s like Sam’s given Casey a get-out-of jail-free card. An uncomfortable glance and murmured “See you at school” are all she gives Dean before hurrying out the door.
As it shuts, Dean stares at Sam, eyebrows drawing together. “Dad really need me?”
Sam shakes his head.
Dean’s lips purse, and Sam steels himself for it, for Dean to chew him out for lying, for eavesdropping on a private conversation. Instead, Dean shoulders by him into the bedroom and closes the door, hard. Ozzy starts blasting almost immediately.
Sam stands there, a tree growing roots, and considers his next move. He wants to do something, help somehow, but Dean probably wants to be left alone.
There has to be some middle ground. He just has to find it.
A couple minutes later, he does, and a minute after that, he’s knocking on the bedroom door.
“What?” Dean snaps, barely audible over the music.
Sam opens the door and pokes his head in. Dean’s on the bed, back against the wall, arms folded over his chest. His jaw’s clenching and relaxing, clenching and relaxing, rhythm precise as a metronome.
They stare at each other, and then Sam shoots a pointed glance at the stereo. Dean huffs but turns it off, then raises an eyebrow.
“I uh … ” Sam walks into the bedroom and shows off a plate of Oreos and a glass of milk. “Thought you might want a snack.”
Dean’s eyes narrow, predator targeting prey. “Are those the Oreos you swore to me, on penalty of ass-kicking, were gone?”
A slight cringe. “Yeah.”
Dean looks from Sam to the Oreos and back again, then snorts, lips twitching. Sitting up, he motions toward the plate. “Hand ’em over, bitch.”
Sam does, grinning a little, and watches Dean stuff an entire Oreo into his mouth and wash it down with a noisy gulp of milk. Another cookie quickly follows.
Sam’s not sure if he’s escaped the ass kicking, but even if he hasn’t, he figures it’s worth it.
“Hold him down, dammit!” Dad booms, and Sam jumps a little.
“I’m trying,” he grates out, and he is, hands pushing Dean against the muddy forest floor. But even though he’s got height on Dean -- has since just before turning seventeen last month -- Dean’s strong, and his body jackknifes with every tug of needle and thread.
“Dad.” Dean’s voice is hoarse, gravel scraping underfoot, and God, he looks bad. His color’s three shades too light, and he’s sweating like the sun’s an inferno above them, even though it’s nearly gone, a breezy spring afternoon giving way to evening. “Gimme a minute.”
“Can’t,” Dad says, tight as a trip wire, and Sam knows Dad hates this as much as he does.
Sam’s never seen a hunt go bad like this one. They knew what they were after, had a solid plan and all the right weapons, and the baykok still got the drop on them, though barely, forced to use its arrow as a close-quarters weapon instead of an airborne missile. It still did a hell of a lot of damage, slashing through the meaty part of Dean’s thigh before Dad took it down.
The mud’s soaking through Sam’s jeans, and the scent of pine is making his nose itch, but he doesn’t care. He’s too busy worrying about his brother below him and the forest around them. His eyes stray to the towering trees and massive boulders every so often, scanning for movement. Their research indicated there might be two baykoks out here, not just one.
God, this sucks, no matter which way you look at it. And he’s considered every angle twice.
Dad pushes needle through bloody, torn flesh again, muttering, “Hold still,” and Dean groans and squeezes his eyes shut, but he doesn’t buck under Sam’s weight.
When he looks back up at Sam, Sam can barely hold his gaze. There’s too much agony there, more than Dean’s ever allowed him to see, and Sam feels like some kind of twisted voyeur.
He wishes, not for the first time, that they were at the hospital, but they’re stuck playing amateur ER for the time being. The Impala’s parked too far away to be of use anytime soon, and their cell phones haven’t found a signal in hours.
Another stitch, and Dean makes a noise Sam’s never heard before, a whimper, dammit. Sam doesn’t ever want to hear that again, knows Dean doesn’t, either, so he starts talking, covering fire for them both. He doesn’t remember half of what he says later, but he does remember Dean locking eyes with him like he’s the answer to everything.
Several minutes that feel like days pass, and then Dad’s done, and Dean’s barely conscious, and Sam’s shaking as he murmurs, “It’s okay, Dean. Take it easy. It’s over.”
Dean nods once, a faint movement, and then his eyes slip shut as his head rolls to the side.
Sam doesn’t release his grip on Dean’s shoulders until after Dad checks Dean’s pulse and nods.
“He’ll be okay,” Dad says gruffly, scrubbing a hand over his face before meeting Sam’s eyes. “Cleaned out the wound real good, and the stitches will hold until we can get him to a hospital.”
Dad’s probably right, but Sam can’t totally relax. Not until they get Dean out of here.
He gets to his feet and winces. His legs are cramped and cold, wet denim clinging to skin. “It’d only take a few hours for one of us to get to the forest ranger’s station,” he says, not expecting Dad to approve the idea but needing to put it out there anyway.
Dad nods. “I know. But the sun’s almost down, and if another baykok’s around, it’ll strike when it’s dark. Odds are a hell of a lot better if we stick together.”
Dad’s right. And it sucks.
Blowing out a long sigh, Sam grabs a blanket out of his duffel and spreads it over Dean as Dad starts packing up the first-aid kit.
“I’ll get a fire going, take first watch,” Dad says. “Keep an eye on your brother.”
Sam nods, sits down, and draws his knees to his chest. He wraps an arm around his legs, as much to hold himself together as to drive away the evening chill, and reaches under the blanket to close his hand around Dean’s wrist, thumb resting over Dean’s pulse.
He doesn’t let go until it’s his turn to take watch.
When Sam wakes from some much-needed sleep, drool at the corner of his mouth and on the pillow, he finds a note on the nightstand.
Watering Hole. Back later.
Sam’s not surprised Dean’s at the bar. They’ve been low on cash since Burkitsville, and are catching their breath for the first time in weeks.
Sam’s stomach growls, a pointed reminder it’s nine o’clock and he hasn’t had dinner yet, and he decides he might as well hit The Watering Hole. It’s either that or get fast food, and a cold beer sounds pretty damned good.
The Impala’s gone, but the bar’s walking distance from their motel, so Sam heads out on foot. He wonders if Dean will even be there by the time he arrives, or if he’ll be off with some girl he picked up.
Ten minutes later finds Sam inside his destination, eyes burning a little at the cigarette smoke fogging up the air. Through the haze and dim lighting, he sees Dean slouching at a table, two busty blondes plastered to his sides like they’ve been super-glued there. Dean waves, and Sam heads over, peanut shells crunching under his feet.
“Dude!” Dean slurs, eyes glassy, smile sloppy and loose. “Didn’t ’spect you.
Sam shrugs. “Thought I’d grab some dinner.” The girls, who look fairly sober, are eyeing him like he’s a stripper at a bachelorette party, and he hastily adds, “Takeout.”
“C’mon, Sammy. Siddown.” Dean uses a boot to nudge a chair toward Sam. “Meet Mindy ’n’ Mandy.”
“Cindy and Candy,” the girl on the right corrects Dean, cherry lips quirking up. Amused, not annoyed. “I’m Cindy.”
Candy pats the chair next to Sam and leans forward, exposing the neon-pink lace of her bra. “We’d love you to join us.”
Dean’s smile turns into a leer, and an eyebrow arches. “Girls’r real nice.”
Sam sighs, wonders when Dean will give up on Project Get Sammy Laid. “Thanks, but no thanks.”
The girls look disappointed, and Dean rolls his eyes. “Okay, man. La’er.”
After ordering takeout and a Newcastle to drink while he waits, Sam perches on a barstool and takes a swig of beer. He lazily spins around and then freezes, bottle halfway to his mouth, because Dean’s on stage, saying something to the guy running the karaoke machine.
Karaoke Guy nods at Dean, and a moment later, the music starts, a frighteningly familiar song. Sam’s mouth drops open like a broken nutcracker.
Dean grabs the microphone like it’s the only thing holding him up and slurs out, “Thissis for m’girls, Mindy ’n’ Mandy.” He clears his throat. “Ev’ry nigh’in my dreams, I see you, I feeeeeel you. Tha’s how I know you go ooooon.”
Sam’s horror is growing, because Dean isn’t just reading lyrics flashed up on a screen, he’s singing pitch perfect, which means he knows the song really, really well.
“ … Near, far, where’er you are, I belie’tha’ th’eart does go ooooon.”
Giving himself a mental shake, Sam scans the bar. Some people look aghast, others are laughing outright. Dean’s oblivious, belting it out like he’s going for a Grammy.
The girls are eating it up.
Sam sets his beer on the bar and gets to his feet. God knows, he’s not above letting Dean make a drunken ass out of himself from time to time, but he has to draw a line somewhere. He’s not that cruel.
He heads to the stage and grabs Dean’s arm. “C’mon, man. Show’s over,” he says, dragging a clumsily resisting Dean off the stage and to Dean’s table.
Candy’s beaming. “That was sooo sweet.”
Cindy nods. “Totally.”
“Thanks,” Dean slurs, and passes out.
Sam staggers a little under a couple hundred pounds of dumbass brother, but keeps Dean from kissing the floor.
So much for dinner.
Sighing, he hefts Dean up and over a shoulder. “Sorry, girls. Club Dean’s closed.”
They look highly disappointed for all of three seconds, and then their eyes rake over Sam, lingering in places he’d really rather they didn’t, and Candy raises a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.
Sam’s lips purse. “No,” he says, and takes a step toward the exit.
“Wait!” Cindy scribbles a phone number on a cocktail napkin and grins. “In case you change your mind.”
Before Sam can protest, she stuffs the napkin down the front of his jeans, way down, and wraps it around -- Holy crap! Jerking away from her, he adjusts Dean’s weight and heads for the door at a brisk clip. And he does not acknowledge the giggles and whistles behind him.
Next time? Dean’s on his own.
They walk into Nadia’s kitchen, and Dean’s lips curl into a grimace. It’s like a freakin’ Precious Moments museum, right down to the soap dispenser. Talk about creepy.
“I’ll uh, check the second floor,” Dean says, and Sam nods while scanning for EMF.
Dean takes his own meter and heads for the stairs, not really worried about splitting up. The unidentified ghost at Nadia’s house has been pretty tame, relocating objects around the house or making weird noises at odd times of the day and night. Neither Nadia nor her two kids, who are holed up in a hotel for the time being, have been hurt.
As he reaches the top of the stairs, Dean hears a scraping sound, like sandpaper along a wall, coming from the master bedroom. He tosses the EMF meter to his left hand, readies the shotgun in his right, and edges inside the room, flipping the light on as he goes.
He’s standing next to the four-poster bed when he hears movement behind him, and he spins in time to see something solid, someone solid, barrel out of the closet and crash into him. Not a ghost, but a man, and crap, the guy slams him into a wall hard enough that his vision dims, a TV picture gone bad.
The good news is he’s still got hold of the shotgun. The bad news is the guy, who he now recognizes as Nadia’s ex-husband, Ivan, is trying to rip it out of his hand.
“Playing Casper the Friendly Ghost?” Dean grates out, straining as he tries to get the upper hand.
Ivan ignores him, teeth bared, crazy-ass glint in his eyes.
Ivan’s Dean’s height, but more muscular, and Dean decides his best shot is a cheap one, jams a knee into Ivan’s crotch. Ivan squeaks-gasps and curls up a little, but the bastard doesn’t let go of the shotgun, ends up wrenching Dean away from the wall and toward the window. Dean knows their momentum is bad news, but he can’t steer them away from the inevitable.
The shattering glass is like a crystal explosion in his head, and then they’re airborne, and this is so not good, this is --
He slams into the ground, grass that might as well be concrete. It hurts like a sonofabitch, like someone’s whaled on him with a sledgehammer, shattered him into a thousand pieces. He can’t breathe right, can only wheeze as he lies on his back, wetness trickling down one temple, and blinks at the stars and moon above.
Weren’t they brighter before?
Thunder of footsteps, and then Sam’s leaning over him, eyes wide, breath hitching.
“God, Dean … ” Sam turns to the right, and his brow furrows. “What the hell?”
Dean can’t see what Sam’s looking at, can’t move, but figures it’s Ivan. Probably dead, given how Sam’s focus snaps back to him quick as a gunshot.
“Hang on, man,” Sam urges, tense and unraveling at the same time. “I’m gonna call an ambulance.”
No point in arguing, because wanted man or not, he needs a hospital. Now. Besides, he can’t talk, anyway. It takes everything he has just to breathe.
A quick, frantic call, and then Sam moves as if to check for injuries but stops, eyes darting everywhere, hands hovering and trembling.
All Dean can do is silently beg -- Please don’t touch me, Sammy, please please please -- and Sam doesn’t. Thank God, he doesn’t.
Dean’s lungs are near useless now, desperate for oxygen like a junkie needing a fix. He feels a cough coming on and tries to stifle it, afraid of the damage it might do. It breaks loose anyway, rips through him, and he tastes warm, wet metal as it slicks his lips.
Sam stares, frozen, for a few uneven heartbeats, and then his eyes narrow, and his jaw locks. He shakes his head. “You listen to me, Dean,” he growls. “I didn’t save your ass from that crossroads demon so you can die on me now. You’re gonna be all right, you hear me?”
His hand slips into Dean’s and squeezes, more pressure than pain. Dean tries to squeeze back. Can’t. Can’t nod, either.
What’s more, he’s not too sure Sam’s right on this one.
“Dean!” Sam snaps. “You hear me?”
He coughs again, tastes blood again, more this time than last.
Sam’s anger slips, a flame extinguished, and he lowers his forehead to Dean’s. Dean can feel the warmth of Sam’s skin, the sweat on his brow.
“Please,” Sam husks out, a plea and a command. Don’t leave me. I don’t want to do this alone. Fight, damn you.
Dean hurts like hell, body screaming Let go, just let go, but the thought of leaving Sam alone …