Title: Heart to Heart
Summary: Dean survived but never recovered from the events of Faith. He's sick, really sick, and Sam does what he's gotta do to take care of his brother. But he thinks he might be losing his mind.
Disclaimer: Not affliated with Supernatural, no copyright infringement intended.
Heart to Heart
by wave obscura
They run out of gas just outside of La Grande, Oregon.
Sam beats the Impala’s steering wheel, for Dean’s sake refrains from screaming you gas-guzzling piece of shit but allows himself to think it because he can’t quite wrap his head around their un-fucking-believably bad luck. The Impala hates him, he’s known practically since birth but goddamn it, car, this hurts Dean way more than it hurts me.
Sam’s settling in for a good cry, a good old-fashioned Why Me? sob-fest when Dean moans, a little itty-bitty baby moan that sounds more like a sigh, a pitiful noise Dean wouldn’t allow past his lips unless he was in serious, serious fucking pain and that’s what gets Sam moving into the freezing night.
La Grande is brown and ugly, not like what you’d think Oregon would look like. Not a tree line in sight, just dully sloping yellow-orange hills, barren except for patches of squat, strangled-looking bushes—a place that exports tumbleweeds, nothing “grande” about it.
Not that Sam has any business thinking about scenery. Not with the shit he’s about to pull.
Sam opens the passenger door and leans in to where Dean is squirming and panting in the front seat, pulls the blanket up around his shoulders and—it’s like he can’t stop himself— plants a gentle, lipless kiss on the bridge of Dean’s nose.
“Sam. Shit. Sam. Fuck.” Dean mutters over and over again. He’s not conscious, Sam knows he’s not really conscious but there’s a panicked edge to Dean’s voice that scares him shitless…
“I’ll be back in twenty minutes, dude.” Sam closes his eyes and presses his forehead against Dean’s. “Twenty minutes.”
“We’re outta gas, Dean. We’re outta gas, okay? I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”
And then Sam goes into battle mode, barely remembers marching a couple of miles back to the gas station.
There’s a waif of a girl hunched elbow-to-knee in a folding chair at the far end of the parking lot, smoking like her cigarette is boring her to death, and he can’t fully make her out from a distance but he can see she’s wearing sparkling purple knee-high combat boots, that her eyes are practically painted shut and veiled by stringy black hair. A teenager.
A fucking teenager.
Sam slows his gait, hoping maybe he’ll have some second thoughts.
He doesn’t. He knows what he’s about to do is stupid and wrong but even his conscience, the little do-gooder angel on his shoulder, is whispering in his ear about Dean’s pain. It needs to stop.
He has to make it stop.
He pauses at the farthest pump to assess the teenage girl. She stares back at him with acute disinterest, drags on her cigarette, snorts like a goddamn jet engine and hocks an enormous loogie in his direction.
Screw it, Sam thinks. The girl’ll just be a little traumatized. She’ll have a nightmare or two and Dean won’t be in agony. Fair trade.
“Hiya, sweetheart,” he calls to her in a thick Texan accent when he’s close enough to see the dull of her eyes. He drags one leg behind him in an exaggerated limp.
“Hey,” she grunts. “Run outta gas?”
“Yep, just a coupla miles up the road,” he points in the opposite direction of where the car is, grinning his most winning grin. “Knew I shoulda stopped.”
She nods vaguely, flicks her cigarette away and pulls herself from the chair.
The grin falls right off Sam’s face. Her belly isn’t huge, but it’s big enough.
The girl looks at Sam like he’s a creep and pulls the jacket around herself. “Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. I’m trying to quit, okay? Mind your own fucking business.”
“I—uh—“ Sam stutters, forgetting the stupid accent. Jesus, he’s just committed himself to a lower circle of hell.
She shoves past him to the ancient gas pump, throwing him a bony shoulder. “You want regular or premium, asshole?”
“Um… premium? Uh—listen, Miss…?”
She doesn’t offer her name.
“Listen,” he repeats. His instinct is to take off, run back to the car as fast as he can go, but… his money clip rests empty in his pocket. And Dean…
“Listen, I’m sorry but I—I have to rob you… my—my brother, he’s sick and we need a mote—“
“You got money for gas or not?”
“No. Fuck. No. Look,” Sam pulls the gun from the back of his pants.
The girl drops the gas can on the pavement and Sam throws up his hands to placate.
“Calm down. I’m not—I’m not even going to point it at you, okay? I don’t wanna shoot you. But you gotta give me all the money in the register. And a rack of beer.”
The girl’s face collapses into an odd expression of disappointment and she rolls her eyes as if Sam is an old friend and the robbery is not only some sort of personal insult, but also super annoying.
“Goddamn it,” she says, “Look at me. You think my life don’t suck enough? Goddamn it!” She tangles her fists in her stringy hair. Her coat falls open and Sam can see that she’s much farther along than he first thought.
“No, I’m sure your life sucks a lot— I mean, shit. This isn’t, I’m not trying to…”
“I’m sorry—I’m really sorry. I don’t wanna—my brother is…“ Sam pauses for a deep breath. He can’t stand around and fucking babble all night. If he gives the girl a chance to start crying, he won’t be able to go through with it. “I’m not gonna hurt you, alright? But I need that money. Now.”
The girl fills his gas can and hands him a wad of bills. She’s an orchestra of hems and haws and long suffering sighs, but she doesn’t cry, just mutters about being a single mom who don’t even have no high school diploma and how unfair it is that her mom makes her have a job and pay rent and help feed everyone in the whole family including her piece-of-shit brother even though she’s almost 7 months pregnant and it hurts her back to be on her feet all day.
“It all must be so hard for you,” Sam says absently as he secures her to the folding metal chair with a couple of bungee cords.
“It is,”she says venomously. “But it don’t matter. You’ll get yours.”
Been getting it my whole life, Sam thinks.
He resists the urge to pat her belly as he gathers up the beer and gas can. Instead he silently mouths M’sorry, kid and turns his back on both of them.
He’s on the edge of the road when he hears the girl call: “Probably lose my job for this, ya prick!”
Yeah, a whole new circle of hell. For $55 bucks and some change.
As Sam barrels down the shoulder of the highway, he tries to reassures himself over and over that he tied the girl up properly, that he’s given himself enough time to get the hell away.
That there’s no way she’ll get free.
That she’ll probably be too busy going into premature labor.
This is a story he’ll conveniently forget to tell Dean.
Without a free hand for balance he’s slipping and sliding in the gravel ditch, tumbling forward, sliding farther and farther down the embankment until he can barely see the road. A car passes and he pitches forward in a panic, rips the knees out of his jeans and scrapes his palms all to shit.
“Dean,” he calls when he finally reaches the car, scaling the ditch in giant strides, “Dean.”
Sam throws open the door and chucks the beer in the backseat. Dean is a frail shadow against the passenger side window, eyes open but all they can see is the pain. He lifts a trembling arm, reaches his hand out toward the windshield, out at the nothing, searching the cool glass, the slick roof, the vinyl lining of the passenger door, searching for an escape from the pain and finding nothing. Sam takes his hand but Dean moans and tugs it away.
The hand braces against the window as Sam screeches out of the ditch, back onto the road, and Sam should be watching out the windshield but he watches his brother’s little pale hand instead, shaking so badly the friction against the moisture on the window goes squeak squeak in rhythm with Dean’s labored breathing.
“We’re moving, bro. We’re moving again. In a few we’re gonna find you a place to lie down, okay? Okay, Dean?”
“Sam. Fuck. You gotta… fuck.”
Tears sting at Sam’s eyes. He reaches for his brother’s knee, pats it softly, leaves it there. Dean’s hand finds his, and it’s cold, like the hand of a corpse, like Jessica’s hand in the old nightmares, rising up out of the fresh dirt—
“Oh, god. Sam. You. Please.”
“Just a few more miles, bro. We just gotta get farther away. Just a little farther away.” Sam floors it, hopes to goddamn Christ that there’s enough gas to get where they’re going.
Seventy-five miles later Sam is pulling into some two stop-light shitheap called Hermiston. Every freedom-loving cell in his body is telling him to keep driving, but Sam can't handle the noises Dean is making, growling like an injured animal, still squirming against the window trying to escape the pain. He hands sixty dollars—their last sixty dollars—to the man who runs the Oregon Trail Motor Inn.
He parks the car sideways to get as close to the motel door as possible but it’s not close enough. He tries to be gentle, tries so goddamn hard to be gentle but Dean is screaming anyway, and then Sam is getting nervous and motel patrons come out onto their front stoops and ask what the hell are you doing to that poor guy, and between explaining again and again my brother is sick and mind your own goddamn business and come on, Dean, I’m sorry Dean, almost over Dean, not trying to hurt you, Dean, he gets frustrated and ends up being rough, dragging poor Dean into the motel room in jerky, ungentle motions until Dean passes out.
By the time they fall on the bed, panting, Sam’s not sure he can get back up.
Tears slide down his cheeks as he listens to Dean endlessly deliriously describing his pain: fuck, Sam, it fuckin’… oh, shit, Sammy, Sam? Sam, shit. Fuck.
“I know, Dean,” Sam whispers futilely. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.”
He rolls Dean on his side and holds him, pets his hair, whispers soft apologies in his ear because it’s all he can fucking do, because beer-as-pain-killer was a stupid fucking idea, because it’s too late to get Dean anything more potent, because tomorrow night he can burgle a pharmacy but right now all Sam has to offer is a bed and his own body heat.
“Make it stop, Sammy,” Dean whispers, and Sam doesn't answer because he refuses to believe that Dean’s actually awake, that something so pitiful would come out of Dean’s mouth. He’s unconscious, Sam insists to himself. Fucking unconscious and he won’t remember a thing in the morning.
“I have to rub your back, Dean,” Sam says loud and clear so the groping won’t be a surprise. Without waiting for Dean to protest Sam digs his fingers into the knots of muscle along Dean’s spine.
Again Dean screams. Tears stand in Sam’s eyes but he knows it has to be done because if the muscles don’t loosen up at least a little bit the pain’s going to be ten million times worse in the morning. Sam feels them pulsing beneath his hands, Dean’s whole body rhythmically contracting as if he’s still being shocked.
Dean’s too weak to fight. Instead he cries, begs, whimpers for Sam to stop.
But Sam doesn’t stop— not until Dean’s passed out again from the pain, not until his own hands are mangled, half-paralyzed claws, not until he can’t feel his fingers any more and he falls face-first into his pillow and closes his eyes for the first time in days, fingering his empty money clip and allowing the despair to wash over him, waves lulling him to sleep.
They are fucked. Irrevocably and inarguably fucked.
The next time Sam opens his eyes, the sun is stabbing through the pissed-stained curtains and it’s already fucking check out time.