Genre: Gen, Horror, H/C
Word Count: 4,700
Spoilers: Not really.
Warnings: Kinda dark AU. Horror genre, so kittens and rainbows and happy endings are not guaranteed. Almost blind!Dean. Language.
Summary: They’ll settle down somewhere if (when) Dean goes completely blind-- at least that’s what Sam always tells himself. He’s never been able to figure out what they’re wandering toward, or maybe running away from. All he knows is that they can’t stop.
Note: Written for an old old old old old old old comment fic prompt by the eternally lovely rainylemons . I don’t know what for or where the prompt is now, but she requested Dean with coke bottle glasses, and Sam being high strung about it. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: For the sick pleasure of myself and others. No copyright infringement intended.
He’s Come Undone
by wave obscura
Yeah, people are dicks about it.
Like at Burger King, a whole row of gawking douche bags in line for the Red Box. It's not because of the clownishly thick glasses, not really. It's the clownishly thick glasses in combination with the rest of Dean-- the leather jacket, the muscles, the chiseled jaw. It would be easier, Sam often thinks, if Dean were lanky or pale or looked more like what people expect of someone who wears coke-bottle glasses.
As it is, he attracts fuckfaces wherever they go.
Dean squints at the menu above the cashier's head.
"I can't see," he says needlessly, and continues to squint in that direction, "are the onion rings still 99 cents?"
He steps closer to the counter and doesn't see the meathead waiting in the Red Box line-- which, if you ask Sam, is way too goddamn close to the ordering area anyway. Dean and the meathead connect shoulders pretty hard and Dean, hell bent on his cheap onion rings, mutters an indifferent apology, his squinting eyes never leaving the menu.
"Watch where the fuck you're going," the guy says, without much conviction.
It's the lack of conviction that pisses Sam off, though. It's like saying "I'd kick your ass if you weren't blind as a fucking bat."
Sam steps closer to his brother, stares the guy down a little bit. “What’s your problem, man?”
“Sammy,” Dean says, and presses his palm to Sam’s heart. “I just want some onion rings.”
So this time, Sam lets it go.
Dean gets bad headaches.
When they're just bad, Dean will rummage through the first aid kit. He can read the labels if he holds the bottles way up close to his right eye, about an inch away, rolling it slowly between his fingers, reading it basically letter by letter, until he finds the painkiller he's looking for.
Sam gave up on all that a long time ago. He just sits back and watches and marvels at his brother, who seems genuinely unfazed by what a pain in the ass it is to read a simple word.
When the headaches are really, really bad, Sam sits on the bed and presses his knuckles into the back of Dean's neck, walk his fingers firmly along Dean's shoulders. He doesn't ask Dean's permission and Dean doesn't protest.
When the pain is really really really bad, Dean doesn't get out of bed. Sam finds him with his head buried under a pillow and he only comes up for air for medication, which Sam administers because his brother’s pretty much stone cold blind when his head kills like that.
Sam’s chest boils, when Dean’s pain is bad. He stays close, really close, and grits his teeth until his jaw is sore. He has weird daydreams. After the incident at Burger King, the daydreams are about that fuckface in the Red Box line. The guy breaks down the motel door and flashes a chopping knife like he’s Michael-fucking-Meyers.
Sometimes Sam takes the guy’s head clean off. Sometimes he beats him half to death. Then Sam brings the knife a skin’s width away from his own lips, and just as he’s about to run the blade across his tongue and taste the blood--
He stops daydreaming.
When the really really really bad pain is finally over, Sam takes Dean out for a drink. Which usually turns into five or six.
“I wanna get laid,” Dean says casually in the parking lot of the bar, polishing his glasses on the hem of his shirt. He unseeingly blinks his eyes—which look so little without his glasses—in the general direction of Sam’s face, like he’s expecting some sort of commentary.
“Okay,” is Sam’s assessment. “I’ll cross my fingers for you?”
“How about you be a less shittier wingman?”
Dean puts his glasses back on. “Huh?”
“Grammar,” Sam says.
“Whatever, dude. What’s this bar called?”
Sam looks at the giant sign that reads JOJO’S over the door. “You can’t read that?”
“You should be able to read that.”
Dean stares at it. “JOJO’s?” he says after a long moment.
“See. You’re just being lazy.”
“Tell me if I start talking to an ugly chick.”
Sam throws back his head and laughs. “I’m so gonna let you chat up an ugly chick. All night. I’m gonna let you take her home.”
The bar is teeming with dusty Budweiser displays, plaques with uncharming phrases like You say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing and rowdy locals playing pool, singing karaoke in front of an old big screen TV, grinding on the makeshift dance floor. As a reflex Sam takes Dean by the elbow, guiding him, and it’s so dim and so crowded Dean doesn’t try to push him away.
They get looks, like they always do; at Dean’s eyes, which are huge behind the lenses of his glasses and only look somewhat focused, the fact that he’s dressed like he’s in a biker gang and has a guy hanging off his arm. Sam rolls his shoulders, stretches to his full height, puffs out his chest, stares down anyone who looks at them funny.
“Easy, Sammy,” Dean says.
They make their way to the back of the bar where it’s less crowded. There are a couple of pool tables, both brightly lit by long Budweiser chandeliers.
Dean’s face brightens.
“We could play pool,” he screams in Sam’s ear, “think there’s enough light.”
“You got any quarters?”
Dean digs around in his pocket, produces some change and picks through it, feeling each one for size. Sam tenses. Sometimes he wishes that, in a bar, around a bunch of rowdy assholes, that his brother would try to look, well, a little less blind.
“Here,” he says, pushing the change into Sam’s palm. Sam holds up the quarters for the pool players to see, sets them in the crease of the table. The players narrow their eyes. Sam gives them a death stare until they look away.
Dean’s standing where Sam left him, his big eyes darting. He looks slightly nervous, still a bit drawn and pale.
Maybe they should leave. All the pain Dean’s been in the last couple days, maybe even worse than usual, and maybe it’s too soon for him to be out again.
And Sam feels aggression coursing through his blood tonight. Some days, he just wants a fight. He can’t explain why.
Dean’s eyes follow the ass of a girl who walks by.
So maybe he’s feeling fine.
Sam worries too much, that’s all.
“Find somewhere to sit?” Dean says.
“You sure you don’t wanna take off?”
“Fuck off, Sam.”
“Right.” Sam takes Dean’s elbow again, and leads him toward one of the empty tables near the men’s bathroom.
They sit for a few minutes, long enough for two girls to giggle their way through the longest rendition of “American Pie” in all of creation. A fat bearded guy stumbles up to the mic to sing War Pigs. Dean rubs two fingers in a circle at one temple.
“You okay?” Sam says.
“Karaoke gives me brain tumors,” Dean answers. “Get us some drinks, huh?”
Sam pauses. It’s stupid--irrational-- that he doesn’t want to leave his 30-year-old brother alone for two minutes.
“I’ll be fine, Sammy,” Dean says gently. “You seem kinda… a little... do we need to leave?”
“No,” Sam says quickly. “No no. You want the usual?”
Dean licks his lips. “We’re not gonna have a repeat of Ann Arbor, are we?”
“No.” Sam stands abruptly, nearly upturns the table. “Absolutely not.”
He’d nearly killed someone in Ann Arbor, some sauced frat boy who almost knocked Dean on his ass in a crowded bar and then said “watch where the fuck you’re going, Helen.”
Sam’s fists curl just recalling the memory, blood rushes to his ears and he scans the room like he expects to spot the guy standing around waiting for more.
If that fuck were here, he’d do it again.
He stands in line for a good fifteen minutes, orders two drinks, and fights the urge to jog back to their table. He has one of those daydreams again; going back to to the table to find some asshole harassing his brother, putting the guy’s face through the video poker machine.
Not surprisingly, though, there’s a girl in his seat, sitting close to Dean. Her lips are pouting with something between lust and pity—Dean must be telling one of his patently untrue stories about how he lost most of his eyesight in a lab spill seeking the cure for some hideous disease, or a motorcycle accident maybe, or falling into a vat of toxic waste saving orphans/small animals/poor folks from the hands of a crime boss/pedophile/dastardly sub-prime mortgage broker.
Sam doesn’t blame him. It sounds a hell of a lot more romantic than “congenital” and “degenerative,” which is what Dad trained them to say, or “supernatural venom to the eyeballs at the ripe old age of thirteen,” which is what actually happened.
Sam sets Dean’s drink in front of him.
“This is my gigantic little brother, Sam,” Dean tells the girl, who looks up and gives him a smile.
Sam nods politely, stands there with his drink and fidgets. Their pool table is ready, the other players are heckling each other’s technique and coughing up the money they’ve lost.
Dean smiles at the girl, pushes his glasses up his nose and nods at the table. He fishes a ten dollar bill out of his wallet, holds it close to his eye to see what size note it is. The girl watches him, biting her lip. She’s definitely drunk, definitely wants to be Dean’s best friend and talk to him on the phone every night about the tragedy of his failing eyesight, but sex? Probably not.
She takes the money and disappears into the crowd.
“Whaddya think?” Dean says.
“I think we should play pool,” Sam says.
Dean frowns. “Is she cross-eyed?”
“No, man,” Sam says, sighing and chalking his cue. “She isn’t.”
The tables aren’t as brightly lit as they seemed to be at first. Dean scowls at the balls. “You break. So you don’t think she was into me?”
Sam takes the time to numerically arrange the balls in the rack, which he normally doesn’t bother with, just to avoid answering, because he doesn’t know what to say.
“I dunno, man,” is what he finally comes up with.
Dean clucks his tongue. “A cynic till the end, huh Sammy?”
“What do you mean?” Sam knows damn well what he means.
“Every girl out there has some kinda weird pity fetish, right? Wants to mother the poor blind guy.”
Sam breaks rather violently, sending the balls ricocheting with a crack so loud the people near them turn to look. He somehow doesn’t sink a single ball, and curses under his breath.
He hopes Dean’ll drop it, but no such luck.
“Cause, you know, the rest of me is a train wreck.”
“Christ, Dean. I’ve never said-- that’s not-- when have I ever said that?”
Dean’s smirking; he thinks this shit is funny. “Every chick who gives me the time of day is an old barren shrew lookin’ for someone to baby, right? If I didn’t know better, Sammy, I’d say you afraid someone’s gonna steal me away. Then what would you get in fights about?”
“Why don’t you try to hit a ball?” Sam says.
Dean is still smiling. “Can’t see. Too dark.” He throws his cue stick on the table.
Half a second later some guy in a ratty baseball cap comes up behind Dean and screams in his ear, “you guys almost done here?”
Dean turns, adjusting his glasses. The guy’s shoulders jerk up and down just once in a scoffing laugh, the corner of his mouth lifting in smirk.
“No,” Sam says, taking Dean by the shoulders. He gets up right up in the guy’s face, until he can smell the well whiskey and cigarettes on his breath. “No. In fact we haven’t even fucking--”
“Go ahead,” Dean interrupts, “It’s too dark in here anyway, Sam.”
The guy looks back and forth from Sam to Dean, Dean to Sam. He lifts his chin to Sam. “Problem?”
Sam just stares. His chest burns with that strange heat; his stomach goes taut. In his mind he sees that goddamn laughing scoff, sees himself twisting the guy’s head right off his neck. Raising the guy’s skull to his lips--
It’s almost like a black out. Next thing he knows, Dean’s dragging him through the bar by the elbow. “Where are we going?”
“Home,” Dean says. “I’m not in the mood to sew up your fucking scalp again.”
“I’m not gonna get in a fight. But the way that guy fucking laughed--”
“He didn’t do anything. He barely looked at me,” Dean tugs him forward. “I’m sick of this shit, Sam.”
The girl from earlier pops out of the crowd, smiling toothily around a green cocktail straw and holding out a shot for Dean. Dean screams in her ear, something about going home, little brother not feeling so hot.
“We don’t have to leave,” Sam says, even as he’s following Dean out the door.
Dean keeps walking, into the parking lot, back to the car.
“Dude,” Sam stops just short of the driver’s side door. He knows his brother doesn’t see well enough to make out facial expressions-- not in this light, anyway-- but that doesn’t stop him from turning earnest, serious eyes on Dean. “We should have another drink. Seriously, man, I’ll behave myself.”
And he does.
That night, anyway.
A few weeks later Dean goes down hard with another headache. He keeps himself buried under a pillow for almost three days and surfaces just before Sam decides to drag his ass to the ER.
At the bar, Dean trips over some guy and the guy calls him Helen because fucking guys like that can’t ever think of anything more clever to say.
Sam’s been waiting for it, honestly. He just wails on the guy, not just him but the guy in the fucking Red Box line at Burger King, a thousand guys in a thousand Burger Kings, the stupid girl from JOJO’s who probably would’ve thrown Dean a pity fuck if Sam weren’t such a master cockblock, the fat kid from Sam and Dean’s high school in South Dakota, who liked to scream “Helen Helen Helen!” until a vein stood out on his fat fucking forehead.
Sam doesn’t stop until Dean has him around the neck with both arms and he’s hissing “stop it, goddamn it Sam stop it” and not even that is what stops Sam, what stops him is the tears in Dean’s voice.
Supposedly he does this shit to protect Dean from pain.
Back at their motel, there’s enough blood that Dean can see the where Sam’s wounds are, he doesn’t have to shove his fingers all up in gashes. Thank God for small favors.
“You’re a fucking moron,” Dean says. “I don’t know why-- you realize it’s been almost twenty years? You ever think to ask me?”
“Ask you what? Ow!”
Dean slaps a band aid across his cheek. “How much I care. How much it hurts me when people act like dicks.”
“How much do you care?”
“I don’t.” Dean slaps another band aid across Sam’s cheek, hard this time, and in a place Sam’s pretty sure he’s not bleeding. “I don’t, Sam, and you know it.”
“Well I do. I care.”
“Ouch. Enough with the band aids. Because you’re my brother, idiot.”
Dean shoves the icepack too hard into Sam’s chest, drops into a chair across from him. Sam’s one hundred percent certain that Dean can’t really see his eyes but he always manages to look straight into them anyway.
“See,” Dean says, “If that were true? Fine. I’d let you beat up every dickhead from here to South Carolina if you were doing it because I’m your brother. But that’s not why.”
Dean rubs his knuckles up and down his thighs. “l’m sorry, Sam.”
“That this happened to me. Because I know you wonder.”
“How things would be different. If I’d never gotten hurt.”
“No,” Sam answers quickly. Quick enough that Dean’s going to know he’s lying.
Truth is, he wonders all the time. Dean was barely a teenager, almost the first hunt out and he’d gotten hurt. Permanently. And Dad set them up in pay-the-week motels for sometimes months at a time, sometimes entire school years when they got older. They learned just enough about ghost and monsters to defend themselves and that was the end of it.
Dean’s eyesight was more functional then; he dropped out of school early and took jobs washing dishes, changing oil, mopping floors. Sam hung out in playgrounds and parks with kids Dean’s age, smoked cigarettes and pot between the trees, in the pee and concrete-smelling bathroom stalls, in borrowed cars with duct taped seats.
One day Pastor Jim showed up on their door saying Dad was dead and so was the thing that killed mom. He gave them the keys to the Impala and a number for a bank account with a few thousand dollars in it and they’ve been wandering aimlessly ever since.
They’ll settle down somewhere if (when) Dean goes completely blind-- at least that’s what Sam always tells himself. He’s never been able to figure out what they’re wandering toward, or maybe running away from. All he knows is that they can’t stop.
“I know it pisses you off,” Dean is saying. “He would have let us hunt. We could have hunted as a family. Maybe we could have saved him.”
“Not your fault,” Sam says, setting his jaw. “You were just a kid.”
Dean stands, his fingers work their way through Sam’s scalp in search of wounds. “You bleedin’ anywhere else?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Alright.” He pats Sam above the heart. “No more fights, huh?”
Sam nods. “No more fights.”
But he’s already dreaming of the next one.
“Tell me if I start talking to an ugly chick.”
“Yeah,” Sam says absently. The dream has become an ache. A need. His limbs feel hot. His heart is beating too fast. The bar they’re about to enter is teeming with dumbfucks, he can practically smell them, so strong his biceps muscles twitch without his permission.
Dean knows, somehow. He reaches out and wraps his fingers around Sam’s arm.
“Dude,” he says. “Get back in the car.”
“Get back in the car, Sam. Please.”
When Dean speaks again his voice is quavering, fear or anger or heartbreak or all three, Sam doesn’t know. “You’re not fine. Sam. You’re not fine. You’re not fucking fine.”
It’s enough to send that weird electricity draining out of Sam’s toes, until his insides are weak, a puddle at his feet. Sam reaches out to Dean and Dean flinches away, almost falls into the car. One of his arms flies up to protect his glasses, the other curls into his chest.
Like he’s about to be attacked.
“Dean,” Sam says, nice and gentle, but the fact that his own fucking brother is afraid of him now-- “I would never hurt you,” Sam sputters, but Jesus Christ the very idea makes him so fucking mad. “Fuck you,” he spits. “You’re fucking afraid of me? Fuck you.”
Dean says nothing, but he’s blinking rapidly like he expects to get punched in the face.
Sam feels something slip and crumble inside him, flood gates bursting.
Bursting with blood.
“You think I’m going to hit you?” He reaches out for a handful of Dean’s jacket, shakes him. “Look at me. Look at me, Dean. Look at me. You think I’d fucking hit you?”
Dean mumbles something; Sam pulls him closer. “What?”
“I said I can point my eyes at you, if it’ll make you feel better.”
Sam chuckles at that, despite himself.
Dean stays just how he is, protecting himself, rapidly blinking. “I’m your brother, Sammy. I’m your brother.”
It’s so dark out here, no streetlights. Dean probably can’t see a goddamn thing. It’s no wonder he’s scared.
Sam means to let go of Dean’s jacket but ends up pretty much tossing him away. Dean stumbles in the gravel, his arms flailing for something to grab onto. He finds the Impala’s side view mirror, clings to it.
“There’s something wrong with me,” Sam croaks. “Dean? There is something wrong with me.”
Dean pushes his glasses up his face. “We can figure it out.”
“We can figure it out, Sam.”
“I want to.”
“You want to?”
“I want to. But Dean. It keeps getting worse.”
“I know.” Dean stretches his arm toward Sam, searching. His gaze is fixed on the ground. “We’ll go in, Sammy. I’ll tell you when you need to stop. Will you be able to stop?”
“I don’t know,” Sam says. Then a sensation flashes in his mind, Dean’s arms around his neck while he was practically killing that guy. Stop it. Goddamn it Sam stop it. “Yes. Yes. I’ll stop. I can stop. If you tell me when.”
“I’ll tell you when.”
It doesn’t take long. Two feet in the door someone curls their lip-- honestly, Sam doesn’t even know if the sneer is directed at Dean but in the moment it doesn’t matter. He charges, bearing his teeth, vibrating head-to-toe with acid-hot anger.
Dean jumps in his path, and would’ve fallen to the ground if he didn’t cling to the lapels of Sam’s jackets. “No,” he says sternly, like he’s half scolding, half pleading with a rabid dog. “Sam. You have to have a reason.”
“Why?” Sam snarls, eyes fixed on the jackass across the room, whose eyes are round with confusion.
“Or you’re a monster,” Dean says, and tugs him toward the bar. “Let’s have a drink, huh? Let’s have a drink.”
Sam follows Dean obediently across the room. He watches all their faces. They’re all looking at Dean, goddamn it he can’t stand them all looking at Dean.
He’s not imagining things. He can smell them. The asshole who sneered at Dean-- no, the bigger guy next to him-- there’s something in his blood that isn’t right, that smells rotten and inviting all at once.
Whatever is it, Sam wants it.
He rips away from Dean, plucks the guy from the crowd of his buddies. He smells the throbbing vein of the guy’s neck, just to make sure.
The guy presses his flesh into Sam’s nose and grins. “Knew you’d find me,” he practically purrs into Sam’s ear. “Go on. Taste.”
The man drags a perfectly normal-looking fingernail across his own neck. The blood is a pulsing fountain.
Sam wants to taste. Oh God, does he want to taste. He holds a finger under the spray, then his whole palm.
“Sam don’t,” Dean says behind him.
Sam examines his bloody hand. Saliva bursts into his mouth. Every one of his molecules is whispering taste. taste. taste.
He feels Dean tugging at him but Dean’s not strong enough to budge him, not anymore.
If he tastes, he’ll go somewhere. He can feel it. Maybe he’ll finally reach what he’s been looking for all these years. Maybe somewhere unspeakable. Maybe somewhere oozing and dark and uncannily hot to the touch, like blood, or maybe somewhere he can find peace, somewhere Dean can see, somewhere where Dad’s alive, somewhere they haven’t been stumbling aimlessly for most of their lives.
Somewhere they have purpose.
“Sam,” Dean’s voice says from somewhere, somewhere far away. “It’s not worth it.”
For the first time Sam’s eyes wander from the blood. He looks at the man, who smiles, even with the spurting neck he smiles.
“I’m a demon, Sam,” it says. “An old old friend. First try didn’t go how I wanted. So we’re gonna keep trying and keep trying until you do what you were meant to, you understand me? You’re both gonna do what you were meant to do.”
Around him Sam’s vaguely aware of bodies rushing out of the bar, of screaming. Dean yanking at his coat. But for now it’s just him and the man with the blood pouring from his neck.
“I’m from a place where your brother can see clear as day,” the demon says. “Trust me, it’s better this way.”
Sam doesn’t know how long it takes. But in time the blood sputters obscenely, one heartbeat, two heartbeats, three heartbeats. And then it stops.
“You missed your chance,” says the demon. But he doesn’t look very disappointed.
Sam doesn’t know what his chance was, but he feels the loss down to his bones. A million things that were suppose to happen. Didn’t.
The man tips back his head, opens his mouth wide and screams black smoke.
“Sammy,” Dean say, begging. His voice is hoarse now, the tugging persistent but feeble.
It takes Sam a moment to realize they’re sitting in the Impala.
“Did that happen?” Sam chokes out, “Did all that just happen?”
“Yes,” Dean answers. He stands up on his knees and wraps his arms around Sam’s head and clings tight like he’s afraid Sam’s going to slip away. “This is my fault, Sam. This is all my fucking fault.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“We’re gonna figure this out, alright?” Dean’s voice is high but gruff. Dean’s face, his fucking glasses, they press into the top of Sam’s head. “We’ll do what Dad did. We’ll hunt, we’ll hunt and it’ll help you control it.”
“I wanted to drink his blood, Dean.” It pours out of Sam’s mouth before he can stop it. “I wanted to drink his blood so fucking bad. What the hell is wrong with me? What is wrong with me?”
Dean goes quiet, horribly horribly quiet. Police sirens whine in the distance.
“We have to get out of here,” Sam tries to struggle free from his brother’s grip.
“What if you’d killed him?”
“I didn’t kill him, okay? We have to go.”
But Dean’s grip tightens. “No. I mean... what if you’d killed him. You’re calm, after you fight. And he was a demon, Sam. So what if you killed him? What if you’d ripped his fucking head off, huh? Reached down his neck for his heart. Would... would that make it better?”
Sam thinks about this for a moment. In his mind the scene is looping over and over-- the gushing blood. The saliva on his tongue. The weird fiery sensation in every one of veins. The exploding anger.
“Tell me the truth,” Dean prompts when he doesn’t answer.
“Yes,” Sam says, because yes, killing it slow and brutal or sucking it dry-- he realizes it doesn’t matter to him. Either or. As long it’s one of the other.
Or at least he thinks so.
“Then we’ll find them,” Dean says with finality, releasing his grip and pushing Sam toward the steering wheel. “We’ll find them and you’ll kill them. And that will help you control it.”
“How do you know?”
Dean sniffs. “I just know,” he says, but it’s obvious he doesn’t know anything.
The demon repeats in Sam’s head, over and over: I’m from a place where your brother can see as clear as day. We’re gonna keep trying and keep trying until you do what you were meant to, you understand me? You’re both gonna do what you were meant to do.
“What about your eyes?” Sam says.
Dean is quiet for a long time. “I don’t know.”
Sam pulls out of the bar parking lot. Closer or farther away from what he’s been seeking, toward destruction or hope, into or away from a trap-- he doesn’t know.
But Dean keeps repeating, over and over again: “we can fix this. We’ll fix this, Sam,” and he sounds so goddamn convinced that Sam almost believes him.