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Glass Shoe

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New Fic: Unthinkable
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Hello. This is (almost) my first post to my live journal account, which I signed up for because I feel like there are better places to house my stories than ff dot net. If you'd like to read any more of my work, please look me up there. In the meantime, my first Supernatural fic is posted below. Please heed the warnings and enjoy.


Title: Unthinkable

Rating: M

Category: Gen

Warnings: Language, self-harm, angst

Summary: After a week of riding shotgun inside his own body, Sam needs to know that he’s the one at the wheel. This story takes place following the episode Born Under a Bad Sign.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Supernatural or any of the characters therein. This story was written for entertainment only. I’m not making any money.

Notes: I’m only human. I apologize for any mistakes. Also, the premise of this story was a hard sell. So just know that I know that you know. Okay?

 

“Pull over,” Sam says.

 Dean takes his eyes off the road for a moment, just long enough to frown at Sam like he’s not sure he heard him right.

 The sky is white above them and the road is a black, shiny ribbon below. Dean is hugging the curves, doing at least twenty over the speed limit regardless of how twisted the road becomes as they climb out of California and into the Oregon hills.

 They’ve been running for two weeks, putting as much distance as they can between themselves and any Hunters who might know who killed Steve Wandell. They go west, because Dean says he likes the way pine trees smell. Maybe he thinks it can cover up the scent of death, which seems to follow them everywhere.

 “Pull over,” Sam repeats, a little louder, a little more urgent. “Please.”

 Dean blinks at the ‘please’, but he pulls over. As soon as Sam hears gravel under the tires he’s fumbling for the door handle. His feet hit the ground before the car has stopped moving. He staggers a few yards away from the Impala, drops to his knees and vomits in the dirt.

 Over the ringing in his ears, he hears a car door slam.

 “Sammy?”

 It’s not like either of them to be carsick.

 “I’m fine,” he says, and Dean’s footfalls stop. He can feel his brother’s eyes on him, but Dean stays far enough away to give him the illusion of privacy.

Sam sits back on his heels, catches his breath. His eyes are watering. The earth stuck to Sam’s palms is black on white skin, surreal in the pale light. He wipes them on each other and gets up.

Dean is standing in the road, shoulders hunched against the cold. “Headache?” he asks. The subtext is, Vision?

“No.”

“You okay?”

Sam nods, wipes his mouth with his sleeve. “Yeah,” he lies, and gets back into the car.

Dean can’t straighten the road, but he does take the curves a little slower after that. The nearest town is almost an hour away. Even though it’s only three in the afternoon Dean wants to stop for the night. Sam isn’t sure if it’s because he just tossed his cookies on the side of the road or if it’s because the bullet wound in Dean’s shoulder is bothering him again. Either way, Sam figures that it’s his fault.

For the rest of the drive Sam stays huddled against the window, cheek pressed against the cool glass, jacket pulled tight around him. Dean keeps stealing glances at the passenger seat until Sam says, “I’m not going to spray pea soup all over your interior.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Dean tells him, innocent.

“You didn’t have to.”

“Bitch,” Dean says.

“Jerk,” Sam replies, but there’s no energy behind the insult. He decides that he must sound pretty pathetic, because Dean turns his music off without being asked.

It’s raining when they pull into town, a place that they’ve been a thousand times without ever setting foot here. There’s a café and a motel and a Chevron where they won’t let you pump your own gas. The clouds are dark now. Foul weather has been following them everywhere, like an omen.

Dean chooses the motel. When they pull into the parking lot Sam sees that it’s one of those big chain places instead of a sleazy dive with an hourly rate. It’s not in the budget, but Sam doesn’t see another option, and the idea of a clean (for a change) motel room is too appealing for him to object.

Moving sucks. Sam’s limbs and the car door all seem to weigh ten times as much as they should. So does his backpack as Sam hoists it onto his shoulder and follows Dean into the lobby.

Dean checks them in and starts up an enthusiastic conversation with the teenager manning the front desk while Sam stands in a corner and does a good impression of a floor lamp. Sam had hoped that Dean would pay for the room with his poker winnings. When he sees Dean slap that stolen credit card (oh no, not fake this time, actually stolen from a pool shark who out-sharked Dean in Fresno) on the counter, Sam can’t do anything but cringe and hope that Best Western’s fraud investigators are off for the weekend.

By the time Dean wraps up his small-talk with the kid at the front desk Sam is so far beyond the point of wanting to fall flat on his face that he grabs the key-card roughly out of Dean’s hand. He swears under his breath when he sees that the room is on the second floor.

“What’s up your ass?” Dean barks as they climb the stairs.

“Did you have to have a full-on conversation down there?”

“Hey,” Dean says defensively. “I’m just trying to take this town’s temperature, see if there are any creepy crawlies that need squashing.”

“There’s no case here. We’re just passing through.”

“We don’t just ‘pass through’. You know that. Take a Midol for Christ’s sake.”

The door bangs against the wall when Sam opens it. Different day, different town, different motel, same room: two queen beds, maroon carpet, television and a desk with a chair, non-offensive, abstract art on the walls. Sam’s got tunnel-vision, though. As soon as the door slams shut behind them, Sam drops his backpack and makes a beeline for the nearest bed. He doesn’t even bother to pull his shoes off.

Sam closes his eyes and listens to Dean moving around the room, slamming drawers and rattling keys like an angry poltergeist. He’s saying, “I feel like shit, too, Sammy. But that’s too friggin’ bad. ‘Cause you know what? Evil doesn’t take sick days.”

This is ex-marine crap: push through the pain, like Dad taught them. Dean’s baiting him, looking for an argument. Sam doesn’t bite. He never agreed with his father’s logic and he doesn’t feel like rehashing his feelings on the subject.

 He expects Dean to flip the TV on and crank the volume, but a few minutes pass and that doesn’t happen. Instead he feels the bed shift as Dean sits down on the edge.

“Hey.”

“What?”

“Are you really sick or are you just being pissy?”

Sam makes a face.

Dean says, “It’s hard to tell with you, okay?”

“Just nauseous. You drive like a maniac.”

Dean looks flattered. “I do have a need for speed.”

When Sam’s queasy expression doesn’t change he says, “It’s been a while since breakfast. It might help if you had something in your stomach. C’mon, I saw a Wendy’s on the way in.”

Sam hasn’t turned down a Frosty once in his life, but there’s a first time for everything. He shakes his head.

“Alright, but you’re missin’ out.”

He doesn’t see Dean leave. He doesn’t even open his eyes until he hears the key card in the lock and the rustle of a plastic bag. His brother couldn’t have been gone more than ten minutes, and Sam doesn’t smell food. He opens his eyes and sees Dean setting up a little village of items on the night stand.

“Pepto, Gatorade, mouthwash…” Dean names the items off as he pulls them out of the bag. He puts an emphasis on the last one, like Sam needs a crack about his breath right now. He can’t be upset, though. He’s too grateful for the opportunity to get the taste out of his mouth.

“And if you feel up to it…” It looks like Dean bought one of every newspaper, local or national, that he could find. He drops them in a pile by the television.

Right, evil doesn’t take sick days. Sam would tell his brother to skim the damn things himself, but Dean’s research methods are a little different than his: less eye-strain and more small-talk. Besides, he’s afraid to open his mouth right now.

“Can you sit up for me?” Dean asks.

He does, moving slow like he’s under water. Dean cracks the plastic seal on the pink stuff, measures out a dose in the little cup that comes with the bottle.

Sam knocks it back, clutches the edge of the bed with cold, sweaty hands, but doesn’t lie back down. That’s a good thing, because a few seconds later he’s on his feet and rushing past Dean with a hand clamped over his mouth.

His brother’s voice follows him into the bathroom, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Then for a while everything is white porcelain and floating black specks. It’s better than dry-heaving, but not by much. Sam hadn’t thought it was possible to vomit Pepto-Bismol.

From Dean’s reaction, Sam guesses he hadn’t either.

“If you gag any harder you’re not going to have any bones left,” Dean says. Then he sits down on the edge of the bathtub, glances at the toilet bowl and announces, “Hey, good news: no blood.”

Sam is beyond caring how pathetic he looks, and just lies down right there. Nothing has ever felt as good as the cold tiles feel against his face right now.

“Well, we both had hot dogs last night and I’m not sick. You barely touched breakfast. Did you Irish up your coffee this morning?” Dean asks, checking his flask.

“No.”

“Have unprotected sex?” Dean smirks and nudges Sam’s foot knowingly. “Am I gonna be an uncle?”

Sam still has enough strength to raise his middle finger.

When Dean runs out of jokes he kneels down next to Sam, probes under his jaw line with two fingers.

“Glands aren’t swollen,” Dean says. He puts a hand on Sam’s forehead, “You’re not hot.”

Sam hears Dean turn on the tap. He should have expected it, but he still jerks in surprise when his brother drops a cold, wet washcloth on his face from a height of about four feet. It makes a nice slapping sound when it lands.

“Don’t make me puke on you,” Sam says.

“I’m not worried about that. Your aim sucks.”

“Bastard.”

“You’re welcome.”

Sam wipes his mouth on the cloth, and then drapes it over his neck. It feels as good as the floor tiles pressed against his cheek.

Sam expects Dean to leave him, but instead Dean settles himself back on the rim of the tub with a heavy sigh. “Seriously, Sammy, you’ve got to cut this shit out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You haven’t eaten a full meal or slept all the way through the night since we left Bobby’s. You’re tired and you’re slow. Slow is dangerous. Slow is dead. And,” Dean throws his hands up, “big surprise! Now you’re sick.”

“Right, sorry, give me five minutes and I’ll just stop being sick. Fuck you very much.”

“Come on, Sammy. Cut the crap. This is me here. I know you. You feel all guilty about that demon chick-”

“Meg.”

“Whatever. Don’t interrupt my monologue. You feel bad about what she did. I get that. But it wasn’t you. Okay? You know that. You’re just beating yourself up because nobody else will. You didn’t do anything, so let it go. You’re making yourself sick.”

Sam looks sullenly at the tile near his face. He says sarcastically, “Thanks, I feel so much better.”

“Jesus, Sam. You’re sulking. What if some pissed-off evil thing breaks down the door while you’re curled up by the toilet?”

“Like one of Steve’s friends?”

That shuts Dean up for a moment, because, yeah, they’re both afraid that will happen sooner rather than later. Dean’s been avoiding that name like the plague, like if he doesn’t mention it, it didn’t really happen, and Sam can get on with his life. Sam knows he’s right. He didn’t really kill Steve, but ‘I was just along for the ride’ isn’t going to sit well with a bunch of vengeful hunters.

“It’s like talking to a wall,” Dean mutters to himself. More loudly he says, “It’s done. You can’t change the past, Sammy. You need to pull yourself together and focus.”

“You sound like Dad.”

“Good!” Dean growls in frustration and scrubs his hands through his hair. “I want to help you, Sam. I really do, but I don’t know who I’m talking to sometimes, you or your guilty conscience.”

“Leave, Dean.”

“Not gonna leave you, Sammy.”

“Then shut up.”

“Nope.”

Sam groans. “Go ice your shoulder, Dean”

Dean doesn't answer. He’s frowning like he just noticed something. “Did you hit your head? You’re sort of slurring your words.” He crouches down next to Sam, starts probing his scalp.

Sam hadn’t noticed, and his head feels fine.

“You’re cold,” Dean tells him, grabbing both of Sam’s hands in his. Sam pulls away, tucks his hands up under his arms, because they are cold. They feel stiff, wooden.

Dean’s brows pull together in a suspicious frown. “You’re sure you didn’t eat anything strange? No weird mushrooms, no hippie tea, no plants?”

“No, nothing,” Sam says, trying his best to separate the words. He’s starting to feel a little claustrophobic with his brother leaning over him. “I want to get up now.”

Dean doesn’t move.

“Let me up,” Sam says, a little panicked.

“What did you take?” Dean asks.

The dead certainty in his brother’s voice freezes Sam like a statue. Sam’s mouth opens and closes wordlessly.

It’s enough of a confession for Dean. He jumps up so fast that the breeze ruffles Sam’s bangs. He disappears into the bedroom and returns with Sam’s backpack, which he upends onto the bathroom floor. Clean socks, dirty magazines and the odd small weapon spill out. He drops to his knees and begins to tear Sam’s stuff apart like a wild dog, shaking out t-shirts, squeezing out his tube of toothpaste, snapping the ends off ink pens. Sam is grateful that he left his laptop in the Impala.

Dean doesn’t find what he’s looking for in Sam’s backpack, so he turns his attention to Sam himself. Swearing, he turns out all of Sam’s pockets, pats his brother down like he’s the FBI and this is a raid. Even though he’s bigger, Sam is too weak to do anything but swat at his brother with white, shaking hands.

When Dean’s search only turns up pocket lint and a map of northern California, he grabs Sam by the collar. “Look at me. Look at me. What did you take? How much?” Dean’s eyes are wild and his voice is edged with panic. “I swear to God, Sammy, if you did something that stupid I’ll make you wish you’d finished the job.”

“I didn’t take anything!” Sam tells him.

But Dean’s digging around in his own coat pocket. He pulls out his cell phone and flips it open.

“Dean, stop it. You’re overreacting.”

Sam paws at the phone like a kitten, trying to keep it away from his brother’s ear. “Listen to me. Just listen! Do you really think I’d try to kill myself? Do you think I’d do that to you?”

Dean looks at him, a stare so intense it could start fires.

“Trust me,” Sam says.

The silence is broken only by the small female voice on the other end of the line asking, “911. What is your emergency?”

“Uhm…” Dean fakes a nervous laugh. “I’m sorry. These kinds of things must really piss you off, but my kid was messing around with the phone. False alarm.”

Dean flips the phone closed, tucks it back into his pocket. He gets up, leaves the bathroom and Sam, who slumps gratefully against the tub. Dean comes back a second later with the bottle of Pepto, and he’s already got a dose measured out.

Sam swallows miserably in anticipation.

“Drink it,” Dean orders. His hands are trembling, something that almost never happens. “Go on. We’re gonna try this again. Maybe your eggs were bad this morning. If that’s the case, this’ll help fix you up.”

Sam drinks. He doesn’t understand how something that looks so much like candy can taste so much like ass. He wants to gag, but Dean’s stare helps him keep it down.

“Now swear to God you didn’t take anything,” Dean says, stabbing a finger at him.

Sam frowns.

“I need to hear it, Sammy.”

Sam holds up three fingers, says weakly, “I didn’t take anything. I’m probably just coming down with something.”

Dean finally looks away. Maybe he’s embarrassed that he overreacted, but damned if he’s going to let it show. He slumps down across from Sam, makes an uncomfortable face, and digs a shuriken out from underneath his leg. He tosses the throwing star onto Sam’s now-flat, empty backpack.

“I think you broke the zipper,” Sam says.

Dean ignores him. “Well, I’ve learned two things from this experience.”

“What’s that?”

Dean indicates Sam’s personal belongings, spread out on the bathroom floor like Sam’s backpack was as sick as its owner, “First, none of your socks match, and second” -he picks up a glossy magazine off the top of the pile- “Hustler?” He opens it and starts to flip through the pages. “You’ve been holding out on me.”

And that’s how Dean rolls. He’ll bury the last five minutes, but he won’t forget they happened.

Sam says, under his breath, “My socks match.”

Dean holds up a pair. One sock is white with a red band across top. The other is just white.

“I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

Dean just shrugs it off. “Whatever, man. It’s cool. Do you want to go lay down or, uh” –he nods toward the toilet- “you got some more praying to do?”

As an answer, Sam reaches up and flushes the toilet. His stomach is still tightening like it doesn’t want the Pepto, but so far nothing has made it up his esophagus.

Sam hauls himself to his feet with Dean’s help. He’s stiff from lying on the bathroom floor. It takes a minute for him to get feeling back in his limbs, but by then he’s lying on the bed and Dean’s pulling his shoes off.

“God, you have huge, smelly feet.”

Dean disappears for a minute and returns with Sam’s backpack, sheepishly trying to put one of the zippers back on its track. Once he’s done that, he re-packs it, badly. Sam will be wearing wrinkled t-shirts for the next two or three days.

Dean sits on the edge of the bed and says, “Seriously, you’ve got to stop doing this to yourself.”

“I’ll be fine,” Sam replies.

Dean’s heavy sigh tells him that wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

“So, do you need a doctor to help you pull your head out of your ass, or have you got that on your own?”

Dean’s joking but he’s not. Sam knows he’ll take him to the hospital if he needs to.

“I just want to sleep.”

Dean nods. “Okay.” But he doesn’t sound like its okay.

Dean gets ice for his shoulder and a bottle of water from the vending machine for Sam. He reads quietly at the desk, but whether its newspapers or porn, Sam’s not really sure. He’s just grateful that Dean picked a quiet activity. This is the first time in his life that Sam can remember feeling too sick to even watch TV.

Sam doesn’t remember drifting off, but when he wakes up the sun is almost down. It seems too quiet, and he realizes that Dean isn’t there. A note stuck to the TV reads, “WENT FOR FOOD.”

Sam tries a sip of water from the bottle that Dean brought him. He doesn’t throw up, but he doesn’t feel adventurous enough to try the Gatorade either. He lies back, dizzy and hot. He may have let Dean pull his shoes off, but Sam kept his jacket on. His hand automatically goes to the small envelope of seeds sewn into the lining, just inside his sleeve.

Before they ever picked up a crossbow or a hunting knife or even a container of Morton’s salt, Dad taught Dean and Sam basic survival techniques, like how to make a tourniquet, set a broken bone, build a shelter, make a fire, and how to tell which plants were edible and which ones were poisonous. The seeds hidden in Sam’s coat are oleander. They are very toxic, fatal even in small doses.

Sam took some this morning. He washed them down like vitamins with cold truck-stop coffee while Dean sat a few feet away, reading a map, totally oblivious.

Sam hates lying to his brother, but Dean isn’t the one that the yellow-eyed demon is after. This is so personal that it’s not even funny. After a week of riding shotgun inside his own body, Sam needs to know that he’s the one at the wheel now, and that he can drive himself into a brick wall if he feels like he’s losing control.

Any psychiatrist would classify what Sam did as a suicide attempt, but Sam knows his poisons. He was careful with the dose. This was a test. Sam needs to know that he’s vulnerable, that he can live and die like a normal person, and that nothing supernatural will try to stop him.

This is about his damned humanity.

Sam’s hand closes around the packet of seeds in his threadbare sleeve. It’s comforting, both a touchstone and a weapon: a dozen feathery seeds, enough to finish the job.

Sam tells himself that he won’t. He’s not so self-absorbed that he can’t see it would destroy his brother, but now he knows, and he can do it if he has to…

By the time Dean comes back to the motel room Sam is in that groggy, half-numb place between asleep and awake. He listens to the sounds of his brother showering, brushing his teeth, and getting ready for bed. It’s soothing, mundane, and normal, as things in their lives seldom are.

Just as he is drifting off, Sam feels something close to his face, something that smells like hotel soap and aftershave. It’s the callused palm of his brother’s hand, feeling for his breath.

XXXXX

In the morning Dean makes Sam take another dose of the pink stuff as soon as he opens his eyes. He has less success with the box of supermarket doughnuts that he brings back to the room. Sam hasn’t thrown up since yesterday and he’d like to keep it that way.

As Sam starts to settle back against the covers Dean says, around a mouthful of bear-claw, “I know that you probably want to rest, but…” That’s Dean’s way of saying that it would be smart if they didn’t stick around, and Sam can’t help but agree with him.

Sam hasn’t had a real shower in days, something Dean doesn’t let him forget even if he is sick as a dog. The hot water turns out to be too much for him though. When he steps out he has to sit on the toilet seat with his head between his knees for a few minutes until the room stops spinning. The water in his hair is cold by the time Dean starts rapping his knuckles impatiently on the bathroom door.

Dean’s already loaded up the Impala and checked them out of the motel. There aren’t any cops in the parking lot, so Sam guesses they’ve dodged another fraud charge.

There’s no question about who will drive. Sam lets the passenger door slam shut, slumps gratefully in the seat and pulls his jacket tight around him. He hears Dean get in, and waits for the familiar rumble of the Impala’s engine, but it doesn’t come. When he looks over at his brother, Dean is just staring straight ahead, frozen. This morning Sam can see every line on his face. Dean looks forty-seven instead of twenty-seven.

Dean’s voice is gravelly when he asks, “Why’d you do it?”

And Sam knows what he’s going to find before he feels the lining of his jacket: a loose flap of fabric where Dean tore out the seam, probably while Sam was in the shower.

The oleander seeds are gone.

“I burned them,” Dean says, still not looking at him.

Sam doesn’t speak. The car is freezing. His breath makes white clouds in front of his face.

“You are the only person in the world who can scare the living shit out of me, Sammy.”

After a while Sam says, “I didn’t-”

“Yeah, you did. What gets me is that I knew it. I knew as soon as I hung up the phone, but I wanted to believe you so bad. I wanted to trust you.”

“It’s my body, Dean.”

And Dean stares at him, waiting for the rest of the sentence, but that’s all there is.

“This is a fucked up situation,” Dean says, wiping a hand across his face.

“It’s not your problem.”

There’s a dangerous pause.

“That is a hell of a thing for you to say to me!” Dean explodes. “We’re in this together. This may be hard for you to believe, Sam, but I do actually understand you. I’m the closest person to you without actually being you. And yeah, I know that if you meant to kill yourself, we wouldn’t be talking right now.”

Dean chokes on his last sentence. Sam looks over at his tough-as-nails brother, who’s facing out the window, hand up to his mouth like he’s covering a cough.

“Why?” Dean asks. “Is this a friggin’ cry for help? Are you looking for attention, because you have my attention, Sam!”

Sam shakes his head weakly. “It’s not like that.”

“Then tell me what it’s like!”

Sam says, slowly and deliberately, “I have to know that I can end it if you won’t.”

Dean closes his eyes, lowers his forehead to touch the steering wheel and groans, “Oh God, Sammy…”

Sam’s mouth snaps shut and his throat tightens. He wishes that Dean would hit him. He suddenly wants a kick in the ass. He wants his big brother but what he gets is a subdued stranger, who turns the key in the ignition and says, “Oleander can mess with your heart. We need to get you checked out at a hospital.”

Every cop, Fed, KGB agent and Scotland Yard detective and their mothers are looking for them and Dean wants to march into a very public place where they keep records of people who come in.

And Sam doesn’t even try to argue. He knows it won’t do him any good.

“What are you going to tell them?” Sam asks.

There’s a pause. Sam realizes too late that he just asked his brother to lie for him.

Dean doesn’t even look at him. “I don’t know, Sam. What the hell do you want me to say? That you got your spices confused? ‘For the last time, it’s coriander, not oleander’?”

“That’s pretty good.”

But Dean doesn’t smile. He backs the Impala out of its parking space and says, “How ‘bout I keep my mouth shut and let you handle the lies?”

When Sam hears the hurt in Dean’s voice, that’s when he really does want to curl up and die.

The nearest hospital is in the next town, twenty miles away, and Dean takes the curves like he’s Steve McQueen. Other than the roar of the Impala’s engine, the ride passes in strained silence. The motion of the car doesn’t do Sam any favors. By the time they pull into the parking lot Sam is green around the mouth.

“We’re here,” Dean reminds him loudly.

Slowly, Sam straightens up, trying to avoiding eye contact as he gets out of the car. Dean doesn’t let him off so easy. He says, “Stop, look at me.”

Sam turns.

“Don’t ever pull a stunt like this again. Once burned, twice shy, you know what I mean? I’ll do anything to keep you safe, Sammy. You get me? Anything.”

Sam feels a chill, not from Dean’s words, but from what’s behind them.

“Yeah,” Sam says, “I get you.”

“Good. Let’s go get you taken care of.”

The ER is slow. Dead is a better word. It’s not a very big hospital. They probably don’t see much outside of the occasional logging injury here. Sam doesn’t have an axe sticking out of his leg, but his pale complexion and hunched posture earn him immediate attention from the duty nurse, a gray-haired woman in peach-colored scrubs.

Sam swallows, looks at Dean, and tells the nurse he may have taken oleander. The last syllable is barely out of his mouth and he’s in a wheelchair and being whisked away down a wide, white corridor.

For Sam, the next hour passes like a bad dream. When they finally let Dean in to see him Sam’s hooked up to a heart monitor. He has an IV line in the back of his hand and a bitter, chalky taste in his mouth from the activated charcoal they made him drink. They didn’t pump his stomach (thank God for small favors), but as a precaution they did induce vomiting, which was almost as bad. Physically he’s going to be okay, but they want to keep him overnight to monitor his heart.

They’ve put Sam in one of those semi-private wards with blue curtains that divide the beds from each other. The curtains don’t quite reach the floor. He can see Dean’s blue-jeaned legs pacing back and forth on the other side. Finally Dean stops, peals back the curtain and approaches Sam’s bed. Whatever Sam was expecting, anger, resentment, he doesn’t get it. Dean’s wearing his poker face.

“How’re you feelin’?” he asks. The words are flat. It’s not that he doesn’t care, but he hasn’t forgiven Sam either.

“Okay,” Sam says.

Sam’s voice sounds a little rough. Dean asks, “You throw up again?”

“Yeah. That’s why I got the IV instead of juice in a sippy cup.”

Dean can’t help himself. He smiles a little.

Sam says, “They want me to meet with the hospital psychiatrist before they cut me loose.”

“You’re kidding,” Dean says, eyes wandering around the small ward, “This place has a psychiatrist?”

Sam would laugh but his stomach hurts too much.

There’s an awkward silence. Dean comes around to the side of Sam’s bed, pretends to be interested in Sam’s IV drip line, anything to avoid looking nervous. “So, uh, what did you tell them?”

“The truth,” Sam says, “plus or minus a few demons.”

“Yeah? How did that go exactly?”

Sam inhales sharply because suddenly he has a runny nose. “I just said that I’m kind of messed up right now, and that I haven’t felt like myself the last couple of weeks.”

“Yeah, no shit.”

“And I wasn’t trying to kill myself.”

All of the humor drains out of Dean. “And that’s the truth?”

“Yeah. That’s the truth.”

Dean nods. His shoulders drop. The lines on his face suddenly don’t look so deep. Sam watches the tension drain out of his brother. Maybe Dean hadn’t been sure until now that Sam hadn’t just screwed up the dose.

Sam knows he’s hit the wall when his eyes start to burn. It’s too much: the antiseptic smell in his nostrils, the feel of the needle under his skin, even the damned hospital gown they’ve got him kitted up in. He’s so tired, so hungry, so fucking wrung out that he can’t even think straight. It’s all he can do to turn his head away from Dean and bury his face in the pillow before his throat closes up and he starts gasping like a landed trout.

There’s a peaceful moment of near-silence, filled only with the steady beep of the heart monitor and Sam’s heavy breathing. Then:

“Holy shit, are you crying?” 

“No,” Sam says, but his breath hitches.

Dean puts his hands up innocently, “Dude, I totally didn’t do anything.”

This sucks, but Sam can’t help himself. He hasn’t had a total meltdown like this, complete with hiccups and snot bubbles, since the first day of kindergarten. Dean’s going to give him so much shit for this, but Sam can’t form the words that will get Dean to leave. He barely feels it when a hand slides under his back and pulls him gently into a denim lap. Dean’s breath is hot against Sam’s ear. He whispers, “You’re okay, Sammy. You’re alright. I’ve got you…”

Dean smells like the Impala, like gasoline and worn upholstery and gunpowder. He smells like Sam’s whole childhood condensed into one person. If Sam doesn’t open his eyes he can almost believe that he is five years old again, wearing a set of Dean’s old flannel pajamas and curled up under a thin blanket in a motel room. Monsters and demons and ghosts are real, and they don’t always hide in your closet or under your bed, but as long as Dean is there, nothing bad can get him, not even the man with the yellow eyes.

Dean holds him until the hiccups fade, until Sam can breathe normally again. Sam’s tears have made a wet patch on his jacket and Dean can’t possibly be comfortable with most of Sam’s weight on his leg, but Dean won’t pull away until Sam is ready to let go.

Eventually Sam feels steady enough to talk. “Go ahead. Say it.”

Dean frowns. “You’re a girl. Now shut up.”

Sam takes a deep, shaky breath. “Dean, what I said before-”

“Shhhh…We’re not gonna talk about that right now. You’re sick. We need to get you better.”

Suddenly hot and uncomfortable, Sam untangles himself from his brother.

“Dean, I’d rather die than become something I’m not.”

Without touching him, Dean forces Sam to look him in the eye, “I’d rather you didn’t, because I can’t live with you dead.”

There's a fight brewing in Sam. There's always one more fight in him. That's why he would have made such a good lawyer.

But Dean reads him like an open book and he says, "Don't."

The hurt in Dean's voice makes Sam stop, not the word.

"Please. Don't."

For once in his life, Sam backs down. The argument isn't over, but for now it ends with a draw.

In about nineteen hours Sam will check himself out of the hospital, probably against medical advice. He and Dean will pile into the Impala. They’ll stop for coffee, gas and stale doughnuts before they leave town. They won’t talk about what happened, not openly, but it will be in the subtext, in nervous jokes and furtive glances, a two-man cold war. They’ll settle back into their routine, but they will watch each other out of the corners of their eyes, each wondering what the other is capable of.
 

XXXXX

When Sam finally falls asleep, when his heart monitor reads a slow, somewhat steady beat, when the doctor and the nurse arrive to move Sam into a recovery room, Dean feels like its okay to leave his brother’s side, just for a minute.

He doesn’t smoke, but he tells the duty nurse that’s why he’s going outside, because he can’t say he needs to work some feeling back into his leg where his brother was laying on him and ‘getting some fresh air’ sounds lame. After breathing that rubbing-alcohol hospital smell, the outside air does feel good, though.

Once he’s a little ways away from the building and he’s sure no one will see him, Dean pulls something out of his coat pocket, and it’s not cigarettes. It’s a small white packet, the same one he took out of Sam’s jacket this morning, and it still contains twelve oleander seeds.

Dean told Sam that he burned them. He hates lying to his brother, but he rationalizes it this way: Sam lied first.

Sam’s the only person who can scare the living shit out of him. After today he’s the only person who has ever made him doubt that he could save his brother.

He rolls the packet over the backs of his fingers like a casino chip and replays Dad’s words in his head:You have to watch out for Sam. You have to save him.

Whatever else Sammy is, he’s still human, still vulnerable to all of the things that kill humans. He just had to go and prove that to himself.

If you can’t, you might have to kill him.

A dozen poison seeds. That’s his Plan B.

He told himself that he’d never kill his brother. Then like a jackass he went and promised Sam that he would if he had to. Dean can feel that the day is coming when he will have to choose which promise he will keep.

When it does, the oleander seeds aren’t for Sammy. Dean told the truth about one thing at least: he can’t live with Sam dead. God knows, blowing his brains out would be a whole lot easier, but Sam doesn’t have the market cornered on melodrama.

Dean pockets the seeds and begins walking back to the hospital.

About fifty feet from the glass doors he comes to an abrupt halt, and with a sudden, angry movement he pulls the seeds out of his pocket and pitches them as hard as he can off into the trees by the side of the building, because you know what?

Fuck Plan B.

Dad taught him how to follow orders, keep promises. The never-say-die optimism, though, that’s all Dean, and his two sides don’t always get along.

He’s going to save his little brother.

Dean folds up the empty packet and tosses it in the trashcan outside of the hospital’s main entrance. He goes inside, smiles at the duty nurse when she tells him his brother’s room number. She doesn’t smile back.

Dean pauses outside Sam’s room for an instant with his hand on the doorknob. A wave of irrational fear washes over him. Maybe he’ll open the door and find an empty bed on the other side, and a nurse unplugging machines…Oh Mister McGillicuddy, I’m sorry…

But Sammy is there, safe and sound and whole, chest rising and falling in the steady rhythm of sound sleep.

Dean sits down by his brother’s side. He takes Sam’s hand in his, just like when they were little and he was afraid of losing Sam in a crowd.

Dean and Sam.

Sam and Dean.

As far as Dean’s concerned, they’re both going to live forever.

 XXXXX

End.

 Thank you for reading.

Feedback is welcome.

 



I liked this very much. Maybe the premise if laid out bluntly would sound unlikely, but the way you wrote it had me completely convinced. I really enjoyed the laconic way you wrote the dialogue, and the brothers were pretty much exactly how I would imagine them in this situation -- in particular, I loved how you highlighted Dean's characteristics of denial and optimism, not just in the final part, but where he forces himself to pretend to believe that Sam didn't take anything even though he knows he did. As for Sam, I see the desperate desire for control over his own life as a fundamental part of his nature, and, especially after an incident where control was removed from him in so complete a way, I could certainly see him wanting to prove to himself that he still had the power to make the ultimate decision.

“Dean, I’d rather die than become something I’m not.”

Without touching him, Dean forces Sam to look him in the eye, “I’d rather you didn’t, because I can’t live with you dead.”


I loved this. I love how Dean here makes it clear to Sam that he can't make that ultimate decision without making it for Dean's life, too. He makes Sam responsible for him, the way Dean's always been responsible for Sam. I love the tangle of selflessness and selfishness and terror and love that's present in both boys right at this moment.

Anyway, all in all, very awesome. Well done, and thank you!

This. Is. Awesome.

Seriously. I got here by way of kroki_refur and I'm so glad I did. I really love BUABS codas, but this is definitely a new favourite. I completely believe this premise from beginning to end, and moreso, I'm so jealous that I didn't think of it first :)

But, seriously. I really love your writing style. It's flows so well and the little details are amazing. and a Chevron where they won’t let you pump your own gas I just... I love this. I don't know why, but as soon as I read it I could see the gas station, that little detail was just so perfect. Sigh.

And this? Sam holds up three fingers, says weakly, “I didn’t take anything. I’m probably just coming down with something.” I totally fell for it. I was actually thinking, "Oh man, but how cool would it have been if Sam had taken something?" but I never really believed he had until the oleander seeds. So well done. It was completely unexpected, but not unbelievable, which is so hard to do.

I'm here from Refur's rec, and this is amazing. Wow.

Followed kroki_refur here, and I'm glad I did. You've got both the boys' voices pretty soundly.

I love the strength of your closing line, though. Kudos.

Oh, that's gorgeous. Horrible and hurty and so damn *wrong* and just...utterly gorgeous.

What kroki_refur said - Dean makes Sam responsible for his life, too. And Dean *knows* but he wants it to be wrong and Sam's the only one that can scare him and Sam wants to die for *real* when he realizes the extent of what he did to Dean...
Oh, lovely.

Dean sits down by his brother’s side. He takes Sam’s hand in his, just like when they were little and he was afraid of losing Sam in a crowd.

Dean and Sam.

Sam and Dean.

As far as Dean’s concerned, they’re both going to live forever.


*Yes*. Made me cry.
*sniffles*

*and here because of the refur rec*


“It’s not your problem.”

There’s a dangerous pause.

“That is a hell of a thing for you to say to me!” Dean explodes.


So I'm rereading this for, like, the fourth time, and I just wondered, am I imagining this or is that a Tombstone reference in there? Because it might kinda make me die of joy if it is...

First off, thank you for your wonderful feedback. I'm an avid reader of your work, so the fact that you've posted a comment and recced my humble fic has me swooning. Second, now that you mention it, I think that I did subconsciously force Dean to channel Val Kilmer. Tombstone was one of my favorite movies back in the day, so when I read your comment I thought: Oh, that's where I got that quote from! Thank you so much for your support. You rule!

Hunh. How could such an excellent story not have had any comments before this? The ways of LJ are strange, indeed.

Your characterisations, particularly for that exact point in their lives, are spot on. Sam is one sneaky dude, but the stakes are even higher for Dean. Your description of Sam's illness, from leaning his head against the side of the car to weeping into his hospital pillow, is chilling and convincing. Actually, all your details of plot and setting are just perfectly chosen to carry and enhance your story. Beautifully done, thanks!

I came over to read on Refur's recommendation. So glad I did. Love your crisp, natural style of writing. Wow, this was a powerful piece. I can believe that Sam would "test" out a poison so that he felt he was in control of his own life again - that's so very in character for him. He was devastated by Meg's possession and the revelation that nothing would make Dean keep his promise to kill him if he turned evil. So yeah, it makes a lot of sense to me.

Dean's reaction was heartbreaking. When Dean tells him that he can't live with Sam dead, it really tore me apart because we know he can't. Loved when Dean just held Sam, because Sam being alive, is all that Dean needs. Definitely got a tear from me...

Wonderful story. I'm off to ff.net to find you there. I really loved this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

wow. this was something totally different. it was a completely plausible reaction, but something no one else has touched on, and it wasn't just that that made it amazing, it was all in all, how you did.

my jaw dropped when you revealed what he did. my stomach clenched up and my chest hurt. this was truly phenominal.

i hope you don't mind, but i'd like to friend you; i would like to be able to see what other things you write, because if they're all as fantastic as this, then i'm sorry that i've been missing out.

I, like several other people here, came to read this on recommendation from kroki_refur (let me tell you, if you can have one person on all of the internet advertising your work, apparently you want it to be her), and I LOVED IT. Honestly. It was this perfect blend of angst and suffering and as sad as the day Jared Padalecki gets wrinkles, and even with all the tears and hugs you managed to keep them in character.

*bows at the foot of the master*

oh gods. ok, I need a crying break now. This is fantastically done and amazingly plausible. Just wow. I love this - it really is incredibly well put together and characterised. Thank you for sharing

It's the near perfect characterizations that make this story work. That and the vivid imagery that makes it possible to see, hear and feel everything that is happening--inside and outside the boys. I loved the way you structured the story so the reader realizes what is happening only a little before Dean does. By the time I got there, it just seemed inevitable. I also liked the subtlety--no over-the-top melodrama, just the same sort of realism that makes the show work despite it's horror/fantasy underpinnings. (I also like the fact that the story is technically well-written, but I'm geeky like that!) I'll be looking forward to seeing more Supernatural fic from you. Thanks for bringing it to lj.

P.S. I'm friending you. Hope that's okay. :)

I'm totally cool with that. Thank you for your feedback. My writing is a work in progress, so I appreciate all that I can get. On the subject of your alleged geekiness, I don't have any kind of formal training, so having someone say that my story is technically well-written actually means a lot. Thank you! These are things I need to know! :)

That was really fucking intense, and good, and...yea it rocked.

love it! sam just making sure he can kill himself normally...oh boys, why are you so messed up, and why do we all like it so much. oh well. i love how dean rejects the whole dying together idea for the more practical live forever idea.