Characters/Rating: Sam&Dean shifting into Sam/Dean, PG-13
Length: ~1800 words
Prompt: go get your heart back
Summary: Dean could almost see it, stretching out before him. The rest of his life, like this.
(Season 6, post episode 14. Somewhat angsty, but enough schmoop to make it worth it; title courtesy of T.S. Eliot.)
Dean's not even sure what triggered it. Maybe the sun glinting off Sam's favorite knife. Maybe the sound of a motel door slamming across the parking lot. In the end, it didn't matter. One moment they were loading their gear into the trunk, ready for the long haul back to South Dakota; the next, Sam dropped like a stone.
Sam dropped like someone had stabbed him in the back, a knife sliding soft as a whisper through his spine, and for a long moment, Dean forgot to breathe.
Dean's phone call with Bobby was short and to the point. Dean was already wound so tight, he could barely choke out the words. If Bobby had any biting criticism stored up for just this situation, he kept it to himself. They both knew what the worst case scenario was here, and there was no use growling at each other.
Sam lay right where Dean left him, flat on his back and still as a corpse on the other bed. Dean fought down the urge to pace, eyes fixed on the slow rise and fall of Sam's chest under his folded hands. In the complete silence, Dean could hear every breath Sam took.
Dean could wait this out. The last time, Sam was only down and out for a few minutes. Sam would come around, and in the meantime, they had the room until check-out at noon. Dean could be patient. Dean could wait.
The last thing that Dean needed was someone barging in on this. It wouldn't be easy to explain why a hulking man like Sam was laid out like Sleeping fucking Beauty herself, dead to the world, while Dean sat in the room alone, watching him like some kind of creep. No way to prove that he hadn't drugged Sam, and if the motel staff didn't call the cops after seeing that, they would be out of their goddamned minds. Dean didn't have enough spare cash for hush money if it really came down to it.
But they did have plenty of spare cash for another night in the room, and Dean didn't want to move Sam unless he absolutely had to, so that would have to be their genius Plan B.
Who knew? Sam could wake up any minute now, so he fished an old diner receipt out of his wallet, flipping it over to the blank back side. He rubbed absently at the grease-stained paper before sliding it gently under Sam's thumb.
Back in 10.
Closing the door behind him was harder than Dean thought it'd be. He didn't want Sam to have to wake up alone. To claw his way up out of his own private Hell, disoriented and weak, and find that Dean had left him.
Dean made it back in seven minutes instead of ten.
The room was silent, Sam breathing in and out at a quarter of the rate of Dean's beating heart. The note crumpled easily in Dean's fist, but he wanted to keep squeezing. He sat down on the empty bed, carefully clasping his hands between his knees.
Sam kept breathing, his ridiculous hair falling over his forehead. Dean slowed his breathing to match Sam's. Three minutes had become three hours, but that didn't mean anything. Sam could wake up on this breath. Or this one.
Dean could wait this out.
There was no way that Dean was going to sleep tonight. He could already tell. The restlessness under his skin would become a dry ache behind his eyes, but experience had taught him that the only effective sleep aid on a night like this would be a fifth of something cheap and strong.
Dean gave his duffel a sour look. Not tonight; no way in Hell. Dean was so keyed up, he'd be more likely to make himself sick before he could drink enough to get some rest. The last thing he wanted Sam to wake up to was the aftermath of Dean drinking himself stupid. Passed out cold or retching over the toilet while Sam needed him most.
Staying up one night wasn't going to kill him. He had everything he needed, including some shitty lukewarm pizza and even shittier cable. An infomercial for ergonomic desk chairs cast highlights and shadows around the room, shifting and sliding over Sam's cheeks, his nose. The light turned Sam's skin a cold, pale blue.
Dean nearly broke the remote, turning the volume up until he couldn't hear himself think.
It hadn't even been one day yet. Sam was fine. Dean could wait this out.
Sam's lips were chapped. Not enough to be cracked and bleeding, but enough to be annoying if Sam were aware of it.
Dean tried dribbling a little water between Sam's lips, rubbing his throat to try to encourage him to swallow. At first it seemed to be working, but Sam took a deep breath with a sick gurgling sound and Dean nearly had a damned heart attack.
It took him less than two seconds to haul Sam up against his chest, pounding on his back as he weakly coughed it up. Sam's head hung limp over Dean's shoulder, water dribbling down the back of his shirt.
Dean spent several guilty minutes sitting just like that, both arms wrapped around Sam, pressing his body tight against his chest and just struggling to match Sam, breath for breath.
Something like this was bound to happen. Dean was still figuring out what Sam could and couldn't do when he was like this, it wouldn't be easy, there would be some mistakes.
Dean's face was pressed to Sam's neck, his hair sliding silk smooth against Dean's forehead and cheeks. If Sam could keep breathing through it, then Dean could too.
Dean soaked a clean washcloth in cool tap water and pressed it against the inside edges of Sam's lips, squeezing one drop at a time into his mouth. One drop at a time, and Sam could handle it easy.
A stray drop splashed beside Sam's nose, salty and bitter, before sliding down his cheek into his hair. Dean used his wrist to scrub roughly at his own face, before wiping Sam's cheek dry with his thumb.
Dean hadn't slept for nearly two days, and it was starting to take its toll. There was no way that Dean could last another night; he had to make sure that Sam was comfortable before he nose-dived into the other bed. He settled next to Sam, tilting his chin up to receive the Chinese water torture method of hydration. Sam's eyelids didn't even twitch as drop after drop fell on his lips.
So this was it.
It was time to man up and start thinking about the future. The room was paid up until the end of the week, but then what? Sam wouldn't last more than a few more days without a saline IV, and if this lasted much longer than that, he'd need to find a way to feed him. Dean might be able to swipe the IV stuff from a local hospital, but he wouldn't be able to just throw on a pair of stolen scrubs and expect to walk out with an entire life-support system.
Whatever, that shit was just the details anyway. He'd steal bits and pieces from a hundred hospitals if he had to; that would be the easy part.
It didn't matter. It didn't matter if Sam never opened his eyes again. If Dean would never see him smile, or hear his voice. Even if Dean's little brother was a vegetable, Dean loved his little brother. And Dean would keep Sammy alive, drop by drop, for the rest of their lives if he had to. It was that simple; always had been.
Dean could almost see it, stretching out before him. The rest of his life, like this.
With Sammy, he couldn't regret it.
Dean's vaguely aware that he's dreaming. Sam is ten years old and smiling, splashing around in the creek behind the house they squatted in that summer. Dean remembers lying back on the steep bank, the smell of crushed grass all around him, sharpening silver knives with a whetstone. Sam kept glancing over his shoulder, wet bangs hanging into his eyes, still young enough to care if Dean was watching.
Dean remembers that afternoon. Remembers how the sun heated the air, hotter and hotter on the back of his neck until Dean finally gave in. How happy Sam looked when Dean dragged his shirt off over his head and charged into the water after him. Dunking Sam, his skin slippery and cool under Dean's palms; catching a bony elbow to the chin as Sam flailed to the surface. Dean doesn't remember it hurting. He remembers Sam laughing.
Dean woke confused, with the distinct impression that someone was trying to squeeze the life out of him with their entire body. This was exactly why Sam had to get his own bed when he was twelve.
It took several seconds for the rest of his brain to catch up. Sammy. He turned his head to meet Sam face to face. Sam was pale; his blood-shot eyes were half-lidded and he looked like shit, but he was awake.
Oh fuck, Sammy. Dean just stared at him.
"Mmph..." The corners of Sam's lips pulled down in the most familiar way; the same poop face Sam had been making since he decided he hated cinnamon applesauce at the age of two. "M'whole body's sore." Dean had never been so glad to see that face.
Sam seemed to wake up a little more, though he was obviously in no hurry to disentangle himself from Dean. "How long was I out?"
They lay there in silence, almost nose to nose, for several slow breaths before Dean answered. "Two days."
"M'still tired." Sam's arms tightened slightly around Dean; Dean wasn't sure whether it was intentional or not. The moment was beginning to feel a bit more intense than he was usually comfortable with, but his heart kept a steady beat. Sam's voice was soft, little warm puffs against Dean's lips. "It felt like forever."
Dean's laugh came out choked. "Yeah, I know." Sam's hand was cupping Dean's neck, fingertips restless against his skin, asking permission. Jesus Christ, Sammy. But if the last two days had taught Dean anything, it was how to separate real fear from the bullshit.
He had already decided last night, in a way. Him and Sammy, together; that's what mattered. The rest of it was just the details, and they'd figure it out. He shifted closer to Sam. Matching his breaths was familiar, sharing his air was new.
Dean could almost see it, stretching out before him. The rest of his life, like this.
With Sammy, he wouldn't regret it.
I tag maco2111 with sometimes it's enough.