BurstynOut & Tracer
grimaced as the junked Impala plummeted across another
gaping pot hole. Back roads were never his idea of a
fun drive, but maneuvering across them in a severely
damaged bucket of rust care of Possessed People of America
was just asking for trouble.
Well, Sam blamed the wreck on the vision
and the fact that he'd been half out of his mind with
worry over Dean; Dean blamed Sam. No big surprise there.
The younger brother had expected a fair amount of ribbing
for the event that had transpired and left his brother’s
baby trashed. And he’d gotten more than he would’ve
liked in the first forty minutes of their drive away
from the hospital entrance.
What he hadn’t expected was Dean’s
shift from merely being protective of the remnant of
a former classic to showing full-blown obsessive interest
in every single movement Sam made in or around the general
vicinity of the Impala. Every touch of the dash, hood,
or door was meticulously studied. Nothing went unnoticed,
and god forbid the younger even attempt to merge or
switch lanes without signaling, because Dean was barely
letting him slide on legal traffic maneuvers, illegal
ones would likely get him thrown out of the car. It
didn't matter in the least that the blinker was on the
fritz anyway or that it was pretty unlikely that anyone
would be able to tell the difference even if the car
did get hit again.
The whole situation was incredibly
annoying and made Sam feel like he was four years old
again. But he was trapped. It was Dean’s idea
of payback, and he deserved every minute of it. Deep
down he believed it, but that didn’t mean he agreed
with the method of torture. Given a choice, he would
have preferred loud, obnoxious singing and head banging.
Of course, those were not even options at this point.
Not with Dean and the car both broken.
Sam knew that the car was an extension
of Dean. It defined his older brother in the same way
the faded leather jacket he donned every morning defined
him. It was a vivid representation of its owner and
exuded an essence that could only be described as Dean.
So, in a way, his brother was protecting himself and
not just a mangled piece of metal and iron. Ironic,
because Dean rarely thought to protect himself, at least
not the parts that Sam could see. The rest, well, Dean
protected those too well, and Sam had only learned to
see those once he'd recognized the walls built around
them, the walls that were now cracked and weathered
to the point of imminent collapse.
The irony lay in that the midnight
classic was now damaged, a shard of its former glory,
and while the possibility of repair hung in the air,
the process would prove to be slow and daunting. Tragedy’s
sting leaves nasty scars, not unlike the crumpled hood
of the car, and it sickened Sam to think that even if
the classic could be returned to a state of renewed
brilliance, the former luster would never be restored.
It amazed him though, that even in the darkest times,
Dean’s reflection radiated from the chipping black
exterior, as though the reflection itself was the last
light of a fading hope to simply survive another day.
stole another glance in his brother’s general
direction, trying to make it look like as though he
wasn’t. His chest tightened, the constriction
nearly cutting off his airway, as he took in Dean’s
state. The elder was huddled against the passenger door,
body angled against it in what had to be the most uncomfortable
position known to man. His right arm was positioned
awkwardly behind him and Sam doubted there was any circulation
left in the appendage. Dean’s chin rested against
his chest, and his head lay against his shoulder, eyes
shut as though in sleep, but Sam knew otherwise.
recognized that look. It was the same clamped shut expression
that creased Dean’s eyes when the elder was either
concentrating or mentally talking himself through something.
Sam deducted it was the latter, simply because he could
hear Dean’s labored breathing echo through the
car, rumbling over Metallica’s rendition of “Turn
Sam initially figured the position
was helping to ease the tightness in Dean’s torso
and relieve a bit of the strain that sitting upright
and rigid in the leather interior would more than likely
cause. The beaded sheen of sweat on his brother’s
forehead, however, told a different story, and the guilt
Sam had entertained all those hours ago over kicking
Dean out of the driver’s seat abated.
had made a valiant effort though--a stupid idiotic move,
but a noble gamble all the same. Sam had been slightly
stunned when his older brother had snatched the keys,
clearly having every intention of driving all the way
to Bobby’s from the hospital on his own volition.
It was all a mask. Just like the Demon had said, and
the phrase ran its course repeatedly as the drive wore
on. Mask all that nasty pain. Mask the truth.
That had become all the more obvious
as the miles had built up though, and the pain meds
flowing through Dean’s system had finally started
laying hold on him. Sam had allowed Dean to keep his
‘I’m perfectly fine’ mask in place
throughout the entire nerve wracking experience of watching
his strong hands shake through the task of trying to
steady the steering wheel, through watching the growing
stain of sweat drench every inch of his dark tee, and
through hearing the short, pained hitches in his breath.
But when the car had started swerving and the words
had begun slurring, Sam hadn't been able to refrain
from yelling. It must’ve been the meds because
Dean had actually resigned, clearly defeated with far
too little effort on Sam's part.
The younger brother drew in a sharp
breath and snapped his attention back to the road when
the car dipped deep into another asphalt trap, gritting
his teeth and scrunching his eyes when the inevitable
scrape of the car’s undercarriage against the
old road rasped in his ears. With a tight ‘I swear
I didn’t do it on purpose, please don’t
kill me’ smile, Sam shot a sideways glance at
his older brother and let out a nervous laugh as he
waited for what he knew was to come.
“Ten bucks says we lost something.”
Sam rolled his eyes at the remark, catching sight of
Dean lifting his head and lolling it towards him out
the corner of his eye.
“Don’t have to.”
Dean taunted, tone thick as he straightened up in the
seat, and Sam tried his best to ignore the wincing sound
that met in his ears.
“Yeah, well, you might want to.”
Sam threatened, his brown eyes meeting Dean’s
glazed jade ones for a brief moment before turning back
to the road. His older brother was definitely not all
gonna do if I don’t?” Dean challenged, “Destroy
my car again?”
“Now, there’s a thought.”
Sam quipped, his face pensive as though he really was
contemplating the suggestion. “Although, I think
this time I’ll go for more of a side impact.”
“Not funny, dude.” Dean
muttered, shifting to rest his head against the cracked
“I thought it was.” Sam
smiled, although it didn’t meet his eyes.
“You would.” Dean replied.
Sam snuck a sideways glance again and frowned at Dean’s
rigid posture against the passenger door and the slow,
steady blinking of his eyes.
you be sleeping right now? The doctors said that stuff
should knock you out for hours, and you need the rest,”
Sam chided, tightening his grip on the shaking steering
wheel and steadying it to the left. Damn alignment.
“So do you, raccoon eyes,”
Dean shot back, waving a flimsy hand in front of his
“Raccoon eyes?” Sam repeated
disbelievingly, “I don’t have raccoon eyes.”
“And you wonder why the girls
always come to me. When are you gonna learn that this,”
Dean teased, spreading his arms out stiffly, his head
drooping slightly, “is what the ladies want. Not
some nerdy giant with black eyes.”
“So they like 'em short,”
Sam countered, his eyes flickering mischievously.
“Ouch,” Dean slurred to
the Impala’s roof, resting his head against the
back of the seat. “You’re lucky I’m
drugged up, else I’d hurt you for that one.”
“I’m sure you would, Dean,”
Sam placated, his white teeth peeking out from behind
“Oh, you know I would. Kick your
ass to the next town.” Dean rambled, rolling his
head along the leather bench, his eyes unfocused but
still locked onto the upholstered roof.
“Dude,” Sam laughed, “go
“Well, I would if someone was
a better driver,” Dean stated, his hazy eyes glancing
pointedly at Sam.
“It’s kind of hard seeing
as I have to keep the wheel turned to the left just
to make this thing go straight,” Sam defended,
letting out a deep sigh.
“You know, most people would
be able to see a massive tree right in front of them,”
Dean continued smugly, completely ignoring Sam's defense
and taking extreme enjoyment in the way his kid brother
squirmed in the driver’s seat at his remark.
tree saved your life, and don’t you forget it.”
Sam watched Dean slump down a bit, as if mulling over
his statement, and for a minute he let his mind imagine
his older brother’s eyes had finally slid shut.
“You’re right, Sammy.”
Dean conceded, his tone oddly detached, and Sam was
beginning to wonder just how big of a dosage Dean had
“I am?” Sam asked, feigning
surprise, a part of him feeling guilty for egging his
chemically altered brother on.
“Uh huh. I think I’m gonna
become a evniro—envi—uh…” Dean
mumbled, his face scrunched and his right hand spread
widely over it which of course, was an apparent sign
of deep thinking.
younger offered, biting his lip to stop himself from
“Yeah. That.” Dean smiled
lazily, dropping his hand with a smack against his leg.
“Dude, I hate to say it, but
I don’t think they’d take you.” Sam
joked, chuckling under his breath.
“Oh, they’d take me alright,”
Dean refuted defiantly, his tone almost bordering firm.
“You think so, huh?” Sam
pressed, knowing he was taking advantage of Dean’s
current situation. It wasn’t like he was leaving
him in a seedy bar for the taking, and driving these
roads were boring enough as it is.
“Yep. I have per-son-al-ity.”
Dean answered, annunciating and slurring every syllable
of the word.
“You don’t say.”
Sam breathed mockingly, not failing to note how his
brother’s form had gone heavy and completely slack
against the seat. The younger mentally reminded himself
to read the prescription again, because whatever the
doctors had given Dean would probably come in handy
later on down the hunting road.
“I do say,” Dean countered,
mimicking his younger brother’s tone.
“Well, then, I guess they’d
have no choice but to accept you.”
“Damn right.” Dean agreed,
somehow managing to propel his body into a forward lean.
He took to swatting at the shoebox containing his favorite
plastic cassette, although his hands seemed to be having
a hard time actually grabbing onto it.
“Need a hand there, bro?”
Sam offered, stopping his laughter and quickly clearing
his throat. Even high on meds, the pain of movement
still laced Dean's face, and Sam silently berated himself
for forgetting exactly why it was that Dean was high
in the first place.
make it stop moving.” Dean blinked in confusion
and continued reaching for the box, but Sam’s
long arm stilled his pawing and slowly pushed him back
into the seat.
“Let me get it okay?” Sam
instructed gently, one eye half way watching the road
and the other searching his brother for any sign he
might need to pull the car over for Dean. Wrecking the
car had earned him enough grief, but letting Dean puke
in it would make him a dead man walking.
“Okay.” Dean complied easily, his clouded
eyes roaming Sam's face, and the younger briefly wished
they would clear and offer a window into his brother's
thoughts. Of course, they couldn't, but Sam could hope
“Here.” Sam grunted, trying to keep his
head above dash level and still watch the road as he
reached to the floor for the box. He snapped up quickly
once his hand encased the familiar cardboard and handed
the treasure to Dean.
“What you wanna hear?” Dean asked, his voice
bouncing like the voices of those freaky actors in musicals
before they started into their huge number.
“You’re asking me?” Sam questioned
in disbelief. He couldn’t help feeling slightly
honored at the suggestion.
“Yee-ahhhh.” Dean muttered, dragging the
word thoughtfully as he nodded his head and squinted.
“Good point. I’ll pick.”
“That’s harsh, dude.” Sam stated seriously,
"That really hurts."
"Truth hurts." Dean replied off-handedly,
distracted by the assortment of classic rock.
"Yeah, it does." Sam murmured, momentarily
forgetting his brother was operating on a "higher"
mental plain and let his mind wander back to that horrifying
Dean had never really been open with
him. And that hurt at times, but the pain of revelation
had been magnified ten-fold when it had been spun from
the mouth of their loathed enemy, and enemy wearing
their father's face. Demons lie. Sam knew that, but
all lies, at least the good ones, stem from truth.
The terrifying and gut wrenching insight into his brother's
mind and emotions had been revealed in the worst of
ways. Although Sam had tried, at first, to chalk it
all up to lies created for the purpose of inflicting
pain, he couldn’t deny that he'd seen the panic
and anguish rise, uninhibited, to morph his brother's
features and reduce him to nothing more than a shroud
of a man begging for his life.
It was a sight he’d never seen
before, and never wanted to witness again. His Dean
was strong, always okay and able to take on anything.
That Dean had been an emotional wreck, full of hurt
and rejection. The problem now was that his Dean was
becoming that Dean. Sam could just sense it. While he
could blame the meds for making Dean loopy and out of
his mind, his mental state had already obviously been
debatable before the demonic encounter. There was still
Silence drifted its way back into the car, and Sam let
the steady thump of tires on the road and the erratic
clunking of the engine soothe his thoughts. His temporary
haven was disturbed by the smacking of plastic cases
as Dean's fingers fought with each one, opening and
closing them repeatedly before setting them back in
the box. The racket was worse than that of a two-year
old who'd recently discovered the world of pots and
"You uh...got one yet, Dean?" Sam inquired
through gritted teeth. While the sound was thoroughly
entertaining his brother, it was grating on Sam's nerves
worse than having the pulsating rhythm of Black Sabbath
vibrating through his skull during one of his more debilitating
"This one. No, wait...this one." Sam glanced
at the selection and groaned audibly when he saw AC/DC's
Back in Black album in Dean's hand.
"Dean, how about something else? We listened to
that one already, remember?"
"Fine." Sam huffed, hitting the eject button
and hurling the Metallica tape in Dean's general direction
before snatching Dean's new selection from his hand
and placing it in the deck.
“Quit acting like you hate them.
I hear you singing it in the shower.” The last
part of the statement was muffled by a loud yawn and
Sam really didn’t think he wanted to know what
Dean had said, so he chose wisely to simply ignore it.
“You tired?” Sam pressed,
ducking down in the seat to catch a glimpse of the mud-
crusted road sign and thanking every deity with the
reputation of being good that Bobby’s house was
less than ten miles away.
“No.” Dean objected quietly,
blinking his eyes rapidly to ward off the beckoning
“You look tired.”
“You look dorky.”
“Nice, Dean. Good one.”
Sam retorted sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“I thought so.” Dean returned,
his mouth attempting an exhausted smile.
do know that you’re gonna have to take more of
those pills right? And when you do, they’ll probably
knock you on your ass,” Sam reminded, in the all-knowing
tone Dean loathed.
“Well, you won’t be driving
then,” Dean sallied back smugly, turning to look
out the window. “There it is. On the…right.”
“Right, I see it.” Sam
lowered his foot a little more on the accelerator and
smiled widely in relief when he turned the Impala off
the worn down asphalt onto the gravel road. The rusted
archway declared the entrance to Bobby’s shop
Sam eased the car up next to the beat up old Ford that
sat eroding on the side of the house but then thought
better of it and pulled up to the front of the porch,
leaving only a few feet to cover between the car and
the door as opposed to the good couple yards the former
spot would’ve left.
He honestly didn’t know if Dean
would be able to stumble even that far, because those
meds had left the elder incapacitated for the most part,
and Dean was never one to just accept help without a
fight. So, Sam was pretty sure that if he even looked
like he was going to aid his brother’s trek he
would end up in worse condition than the patient.
Shifting into Park, Sam rested back
in the seat and took a deep breath before turning his
attention on whatever had locked Dean’s. His older
brother stared without wavering out the passenger window.
A small smile graced Sam’s face when he caught
sight of Bobby, his faded jeans and tee covered with
mud and grease, sporting his favorite camouflage cap
and standing on full alert, rifle held loosely by his
side, the barrel aiming sure for the Impala. His face
bore the same calculating, suspicious glare he’d
had all those weeks ago when he’d helped them
with Meg. It warmed considerably the moment Sam exited
the car, the worn lines on Bobby's face crinkling as
he offered a welcoming smile.
“Hey, Bobby.” Sam greeted,
fiddling with the keys as he circled back to the trunk.
“Nice to see you boys, again.
Would’ve liked to see that stubborn ass of a daddy
you got too, but time’s for everything.”
Bobby returned, setting the rifle to rest against the
door jamb before coming down from the porch to help
Sam with the bags.
“Well, he probably still thinks
you’d shoot him.” Sam quipped, lugging his
timeworn duffle out of the trunk and dropping it to
the ground heavily.
“And he’d be right too,”
Bobby shot back, laughing along side Sam. “A round
of buck shot might teach that man a thing or two.”
“You gonna join us, Dean?”
Sam inquired expectantly to his brother’s still
slumped form in the passenger seat. He silently hoped
Dean hadn’t just decided to take him up on his
“go to sleep" advice. Dean was a bitch to
younger could tell his loud tone startled his brother
and smiled shakily at the elder’s jumpy response.
The expression faded quickly into one of concern though
when he watched Dean’s slow, hunched exit from
the car. Everything in him screamed for him to steady
his brother’s steps as he saw Dean stagger towards
the trunk, a new mask quickly slamming into place at
his little brother’s suggestion that he wasn’t
up to the challenge.
“Whoa, Dean.” Bobby reacted
instantaneously, taking Dean’s arm when the sandy-haired
boy swayed precariously, and Sam didn’t doubt
the seasoned hunter had picked up on his own apprehension.
“What the hell they got you on?”
“I don’t know,” Dean
shrugged with a smirk on his face. One look into his
unclear green made Bobby smirk as well.
“I do, and it’s got to
be the strongest stuff I’ve ever seen,”
Sam muttered, sounding more than appreciative of that
“Well, that’s the best
kind, ain’t it, son?” Bobby asked, patting
“Yep. Best kind,” the stoned
Winchester repeated, stretching out a hand and motioning
for Sam to hand him a bag.
“Uh…Dean, why don’t
you come inside with me and leave those bags to your
little brother. That’s what he’s for, right?”
Bobby hinted, shooting Sam a hard look when the younger
snorted at his manipulative suggestion.
“Yeah, but he’s not as
strong as me.” Dean argued, reaching down to grab
the duffle from the ground, only to almost end up lying
next to it, his fall only prevented by Bobby’s
“Of course you are.” Bobby
concurred, ignoring Sam’s astonished and somewhat
offended ‘But I’m taller’ remark,
“I got some questions about that poltergeist you
and your Daddy took care of in Mississippi, ‘cause
I think there’s a similar one happening over near
“Sam won’t know about that.”
Dean reasoned foggily, alternating his attention from
Bobby to his brother, clearly torn by the decision he
was going to have to make, even though it would seem
a minor one.
“Right, ‘cause he wasn’t
there, see? That’s why I’m asking you.”
Bobby coaxed, slowly placing a hand on Dean’s
back, watching the boy’s response carefully before
starting to usher him into the house.
“You gonna be okay, Sammy?”
Dean questioned, and if Sam didn’t know better
he’d say his brother sounded almost panicked.
“I’ll be fine Dean,”
Sam assured, shouldering two of the bags and grabbing
the other ones in his hands.
“Okay.” Dean mumbled, craning
his neck over his shoulder and holding his brother’s
gaze until Bobby led him completely out of eye sight.
minutes later found Sam with a horribly sore back and
aching arms and Dean settled in a beat-up old chair
watching Bobby with unfixed eyes. The older man rambled
on about the effects of the poltergeist and flipped
through another one of his ancient texts. The image
vaguely resembled many that had taken place when Sam
and Dean were kids, and Sam could remember many a time
when their father had cracked open a book of rituals
or demons and they’d sat side by side thumbing
through it. It had been those times when the youngest
Winchester had almost felt normal, aside from the fact
that he'd been learning about terrestrial demons as
opposed to the Whos of Whoville.
“You guys getting somewhere?”
Sam interrupted, placing his nervous hands in his pockets
and leaning against the article-laden walls.
“Yeah.” Dean breathed,
continuing to turn the pages idly.
“Good. Uh…Bobby, I went
ahead and dumped the bags and gear in the back room,
is that okay?” Sam questioned hopefully. There
was no way he was moving that stuff again.
“Oh yeah. That’s good.
I got the side room fixed up real nice for y'all. Went
out an’ bought a second bed and everything,”
Bobby stated proudly, and Sam couldn’t help but
think he’d have been a cool dad minus the proverbial
“Great ‘cause I’m
exhausted, how about you Dean?” Sam wandered over
to where his brother was sitting, not failing to notice
how the elder’s movements had nearly ceased completely.
“No,” Dean whispered, raising
his head and meeting Sam’s eyes. The fading, residual
effect of the pills could no longer cover the pained
lines across his brother’s face, and Sam had to
use every method imaginable to stay rooted in his spot
instead of sprinting back into the other room and ripping
apart the bags until he found Dean’s source of
“But you gotta be hungry, right?”
Bobby interjected, giving Sam a knowing glance and Dean
a sympathetic one. “I can have some dinner made
in less than thirty minutes thanks to Stouffer’s.”
“Sounds great, Bobby. Thanks,”
Sam replied gratefully, although tightly, and watched
Dean nod tentatively in the affirmative.
“Not a problem. Anything for
John’s boys.” Bobby nodded his head and
then retreated into the kitchen. The sound of the freezer
door slamming and the clatter of frozen entrees met
the brother’s ears moments later.
“Alright, Dean,” Sam started,
breaking the silence, “How about we move this
stuff over to the couch and you can fill me in?”
“I’m fine here, Sam.”
Dean grumbled, giving Sam an irritated glance.
“I know, I just thought that--”
“Well, stop thinking. I’m
fine.” Dean snapped heatedly.
“Alright. I’ll go see if
Bobby needs any help then,” Sam muttered dejectedly
and wished more than ever that the pills weren’t
losing their hold so quickly. A loopy Dean he could
deal with, but a hurt, bitter Dean was going to prove
the challenge of a lifetime.
A scant hour later, and Sam's feet
were as heavy as his satisfyingly full stomach. Even
the contented drowsiness of a starch-heavy meal couldn't
dull the apprehension that pulsed through him as he
approached the door to the back bedroom. Had they been
able to assure the doctors that they'd remain under
medical supervision, they wouldn't have had to sign
Dean out against medical advice. He was glad to have
his brother out of the hospital, but he understood all
too well that medical professionals were invaluable
when it came to carrying out such tasks as the ones
they’d been ordered to complete if Dean was to
recover fully. Since they had agreed to go that route,
however, Sam was now the closest thing to a medical
professional on hand, and the job was all his. Joy of
He rubbed his hand through his too
long hair in an attempt to dissipate some of the nervous
energy that tingled in his scalp and placed an expression
on his face that he hoped looked understanding and helpful,
not totally freaked out. In times like these, he was
appreciative of the plays he'd done in high school,
whether that made him a drama geek or not.
Sam felt rather than saw Dean look
away as he entered the room. The meds had pretty much
relinquished any control they'd had over his brother's
pain, and Sam knew that Dean would fight tooth and nail
to keep it under control by sheer force of will if that
would just let him maintain a shred of pride. That there
was any pride left to maintain was questionable at best,
but if there was a chance it existed, then Sam would
do his best to honor it.
Dean sat on the corner of the twin
bed Bobby had made up for him, the bed closest to the
bathroom, not the door or the window. He was wearing
a white wife beater and grey sweatpants, his idea of
workout gear, though the proposed activity would hardly
have constituted a workout just a month or so ago. The
shirt had been sliced halfway down the back because
it was too tight-fitting for Dean to get over his head
with his limited mobility, and slicing it down the front
would have defeated the purpose of wearing one at all.
They'd have to buy new t-shirts once Dean was better.
you ready for this?" Sam asked, noting the beaded
perspiration on his brother's forehead. Even changing
clothes appeared to be a daunting task. "And did
you take the muscle relaxer, cuz this is gonna be a
real bitch without it?"
"It's not gonna be a bitch, Sam,"
Dean asserted weakly. "We're gonna skip it."
"Nuh-uh," Sam argued, vehemently
shaking his shaggy head. "You agreed that if I
helped you sign out of the hospital early you'd keep
up with the therapy and that you'd let me help you."
"And I will," Dean said,
"just not tonight."
The pitch of his voice rose to something
that disturbingly resembled whining. It could've been
funny, but it wasn't. The fact that this was the best
front Dean could present was so not funny that Sam couldn’t
even look him in the eye as he crossed the room, coming
to stand in front of his brother, refusing to honor
the last comment with a response. He held out his hands,
palms up, and assumed a slightly spread, bent-kneed
"C'mon, let's just get this over
with, huh? I'm not any happier about it than you are,"
he assuaged. "Let's start with shoulder stretches."
Dean reached out reluctantly as though
summoning the constitution to comply, but as soon as
his own clammy palms brushed Sam's, he drew them back
and shook his head defiantly.
"Not tonight, Sam," Dean
asserted once more. He lifted his eyes stubbornly, and
Sam noted that they were pain-bright and tired-looking.
"It's been a long day. . ."
"Yeah, a long day spent hunched
over in the car, Dean," Sam conceded, "all
the more reason why we can't skip the stretches. You're
not going to heal if you can't breathe, and you won't
be able to breathe if your chest muscles mend together
in giant knots."
Dean kept his hands in his lap, and
looked pointedly at the floor on the far side of the
bed. "I know that, and I said I'd do the friggin'
stretches. Just lay off!" He breathed out loudly,
an exhalation that was somewhere between a sigh and
a shouted whisper.
"I know this is painful,"
Sam acknowledged, "but it's not going to get better
on its own."
Dean blatantly ignored him.
"Okay, so this is about me, isn't
it?" Sam asked. It was a rhetorical question. Dean
had insisted that Sam make himself scarce during every
therapy session that he'd undergone at the hospital.
The therapist had warned Sam that he would balk when
he'd gone to see her about continuing Dean's exercise
regimen outside of the hospital. "I thought that
might be an issue, and so did your therapist,"
he said, going to his duffel bag and rifling through
After a few seconds of frustrated plundering,
Sam pulled out several pamphlets and books and tossed
them on the bed beside Dean. He watched guardedly as
his older brother turned his head just enough to take
in the titles through his peripheral vision, then turned
away crisply as Dean's eyes shot up at him accusingly.
"Yoga?!! You gotta be kidding
me, dude!" Dean shouted. "No friggin' way.
I may not be up to snuff right now, but I'm not some
girlie boy who does yoga!!"
"It's not girlie, Dean!"
Sam argued rubbing the back of his neck distractedly.
"Men practice yoga in lots of cultures all over
the world. In most countries, it's regarded as a martial
art form, and you can do the stretches yourself, so
you can have all the privacy you want if you insist
on not having me around. But FYI, this stuff really
works. Downward facing dog can be modified to use a
wall, and it stretches and opens the entire upper body.
Triangle pose has been proven to open up the chest and
increase lung volume and circulation. Plus, it's been
proven to release endorphins that dull pain."
how the hell do you know all this?" Dean asked,
his eyes squinting suspiciously.
Sam turned away, but not before Dean
caught the flash of awkwardness he recognized as Sam's
'trying to make up a viable lie and failing miserably'
"Jess was into it. . ." the
younger brother finally admitted tiredly.
"So why is it, little brother,
that every time you try to convince me something isn't
girlie, you use an argument you learned from a girl?"
Sam met his brother's gaze slowly,
his dark eyes sinking tiredly into his skull. "Look,
I was just suggesting a couple of stretches, not telling
you to take up wind relieving poses, sun salutations,
Dean's mouth opened, a snarky protest
already in mind, then snapped shut again as a more urgent
realization played into mind. "Dude, wind relieving
poses?" His face scrunched up in mock distaste
and faint amusement. "Please tell me that's not
what it sounds like."
Sam grinned broadly. "Yup. It's
exactly what it sounds like."
slept with a girl who broke wind in unison with a room
full of people in leotards?" Dean asked incredulously.
"And you were afraid to tell her that ghosts are
real? Bro, I think the ghosts would've run
screaming from that scene," he laughed
weakly, absently putting a hand over his chest to keep
his ribs from moving too much.
Sam laughed, raising his eyebrows and
shaking his head. "Say what you want, but she was
wicked flexible," he retorted, eyes twinkling with
"Ooh," Dean exclaimed, face
pinching comically. "So not goin' there."
Sam's face softened noticeably, becoming
more serious. "And you're not goin' there anytime
soon if you keep skipping out on your therapy. You do
what you want. You're a big boy. I'm getting ready for
bed," he dismissed and moved into the bathroom.
"Yell if you need anything," he offered before
shutting the door.
Dean looked at the stack of information
beside him and thumbed through it noncommittally.
When Sam emerged from the bathroom
twenty minutes later, he said nothing to suggest that
he'd inadvertently walked in on his brother actually
heeding his advice. Dean didn't startle or jump as the
door hit the wall with a thump, proclaiming with no
uncertainty that Sam had entered. Sam knew that Dean
doing nothing to hide his actions was the closest the
older brother would come to asking for help.
Wordlessly, Sam moved across the room
to where Dean had his hands pressed into the wall, legs
braced several feet behind him, head hanging down between
his arms. The sound of Dean's hitched breathing drowned
out the creaking of Sam's feet across the ancient hardwood
Sam place his hand flat on Dean's back,
directly between his shoulder blades, recognizing the
modified downward dog facing pose that he'd suggested
earlier. He pressed slightly, instructing without demanding,
until he felt his brother's back straighten from its
nearly perpetually hunched posture. "Just breathe,"
he whispered, and when Dean did, the muscles lengthened
beneath Sam's large hand.
After several long minutes spent holding
the stretch, Dean walked his feet forward and stood
slowly. He didn't speak but turned his head and met
Sam's gaze head on. It was all the thanks Sam wanted
Sam went to bed and waited for Dean
to finish cleaning up and settle in himself.
Dean shuffled to his bed glad that
the silent treaty they'd reached seemed to still be
in effect as he climbed beneath the covers. If Sam had
asked him right then whether he'd taken all his meds,
including the painkiller that was sure to knock him
out, he might've felt obligated to answer truthfully.
He hadn't. And though his body screamed in agony, he
* * * *
flares mercilessly in his chest, refusing to abate.
The pulsating beat thumps against the flesh and bone
that keeps it captive. Radiating darkness surrounds
him, enveloping him and swallowing each breath he takes
in time to the throbbing cadence.
command reaches his ears and panic courses through his
body as the utterance demands his compliance to the
simple act. He won't. He can't. And the soul that wields
the voice knows this.
Flesh shifts and bones groan beneath the invisible force
that is wielded against them. A hollow cry burns through
his chest and rends itself to the shadow land. It is
all that is needed, all his tormentor awaits.
surge of red and a waft of copper flood his senses,
and he is propelled from black to sharpest light. Restless
churning quakes the confines of his stomach, stirring,
convulsing, and threatening violent exodus. Orbs of
deep brown and the face that holds them are all he sees,
the tainted words all he hears.
know, you fight and you fight for this family, but the
truth is they don't need you."
not him. You're not him,' his mind screams, and he stares
hard into the eyes that hold the beast's taunt. They
should be the sickest yellow. They should bear a sinister
flicker within their evil stare. He knows this, and
yet he sees they are brown; the deepest, richest, most
sorry. God, I'm sorry. Please stop." He's begging.
He can feel the shredding of skin, the ripping of sinew,
and the rich dampness that spills from his battered
body. Darkness creeps into the corners of his sight.
One last plea pours from his thick, stained lips--it
is all he has.
please. . ."
guttural scream. He hears it, but it is not his own,
and it fades, vanishing behind the deep whisper that
drums in his ears
not your father. You are not my son."
* * * *
Dean's eyes flashed open seconds before
his straining lungs managed to catch enough breath to
make a sound, but it was long enough for his mouth to
clamp shut over the scream that threatened to erupt.
Biting his lip desperately, Dean pressed the heels of
his hands as deep into his eye sockets as he could and
willed the images behind them to dissipate. He was unwilling
to trust himself to breathe without screaming until
the last flicker of the nightmare was snubbed into nothingness.
the last demonic picture faded to black, and the final
hateful whisper disappeared in the sound of his brother's
soft snoring, Dean let the spent breath escape in a
whoosh that puffed the sweat-soaked sheet tenting beneath
his chin. He shoved the sheet down and willed cooler
room air to flood over him. He seriously contemplated
making his way to the bathroom to take some of the meds
he'd skipped earlier. If omitting them hadn't prevented
the nightmares, maybe taking a few more than the recommended
dosage. . .
He rolled over painfully, turned his
eyes to the far wall, and set about the task of counting
and classifying every last knot that painted the slats
of cedar paneling.
the episode here!