characters: Sam, Dean
notes: Set weeks after 8x06
Written for this prompt by mangacrack over at the ohsam commentfic meme
Sam is sick, feverish and hanging somewhere between life and death. For Dean it's 'just a flu'. He can't see that Sam is
fighting off some kind of demonic infection. But when he hears Sam calling Lucifer to help him (when Lucifer does, in
a sweet and creepy way) Dean panics (and is ridden with guilt?).
“You’re still sick?” Dean asked, eyeing Sam warily. He’d barely left his motel bed two days. His skin looked grey, and he had a constant sheen of sweat. He’d had next to nothing to eat or drink, and he drifted in and out of sleep regardless of the hour.
Sam didn’t answer, but pulled his blanket up higher around his shoulders and turned on his side, facing his back towards Dean.
They hadn’t spoken much in the weeks since the spectre hunt in Kearney. Dean wasn’t sure if it was good or bad that they couldn’t take back what they’d said. Truth was, he did remember most of what he’d said when the spectre had been in him. It wasn’t all that far off from how he really felt. Sam not looking for him, was so wrong somehow, so unlike what they’d always done. He felt abandoned. And even though Sam was still right by his side, he’d never been further away in spirit.
“I’m going out,” he said, quietly, but loud enough for Sam to hear him if he was still conscious.
There was no reaction from his brother’s bed. None at all.
He spent a few hours at a nearby bar, looking at the mirror — watching the reflections of all the other miserable people around him. Either this was a really depressing town, or today was just a universally bad day. It wasn’t until his third drink that he realized why.
“Merry Christmas, Al,” said an older man, folding up a ten dollar bin, and sticking it in the tip-can at the end of the bar.
The bartender nodded, never taking his eye off the glass he was cleaning. “Merry Christmas, Roy.”
Dean looked down at his watch. December 24th. Well, shit.
He’d noticed the decorations popping up around them on some level as they’d gone from town to town, but that seemed to happen earlier every damn year, so he hadn’t thought much about it.
Christmas Eve and here he was trying to drink away his misery. He thought about heading back to the hotel, picking up a peace offering for Sam of some sort, maybe even some wrapping paper. Then he remembered why he was mad at Sam in the first place. The bartender chose that moment to pass by with the bottle of whiskey. Dean nodded at his glass and went back to staring in the mirror.
By the time he made it back to the motel room, it was 2 a.m. Christmas morning. The light was still on, and Sam was already lecturing him as he stepped through the door.
“I can’t understand you, man. Let me at least close the door,” Dean muttered.
Sam kept talking, voice too quiet for Dean to understand a damn word.
He moved closer to his brother’s bed and froze. Sam wasn’t looking at him at all. He wasn’t looking at anything. His eyes were rolled back into his head, and he was trembling. For a minute he did nothing but stand there, listening.
“…before I wake I pray the lord my soul to take and if I die before I wake…”
“Sam?” Dean moved closer to the bed, stripping out of his jacket. Sam had been acting a bit off since that whole witch thing two weeks ago. The practitioner, a guy named Harry, had been trying to do a good thing. He’d found an old ritual to expel and kill a demon and used it to try to help a friend of his who he was convinced was possessed. Of course his friend hadn’t actually been possessed, but a demon showed up anyway, tossed them both around and killed them midway through the spell. It took Sam and Dean a week to track down the demon, who’d decided to possess the witch as a thank you. It recognized them and started screaming about how Lucifer would come back and tear them both apart. Right before they’d exorcized it, it had rattled off a curse of some sort. Sam had told him afterwards that the demon had said it would “boil their blood.”
Dean hadn’t thought about that hunt again until now. And now he felt like an idiot. He ran to Sam’s side and reached for his forehead. It was burning.
"...angels watch me through the night, and keep me safe…" Sam muttered, the tremors running through his whole body making his voice shake.
“Yeah, not so much,” Dean said as he ran to the bathroom for a washcloth. He turned the cold water on, soaked the cloth and went back to Sam, laying the cool cloth on his brother’s forehead.
Sam stopped talking and gasped at the cold, his fingers clutching weakly at the sheets. His eyes fluttered open, and he looked around the room, confused.
“Hey, you alright?” Dean asked. “You’ve got a fever.”
“You said you wanted me back,” Sam said, his voice raspy.
Dean looked down at his brother. His eyes were still unfocused. “I do. But you gotta cool off before you start stinking up the room, okay?” Dean walked back to his bed and grabbed his duffel, digging it through it for his big bottle of aspirin. He poured out a few and went to get a glass of water.
“You said— it didn’t matter that I got out.”
“I said a lot of things.” He brought the glass and the aspirin over to Sam and put them down on the nightstand, trying to figure out how to prop up Sam’s head enough to get him to swallow. “But so did you.” When he reached for the pillow, Sam flinched.
“No. You can’t leave me here. You said—”
Fever dream then…or something. “Nobody’s leaving you. You just need to take these, okay, to help with the fever.” He reached for the pillow again.
“Why? I don’t deserve it.”
Dean tilted his head to the side, trying to figure out what his brother thought was happening.
“Don’t deserve what?”
“He doesn’t even want me.” Sam’s eyes clicked to the back wall and then to a spot right over Dean’s shoulder. “He doesn’t need me.”
“I need you to take these okay?” Dean lost his patience and took the glass and aspirin, holding them in front of Sam’s face. He didn’t react to the glass at all, but kept staring at the same place.
Sam frowned. “He called me a vampire once, too.” He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I’m sure you think that’s hilarious.”
Dean looked over his shoulder to the spot on the wall Sam’s eyes were focused on. “Who are you— are you seeing Lucifer again?”
Without warning, Sam’s back arched and his body seized, knocking the glass of water out of Dean’s hand and sending the pills flying.
Dean watched, helpless, trying to think of what to do. He tried to grab for Sam’s wrists, thinking he could at least try to keep him from hurting himself.
His brother’s skin felt like ice. Impossible, considering how hot he’d been moments earlier. As he watched, Sam’s skin started to glow, a light —so bright it could only mean one thing— shining through his veins. His cold skin grew painful to the touch and Dean let go in frustration.
The light grew brighter and brighter and then vanished as Sam’s body fell completely still.
For a moment Dean stayed where he was, stunned. Then he reached his shaking hand down to Sam’s forehead again. He felt cool to the touch, but nothing like the unnatural frozen state he’d been in a few moments ago.
“Sammy?” Dean asked, too worried to even try to understand what had just happened.
Sam’s chest rose and fell softly, almost like he was sleeping.
Slowly, Dean brought his hand down to Sam’s and squeezed his brother’s fingers.
“Dean?” Sam’s eyes opened and he looked up, right into Dean’s eyes.
“Yeah, I’m here.”
Sam nodded and his lips twitched oddly. He squeezed his eyes shut and pulled his hand away from Dean’s.
For a moment, Dean thought Sam was going to go back to giving him the cold shoulder, but then he noticed a tear running down Sam’s cheek. He shuffled his feet oddly, unwilling to leave his spot.
“I’m sorry,” Sam said quietly, but he kept his eyes shut.
He could have asked, For what? and maybe he should have, but what Dean actually ended up saying was, “So am I.”
Sam’s eyes opened, glassy and bloodshot and he looked up at the ceiling. “He always does this.”
“He…who?” Dean’s heart started thudding unhappily in his chest again.
“Is that who you were talking to before?”
Sam turned his head away and cracked the knuckles of his right hand. “He says I deserve this.”
“Deserve what? Sam, what did he do to you? That light — was that— was that him?”
“When I die, I’m going right back into the Cage. That’s what he’s always said.” Another tear slid down the side of Sam’s face. “And I accept that.”
“Bullshit, you won’t—”
“But he won’t let me die.”
And what could Dean say to that, really?
“Every time I get close, he heals me. It doesn’t matter that he’s trapped down there, he can still do things. He can make my body whole, keep me up here, even when—”
“When what, Sam?”
“When...nobody wants me here.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Sam scoffed, and weak as he was, it sounded more like a cough. He closed his eyes again.
“No,” Dean said angrily. “Answer the damn question.”
Sam sat up and glared at Dean, but his voice betrayed him, breaking. “You can’t forgive me. You’re with me because you feel obligated to be, because we’re family. But in the end, I let you down. I always let you down. I didn’t get you out of Purgatory. I didn’t get you out of Hell. I chose Ruby. I opened Lucifer’s Cage.”
“And you locked him back up,” Dean said. “You want to talk mistakes?”
Sam shook his head.
Dean continued anyway. “I trusted Cas the whole time he was plotting with Crowley. I got Death to put up a drywall in your head, and when Cas broke it, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help. I watched you go insane, talking to the Devil in your head, and now I don’t even know if— I mean jeez, Sam— were you even hallucinating? If he can heal you, then what if every time you saw him—”
“Stop—” Sam held up his hand, “Let’s not go there. Not right now, at least.” He looked up at Dean. “Please.”
“Fine.” Dean swallowed. “You hungry? You haven’t eaten anything in days.”
“Not really. Thirsty though.”
“Well we’ve got water and beer, so uh…I think the machine outside has some iced tea or ginger ale or something else you’ll drink.” Dean grabbed his jacket off the bed. “That sound good?”
Sam stared at him for a second, like he wasn’t sure of what he’d heard. “Yeah.”
Dean jogged back across the street, suddenly uneasy at having left Sam alone so soon after — whatever had happened. He threw open the door and found Sam changing into a clean shirt. His skin looked a little more normal and his smile, even though it was weak, was genuine.
“Took you long enough.”
“Yeah well, the first machine didn’t have anything good.” Dean pulled the bundle he was holding out from under his arm and threw it to Sam.
Sam fumbled with the oddly shape package but caught it, looking up at Dean, confused.
“And maybe I had to get something else, too.” Dean shrugged his jacket off and cleared his throat. “Merry Christmas, Sam.”
Sam stared at the bundle and then back up at Dean. “It’s Christmas?”
“But I— I didn’t get you—”
“Yeah, yeah. You can get me something when you can walk by yourself again.” He handed the can of ginger ale to Sam. “Now shut up and open it.”