Rating: PG - angst abounds!
Characters: Dean & Sam with appearances by Castiel and Michael (no pairings)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it'd be a hell of a lot happier.
Summary: Written for the following prompt on hoodie_time: Dean is wounded, feverish and all alone in his hotel room. Sam is at Stanford. John is no where to be found. He hasn't been reconciled with Bobby yet. He is really out of it due to his injuries and thinks it's just a fever dream.
The voice that whispers to him. The one that says John is in Minnesota, living it up with his new family. The one that says Sam is happier than he has ever been and has no need for Dean in his life. The one that tells him that all his wounds will be healed and he can save more people than he's ever dreamed off. If only he will say the magic word - "Yes."
Michael has gone back in time to retrieve his vessel. A feverish Dean finds it hard to resist.
Dean would like to think that he’s ready to die, that he’s made his mark on the world and has found some kind of peace with his existence. He hasn’t. He pulls the sheet over his shoulder and tries to roll onto his side. He chokes on the scream as his throat seizes, his weary muscles contracting as waves of pain wash over him.
The sheets are damp around him, blood and sweat marring the once white bedding. Rationally, he knows he should continue to fight. Realistically, he’s not sure he has anything left, no one left to fight for. He’s so tired now, exhaustion pulling him under like a strong current only to have the pain slap him in the face and refuse to allow him to close his eyes.
Dean drags himself further up the bed, swallowing grunts of pain as he presses the side of his face against the pillow. His cell phone swims into focus, resting on the nightstand. The stupid little light that indicates he has a message is not blinking, the black screen mocking him. He placed his first call to his father when he heard about the vengeful spirit in Broken Arrow. It had sounded like a two person job. He placed his second call when she gutted him like a fish, slicing him from neck to navel. It wasn’t too deep. At least he didn't think she nicked anything vital. She’d been toying with him then, underestimating his strength. Damn cut still bled like a sieve. Sometime between the passable bandaging and the infection setting in, he called his dad a third time.
“Think maybe you could answer your damn phone? I need you, Dad. I really need you.”
There’s still one more person he could call, and there’s a chance Sam might even come if he hadn’t already changed his phone number. Maybe if Sam did come, they could look for Dad. Maybe they could actually…
“Sam’s happy, Dean. So happy.”
Dean freezes, the soft voice ghosting over his skin like a warm summer breeze. “Who are you?” Dean croaks. He tries to sit up and his arms shake from exertion as he pushes himself against the headboard.
“A friend,” the gentle voice replies. “Someone that doesn’t like to see you in pain.”
Dean chuckles, an empty and hollow sound. He doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t in some kind of pain. It’s become his life now, a life he’s accepted because what choice did he really have? This was always in the cards for him. He’s playing the hand he was dealt.
“A friend, huh?” Dean mutters. “I don’t need any more friends.” His words sound different in his ears, off somehow, his voice raspy and unused.
“You’re dying, Dean.”
He slides further down on the bed, the sticky sheets clinging to his clammy skin. “Leave me alone,” he growls.
“Isn’t that what they’ve all done, Dean? Just left you’ve alone. Left you to die. Your father is gone, living a better life. Your brother is making a life for himself, a life as far away from you as he could get. You have nothing. No one. You’re all alone.”
Every time the voice speaks, the warm puffs of air ease the ache in his muscles, soothe the tremors in his soul. He craves for it to speak again.
“I won’t leave you alone, Dean. I can make you better. I can make you everything. Just tell me and I’ll fix you. I’ll make you whole and beautiful. You’ll never be alone.”
It’s so warm and it slips around him like the softest silk, caressing his broken body with the tender wisps of peace. He twists on his side trying to reach for the voice, to bring it closer, to sink into the embrace of the comfort its offering.
“Just say yes. One little inconsequential word and it all goes away. Say yes, Dean.”
It’s a dream. Dean knows this on some semi-consciousness, fever driven level. It’s not real because promises come with a price, and nothing in his life has ever been easy, has ever been easy as just whispering yes.
His eyes blink rapidly, the pain surging and encompassing everything. There’s no peace, no comfort. Just pain. And it burns into every fiber of his being. He’s dying. Right here, right now. This is it.
Every time those two little words are whispered over his skin, those fleeting two seconds it stops, the pain disappears, and Dean yearns to taste that word on his lips. He opens his mouth, coughing over his tongue as his mouth forms the single word that will finally –
“Dean? You in there? Open the door!” There’s pounding, the wooden door reverberating from the force of the knocks.
“Come on, man. I know you’re in there.”
“Don’t do this, Dean. Open the door.”
Several seconds pass before the lock clicks and the door swings open. “Holy shit. Dean? What the hell?”
Hands are on him. Warm hands. Real hands. Sam’s hands.
“Okay. Okay, you’re gonna be fine. You’re just - God, you’re burning up. Dean, you’re chest. You’ve lost too much… You need a hospital. Now.” He hears Sam talking on the phone, rambling directions and listing symptoms – fear, infected wound, lost a lot of blood. Maybe Dad answered this time. He hopes Dad would answer if Sam called. That’d be nice, to see Dad again. To have them all together one more time.
He feels something cold and damp pressing against his forehead, soft fingers brushing over his scalp. “Don’t die on me. You hear me, Dean? Don’t you fucking die on me.”
It wasn’t an entirely horrible dream after all.
He feels something heavy. It’s pressing against his chest, and it itches.
“Hey, no. Stop that.” Strong fingers wrap around his wrist and pull his hand away.
Dean knows that voice. He knows it like he knows the rumble of the Impala or the taste of a good chicken fried steak. “Sammy?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
Dean forces his eyes open, blinking several times as he adjusts the florescent lights overhead. “How did you…where are we?”
“Hospital,” Sam says quietly.
Dean asks the most obvious question first. “Why?”
Sam chuckles without any real humor. “Seriously? Why? Because you were knocking on heaven’s door, Dean. If you hadn’t called me, I never would have gotten there in –“
“I didn’t.” Dean stares at the catheter in his hand and picks at the edge where the tape is rising up. “Call you.”
“What do you mean you didn’t call me? You left the hotel address. Granted, you didn’t say much else, and you sounded like you’d been chewing on gravel, but you were sick so I figured…” He reaches out and pulls Dean’s hand away before he frees the IV. “Stop picking.”
Dean sighs and lifts his gaze, the black lines making perfect squares in ceiling. Whatever drugs they’re pumping in his veins are good because the world is fuzzy and warm and the pain is tolerable, just a niggling thought in the back of his mind.
Sam clears his throat, dropping Dean’s hand quickly as if he just noticed he was still holding it. “So, you didn’t call me then?”
At this point, Dean can’t muster the energy to lie. “Nope.”
Sam makes a soft noise of affirmation, like he really believes him and doesn’t approve. “Well, you should have.”
He feels it, the anger and loneliness curling deep in his gut. He wasn’t the one that left. He wasn’t the one that said that maybe they shouldn’t talk in the beginning because Sam had to find his stride, had to make his own friends, had to learn to be on his own. “And why’s that, huh? I don’t need you, Sam, and you certainly don’t need me.”
“Are you listening to yourself right now? If you keep spouting this shit, we’re gonna need a shovel to –“
“I see someone’s finally decided to wake up,” a cheerful voice announced as a young nurse bustled into the room. She gave Sam a disapproving glare before checking the bags hanging on the IV pole. “You gave us all quite a scare, young man,” she said as she smoothed down the tape on Dean’s hand.
“Can’t get rid of me,” Dean says cockily as he eyes the soft curves of the young woman.
“I’m going to get a drink,” Sam mutters as he pushes the chair away and stalks out of the room before anyone can say anything.
The nurse waits a moment before speaking. “Everything okay between you and your…”
“Brother,” Dean finishes. “And yeah, it’s fine. He just stopped by to see how I was doing.”
“Just stopped by? Honey, he’s been here since you got here three days ago. He was worried, you know. Finding you like that, I can’t imagine what he must be feeling. Speaking of which, I’m sure the police are going to want to talk to you about the assault.”
“Assault?” Dean asks dumbly.
“Yeah, unless you did this to yourself,” she replies carefully.
“Yeah, okay. Of course,” he says trying not to stumble over the words. He doubts the cops will be very interested in hearing about a vengeful water spirit with a bone to pick with men in general, and how they shouldn’t bother looking for her because he got that bitch in the end, even if she took a pound of flesh in turn.
“How’s your pain?” she asks gently.
The words are on the tip of his tongue, I’ve had worse, but he doesn’t say that. He just shrugs and says, “S’ all right.”
“How about we take the edge off anyway? There’s no one here you have to impress.”
He doesn’t get the chance to say that yeah, there kind of is, before the morphine is rushing through his veins and everything is pleasantly warm and fuzzy again.
“Stupid automatic coffee machine,” Sam growls as he slaps the side of the old coffee vending machine.
“Here,” a low voice rumbles. The man steps up beside him, taps the machine gently and steaming coffee starts pouring from the spout.
“Thanks, man,” Sam says, offering the man a weak smile.
“You’re welcome, Sam.”
Sam’s eyes widen and he steps back. “How do you know my name?” What he really wants to ask is how do I know your voice?
“You’re here with your brother. I overhead you speaking with some of the nurses last night.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah.” Sam shakes his head. He’s acting crazy and he knows it. He needs his brother out of the hospital, a decent meal and about sixteen hours of sleep in a real bed.
“Your brother loves you very much, Sam. So much that he’s willing to die for it, for you. You’ll realize this one day.”
“Wait, what? Who are you? What are you talking about?”
With the flutter of something nonexistent and the twist of a trench coat, the man is gone.
Three days later Dean is discharged from the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics and Vicodin for the pain. Sam hangs around for another two days, making sure he takes his pills and runs out for supplies and whatever Dean happens to be craving at the time.
“This is stupid,” Sam finally says, running a hand through his hair. “Why won’t you just come back with me? We’ve got another room.”
“And shack up with you and your girl? Threesomes are fun and all, Sammy, but I don’t think –"
“Why are you being like this? I want to help, Dean, and you’re being an asshole about it.”
Dean sighs and rubs his fingers tenderly over the stitches in his stomach. They’re starting to itch now. If all goes well they’ll be out in another few days. Despite the bleeding, the spirit hadn’t cut deep enough to get anything vital so he was lucky in that regard.
“You wanna know what you can do for me?”
Sam nods eagerly, and Dean hates himself for what’s about to come out of his mouth. “You can go live your life. The life you wanted to live, the life you chose for yourself. And I’m gonna live mine.”
Sam eyes the hotel room, the changed bandages in the trash and the forgotten takeout containers scattered across the counter in the kitchenette. “This is all you want for yourself?”
Dean leans against the pillows and raises his eyebrow, a smirk curving the corners of his mouth. “It’s my life, Sammy. Never said you had to like it.”
“You know what? Fine. Have it your way,” Sam snaps, tossing his hands in the air. “Do whatever the hell you want.” Sam snatches the prescription bottles off the table and drops them on the bedside table within Dean’s reach. “I’ll call you sometime this week.”
“Sure thing, Sam.”
Sam doesn’t look Dean in the face as he leaves, just throws his backpack over his shoulder and slams the door closed. Dean closes his eyes and pretends he can hear the sounds of Sam’s footsteps milling around the door, pretends he can hear Sam yelling for him to open the door, to be okay, to be alive.
He doesn’t hear any of those sounds.
What he does hear is you should have said yes.