Genre: angst, hurt/comfort (Dean's deal, anxiety, scars)
Characters: Sam, Dean
Word Count: 1100 or so
Notes: Takes place just before 3x16 "No Rest for the Wicked", in the last morning hours before a certain crossroads deal comes due. For maypoles at hoodie_time's Dean-centric H/C comment!fic meme. Original prompt/post. :)
"Man, this Faustus guy--what a douche."
Enlightening Comment #15. Sam pinches the bridge of his nose, tries to will his eyeballs back to jelly, because they feel like they're falling apart like sand. "Dean, maybe you should get some rest."
Dean tips the chair back with a wrenching creak, hooks his boots under the desk, flips the page with nervous severity. "No rest for the wicked, Sammy." He swallows. "Oh, for the love of--why the hell am I even reading this? 100% fiction, I am fucking positive."
Because they're out of other options, Sam doesn't say. Dean already knows the answer. Sam runs his fingers over bleeding text and brittle paper, dried bits of binding crusting at his fingers like dust, like sand. He rubs his eyes again, gets sand in his eyes for real this time, and god, why is he twelve? He hasn't done that since-- His tear ducts kicks in, and he can feel the hot wet that tries to flush out the binding grit. It feels like it's scraping his sockets raw.
Dean flips Bobby's Kleenex box toward him with his boot. "You okay?"
Sam takes a Kleenex and dabs at his face. He can feel the red heat radiating from him, suffocating in Bobby's airless study. "'M fine. I just got something in my--" Then Sam realizes that sounds like a line out of a bad movie, for one--and for another, he is not even minutely okay. He tosses the Kleenex and knocks his chair back just like Dean. Stares at the ceiling. He can see the cracks under thin plaster, the old dark lines of a Devil's Trap, and that doesn't help. If Bobby had a single working clock he could hear the seconds tick by, measure the blossoming of full dread at the pit of his stomach in discrete increments. Instead he imagines everything, and in a lot of ways that's worse. Sam's got a pretty vivid mental landscape--Azazel's shown him that much.
Dean exhales long and slow. His fingers drum frenetically against the book binding.
"I think--I think I'm gonna..." Sam pitches forward in the chair again, uses the momentum to swing to standing. "Make some coffee. You want any?"
There's a slip in time--a moment drops sheer out of existence, and Sam misses it completely--before Dean answers. "Nah, I think that'd be--overdoing it a little. Gonna see if I can grab a few." He sets down the Marlowe but he doesn't stop staring.
An automated Sam makes coffee, the world a peculiar spread of white-green under the fluorescent half-light. One of the tubes is out; when Sam looks up he can see the dark spots, clusters of ill-fated moths and flies. Sam needs to stop looking up; it hasn't helped him so far.
When he returns to the study, Dean's exactly where he left him. And it's a stupid thought--a lot of things are stupid, life is stupid, Hell is stupid--but he wishes that would always be the case, that Dean would always be--
Sam sets the coffee on the table. It's lumpy and uneven and Sam thinks he may have forgotten a few steps. He reconsiders its edibility. "I think I'm gonna turn in, too. Go over Keats again in the morning, call Ru-- Call around."
"Sounds like a plan." Dean hunches over, elbows to thighs, and drags both hands down his face. Ends with his knuckles kneading his brow. Another deep breath. And another.
"Dean--" He's trying to think of something, anything to say. He wants to reach out, undo, make better--he want to take back a certain crossroads kiss, rewind, do things the way they should've. "We're gonna do this. We've come too far to settle for anything less. We deserve--"
God, 'mgonnapuke, Dean garbles into his chest.
That stings a little. "Right, chick flick moment. Sorry. But seriously, we--"
Dean wrenches out of the chair and slides to the ground, right arm questing. Voice tight: "No, seriously, I'm gonna puke." He finds the rim of Bobby's wastebasket, Sam's lone Kleenex white at its depths, and, kneeling, pitches forward. Grips it tight.
Sam's all but vaults over the desk because he can't be bothered to three-step around it. Another lost moment blinks out of existence and suddenly he has a massaging hand at Dean's nape. Hey, okay, it's gonna be--, he whispers. Not okay. It's not going to be okay. We're gonna fix this. I don't care how long it takes. We'll be--we'll just be.
Sam can feel the tremor down Dean's spine as he heaves not much into the wastebasket. And again. Dean spits out the last trickling of bile and mid-morning coffee mixed with afternoon coffee, and evening coffee.
Sam drops his head to the back of Dean's neck, forehead to hairline, and screws his eyes shut. With his hand, he rubs at Dean's shoulders. He can feel raised scars and unnatural divots over tight knotted muscle. He can feel the damp sweat through Dean's T-shirt. He can smell the aftertaste of coffee. Sam breathes in deep.
Dean's trying to breathe without faltering, in out in out, kissing the cool edge of the wastebasket. Sam rocks.
He rests his chin at the top of Dean's head. There's a thin scar, running jagged through Dean's hair, that Sam knows too well. You can't see it unless you're close, unless you know it's there. But Sam's close, and he knows, and he sees it. He can snap his eyes shut and he'll still see the negatives, a bright white line amidst a rainbow of black. He'll see it forever.
Tombstone to the head. Azazel. The Colt. The Devil's Gate. Jacob Talley. The scar at the base of his own spine. Tombstone to the head. What did you do?
Tombstone to the head.
Sam kisses the long scar. It doesn't taste like shampoo, but it doesn't taste like Dean. Just salt.
All Sam needs to do--take back that one crossroads kiss. That's all he needs to do. Sam kisses it again, and doesn't move. Dean breathes.
"What do we got?" Dean asks eventually. When Sam doesn't move, doesn't lift his face from Dean's hair or his hand from Dean's shoulder, Dean dips sideways and slides out from under him. He wipes his mouth, then threads his fingers through his hair, following the path of his scar. He checks his own watch.
"Twenty seven 'til showtime."
He runs a hand through his hair again.
Sam says nothing.
a/n: Title from the last stanza of John Keats's "Endymion":
He turn’d - there was a whelming sound - he stept,
There was a cooler light; and so he kept
Towards it by a sandy path, and lo!
More suddenly than doth a moment go,
The visions of the earth were gone and fled -
He saw the giant sea above his head.