Title: The Virgin Suicides
Genre: gen, case!fic, humor/angst/hurt/comfort/drama
Characters: Sam (POV), Dean, Ruby
Warnings: references to suicide and substance abuse/lots of demon blood, denial so viscous you could build sandcastles out of it (aka, the usual)
Word Count: ~6400
Summary: Candy Ridge, California is the new hotspot for virgin suicides, Sam's secretly drinking demon blood, and Dean is...happy? The world really is ending. Takes place mid-S4 (an indeterminate amount of time after "Heaven and Hell").
"What's wrong with you?" Sam shakes Dean awake.
Bleary regard; no fever, no pain. "Nothin'," Dean mumbles, and is convincing. "Your breath stinks. Go away."
It doesn't, Sam, Ruby and Sam's subsequent vigorous encounter with mouthwash are certain it doesn't, but Sam's still halfway through a huffy denial before he bites it down and selects a different tack. "Dude, you just slept for like. Eight hours straight."
"Oh no, the world is ending." Covers grasped, pulled overhead. "Oh wait, it actually is."
No venom, vitriol. Probably still qualifies as gutter humor but it's, you know, humor. Sam exhales disbelief. "No seriously, what's wrong with you?"
Because the last six months have been very wrong. Revenant-wrong and omen-wrong and Samhain-wrong goes without saying, but Sam knows the forty-minute nightmares (forty minutes on the dot, every time; every single time. He and Ruby've got their routine cut and dry to match), the morning twilight drinking bouts, the insomnia. He knows waking up to Dean awake and miserable as well as he knows sleeping to the sound of Dean's nightmares (also miserable). And there is nothing about the last eight hours--and he's been awake for every single one; the blood wires him ways that are two parts exhilaration, one part jittery discomfort--nothing that's been at all familiar. What's a good night's sleep doing in the middle of, well. Their lives?
"There's this voice in my head," Dean says, almost smacks Sam in the face when he throws the covers back and rolls out of bed. "It's convinced something's wrong. And I can't get it to shut up. D'you think I should take something for that?"
He shambles to the sink and runs a comb through his hair, splashes some water on his face. Looks up at the mirror. Round two.
"When's the last time you can even remember getting a full night's sleep?"
Towel. "Man, I forgot to write it down. I thought you were gonna keep my diary for me. What do you want for breakfast?"
"So now you eat, too?"
(Where's the whiskey with a side of shaving cream?)
Dean looks up from his shoelaces. Slowly, quizzically: "Yeah." Then he slings the duffel over his shoulder, jacket in hand, and makes for the door. "And I dress myself, too; I have the certificate to prove it. Come on, Barbie."
And if Dean's demeanor is not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Sam honestly wouldn't know what is; but he follows him out with no small degree of trepidation.
The drive through town is disturbingly jaunty as well. Sam's so used to solid brick silence he doesn't even hear Dean talking to him the first--apparently quite a few--times.
"Man, you are not the one who should be asking that question," Dean says when Sam finally responds.
"Nothing's wrong with me!" Sam can't help being a little defensive. There's just something--he can't place it, but there's something not right about this. It runs up his back like a chill. There's some inherent wrongness at the corners of his vision, just out of sight; he knows it. He knows it.
"Of course not." Dean pulls back the emergency brake and pockets the keys. He gets out and meets Sam above the car as his door slams shut. "You are one hundred percent not acting like a Martian right now. I believe you."
Inside what is either Harvey's or Harley's--depending on whether you read the sign out front, or the menus within--Dean orders the special, side of bacon, and coffee, and Sam has an epiphany.
"Is it Tuesday?"
"So you're just fucking with me."
Dean drinks his coffee. "No, it's actually Friday. Not freaky--just normal, comes-after-Thursday Friday."
"What year is it?"
"Okay, now it's freaky; great job, Sam. What's wr-- What's up with you?" Dean's making a house out of their cardboard coasters. He stares intently at Sam. He's got that bright-eyed bushy-tai-- Oh, this is weird. There's no way this isn't weird.
"Did you just order a pig in a poke?"
"What the hell is a pig in a poke?"
"You know, Tuesday special, pig in a poke, side of bacon and coffee. Tabasco sauce--the Mystery Spot," Sam snaps.
Dean holds his hands up in surrender, and the coaster house falls to pieces before him. "Okay! No coffee for you, big boy."
When Sam's frown doesn't lift, Dean sobers slightly. "First of all, it's Friday. It is. I swear to you, Sam, it is. Second, I have no idea what I ordered. It just says special--right there on the chalkboard; read it. Third, how am I supposed to remember a breakfast I had a million years ago? And finally, why does it matter?"
Sam just stews.
"Dude. How many Tuesdays did you have?"
"Okay, seriously Dean. Stop that."
Dean just laughs at him. He actually laughs. And Sam is convinced there is definitely something tremendously, horrifically wrong. "Listen," Sam says, inhales deeply. He doesn't actually have anything for Dean to listen to, but across from him, Dean's willingly all ears. Again, wrong. "You just woke up all--Mr. Rogers--on me. Like-- Like the seals aren't breaking, and angels don't exist, you didn't die, you didn't go to H--"
"And the best explanation you can come up with is 'Back in time'?"
"Exactly, no Asia."
"Stop that!" Sam shifts uncomfortably in the booth. Everything feels sticky. Stickier than it should--even in Harvey's/Harley's. Terse nod at the waitress when she brings their orders. Dean winks at her. Apparently Sam ordered an omelette. "It's just--"
Dean's special is some kind of gravied streak, which he tears into with voracious rapture.
Dean looks up at him.
"And the last time I can even remember-- The last time you-- It was just a dream. A really long. Dream."
And that right there--that's probably the least happy he's even seen Dean today. Him looking at Sam across the diner table. He puts his fork down and looks at Sam like he's looking through every year and every moment behind Sam's face, and Sam feels guilt mixed in with his eggs and peppers and cheese as he swallows. Because he realizes, if this is him starting to wake up? he doesn't want to.
There's a too-long pause before Dean clears his throat. "Well. Ain't you a little storm cloud."
He looks away, throws a twenty on the table. "I'm gonna wait in the car. We've got a date with Dr. Magdalen at ten, remember."
"Dean, I didn't mean-- Just finish eating, okay?"
Dean claps Sam on the shoulder as he's leaving. "Nah, I'm good. Little too much Awkward in with the gravy, you know? I'm just gonna go wait in the car."
"Hey Sam," Dean says around his toothbrush. "Guess what."
There's a crack in the Formica table desk cutting into his cheek. He doesn't remember falling asleep.
Sam rubs his jaw, runs a hand through his hair. His back aches. He thinks vaguely that he was supposed to call Ruby last night.
"Not that it would be anything else." Dean waggles his toothbrush at him. "Just thought you should know."
Sam rolls his neck. He can't help it; there's this feeling in his gut that he can't shake. It's just...just. "Thanks."
"So the girl in the car crash. Eyewitness says he saw her turn right off the road; didn't spin out, didn't panic, nothing. And the girl who got pushed off her balcony? Doorman says no one came up with her, and no one left. Mary says the girl'd slit her wrists a few months back."
Sam shoves past him into the bathroom. He'd half-forgotten they were actually on a case. "Who's Mary?"
Through the door, in a tone that is as horny as someone can be with their mouth full of toothpaste: "The good doctor herself!"
"Mary... Magdalen. You're kidding."
"Gettin' to that." Dean spits and water runs. "Anyway. Got a call this morning from the good doctor, says there's a new admit whose parents claim she got poisoned last night. But now they're saying they found a bunch of OTCs in her sock drawer." Dean snorts, and Sam swears he hears him mutter 'amateur.'
"What did you say?" Sam pulls his pants back up, struggles with his belt buckle.
"You know, we can wait until you're done in there," is Dean's muffled reply. "I said we should stop by the hospital before we hit the books on this one."
Sam flushes the toilet, shoves past Dean again to get to the sink. Their room is starting to feel the size of a dollhouse, and the feeling's not doing any favors for Sam's sense of reality. "How-- How long have you been working at this?"
"Nine to five, Sammy. Now us, driving; hospital. You with me?"
"If Dr. Magdalen already called you... why are we going to the hospital?"
"'Cause Overdose Girl's still alive."
"And this has nothing to do with Dr. M--"
"Getting to that." Which he's not; getting to that, that is. Dean is getting to the door, and the car, at speeds that he reserves for buxom waitresses, and occasionally college cheerleaders. Which is either very familiar or not familiar at all; Sam doesn't even know anymore. "Sometime two good things happen in the same place," Dean continues.
"They really don't, Dean. Not for us." After breakfast yesterday, Dean had been moody enough through their car ride and their first encounter with Dr. Magdalen to convince Sam that 1) Dean was actually himself, and 2) Dean had not been given some kind of angelic lobotomy in his sleep. The latter wasn't exactly topping Sam's "What's Wrong With this Picture?" checklist, but it was high enough that ruling it out gave him some temporary solace. But it doesn't change the fact that something is wrong here and he doesn't know what and he doesn't know what's going on and it doesn't make any sense and he doesn't even know if he should be worried or not because it's not like Dean being happy is really the most critical sign of the coming Apocalypse or anything, and--
"Sam." Dean kicks at Sam's shin. "Calm down."
A hug would have been nice.
"It's Saturday. It's the tail-end of 2008. Nothing's wrong."
Sam takes a deep breath and still does not believe him.
"--Except for the record death roll in 'Candy fucking Ridge', nothing's wrong. But you know. Details."
Maybe he can believe him a little.
"And Sam? Brush your hair."
Dean's colorfully describing parallel parking and 'fuckers who don't know what a buffer zone is' when Sam finally speaks again. "So we're looking at suicides?"
"Gonna go talk to the girl before we start jumping the gun, but yeah. Seems that way."
"Jonestown's a seal, exactly. Mass ritual suicide, you think? Hell, if I were wiping a town off the map, I'd choose something called Candy Ridge."
Sam picks at his nails. He lurches forward when Dean finally jerks the Impala away from the curb and into the throng of commute traffic. How long has it been since 3am wasn't their peak hour of operation? The radio's on. Dean's got the radio on. How long has it been since the radio's been on? It's like the world tilted on its axis and shifted their lives back into place, into some semblance of normal. Or functionally okay. And Sam can't help but feel like it's because something's about to fall through completely.
"Dean, are you taking anything?" Sam blurts out. He hasn't decided whether this possibility ranks above or below angelic lobotomy, but it's up there.
Dean seems confused by the table of ranks he cannot see. "Um."
Roundabout at the high school. They're an easy seven minutes from the hospital still. If Dean thinks he's getting out of this he's sorely mistaken.
"Well, are you? 'Cause it would explain a hell of a lot."
Anger again. "What the hell would it explain?"
Retreat. "I don't know."
"Then what the f-- what, Sam."
"I dunno. I don't know, okay?" (But I'd understand, he thinks dimly. Crazily. Sam swallows. His throat feels dry. He's missed Ruby.)
"Pop the glove."
"I said I don't--"
"Just do it."
Sam does. A mess of cellphones, lighters, ballpoint pens, and medicine bottles threatens to spill into his lap as the Impala hits a fold in the pavement. Nothing of import.
"Bought some sleeping pills when we hit town," says Dean. "They work."
"You bought medicine. For yourself."
Dean looks at him. "They had a convincing ad. What do you want me to say?"
"And so all this is--"
Dean snorts. "Two nights of sleep don't work miracles, Sammy. On the other hand, two nights in bed with--"
"So are you taking anything else?"
"Jesus christ, Sam. Are you? Because you're the one who's-- This isn't good, Sam."
Sam apologizes again. Might as well, even if Dean doesn't know what for. "You're the one who called her Overdose Girl. I'm just trying to figure this out. And right now, everything's on the table."
"Well, sorry to disappoint."
Dean tells him there's nothing to figure out. Not between them. Sam has secrets that prove this crazily, ludicrously false, but if Dean's willing to believe that, maybe Sam is too. Dean's assurance is better than none at all. There's something safe and familiar and reasonably coherent about it. And Sam misses coherence almost as much as he's missed Dean.
Because sitting in the car, working the job, listening to this Van Halen crap--this is good. This is good, and he's missed it. He really has. He missed it all summer without Dean, and he missed it all autumn with him. So maybe normalcy's finally making a comeback (addendum: their brand of, but Dean's right. Details).
Reunion world tour? They can work that again. Maybe this is their future.
"Maybe I'm tired of being some kind of... Apocalyptic chewtoy, y'know? So now we just gotta kill some evil sons of bitches and--"
"--Raise a little hell," he finishes. Sam can buy into that.
Maybe this can be their future.
And maybe there's just something wrong with him. He's been thinking about this all day: Maybe it's him. He automates himself through the hospital trip, Dean's flirtations with Dr. Magdalen, Overdose Girl, the works--but the entire time he's thinking, maybe it's him. Because the second they breach the air conditioned cool of the hospital's hallways the unease is back. Tremors underground, rippling up through his feet, down his arms. Sam can feel ice at his neck and an oily distrust in his stomach. Something is wrong. Something is going to go wrong. Something's lurking.
Sam, move your ass! Dean whispers furiously. He pulls him out of the hall and into the morgue. "We're going for stealth, remember?"
They work in darkness, Dean's penlight dancing across charts and placards until he finds the right body.
"Roger Sherman. Investment banker. Caucasian." Dean flips the chart back and continues to recite stats. "Not female, definitely not a teenager... but possibly still a virgin. And definitely a suicide." Dean prods the neck with his penlight, ligature marks black in the pale of the morgue. "Check his left for markings. I got this side."
"We don't know it was a suicide," Sam says, snapping on the gloves Dean has forgone. "We just know he was hanged."
"He's dead, Sam. It doesn't really matter."
"And that-- And Overdose Girl--"
"Right. Katy. She didn't really seem like suicide material, man. She swore up and down that she'd--"
"In front of her little sister and her father, Sam. And since when are we trusting teenage girls? --Actually, don't answer that."
Roger Sherman is typically stiff and uncomfortably lumpy as Sam weaves his fingers through his toes. "I'm just saying, Katy didn't exactly seem like she was 'on the edge', or whatever. She'd be the last person I'd expect to kill herself."
"Well, Sam, hate to break it to you but, the end of days? Not really the time to start having faith in humanity."
"But if she breaks pattern, we have to consider other options."
"Be sure you get back to the other twelve Cobains when you're done wasting time. This has to end now, Sam."
"And we're certain because... You said so?"
"If the shoe fits. Come on, help me roll him--"
"And you're a suicide expert."
Dean doesn't reply.
There's a restless silence as Dean tries to roll Roger Sherman and Sam doesn't help. He weaves his fingers through Roger Sherman's other set of toes. "Hey, I think I found something."
"Yahtzee. It's about time." Dean gives up on the folds of skin under Roger Sherman's armpit and joins Sam at the foot: between his two smallest toes, some kind of sigil.
"Got any paper?" Dean asks.
"No, why would-- What the hell are you doing!" Sam makes a grab for Dean's pen but Dean jerks back. He admires his handiwork on the back of his hand.
"I'll wash it off when we get back," Dean assured him. "Probably has to be seared into your flesh to work, anyway."
Sam huffs. "Glad we're testing the theory."
"I like the hands-on approach."
"Yeah, I'll bet you do."
"Speaking of, you should run upstairs and check your girlfriend's toes. I'm gonna put Mr. Sherman away."
"Right. I dunno, Dean; that girl seemed...beyond zen. I just can't see her scheduling an overdose into her Saturday."
"You can't know that." Dean shoves Roger Sherman's arm back against his pale body, belly distended.
"If it's a seal, we have to know that. We can't be wrong. We have to know what we're up against, one hundred percent."
"Well, we can't, Sam." With a heave, Roger Sherman clatters back into the wall. Dean replaces the file as Sam peels his gloves from his hands, stuffs them in his pocket. "Some people are textbook cases. Other people just snap--no warning. Nothing. You never know when you've pushed them to the breaking point. Work at it for years and you're never gonna get a decent timeline down."
Dean pulls the morgue door shut behind them. The dull clang's still echoing with them as they book it down the hallway.
In the relative calm of the Impala, Sam says, "Dean, what you said--"
"It's what keeps them interesting."
"Well, did you wash it off? Or is it 'accidentally' permanent?"
Dean flips him off, but the back of his hand is clean. "Also, Bobby said I had to wait until I was eighteen before I could have your name tattooed on my ass."
Dean flips his phone onto the table. "On the upside, ritual suicide is a go. Plug that in, will you?"
"Expecting a call?"
"Mary Magdalen has Sundays off." Dean smirks. "And I gotta check between her toes, now don't I?"
Not that it matters. If the whole town is going under, everyone is marked; it's only a matter of time. Which is fine; Sam can deal with impending doom, so long as it actually impends. He likes knowing what he's up against.
Dean slept again last night. And then he ate again. And now he's... bouncy? again. Or whatever. Sam doesn't know how to describe it. It's unsettling the way receiving Christmas gifts is weird, or being wished a happy birthday. (Or wanting Ruby, or getting Ruby, or having Dean waltz back out of Hell like he'd just gone on a grocery run.) There's always some kind of catch, isn't there? Though that just makes Sam think more and more than he's the one with problems. Why can't he just take good where he can get it and stop shitting on everything?
"Have you heard a word I've said?"
Sam's head snaps up.
Don't ruin a good thing, Sam.
Dean gives Sam a rundown on his fingers. "Me, Katy and Dr. Magdalen. You, figure out how to kill Jim Jones. We on the same page here, or do you want me to say it in Spanish?"
"I'd like to see you try."
"Dean, dean--so easily thwarted." Which seems to assuage Dean's suspicions. Quick and easy, Sam thinks. No catch.
Sam listens as the Impala roars toward the highway.
Like clockwork, Ruby checks in. "Are we having fun yet, Sam?"
The first thing she does after kicking off her boots is turn off Sam's phone. "I hate interruptions," she says in explanation.
"Dean's acting weird." (It's you, Sam, he thinks, but with Ruby, conversations about himself never lead places he enjoys.)
Ruby's face is a blank slate for the first few seconds, as though she's trying to figure out what Sam expects from her. Failing that, she says, "And what's weird about that?"
Sam frowns. "I dunno. I feel like he's trying to give us a way out, or something. Like we can go back to being-- Or work towards being--"
"There is no going back, Sam." Ruby cuts him off. She sits too close, folds her jacket into her lap.
"Yeah, but I feel like we could--" Make it work, somehow. Let the months drop off and the secrets wear thin until all they had was uncomplicated bliss. Or, you know, okayness. Sam's not picky.
"You know, Sam, the first step toward suicide is giving up on what you have."
Which isn't what they're doing; they're just choosing selectively.
"So let's work on what you have." She reaches across Sam's torso and extracts her knife from his belt. She lets her fingers drag across his abdomen on the return trip. Then she extends her wrist.
"I'm not going crazy, right? This could--"
"Sam! I need you focused." Ruby takes back her arm. Tries to unclench her fists. Then she takes a deep breath. "I'm trying to hand you a winning strategy, here. The demon running this seal's a nasty bitch; you step in her way and you can pretty much assume all roads lead to death. You're caught in her trap. So whatever you're thinking, yeah it's crazy. It's stupid. And you're just going to have to trust me on this one, because I'm the only one who can help you. End of story."
Sam doesn't think it is. "I don't feel suicidal. Besides, it's a ritual sacrifice. It said they have to be virgin suicides."
"Everyone's a virgin suicide, Sam. And everyone's first time dying is a little bit different. Trust me, you're caught. You just don't know it yet." She shrugs. "Or don't want to."
"That makes no sense."
"Trust me," Ruby repeats. "You're caught. The closer you are to the edge, the faster you'll fall. You'll get there, Sam."
"She marks her victims," Sam points out, and wipes his face. Ruby's closer, closer, and he can feel hot want roiling inside him. Begging to be set loose. "I'm not marked. Dean's not marked."
Ruby shakes her head. "She marks her dead. She doesn't need to brand you until your hearts stop beating. Dean's acting weird, isn't he?"
Sam snorts. "Yeah, but not--"
"Think about it. If Dean sold his soul, if he went to Hell, if he did things, if he thought he wanted to die--would he tell you?"
She's so close to him how her lips brush his jaw when she speaks. Her voice isn't more than a whisper but it's still screaming in his ears.
"Has he ever told you?"
Dean has an act, and Sam has a role: follow him.
"But you can save him." (This time.) "Just pay attention."
Ruby extends her arm again, cuts deep. "The demon pulling the strings, here--she'll play you so tight you won't even be able to tell what's her and what's you. And then, in the end, she'll betray you. Right before the good part."
Her blood runs down her arm in a flat sheet and Sam can't help it--he jumps to catch what falls.
"But you can be stronger than her."
Sam wipes his chin.
"You know the score, Sam. Step it up and stop believing all her lies."
"This is what's real."
"This is what you can control."
Sam drinks. He drinks down images and sounds and feelings and no one else's memories, washed in red red red. He drinks down Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday and Tuesday and Tuesday again. It's like he can see his whole life, his whole selection of lives, as they spill down his throat and somewhere deep inside him, he thinks this is what the world must look like to a demon. This is what the world must look like to God under Heaven. (And there are so many possibilities.)
There are so many futures.
Sam takes a breath, and for a scant moment, as the blood ebbs and power mixes with an upside down feeling of drowned misery, he watches his life unfold:
Hey Sam, Dean says. He has Ruby's knife at his throat, and it crackles righteously as it breaks skin. Dad always said that if I couldn't save you, I'd--
No. No no no.
Sam drinks, and the nightmare fades. He drinks until all he can taste is blind strong fearlessness.
Ruby startles when Dean's phone springs to life. Sam jumps too. The redness falls from him, recedes into hot yellow light. His eyes water. The dream is gone.
"Keep drinking. You need to push. You need to push if you're going to be ready, Sam."
Ruby keeps his head down.
The phone keeps ringing.
Sam keeps drinking. The ringing stops.
Then Dean calls again. (Because it has to be Dean.)
And Sam breaks from Ruby, coughing and sputtering, and staggers to the table. He feels waterlogged, euphorically dizzy all at once. He can't make his jaw move.
"Why the hell is your phone off?" Dean says in greeting. Without waiting for Sam to respond, he says, "So, Katy's not marked."
Sam looks to Ruby and she mouths, I told you; she only marks her dead. Remember that: I. Told. You.
"And, uh." Dean chuckles. "Mary Magdalen's got a brand that's somewhere hard to get to, but it's not between her toes."
Suddenly, Sam can't hear Dean over the roar of Ruby's blood pushing its way through everything; it hits him like a tidal wave. But he thinks Dean makes a joke after that. Maybe. It's hard to tell. He speaks at some length about something, but it's all Sam can do to distinguish Dean's intonations. It's like he's caught in some other language (screaming screaming screaming) and he can't come back. So what Dean sounds like is "good". Sam lets him talk, breathes deep and tries to concentrate on the words. Good. Good. Good.
Eventually Dean lapses into the interrogative, and the goodness burns off. And all Sam can think is, whatever elaborate fantasy he thought he'd fallen into, he's breaking it. He's breaking it right now. This entire time he's been terrified that it'd all fall away, and he's the one breaking it. (But it's all a lie, anyway, a part of him assures him. But whether he believes that or not, it doesn't make him feel any less like shit.)
"Fuck," Dean says. "I'm coming to get you, okay? Just don't-- Do anything."
Sam wonders what Dean thinks is wrong. "What about Katy?"
"Katy's fine. I'm coming to get you."
What Dean means is, Katy doesn't rank. And that's not how this is supposed to go. That's not how this is ever supposed to go. That's not their style. Or it's not supposed to be.
"Look," Dean says. "I can't--with you. Not at the same time. I--" And Sam can hear something fracture. The wall comes down. Dean doesn't even have to say anything to speak that great language of blood and Hell and truth. Sam can hear it. Dean takes a deep breath, and Sam can hear him strip down to something less the panic that would probably be appropriate about now, and more the dark hopelessness Sam's been looking for all this time. That he's always known was lurking somewhere.
Yahtzee. (It's about time.)
Dean says something else, and then something about coming to get him, but Sam's not listening. Dean's probably stopped expecting that he is.
Dean sniffs. "Are you bleeding?" He's been waffling between pained concern and heady denial of wrongness, which sounds pretty much like the rest of the weekend.
"It's a hospital. Gotta smell like blood somewhere." Sam feels like he's sweating it. And Dean's right, though he can't possibly know how much--everything smells like blood. The air tastes it. The air tastes like he is drowning in blood. Sam gags.
Dean grabs his collar. Then somehow he's against a wall and sinking downward. Dean's sinking with him--Sam thinks vaguely that the company is nice--and when he lets go with a strained grunt Sam crashes the last few feet, hits tile with a painful jolt. "--with me here, Sam. Work with me." Sam works to keep upright, and curses Ruby. He'd told her it was too much. He had. Or at least, he thinks he did. His neck feels like modeling clay.
Dean puts a hand to Sam's forehead and says, "Fuck."
"What'd you do? What did you take?" Dean shakes him. The haze before him shatters into pieces. Dean shakes him again, as though he thinks somehow that's helping. "What did Mary make you do?"
Sam shakes his own head, which also doesn't help. But he's pretty sure that for once in his life, no Mary has anything to do with this. Sam feels like he's about to erupt. He also feels like he needs to maul a lion. But he can't seem to locate his legs.
"Just sit tight, okay? We'll just--I don't know. Kill her and solve everything."
"Watch Katy. I just need to kill 'er and we'll get you better, okay?" He half-leads half-drags Sam to Katy's room, adjacent the good doctor's lair.
"Gimme the knife."
"No," Sam manages. Because it makes sense. Ruby makes sense. Sam's never particularly thrilled when Ruby makes sense, but it's a habit of hers. Dean's certainty that this was a suicide thing--everything. He had to have felt it; otherwise how could he have been so sure, on the phone, in the morgue? He had to have known, because otherwise he'd have no reason to go to such lengths to make sure Sam suspected nothing.
"So what, you're gonna go in there and drool her to death? Give me the knife, Sam."
"--can't trust you."
And Sam can't tell for certain, but he's pretty sure that makes Dean angry.
"Well, right now I can't trust you. So tough shit, Sam." Dean takes the knife. Stops asking and just takes.
Then he's gone, and the blinds pull down in Dr. Magdalen's office. The door clicks shut. Sam hears the deadbolt thud. There's a flash that even the blinds can't disguise, but no scream. Quick and easy. Uncomplicated. Just as Dean promised.
And you know, fuck it. Dean can build whatever logic he likes. Whatever makes him happy. Sam figures the past few days they've built an entire city of new lies in their nation of old ones. If uncomplicated makes him feel better, Sam can't blame him. He's right there with him. He is.
"Hi Katy," Sam says. "I'm Sam."
Katy doesn't care. Sam's too feverish to tell if she's feverish, but she looks sad. There are empty bottles in her hands.
"I'm Katy," she says. "And I swallowed them all."
They drag Dr. Magdalen's body out of her office after closing. By then, Katy'd already been dead four hours. No one's sure where her attending went, or how she got the drugs; Sam's been assured by more than one nurse that Dr. Magdalen checked out earlier that evening but hasn't answered any of her pages since.
Dean drives until they hit mountains. They burn her there, but don't linger. They drive the Sierras until they run out of money: as far as their life will carry them. As far as memory will push them. They make it to a motel in Nevada late Monday afternoon, using money they don't have; they climb the stairs with the willpower there's none of, either.
"Sometime's it's that easy," Dean says, once Sam's brushed his teeth, stopped tasting blood in crevices, at the back of his throat. He can feel Dean's eyes on him. "Just kill the thing, save the seal, get the hell out. End of story."
Again, Sam doesn't think it is.
"And that's it," Dean adds unnecessarily, when Sam does not respond. "Are you thirsty?"
Sam's tongue flicks across his front teeth. "Should I be?"
Dean shrugs. When Sam turns he sees Dean had only been offering him whiskey. "Just making sure you're not still jonesing for, uh. You know. Jonestown," Dean finishes lamely, sets the bottle on the nightstand after taking another swig. "Coast clear, right?"
Coast clear, his ass.
"You planning on using all of those?" Sam gestures to the colony of sleeping pills that have taken up residence in the seams of the coverlet. They don't need any virgin suicides for their coasts to be not at all fucking clear. Reality's smacked him with that much.
Dean looks down at the pills, as though he's seeing them for the first time. "I was distracted."
Sam wants to confront him. He wants to sit down next to his brother and say, Dean-you-fucking-moron. Don't lie to me, you fucking moron. Don't parade in front of me like everything's okay if it's not, you fucking moron. Because I still believe you. I still want to believe you.
So yeah, Sam wants to confront him. But he can't make the words come. Because sometimes Dean does tell the truth. He came clean about Hell. He killed the Suicide Virgin. He comes through just often enough that Sam can't--
He can't abandon the thought that if he just stands behind Dean, backs him up, trusts his word, everything will end up right. Not yet.
"That night in the morgue," Sam says, because he'd rather talk about Dean's truths than his lies. He can give him one last chance. Sam owes him that much. "You were talking about-- Hell. What you did in Hell."
"I was distracted," Dean repeats. Then he rattles off several different euphemistic explanations for just about everything irrelevant on the entire damn planet. Dean doesn't do reality well.
And that hurts.
Another one last chance: "Did it help?" Did telling me the truth for once help? Sam's mind begs him to hear yes, no matter what Dean says, but he knows he won't. He can't do that to himself anymore.
Dean's mouth smiles at him.
Sam turns away. He's screaming at himself: You knew something was wrong, you knew and no one believed you. You didn't believe you. Dean might have, and then he lied. Of course he lied. But this isn't about him, not really. You knew something was wrong and then you lied to yourself. You knew something was wrong and you didn't do a damn thing.
And somehow you thought that was okay.
"Give me those," Sam says, starts fanning the wayward pills toward the edge of the bed, where his other hand is waiting.
"Your phone's ringing."
Let it ring. The pills are chalky in his palm.
Dean drags the covers back, and the last of the pills narrowly miss Sam's face. "Yeah, well, fake it until you make it, right?" His mouth smiles again.
Sam hates that look. He powers to the door, his stupid fucking ringtone blaring over everything. The door slams shut behind him.
The rainstick clatter of pills falling through grated stairs drowns out Ruby's greeting, if there is one.
"Not right now," Sam says. Hangs up. But he doesn't go back inside. Not immediately.
Maybe he just feels stupid. Maybe that's all this is. He feels stupid because his brother got whammied by a Suicide Virgin and the first thing he did was pretend harder that everything was okay, would be okay. And Sam believed him. Like closing your eyes keeps the cliff from coming. Hell, Dean saw him overdosed and tripping over himself on demon blood and didn't say a thing; he didn't even let himself think. So Sam's not the only one he's been lying to. Because Sam knows that one of Dean's nightmares starts like this: Hey Sam. Dad always said that if you ever--
And they can't have that. The alternative, of course, is owning up to the idea that he's crossed a line, Sam's crossed a line--they've both crossed lines that there is no coming back from. That's how far they've gone. They've built their castle of lies so high that no one can even tell the difference any more.
Sam breathes. He can almost smell the blood on his fingers, still. Under his nails. He can fix that. He can fix them. He can fix the whole world, while he's at it. He can't keep believing in other people's fantasies. Eternal Tuesdays; saving people, hunting things: Sam's done.
That night, he closes his eyes to the sound of Dean's nightmares. But Sam's going to do whatever it takes.
"Hey, Sam." Dean grins in the red light of what Sam hopes is still a dream. Ruby's knife in his hand grins with him.
a/n 1: You know, I originally conceived of this from Dean's POV, even though it ended up Sam. If it had stayed Dean, I imagine it would have been a veeeeery different fic.
a/n 2: Candy Ridge isn't a real place, but if it were it'd be in the Sierras somewhere. It's called Candy Ridge because when the sun sets the mountains go pink, then purple.