Genre: psychological, hurt/comfort (Dean - fever, nightmares, Hell/post-Hell issues, dissociation, PTSD; Sam - nightmares, Hell/wall-falling, psychological trauma), angst
Characters: Dean, Sam, peripheral Bobby
Rating: PG-13 for allusions to torture, Hell, related imagery
Word Count: ~1300
Notes: Written for maypoles's prompt on the hoodie_time Themed comment!fic meme #2: fevers, "psychosomatic illness". [Original Post.] Speed-beta'd by vie_dangerouse (as always! ♥). Takes place post-6x22; heed the spoilers! Broken narration.
Dean's probably dying or something dramatic like that, but no one gives much of a damn, and it's hard to find the attention span to bother pretending. And anyway, 'no one' would be a lot more impressive if 'everyone' weren't Bobby and whatever's left of Sam. Mortality is up, and the new census has graphs and charts, people by the tens of thousands represented by cool blue shoes.
(Shoes, because everyone leaves footprints.)
Dean can see two, two shoes. Dean can see one and three-quarters. One and a sliver. In his mind Dean can see shoes disappearing and it's not until the corrosion hits the halfway point that he realizes he doesn't know if the shoe is supposed to represent him or Sam. The population of Bobby’s House, South Dakota is approximately two. One and a sliver.
Bobby makes enough coffee for only one person and Dean hacks brown into the toilet. A red clay brown, congealed and granulated. He can feel it on his tongue. He can feel it quiver at the back of his throat when he speaks.
isn't so bad, clotted already. It looks like coffee and doesn't taste like it. It probably had something to do with that table he hit. He speaks and he says he doesn't understand he doesn't understand understand why. Why Bobby's fine (he strained his neck during the crash; the stairs afterward did nothing) and why he is (and why Sam is) and why he is slipping under a film of fever, a thousand shaky pieces that are just pieces, and not him. Which, by the way, the car's in about a thousand pieces, and Sam's in a thousand and one.
Sam keeps talking about shoes.
"I know," Dean says, and he does. And Bobby doesn't, and sips his coffee. It's not whiskey and Dean knows Bobby wishes it was. So does he. But he moves like he's walking on his own spine (and on some days, he is) and the idea of bleeding in seems slow and brown and helpless, and Dean is full up on all of those. No whiskey.
He goes to speak with Sam and this time Sam says, "Gloves".
aren't new. Dean remembers waking up in Illinois once. Though maybe the relevant detail here is in a coffin, in Illinois. Then again, maybe not. In any case, he woke up. He thought, I am going to drown to death. He thought, No, suffocate. He thought, This is bullshit. I'm already dead.
Then he went back to sleep. He dreamed of four socks and three feet, and he had his hands around one heel, and he was thinking, Fuck, I must be sick, because the foot was cold and he was hot and the whole world was starting to look brightly phosphorescent. Then it occurred to him to wonder where the fourth foot was.
It takes him weeks to realize that it's Hell in his dreams, which is longer than it took him to realize that it was killing him, and far longer than it took him to realize that he was again a virgin. (Priorities.) But it's Hell, red and hot and squealing like a tuning fork in his mind whether he's asleep or not.
It seems so obvious when he puts it that way.
There was a time when it just sounded like shoes. Shoes squeaking down hospital halls.
"Shoes," Sam says. And Dean says, I know.
"Gloves," Sam says, and Dean doesn't. He never got that far.
Dean has always dreamed four socks and three legs, and woken up.
crashes through a fever that makes him difficult to talk to. Bobby tries anyway, the way he does, but it's possible it's a cuckoo clock kind of conversation. Every hour, on the hour. No one's listening. (shoes I know shoes I know shoes I know gloves gloves
Bobby starts talking to Sam instead. You know you've struck out when "shoes" is preferred conversation. Bobby's only got the one pair of
You can pull yourself up by them. You can hang by them. Dean stands beside a man as he holds a cold blue foot in is hands. Dean has four wool socks in his hands but there are only three feet. No shoes.
He wakes up choking on coffee ground blood.
Dean watches a man hold out four pairs of socks as another holds three feet in his hands.
He watches from behind a big glass pane, as three men handle some feet and some socks.
He sees shoes outside, in a hallway. They are a jumble, and he does not count.
He hears shoes down a hallway; they squeak.
When the steps reach a dull drone, Dean knows he's won.
He hears the thud of shoes in a hallway far below him. Which is Bobby, downstairs, making more coffee. Cuckoo clock cuisine. He smells like sweat and the back of his throat still tastes like blood. Neither remind Dean of Hell.
Dean wobbles down Bobby's stairs, woozy and top-heavy like nobody's business. Tries not to see hanged bodies hanged shoes in every doorway (which doesn't remind him of Hell). He can still feel the fever from nowhere (it is not from Hell) like it's replaced the skin over his eyelids.
How's Sam? Dean asks, which still doesn't remind him of Hell. He's lost his voice. (And not that, either.)
"Still sounds like a striptease," says Bobby. "How're you?"
"Shoes," Dean says, and Bobby doesn't laugh.
will fuck you up, and you won't even be all there to notice it. You'll dream things, like coffins. Like shoes. You won't realize that there's no reason you should be sick, you're not the one who should be sick, until it's probably too late. He sits in a chair beside Sam’s bedside anyway.
"Sometimes they wear gloves," says Sam, so lucid that Dean is actually having trouble understanding him. He uses words like apropos and prophylactic, and if Dean has any words to meet these with the only thing he can think of doing with them is to throw them up, writhing and covered in sooty brown blood.
"Sometimes they wear gloves when they take your feet."
"Who takes your feet?"
Sam shrugs. "They do."
Dean knows, is familiar with the sound, the shuffling below him, until it's the squeaking before him and the shoes in front of him and the wool in his hands and then the flesh in his hands, the cold flesh in his fever hands and he thinks, But my hands will sweat if I wear the fucking gloves.
Dean sees Sam's two legs poking from beneath Bobby's too-short quilt, parallel his own two legs, in front of him. He counts them again.
Dean finds in the remnants of the car, which is not much. Not anymore. But the flask is steel and will outlast them all. It makes him spit red blood like he shouldn't, but Dean figures he's done far worse things with blood.
"I can't help him."
In his mind he's already walking hallways. He has already bypassed socks. He can already feel weight in his hands.
"Just needs time," says Bobby.
No. Dean's pretty sure time's something they've just run out of. (Because there's nowhere to run, not really. No one can run. Not on one ------ )
"Dean," says Sam. He's tripping down the stairs blindly, and it is not really Sam but the thousand and one pieces of what used to be Sam. Dean raises his head, in which hot bits of him are floating, pretending to be him. "Dean," he says again, like he's figured it all out. Like he knows. Who Dean is. What Dean did.
whose fault this is
"Why are there only three legs?"
I also wanted to go ahead and archive the LJ interests drabbles I did a while back, to make sure everyone saw their prezzies!
1. For sistabro: books, poverty, writing. Burn after reading, right?" Sam, Dean.
2. For kettle_o_fish: tailgate parties, nasa, feeling infinite. "Not stalking you," says Sam, with a sincerity only the infirm, infantile, and the absolutely shit-faced achieve. Sam, Jess.
3. For eschatologies: Catholicism, volleyball. "You're doing the Catholic martyr thing again, Jess. Balls, spike them." Jess, Brady.
4. For nwhepcat: cookbooks, fire-eating. Ruby is writing a book, fat shaking words spreading it for red ledgers. Katie!Ruby.
5. For raihu: mesoamerican punks, unnecessary gore, kingdom before phylum. You don't need your spinal cord. Original.
6. For shaitanah: placebo, freedom of speech, Beatniks. "Freedom of speech," says Cas. "Say anything." Endverse!Cas, Zachariah.
7. For dustbunny105: Deforest Kelley, Star Trek. "Kelley is a girls' name," says Sam, because it sounds like something Dean would say. Sam, Dean.
8. For vie_dangerouse: Project Mayhem, Katie!Ruby, freckles, and fevers.
well sorry if i'm having a little
my brother for america'snexttop
boy king. Dean, Katie!Ruby.
9. For nwspaprtaxis: gastrointestinal badness, vessel!Dean. Faith in the vessel was like faith in crosses--humanity's altars to God. Dean, Raphael.