Send Me Down. 918 words. Dean POV. Sometime 14x03-14x05. Half-nothing, maybe horror.
is a dream a lie if it don't come true
or is it something worse?
The last time Sam grabbed him this hard, they'd been banging down a riverbank. Caught in hard cold current, trading turns above water. Dean had been thinking then that he probably wasn't a great swimmer--that they'd never learned, just muscled through until they found a stroke that worked. They did know how to push back, and that's really all swimming was, and anyway it wouldn't matter if that Phelps guy were in this river right then instead of them because technique means fuck-all to a river. It don't care. Sam had grabbed him, not to save him or be saved, but just to grab him, and eventually they'd smacked up against a mess of sticks and algae in the roots of a tree, craning its neck over the river, and that's how they hadn't died. Dean can almost remember what they'd been hunting that day, but not really.
"I'm fine, I'm fine--I heard you. Fuck, Sam--" Dean swings an arm out, finds purchase on the armrest of his chair to keep from being rattled to the floor by Sam's onslaught.
"I heard you," he repeats.
Sam doesn't give him anything. No emotion. Just the loading bar of human expressions. Which is kind of like Cas's normal face but less judgy, so maybe everyone's just been hanging out together a little too long.
"I heard you," Dean repeats again.
He's not sure what else he can say. He had heard Sam. He'd heard Sam say his name. Ane he'd heard Sam call his name. Then he'd heard Sam shout his name. The entire time he'd been welded to this chair thinking nothing and then thinking it was too much effort to respond back, and too much effort to turn and look, too much to do anything really at all. Sort of like when you're halfway into a dream and you can hear your alarm but you're not awake enough to do anything about it.
Not that he can tell Sam any of that, because Sam will flip his shit the way he already did. That sounds too much like possession stuff. He knows Sam's afraid he'll lapse into catatonia--or worse, into Archangeldom--at the drop of an ugly-ass paperboy hat. Dean really couldn't tell you what the difference would be between this and that (another thing he definitely can't admit to Sam), but he knows that it ain't that.
He heard Sam. He did. It was just too much work to act on that.
"That's mine," Dean says of the coffee Sam swipes from the end table, just before Sam takes a swig of it anyway. It's cold now, straight black. No liquor cut in, no anything else Sam thinks he needs to rule out.
Dean bites his tongue. He knows he can't say "I'm fine" again. It's not really allowed. And he can't be mad at Sam for worrying--can't even be annoyed. Not now. He can't do that to his brother.
"I'm fine," Dean says.
"Maggie thought you were dead."
Dean rolls his eyes. "I've been breathing this entire time."
Sam shrugs. "Yeah, well. You know rookies."
"It felt like too much work."
Sam, who'd been swirling Dean's coffee around in its mug, working the handle over battered knuckles, stops. "What?"
"I dunno. Saying hi. It felt like too much work." It sounds stupid when he puts it like that.
"Just 'okay.' You know. Like, okay, that makes sense to me."
Dean snorts. "Okay."
Sam puts Dean's mug down, atop the exact ring of dribbled coffee from whence it came. "Is there anything I can do?" Sam asks, like someone who'd slept ever, and who wasn't running an operation full of an alternative universe's worth of grungy Angel-survivors.
"I'd do it, if there were," Dean says, though he knows dollars to doughnuts he probably fucking wouldn't. But he knows Sam believes in the universe where he would, and maybe Dean sort of believes in it too. He says, "This isn't Michael stuff. Just so you know."
"This." "Stuff." Dean's not sure why he can't use words. He's not big on euphemisms; he's been calling dicks dicks since he was eight. This shouldn't be any different.
"That doesn't make it less important," says Sam. "Fuck Michael."
"That'd be nice."
They sit like that for a while, Dean thinking about a particular summer where they'd have killed to have a shot at playing card games that required more than two people. They'd been lonely. Cards had only taken precedence over swimming because there'd been leeches.
"D'you-- Do you wanna--"
Dean knows where Sam's headed, what he's gonna ask. Sam needs to go work his magic--draw out some case on a whiteboard somewhere like they're all in an episode of CSI and the bunker's in Miami. It wouldn't be awful if Dean joined. All he'd have to do is sit there, which is basically all he's doing now. Dean knows he should say yes.
"Honestly, I thought we were going to drown," Sam admits, once they've pushed off from the river flotsam and struggled to shore. Sam's shuddering, hypothermic, and each word comes out like it's written on a separate ice cube.
Sam looks to Dean, like he's expecting Dean to offer a "Fuck, me too," or a "Nah, man, we'd never go out like that"--not that it particularly matters which.
Instead he says, "Do you think that Phelps guy has ever wrestled a water spirit?"
Dean should say