Outside of that, I think this fic originally began as a response to my thinking at the beginning of 15x06, "Jeez, why do they have so many boxes of cereal???" Clearly some people go to the grocery store and buy one pack of jerk and some water bottles, and other people go to the grocery store and buy six boxes of cereal for two people who are almost never home to eat cereal in the first place. <3
15x05 tag. Sam POV, ~1700 words.
It happens quickly after Lilith is gone. Sam leaves what's left of the gun in the parking lot, strange and alien. Dean leaves blood.
It's hard to say how bad he's really hurt. He waves off help, says if Sam wants in his pants he damn well better wait until he's cold and dead. They have gauze in the trunk, though probably not enough, and anyway Dean's already thrown his jacket over the passenger seat, his shirt wadded against his leg. His boot makes a wet squelching sound as he shifts his weight to throw himself into the car.
Cocksucking bitch, Dean hisses as Sam ducks into the driver's seat.
"Keys," says Sam.
Dean stares at him.
"For the car."
"Fuck." They're in his pocket. Dean makes a fuzzy grab for the door, the dashboard--it's not clear what he's trying to do, but his motor control is already less impressive than it had been.
The Impala is choked with the smell of blood. Sam swallows. Wordlessly, he pushes Dean back into his seat. In the darkness, he finds Dean's hand, punched up against his shirt and his crotch. Since they've made it this far, Sam doesn't think Lilith nicked an artery, but Dean's jeans are soaked warm. It's a good amount of blood. "Hold it against the bone," Sam reminds Dean, and he feels Dean's hand move under his, press harder. Good.
Sam lurches the rest of the way over Dean's body, his fingers find keys, and they are driving.
It's a good amount of blood, but it's also not enough blood, somehow. Dean stops the bleeding six, seven minutes down the road, but he drops off hard, thick-tongued and goose-skinned. He shouldn't be this bad.
"When's the last time you ate anything?" Sam asks, he's not sure what kind of answer he's expecting. Sam barely knows what day it is, also couldn't tell you when he'd last had a meal. Typical, honestly, but maybe it's not. Sam's not sure anymore. Sam reaches into the back seat. They have ghost peppers and water. He shoves a bottle in Dean's direction.
"What do you want me to say? It was a liquor store. Limited options if you're not buying liquor. Hell, if you are--"
Apparently Sam had rambled part of that out loud. "You could have gone to the grocery store. We have one," Sam says defensively.
"Sure," says Dean. "I dunno."
It's not exactly the rejoinder Sam was expecting.
"Weren't you--" Dean holds his water bottle against his face instead of drinking it. "You didn't actually come back with food."
Fuck. Sam hadn't. He'd gone, he'd waited. He remembers coming back to Dean, asleep, and Ashley gone. He's not sure where the food went. Apparently not with him. It hits him then, how much they'd barely made it through this. You can't be just going through the motions when people's lives are on the line. Ironically, maybe it's a good thing there hadn't been. That Ashley had always, already been lost.
"You got blood on this," Dean says, of the water bottle.
Sam flexes his fingers on the steering wheel. Everything's a little sticky.
Just drive. Justdrivejustdrivejustdrive.
"Hey. Heyheyhey." Sam raps Dean on the collarbone. Dean cusses himself awake.
"You can't pass out on me. I can't tell if you're sleeping or dying."
"C'mon, man. We've got like, five hours, tops."
Dean taps his boots together, groans at the movement. "Ruby slippers," he mumbles.
"Dean, I'm serious." Sam jostles him again.
Dean sits up straight for a minute, two.
Dean jolts, laughs. He folds forward and mutters something about being so fucking tired.
"Okay, seriously. Are you okay?"
"No. Wet jeans are a bitch," Dean snaps.
Sam ignores him. "I just mean-- This whole case you've been kinda--"
"Jesus, Sam. That was Lilith. She said-- I never would've--"
Sure. Lilith put him to sleep. But she didn't make him count the minutes. She didn't put that look in his eyes, that look when he realized they were going to have to get this girl to sleep, track down some werewolves, kill some werewolves, loop back around to check on the girl, and then drive back to Kansas. And that was best case scenario. That was easy. It's not the version of himself Dean brings to the job, that look. Not when they're barely halfway through. Not when there is someone to save.
Dean sinks back into his own lap. Fighting nausea, if Sam had to guess. He wishes he could see Dean better--that it weren't so dark, and so much road ahead. But he can hear his breaths over tires against road, slow and shaky.
"Even before that, though. You 'like easy'?" Sam probes.
"I do!" Dean insists to the footwell. "Always have."
"Have you been sleeping at all?" Sam asks. Again, Sam's not sure at what point this decade--this lifetime-- (no, this decade. Sam's pretty sure 'decade' is longer) that's been true for either of them. But there's a difference between four hours and zero. Sam knows how Dean generally puts himself to sleep. Sam also knows what Dean had promised.
Dean comes up for air. He doesn't even point out that he would be asleep right now, if only Sam would fucking let him. Instead, he says, "Yeah, Sam. Because you make sleep seem like such a fun and relaxing activity."
Dean rolls the window down.
Just past the state line, Sam stops for gas and returns with cereal. Six boxes.
"You need to eat something," he says.
Dean peers at the price sticker in the dark. "You know what's cheaper than cereal?" he says. "Beer."
But Dean eats.
Whiskey, after a box and a half of cereal, three hundred miles, and too many stairs. In the time it takes Sam to wash himself of Dean's blood and clean out the car, Dean emerges clean and dressed, as well. He's walking only slightly stiffly. He has his color back.
"You did a good job not bleeding on anything important," Sam says, setting his phone down. Cas hadn't answered.
Dean clicks his tongue and winks. "Damn straight."
And maybe they are coming back. Sam takes the glass Dean offers and it's cool in his hands. Maybe the world is slowing, less like a jittery zoetrope, or a breath held until they get back home. The tight first in Sam's heart is ready to sleep, if not to unclench, and maybe they are coming back. Maybe Sam is coming back.
Then Dean lowers himself carefully into a chair and falls apart. Because God was supposed to be gone.
Sam wakes with his blanket twisted around his neck. He puts a hand to the red rash left behind when he yanked himself free. He gulps air.
Dean's room is empty. So is the east-end bathroom. West-end, too. War room, library, kitchen. There's a knife in the sink. One of Dean's boots is soaking in a bucket under the sink, water pink and murky.
Sam checks on the axes.
The Impala is parked outside.
Dean's room is still empty.
Sam would shout Dean's name, but sound carries strangely in the bunker. Sam doesn't want to deal with the echo. Sam doesn't want to--
He's not sure if he's still dreaming, is the thing. Reality is fuzzy at the edges. He's not sure which Dean is missing.
If maybe, Dean is not missing, but waiting.
Sam checks the panic room, and half-expects the door to close behind him.
You can have him back, if you'd like, says Michael, but he can't stay long. And then Dean is tumbling into Sam's arms. Dean's body is. Dean is. If he kills Michael he kills Dean, Sam supposes is the message. Because that's what Michael does. Uses people up.
Sam feels Dean's fingers close around his own. Then his eyes glow blue-white. I am an archangel, Michael says simply. It is something he is, not what he does.
Dean got tired.
Sam finds Dean in that back room. The one impossibly far from every other useful room, where Dean had made them drag that haunted TV that one time. Sam wasn't under the impression Dean had ever used the room again after that, and maybe he hadn't.
Dean is curled under a dead man robe in one of the La-Z Boys, his laptop on the ground. Netflix inquires, has likely been inquiring for some time, "Are you still watching?" He is part-way through Clue. There's an untouched grilled cheese balanced on the arm of the second chair, so cold and pristine it looks like it's made of plastic.
"Made you breakfast," says Dean, nodding towards the grilled cheese. Sam hadn't realized Dean was awake, that he even knew Sam was there.
Sam shivers. "The heat doesn't really reach down here."
Dean shrugs. "Netflix and chill."
They go quiet after that. Sam doesn't want to stay but he doesn't want to go, and so ends up standing in the doorway, trapped there.
It is quiet, and then it is quiet.
"We didn't even get lobster rolls, after all that," Dean says, finally.
"Yeah. Colorado's so well-known for its lobster."
Dean actually turns to look at him this time. "The hell are you talking about?"
As though Sam's the crazy one. Sam just raises his eyebrows and waits for Dean to elaborate.
"You know, with the butler and the cubic zirconia. And Bobby's kid. That whole time--no lobster rolls."
Oh. Sam pinches the bridge of his nose. "Right. We're talking about lobster rolls from like, five years ago. Obviously. Dunno how I could have missed that."
Dean gestures at his laptop, as though that's supposed to mean something.
"Wanna see what's good in Boston?" Dean is so serious about this he actually starts getting up. It is ungraceful.
"No," Sam says honestly.
Sam remembers one thing from that case, above all else, and it's the sound of five more bullets tearing through what was already a corpse. And here's one thing he's tried to forget: Dean's hand still shaking when he helps Sam off the floor. Driving home as quick as they can. Trying to sleep and forget.
"Are you okay?" Sam asks. It's always hard to tell how bad it is, with Dean. At least until it's not.
Dean shrugs again. Shuts his laptop with his foot.
"Not my story," he says. "Not my problem."