Title: Double Happiness
Genre: gen, S15, hurt/comfort, sitting around in the bunker B-roll, yum cup fluff
Characters: Dean (POV), Sam
Warnings: substance abuse
Word Count: 2400
Summary: Sam asks how it feels. "I'm hungover and my back is killing me. Happy birthday to me," Dean replies.
Sam, beaming. Two cups of steaming coffee already on the table.
Dean grunts. He foregoes the spread and continues to the sink. He squints at a cup sitting at the bottom of it, shrugs, and refills it. He rummages in his pocket for as many ibuprofen as he can find and drinks them down.
"Why are you so bushy-tailed?" he asks.
Sam's still beaming. He beams his way around the table and puts a coffee in Dean's hand himself.
But Sam says, "Today's your birthday! How's it feel?"
"I'm hungover and my back is killing me."
Sam chuffs. "That's not new. You've been saying that since you were like sixteen."
Dean sips his coffee. "Yeah, well. New season, same crappy show."
Dean has a sinking feeling he is going to have to be excited about something soon. He can't think of anyone in any universe who's more Grinchy than Sam is about holidays, birthdays, all that special occasion shit. Sam didn't even go to his high school graduation, and that one actually mattered to him. They'd stayed in town for it and everything. But here is Sam, his puppy dog showing like it's been locked in a closet for a couple months and just got free.
"I've had other birthdays. Why are you bringing up this one?" Dean asks.
Sam shrugs. "I dunno. It's the most recent, so I guess it seems like it'd be the most relevant. I could be wrong."
"Do you even know how old I am?"
"I know how math works."
"So that's a no." Coffee, Dean thinks. Just drink more coffee. "What you got planned for me, then? Venetian escape? Princess cruise? Couples massage?"
"Um," says Sam. "That coffee, mostly."
Dean smiles into his cup. "That's the Sammy I know and love," he says.
"Did you wanna go for a drive or something?" Sam asks.
"There a case?" Dean sits down, which feels like hell. But the sitting is worse, so up he goes, and that's hell again too. Sam's giving him a run for this money, though, fidgeting around like he's playing Snake with the kitchen.
"No, no case," says Sam. "I just figured, it's your birthday, you like driving, that's a thing we could do. You know."
"Dude, seriously. Scratch bushy-tailed, you're full-on squirrely. What's wrong with you?"
Sam eases himself onto a counter, feet dangling. "I've had a lot of coffee," he admits.
Dean's brow furrows. "Like, every bean in Ecuador?"
Suddenly Sam's in his face, tapping his cup. "Do you need any more?"
"Did you put speed in it?"
"Did you wanna go for that drive?"
Dean waits for Sam to orbit back out of his personal space and pulls out his phone. If there's zero chance of getting to at least shoot at something, the answer's no, not really. He doesn't want to spend all day in a car feeling like this. He sort of wants to be severed in two at his L3. But hey, SearchTheWeb is great for spotting miracles, or whatever the opposite's supposed to be. If there's a case, then nothing else matters.
Just then, an email alert drops from the top of his phone screen. That'll work, too.
"You got a laptop stashed in a sack of flour in here or something?" Dean asks, without taking his eyes off his phone.
Sam mumbles something ridiculous about flour, why would he be using flour, but Dean doesn't care, so he cuts him off. "You clearly didn't sleep last night, and I know you didn't just sit here binging on Folgers, reorganizing recipe cards. So, laptop?"
"I mean, yeah. I just gotta--" Sam pulls it out from under the table. "Close some tabs real qu--"
"Yeah, do that. Whatever you got, trust me, this is--" He holds a finger up to silence himself. "This is worth viewing on a big screen."
Sam hands him the laptop--careful, like he's guarding himself against whatever the hell Dean's so excited about. "That's a lot of glee, Dean," he says suspiciously.
"Oh, it is. Gong hay fat choy, Sammy." Dean grins. "Tonight is Chinese fucking New Year. Boom. Look, they have a special calendar spread."
More specifically, tonight is Chinese fucking New Year, brought to you by Busty Asian Beauties, and they have a special calendar spread.
"Year of the Rat," Dean announces proudly. He twirls the laptop back in Sam's direction with a flourish.
"Are those… Mickey Mouse ears?" Sam asks.
"And tails. And whiskers." Dean's grin is ear to ear. His cheeks ache like Mickey's must.
Sam regards him very seriously. "Are you into that kind of thing?"
Hell with it. Sam's not gonna squash this. "If she's into it, I can be."
Dean keeps scrolling. "And it's a two-fer!" he exclaims. Then, more sedately, "'Cause they can't just do the Chinese one. We're calling it Lunar New Year now, because Korea exists."
"Yes, Korea has existed," Sam agrees. "Probably other countries, too. Geography is fascinating stuff."
"Ji-Hye's from Korea, though. Well, she's from West Covina. But you know."
Sam tries and fails to stifle his disbelief. "You know, Dean, I can genuinely say I don't know. Besides, how do you even know she likes it? Porn's her job. Don't you kind of have to do whatever the job says you do? It's not like you've actually met her and asked."
"One, they're unionized--" ("They're what--") "--and B, she's totally into it," Dean says. "She always does the furry ones." ("Always does the fu--") "Besides, she's been with BAB for years. I think I'd know what she likes by now. We're very compatible."
"Very comp-- all right. Okay. I'm gonna leave you with your mouse stuff. Happy birthday, or new years, or whatever."
"There's a blood type compatibility chart," Dean insists.
"Oh my god." Sam throws his hands up, backing out of the kitchen.
Dean follows him. "I can pull it up. You're supposed to cross-reference it with-- and then your zodiac--" Dean hits the stairs. "Motherfucker. Do we have anything stronger than ibuprofen left?"
"Are you having a good Chinese New Year?" Sam asks from the top of the stairs, bunker door slamming behind him.
"It's a midnight thing," Dean replies. He's supine on the war table, jacket shrouding his face. "If you're at all familiar with how new year's works."
"Well, I brought you some pre-game supplies," says Sam, shaking a plastic bag. He tips over Dean's empty with his boot. "But it looks like you started without me."
Dean outstretches an arm. "The night is young."
"It's barely noon. Also, Smith County has kind of a drug problem," Sam continues. He takes out a pill bottle, but doesn't hand it over. "Getting oxy was way too easy."
"That's grim," says Dean.
"Yeah, a little."
"Okay, well. Hand it over."
"Mrs. Velasquez--you know, with the daughter. We have the PO box next to hers because we're C and she's…" Sam's brow furrows. "Well, we have the one next to hers. She was pretty adamant about making sure I 'use as directed.' As in, not to excess. And not with booze."
"Your drug dealer's a fifth grade teacher and you want to start following directions now?"
"She's actually not a fifth grade teacher anymore, or probably ever again. Which I think was kind of her point."
Dean sighs. Sam's right. He wrenches himself upright, but Sam must not have been impressed by the performance, because when Dean's vision clears and he blinks the room into focus, Sam's still there.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Sam asks.
"Never said I was." Dean pushes off Sam's shoulder and slides off the table to standing. The landing hurts, and everything hurts, but the buzz is pillowy and yeah, he's fine. He reaches backwards for the table. He's fine. Just whiny.
"Try not to do anything that'll make it worse. Just because the pain is dulled doesn't mean it's hea--"
"Oh, this is the worse," Dean assures him. "But I'll make sure I schedule appropriately next time something decides to fling me across a room."
"You do that," says Sam. He pinches the bridge of his nose and runs his hand through his hair.
"So, the--" Dean starts, gesturing to Sam's shoulder. "The dreams, Chuck's memories or whatever. That's over."
"Yeah. No. I mean, I think so. They weren't like my visions, they felt--more natural, I guess? And now--I dunno. I guess I can't tell what's maybe from him, or what's just... Normal bad."
"Normal bad. Good to know that's our Everest."
Sam curls his shoulders. It's not even an entire shrug. "I'm gonna go--try again. I guess. And maybe get some fucking sleep someday."
"You need a lullaby or somethin', just holler."
Dean watches Sam leave, lumber off down the hallway. Once Sam's out of eyesight the restless panic Dean's felt simmering boils over. He's not sure what to do. Not that it should matter--he's been approaching his time on this rock with the least ambition he can possibly muster--but he can't just sit around waiting for Sam to be conscious again. He's not ready to be that pathetic. If there was a case there'd at least be a pattern to follow. But as far as his patterns within the bunker go, Dean has limited options. Drinking's out, if he ever wants to be sober enough for the good stuff, and his back's making pretty clear that he does. He'd already drunk--well, more than he'd meant to, and it wasn't helping near enough.
Other than that, he's kind of soured on his usual simple pleasures after the last few weeks. Maybe it's shame, maybe emptiness. It's better not to know. What he does know is that it makes the usual not seem good enough.
Nothing seems good enough.
Which seems like a Sam thing: To want better. And maybe that's a good thing, because it means Dean cares enough to want things to be different and believes enough that that is possible. He went to Purgatory, after all. He did the flower thing. But what all that means and how it feels are different things. With nothing worth settling for, it's just freefall. It feels like terror, and pain. There's no cold comforts, even. It all just hurts.
There's still Lunar New Year, Dean supposes, though that seems like a waste. He's too drunk to jack off and feels like too much shit to sit around appreciating art without jacking off. Snake-eyes kinda situation.
He limps back to the kitchen, where he left Sam's laptop sitting out. Password, easy. Email, still empty of gruesome deaths or strange omens. (There's a new Quora email, asking Sam if he's still interested in how many grams were in a tablespoon. Fucking witch stuff.)
Then Ji-Hye's staring back at him, and Dean hits play. Somewhere in the Eastern hemisphere, it's the Year of the Rat.
Just a little. Enough to take the edge off, and make Dean feel like he's not trying to deal with this alone. Much as he'd like to have his mind blown, it's probably not his best impulse, and he has to choose his bad ones.
"You can take more, if you're in pain. Which you are," Sam says. Never let anyone tell you Sam's an angel on his shoulder.
Dean draws a shuddering breath and sets his jaw. Waking up tomorrow miraculously healed feels even less likely now than it had the night before. He doesn't need that kind of temptation every day, for however long this takes. Deep breath. "You're not actually a drug dealer. You remember that, right?"
Sam reddens. "Well, I-- Actually, I do have something else for you."
Sam disappears behind him. Dean cuts his pill and swallows.
"No sudden movements," says Sam, and when he puts it like that, Dean can't honestly say he enjoys the feeling of Sam behind him, and then over him. But he swallows that reflex, too. Sam sweeps something up and over Dean's head and when it comes down it's a square pan with a round cake inside it.
The cake is dark, chocolate maybe, with a piece of red licorice ringing the center, pinned into shape by a handful of unlit candles.
"The licorice is decorative," says Sam. "You don't have to eat it."
Sam says, "It's supposed to be a record. A vinyl--"
"Yeah, I get that." Dean's still staring at the cake. "Last night?"
"I couldn't sleep anyway. All the coffee masked the smell pretty good, huh? Lucky break."
"And this took you... all night?"
"It kept--not working," Sam says, defensive. "I don't know if the stuff was old, or-- And then the corners burnt, but then-- So now it's round. It's a record."
"You've never baked a cake before, have you." Dean chuckles. "Sammy, all grown up and getting domestic."
"You don't have to eat it."
"No, man, I--" Dean wishes he'd reacted different. That he'd said literally anything else. He wishes he was thinking straighter and didn't feel like he was on the verge of hurling and wasn't so distracted by the knives in his back and the wondering if the drugs would dull them, if waiting around all day to sober up would be goddamn worth it. He also feels like he's gonna cry or something equally fucking stupid, and he can't even blame that on the drugs. Not realistically--Sam knows him better than that. He wishes he could tell Sam something worthwhile. He wishes this was as easy as Chinese New Year porn. Mostly, he wishes normal bad was better.
"Thank you," he says. He wishes he said more.
Sam finally comes around the table again, with plates and forks and a giant serrated knife that doesn't speak well to his confidence in the moistness of the cake. He doesn't look like he's spent any of the last week sleeping. It's not fair.
"Are you okay?" Sam asks.
"Hell yeah. Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, man--we're three for three today. Let's light this baby!"
Sam pulls out a lighter and Dean honestly can't remember the last time he'd seen one when they hadn't been standing at the edge of a grave. Sam lights the candles in a star pattern out of habit.
Dean stares at Sam through the candles, which cast his forearms in a warm but wavering glow. Dean wishes everything were easier. And if he had to choose one thing, he'd wish everything was easier for Sam. You know, just enough to take the edge off.
Then he blows, wishing nothing. Dean's done enough wishing.
Sam cuts, gingerly at first, until he feels the knife give, find the bottom of the cake nice and smooth. "You really don't have to eat this," Sam says again, but Dean motions ardently. Keep it coming.
Once Sam has cut and served two slices, Dean looks down at his, then back to his brother.
"You first," he says.