For some reason, Sam had thought that leaving Gabriel in that abandoned warehouse would really be the end of it. As if now that the world was ending, the Winchesters were gonna start being lucky.
He was wrong, of course.
It started with him noticing a distinct taste of gasoline in his mouth. It was strong enough to make Sam blanch in disgust, lips smacking at how real the unpleasant flavor seemed, but other than that he didn’t pay it that much attention, to be honest with himself.
The Impala glided down the road, with Dean still fuming from what the trickster-formerly-known-as-archangel had told them and Sam was more concerned with the fact that his brother was grabbing the steering wheel with such a white knuckled grip that something might actually break, than he was with funny tastes in his mouth.
Sam gagged, made a disgusted face that went completely unnoticed and finally resorted to making a dash for the water bottle that had been traveling with them since God knew when. Two sips later and –fortunately- the nasty taste was gone, replaced by the slightly less unpleasant aftertaste of stale water.
It wasn’t until his groin started to ache like a mother –in fact, like he’d been kicked in the service area- that Sam finally got the clue on what was happening.
“Stop the car!” Sam yelled, panic in his voice. In his haste Sam’s hands hovered inches away from actually grabbing the wheel and pulling over himself.
It hadn’t really been a reason for concern before, not with the trickster dumping them in TV show after TV show. For fuck’s sake! He’d turned Sam into the frigging Impala... it wasn’t like they’d been expecting consequences in the real world.
The car veered sideways as the sudden shout and frantic movements startled Dean out of his fuming thoughts.
“The fuck, Sam,” Dean let out, turning an annoyed glace to his brother. Still, he slowed the car and started easing it towards the nearing shoulder of the road. As soon as the car rolled to a stop, Dean turned sideways, eyes thundering with the promise that, if Sam didn’t have a very good reason for almost crashing them, heads would roll. “What the fuck was th— AH!“
Sam saw the moment when reality came crashing back on Dean. Quite literally.
The pain hit him too fast, too sharply, too deep and just too real for Dean to even understand what was happening. He gasped, looking at Sam, confusion plastered all over his suddenly pale and sweaty face, the ‘what the fuck’ in his eyes as clear as if he’d spoken it.
Sam had never been so happy for the trust Dean had in him, enough to make him stop the car first and ask the questions later.
Especially when the answers to the questions made no sense at all.
That gunshot was supposed to have been nothing more than an overdramatic turn of events on some medical, corny soap opera. But the bullet had felt real to Dean then, and the flesh under Sam’s knife had felt real too, when he’d had his brother on what looked like a real operating room and now...
“Just take it easy, Dean” Sam said reassuringly, his hands easing Dean to lean forward against the steering wheel. “Deep breaths dude... just... just lemme have a look at your back.”
Dean couldn’t do more than to submit to Sam’s probing and pushing fingers, forehead pressed against the leather, resisting the urge to bite down to ease the pain. His back was on fire, almost as if he’d been—
“Fuck! I thought that-- shit had stayed-- behind when we moved-- on to the Asian damn game show!” Dean hissed. He could feel Sam’s cold fingers, pulling his tee shirt up.
The wound wasn’t supposed to be there, not one made by a make-believe gun. And yet, there is was, in all its puffy and angry looking red skin glory. The stitches, at least, were holding.
Sam let out a relieved sigh. The damn shot had been disturbingly close to Dean’s spine and, for one terrifying moment when his brother had fallen to his knees in that make-believe hospital corridor, Sam had been sure that that was it.
Pulling Dean’s shirt back down, Sam popped the glove compartment and pulled out the orange pill bottle. “Think you can sit back up for a bit?”
Dean wanted nothing more than to disappear into the leather seats of his baby and not surface again until his back stopped screaming at him. He nodded all the same.
Sam’s hands were there again, holding him up even before Dean could find out if his arms were strong enough to support his weight. Dean had a sinking feeling that they wouldn’t anyway.
Dean was shaking all over, teeth locked to stop himself from moaning. This sucked so much ass...
“Here, take these,” Sam offered the two pills he’d fished out of the bottle. If Sam had any doubt about the amount of pain his brother was in, the fact that Dean didn’t even try to complain or make do without drugs was clue enough.
Sam couldn’t help but to feel guilty about this. He’d been the one suggesting that they talked with the trickster instead of just killing him, he was the one thinking that the whole thing was just one big joke and he’d been the one playing a frigging spinal surgeon on Dean’s back without having any fucking clue on what the hell he was doing. What if he’d missed something... what if the gunshot wound wasn’t as simple as the damn TV show had made it seem?
Sam watched carefully as his brother popped the pills dry, free hand clenched into a white knuckled fist by his side. Dean sat hunched over, breaths coming out in shallow puffs, murmuring curses and swearing his pain away.
“You should probably lie down for a bit, in the backseat,” Sam offered, trying to not sound too condescending. He was well aware of how much that pissed Dean off when he wasn’t feeling well. He was also too aware that Dean had a frigging gunshot wound inches from his spine. “I can drive for a while.”
Dean took a deep breath, only to stop mid-way through with a pained hitch. The pills would need at least ten minutes to take effect and Dean was slowly losing the battle to just scream. Placing his right arm over the steering wheel, Dean let his head fall forward, resting it over his forearm. “I’m okay,” he managed to whisper between carefully measured breaths. “Just... just gimme a minute.”
Sam didn’t. The weight that they carried around, every day since Lucifer was out was bad enough; living under the constant pressure of bending over and accepting what was, apparently, their inescapable destiny was bad enough. There was no reason for Dean to shoulder this too. Not alone.
“Come here,” Sam said, more as a warning than an actual request. They hadn’t done something like that since Sam was shorter than Dean and even then, it had been Dean offering the support. Dean was always offering his support.
Taking advantage of growing numbness that the painkillers were beginning to offer, Sam pulled Dean to him and contorted them both until his brother was laying flat on his back with his legs bent at the knee and his head resting on Sam’s lap.
Dean looked up, getting an unfamiliar view of the underside of Sam’s chin and nostrils. He raised one eyebrow, giving up midway when even that set off new waves of pain on his back.
Quietly breathing through the worst of it, Dean figured that he might as well indulge his brother’s mother hen instincts. “Do I get a lullaby too?” He said, voice starting to gain the consistency of thick molasses as the pills dragged him down deeper and deeper. He would complain... he should complain. It was completely uncanny for his kid brother to be serving as a human pillow for him, but Sam’s leg was warm and soft, and the hard surface of the Impala’s seat was supporting his back in just the right way and the fog that was rising up came with a promise of security and freedom of pain.
“Be an ass about this and you’ll get a lullaby,” Sam threatened with a smirk. As soon as Sam was sure that Dean wasn’t going to freak out on him, he reached forward, finger pressing the ‘play’ button on the cassette player and let his head fall back, comfortably resting against the seat. Lucifer, and Michael, Heaven and Hell and rest of the ending world could hold down a bit on their own as they caught on some Zs just for a couple of hours. After all, they’d been missing for days and the world hadn’t imploded.
Dean sunk down further at the first accords of David Byrne’s ‘Road to Nowhere’, his eyes closing as the familiar lyrics filled the quiet car. Yeah, as far as lullabies go, this one was pretty awesome.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Written as a Christmas gift for Xwacky. Now beta-ed by the most awesome Jackfan2.