Damn it, he was going to have to take his brother to the hospital.
He’d pulled and pushed Sam’s left shoulder back into its socket, and stitched and bandaged his left arm, before Dean realized that the left wrist was more than sprained. He’d picked it up in both hands and gently gently pressed down on the swelling with his thumbs, and felt bone grate against bone. Sam grunted in pain, arching his back almost off the bed.
Bad as that was, that wasn’t the reason Dean was heading for the hospital. No, the reason he had to take his baby brother in was that he just wouldn’t stop crying. No matter what he said, or did, Sam was inconsolable. He hadn’t done the crying jag with a concussion since he was a teenager, and Dean tried to remember if he had been as frustrated then, too.
He pushed up Sam’s eyelids again, making Sam groan a little, but at least he stopped apologizing for two seconds. And cursed like a big boy when the flashlight moved across his pupils. Unequal but reactive, no drift to the left or right.
Damn jiang shi. Dean seriously hated all this Japanese shit popping up all over the country.
He held Sam’s right arm, rubbing the back of Sam’s hand rhythmically with his thumb. He brushed Sam’s bangs back away from his face. Sam was still crying and muttering, “I’m sorry … sorry … sorry. I’ll get it back, shouldn’t … I’m so sorry”.
Sam had been on the sorry jag for two hours, ever since they got back from the hunt, nodding off only to jerk awake, crying and apologizing, and Dean still didn’t know what he was sorry for. Sam hadn’t done anything wrong, the fugly went down hard and brutal and dead. Sam was the one who was hurt. Hell, all he had was a cut or something on his back, nothing serious. Dean had been sure, if he could just get Sam settled for the night, they could go to a clinic in the morning to get the shoulder and arm x-rayed and cast. And then the crying started.
“Sammy, listen to me. There’s nothing to be sorry about. If you don’t stop crying, I’ll have to take you to the hospital.” He could feel how hot Sam was getting, so he had a fever too. At least Sam hadn’t puked yet, yeah, like that meant a lot. He had chills, fever, a mangled left arm, broken wrist, dislocated shoulder, a concussion with hysterical crying but he hadn’t puked. Sure, Sam was just fine.
Sam gasped out, “Sorry, get it back, Dean, get it …”
Dean still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. “Sam. Sam, look at me.” He took Sam’s chin in his hand, holding his head still. “Open your eyes and look at me, Sam.” Wonder of wonder, he did. His breathing was irregular, the pain and the crying making it hitch and stutter, and he looked awful - pale, sweaty, and there were still bits of leaves and shit sticking out of his hair. “Sam, what are you sorry for? What will you get back?”
Sam blinked owlishly at him, and took a sobbing breath.
“Don’t cry, Sam. I’ll make it better but I need you to answer me. What are you sorry for?” He ran his fingers over Sam’s head, threading his fingers through his hair, combing out the litter.
Sam suddenly pulled his right arm out of Dean’s hold and swung it a little wildly over his body, reaching for something on his left. Dean caught Sam’s arm, and set it down on his stomach.
“Please, Sam, what are you looking for?”
“My … watch. Present.” Sam starting making a humming noise back in his throat.
Now it was bad. It was time to go.
Dean hooked an arm behind Sam’s good shoulder, and slowly stood, bringing Sam up as gently as he could, until he was sitting on the bed. Sam continued to mutter, with an occasional moan, as Dean helped him swing his legs over the side of the bed. Dean slid on Sam’s sneakers, tying them loosely. He stopped and watched Sam carefully.
“Your watch, Sam? What about your watch?” He looked down at Sam’s wrist involuntarily, because he would have noticed the watch while he was patching him up. He hadn’t noticed it was off. “Where’s your watch, man, I’ll get it for you and then we’ll go to the hospital.”
“No”, Sam moaned again. “No, not here. Sorry, Dean, so sorry.”
“Where is it? Were you wearing it tonight?” Crap, how stupid could he be? Of course Sam had been wearing it. He never took it off.
Sam frowned a little, and said in a long suffering voice, “Of course, wearin’ it. Don’ take off.”
That sounded more like his brother, the long suffering smart mouth. Then the kid tried to topple over sideways, but Dean caught him. He pulled his brother’s right arm through his shirt sleeve, and buttoned it as best he could around Sam’s chest and bandaged arm.
“Is your watch back in the forest?” It had to be – the thing’s claws must have snagged the strap. Sam had the slashes to prove it.
“Yeah, forest. Gone.” Tears started down his face again, dripping off the tip of his nose. He looked five years old again. Dean knelt on the floor, and brought Sam’s chin up so that he could look into his eyes.
“Don’t worry, Sam. I’ll get you another one. A better one.”
Sam wailed. “No, not ‘nother one. Wan’ that one. Says ‘bitch’. Has to be that one.”
“OK, Sam, I’ll get that one for you. But first, I’m getting you to the hospital. No arguments.” He stood, and hoisted Sam to his feet, waiting to see if his knees would lock. Sam started to look a little green. “No vomiting either – or at least wait ‘til we’re outside…” Too late. Dean snagged the trashcan and kept Sam from faceplanting as he bent over the can and heaved.
When he was done, Dean got him mostly upright, looped Sam’s right arm over his shoulder, and wrapped his own left arm around to grab one of the belt loops on Sam’s jeans. Holding Sam’s right arm tight, Dean led and carried Sam out to the Impala, and braced Sam upright with his hip while he opened the back door. He then rolled in all eighteen feet of baby brother, pushing and pulling Sam’s legs up and working his feet into the seat well.
Dean bounded back into the room, grabbing towels, one of the duvets, and the trash can, and was back out the door. The trashcan he left on the walkway between rooms, the pillows went under Sam’s head and arm, the duvet over him, and the towels near his head in case he was sick again.
Dean slammed the door shut, ran to the driver’s side, and peeled out of the parking lot.
Some hours previously…
Dean was so excited Sam said he could see him vibrating. Dean had a katana in his right hand, sweeping it in exaggerated movements, stopping with the blade in dramatic positions, all the while humming Princes of the Universe.
When Sam looked up, Dean caught his eye and struck a pose. “Do I look like that Highlander guy? The one from the TV show, not that French wussy from the movies.”
“Dude, you haven’t had a pigtail since you were 15. And Dad shot it off.”
Dean pursed his lips in a moue of disgust. Dad wasn’t kidding when he said he’d get rid of it if Dean didn’t. When Dad pulled his pigtail straight out and shot a salt round into it point blank, he’d been so startled he’d almost passed out. Almost fainted liked a little girl is what his Dad said.
While Sam made yelling at Dad a life goal, Dean could count the times he’d yelled at his father on the fingers of one hand, and that was one of them. The only thing he didn’t understand was why Dad didn’t make him balance an apple on his eyelid while he was at it, so Dad could do that whole William Tell thing.
And Dad’d never shot off Sam’s hair. He dismissed that as he dismissed all the old unfair Dad shit, and he muttered, “Don’t need no stinking pigtail” before he realized Sam was already heading down the path. He caught up and stepped in front of him, per his personal SOP, hearing Sam huff in exasperation. He looked over his shoulder. “At least I’ve had more than one hair style in my life, Mophead … McJanitor.”
“Had to reach for that one, didn’t you?”
Dean shot a finger over his shoulder, but forged on. “Zombie action, Sam, can you believe it? A Japanese zombie, sure but its still a zombie, right?” He slashed the sword in front of him, the razor sharp blade slicing through leaves instead of zombies. “Some head removal action tonight!”
"It’s the little things that make life worth living, isn’t it?” Sam replied, in his best unctuous Dr. Phil voice. Dean chuckled, he actually chuckled at that. Sam couldn’t help smiling. When Dean was happy these days, Sam was happy.
“The old road is through here, right?”
“Yeah, jiang shis like roadways. They might even be restricted to them, but Dad wasn’t sure. I told you, I researched this nine ways and couldn’t find a straight answer. This one’s victims have been found back in the old cemetery, and its clearly going over to the main road”, he pointed back over his shoulder even though Dean wasn’t looking, “but the sightings have all been on the old road itself.”
“Let’s hope the local constabulary hasn’t decided to stake this place out.” He waved Sam to a stop, cut a break in the undergrowth, and emerged next to the roadway.
Sam thought road was a relative term since this was so old what pavement left was cracked and overgrown. The full moon illuminated the area in stark black and white.
Dean looked over his shoulder at Sam. “Is the full moon a good thing or a bad thing for us?”
Sam stepped up to stand next to him and patiently explained, and he was pretty sure Dean could hear the patient, that the victims were all killed during a full moon. Which was why they were out here tonight. They both surveyed the area. Sam pointed at a lopsided gate in a wrought iron fence marking the entrance to the neglected cemetery.
Dean stepped to the middle of the road, sword held just so in front of him, and with a white toothed grin at Sam, starting calling, “Come out, come out, where ever you are. Here boy, olly olly, oxen free. Korede otokonoko. Come to Papa, you little jiang shit.” He even whistled.
Sam thought he would go insane if he listened to any more of Dean riffing movie Japanese to a monster, so he crossed the road and stepped up to the gate, sweeping his flashlight’s beam across the open area. He was just turning to say something to Dean, probably along the lines of, ‘Do you want to be dinner, you moron?”, when his left arm took on a life of its own and started pulling him down the road, fast, in a jerking motion that was hell on his shoulder.
He yelped as his feet went out from under him, and cranked his head up to get a good look at what was using his arm as a handle. He wished he hadn’t.
He dug in his heels and pulled back hard. He was a lot bigger than the hopper and if he could just stand up he could take it. He managed to slow it down for a few seconds – long enough to pull the machete hanging on his belt loose and swing it into and mostly through its leg, and long enough to hear Dean’s shout and running footsteps coming up behind him. His reprieve ended abruptly when the thing jerked him into the air by his arm and spun, blindingly fast, only to release and send him flying like an Olympic hammer throw. He heard bones break and felt a blinding pain in his shoulder, and had just enough time to think, ‘Who’s the moron now?’ for letting the thing get the drop on him before a tree was introduced to his head.
Dean had been looking away from the cemetery, doing a slow 360 scan, when he heard Sam yelp. By the time he spotted his brother, Sam was already yards away, and Dean couldn't quite together what he was seeing. The fugly was hopping down the road like a freak on a pogo stick dragging Sam behind it.
Dean was already in motion, brandishing the sword and shouting “You kaibutsu, um, biggu koudai bakemono, akuma, ah hell, fucking dead person, get your hands off my brother!”
He saw Sam get in a good cut to the thing’s leg, but before he could cheer him on, Sam went sailing into the woods, hit something, and then rolled limply back a few feet toward the road.
Dean screamed “Sam!” and almost plowed right into the jiang shi since he was going full tilt and watching Sam instead of where he was going.
The thing hopped away from him, like a skinny human shaped frog cadaver with white stringy hair, then hopped again, landing behind Dean. ‘Just like a freakin’ spirit doing the here/there thing.’ He felt something hit his back and pull as he spun, slicing the sword right through the monster’s right arm at the elbow, and lodging the katana in its chest.
The arm hit the ground with a squishy noise. Dean yanked the sword free, hearing ribs crunch, and saw a dark lumpy fluid start to drip out of the wound. He was absurdly grateful he couldn’t tell what color it was in the moonlight. Close up, he could see the furry skin, bone white in the moonlight, with glow in the dark patches that were probably the green fungus stuff Sam said something about.
The jiang shi started making a slobbery chittering noise which was almost worse than the chunky pus coming out of its stump and chest. And leg. Dean set his feet, and swung again, using his shoulders and hips, and chopped off its left arm and most of its shoulder as it reached out for him. More gross, squishy, wet chittering noises. It was still trying to hop with its damaged leg.
Dean hoped this would not get any more freaking disgusting or his head was going to blow up. He swung and took off its head in one smooth fast stroke, the blade slicing through the skin, muscle, ligament, and spine cleanly. Son of a bitch – just like the show. Looking down at the now unmoving corpse, he said portentously, “There can be only one.” Awesomely cool.
He raced back to where he’d left the duffel, and sped back skidding to a stop next to his brother, ghosting his hands over his arms and legs and head. He knew the left arm was bad, but nothing else seemed to be broken. Sam had a bump growing on the side of his head which Dean brushed gently, finding and removing some foresty stuff, probably bark. He didn’t find any blood. Turning his attention to Sam’s left arm, Dean felt the dislocation in the shoulder. He shifted to sit cross-legged and brought Sam’s head and shoulders and left arm up to rest on his lap.
Tugging the first aid kit over, Dean poured first holy water, then alcohol over Sam’s arm. No reaction to either, which was good since it meant no demonic infections, but bad, because Sam should have felt the alcohol. He’d been unconscious forever, a good six minutes at least, and Dean wouldn’t be happy until Sam woke up. But not before Dean reset the shoulder.
Once the Sam’s arm was wrapped and bound to his chest, Dean tried to wake his brother. He called Sam’s name, tapped his cheek, pulled up an eyelid, pinched him, even called him a little ikeike. That was a great word. “Wake up, ikeike – come on and wake up, ikeike”.
“Wha’d you call me?" Sam was trying to move, and cracked his eyes open.
“Hey. How’s the head?”
Sam brought his right hand up and ran it over his head. “OK, I think.”
“Right. Can you swallow some Tylenol?”
Dean could see Sam trying to think about the question, but his only reply was, “What?”
“Here, I’m going to get you some water and a couple of pills.” He put two capsules in Sam’s palm and helped him guide the pills into his mouth. Then Dean held the water bottle while Sam took a couple of sips. Dean looked at him critically. “OK, Sam, you know the drill. Three questions.”
Sam looked a little puzzled but managed to say, “Um, favorite pie, flanges…“ before Dean interrupted him.
“Not for me, you idiot, you’re the concussion boy. Your birthday, your current emo group, your first kiss.”
Sam scrunched up his face, and muttered, “May second. Firehouse, um, light, something house anyway. Pretty sure.” He looked up at Dean. “I’m sucking at this. I maybe have a concussion?”
“You think?” Dean knew enough at least to know the band name was wrong. “How about the first girl you kissed?”
“What? Linda Peterson? Are you kidding me? When? What happened to Mary Ellen Hoffstader?”
“Slow down. Umm, Linda was the back of the library. Before Formal. Mary Ellen was the Formal.”
“You sly dog. Linda was totally hot.” He touched Sam’s good shoulder, getting his attention. “I’m just saying, that had better be true and not just be the concussion talking.” He looked around. “I’ve got to take care of the corpse. What kind of nature geeks walk around in places like this anyway? Boy Scouts probably.” He looked at Sam. “Promise me you won’t let a Scout get you while I’m dealing with the living dead, OK?”
Sam was able to pull up a smile of sorts. “I could so take on a Girl Scout.” He tried to focus his eyes, with little success. “Dean…”
“Yeah - what do you need?”
“You said ‘olly olly oxen free’ to a zombie? What is the matter with you?”
Dean ducked his head a little bit, grinning. He said, “I think it was the Japanese that brought it us though. To you, at least. Didn’t you hear Froggie?”
“Not a croak.” He covered his eyes with his right arm. “Jiang shi is Chinese. The revenants here are Japanese – internment camps … remember?” He sighed in resignation. “You never listen. You might have called it something nice by accident. Or told it to attack me.” He tried to move his left arm and twitched in pain but saw Dean duck his head again, accepting the blame.
“It’s OK, s’ not what happened.” He breathed out, “How’s my arm?”
“It’s still attached. Pulled, cut, broken, and dislocated. But you can still talk the geek talk so the concussion probably isn’t that bad.”
“How soon can we leave?”
“Just need to do the whole chop and stake in the cemetery.” Dean pulled his Zombie killing equipment from the duffel and then carefully slid out from under Sam, setting the pack under Sam’s head for a pillow. “Sorry you’re going to miss it, aren’t you?”
“Take a picture.” Sam’s eyes started to close, and he lost track of where he was. He was laying down, his head on a pillow … he said vaguely, “I’ll be fine here by the pool.”
He heard Dean laugh, and opened his eyes to see Dean stand and collect his bamboo stake, kerosene, and sword. His brother stared intently at the jiang shi’s body for a minute, before giving the head an experimental kick.
“Is it going to bite me?”
“Nope. Perfectly safe.” Dean trotted to the gate and disappeared for a few minutes. When Sam could see him again, Dean was once again staring at the fugly.
Sam tried to lift his head to get a look, but it only made him gasp in pain. Dean walked over to him, and knelt on the road next to his brother.
“What’re you doin?’
Dean felt his forehead and picked something out of his hair. “Checking you out, hot stuff. What else would I be doing with the stud muffin who sucked face with Linda Peterson? Seriously, are you going to be OK while I take care of the fugly?”
Dean said, “I’ll take that as a yes.” He looked back toward the dead zombie, before looking back at Sam. “I was trying to figure out how to pick up the bits without getting zombie goo on my hands. The fur is really gross. I could skewer the head I guess, but the arms would fall apart….” Sam started to gag. Dean was instantly repentant. “Oh man, I’m so sorry. Do you need to puke?”
Sam grunted negatively this time. “God, jus’ stop talking about it.”
“Got it. I’ll just telekinetically float the pieces into the cemetery.” He patted Sam’s good shoulder and disappeared from view.
Telekinetically or not, after a while of not paying too much attention, Sam smelled smoke, so he knew Dean had managed it somehow. His time sense was shot, as apparently were his other senses, since Dean was suddenly looking down at him. He almost jerked in surprise, but was able to tone it back to a twitch.
“I must’ve said your name five times, Sam. Are you sure your head’s OK? How bad’s the concussion?”
“It’s not that bad, just some dizziness. Did it float OK?”
Dean laughed. “Sure did, nice and easy. Put itself right in the grave too.”
“Did you do all the steps?”
He pursed his lips but went ahead and ticked off his count on his fingers. “Head off, check. Head between feet, check. Body separated into pieces, check.” Sam tried to say something, but Dean interrupted. “I know that’s not officially a step, but it kind of came apart on its own, so I’m counting it. Um, where was I? Oh, stake through the heart, check. Sprinkled with sake, check. Burned to a crisp, check. Under 6 feet of earth, check. Our work here is done.”
Sam rubbed his eyes. “Was sake another unofficial step?”
“Yeah.” Dean held up the bottle and took a swig. “Figured it can’t hurt to have some on standby what with all these Japanese fuglies popping up.” He took another gulp before tucking the bottle in the duffel. “Come on, Skunk Ape, time to get you to the car.”
Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me. Everything and all of us belong to the CW and Kripke Entertainment and Scrap Metal Company. I’m just taking them on an extended playdate.
This was originally posted 6/2/08 as a birthday present for by pal and buddy, Merisha. Many thanks to Scotia for the beta.
This is a Season 3 tag to All I Want for Christmas by Merisha. I don’t think you have to read it to understand this one, but if you haven’t, I hope you will over on fanfic.net.
My thanks as well to Scotia for great concussion Q&A.
Translated (poorly) word by word online only because I figure that's how Dean would do it. And I was lazy. They probably all mean something totally different strung together this way - like "grab the big guy by the gate".
Jiang shi or Jiangshi ‘Stiff Corpse' a Chinese, Korean, or Japanese revenant
Korede otokonoko Here Boy
kaibutsu, um, biggu koudai bakemono, akuma monster, um, big huge monster, demon