Word Count: 3300
Summary: Dean’s become far too familiar with how Sam looks when he’s scared, but this time, he isn’t scared of the images inside of his head; he’s scared for Dean.
A/N: This takes place in my silent sam verse, but knowledge of previous fics is not necessary. Title and excerpt from "Litany In Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out" by Richard Siken. Thank you to geckoholic for the always helpful beta <3
a car crash sound
inside your head the sound of glass,
a car crash sound as the trucks roll over and explode in slow motion.
hello darling, sorry about that.
a car crash sound as the trucks roll over and explode in slow motion.
hello darling, sorry about that.
Sam is laying in bed, one arm tucked under his pillow, the other curled over half of his face. He looks so much younger like this, resting peacefully for the first time in days, sleep unplagued by nightmares or memories of hell. Dean turns over, watching the slow rise and fall of his chest. He glances out the window, where the curtains gently sway in the breeze and the sun is just starting it’s steady climb over the horizon. Dean yawns, huddling back down under the covers.
Hope raises her head from the foot of the bed at the sound of sheets shifting. She hops down, paws clicking on the hard wood floor as she paces to the door and back again. She sits on the floor near Dean’s feet, barking softly.
Dean shushes her and slowly rises from the bed. Sam sprawls out when he gets up, mumbling into his pillow with one leg bent out from under the covers. Dean tugs the sheet back up to his shoulders, smoothing a hand through his hair and stopping to rest for a brief moment on the back of his neck. Sam murmurs in his sleep, shifting closer, and Dean chuckles quietly, dragging his hand away.
Hope nudges at his leg with her nose until he opens the door and follows her down the stairs. She prances at the front door, whining and pawing at the floor.
“Crazy mutt,” he mutters, yawning again, but he rubs a hand over her head before pulling the door open. She streams out, chasing after a squirrel in the grass - straight towards the open road, the one place she isn’t supposed to be. Dean rolls his eyes, taking off after her, hopping along on the cold, hard ground.
“Hope, get your furry ass back here! No treats for you,” he grumbles, reconsidering his decision to let Sam sleep in.
Hope runs out into the street, and when Dean sees the flash of headlights followed by the sound of screeching tires, he doesn’t think - he shoves her out of the way in time to experience the rough, jarring sensation of being slammed into the backs of his legs by a car. It doesn’t hurt, really, which surprises him as he falls backwards and hits the ground - or his back does, his head smashing after.
Stars dance across his vision, and as if through a tunnel, he hears a door slamming, Hope barking, and a woman repeating, “Oh God, oh God, oh God.”
“‘M not God, ” Dean mutters, but the woman isn’t listening; she’s talking too quickly, voice high pitched and panicked.
Hope nudges his chin, then her claws clack along the pavement as she runs back towards the house, barking the entire way. The sound is like a metal spike being shoved through his brain. He closes his eyes with full intention of passing out when someone lifts his shoulders, shaking him just enough to jog his muscles into remembering they should be in pain. He groans, but recognizes the hands immediately - he knows that touch better than anyone else’s.
“You’re s’posed to be in bed,” Dean mutters, though the words come out garbled and not quite right. He blinks, trying to glare, but his eyelids just don’t seem to want to cooperate. “Gon’ kill your stupid dog.”
Sirens blare in the distance, and his eyes begin to fall closed. Just before he slips into unconsciousness, he swears Sam whispers his name.
Dean wakes up in a hospital bed. He doesn’t need to open his eyes to recognize the smell - overly clean with a hint of something musty, but then he smells laundry detergent, sweat, and Sam. He groans and blinks his eyes open, and his vision swims with Sammy.
Dean gestures to the water jug next to the bed. Sam complies instantly, filling up a cup and bringing the straw to his mouth. Dean takes a few slow sips, then settles back against the pillows. He turns his head; Sam is staring at him, pale, shaky and clearly worse for wear, but his eyes are wide and focused on the here and now. On Dean, not the images inside of his head.
“Dude, you’re gonna strain your eyes staring at me like that,” Dean says, voice sandpaper rough, and Sam’s eyes widen comically. If Dean had the strength, he would laugh.
Sam rolls his eyes, huffing a quiet breath of laughter, but the amusement fades quickly, giving way to trembling shoulders. He slides his hand down, grasping Dean’s wrist tightly until Dean can feel the thud of his pulse against Sam’s fingers.
“I’m okay, Sam,” he whispers, fighting a losing battle against his closing eyelids.
Sam drops his head so his hair obscures his face. He rubs his thumb against the inside of Dean’s wrist.
When Dean opens his eyes again, he’s shocked to find Bobby beside his bed, sitting in the chair previously occupied by Sam.
“Where’s Sam?” He mumbles, and Bobby rolls his eyes.
“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” he grunts, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “Sent your brother to get some coffee.”
“And he actually listened?”
“Didn’t give him much choice. Told him to take a break or I would drag his ass back home for the rest of the day, whether he liked it or not.”
Dean huffs a laugh. “Too bad he left. Would have paid to see that.”
“Damn it, Dean-” Bobby swallows, cutting off his own outburst. Dean stares as he drops his chin so the brim of his hat obscures his face.
When Bobby lifts his head, his eyes are narrowed; he’s in control. “You boys are gonna be the death of me,” he rasps, “You know that?”
Before Dean can think up the right answer to that question, Sam appears in the doorway with a cup of what Dean assumes to be coffee in either hand.
Bobby pats Dean’s shoulder, then stands and takes a cup from Sam, saying, “Took you long enough. You grow the beans yourself?”
Sam scowls, dropping onto the edge of the bed.
Dean chuckles, wincing when that pulls on his bruised ribs. “You okay?” He asks Sam in between cringing and holding a hand to his side.
The incredulous look on Sam’s face says more than words ever could. Dean drops his hand from his ribs back to the bed. “I’m fine, Sam.”
“Fine, he says,” Bobby mutters darkly, and Dean glares.
Sam grits his teeth and swallows around the words he wants to say, trying and failing to bite them out. He settles on making a pained noise at the back of his throat and reaches out to squeeze Dean’s wrist.
“Sammy,” Dean murmurs, but Sam rises as a nurse enters with a blood pressure cuff and Dean’s chart tucked under his arm - and of course, he couldn’t get the hot chick nurse. Dean raises his arm with a sigh.
By the time Nurse Betty finishes poking and prodding, Dean desperately wants to leave. He sits with the bed propped up, pillows piled behind his back to support his bruised ribs while a doctor checks his breathing - Doctor Holloway, Dean remembers from her hospital badge.
She hums softly when the nurse rattles off a number, then leans over to gently press her fingers against the base of his skull.
Dean winces, but still attempts to cajole her into sending him home with Sam and Bobby. “Doc, come on. All I need is rest, you said it yourself.”
“Mr. Smith, you were hit by a car, resulting in a severe concussion,” she says, picking up his chart and jotting something down before handing it off to the nurse. “While I admire your bravado, this was no love tap. You are more than welcome to sign yourself out, but I strongly recommend that you stay here at least one more night while we monitor your condition.”
“How do you know it wasn’t a love tap?” Dean leers, and Bobby and Sam exchange a glance of exasperated amusement while the nurse writing in his chart smirks. With the hand that isn’t holding a pen, he reaches into the back of the binder, shoving a sheet of paper at Dean’s face.
Dean takes the paper, frowning; it’s one of those run-of-the-mill hospital consent forms with English on one side and Spanish on the other. Around the edges, Dean recognizes Sam’s messy scrawl. The letters are in all caps and clearly written with shaking hands, but Dean still makes out the words:
RAN AFTER MY DOG.
HIT BY A CAR.
In the section provided for Emergency Contacts are Bobby’s name and phone number, with the word UNCLE underlined. Dean leans around Doctor Holloway, shocked. Sam scratches his head, looking sheepish.
Dean rubs his eyes with his free hand, wincing as the movement pulls at the IV needle in his hand. “Look, doc-”
Sam makes a sound behind the doctor, halfway between a whine and a protesting growl. Bobby’s head snaps up when Sam says, “Stop,” hoarse and quiet. Even the doctor stares at him with disbelief.
Sam’s hands have fallen to his sides, clenching and unclenching into fists. His eyes are narrowed, angry and a little desperate, with barely restrained terror hidden underneath.
Dean’s become far too familiar with how Sam looks when he’s scared, but this time, he isn’t scared of the images inside of his head; he’s scared for Dean.
So, Dean relents, sinking back against the pillows, grumpy but resigned. “Fine,” he mutters, and Sam relaxes, sinking back down into the chair beside the bed. Doctor Holloway smiles at Sam, almost a smirk.
Dean holds up a single finger. “But just one night.”
One night turns into two, and by three, even Sam begins to go stir crazy, unable to sit at Dean’s bedside for more than a few minutes without getting up to pace.
Bobby goes back to the house to take care of Hope, feeding her and letting her out into the yard. He even buys her a new leash because, “Hell if I’m getting mauled by any cars trying to save your damn dog.” He comes back twice a day, once to drop Sam off in the morning and again to drag him home at night.
Sam doesn’t leave Dean’s side except to change his clothes, grab food from the cafeteria and, because Dean presses the issue, to sleep. He’s too pale, dark circles standing out under his eyes, and he looks sick and exhausted enough that even the doctor makes a friendly but concerned comment that he should get some rest.
“See that, Sammy? You have to go home. Doctor’s orders.” Dean gives Sam a smug smile.
Sam scowls, cuffing him lightly on the back of the head.
“Don’t abuse me in front of the doctor.”
“I didn’t see a thing,” she says offhandedly, then glances up from scribbling in his chart to wink at Sam.
The next morning, she deems Dean healed enough to be discharged, and he manfully resists the urge to kiss her. Instead, he mutters, “Finally,” rolling his eyes for good measure.
Sam huffs and grumbles under his breath, something that sounds suspiciously like, “Ass.”
Dean glances up at the good doctor and grins.
Sam insists on walking the fifty feet between Bobby’s truck and the front door with his arm around Dean’s waist.
“I’m not a cripple,” Dean gripes, secretly thankful. Despite his protests, he’s still weak and slightly shaky, exhausted like he ran a marathon rather than slept in the back seat of a car for the better part of half an hour.
Hope meets them as soon as Bobby shoves the door open. She noses at Dean’s knee then hides behind Bobby’s legs.
“Don’t even think about it,” he mutters, gently nudging her away with his foot. “I’m not protecting you.”
Sam helps Dean to the couch, propping up his back with a pillow and tossing a blanket over his legs. Hope waits until he’s finished to slowly shuffle over. She sits at Dean’s feet, laying her head in his lap, eyes big and dark and mournful.
“The puppy eyes don’t work on me,” Dean argues, but Hope doesn’t even blink, just keeps up that repentant stare. All jokes aside, the expression truly does remind him of Sam, so he sighs, giving in and running his hand through her fur. “Fine. I forgive you.”
He glances up and finds Sam smirking as he bends down to scratch his fingers between Hope’s ears. Bobby chuckles, shaking his head as he opens their fridge.
“Shut up,” Dean mutters, but his lips curl into a smile.
Bobby sticks around for the rest of the night, makes them dinner and doesn’t let Dean lift a finger to do anything other than feed himself or take a piss. Even then, Sam helps him up the stairs and waits outside of the bathroom door until he’s finished.
Dean doesn’t even get a chance to complain. Bobby points to the couch with the metal spoon in his hand.
“Sit your ass in that chair and don’t move, or I will tie your legs down to it.”
“Whatever you say, Emeril,” Dean shoots back and Sam groans, grumbling under his breath.
Bobby glances at him with his eyebrows raised. Sam ducks his head, bending down to clip the leash to Hope’s collar. Bobby waits until the door shuts behind them to flip the knobs on the stove, turning off the gas.
He sits on the other end of the couch, pursing his lips. Dean eyes him warily.
“Looks like Sam is feeling better. Glad to see it,” he says, but his voice is too suspicious for Dean to drop his guard just yet. “He showed me that website he was working on.”
Dean’s grin is a bit on the manic side, but he doesn’t bother to contain his pride. “A hunting encyclopedia. It’s somethin’ ain’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s somethin’ all right.” Bobby leans forward with his hands clasped between his knees. “Somethin’ that could crack that wall in Sam’s head even further.”
Dean’s smile fades, and he rubs a hand through his hair.
On the good days, Sam’s as okay as he gets. He’s still a man of very few words, but he doesn’t stare expressionlessly at the walls or at Dean or flinch when the floorboards creak. On the bad days, which are thankfully fewer, Sam blanks out for hours, shivering when he finally comes back to reality.
“You should be more careful, Dean.”
“What the hell else can I do? Tell me,” Dean says; he wishes he could get up and pace, but Sam would kill him if he walked back in and caught his brother doing anything but absolutely nothing. “I watch every word I say every single day, but I can’t let Sam ignore everything that ever happened to him.”
“And if the wall comes down?” Bobby asks, as if he’s reading Dean’s mind. Man’s got a bad habit of doing that, scouring Dean’s brain, picking the one thing he feels most guilty about and dragging it kicking and screaming into the light of day.
Dean hasn’t forgotten those first few months after Death returned Sam’s soul, his reaction any time Dean so much as mentioned their past, good or bad - he remembers the outbursts and worse, the seizures.
He also hasn’t told Sam about the wall inside of his head keeping his memories at bay, which will inevitably come back to bite him in the ass later, no matter how often he tells himself he’s keeping the truth from Sam for his own good.
Dean shrugs when all he wants to do is scream. “Then we’ll deal with it. Like we have everything else.”
Bobby clearly wants to argue further, but the door opens and Sam walks back inside with Hope in tow. She shakes off the fine mist clinging to her fur, and Sam bends down to unclip her leash.
He hangs up his jacket and the leash on one of the hooks next to the door, then turns around, glancing back and forth from Bobby to Dean questioningly.
“What are you lookin’ at?” Dean asks, raising his eyebrows.
Sam glares and moves towards the kitchen in a huff, slamming open the cabinet where they keep Hope’s food. Dean winces as her bowl smacks against the counter.
Bobby grunts, pushing against his knees as he stands. He’s still watching Sam when leans down to mutter quietly in Dean’s ear, “Your brother may not speak much, but he pays attention. And he ain’t stupid.”
Dean sighs, leaning his head back against the sofa. “I know,” he whispers and stares at the ceiling as if it holds all the answers to questions he isn’t even sure how to ask.
Bobby leaves shortly after dinner, begging off Dean’s offer to stay until morning.
“Want to hit the road now, while it’s empty. I’ll come back and check in on you in a few days.”
“You don’t have to-”
“It isn’t up for debate,” he says, swiftly cutting off Dean’s protests, “So shut your trap and stop whining.”
Sam laughs quietly.
Secretly, Dean is happy that Bobby doesn’t stick around because Sam doesn’t even bother trying to sleep in his own bed that night. He crawls in behind Dean, arms tight but careful around Dean’s waist, and begins to shake. Fine tremors run through his body from head to toe, and Dean turns over so he can meet Sam’s eyes.
He knows this wasn’t brought on by a crack in the wall or memories of hell, but by fear, stark and true and real, emotions he’s been holding at bay since Dean first opened his eyes in the hospital.
“I’m okay, Sammy,” Dean says softly, cupping Sam’s face in his palm so he can rub his thumb back and forth under his jaw.
Sam whimpers and paws at Dean’s t-shirt. “Dean,” he says roughly, and a tiny thrill washes over him at of the sound of his name coming from his brother’s mouth. Then Sam kisses him, messy, hot and desperate, and the feel of Sam all around him blocks out everything else.
Dean groans, threading his fingers through Sam’s hair, the other slipping down to nudge up the hem of his t-shirt. He grips Sam’s hip tightly, an anchor holding him to reality.
Sam’s hands are wound tight in Dean’s hair, and his voice comes out in shaky breaths between kisses. “Thought you - thought you -” He sounds dangerously close to tears.
Dean shushes him and pulls back, cradling Sam’s face in both of his hands. He presses a kiss to Sam’s forehead, another into his hair. Sam buries his head in Dean’s chest, clenching his fists in Dean’s shirt.
“I’m not going anywhere, Sam,” Dean whispers. Sam takes a deep, shuddering breath. He doesn’t say a word, but the kiss he lays under Dean’s chin is an answer all the same.