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Kings of Medicine

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"Damn it, boy! You don't know what'll happen--”

“And you do? No one does!”

“You heard Crowley. Hell, you heard Sam! He said no, Dean.”

“.....I can’t just leave him down there.”

 


 

Sam shakes violently, hands like askew shields in front of him and his head turned to the side. He keeps backing away, further and further, until he hits the cold, hard, metal wall of the panic room. His head swings from side to side, eyes darting frantically.

Dean tries to stay quiet, tries to ease his way into Sam’s space. The pained sounds coming from his brother make his heart ache, and he can feel bile rising in his throat: he did this. He convinced -- more like forced -- Sam to get It back and now...

“No,” Sam pleads to an unseen foe, “P-please. Ah, mmm, no. Huhnn -- Don’t--”

“Sam. Sam, it’s okay.” Dean is all but pleading with his brother as he reaches out slowly, taking his wrists and managing to get Sam to lower his hands with a little, gentle push. In the process, Sam’s knees buckle and he sinks to the floor, Dean helping to keep his weight from plummeting to the stone. He’s still pleading and shaking like a reed. “Hey, I gotcha,” says Dean, “It’s okay, Sammy. Come on, I gotcha.”

Sam pushes at him feebly, socked feet shuffling as they try to find purchase on the smooth rock of the floor. “I can’t,” he cries, eyes red and wet, “Stop, please. I can’t.”

The begging makes Dean’s throat close up and his eyes prick. Why did he ever think this had been a good idea?

Sam whispers through hyperventilated gasps, “Can’t stop.. can’t stop....” A wretched keen precedes, “Let me go,” the last word catching of a chest-wracking sob. His fingers clutch at Dean’s jacket like a lifeline; body language offering himself up in exchange for anything, anything but this.

Anything but a soul; anything but this feeling; anything but the centuries of memories from a forsaken plane of existence unfathomable to the human imagination, Dean hears in his mind.

He almost shouts, “It’s me, Sam.” He can feel his patience waning and, more to the point, he feels powerless. This is his little brother -- his sweet, annoying, geeky baby brother – and Dean made this happen. Dean was the dumb-ass hellbent on getting Sam's soul out of that very place... and this is what Sam had been reduced to because of it. 

“It's Dean. Your brother.” Maybe if he said it enough, Sam would finally understand. “It's your brother! You're out, Sammy! We got you out.” He grips Sam's face tightly between his hands and forces Sam to meet his gaze. “Come on, Sam! Snap out of it. You're safe. You're safe...”

Sam gasps, chest heaving with uneven breaths as he stares at his brother, unseeing. “D-Dean?”

He nods.

“But...but, how...?” Sam shakes his head. His eyes comb over everything, trying to find the crack in reality, the one fatal flaw to prove it really isn't true.

“Dean?” A gruff voice heralds an even gruffer-looking man stepping into the panic room, concern hidden beneath whiskers and age lines. “He's...”

Dean nods slowly, “Yeah. But he's a mess, Bobby.”

Sam starts thrashing then, pushing against Dean and whimpering, trying to escape from between Dean's arms. His eyes won't leave Bobby's face, terror making them wide and immoveable.

“No kidding,” says Bobby.

“Damn it, Sam!” Dean growls, his patience finally giving out. “Look around! There's no demons, there's no Hell, there's no angels.” Dean chances letting go of Sam to wave his hands at their surroundings. “Just Bobby and me. No Michael, no Lucifer!”

Sam whimpers and squeezes his eyes tight, hands moving into a defensive pose above his head as his brother shouts.

Dean stands, frustrated, and turns away from Sam's flinching response. Looking at Bobby, he throws his hands in the air. His brother won't move, won't listen to reason... what can he do?

Bobby is still silently standing in the doorway of the panic room, surveying the situation. “He's been in Hell, Dean... in the Cage. Give him a break, will you?” Casting one last, lingering glance at the huddled mass of Sam, he takes a step closer to Dean, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. He says under his breath, “I'm gonna get him some water – and something stronger for us. Maybe we can get him upstairs to a bed, yeah?”

Dean nods, unable to look Bobby in the eye.

Bobby pats his shoulder again and leaves Dean alone with the facsimile of his brother. Sighing, Dean runs a hand over his face. He's tired of this. First Sam wasn't himself, soulless and cold; now he's a mess of a man, timid and terrified. Neither of those are anything close to the strong, confident, geeky brother who sacrificed himself to a world that would never know, and never care.

He takes a deep breath. Lets it out. If Sam had cast himself into Hell, gone to war and come back triumphant but tarnished, the least Dean could do was help clean him up. Sam was still his brother – wholly his brother now, no matter how wrecked – and Dean owed it to Sam to get through this with him, regardless of how difficult it may be for either of them.

He sits down on the cot centered in the room, frowning further when Sam startles and stifles a whimper. Placing both hands on his knees, Dean smiles softly at his brother. “Hey,” he whispers, “Sam, it's me. It's Dean. I'm not gonna hurt you, okay?” Words don't come easily and he has to pause before he can figure out what else he should say. What do you tell your whacked out little brother who just came back from Lucifer's cage? “You're at Bobby's house. Remember Bobby? He went to get some water.” Yeah, that's definitely what you should say.

Letting his hands come away from his face, Sam stares up at his brother from under his disheveled mop of hair. There is a long, tense moment in which Dean is afraid Sam will start screaming again, but the hysteric response never comes and Sam unfolds his limbs enough to crawl over to the cot. He's hesitant to get onto it, though, staying on the ground and tracing a single finger along the thickly hemmed edge of the fabric.

Dean genuinely smiles. “How about we go upstairs?”

Sam continues to stare at the cot, seemingly fascinated by the stitching.

He tries again. “Can you say something for me, Sammy? You know no one's going to hurt you, right? You're safe here.”

Glancing up, Sam's gaze meets Dean's and then haltingly slides to the door of the panic room. He is silent a while, and Dean has to muster up patience from the very last dregs of his reserves in an effort to allow Sam time to collect his thoughts.

After seconds that pass like hours, Sam finally says, “Water?"

“Yes,” Dean says in a whoosh of breath, “Yes, Sam. Bobby went to get some water. Let's go upstairs, okay? Save the old man's back from having to go down those stairs again.” He grins as he stands, hesitantly reaching his hand out to Sam.

He should have known better though, as Sam cringes away from it immediately.

“Sam,” Dean grumbles, feeling his composure slip away. “It's me and Bobby. No one's going to hit you or beat you or, or...”

A million memories he would have sworn he had forgotten flash within his mind: the pain that ended only to welcome in a new tide of agony, and the rank stench of flesh burning off the bone, and the instruments no human could ever have fathomed to create; all this, juxtaposed over his sweet, intelligent, brave baby brother. He swallows against the bile crawling up his throat and focuses on where they are now and what he has to say.

“Or whatever they did. Okay? You're safe. You're. Not. In. Hell.” He grits his teeth, trying so hard not to yell.

“Withdrawal.”

“What?” Dean barks, taken aback by Sam's blank statement. It's such a stark contrast from the hysteria witnessed earlier.

Looking up at Dean, brow creased in concentration and confusion, he says again, “Withdrawal. Here... I—I remember. Handcuffs...” He brushes his finger over the cot's metal frame.

Well, Dean thinks sourly, it's a start.

 


 

It takes some coaxing, but Sam manages the stairs without incident and, though awkward and unsure in his own skin, Sam makes his own way toward the kitchen without Dean's help. If Dean were honest with himself, it hurts a bit not to be able to reach out and touch his brother, just to offer a hand to grasp or a shoulder to lean on. He wants to be there, wants Sam to know he hasn't left – won't leave – but Sam flinches so hard at the slightest, softest of caresses. Dean lets him be, his hands hanging uselessly at his sides. 

Sam's gaze is remote as they walk through the study. He reaches out and runs his hand down the doorjamb, nails catching in the whorls of the wood. Dean watches him curiously, but Sam says nothing to explain his actions and, after a moment or two with his thoughts, he moves on from the door and toward the fireplace. He brushes his hands over everything – any surface that's accessible, his fingers graze over it. Books, shelves, the desk, the couch, the brick mantel... all of it is subject to Sam's passive prodding.

Wistful is the word that bubbles up into Dean's mind as he watches his brother. Never before would he have thought of the word, much less of it applying to his colossus of a brother, but it epitomizes the expression on Sam's face, the movements of his body, the contemplative pout of his bottom lip... Dean smiles softly to himself, thinking of the countless times Sam had been hunched over his laptop late into the dawn with the same expression, chasing after some key piece of information that Dean would never have found on his own.

He misses his brother. 

Suddenly, Sam is right there, right in his face, grinning from ear to ear. It startles him, tripping over his own feet in an effort to put space between them. Sam's smile wavers for only a second, bright eyes glancing down and then back to Dean's face, and he's smiling. Jesus, dimples and all – damn, but he has missed those. Dean can't remember the last time he saw those dimples out in full force like this, bracketing Sam's smile as if to emphasize its importance. 

Sam has said something to him. 

“What?” 

“Army men! We played here, remember? The rug. Spilled... spilled juice. Or, or something. Bobby got mad. But you're a hero, Dean, and saved me. Remember?” 

The memory hits him hard, filling his senses. He had been ten, Sam only just six years old, and Sam had knocked over a glass of apple juice while they were having an epic battle between their army men. The thing was, juice was a bit of a commodity in their lives - expensive and hard to keep without a fridge - so spills were a big deal. Especially so when they were all over your baby-sitter's ancient rug. Bobby hadn't really been all that terribly angry, but poor little Sammy had felt so guilty spilling juice. So Dean had said it was his fault and Bobby had chastised him only as long as it took for Dean to grab some paper towels. 

He nods, slowly, smiling at his crazy, half-hysteric brother. “Yeah, Sammy,” he laughs softly, “I remember.” It's such a random, silly thing to fixate on but it's so encouraging that Dean can't help but feel lifted. He even manages to reach out and put a hand on Sam's arm without him shying away from it. 

“Different though,” Sam says, gazing around, “More books. I haven't seen so many books in...” He trails off and Dean can see the change, physically, as his mind goes somewhere darker.

He has to intervene. Sam was doing so well. “Hey, hey. Don't. Come on, we were getting something to drink, right? Let's go see what Bobby has for us. I bet he'd let you have a beer if you asked nicely.” It's light, easy banter, but Sam isn't countering it now. Dean tries to shuffle his brother along, pushing a little and pulling at his arm, trying to get him to the kitchen. Where was Bobby?

Sam jerks out of his grasp, only to reach out and grab Dean by the shoulders. His grip is tight enough to bruise and Dean almost comments on it, but the look on Sam's face has him silent. He's utterly lucid, expression so determined and focused it catches Dean off-guard. This constant volley of smart Sam, dreamy Sam, and now serious Sam is dizzying.

“What is this?” Sam all but hisses the words, starting intently at Dean. His eyes are dark, partially hidden behind those messy bangs.

Dean stutters, “What do you mean, what is this? It's Bobby's house. It's me, your brother. You're out, Sam!” His voice grows in volume as he speaks, but he can't harness it. The anger bubbles up out of him, consuming every shred of control he has over his actions.

Without thinking, he pushes Sam off him, words surging up and out of his mouth before he can stop them. “I stood up to Lucifer, after you said Yes. I went and found you when no one else had any faith left in you. I had to sit there and play punching bag to that sonuvabitch scumbag, practically begging you to get a hold of him. And you did – thank God for that! But then... then I had to watch you fall into a hole, Sam. I had to sit there and watch you leave. I had to get up and walk away, knowing I couldn't do anything to get you out, that you were stuck in Hell, in Lucifer's cage, and I couldn't do a damn thing about it!”

He gasps for breath, shaking from the force of it all. He hasn't let himself think much on the subject over the past year. He drank to make it go away, and when he couldn't drink, he would just push the thoughts to the back of his mind until he could drink.

Sam still hasn't responded, hasn't moved from the spot Dean pushed him to. Not quite out of words yet, Dean keeps going. “A year, Sam. A year without you. I mean... well, whatever. It wasn't you. I had a chance to get your soul out of that cage, and I damn well took it. Tell me you wouldn't have done the same.” A silence settles over them, in which he sighs and shakes his head. “Damn it, this... It wasn't a mistake but hell, this is not what I thought would happen.” He laughs humorlessly. “I don't know what I thought would happen.”

“I'm not – this isn't –“ Sam stumbles through his thoughts. He looks confused, then hostile, then lost and so terribly young and helpless that it breaks Dean's heart. He struggles with the need to pull his brother back into his arms, hold him tight until this is all just some laughable memory. No matter how much he wants to, though, he knows it isn't what Sam needs, nor probably what he wants.

Sam's fingers thread through his own hair as he turns and turns, looking around the room and at everything in it. He tugs at his hair, grimacing at something more than the physical pain. Dean takes a step toward him, reaching out, but Sam quickly moves away, barely keeping his balance as he trips over his own feet.

“I thought,” he whispers, “this was a trick... You always liked to use Dean against me.” His hands fall limply to his sides, gaze settling on the top of the doorway behind Dean. “He. He always liked.. to... He did.”

Dean stares as his brother tests the words on his tongue, fingers brushing over his own lips as if they sting with the sudden revelation. Before Dean even knows what's happening, Sam spins around and dashes through the kitchen. The sound of Bobby shouting and the front door groaning as it's swung open too quickly make Dean's heart race with panic. He chases after his brother, paying the older man's shouts no mind.

The late evening sun makes the Impala gleam, all sleek curves and sharp angles, and the light reflects opaquely off her windows. The air is thick and still, the only noise coming from the soft hum of cicadas off in the distance. Sam hasn't gone far, just out to the front of Bobby's house, in front of their car.

“Sam?” Dean doesn't expect an answer and isn't surprised when Sam is silent. As Dean comes close, slowly but noisily so as not to startle his brother, he notices that Sam's shoulders are shaking, trembling with some emotion that Dean can't see. “Sammy? Hey, what's...” He stops short, halting just a few feet from his brother's back.

Everything coalesces into one singular, mutely deafening moment that leaves Dean breathless as both of Sam's hands lift up to rest on the roof of the car, feather light and gentle like she was made of glass. His long fingers caress the sleek curve of the door frame, ghosting over the side mirror and handle. Dean can't see his face, but the subtle shifts of Sam's head tell him he's looking at every inch of her with the same cataloging attention he had the things in Bobby's study.

Dean is so keyed up, so acutely focused on his brother that, even over the incessant white noise of the cicadas, the choked, whimpering, near-silent noise that Sam makes rings loud and clear in Dean's ears.

Turning around, hands lingering on the car's frame, Sam looks up at his brother and smiles, wasted and feeble. When he speaks, his voice is the same broken whisper but still just as audible to Dean's senses. “It's real...” It sounds almost like a question, but there is too much belief behind it.

Sam's knees give out and he's suddenly on the ground, dirt scuffing his jeans and covering his hands.

“Whoa,” says Dean, closing the distance between them and kneeling next to his brother. Sam's head is limp on his neck, unable to keep itself up and focusing on any one thing. Deja vu washes over Dean and he stamps down the emotions brought with it. He puts a steadying hand on Sam's shoulder, expecting a flinch but none come, so he reaches out and cups Sam's jaw in his other hand, trying to get Sam to focus on him.

“Hey, Sam? Sam. Come on, get with it. I told you, you're safe. What's...?” But he can't finish. He doesn't know what to ask – What's going on? Whats wrong? What does he need? What can Dean do? There's too much.

Sam laughs, a haunted bass within his chest. His head feels heavy in Dean's hand, almost embracing the soft contact of his palm to Sam's cheek. “It's... I never thought I'd...” He sobers quickly, looking up at Dean. “What did you do?” And Sam is suddenly angry, reaching up and fisting Dean's shirt tight around his collar.

“What-- Sam, I didn't--”

“Dean. What did you do?”

Well, there was the Sam he knew.

“Me and Death--”

Death? The horseman?”

Definitely the Sam he knew.

“It's done, Sam. Over. Slate's wiped clean.”

Sam stares at him for a long while, gaze intent and brow furrowed. His breath comes in huge puffs between them, making his bangs swing and tickle Dean's cheek.

With a deep breath, Dean says again, “It's done, Sam. You're back. I'm here. No strings.”

It takes Sam a few moments to process the words but then, with a new burst of panicked momentum, Sam's face crumples and tears well up in his eyes, and he starts babbling.

“Dean-- did stuff-- couldn't stop it – I didn't – I-I'm sorry...” and he just keeps going, words tumbling over themselves faster than his tongue can form the syllables.

Dean shushes him, reaching up and smoothing Sam's hair back and out of his eyes. He pulls his brother closer and embraces him tightly, clenching his jaw against the flood of overwhelming, conflicting emotions. “Shh, Sam. It's okay. I know,” he whispers into the mop of sandy curls that has all but mocked him in the past few months.

Sam's arms wrap tight around him, nearly crushing the air from his lungs, and all Dean can do is hold on. He tightens his hands in the back of Sam's shirt, pressing his nose to the crook of his shoulder. He can feel the stutter-step hiccup of Sam's ribs, the little show of how much he's trying to keep from crying. When he feels Sam press his face into his shoulder, Dean knows it for what it is.

He would make this right. He had to. Sam... Sam just needed time to adjust. He had been down there for centuries. Of course he would be a bit perturbed after coming back... But he would be okay. Dean would make sure of that.

“You're safe now, Sam,” he continues to say against the sweat-damp skin of Sam's neck, “You're safe... I gotcha, Sammy. You're safe.”

 


 

 

Two days later, Dean is outside working on the Impala while Sam helps Bobby research some ancient oriental creature that another hunter is after in Wyoming.

Today had been a good day, allowing them the privilege of an intelligible Sam. He hadn't cried over the bacon and eggs this morning, though he certainly turned his nose up and glared at Dean for eating it, opting for toast and some fruit himself. Sam was articulate and, though a little jumpy at loud or sudden noises, almost completely like his old self. Dean felt rather positive that things were going to be okay for them. Sam had just been a bit shook up after coming back from... there, and just needed time to adjust.

Dean is outside, underneath his girl and feeling fine about leaving Sam with Bobby for the afternoon to do geeky research, when the screen door of the porch swings open with a bang. He barely has time to turn his head before he hears Bobby's voice, harsh and panicked. “Dean!”

Dean's insides go ice-cold, fear gripping him tight and refusing to let go. Sonuvabitch, he knew this was too good to be true.

“Yeah!” He calls, wriggling out from underneath the car, “What is it?”

“What do you think it is, Idjit?” There's a bite to Bobby's words that has nothing to do with anger and more to do with fear.

Dean dusts his hands off as he dashes to the door, his mind a constant mantra of no, no, no, not Sammy, no, no, no.... As always, though, his pleas go unanswered.

Sam's on the floor, a priceless book casually thrown to the floor next to him. Dean drops down next to his shaking brother. Sam's eyes are half open, seeing something only he has eyes for. He's flushed, sweat making the hair around his temples cling to the skin. Dean knows this only too well and, with a reserved sort of stoicism, he pulls Sam's head into his lap and waits.

Bobby's hovering, mouth working tightly, not knowing what to do with himself.

“Bobby,” Dean says, voice strained, “Why don't you get him a glass of water and something for a bad headache, hmm?”

He nods, turns to leave and then pauses. Turning back to Dean, he asks, “This isn't...”

Dean doesn't say anything, but Bobby gets the answer. He leaves without another word.

His brother shudders beneath his hands, inaudible sounds getting stuck at the back of his throat and Dean starts to worry that Sam might choke on his own spit.

Leaning forward until his forehead touches Sam's, Dean whispers, “Come on, Sam. Not this again... come on, wake up.”

After a few seconds that take hours to pass, Sam all but flings himself out of Dean's grasp. He rolls against the rug, coughing harshly and grasping at his heart, hand fisting in the fabric of his shirt.

“Sammy? Sam!” He reaches out and shakes Sam's shoulder, trying to get his attention.

With a visible effort, Sam drags his eyes to Dean and nods. I'm okay.

Dean grimaces, not liking that his brother isn't actually speaking to him. He gets his hands under both of Sam's shoulders and helps him up off the floor. Sam collapses onto the couch, head tilting back against the cushion of it. Dean's itching to talk about this. He knows what it is, there's no denying it. The question is why – why the hell is this happening now?

Silence falls between them, Dean staring intently at his brother while Sam stares at the carpet, rubbing incessantly at his chest. Eventually Sam whispers, “I don't know why.”

Dean nods slowly; he'd expected that. “A vision?”

Sam's silence speaks volumes.

With a hiss of frustration, Dean asks, “What about? I mean, it's not like old yellow eyes is running around anymore. This shouldn't be happening, Sam!”

Sam flinches at the volume of Dean's voice, and he raises a hand, pleading for him to lower it. “I know, Dean. I know. It doesn't make sense but...” Sam eyes are vacant for a moment, reliving something, and then he looks away, over his shoulder through the window, a ghost of a whimper filling the air.

Dean presses, “Well? What'd you see?” He barely has enough patience to wait for Sam to sort through his emotions; the panic and fear he has for his brother override any semblance of tact.

“All those kids, the one's like me, but.. but I saw them – I felt them--” He chokes off, gripping at his chest again and doubling over.

“Sam!” Dean's got both hands on his brother before Sam's head even starts to fall, dropping down next to him on the couch. Its amazing how tightly Sam can fold himself sometimes; he's flush against his own thighs and whimpering into his knees.

Dean tries to be a little quieter, reigning in his desperation. “Sam? What's wrong?”

“I can feel it,” he whines, voice wrought with agony. There are tears tracking down his face – Dean can only just see them through the mess of hair. “Him. I can feel him... Hahh, Dean it hurts...” He whimpers, really whimpers, and Dean almost wants to cry with him, it sounds so hurtful.

He hates these visions. In all the years they've been hunting together, Dean always feared they would come back. When Sam was little and had a nightmare, Dean knew just how to curl up on the mattress with him and rub a gentle hand along his back until he fell back to sleep. When Sam came home with a black-eye, Dean knew to get the ice pack and listen and tell Sam how awesome he was for not killing the punk who did it. When Sam told Dean that he had won a scholarship, a full-ride, Dean!, he knew how to smile and encourage him, that's amazing, Sammy!, and stay strong because Sam needed him to be there, because Dad wouldn't be.

But these visions? There was nothing Dean could do. Sam would get wrapped up in them so tightly, Dean worried he would never get his brother back. The pain, the confusion, the shame and the guilt he could see behind his brother's eyes... there was nothing Dean could do for it. He hated it.

His brother trembles now, doubled over on the couch, and cries as the pain wraps around him and immobilizes him. When Dean tries to get Sam to sit up, his brother just whines further, saying something too broken and agonized to understand. Dean can feel his eyes pinch, the thick weight of tears sticking in his throat. He can't do this again.

Heavy footsteps sound and then Bobby's charging into the room, glass in one hand and a plastic bottle in the other. His steps falter a beat when he sees Sam's position on the couch, but he continues forward. “Here,” he says, handing both over to Dean, who takes them without comment. “Says to take two but...” A quick glance at Sam, “Better make it three.”

Dean nods curtly and shakes the pills out, passing the bottle back to Bobby and turning to his brother. “Sam? Sam, come on, sit up a bit, okay? This will help.” Sam whimpers and mumbles thickly, shuddering through aftershocks of whatever it was he experienced. He takes a few seconds, breathing deep, but whatever was hurting him, it recedes and Sam's breathing slows.

Though he sits up, he keeps his head hung. His hair hides his face as he reaches a blind hand out for the pills.

“Sam?”

Receiving no answer, he just hands the pills over, waiting for Sam to scoop them into his mouth before handing over the glass of water. With the pills knocked back, Sam hands the the glass back to Dean and slides side ways, lying out on the couch.

Dean looks to Bobby, brow knit in concern. “Sam--”

“Dean,” Bobby interrupts, his voice harsh, “Let's leave the boy to get some rest.” There is no room for discussion in his tone.

With a sigh, Dean gets up and follows Bobby out of the room and into the kitchen.

“Bobby,” Dean growls in a half-whisper, “I don't like leaving him in there alone.”

“I'll keep an eye on him. You get your ass back out there and finish working on your car.” Dean shakes his head, starting to say something else but Bobby stops him again. “Dean, I mean it. Get out there. The boy needs a moment to himself. You saw the way he was shaking and..... He needs to rest. We can sit him down and talk about it later.”

Chewing at his bottom lip in an attempt to bite back any sharp retorts, Dean storms out of the kitchen and into the backyard again. He loses himself in the Impala, tuning her up and cleaning her off. She's sleek and shiny by the time the screen door swings open again, this time with less force. Looking up from the hood of the car, Dean sees Sam step hesitantly out into the backyard. He looks awkward, rubbing at his arm in a childlike fashion.

“Can I come out here?” Sam calls over to him.

Dean rolls his eyes, not looking up. “Free country, Sam.”

“You're mad at me.” Dean feels a pang of guilt at the softness of Sam's tone. Looking up, he finds his brother walking towards him looking much like a scolded puppy.

“No,” Dean sighs, throwing the rag he was using onto the hood, “I'm not mad. Just worried. Man, you... That crap shouldn't be happening anymore.”

Sam nods, still rubbing at his arm, and looks away.

“Well,” says Dean, “Are you ever going to tell me what you saw? I take it we don't have to go save anyone since you decided to nap.”

“It hurt,” he whispers by way of explanation.

What hurt, Sam? You're gonna have to tell me eventually, come on.”

“I saw a kid, one like me, die. I saw his death but... Dean, I felt it, too.” A grimace pulls at Sam's mouth, his eyes downcast in something akin to shame and grief.

Dean steps forward, trying to offer Sam some semblance of strength in his presence. “Felt it? Like...”

“Like I felt him die, Dean! How else do I have to say it? I saw... I saw that kid, Scott... Kelley? No, Carey. Remember? The one who had the freaking Azazel shrine in his closet?”

“Yeah. I remember him.” He rankles, thoughts of a certain psychotic hunter filling his mind. “Gordon got him, right?”

Sam nods, “I saw him die... but I also felt it. I... I was him. In the vision, I was Scott. Got knifed.”

Dean thinks back to the way Sam had been clutching at his chest, coughing. He frowns further, seeing the way Sam is beating himself up for having the vision in the first place. “Alright,” he says, “It's alright, Sam. I mean, if this is how it is... at least we don't have to worry about having to hightail it somewhere. We just-- well, we just keep some Percocet on hand, right?” He tries to laugh, but it isn't very convincing.

Sam, ever the good sport, nods and smiles.

They'd figure this out. They would... they had to.