Dean isn’t aware of a whole lot of their trip back from Texas. Recovering from food poisoning is never fun, especially while being a car passenger. He gets a lot of time to rest though, watching Sam drive and trying not to smile at him too much through barely slitted eyes. Sam plays music that he probably knows is on the soothing end of things for Dean, which is pretty damn considerate of him. Dean wishes he felt better so they could use this time to talk things out so that everything doesn’t blow up when they get back home. Sometimes talking in the car is the only way he can do that kind of communicating. But he just isn’t up to it yet. So he doesn’t push for any conversations, important or otherwise. It’s comfortable though, resting, Sam taking care of him like this. Dean decides that it’s okay that they don’t talk much, both of them lost in their thoughts.
Sam’s broadcasting a lot of worry off and on, and Dean can’t tell if it’s about him being sick, or about how they’ve changed their whole world with one conversation back in that damn incinerator. Dean’s stomach rolls over, but in a not-food-poisoning thank god, but mostly good way at the thought of how things have changed between them in just a few short days. It’s completely terrifying but in a way that makes him feel so hopeful after so much pointless pain and self-denial all these years. It seems like things are finally clicking into the shape they were always supposed to be. If they can just get through the next few days without screwing it all up before they work it out.
By the time they finally make it home, Dean feels even more tired than he had before. He barely recognizes the fact that Sam is moving him into the hallway from their garage, into his bedroom. Sam’s got him tucked in bed and did Sammy really just kiss him on the forehead? It’s all lost in a grey haze as he drifts off again. The last sight he brings with him into sleep is Sam’s fond smile looking down at him, eyes gone crinkly at the corners. Sam’s so beautiful he can hardly believe how much he loves him. Sam smiles even more which might mean he said that out loud but he doesn’t care because he’s asleep in his own comfy bed.
The next thing Dean is conscious of is his heart pounding out of his chest in sudden racing fear. Sam is somewhere—screaming bloody murder. And he sounds so damn far away, where is he? He flails around in his bedcovers, feet finally hitting the floor, running flat out down the hall in the direction of Sam’s room. But he’s not there, the sound is coming from the bathroom. He can hear Sam’s screams echoing off all the tile. He rushes into the bathroom and notices there are no lights on in the room. Why is Sam in here in the dark? He doubles back to flip the switch and his eyes go wide with terror. His brother is stretched out on the edges of the enormous claw foot tub, his naked body gone completely rigid. Sam’s hands are clenched so tight holding on to the curved edge his fingertips are a bluish-white, his feet are wedged apart under the faucets and his toes are the same awful color. It looks so painful how tightly held his muscles must be to hold himself up like that. Not to mention the screaming, his face, oh god his face. There are words coming out of Sam’s mouth, but he can’t really hear them, doesn’t recognize them.
“Sam! Sammy! Hey!” Dean yells as he approaches the tub. There’s no response, he can’t tell if Sam can even hear him over the volume of his yelling. He kneels next to the tub on the pile of towels that Sam must have left for himself, knocking over a couple of burnt-out candle stubs. He gets his hands on Sam’s shoulders and tries to push him back down into the water, but Sam’s whole body resists, he’s holding himself out of the water as if it’s a vat of acid he doesn’t want to fall into.
Dean reaches in and pulls the plug to drain the tub. He runs his hands down Sam’s mid-section to see if the muscles react, but they don’t even ripple or flex, not a thing moves on Sam’s body except his mouth. His muscles are strung tightly as possible, seemingly immovable. It’s like his brother has been turned into a screaming marble statue of terror. The water’s out of the tub now, so Dean steps in with one foot, to lever his brother up to standing. Which doesn’t quite work and there’s some slipping and Dean’s head hits the tile, but big deal, he’s had worse. He gets Sam propped up against the wall and holds him while he drapes towels around him. He’s not very wet at least. Sam’s basically been drip-drying by holding himself above the water like that for quite a while. And thank god the screaming isn’t as constant now that he’s vertical. Dean can kind of make out what seems like phrases or words, but it’s still not anything he recognizes.
“What the hell, Sam? You’re taking candlelit bubble baths that turn into screaming nightmares? What is going on?”
Dean doesn’t hear any response from his brother, just the same words that Sam had been screaming being repeated over and over again in a more normal speaking volume. He still can’t make sense of them though, there’s something familiar but he can’t think because having the echoes of Sam’s screams still ringing in his ears is screwing with his head.
“Okay, all right, Sammy. I’m gonna get you back to bed, okay? Just gotta work with me here, buddy,” Dean says, trying to encourage Sam to walk a little on his own. As soon as he’s got Sam moved out of the bathroom Sam’s knees buckle and Sam almost hits the floor. Dean catches him around the waist and braces himself against the wall. “Guess it’s a fireman’s carry, dude, watch your head.”
Dean hoists Sam onto his back and staggers to his own room. It’s much closer and his bed is bigger and more comfy and oh god he suddenly realizes that he still feels way too weak to carry Sam much further. The adrenaline rush is wearing off at exactly the wrong time. He crumples a little and steadies himself against the doorway, hitting Sam’s feet as he turns. Better than his head though. Lord knows Sam’s had enough head injuries, right? Finally he gets into position to lay Sam on the bed, lowering him abruptly and collapsing next to him on top of the messed-up covers.
“Whoever said he ain’t heavy he’s my brother never tried to carry you, gigantor.”
No answer from Sam which Dean does not want to get used to thankyouverymuch. Dean lies there trying to regroup for a moment, assess the situation, make some sort of a plan. Sam’s out of immediate danger, will get warm soon hopefully and stop mumbling at some point. He looks around the room for food because he realizes he’s absolutely starving. That post food-poisoning gotta-eat-now feeling hitting him hard. No wonder he went so weak just carrying Sam that short distance. He finally spots a plate of crackers and energy bars and carafe of water on his nightstand. Sam must have put it there before he went off to take his bath. His candle-lit bubble bath, which he is most definitely teasing Sam about once he finally snaps out of whatever this is and wakes the hell up. Dean eats the crackers and most of the energy bar, washing it down with two glasses of water.
“See, Sammy. I’m rehydrating just like I said I would. How about you? You gonna wake up anytime soon?”
Again with the not answering. So, obviously Dean needs to take care of Sam until he comes back from wherever he’s gone. He shifts Sam around until he can pull the covers over his brother completely. Sliding in next to Sam, he’s reminded again that his brother is indeed, totally naked. And in his bed. And if he wakes up here like this, he’s probably gonna freak out. So Dean makes the judgement call to leave his own clothes on, just in case. He falls asleep holding Sam loosely around the waist, with his bare feet tucked under Sam’s calves. It’s nice, really nice. Sure it would be a hell of a lot nicer if Sam was regular asleep instead of whispering and fretting like this. At least the screaming hasn’t started up again.
Dean wakes up a few hours later because Sam has pushed him out of the bed onto the floor. He’s gone rigid again and is spread-eagled, arms and legs outstretched, hands anchored onto the headboard and feet gripping the edges of the mattress. It’s awful waking up to this sight, seeing his brother so out of his head, in obvious pain, whether it’s physical or mental or whatever makes Dean feel guilty that he hasn’t figured this out yet. Sam relaxes from his rigid position once Dean gets him upright with his feet on the floor. Something about being vertical maybe? Sam startles every now and then, reminding him of the tv special Sam made him watch on the baby chimps and their startle reflex being the same as a human infant. Baby Sammy was never like this as far as he can remember. But that was a very long time ago.
Sam seems a little better once Dean gets him re-situated in bed. He tells himself again, at least there’s no screaming. But Sam is still repeating those words, which because of the repetition are finally coming into Dean’s ears a little more clearly. He grabs a pen and paper off his desk and sits close to Sam’s head, straining to hear all the syllables and jots down an approximation. It’s got to be enough that he gets it written down, only phonetically of course. Who the hell knows if this is even spelled right? (Sam would know of course.) Which will likely make it super hard to figure out how to research, since everything is alphabetized. Just in case, he records it from beginning to end, his phone held close to Sam’s beautiful, moving lips.
Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog…
It’s been at least several days now, he’s honestly lost track, but more than two probably. And Sam won’t eat or drink anything, just alternates between mumbling those words on constant repeat or the rigid terror-filled full body contractions. Dean’s starting to think about taking Sam to a hospital or at least getting an IV started somehow. They’re out of supplies for that though and he doesn’t want to leave Sam unattended to go out and steal some. Now’s when having a local friend would be helpful. But they’re fresh out of those at the moment. That’s the bad part about having a secret base, it has to stay secret even from people who’d be worth having as friends.
Dean decides that he needs to try and pull a W.W.S.W.D.? (What Would Sam Winchester Do?) moment out of his ass, because he needs to save Sam, somehow and there’s no one else to turn to at this point. It’s him or no one. There’s no Bobby or even Garth to call, no Kevin or Charlie either, it’s all on him. He doesn’t let himself dwell on what all the cumulative loss means. He puts on his Sam-sized research cap, tells himself that he’s got this, he’s researched plenty of cases on his own before. After just a few minutes of trying to get started on researching in the Men of Letter’s library, he’s yelling at himself internally. Oh god how he wishes he’d paid more attention when Sam was explaining the intricate filing system.
It takes more time than it should, but he doesn’t give up until he gets there. Many halting steps are taken but by replaying the recording of Sam’s voice, he figures out that it’s Enochian. After hearing the whispered words without the distraction of Sam’s beautiful pink lips and empty face, it reminds him of the things Sam would say in his sleep when he first got his soul back. He remembers that he’d asked Sam about it one time and he’d mumbled something about how he’d been speaking Enochian in the Cage for a whole lot longer than he’d ever spoken English, so sorry for talking in my sleep in the wrong language, Dean.
Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog…
Figuring out that what Sam is repeating is Enochian narrows Dean’s search down a great deal. He comes across some translation guides that are helpful in going from phonetically spelled out words to Enochian to English. After all that, it turns out that Loncho Nanaeel is Enochian for Fall Down or Falling. And the second phrase, Micma Ollog means Catch Me.
Falling…Catch Me… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog…
What could that possibly mean? It has to be a clue to what’s causing Sam’s sleep paralysis or whatever you want to call it. It’s been two and a half days now and Dean is getting desperate, trying to think of how he’d possibly explain this to a doctor at the ER.
He curls up with Sam again, hoping for another clue, some sign, anything. He tries to get him to accept some water or soup broth but it all just dribbles out onto the towel on his pillow. Dean’s reminded of how messy Sam was as a baby and tells him some of his memories of oatmeal thrown on walls and the time he’d tipped over the bowl of spaghetti-o’s into Dad’s glass of whiskey. He gives up on the care-taking for the night and rests his head on Sam’s chest just to comfort himself with the knowledge that Sam’s heart is carrying on even without anyone in the building. Steady and strong it beats, inexorable, stubborn—Sam, his Sam. He holds Sam’s face between his hands and pleads with him for an embarrassingly long amount of time to come back, to wake up, to be with him again. But all he hears from his brother is Falling…Catch Me. He falls asleep, wrapped around his brother, to the continuous sound of Sam’s pleading whispers.
Falling…Catch Me… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog… Loncho Nanaeel Micma Ollog…
He naps and has one of those intense dreams that incorporate the current top-of-mind worry. And in it, Sam is falling off of a very high building, it reminds him of the incinerator back in Texas. Sam is silhouetted against a starry night sky and as he falls (or jumps, god please not that again) Dean can hear him saying, “I’m Falling, Dean. Please, Dean. Please Catch Me.”
His dream self is yelling back with all the power he can muster in the face of the fear that his brother is about to splat on the cement at his feet. “I’ll catch you, Sam. I’ve got you. I have you, Sam.” When dream-Sam hears the words he stops falling and swoops in a beautiful, impossible flight back up to the top of the building. Safe and secure.
When he reawakens, it’s to a Sam gone rigid on the bed again. He remembers the dream solution though, and once he’s gone through the routine of getting Sam vertical for a few minutes to stop the rigid paralysis and tucked back safely into the horizontal bed he’s back to the Enochian translator indexes he left out on the table in the library.
He quickly finds the words that mean something close to what he’d said to Sam in the dream. ‘I’ll catch you, I’ve got you, I have you’ are all roughly the same, Olani Nenni Ol. Another thing that’s pretty close is, ‘I hold you’ which is Olani Micma Ol. Armed with a written out pronunciation, he decides to go try it out and see if it actually works. And it had better work, because he does not see another possible option at this point. The irony of relying on something angelic to have to save Sam yet again is not lost on him, but he tries not to dwell.
Dean situates himself in the bed so that Sam’s ear is right over Dean’s heartbeat. Hoping against hope that the familiar sound will get through to Sam in his subconscious or wherever the hell is, so that he can feel safe and hear the words. “I’m here, Sammy, not goin’ anywhere. You just come back to me when you can. I’ll be here,” Dean says.
He feels guilty for enjoying the closeness of his brother, Sam’s body is so familiar, so necessary and beautiful, but it’s wrong to get any enjoyment from holding him when he’s not really in there. He thinks about their short conversation in the motel bathroom back in Texas. How bashful they’d both been with each other. He wishes he hadn’t been so sick, so they could have done more than just trade those sweet kisses back and forth. Then he remembers what Sam had said.
“Sammy, remember back in Texas, in the motel? You said you wanted our first time to be back home. Well we’re home, dude, and I want to hear more about all those plans you were bragging about. But you gotta snap out of this first. Now don’t laugh, but I went and looked up what you’re saying over and over. And I dreamt what I’d say back to you that made you be safe. So here goes, in my very best Enochian to English to Enochian translation.”
Dean takes a deep breath and reads the words he’d just written out for himself. “Olani Nenni Ol. You hear me, Sammy? Olani Micma Ol.”
He searches Sam’s face to see if there’s a reaction, anything would be better than the blankness or the scrunched up terror. First there’s nothing, but then he repeats the words in answer to Sam’s mumbles. They go back and forth a few times, call and response, and Sam’s face begins to lighten, the terror going away, the muscles softening. There’s more weight to him somehow, like he’s coming back into his body. Dean wraps his hands into the sides of Sam’s hair, pulling gently, fingers scratching and massaging at his scalp. “Sammy, you’re hearing me, I know you are. Please, Sammy, you’ve gotta wake up. Come back to me. Olani Micma Ol.”
Dean leans forward and brushes their lips together, repeating the words, feeding the syllables into Sam’s body the best way he knows how. Sam’s eyes pop open while he’s still being kissed by Dean. His hands come up and hold the back of Dean’s head and Sam kisses him right back, opening to his brother and inviting him in. Dean kisses him back to life.
“What was that, some kiss of life thing?” Sam asks in a mumble between their lips.
Dean pulls back a little so he can focus on Sam’s eyes. “Pretty much. With some Enochian thrown in.”
“Was I gone long?” Sam asks, scrubbing at his face.
“Few days,” Dean answers, trying not to sound upset about it.
“Sorry, Dean. I’m….god, I’m sorry,” Sam apologizes.
“Stop, please, don’t apologize. Was it a nightmare or something? Because of seeing Lucifer again?” Dean asks.
Sam stares into space blankly for a long moment. “Yeah, I guess so. I was just falling the whole time,” Sam says, sounding dazed.
“Falling from what?” Dean asks.
“It was like a replay of when I fell, into…uh, the Cage. Just an endless fall, nothing else. It’s something Lucifer used to do to me, put me in a loop like that,” Sam says.
“So it probably was brought on by being in the Cage with him then. Damn it! I’m so sorry it took me so long to get you out of there,” Dean says.
“No, Dean, please just stop. You got to me as soon as you could. I know you did, okay? And I shouldn’t have gone down there without you anyway. Besides I think the trigger for this nightmare or whatever it was came from being stuck in that incinerator,” Sam says. “I had a few flashbacks of the Cage when we were in there. Something about being trapped I guess.”
“Well, that’s on me too. I should have figured out that schedule thing. If I’d just gotten that guy at the bar to talk a little more, we wouldn’t have been stuck like that.”
“It’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay. What being stuck in there did for us was totally worth it if you ask me,” Sam says.
“You really mean that?” Dean asks.
“Dean, you figured out Enochian for ‘I’ll catch you’ and well, you did,” Sam says in answer.
“I always will, you know that,” Dean says.
“I do, Dean, I really do,” Sam says, kissing Dean softly.
And now Dean’s heart will let him believe it.