a/n: Written in my head last Friday and ignored until the whole S2 spoiler thing started. Written in one hour just to get it to shut up and let me move on. Title refers to the song that was playing at the end of the season finale. It's two days after the final shot in Devil's Trap and Sam finds out there's really only one way left that anyone can hurt him.
Didn't mean to treat you bad
But you left me far behind.
He couldn't seem to stop shaking.
Some part of him that could still think around all that had happened realized it was absurd. He'd been shot at, bitten, attacked, all kinds of things throughout his life. It wasn't even his first car accident, for Christ's sake. But the shock of it, of a moment of bright white headlights at face height coming in from the side, too fast...and then he remembered the impact. He'd heard and read that people in really bad crashes usually couldn't remember the moments leading up to it, much less the crash itself, but it was all he could think of. The sound of metal shrieking and twisting, glass breaking, all minus the horror-chord of breaks pushed to the floor because Sam had never had the chance to touch them and the truck driver sure as hell never tried for his.
They'd let him get up and around the next night. Of the three of them, even after the beating he'd taken, he was in the best shape. He could barely move - it felt as if the impact had shifted his bones - but he could get himself around.
John's room was closer to his and that was how he got there first. When he thought about it later he realized he was too frightened of what he might see when he went to Dean, so he started with John and told himself it was because his father was closer. Closer because he was not in intensive fucking care . He was not in critical condition . He'd been sitting shotgun and that was right where the truck had made contact, doing at least 60 according to the cop who took Sam's statement, and it seemed like if anyone should really have been in trouble it would have been him. But the angle, or the sheer strength of the shell of that car, or just the luck of the draw saved John Winchester from worse than broken bones and a concussion that he was slowly surfacing from. Still unconscious but coming around. Still salvageable.
Don't you do it, Sam
Had Dean not said it's all I have so soon before, Sam knew he could have put that final bullet through their father. Mostly because John had ordered him to. John had ordered and in the past despite all of Sam's rebellion it had been enough impetus to do almost anything. God knew orders had come frequently and easily. He had not been adult Sam as long as he'd been Sammy or John Winchester's boy yet, it wasn't that far in his rearview, and his instinct was to obey and rid their world of the thing that had ruined all his chances at normal, at six months and then twentytwoyears sixmonths. Wanted to make his father proud one last time, do this one thing right, punish it for all it had done - last but not least torturing his brother.
A lifetime of training did not stand up well against anything approaching a plea from Dean.
So just like always, Dean had taken the brunt of an impact for his family. Smartmouthing the demon when it got too close to Sam, and then sitting in the worst place in the car. Sam had put him there, trying to get him to lie down, because hey, bleeding straight from his heart out his pores hadn't done him any good.
John looked terrible but he had color. Sam had yet to approach a mirror because he didn't care. Maybe his face would heal from the beating and from being slammed against the steering wheel and then the driver's side window, but he felt like he'd always be disfigured in all the unseen ways from the things he'd seen and done.
He felt ruined.
It took him right up until they'd allowed him to see Dean to figure out why the shaking wouldn't stop. Not post-traumatic stress - he'd actually laughed aloud at the idea, not a laugh at all but something choking out of him that had made a nurse back away in alarm.
He had been looking in the rearview at Dean in the back seat, Dean looking worse than he'd ever seen him, even after the heart attack. Dean unable to sit up any longer. Dean no longer having anything to say. He'd thought very clearly as he met Dean's eyes in the rearview and seen nothing recognizable that Dean's dying and besides the headlights coming in from the right it was the last thing he'd seen.
His life seemed to have yet one more very clear line of unwanted demarcation etched in it. His mother and Jess and then this, whatever this was or was becoming. Meeting the demon. Knowing it was targeting him. Knowing that his existence, the simple act of coming into being had brought it down on his family. Meeting his brother's eyes for the last time.
That last crept in. It kept doing that no matter how hard he shoved.
Dean had been dead and gone before the truck hit them.
Too stubborn to give in to physical injuries, but one well placed bit of truth was lethal. How like Dean.
So Sam came to be sitting at his father's bedside, hand tucked into John's like it hadn't been since Sam was five. The monologue he carried on was more for himself than anything else, to get things said and to hope against hope he was heard. John's head was bandaged and it looked like he might lose one eye from the flying glass, but his vitals were steady and he was fighting.
"Dean's not," Sam said aloud. "All the internal bleeding's stopped, and his shoulder's never gonna be right again but it's not killing him. He's had way, way too many concussions just in the last year alone, huh? You have no idea what the fuck we've been up to. One day you're gonna sit and listen to the stuff we did. This last concussion, it's his last because no way can he keep taking that shit, but the swelling's already gone down in his brain, so he should be kind of wading back out a little. But he's comatose, as in, a five or six on the Glasgow scale, dad. They've resuscitated him four times and they asked me if I'm his executor, did I want to maybe think about..."
He shook his head. Babbling just made things worse.
"See, the thing is," Sam said, "...maybe half of what it said was shit just to get us going, but, not all of it. It wasn't even much to say, but there's only so much a guy can take, and it kind of knew how to... devalue Dean with just one line. And it fit, when I think about it. Just, you know, 'hey Dean, it was all for nothing, you're just a hunting dog. No matter how hard you've tried, he's always favored Sam'. Isn't that hilarious?"
He was quiet for a long moment because to say anything else would become shouting or sobbing or something else hysterical and he couldn't afford it. Everything seemed so quiet.
"It's not like I'm blaming you or anything," he said finally. "Because you're not the one who took his gun and kept pulling the trigger right at his face even after figuring out the fucking thing was unloaded. You're not the one who kept all this...contempt, and shoved it in his face all the time. It's no big deal if the demon tried to take him apart. We took him apart a long time ago."
He didn't even bother trying to wipe his face. It would just hurt like hell anyway and he was getting kind of tired of that.
"What's he got to come back to?" Sam said. "You and me? I'm not sure I would."
He let go of John's hand and struggled to his feet. He'd said all he meant to say and got his fears out so he could go talk to Dean without collapsing into a litany of begging.
ICU's were always dim and quiet and full of waiting. It wasn't the first time he'd hung around one and probably not the last, and more than once he'd been in one himself without ever knowing. Each cubicle-like space faced in a semi-circle around a main hub behind glass, the nurses' station. Each patient could be seen all the time. Worse than the cardiac wing, worse than Dean flipping channels and saying cremation or burial to him like he could make it simple or just pass it off. Dean, on a ventilator and not smirking at him, all wires and tubes and a blip of motion on a heart monitor. Dark lashes so still against skin the color of ashes and milk, hands warm but unfeeling.
He could sit and stare all he wanted and maybe they could go on for years like that, maybe instead of a stone he could just come and stare at the still breathing monument of Dean.
He could sign a DNR and just let him go, let it all go, walk away. But it seemed like he should fight not for himself or because he had anything left to say; not because he wanted Dean to stay. Not because he wouldn't be able to stand the regret of not putting things right.
"It's not about me for once," Sam said aloud. "It's because you should get it, you should have it shoved down your goddamn throat, that you're worth everything. Worth me and dad put together. None of us are good at making sure anybody knows how much they mean. So, yeah. Not for me, not for dad. I don't care about anything but what you want, right now. If you're done with all this, okay. But don't go thinking you aren't the most important..."
He paused. Reached out to use a thumb to smooth Dean's eyebrows, stroked down the bridge of his nose. Touched the dark circles under his eyes. "Don't think I don't love you," he said. "Don't think I'd rather be without you. It's Dean and Sam, not...Sam." He trailed bruised fingers down Dean's throat, hand opening a little to leave something behind on his chest. The protection amulet the EMT's had removed.
He leaned in closer, lips a bare inch from Dean's ear. "I'll wait," he said. "I'll sit here and chick-flick you until you shut me up. You just don't get away this easy. Demons lie, and if you believed anything it said, you're a dumbass."
He leaned away a little and realized that if he didn't lie down soon, he'd have to do it right there on the floor.
"'Ya Ya Sisterhood'," Sam said. "I heard that's a good book. First thing tomorrow, I'm gonna read it aloud to you. 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café'. That one chick was in that movie, who was that...Mary Stuart Masterson. Chick lit 101, that's what they teach in ICU, Dean."
The lights seemed to get dimmer, or maybe it was just him.
"You can go anytime you want," Sam said. "When you get bored, years from now. But not in a pansy-ass car crash. Bobby's got your car, and every day you're here is another day closer to me telling him to go ahead and use the scrap to...make those fucking lawn ornament flamingos out of, or something. And I'll just be here every day telling you how much I love you and need you until you get it. Until it sinks in. All day, every day. Danielle Steel novels. Jess read some of those when we were at the beach, she said they were good for just not thinking. You're gonna love 'em. First thing in the morning, Dean. You and me."
If he fell asleep with one hand in Dean's, he wasn't aware of it.
If the hand twitched in his, he'd find out about it soon enough.