mamapranayama (mamapranayama) wrote,
mamapranayama
mamapranayama

SPN Fic: The Chemicals Between Us

Title: The Chemicals Between Us
Author: mamapranayama
Rating: R
Warnings: spoilers for season 7 up to 7.12, alcohol abuse, foul language
Genre: Gen
Category: hurt/comfort, angst
Summary: Sam's only wish was for his brother to see what his drinking was doing to him.

A/N: This was written in response to a lovely prompt at the ohsam comment fic meme by checkthemargins

The prompt can be read here: http://ohsam.livejournal.com/379475.html?thread=2355539#t2355539

There is no beta for this and I drifted somewhat from the prompt. I also got a little carried away with this and it turned out to be a little monster of a story, but I hope this is close to what she wanted.


The Chemicals Between Us

Dean stumbled into the room, loudly swearing when his elbow knocked over a lamp and sent it crashing to the floor.

"Shit … who put that there?"

Dean bent down and picked up the downed lamp and fumbled to reset it on the table beside the door, letting it wobble precariously until it finally settled.

Sam jerked up from the article he'd been reading on his laptop and sighed tiredly before rubbing his burning eyes. It was fourth night that week Dean had been 'out' and came back reeking of cheap whiskey and while Sam had been worried about his brother's drinking before Bobby … (fuck … it was still hard to even think that he was gone) … things were just getting worse at an exponential rate and Sam was running out of words to try and convince his brother that he had lost control over this problem of his.

But bringing the subject up only seemed to cause more problems than it solved and the exasperation and frustration it created made Sam feel like he was beating his head against a wall – and he really didn't need any more concussions, thank you.

Dean tossed his keys onto the table next to the lamp and didn't pay Sam any attention as he flopped face-first onto his bed.

"God … tell me you didn't drive like this." Sam demanded.

"Shuddup – I was fine. Din' crash. So what?"

"So what? You can't keep doing that, Dean. You're gonna get yourself or someone else killed."

"Drop it, Sam." Dean closed his eyes and muffled into his pillow.

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he could stave off the building headache and shut off the constant noise of nagging worry in his head. But he couldn't – he could see what his brother was doing – this was suicide – maybe he didn't have a gun in his mouth, poised to pull the trigger, but it was all the same, just slower and more painful for Sam to watch as Dean tried to cram all of his feelings down his stomach and drown them in a sea of bourbon so he wouldn't have to actually deal with them.

And Sam knew all of this because he'd been in Dean's shoes before - he knew all about grief and addiction. After Dean went to Hell, he didn't think he could make it a whole day with the despair and pain of knowing his brother was suffering in the pit without a consistent numbness that only alcohol could give him and even after Ruby sobered him up from the booze, he managed to only swap that drinking problem for a different kind of drinking problem.

So yeah … Sam knew what Dean was doing to himself – he just didn't know how to fix it.

Dean was quiet and Sam thought he had fallen asleep until he heard his brother speak, "You find us a hunt yet?"

"Not yet … " Sam looked back at the screen of his computer, he'd been searching for hours while Dean was out getting himself wasted, trying to find anything of interest to check into next, but so far he's only found bupkis , "But I'm gonna keep looking – there's bound to be something out there …"

"Go to sleep," Dean mumbled an interruption, "You can geek out again in the morning after you get some rest."

Yeah right … sleep was hardly restful these days between the nightmares and the soft whisperings of Lucifer in his ears … he'd rather stay awake. But then again, he was exhausted and it was creeping up on 3 am and when he was tired it was harder to keep the sounds of clanging chains, meat hooks, and screams at bay. It was a catch 22 – sleeping brought on nightmares, yet not sleeping brought on hallucinations – there was no winning.

But as it was now, Sam wouldn't be able to hold off sleeping for much longer, so he closed the screen on his laptop and set it aside on the bedside table and then crawled under the covers of his bed and waited for sleep to take him and for the flames of Hell to begin burning his flesh.

OOOOOO

There still wasn't a hunt to find the next day and by the time they finished their dinner of take-out Chinese, Dean had already polished off the contents of his flask and was practically crawling out of his skin, itching to find more.

Dean knew that his drinking was a bone of contention for Sam, but dammit … his life was almost bearable when the alcohol muted the pure shittiness of their existence and without it … well … physically it wasn't good … and since withdrawal sucked worse than being kicked in the nuts – he chose to drink.

Yeah … this was bad – he wasn't kidding himself - he knew that pouring liquor into his wounds wouldn't heal them and wouldn't bring Bobby back, but it was better than dealing with the fact that everything he loved was being taken from him one death at a time and slowly but surely he'd lose his last tie to this imploding planet when Sam was taken from him as well.

It was only a matter of time - and when it came he didn't plan on sticking around for the grand finale.

Until then he had only one mission: kill Dick Roman.

More than likely that would end in bloody deaths for him and Sam, so there really wasn't much point in looking forward to a future beyond it, so why not drink? It's not like it could kill him before the baddies did. And who care if he got into a few bar fights along the way - he could handle himself and sometimes the fighting and the pain of his fists smacking into some dumbass' face gave him a little rush and a chance to feel something besides the crushing weight of the world on his shoulders.

Dean's hands started to twitch a clear signal that it was time for him get up and get out of the confining space of the motel room and steady the rising tide of symptoms that would strike if he didn't get some booze down his gullet soon.

Grabbing his jacket, he got up from his bed and flicked off the TV. From the other end of the room, Sam perked up and lifted his eyes from the computer screen for the first time in hours, "Hey … where ya goin'?"

"Out."

"God, Dean …" Sam huffed, his voice bordering on a whine, "Is it too much to ask that you stay sober for one night?"

"Gee, Sam … I dunno – is it too much to ask for you not to act like a goddamn prison warden?"

Sam sighed and rubbed his forehead like he was coming down with a migraine, "I know you're going to a bar. I just don't want you to do anything stupid –"

"I'm just gonna get a few beers –"

"Right… followed by 10 shots of whiskey." Sam muttered under his breath.

"Sam –" Dean warned, feeling his temper rise and if his brother didn't stop pushing soon, he was going to be eating Dean's fist. "I'm not going to do anything stupid, okay? "

"Oh no? Nothing stupid like the fight you got into last week that left you with two black eyes … or … like last night? - driving back here so drunk you can barely walk in a straight line – yeah – nothing stupid there."

Dean was well on his way to being pissed now, "Fine … you don't want me driving – I'll walk." Dean turned his back on Sam and yanked open the door, "Don't wait up."

"Dean, Stop!" Sam slammed his laptop shut, stood up, and closed the distance between looking as if he might start throwing punches to keep him inside, but instead the anger faded just as quick as it came on and he threw up his hands in resignation with a heavy sigh, "You know … whatever . I can't stop you from going, so I guess I'm just gonna have to come with you."

"Oh for fuck's sake, I don't need a babysitter."

"No … but you do need a ride, so I'll drive."

Sam set his face in stubborn determination and Dean gave up – it didn't matter if Sam followed him or not as long as he got a drink soon, he didn't care.

OOOOOO

It wasn't exactly busy in the bar that night, but Dean still managed to find a couple of local yokels to sucker into a few rounds of pool while Sam sat at the bar and nursed a coke. Sam glanced up from the newspaper he had been skimming when Dean laughed loud enough to be heard from the pool table at the other end of the bar. For a moment, Sam thought about how it was good to hear his brother's jovialness - he just wished it didn't take a fifth of Jack to create it.

He watched Dean collect a wad of bills from the disgruntled guys he had just hustled and saunter back to the bar where Sam sat. He paid Sam little heed as he pulled a five dollar bill from his winnings and slapped it onto the bar top to get the bartender's attention, "Hey, Sweetheart ? Can I get another round here?"

The dark-skinned woman behind the bar turned and put down the glass she had been wiping dry and nodded, pulling a bottle off the shelf and pouring a couple of fingers into a clean glass before walking back to Dean. She leaned over to deliberately show off her ample cleavage as she slid the drink across to him, "$3.50, Hon."

Dean tapped the note and winked, admiring the view, "Keep the change."

She grinned and took the bill as Sam grabbed his brother by the arm before he could walk away, "Last one, right?"

Dean rolled his eyes, "Fine … let me get another game of pool in and we'll go. Okay, mom?"

Dean shrugged out of Sam's hold and walked back over to the pool table, offering the fools he had just fleeced a chance to win their money back in a double or nothing game. Stupid morons were going to lose their pants.

Sam blew out a breath and tried to go back to his paper when he noticed that the bartender had turned her attention on him, "Can I get you anything else?"

Sam looked up and made eye-contact then smiled politely. She was a pint-sized beauty with dark braids cascading down her shoulders and she wore a simple, but tight tank top that left little to the imagination. But she had engaging eyes that spoke of an intelligence and insight that captured Sam's attention and he suddenly didn't want to lose her gaze on him, "Well … maybe just another coke."

"Just a coke, huh? Not too many people that come in here on a Tuesday night just to read a paper and drink coke." She said, turning her back and filling another glass with coke from the fountain behind the bar.

"Well … I didn't really come here to drink." Sam explained without going into detail.

"Yeah, I kinda figured that out about you," she rested her elbows on the counter top then looked across the bar to Dean and nodded her head in his direction, "But him? Now there's a different story. Lemme guess, you're here to keep an eye on him? Make sure he doesn't go overboard?"

Sam was taken a little aback by her question, "What makes you say that?"

"Intuition … plus I work in a bar and I've seen all different kinds of drunks."

Sam looked down at his hands, he didn't like hearing the term 'drunk' to describe his brother, "Yeah … I bet you have."

"He's your brother, ain't he?" She asked, and Sam was caught off-guard yet again.

"How'd you know?"

"I can see the resemblance."

Sam raised his eyebrows. Hardly anyone would say that he and Dean looked anything alike, "Really? We certainly don't get that very often."

"It's not in how you look. It's in how you act around each other. I had a brother too once – you guys kinda remind me of what we had."

"Had?"

Her eyes took on a sad, haunted shine, "He passed away a few years ago."

Sam was reminded of the pain losing his brother had caused him. He wouldn't wish that on anyone and he felt a pang of sympathy for her, "I'm sorry."

She shrugged her shoulders, "It was a long time ago … I miss him and I wish that I had been as diligent as you."

"If you don't mind my asking, what happened to him?"

She took in a deep breath and blew it out, "He … well …Long story short - he liked to drink and fight and the combination eventually ended with him getting stabbed."

Sam swallowed hard. He was always worried that that was how it was going to end for Dean as well.

"But at least you have a chance to do something about your brother now," She continued, "you still have him around to keep an eye on and you have a chance to turn things around. I don't have that anymore."

Sam looked down at his glass and turned it around with fingers while quietly saying, "Yeah … I just don't know how."

Sam couldn't believe he was opening up like this to the woman. He didn't know her from a hole in the ground, but what did it matter if he talked? It felt good to vent a little and as a barkeeper, she had probably heard every sad story and complaint known to man and by tomorrow night, they'd be out of town and she'd forget about him and he about her. But in the meantime, he just wanted to talk.

"Sometimes … I uh … I just wish he could see what he's doing to himself, ya know? Maybe if he saw things from my perspective he might take a little better care of himself. I'd do just about anything for that - for him to want to change -"

The woman nodded thoughtfully, but Sam attention was diverted to the pool table once again. Dean was facing down two irate men who had just lost another good chunk of money to him and Sam could see trouble brewing.

"Well … looks like it's time to go." He got up and pulled a ten from his pocket to pay his tab and handed it to the bartender.

She took the bill then extended her hand, "I'm Jolie, by the way."

Sam took it quickly, "Sam."

Jolie took that opportunity to wrap her other hand around Sam's. Her fingers exuded a warmth that he could feel travelling up his arm and while he wasn't used to touching strangers like this in such an intimate manner, he couldn't deny that it felt nice. She leaned across the bar so that she could speak softly enough for only him to hear, "You said you would do anything for your brother …"

"Yeah?"

"Trade places with him? Shoulder his burdens?"

"If I could, I would."

She smiled kindly, "Well then … May all your wishes all come true."

Sam looked into her dark, brown eyes, captivated. It felt like for just a moment her hand grew even warmer on top of his and there was a tingle running up and down his arm, but in the next moment it was forgotten as there was a crash from the other end of the bar and the sounds of fists meeting flesh. Sam broke off contact abruptly, running across the room to rescue his brother.

OOOOO

Jolie watched the two men carry each other out, both of them sporting bloody noses and she knew she had done the right thing.

She didn't share her gifts with just anyone, but that kid, Sam … she could feel that he sincere in his wishes to help his brother and she was glad to grant them. Though she didn't want to see the boy get hurt, she knew he could handle it and he had told her himself that he would do anything for his brother and she believed it. However, would it be enough for his brother to come around?

If only she could have granted the same wish upon herself years ago when her own brother needed her, but she had never had the ability to make her own wishes come true - she could only give them away to others and hope that some good might come out of them.

OOOOO

Dean woke the next morning expecting to feel like he did every morning: perfectly shitty. But this morning he turned over and didn't curse the sunlight hitting his eyes, there was no stab of pain nailing him through the forehead as usual, and his hands were perfectly steady as he pushed himself out of bed.

He actually felt good.

What a strange, foreign concept that was.

Dean glanced over at the other bed. Sam had his face turned to him, dead to the world and snoring noisily through his puffy nose. Dean's memory of the previous night came back to him all at once and he felt a pang of shame for getting into that fight and allowing Sam to get involved and punched in the face – come to think of it - Dean had taken a pretty good knock to his nose as well, but when he reached up to touch it, it felt fine - not even a little sore.

Well … small mercies and all that shit, he figured. But it was too bad Sam didn't look like he was going to get off as pain-free this morning as Dean.

Which was weird too. Dean hadn't drunk as much as he could have, but he had enough to warrant some kind of hangover, yet he felt fine – great even.

Maybe his tolerance for booze was going up – he didn't know, but that was a good enough explanation for him and he wasn't going to look any horse-shaped gifts from Greeks in the mouth.

OOOOO

Sam woke slowly to the sounds of the shower running and Dean singing in it.

Singing?

Sam didn't really have time to contemplate the strangeness of that before a sharp, white-hot poker stabbed him in the head. A groan rattled from deep in his throat as he rolled over, aware of just how damned bright it was in the room.

He squeezed his eyes shut and sat up slowly, bringing his knees up and resting his elbows on them while rubbing his pain-riddled temples, praying that the nausea assaulting his gut would just go away.

Seconds later, Dean emerged from the steamy bathroom, clean and polished with a chipper grin on his face that made Sam want to smack him.

"Hey … 'bout time you woke up."

"Gah … not so loud." Sam mumbled, "What time is it?"

"It's almost noon, you lazy ass."

"Really?" Sam couldn't remember sleeping in this late in a very long time, "Why didn't you wake me up?"

"You seemed to need it," Dean explained, pulling on his clothes, "But I managed to get a little research in while you were playing sleeping beauty."

Sam moaned and rested his head on his knees. Even with all of the sleep he managed to get, he felt like complete and utter shit, "Please tell me you weren't 'researching' any more of that anime porn crap on my computer."

"Nah … I think I found us a case."

"Really?" Sam asked flatly, in no hurry to move.

"Sounds like a chupacabra – small fry stuff, but better than sitting around here doing nothing."

"Chupacabra?" Sam couldn't believe his brother had actually abandoned his obsessive compulsion on anything Dick Roman related to go hunt something that only preyed on livestock, "You feeling okay – you haven't already been hitting the bottle this morning, have you?"

"I feel fine – you're the one that looks like he got hit by a manure truck."

Sam would have rolled his eyes if his stomach hadn't chosen that moment to make its complaints known in a violent way. As painful as moving was, he had to practically run to the bathroom and fall on his knees beside the toilet before the upheaval started. His stomach clenched in spasms, bringing up what little was in there and he heaved so hard he was sure his head might explode.

"Dude …" Dean filled the doorway, "That guy didn't hit you that hard, did he?"

Sam's gut finally settled down enough for him to push himself away from the toilet and press his back up against the wall and close his eyes. He felt hands on his face and he opened up to see Dean filling his vision and looking into his eyes.

"Well … I don't think you have a concussion, but that nose has gotta hurt."

Yeah … check on that.

"M'fine now." Sam uttered honestly, the release at least made his nausea ease.

"You sure?"

"Yeah … just lemme take a shower and we can go."

Sam did feel marginally better after taking a shower and letting the heat of the water soothe his muscles and after he was dressed and packed, Dean led the way out of the motel room and to their P.O.S. of the week with a slight spring in his step and an air of energy that Sam hadn't observed in his brother for far too long.

"You seem cheerful."

"Yeah? Well … Can't be all doom and gloom everyday"

Sam couldn't help but grin a little, even if his head still pounded within his skull and he had a nagging feeling that Dean's good mood wouldn't last for long.

OOOOOO

The chupacabra case was only a four hour drive away, but there was no hurry. Those creatures rarely came in contact with people and most of the damage they wrought was on chickens and goats, but still, Dean was looking forward to taking it down - it had been a long time since they had hunted one of these suckers and it might even be fun.

Fun? Now there was a word he hadn't associated with hunting in a very long time.

They were about half-way to the job when Dean's stomach started to growl impatiently and loud enough for it to wake his brother from his nap.

Dean glanced over at Sam who rubbed his eyes and sniffed congestedly. He looked terrible – his nose had swollen to twice its normal size, he had dark, puffy circles under his eyes and he was knitting his brow together as if he had the mother of all migraines.

"Hey – you feeling okay?"

Sam nodded his head miserably, looking as if he had been the one on the bender last night.

"I was thinking about stopping and getting some lunch," Dean said, "Sound good to you?"

"Yeah, fine … whatever." Sam agreed half-heartedly.

Dean pulled up to a Waffle House a few minutes later and as soon as they were seated, Sam excused himself to go to the bathroom.

Dean watched him get up, noticing for the first time a slight tremble in Sam's hands.

What was up with him? He wondered absently, but put it out of his mind a second later as he patted his jacket pocket to make sure he had his trusty flask with him - wouldn't hurt to make his coffee Irish while Sam wasn't looking.

OOOOO

Sam practically stumbled into the bathroom and went directly towards the sink, turning on the cold water before splashing his face.

He'd been feeling better for a while after they hit the road, but since waking up from his unexpected nap in the car, he felt … off.

He couldn't put into words what it was, but his hands were shaking, his headache had flared again, he was sweaty and he wanted nothing more than to crawl out of his own skin, find the nearest corner, and curl up into a small ball.

God … what was the matter with him?

You're just losing your marbles one at a time, Sammy. Nothing new there.

Sam looked up in the mirror and jumped back seeing Lucifer staring back at him instead of his own face, "Shit …"

He closed his eyes and grabbed his shaking hand, squeezing his palm, digging in with his nail until he could feel it break the skin.

"Go away … go away …" He whispered to himself until his heart beat could catch up with his mind and remind him of what was real once again.

Sam chanced a look back in the mirror once he could breathe freely again, seeing only himself this time and he breathed a sigh of relief. Damn – he hadn't had a hallucination that vivid in a while.

He went straight to a toilet stall after that and dry-heaved.

OOOOO

Dean accepted the two coffees their waitress served with a half-hearted smile then glanced towards the door to the bathroom. Sam had been in there for over fifteen minutes already, but he reminded himself that his brother was a big boy now and could zip up his own pants so there was no need to worry about him.

But then again, worry about Sam was his job, even if it was exhausting - he just hoped Sam wasn't boarding the crazy train again – Dean didn't think he could handle that - Sam was all he had left and he wasn't about to let him lose his grip on reality again. The first time had been bad enough with Sam trying to shoot up an invisible Lucifer, not trusting that Dean was who he said he was – the wild, terrified look in his eyes …

No. That was not happening again.

Thankfully though, Sam seemed to be getting better since then. Yeah, he still had his moments – he still stared off into space, woke up in a cold sweat from nightmares, and pawed at that damned hand so much that Dean didn't think it would ever heal, but he had to believe that Sam had a handle on things because admitting anything else would be too much to bear and would be the final straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Pulling his mug closer, Dean grabbed his flask and emptied a good measure into the coffee and took a large swallow, never minding that its heat seared his tongue. Sure, it might only be three in the afternoon, but he hadn't had a drink all day and it was always better to prevent the shakes from coming on before they started, even if he hadn't felt even a hint of withdrawal all day.

He finished off his coffee just as the waitress was walking by to refill his mug and he repeated the process, expecting the bourbon to take effect soon, to numb him a little to the thoughts starting to close in and darken his mood.

The waitress came back asking if he was ready to order, but Sam still hadn't returned from the bathroom.

Well, screw it, he thought and he ordered food for the both of them and if Sam didn't like it, he would just have to deal.

The waitress refilled his mug yet again before she left to place their order with the kitchen, but Dean still felt the same even after adding the rest of his flask to the fresh cup and drinking it down in in only three, large gulp. He wasn't even a little buzzed.

He turned around again … what the Hell was Sam doing in there?

OOOOOOO

Sam was rinsing out his mouth even though nothing had come up when he realized that he was feeling much, much better – His hands had stopped shaking and he felt relaxed and even a little hungry. It was a strange turn of events going from miserable to loose so quickly, but he wasn't about to question it - he just wanted to enjoy not feeling like utter shit for the first time that day.

Relieved and ready to eat, Sam left the bathroom and headed back towards the table. Dean had his eyes on him the whole time until he sat down, "What?" Sam asked.

"Dude … what happened in there – you lose a tampon or something?"

For some reason, Sam found that quip amusing and he giggled. Dean looked at him sideways, like he was growing horns.

"You okay?"

Sam blew a raspberry and waved his hand, "Yeah … M'fine, why?"

Dean shook his head, "It's nothing," He said then drank his coffee.

Sam grabbed a menu and tried to read it, but the words kept going in and out of focus. He closed one eye and that seemed to help until Dean took the menu from his hands, "I ordered already."

"You did?"

"Yeah – I was hoping to eat at some point today and you were taking your sweet time, so I got us both some omelets."

Sam shrugged and drank some of the coffee sitting in front of him, it was cold, but he didn't mind which struck him as kinda odd since he normally hated cold coffee, so why would he drink it now? It all didn't make sense – nothing made sense now that he thought about it – and even thinking was getting hard …

"Hey – Sammy! Didn't you hear me?"

"Wha?" Sam hadn't even realized Dean was saying something, he was too busy thinking about his cold coffee and wondering why that was even something worth thinking about – God – he felt dizzy - but in a good kind of way.

"I said, let's eat quick – I'd like to check out that chupacabra before it gets too dark and we still have another couple hours of driving ahead of us."

Sam nodded … right … chupacabra.

"Chupacabra – that's a funny word." Sam giggled, "Gotta shoot a chupa - cabra

Dean glared at him, "What is wrong with you?"

"I dunno … wha's wrong with you?" Sam couldn't hear himself slurring his words.

"Are you drunk?"

"Of course not." That was a stupid question – how could he be drunk? In order to be drunk you had to drink and he hadn't drunken … drunken? Or was it drinken? … drunk?

Bahhh – either way, he wasn't drunk … couldn't be … not possible….

Even if he did feel loose like he had just put away a six-pack of beer – he was just – Hell he didn't know what he was – but he did feel pretty good, so Sam was just going to roll with it.

"Whatever …" Dean muttered and narrowed his eyes at Sam, but didn't say anything else about his behavior.

After they had eaten and were back on the road again, Sam was still pretty relaxed, but he was also feeling sleepy and he didn't fight it, he just closed his eyes and let his body melt into his seat, unafraid of any nightmares that might come chasing after him.

OOOOOOOO

Dean drove while Sam snored next to him.

He was at a loss to explain away his brother's strange behavior at the restaurant and now he was passed out, drooling onto the window he rested his head against.

And what was with the naps? Normally, Dean had to practically tie his brother to a bed to get him some shut eye, but Sam had not only slept in till noon that day but had also taken two naps – it had to be some kind of record.

He pulled the car off the road and onto a narrow, dirt lane that lead to a ramshackle farm house owned by a couple that reported seeing a strange-looking dog-like creature having a feast inside the family's henhouse.

He killed the engine as soon as he parked then reached behind into the backseat for his duffel bag. He pulled out a couple of ID's that claimed he and Sam worked for the EPA and while he was at it, he felt around for the bottle of Jack that he had stashed in there as well.

He unscrewed the cap and drank a couple of swallows. He could feel the liquid burn in his stomach, but beyond that, there was nothing – no tingling, no buzz.

He brought the bottle into the light and examined it – it looked like whiskey, smelled like whiskey, but he was having a hard time believing there was as much alcohol in it as the label claimed – sure, he wasn't feeling shaky at all, so it must be having some effect, but the numbing effects he had been seeking just weren't coming.

He took one more swig, still felt no change then tightened the cap back on and tossed it back into the rear. He'd have to get a new bottle later, but for now, they had a job to do.

Dean slugged Sam on the shoulder, "Sam! C'mon, wake up, we're here."

"Wha?" Sam mumbled and blinked awake, squinting at Dean, "Already?"

"Yeah …" Dean handed Sam his ID, "C'mon let's go talk to these people."

Dean exited the car while Sam slowly pushed the door open on his side and stumbled out to follow him. He led his brother to the front door and knocked, moments later a woman answered and gave them her story of seeing the animal.

"I saw it in my chicken coop and that damn thing was one ugly mother, that's for sure," She told them in an accented drawl while puffing away at a cigarette, "I thought at first that it was a wolf since it was so big, but it couldn't have been – it had no hair and its head looked more like a horse than a wolf's. I tried to scare it away and I yelled at it to 'git' but it just turned its head and looked at me all mean like. And I was so scared – it had these, bright, red eyes, like lasers, ya know? I ran back into the house after that and called the sheriff. He came and took a look, but he said it was just a dog. I ain't never heard of a dog that could eat twenty chickens in one night though. A couple days later I saw it again out along the tree line by our back pasture."

"You sure it was the same thing you saw in the coop?" Dean asked, chancing a glance over at Sam who was holding on to the doorframe and rubbing his eyes.

"Yeah … it had the same glowing, red eyes."

"Okay … we'll check it out. Thanks for your time, Mrs. Turner." Dean shook her hand then headed back to the car. Sam was slow to leave the front porch to follow him and Dean had to stop and wait for him to catch up, "What's going on, Sam? You didn't say a word back there and I felt like I was doing the whole interview on my own."

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head, "Sorry … I just … I dunno … I felt a little dizzy that's all."

"You gonna be able to hunt this thing?"

Sam nodded, "Yeah … I'll be fine."

Dean stared hard at his brother, concerned by how heavy and sluggish his eyes were, "You sure? 'cause I need your back if we're gonna do this. We can always come back tomorrow night."

"No … I'm good." Sam took a deep breath, "I'm feeling better actually - I think it was just caused by being cramped in that little car all day."

Dean sighed, torn between calling the whole thing off or believing Sam's claim that he was okay, but decided to trust his brother, "Okay then … let's get this over with."

OOOOOO

Sam scanned the tree line, shoulder to shoulder with Dean, hunkered down behind a large, felled tree, watching and waiting for the creature to come and take the chicken they had left out as bait.

He still felt a little out of sorts, but he told Dean the truth that he was alright to hunt even if couldn't really explain the dizzy spell he had back at the farmhouse. However, the weird, buzzing feeling in his head that had come over him after he awoke in the car was fading and the cool, night air was chasing away the remains of the fuzziness in his head.

Dean suddenly raised his fist then pointed towards the trees, "You see it?" He whispered.

Sam strained to see where his brother was pointing then made out a dark shape slinking out of the woods about twenty feet away. It's turned its head and two, red, glowing eyes became visible.

Sam nodded his head silently while Dean whispered, "kay, get ready."

The funny thing about killing chupacabras was that they not only needed to be shot with a silver bullet, but they needed to still be alive when they burned the body or it would just regenerate and be back in a few days. It could be tricky – they had to make sure they incapacitated the animal, letting the silver poison it without killing it and the best place to aim for was its rear end so it couldn't run. Then a blast from the flare gun would finish it off.

Dean took aim with the rifle while Sam raised the flare gun, waiting for the creature to come closer so they could get a good shot in. As far as hunts went, it was a piece of cake and Sam could remember killing his first chupacabra when he was only twelve.

The creature approached the chicken they had left for it and sniffed at its carcass. It didn't seem to appreciate the fact that it was already dead and snorted its displeasure, blowing a puff of steam out of its nose. It made to move on, but Dean already had it in his sights and pulled the trigger.

Rifle fire cracked and echoed across the woods followed immediately by the creature's howl of pain as it fell to the ground.

"Now, Sam!" Dean ordered.

Sam pulled the trigger of the flare gun, but nothing happened, "What the hell?" He sputtered, smacking on the gun and trying to clear whatever was causing the malfunction, but nothing was working and his fingers wouldn't cooperate properly so he could fix the jam.

Dean was growing impatient and the chupacabra was growing angry, gnashing its teeth and snarling viciously, attempting to get back on its feet.

"C'mon, Sam … anytime." Dean barked.

"I'm trying … damn thing …"

"Gimme that." Dean snatched the flare gun away and tossed it aside, "Time for plan B."

"What plan B?"

Dean didn't answer right away; he was too busy digging through the duffel bag he brought along. He pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid and tossed it to Sam, who barely had time to catch it in mid-air before Dean produced a green aerosol can and then reached into his pocket for his lighter.

"Bug spray?" Sam asked, "How long have you had that in there?"

"Remember that case with all those bugs a while back?"

"Dude … that was seven years ago."

"So? You think I'm going to go anywhere without some DEET after that?"

Sam caught on quick to what plan B entailed and he groaned – they were going to have to get close to the beast in order for this to work and the chances of the creature pouncing on them as soon as they got within a couple feet of it were pretty high, even with a silver bullet lodged in its thigh. But they didn't have another option that Sam could think of to kill the thing.

"Alright – count of three – we jump out, you hose it down with the lighter fluid and I start the flambé. Got it?"

Sam nodded and unscrewed the cap to the lighter fluid while Dean raised his can of bug spray and started the count.

"One … Two … Three!"

Simultaneously, they both jumped from their cover behind the log and ran towards the beast. Sam squeezed the bottle of lighter fluid as hard as possible, squirting it as soon as he was close enough for the stream to start soaking the animal. The creature didn't take kindly to the action and howled, ignoring its injury, climbing to its feet, and charging directly towards Sam.

There wasn't any time for Sam to move and get out of its way, but at the very last second before it could pounce on him and begin tearing him to shreds, Dean flicked his lighter and began spraying, creating a great plume of flame as the fire ignighted the flammable cloud of liquid.

His make-shift flamethrower showered the animal with fire. It screamed a terrible, shrill howl and writhed in agony as its flesh erupted, engulfed in a violent fireball fueled further by the flammable lighter fluid.

Despite its pain and the fire charring its body, the animal rallied for one, last final act of desperation and lunged for Dean. Reacting immediately, Dean aimed the aerosol can for the beast again and applied his lighter to the spray. However, Dean misjudged how close his lighter's flame was to the can and how hot the can had become after the last spray of fire and in one blinding and confusing moment, the can in his hand suddenly expanded under the pressure and exploded in his hand. The can launched from Dean's hand, tossing him backward. From an outsider's perspective it might have seemed comical the way it sailed through the air in a flash of fire and made a beeline for the ugly muzzle of the creature, smacking into it with enough force to stun the beast and cause it to collapse to the ground.

The moment the can erupted, Sam collapsed in blinding, unexpected pain. His hand was on fire, he was sure of it, but Dean was in trouble and he didn't have time to think about why his hand felt as though he had been the one holding the can – he didn't have time to be confused about it – he had to get to Dean.

The chupacabra made a few final shrieks that filled the air as its body became overwhelmed with fire and it became a smoky, foul-smelling bonfire, its flesh burning away and blackening until it was difficult to even make out its body under the orange and red flames, but Sam was no longer paying it any attention, he was preoccupied with rushing to his stunned brother's side.

Sam ignored the pain in his hand, grabbed Dean under his arms and pulled him backwards away from the flames.

"You okay?" Sam gasped.

"Yeah … you?"

Sam nodded but held his hand close to his chest.

"Liar … " Dean called Sam out on his omission and took Sam's hand, turning it over as he examined the reddened skin, "what happened?"

"I dunno. I must have gotten too close to the fire when the can blew up. What about you? That can was in your hand –"

Dean held up his hand, it was perfectly fine and there was not a scratch on it. He furrowed his brow, mystified that he hadn't hurt himself, "Weird … must have thrown it just before it blew."

"Must have." Sam agreed, finding his brother's lack of injury relieving and strange at the same time. He could have sworn that he saw the can explode while it was still in Dean's hand, but things had happened so fast, that he could have been mistaken. Hell … he hadn't even realized that he was so close to the fire that he had burned himself, so he must have been confused.

"Well … " Dean gave Sam's hand a thorough look then let Sam have it back, " Doesn't look too bad, I think you'll live, but I'm sure it's gonna hurt like a sonufabitch. Let's make sure this puppy doesn't start a forest fire then get outta here and wrap that hand up, huh?" Dean suggested.

They allowed the chupacabra to continue burning until only charred embers remained then covered the ashes in dirt to ensure that the fire didn't spread. After that, they headed out of the woods and made their way back to the car so they could find a place to sleep for the night.

Dean located an old, abandoned farmhouse a few miles away for them to squat in. It was a miracle to Sam that the building hadn't collapsed seeing how termite eaten the old timbers holding the structure vertical looked, but a roof was a roof and he was so tired that he really couldn't complain about the accommodations. He just wanted to curl up on his blanket and sleep – he'd deal with the nightmares as long as he could get some rest.

By the time they had set up their make-shift beds, Sam's head and hand were both throbbing and the same shaky feeling that had come over him earlier in the day was back. He sat heavily down on his blanket while Dean brought over the med-kit and kneeled beside him.

"Here ..gimme that hand." Dean ordered. Sam complied wearily and allowed his brother to smear some burn ointment on it then wrap it up in some clean gauze, but he had a difficult time keeping his hand steady and Dean was starting to notice the tremors, "There … that should do it." Dean stated, looking up and meeting Sam's eyes, "You sure you're okay?"

Sam shook his head, "Actually … I dunno … I've been feeling weird all day."

"Weird? How?"

Sam shrugged his shoulders, dismissing Dean's concern with a wave of his hand, wishing he hadn't said anything. The last thing he wanted was something else to set Dean off and worry him – that almost always leads to Sam finding Dean passed out surrounded by empty beer cans and whiskey bottles. So far, Dean had managed to stay sober all day and he didn't want to give his brother an excuse to drink away his problems, "I'm sure it's nothing. I'll be fine … just need some sleep." Sam assured him, laying down and pulling his pillow under his head, "Thanks for fixing my hand." He added before closing his eyes.

"Sure … " Dean muttered, but Sam could feel Dean's eyes lingering on him and cursed internally, certain that he had set off his 'protect Sammy' alarms, so he rolled over onto his side and pretended to sleep until Dean finally got up and headed over to his own pile of blankets.

Sam heard the unmistakable sound of a cap being unscrewed from a bottle and he knew that his brother wouldn't be asleep for a while.

OOOOOOO

Dean settled down on his blanket, knowing that Sam wasn't asleep, but unable to bring himself to call his brother out on his bullshitting. If Sam wanted to pretend he was fine, then what could he really do about it? Yet still, he had a nagging concern that Sam's strange behavior that day and his admission that he was feeling 'weird' meant that his brother slipping again and what would be next? How long could he keep Sam from going off the deep end and how long would it be before he had to convince Sam that he was real again?

He just wanted to turn off the swirling, darkening thoughts crowding into his head, so he pulled his back up against the wall and leaned his head against it, ignoring the peeling flakes of paint that landed in his hair as he reached for his duffel and the bottle of whiskey it held inside. He might not be able to do anything about his crazy brother, or Dick Roman, or the Leviathans chasing them and looking to turn them into their next buffet, nor could he bring Bobby back from the dead, but he could tune it all out for a little while with help from his good buddy, Jack. He knew alcohol wasn't a permanent solution to keeping those problems at bay, but it helped and at least when he was drunk, he got some kind of reprieve and it helped him sleep, which was something his body refused to give him without his nightly booze-a-thon lately.

Dean put the bottle up to his lips and took a healthy swallow.

An hour later, most of the bottle was gone, but Dean still couldn't sleep and felt none of the effects he would have expected by then.

Dean finished off the bottle then tossed the useless, ineffective stuff aside … yeah, his tolerance for alcohol had gone through the roof lately, but this was ridiculous. He should have been wasted by then – he shouldn't be able to see straight or think , the room should have been spinning—but there was none of that - he wasn't even slightly buzzed.

Sam at least appeared to have settled into a deep sleep. He still had his back turned to Dean with a blanket wrapped snuggly around his shoulders so that he could only make out a few tufts of Sam's hair from under it and he was snoring softly except for the few times he moaned and muttered unintelligibly, locked in whatever replay of Hell he had going on in his brain.

Sam loudly moaned again then rolled onto his back, shivering and rolling his head from side to side, "Nuhhh, nuhhh" His face grimaced in pain and his back arched off the floor.

Dean pushed off against the wall - it was time to wake Sam up from his nightmare. On those nights when Sam actually slept, Dean often woke to the sounds of his brother tossing and turning and he usually didn't try to wake him up since it normally freaked him the hell out to be touched while he was asleep, but this appeared to be particularly bad this time and it was pure instinct that drove him across the room to lay a hand on his shoulder and soothe his troubled dreams.

The moment Dean touched Sam though, he knew something far worse than a nightmare was plaguing him. His skin was cold and clammy, and his face was almost translucent it was so pale. Dean grabbed his shoulders and gave them a shake, "C'mon, Sam … wake up."

His brother gave no sign that he heard Dean and fell back against his pillow, deathly still. Dean's anxiety jumped when in the next second Sam's body suddenly jerked, his eyelashes fluttered uncontrollably showing only the whites of his eyes as they rolled up into his head, and his legs and arms flailed about on their own accord.

"Sam! Shit , shit, shit …" Dean grasped his brother's face between his palms. He could feel the muscles in Sam's jaw clench and hear his molars grind together as a deep-throated rattle issued from his chest. Panic gripped Dean as the seizure went on for one minute and then two without showing any signs of stopping. He was powerless to do much more than try to keep his brother from injuring himself as the spasms went on and on.

Finally, an eternity went by before Sam's movements suddenly stopped and he went utterly and completely limp. Sam's chest rose once and he let out a long sigh, but no inhale followed.

"Sammy?" Dean gasped, "No … "He fumbled for Sam's neck, feeling for a pulse, finding it weak and thread. He leaned in close to his brother's mouth, praying that he would feel any kind of air moving in and out from his lips, but there was nothing … Sam wasn't breathing.

An icy hand of fear grabbed ahold of Dean's racing heart as he quickly tilted Sam's head back, pinched his nose and covered his mouth with his own, blowing two breaths into his little brother, praying that Sam would catch on and do the whole breathing thing on his own.

Sam gasped after the third time he repeated the rescue breathing and Dean nearly collapsed in relief as he continued to take inhales and exhales, but as soon as Dean had thought the worst had passed, Sam started making choking noises. Coming to his senses again, Dean realized Sam's stomach was heaving, and he quickly turned his brother onto his side as he puked onto the floor, but knowing that he was still in danger of asphyxiating on his own vomit, Dean tried pulling his listless brother up into a sitting position so he couldn't choke on the liquids coming up from stomach.

Sam's head hung loosely as Dean fought to stabilize him, holding his limp, unresponsive body close to his own as he reached into his pocket and fished out his phone to call the paramedics - he needed help that was beyond Dean's expertise but he didn't have the slightest clue as to where the nearest hospital may be and driving around trying to find one would only waste time that Dean feared they didn't have. Sam had been through some pretty nasty seizures since the return of his soul, but none had scared Dean half as bad as this one and Sam still wasn't coming around and his shuddering, weakening breaths were making him even more anxious.

"Hold on, Sammy. I'm getting help … just hold on."


Part Two )

Tags: sam, supernatural
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