Title: Consumed Memories
Characters: Sam, Dean
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Rated for show level violence and language. Spoilers for Season 1.
Word Count: ~4,400
Summary: After a seemingly sucessful hunt, Dean begins acting strangly and it gets progessively worse. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery and fix the problem in time to save him? hurt!Dean caring!Sam
Chapter 6 Trust Me
The empty gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach reminded Sam that they hadn't eaten anything since the fast food lunch they'd grabbed on the way to D. C. At that point Dean had been animated and talking, a far cry from the motionless silent man who now lay across the passenger seat, feet on the floor and head in Sam's lap. Dean wouldn't be waking up to eat tonight and, although he was hungry, Sam didn't want to eat when Dean couldn't. Besides, he needed to get Dean settled in the motel room and start reading the book he had taken from the library.
The motel parking lot was full when Sam pulled in and all the spaces near their room were already taken. Popular place. There must be some kind of event nearby that had caused the motel to fill up.
Sam pulled the car up as close to their room as he could which meant double parking for the time being. He then carefully eased out from underneath his older brother's head and ran to unlock the motel room door and pull the covers back on Dean's bed. He tossed the all-important book on his own bed where it called to him with promises of solutions to the riddles that plagued them. He was anxious to start reading, but he needed to see to Dean first.
It was late enough that the motel parking lot was empty of patrons, everyone else already settled into their rooms for the night.
Sam was struck by how young his brother looked when his face was completely relaxed, realized that he had rarely seen Dean look so peaceful, even in sleep. The external peace betrayed no hint of the internal assault currently taking place in his brother's head. The thought made Sam want to kill something with his bare hands, but he was infinitely gentle as he bent over to pick Dean up. His arm went under Dean's shoulders and he was careful to make sure that his brother's head was securely resting on his shoulder before gathering Dean's legs under his other arm and lifting with a soft grunt.
Yeah, Dean was a couple of inches shorter than Sam, but he was pure muscle and he was heavy. It would have been a lot easier to pull Dean up over his shoulder and carry him that way, but Sam just didn't have the heart to do it. For one thing, carrying someone over the shoulder felt like carrying a bag or a sack, not like carrying a person. It almost felt like an insult. For another thing, it was a lot harder on the person being carried and Dean had been through the ringer today as it was.
He set Dean carefully on the bed and removed his boots, jeans and both shirts before pulling the blankets up around his chin.
Sam watched as Dean slept and wondered again at the youthfulness radiating from him. Gone were the hard edge to his jaw and the stress lines from his forehead that never seemed to leave his face these days. Even when Dean was joking around, his tough life experiences were always visible in the plains and angles that characterized his features.
An uneasy feeling began to worm its way up through his gut because the years seemed to have melted off his brother. What if Dean was losing years worth of memories instead of just months this time? No, it must just be my imagination running away with me. Sam dismissed the thought. It had only been a couple of months last night. No reason to believe it would be more tonight.
A couple of months was difficult enough because that would be right around the time Dean had come to get him from Stanford. Depending on whether he remembered coming to Stanford or not, Sam would have to use different strategies to convince him of what was happening. In one scenario Sam's presence would be a total shock to Dean. The trick was in knowing what Dean's most recent memories were going to be. Of course, Sam wouldn't know that for sure until Dean woke up.
With an apprehensive sigh, Sam turned to scan the room, trying to see it as his disoriented brother might perceive it in the morning. He picked up anything that might appear threatening and put it all out of sight in one of the drawers.
Although it had been a long day and the book lying on his bed continued to demand his attention, Sam began to think longingly of a hot shower. He was loath to leave Dean unsupervised, but since he hadn't moved at all during the four hour drive from D. C., he should be all right for the ten minutes Sam would need for a quick shower.
The shower felt fantastic, but thoughts of Dean waking up in confusion caused Sam to make it out of the bathroom in record time. With his towel wrapped around his waist he exited the bathroom, his eyes going to Dean's bed immediately. There had been no need to worry. Dean was in the exact same position as when Sam had tucked him in.
Sam toweled dry and hurried into some clean boxers and his sweatpants.
A knock on the door nearly gave him a heart attack. Before going to the door, Sam grabbed a knife out of the drawer and tucked in into the waistband of his pants, flat against his back. He looked cautiously through the peep hole. Crap, it's the motel manager.
He opened the door a couple of inches and spoke through the slight opening. "Yes? Is something wrong?"
"Is that your car double parked there?" The manager indicated the Impala.
"Shoot, sorry about that. I meant to move it once we got all our luggage in the room and I completely forgot. I'll do it right now." Sam rushed to explain.
"See that you do." The manager grumbled as he turned to go back to his office.
Still berating himself for his forgetfulness, Sam grabbed the keys and rushed outside to move the car. There were only a few parking spaces left and they were around at the back of the motel. Sam got the car parked and ran all the way back to the room. His mind was conjuring all types of scenarios in which Dean was awake in a panic and he wasn't there to explain and calm him down.
Dean was still asleep on the bed when Sam burst through the motel room door. Jeez, get a grip. He sat down on the edge of Dean's bed and leaned over until his forehead was pressed to his brother's, needing the physical contact.
"We gotta get you out of this mess before I start losing it." Sam confided softly.
Speaking of which, the book that had to contain the answers was still nestled among his blankets. Sam picked it up and settled onto his bed, leaning his back on the headboard.
After an hour of reading, the words were blurring together on the page. Sam read and re-read the same sentences, not gleaning any meaning from them. He was tired. This wasn't getting him anywhere. Since he'd had only two or three hours of sleep the night before, he was running on empty. He just needed a little bit of sleep and then he could hit the book hard tomorrow, get the information they needed, and take care of whatever was hurting his brother.
The clock on the bedside table said 1:00AM. Sam got up and checked on Dean, still breathing, heart rate strong, not moving. Then he got into his own bed, set the alarm for 3:00AM, deciding on a two hour schedule for checking on his brother, and immediately fell asleep.
Dean woke up in a panic. His heart was pounding in his chest and he was having trouble catching his breath. What the hell! He searched his sleep shrouded thoughts for what could possibly have caused this full blown panic attack and came up empty. He didn't remember having a nightmare or hearing a noise that would have woken him up.
As he scanned the dark room for a clue to his distress, he realized that nothing looked familiar. He could tell he was in a motel room by the layout, large room with two full sized beds, a TV on a dresser against the wall opposite the beds, one door, one window, and an alcove on the other side where a sink and the door to the bathroom were barely visible in the gloom. The clock on the bedside table said 3:37AM. OK, being in a motel room, not unusual. But this room was not the one he remembered checking into.
His feeling of unease grew. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. The sense of wrongness was like a physical presence, pressing down on his chest and making it even more difficult to breathe. Get a grip, you're going to hyperventilate and pass out. Slow breaths…in…out…in…out. That's better.
His thoughts were swirling around. He couldn't make sense of them. Dad can tell me what's going on. As soon as the idea hit him, Dean sat up in his bed and almost called out for his Dad before he remembered that his Dad wasn't on this hunt with him. Dad had sent him to Ohio on a solo hunt.
The months following Sam's departure for Stanford had been tense to put it mildly. Dad had been distant and Dean had been uncharacteristically moody.
Dad had seemed relieved to have two possible hunts come up at the same time. The perfect opportunity to put some distance between himself and his brooding son, the brooding reminding him too clearly of the son who had deserted them. At least that's how Dean imagined it.
His father had sent him to investigate reports of an entire family who had gone missing from their farm outside Ashland, Ohio. Relatives were distraught by the disappearance of the young couple and their two little girls. Dean had finished the preliminary research and had been planning a visit out to the farm that day. So why was he now in this strange motel room? Could it be related to the case?
A slight movement on the other bed caught his attention and he turned to see who he was sharing this room with. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he could just make out a long shape with dark hair, one lean muscular arm on top of the covers, face turned away from him. The deep breathing let him know the other man was sleeping. Dean racked his brain for who the man could be and was disturbed to find that nothing was clicking.
Sam was at college and Dad was in Indiana looking into a possible haunting in an old theater that was being renovated. There shouldn't be anyone sharing a room with him. He was supposed to be alone.
Alone...with no back up. No one to turn to if things went horribly south and no one to count on for support.
Not only was his mind playing tricks on him, but he didn't feel real good either. The room was doing lazy loops around him and his eyes felt gritty, like he'd been at the beach and had sand blown in his face. Everything was blurry, his vision, his thoughts, even his movements were uncoordinated.
Maybe he wasn't at the top of his game, but Dean could still put two and two together. He took quick stock of his situation and performed a self assessment. Memory's all shot to hell, feelings of unease and panic, and the room's spinning around. Add all that up and it sounds like…drugs. I've been taking drugs or…someone has been drugging me. Dean's eyes shifted back to the unknown man in the other bed.
He silently moved his feet and legs over the side of his bed and stood up, swaying as a wave of vertigo almost toppled him. He noted the trembling of his arms and legs and decided to add extreme fatigue to his list of symptoms. Great, just fucking great.
The need to 'get out' ramped up inside him. He couldn't fight off an assailant right now, so he needed to get away. Find someplace to hole up until he could figure this out. He needed his mind to stop jumping around and let him think, just for a couple of minutes.
Watching the form on the other bed for any signs of movement, he gathered the clothes that were draped on his bed, assuming they belonged to him since he only had boxers on, and moved closer to the motel room door. Luckily, that direction was also away from the other bed and the man still asleep in it. He took a few moments to pull the clothes on and they fit. Another lucky break.
Opening the door as quietly as possible, Dean slid through and out to the dark parking lot of the motel. Just as quietly, he pulled the door closed behind him. Now that he was outside, he had no idea where to go, he just wanted to get away from here. Running was out as he just didn't have the energy, so he began walking toward the nearest corner of the motel where he could make a quick turn and be out of sight of the motel room, just in case the stranger woke up and came looking for him.
His next move had to be to find a place where he could lay low and it had to be close by. He scanned the area, looking for the best possible cover.
Across the street from the motel was a small strip mall. No where to hide there. Further down was a gas station. Too well lit. Beyond that was a building in the process of construction. There were enough walls up to provide concealment, but enough open spaces to allow for a quick get away if the need arose. He didn't want to get boxed in somewhere with no possible escape.
The construction site would have to do.
He was troubled by how difficult walking was. His arms and legs were heavy with exhaustion. Every step was a major effort. Painstakingly, he made his way to his chosen sanctuary.
There was a space in the back of the building frame where all four walls were up and two of them had openings for doors to be installed later. Dean staggered into the hollow space and sat down with his back pressed up against a wall, facing the door frame on the opposite side.
Thoughts were reeling around in his brain. He needed to rein them in, take control. Nothing was making any sense. He felt the panic begin to swamp him again as thoughts like 'danger', 'run', and 'fight' all galloped through his head. His breath was exploding out of him in short bursts. He squeezed his eyes shut tight and covered them with his hands, willing his mind to stop its chaotic swirling.
One thing, and only one, seemed perfectly clear, he was alone. That thought, among all the others, continued to surface.
He had dedicated his life to taking care of his family. Put his brother's and his Dad's needs above his own time and time again. Defined himself in terms of his family's well being. Without them nearby he felt lost, without purpose, set adrift on a vast ocean with no paddle and no compass.
Nothing held his focus as panic swamped him and his vision blurred. His thoughts became hazier and pure instinct took over. Danger, run, fight. His nerve endings hummed in anticipation.
The alarm went off at 5:00AM right on schedule.
The 3:00AM brother check had been quick and uneventful. Dean was still asleep, breathing, heart beating, not moving. Sam had blearily reset the alarm for two more hours and, turning over to face the wall, succumbed to exhaustion.
When the alarm went off the second time, Sam rolled over, his gaze automatically going to the other bed. The bed appeared to be empty. He squinted and looked harder, sure that his sleep filled eyes must not be working right. Still empty. Nononononononono.
Sam jumped out of bed and looked frantically around the room. Dean wasn't there. He wasn't in the bathroom. He wasn't under the beds or in the small closet. Shit, how can this have happened? How could I have let this happen?
Dean's clothes were gone, but nothing else was missing. His brother was outside somewhere with nothing but the clothes on his back, and no idea what was going on. Dean had left without even trying to talk to him and Sam didn't want to contemplate the implications of that.
Pulling on his own clothes as quickly as possible, Sam jerked the motel door open and skimmed the immediate area for any signs of his brother. Nothing.
Well, Dean was probably on foot and, if yesterday was any indication, he wouldn't be moving very fast or very far.
Sam closed his eyes and began to imagine what Dean would do given his current condition. Dean would be confused and possibly scared. He would go to ground somewhere nearby. With his new found insight Sam opened his eyes and looked at the area surrounding the motel again. His gaze raked the strip mall, No, the gas station, No, and the construction site, Gotcha, Bro! At a dead run, Sam took off for the construction site.
As soon as he got close enough Sam began calling out. The last thing he wanted to do was to somehow sneak up on his brother, as if that was even possible given Dean's sharp hunter senses. If it even looked like Sam was trying to be sneaky he would ruin his chances of gaining trust. "Dean! It's me...Sam."
He moved through the shell of the building rapidly, checking each corner and blind turn. "Dean! Come out so I can talk to you. Please!"
Every second that passed without bringing his brother into view was twisting his gut tighter and tighter. If Dean wasn't here then Sam wasn't sure where he would have gone. He could have gotten into a car and be miles away from here by now.
The faint shuffling sound was his first clue that he was on the right track. It came from the back of the building lay out.
The sight that meet his eyes as he entered the space threatened to tear open his heart. There was Dean, standing with an open door frame at his back, a fist sized rock in his hand. The rock being the only weapon available.
He knew he shouldn't be unhappy that a rock was the best weapon Dean could find to use against him, but it spoke so clearly to Dean's frame of mind. The unfocused eyes glaring at him without an ounce of recognition confirmed his fears.
Unable to reason things out, Dean had given himself over to survival instinct. The open space at his back provided an avenue of escape, but Dean was ready to fight with everything he had left in him before he took that route.
"Dean, you can put that rock down, man. I'm here to help you." Sam spoke soothingly and held his hands out at his sides. See, no weapons.
"Stay the fuck away from me." The command was meant to be threatening, but there wasn't enough force behind it to make the threat believable.
"Hey, hey Dean, I know things are messed up, but I can explain. Will you let me explain?" Sam took another step forward. If he could just get close enough, he was pretty sure he would be able to get through to his older brother.
With a growl that sounded like it came from a wild animal, Dean launched himself at Sam and brought the rock around in an arc aimed for Sam's head.
Sam easily dodged the rock, sidestepped Dean's lunge, and grabbed his brother around the middle, twisting him around so that Dean's back was against his chest and Dean's arms were pinned at his sides. All plans for reasoning with his brother went out the window as soon as Dean attacked him. If his brother had been at all rational he wouldn't have attacked. So Sam was dealing with an irrational brother who obviously didn't recognize him. Good thing the older hunter's reflexes were all shot to hell or Sam would have been in a world of danger.
"I don't want to hurt you, Dean. You're not up for sparring." Sam wrapped his arms around Dean's chest and arms just firmly enough to keep him from squirming free, but not tightly enough to cause any damage.
Dean wasn't ready to give up though. He braced himself against Sam's arms and leaned forward slightly before slamming his head backwards towards Sam's face. Sam saw the move coming well ahead of time. It was a classic and he'd been anticipating it. Sam leaned to the side and Dean's head smashed harmlessly into his well-muscled shoulder.
"You need to stop. You're just going to wear yourself out." He really had no hope of being able to talk Dean into submission. As much as he hated doing it, there was nothing left but to continue to hold on until Dean was unable to continue fighting.
Dean was like a cornered and injured cougar, thrashing and straining against Sam's confining arms, snatches of pained grunts catching in his throat.
Sam felt his resolve slipping. It was just so painful to be the one causing this level of suffering in anyone let alone his own brother, the one person who always looked out for him.
"Please, don't make me do this, Dean. I'm trying to help you."
The struggling didn't waver. Dean may not have even heard him for all the response he got. Sam knew his brother would never back down, never give in, not until he had nothing left in him. Anything less would have surprised him.
When the writhing, kicking, and grunting did finally cease, Sam was just as emotionally drained as Dean was physically and mentally.
Dean's head rolled forward, his shoulders slumped and he didn't even try to support any of his own weight. He was completely spent.
"You don't ever do anything halfway, do you?" Sam whispered sadly.
As gently as he could, Sam lowered them both to the ground, continuing to hold his brother and support his back.
Dean had stopped fighting because he couldn't continue, not because Sam had earned his trust. Sam still had to prove himself, but he thought he knew how to do it.
Repositioning Dean so that his head was resting on Sam's shoulder and Sam had the use of both his hands, he took hold of one of Dean's hands and held it palm side up. Then with his index finger, Sam began to trace the most complicated protection sigil he knew onto Dean's open palm. Once he finished that one he started on another rune.
The patterns weren't meant to magically seal or protect anything, not in this case. Their purpose was to identify him as Sam, Dean's little brother. This was the way that toddler Sammy had learned to make the symbols years ago, with Dean as his patient teacher. Hours had been spent practicing the sigils on each others palms until they were picture perfect. As adults, the patterns were still used to sooth and comfort.
By the time he got to the third sigil he was beginning to think it wasn't going to work. But then...
"Sammy?" The word was no more than an exhale.
"Yeah, Dean. I'm here." Sam moved his hand to rub along Dean's cheek and jaw. Dean leaned into the contact and Sam knew in that moment he had his brother back.
"Let's get you back to the motel room."
"Where're ya goin', Sammy? Please don' leave me." Dean was slurring. He sounded like a tired five year old.
Sam's heart constricted tightly. He shifted Dean's head so that it was resting further down on his arm. He needed to be able to look into his brother's eyes, needed Dean to see the truth in his. "I'm not leaving you. I'm taking you with me. Trust me, Dean."
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