Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort, AU, Wee!chester
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy.
Word Count: ~3,600
Summary: This is the third story in the 'Wish 'verse. I recommend reading at least the first story here before you read this one as this is an AU and it may be difficult to follow if you don't get the background. In summary: Young Sammy's wish to be a grown up whenever his big brother, Dean, needs help gets granted by a well-meaning gypsy. The unexpected consequences of the wish cause an unbreakable bond to develop between the brothers. A magical creature, the black imp, attempts to take the wish away from the boys, but is thwarted by John who is then cursed by the imp to forever be in pain when his sons are nearby.
In this installment Dean is 10 and Sammy is 6 until his brother needs his help and the Wish transforms him into a 24 year old. Dad comes home from a hunt and something is…wrong. Once more it's up to adult Sam to protect young Dean from danger and this time he can't count on John for back-up.
Bonded and Broken
Chapter 3 Trains and Adventures
Paralyzed by uncertainty, Sam takes a moment to get his bearings. He has to make some pretty heavy decisions like what to do about Dean's injuries, what to do about their 'dad' or what is currently posing as their dad, and where to go from here. One thing is perfectly clear, there's something terribly wrong with their father and until he finds out what he's not letting the man get anywhere near Dean. The fact that the man (thing?) has disappeared into their motel room without causing any further damage is a blessing and Sam is immensely thankful for the opportunity to fall back and regroup.
A family of four is cowering in their minivan and the motel desk clerk is staring at him through the big plate glass window of the lobby with the phone to his ear, making one-handed sweeping gestures that resemble a mad-man aiming a gun at a flock of birds. The police will undoubtedly be here soon. The stringy-haired guy from the unit next to theirs is leaning against his door frame like he's not sure whether to stick around for more entertainment or take off before trouble arrives.
Sam guesses he could have been a little more discrete, maybe not yelled quite so loudly or not waved the gun around quite so menacingly, but - honestly - discretion hadn't been his top priority. Of course his top priority had been his brother, getting Dean out of the hands of the demented person who looked a lot like their dad and had been shaking the boy so hard it looked like his neck was about to snap. No matter what faults their father is guilty of, and he has a fair few, he's never shown that much violence towards his own sons before.
As soon as his Wish had transformed him into an adult, he had known that leaving Dean and their dad alone together had been a huge mistake what with the way their dad had been acting. Not that he really could have done anything about it as a six year old. But as a grown up the urgent sense of Dean-danger-wrong-hurry-hurry-hurry had intensified until Sam had been vibrating with the need to get to his brother immediately because he only becomes a grown up when Dean is hurt or when Dean needs his help and there's never any time to wonder why. There's never any time to even take a breath. So, no sooner had he grabbed the nearest weapon he could find than he was hurtling toward the door to confront the danger. Not surprisingly, the danger to Dean had been their father-look-alike.
The Glock seems to have been a lucky choice. Whatever his dad has become or whatever is controlling him appears to have at least respected the weapon enough to back off for the time being, although its parting threat to chase them down is more than a little unsettling.
"S-s-s-ammy, th-there's s-s-something wr-r-rong with-th d-dad. W-we h-have t-t-to help-p him." Dean's teeth are chattering together like castanets, making his words all but completely unintelligible. Neither of them have coats or even jackets and the long sleeve shirt Dean is wearing is sweat-damp, providing no insulation from the frosty air. The boy's head is heavy on his shoulder as if he's too exhausted to hold it up himself, warm puffs of breath fanning Sam's collar.
Although Sam's still not sure what exactly the thing masquerading as their father (and yeah, the more he thinks about it the more he believes there's no way that thing could actually be their dad) did to Dean, now that he has the boy pressed snug against his side the sense of urgency is fading. The police, when they arrive, are going to be looking for the guy with the gun though and that means it's past time to split.
"We will help him, Dean. We will. We'll come back once things settle down. Don't worry, dad's gonna be alright."
He has no idea if he's telling the truth or what to do to help their dad without knowing what kind of problem they're facing, but he's not going to upset Dean any more than he has to at this point.
Tucking the gun into the back of his waistband, Sam wraps his arms more tightly around Dean's shivering body, shifts his brother into a more comfortable position so he can carry him more easily, and lopes away from the motel, long legs taking them swiftly into the cloaking darkness. He runs parallel to the same country road the motel sits off of yet far enough away to be unseen by passing cars in the gloom of the night.
Every step he takes elicits an unintentional whimper from the boy clinging to his neck, reminding him that his brother had sustained injuries he still knows nothing about, injuries that caused him to collapse when their dad let go of him. Once they've put a good amount of distance between themselves and the motel, he slows down and asks, "What's wrong? Where are you hurt?"
"I dunno. 'M dizzy, leg h-hurts. C-c-cold." Dean seems to melt into his side, seeking more warmth and Sam wishes he had something more than words to offer. If only he'd thought to grab a coat on his way out the door along with the gun.
Ghosting a hand over Dean's chest, he says, "Take some deep breaths, it might help with the dizziness."
Dean nods and his ribs expand as he modifies his breathing, unflinching trust in his brother evident in the quick compliance.
Without thinking about it, Sam synchronizes his breathing with Dean's. "Your leg hurts? Which one? Am I jarring you too much when I run?" The thought occurs to him that they have nothing with them except the clothes they're wearing and one handgun. No money, no identification, nothing. Not even phone numbers for the few friends who might be able to help them. It's going to be up to him to treat Dean's injuries and sure, he knows first aid and has basic field medic training, but he still feels overwhelmed by it all and he just wants his brother to be alright, for monsters and people and circumstances to give them a break and leave them alone for once in their lives.
"This one." Dean jiggles his left leg and his knee knocks against Sam's hip. A soft moan is stifled into the hollow of Sam's throat. The emotions coming from Dean across their bond are just as stifled, little flecks of confusion, disbelief, a reluctant sense of betrayal, and a bone-deep sorrow. They're all there but muted as though Dean wants to smother his feelings, cover them up or dampen them somehow so they aren't as sharp. Like the emotions are so painful he doesn't want to feel anything anymore.
Sam thinks they both might feel better if they could just throw their heads back and let all their frustration out in a deafening shout, scream loud and long and tell the world exactly where it can go, let loose with the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums. Yeah, that would definitely make him feel better. Instead he rubs a hand lightly over Dean's back and says, "I'm sorry, I'll be more careful. I'm going to get you somewhere warm soon. Just hang in there for me a little while longer, kiddo. Can you do that?"
Matching action to words and not waiting for an answer, Sam sets off again at a gentler pace, scanning the countryside by the faint light of the mostly full moon for some sort of shelter. A barn, a church, even an abandoned building would be better than nothing. An unlocked car would be ideal. He could hotwire it easy as pie and they'd be on their way without the owner being any the wiser until it was much too late. This just doesn't appear to be his day though because aside from a gas station which is closed up for the night, a sign proclaiming that the next town is twelve miles further down the road, and a billboard advertising the county fair from three month ago, there's not a single structure of any kind in sight. Dad must have selected that motel specifically for its remote location.
He's thinking about maybe retracing his steps and looking for a way to jimmy open the lock on the gas station or maybe just heading in the other direction in the hopes that the pickings aren't quite this sparse when he nearly stumbles over a pair of railroad tracks bisecting the lonely road.
Like providence, a train whistle sounds in the distance, haunting and clear. Maybe fate is throwing them a bone or maybe this is a sign from a higher power. Wouldn't that be nice?
The train is approaching slowly and although Sam has no way of knowing where it's going and has never tried to hop aboard a moving train before, it's as good an option as any they currently have at their disposal. Better than some of the possible courses of action he has been considering. Much better than hiding out nearby and waiting for John to come find them.
With a rumble and a clatter the locomotive draws closer, slowing further as though inviting them along for a ride even though Sam knows he and Dean are nearly invisible in the gloom, what with the navy blue sweatshirt he's wearing and the dark grey long-sleeved t-shirt Dean is wearing. It's also a fact that most stowaways aren't greeted with open arms, so there's some other reason the train is slowing down and Sam doesn't really care what that reason is as long as it works in his favor.
"Dean, if we can find an open boxcar on this train we're getting on. Be ready for me to jump."
The boy lifts his head up from its resting spot on Sam's shoulder to watch the massive, black train engine bear down on them, materializing out of the night, all thundering noise and unyielding power.
They're standing so close to the tracks as the engine in front passes that the air pressure it creates buffets Sam back a half step and he automatically puts a hand in front of Dean's face to shield him from the swirling wind and debris. The boxcars roll past one by one while he tries to see well enough in the scanty moonlight to inspect each of them for a breach, an opening, or some way inside.
It's not going to be easy, but then again that's nothing new. He's going to have to find an open car and climb into it while holding his brother. Dean can't be expected to run and jump onto a moving freight train when there's something wrong with his leg.
There are several coal cars which are open on top and then a series of nondescript cargo cars with doors that open on the side, but appear to be bolted shut. And then, miracle of miracles, a rust red boxcar draws up alongside them and the door is ajar about the span of his fist.
"Hold on tight," Sam yells to be heard over the clanking of the coupling brackets connecting one car to the next. Once he feels Dean's arms twine around his neck in a near-strangle hold and Dean's legs clench around his waist, he lets his own grip on his brother relax, trusting the boy not to let go, and begins to run beside the only unlatched car. Reaching out with one hand, he gropes until he catches a hold of the rungs on the steel ladder attached to the side of the car, runs a few more steps to get lined up just right, and then springs upward.
Dean's weight makes it difficult to judge the amount of force needed and he maybe overcompensates a little bit because they smack into the ladder harder than he anticipated and Dean's head collides with one of the rungs. The boy chokes off a soft moan into Sam's ear and then sucks in a ragged gulp of air. There's no time to apologize though as Sam's feet scrabble for purchase on the bottom rung and his free hand slaps against the heavy door, the aged iron cold and pebbled to his touch. For one terrifying second his sweat-slick grip on the ladder slips when the train gives a jerk and picks up speed.
His feet finally find stable footing on the narrow ledge protruding from the boxcar's undercarriage and with a relieved exhale he firms his one-handed hold on the ladder, stretches as far as he can to his right and grasps the large lever which serves as the boxcar's door handle. A nearly manic grin stretches his lips wide; long arms really do come in handy. The strange position he's in, plastered to the side of the train, reminds him of a Spiderman comic Dean had once.
Dean is mostly smooshed between him and the ladder, still hanging on to Sam for dear life. Using all his strength, shoulder muscles bunching and straining, Sam is able to pull the slab-like door slowly towards him along rusty grooves at its top and bottom, creating an opening large enough for him to squeeze through, bringing Dean with him. Even over the raucous noise of the train engine and the clattering cars, the door makes a screeching, whining sound like an entire flock of seagulls all fighting and bickering over a single bite of food.
They tumble into the dim interior of the boxcar and although the door is still open, the noise level is noticeably reduced by the thick walls surrounding them. Wooden crates stacked floor the ceiling take up more than half the space, but there's plenty of room to move around.
First things first, Sam rolls away from Dean to make sure he doesn't accidentally harm the boy when he sits up from the sprawl he'd landed in, untangles their limbs carefully, never forgetting that Dean is hurt even though he didn't see what happened to cause the injury while he was in the motel room and dad had Dean outside.
Dean sits forward, the only visible parts of him are the pale oval of his face and the barely discernable outline of his hands grasping at what Sam guesses must be one of the boy's legs.
"Relax and let me see if I can figure out what's wrong with your leg," Sam instructs. Inside the murky boxcar he can't actually see much of anything, so he eases his brother onto his back and begins running nimble fingers over the blue jeans covering his left leg, listening intently for any indrawn breath or other sign that he has found a source of pain.
A groan escapes the boy when Sam reaches his knee and Sam winces himself, imagining his brother's tight grimace of discomfort although he can't see the expression on his face. He manipulates the joint gingerly, feels the kneecap slide sickeningly too far out of place. Dean gasps and grabs at Sam's wrist, reflexively digging his fingers into the tough tendons there.
"Okay, okay." Lowering his voice to a quiet murmur, Sam strokes the length of Dean's leg as though he's trying to calm a skittish colt. "How did that happen, kiddo? What happened after dad sent me back to the motel room?"
He hears a rusting sound like maybe Dean is shrugging or shaking his head. Either way the question goes unanswered.
Sam resumes his inspection because there's every likelihood that the busted knee is not Dean's only injury, much as he wishes otherwise. The ankle of the same leg is swollen to the size of a softball. Pausing with his hands cupping the ankle tenderly, Sam closes his eyes for a moment and tries to think calming thoughts. He doesn't want to speak until he knows he has his voice under control.
"Can you wiggle your toes?" He eventually asks and is gratified when he can feel movement inside Dean's sneaker. "I don't think it's broken, just a bad sprain probably, but you won't be walking on that leg for a while."
"Yeah." Dean sighs, resigned.
He doesn't find any other dislocated joints or broken bones, nothing else is evident from his sense of touch alone. The light of day might tell a different story. Until then there's not much Sam can do about any of it anyway.
Dean is being quiet and that's never a good sign. Shivers continue to rack the boy's body and Sam can still hear his teeth chattering even though they're out of the biting wind. Could be his brother is going into shock. That thought motivates Sam to get a move on.
There's a narrow, enclosed area between two stacks of crates against one wall out of sight of the large door. Even if someone happens by once the train stops and gives a cursory glance inside this car they'll be hard pressed to see anyone inside that little cubby.
After a second's hesitation to determine the best way to move his brother, Sam stands behind the boy, bends over and wraps his arms snugly around his chest, then walks backwards, dragging Dean until they are both nestled within the sheltering confines of the towering boxes. It's like being inside of a moving cave made out of timber, insulated and cozy in a boy-I-hope-these-boxes-don't-tumble-down-o
He eases down into a sitting position behind Dean with his legs parted in a V-shape and angles Dean so that he's in between and leaning against Sam's chest. He tries to warm the boy up by wrapping long arms around him and chafing his arms.
It almost feels like they're on that big adventure he'd been craving all day while stuck in the motel room. He has threatened to take Dean and leave their dad several times and now that he's actually doing it, the act of leaving the man behind them is scary yet strangely liberating. It's not forever, he tells himself. Just until he can he can figure out what went so terribly wrong. Just until he can fix it.
"Dean? I need you to tell me what happened back at the motel. It's important. Please."
Dean's breath hitches and speeds up. The story stutters from the boy's lips in bursts of words that falter and fade out only to pick up again in a mad rush as if the words are burning his tongue and he has to get them out fast. He ends with, "…and then dad pushed me down the stairs. He pushed me, Sammy." Dean's voice goes breathless and almost not even there and so, so young, the disbelief and horror of his own father caring so little about him stealing the last of his air.
Sam's suddenly afraid he isn't going to be able to fix this.
The things their father had said to Dean were beyond cruel, beyond devastating.
Dean's shoulders are shaking and with a start Sam realizes the boy is no longer shivering from cold, he's desperately trying to hold back his tears. He knows why Dean thinks he can't cry out loud and it makes his heart ache. "It's okay to cry, kiddo. It's okay to cry in front of me."
A sob breaks from Dean's throat and Sam just holds on to him and rides out the waves of anguish, whispering soothing nonsense and rocking him gently. Dean turns his head and tries to burrow under one of Sam's arms, his tears soaking the cotton of Sam's shirt.
After a while the sobbing tapers off and Dean feels like a limp, wrung-out weight against his chest. Sam thinks his broken brother may have fallen asleep, but in a raspy voice the boy asks, "What are we gonna do, Sammy?"
"To tell you the truth Dean, I don't really have a master plan here or anything." Sam confides softly.
Voice tinged with hope, Dean says, "We could go to Uncle Bobby's."
It's an idea, a good one actually, and how can Sam deny his brother a little bit of hope? He just has to figure out how to get there.
On to (Chapter 4)
Back to ( Chapter 2 )
Back to ( Chapter 1 )