I Wish I was a Growed Up 4/?
Title: I WIsh I was a Growed Up
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
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: ~3,000
Summary: Sammy has just figured out that life isn't fair for his older brother, Dean. He wishes there was some way he could help. When his wish comes true their lives are changed forever. AU hurt/sick!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester
I Wish I was a Growed Up
Chapter 4 The End of the Beginning
Dean stands, shell shocked, with the phone dangling nearly forgotten in a loose grip long after their Dad says good-bye. Staring straight ahead, he fumbles with the receiver until it finds the cradle almost on its own.
"Dean, don't listen to him, he doesn't know how sick you are." Sammy tries, knowing before he even begins that it's a lost cause.
"No, Sammy, he's right." Dean croaks, voice catching. "I...I don't know what I was thinking. I knew I had training to do and...and I just laid around all day yesterday. How can I expect anyone to...trust me if I can't do one easy thing right."
Sammy knows that Dean is thinking out loud, not really talking to him at all. The internal dialogue he normally uses to berate himself being spoken out loud inadvertently.
"Being sick and needing help are things that happen to everyone, Dean. It's not something to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about." Sammy places one hand on Dean's back when he sees his brother fighting to control tears that threaten to spill from shimmering emerald eyes.
Ducking out from under Sammy's hand, Dean viciously pushes the heels of both hands into his eyes to stop the tears from falling. "Sorry you had to take care of me. I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused."
Watching every bit of progress he'd made with his brother stripped away is more than Sammy can bear and he wants to grab onto Dean, hold him tight, force him to realize how valuable, how treasured, how important he is, but he knows Dean won't put up with that, not now. Not with the ghost of Dad's words still ringing in his ears.
He settles for squatting in front of Dean so they're eye to eye. "I wanted to take care of you...I still want to."
Dean returns the eye contact briefly, then reverts to staring at his feet as if overpowered by shame at his own weakness. "Yeah, well, you don't have to anymore. I'm better, now." He stifles a cough into the crook of his elbow.
"You're a little better, yes, but you still need to get your strength back." Sammy pushes himself back to his feet, legs aching from the awkward position.
"A little better is gonna have to be good enough." Dean quirks a half smile, the jaunty smile where his lips curl up on one side of his face, but not the other. The smile that says 'nobody here but a cocky kid without a care in the world, no emotional scars to gawk at, everybody can just move along'. The smile that fools the teachers, child protective services, and every other adult Dean comes in contact with, even Dad.
The smile currently tearing a hole in Sammy's lungs, causing the air to stagnate and refuse to be moved in or out of his body.
The first and foremost line of defense in Dean's arsenal has always been deflection. When under attack, misdirect the enemy with clever repartee, never let them see your distress, never let on that you're hurting. Sammy wonders when he became the enemy.
"It's not good enough. You need to take it easy for at least another day or two. You're not ready to jump to attention and follow Dad's every command yet." His frustration makes his voice sharper than he intended and Sammy knows he's made a mistake as soon as the words leave his mouth.
Dean's face instantly transforms from cocky to furious, a wall slams into place effectively shutting Sammy out. "I'm not weak, Sammy, and even if you are a grown up right now, you're not in charge of me."
There's nothing he can do but watch as his brother brushes past him and marches stiffly into the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. He hears an explosion of coughing after the door closes, as if Dean had been waiting to be alone before giving in to his dry, scratchy, aching throat. Never let on that you're hurting.
At least Dean is in the bedroom where he can get some rest, even though he obviously doesn't want Sammy anywhere near him. With a deep sigh, Sammy shuffles into the kitchen, intent on making something for Dean's breakfast, even if his help is unwanted. He wonders how in the world things got so messed up so quickly. Just last night, his brother had sought him out, leaned on him, cried on him for goodness sake. Let himself be cared for. Let someone care about him. Let Sammy take care of him. And now he's treating Sammy like one of 'them' instead of one of 'us', one of the people to be deceived instead of relied on, one of the grown ups he routinely dismisses as of no use to him instead of his doted upon brother.
Before Sammy can even get the pan hot enough to cook the scrambled eggs, Dean emerges from the bedroom wearing a pair of sweat pants and a loose shirt, training clothes. His movements are jerky, uncoordinated and Sammy can tell he's trying hard to hold himself together, doesn't want Sammy to see him falter. It's all an act put on for his benefit. Dean's feverish eyes look vaguely unfocused, his breath already coming in short bursts even though all he's done so far is to get dressed from what Sammy can tell. Pained resolution is painted on his face like another one of the masks he wears for strangers, only this isn't part of the performance, it's for real and not actually meant to be seen. Sammy sees it.
"What are you doing, Dean?" Sammy asks the question, even though the answer is obvious, while moving to block the front door.
"I'm going outside to practice. I have to show Dad I'm strong enough to pull my weight. I have to be ready if he needs me." Determined, Dean stalkes toward him, pushes past him, almost makes it to the door before Sammy can react.
Sammy's long arm darts out and he catches Dean's shoulder just as he reaches for the door knob. "Your fever has gone down from where it was last night, but it's not back to normal yet, you haven't had anything to eat that's stayed down since day before yesterday, you're probably partially dehydrated because you weren't able to drink much yesterday, you haven't had a good night's sleep for the past two nights, you're squinting your eyes like you have a headache, and you're still coughing." He ticks each point off on slender fingers, voice rising in volume as he continues. "You need to rest, give yourself a little time and when you feel up to it, I'll help you train."
Without so much as a backward glance, Dean shakes off Sammy's hand and continues outside. Sammy follows him, fuming. A warm breeze, the kind typical of late spring, ruffles the boys' hair on its way past. They round the apartment building and go through the gate to the small strip of grass that serves as the apartment building's back yard. The space is surrounded by a privacy fence and contains a couple of rusty lawn chairs. Weeds sprout haphazardly along the fence line, but the grass is mowed to a respectable height.
Despite his good intentions, Dean's obstinacy, his misplaced loyalty to their Dad, infuriates Sammy. Where four year old Sammy would cringe in sympathy, twenty four year old Sammy slams his hand into the fence behind him in white hot anger. Dad is the reason Dean pushes himself too hard, and for what? What is it that Dean hopes to find in their distant father with his one-track mind? Sammy has never had to depend on their Dad for much, so the concept is alien to him...until he tries to imagine life without Dean's ever-present support. And then he gets it.
Then again, as a four year old he already understood. It's why he made this wish in the first place, his desire to fulfill the same role for his brother that Dean fulfills for him. Is there something about being a grown up that made him forget his childish ideals? That makes him quick to anger? Being angry at their Dad is one thing, but he can't let that anger transfer to Dean. He swallows any negative emotions about their Dad, doesn't want to add to the heavy burden Dean already carries.
Dean is oblivious to Sammy's epiphany. After limbering up with several stretching exercises, he relaxes into a fighting stance. Following Dad's prescribed regimen, he begins the practice with forward jabs, boxer style, at an invisible target. When Dad's here, he serves as Dean's sparring partner, but when they're alone, Dean has to make due. Although Sammy is standing right there, Dean ignores him as a potential sparring partner and Sammy doesn't offer. In no way does he want to give Dean the impression that he condones this activity. Not if the sole purpose is to appease Dad, not at the expense of Dean's health.
While watching his brother pause to catch his breath during what should have been the light, warm-up portion of the work out routine, he pictures himself physically putting a stop to Dean's self-inflicted torture. He could do it. After all, he's a lot bigger than Dean now.
He imagines himself picking Dean up and forcefully taking him back inside. Dean would struggle for a while, but would quickly realize that there was no point. He would submit to being carried inside without screaming to avoid a scene, nosy neighbors, police, child protective services.
Then he would resent Sammy for the rest of his life. Nope, Dean is going to have to do this his way and Sammy is going to have to let him.
Next comes the kick-boxing work out. A knot n the wood of the privacy fence right at hip level for Dean serves as his target. Lacking his normal fluid grace, rapid-fire kicks now sluggish, precise leg placements now sloppy, Dean proceeds to aim sideways kicks at the fence with first his left and then his right booted foot.
It's during his second set of twenty reps that he loses his balance and has to hop sideways to avoid falling to the ground. He turns to face his brother and Sammy can see Dean's eyes spinning like he's just been running in tight circles, dizzy with the effort. His hands go out to the sides to catch himself, just missing the fence and groping at thin air.
"Put your head between your legs if you're feeling lightheaded." Sammy calls, already running towards his now dangerously listing brother, but it's too late for that.
Dean's eyes roll back in his head and his knees unhinge. With a quiet thwump, Dean collapses in a heap on the thankfully soft grass.
"No, Dean, don't do that." The distraught words sound ridiculous even to his own ears. Sammy is beyond caring. His stomach lurches into his throat at the sight of the small boy lying unmoving and helpless on the ground. "No no no no no." Kneeling beside his brother, Sammy whispers soundlessly, brushes the hair from Dean's face, presses numb fingers to Dean's neck, feeling for a pulse. Of course, it's there, galloping along fast and strong and Sammy let's out the remainder of his pent up breath. Dean's fine, he just passed out from over exertion, dehydration, limits of endurance surpassed, take your pick. He needs some TLC and something tells him that Dean will submit to his ministrations from now on.
Sliding one arm under Dean's legs and the other under his shoulders, Sammy lifts his brother, rag doll limp, and jogs through the gate, around the building and up to the front door of their apartment. He juggles Dean higher against his chest and eases the door open, sliding into the welcoming cool of the air conditioning.
Dean moans and shifts closer to the warmth of Sammy's torso, weak as a kitten, eyelids fluttering slowly open.
"Shhhh, you're OK, you decided to take a nap in the grass, that's all." Sammy sooths, going for a lightly teasing tone, hoping to disguise his distress.
Dean looks up at him with wide, bewildered eyes, all former obstinate determination washed away by the waves of dizziness. He looks so lost and young, it's absolutely heart-wrenching.
"Sammy?" Dean sighs the one word question, his brother's presence all he requires.
"Yup, I'm here. We're back in the apartment. I'm going to get you something to drink, maybe something to eat. You'll feel better in a minute."
After gently lowering Dean onto his bed, tucking the blankets around his legs and waist, Sammy turns toward the kitchen to get a glass of water when he's brought up short by Dean's plaintive voice, made all the more compelling by his obvious disorientation.
"It's like my dream, just like my dream."
"What's like your dream?" Sammy sinks into the mattress near Dean's hip, picks up his brother's hand where it twitches restlessly on top of his thigh, holding the cool digits between his own to warm them.
"I'm not ready. Something bad's gonna come after you and I'm not gonna be ready. I won't be able to stop it and it'll be all my fault." Dean's sorrow filled eyes hold him captive and he can't look away.
"Oh God, Dean. Is that what this drive to train is about...your dream?" Sammy feels lower than dirt. Here he's been blaming Dad for making Dean feel inadequate and all along Dean has been pushing himself, training harder, so that he'll be ready to keep his little brother safe from the slimy and evil things they both know haunt the night.
"Dad's counting on me to watch over you, Sammy. I'm letting him down. He's gonna be disappointed in me." Voice hitching, Dean continues to stare at him and Sammy wishes Dean didn't care so much about what their Dad thinks.
"There's no reason for Dad to be disappointed in you, nothing has come after me, nothing has happened to either one of us. Why don't you tell me about your dream?"
"It's dark...I can't see you, but I know you're there with me. We're in a basement...I think. I can hear something coming...it's growling, snarling. Then it has you and you're screaming. Sammy, you're screaming for me to help you, and I try...I try to help you, but I can't find you. When it takes you away I know I'm not strong enough or fast enough or good enough and I have to get better so I can save you." Dean talks about the nightmare as though he's reliving it, by the time he gets to the end he's breathing heavily.
"Ok, it's just a bad dream, not real. Calm down, Dean, it's all right." Sammy rubs Dean's chest, encouraging him to take deep breaths. He uses the time to gather his thoughts, this is important and he needs to do it right, make Dean understand. "You're taking on an awfully big mission there, don't you think? Don't take this the wrong way, 'cause I'm grateful, Dean, really I am, and I admire you. But, you don't have to feel like it's all on you, all the time. You've had to carry more than your fair share up until now and you've done a great job. I'm hoping to take some of it from you, if you'll let me."
Pausing, he looks intently at the boy in the bed. Dean shakes his head, not in disagreement, more like he's trying to clear his vision.
"Will you help me train? You said you'd help when I was better."
Sammy snorts in amused disbelief. "You aren't paying any attention to me at all, are you? Yes, I'll help you train when you're feeling better."
He's just about to try to make his point again when Dean begins scrunching his eyes closed and opening them wide. He repeats the process a second and a third time. It takes Sammy a couple of seconds, watching his brother closely, to figure out what he's doing.
"You're still feeling lightheaded? Is your vision tunneling? Hold on, Dean. You need some water." Sammy rushes to the kitchen for the previously forgotten glass of water, disappointed in himself for not treating Dean's dehydration before trying to decipher his dreams. Talk about misplaced priorities.
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