ellerkay: (Supernatural)
[personal profile] ellerkay
Title: Take Care
Fandom: Supernatural
Wordcount: 1700
Rating: R for language
Genre: Gen (like basically all my gen Sam & Dean stuff, you could read it with Wincest goggles if you chose, but there's nothing explicit in that direction)
Summary: From [livejournal.com profile] lauehime's hurt/comfort comment fic meme. Prompt by [livejournal.com profile] safiyabat: "Early season 6, post "You Can't Handle The Truth." Both brothers are injured somehow. Dean's injuries are obvious and Soulless!Sam tends to them, much to Dean's chagrin. Soulless!Sam does not acknowledge his own - maybe he's unenthusiastic about accepting treatment from the guy who pulped his face so recently, maybe he just doesn't like to acknowledge weakness, maybe he legit doesn't care. Either way, they turn out to be reasonably problematic not long after and require care."


Dean staggered into their motel room, aching all over. Sam (or what was left of him; this familial, familiar stranger Dean still didn’t know how to define) walked behind him slowly.

“Fucking Christ,” Dean groaned, collapsing face first onto his bed without bothering to remove his shoes. “Fucking undead bloodsucking fuckers. I hate nests. Why can’t they just brood alone like Anne Rice vampires?”

“You’ve read Anne Rice books?” Sam asked.

“No. Shut up,” Dean said.

Sam turned on the bedside lamp and stood over Dean. Dean could feel his eyes running over him.

“And turn out the damn light,” Dean added. “I’m going to sleep.”

“Dean. Your shoulder’s a mess. You should let me take a look at it.”

Dean groaned again. The tone, reasonable and yet obnoxiously insistent, was a bizarre echo of the brother he knew. Since he’d found out what was wrong with Sam, it was like every little difference jumped out at him.

A part of him wondered how much Sam would have changed if they’d just been apart for a year. Normal Sam, with a soul, out in the world without him. There had been moments after Stanford where Dean could have sworn he’d never met this kid before. But then there were the things that gave Dean a hit of nostalgia like a punch to the gut.

“’M fine,” Dean mumbled. He wasn’t. Two vampires had ripped his T-shirt and worried at his shoulder (his right, damn it) like dogs with a bone, tearing his flesh as much as taking his blood. It was a screaming mess of pain, but Dean didn’t want to move and he didn’t want Sam that close to him.

He squeezed his eyes shut tighter against the realization. Not like he went out of his way to cuddle the dude, but since when did he want to flinch away from his little brother? They’d lived in each other’s personal space for most of their lives.

“Okay,” Sam replied, and moved away. Dean opened one eye warily, surprised and a little hurt to be let off the hook so easily. Soulless Sam might not feel the way the real Sam did, but surely he wouldn’t want his hunting partner in less than peak condition.

A second later he felt Sam sit next to him on the bed. There was a snick sound, and cool air on his lower back, and he realized Sam was cutting his shirt the rest of the way off him.

“Dude!” he protested weakly. “I like this shirt.”

“It’s a goner anyway,” Sam replied calmly. “It’s soaked in blood, and even if you could get it out, this part by your shoulder’s in shreds.”

Dean made grumbling noises until Sam started pulling bits of shirt off the wounds on his shoulder, and then he let out a quiet string of curses.

“Stop being such a wuss,” Sam said.

“Fuck you,” Dean snapped. Sam snorted softly. The shirt was pulled clear now. Sam was quiet for so long Dean started to get antsy.

“Jesus, man, is it that bad?” he said finally.

“It’s pretty messy,” Sam replied. “I think you should go to the bathroom so I can clean it properly.”

Dean sat up quickly. “I’ll just take a shower,” he said, hauling himself off the bed and ignoring the agony in his shoulder at the movement. He started towards the bathroom.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Sam said, following him straight in. “You won’t get it cleaned right. Sit down.”

Dean sighed and sat down backwards on the toilet lid, resting his left forearm on the back. It was cold against his skin. Sam was rummaging in the first aid kit. A second later Dean felt cool liquid flow down his back and he let out a yell as the sting of it hit the open wounds.

“You’re fine,” Sam said. “That was the worst of it.” He immediately began wiping the wounds more thoroughly (and none too gently) with an alcohol-soaked cloth, and Dean clenched his jaw against the pain.

“You’re a real asshole these days, you know that, dude?” he said, voice tight.

“So I hear,” Sam replied. He sounded slightly amused. Dean glared at the wall.

“Good news,” Sam said a couple minutes later. “This isn’t going to require more than a couple stitches. Most of these are pretty shallow, or they’re just little puncture wounds from their teeth. You want anesthetic?”

Sam never used anesthetic anymore. “I’m fine,” Dean said. “Just gimme some whiskey.” Sam brought the bottle to him, and Dean downed a few swallows while Sam got everything ready.

As he stitched Dean’s skin together, Sam kept a steadying hand on Dean’s other shoulder. He’d always done that sort of shit. Must have been force of habit, but it still made Dean ache, and he thought again about how much he missed his brother. Again, his mind tried to reconcile that pain with the fact that Sam was right there and knew everything about their lives. It made his head hurt.

“All set,” Sam said. He grabbed the whiskey from Dean’s hand and took a long drink.

“Hey, hey,” Dean said. “I’m the patient, here. I should get the booze.”

Sam laughed and took another swallow. Dean stared at him, throat tight. That laugh, which was and was not Sam’s laugh. He felt suddenly, weirdly exposed, standing shirtless in the harsh bathroom light, and maybe that was why he forgot to check on Sam, make sure his injuries weren’t too bad.

“I’m going to bed,” he said, and brushed past Sam, eager to get out of the bathroom, which felt very small.

***

A few days later, Dean noticed Sam was limping ever so slightly, and favoring his right leg. He would lean whenever he could, straightening up when he saw Dean looking.

“All right, let’s see it,” Dean said that evening, when they were in the motel. It wasn’t late enough to hit the cemetery yet (the job was a simple salt-and-burn; or at least, it should be), so they had ordered a pizza and settled in. Dean had let Sam get through a couple slices before he said anything.

Sam, stretched out on his bed, raised his eyebrows and affected an innocent expression. He wasn’t as good at it as he used to be.

“What, Dean, you want me to whip out my dick?” There was an acerbic edge to his voice that made Dean’s teeth hurt.

“No, fuckface. Your leg.” Sam’s left leg twitched. “What’s wrong with it?”

Sam hesitated, looking for a moment like he was going to deny it, but then he blew out a breath and shrugged, bending his freakishly long leg in so he could roll up his jeans to the knee. He yanked a grimy bandage off his calf.

Dean winced in sympathy when he saw the deep gash, messily stitched together and obviously infected.

“Dude, what the fuck is this from?” he asked, kneeling in between the beds and taking a look at it.

“The vamp nest,” Sam said. “One of them scuttled up on the floor like a freaking cockroach and cut me. What kind of vampire uses a knife, huh?”

Dean shook his head. “Why didn’t you tell me about this? You did a shitty job stitching it up.”

“The angle wasn’t good,” Sam said.

“I would’ve done it for you, dude.” He glanced up at him. Sam’s face was expressionless as he shrugged.

“Your right shoulder was fucked up. I thought it’d be better if I just took care of it.”

“Yeah, well, now I’m gonna take care of it,” Dean said, rising. “Come on.”

He headed to the bathroom, half-expecting Sam to protest. But Sam just followed him, silent, and sat down on the toilet. Dean wondered if the old Sam would have argued longer. Old Sam probably would have told him about it in the first place, right? Dean felt pressure building behind his eyes and forced himself to concentrate on Sam’s leg.

There wasn’t much he could do for it, but he cleaned it (better than it had ever been cleaned, he suspected) and re-bandaged it, as gently as he could. Sam still flinched a couple times – more at Dean’s touch than at the sting of the alcohol, Dean noticed – but didn’t say a word. When he was done, Dean patted his knee.

“All set,” he said. He looked up to see a strange expression on Sam’s face. He remembered who he was looking at and thought he should’ve skipped the leg pat.

“What?” he snapped, feeling inexplicably annoyed.

“You really care about this?” Sam said curiously.

“Uh, sure?” Dean said. He hauled himself to his feet and started washing his hands. Sam watched him with that unnerving stare.

“I mean, you really wanted to take care of that,” Sam continued.

“Dude, I don’t want you losing a leg to gangrene or some shit.”

“No, I mean – you didn’t just want it to be taken care of. You wanted to take care of it. Yourself.”

Dean dried his hands on a towel. “That’s what people do, man. You care about someone, you want to take care of them. Make sure they’re okay.”

“I get the making sure they’re okay,” Sam said. “I do. But if end result’s the same, who cares who does it?”

Dean stared at him. His chest hurt, and he tried to think how he could explain this to the soulless thing in front of him. Sam stared at him quizzically from three feet away (but it could have as easily been a thousand miles), and, feeling weary, Dean finally just shrugged.

“I don’t know, man,” he said. “I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

“But it obviously does,” Sam persisted.

“Well, you used to understand the difference,” Dean snapped.

Sam’s face changed, but he didn’t look hurt.

“Okay,” he said, and he really sounded okay. Dean fought the urge to punch him. At least it might provoke a reaction. He spun on his heel and made his way back to his bed. He lay down facing the TV and picked up a piece of pizza, but suddenly, he wasn’t really hungry anymore.
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