Category/Rated: Gen, PG-13
Year/Length: 2007/ ~4332 words
Pairing: Dean, Sam
Spoilers: through season two finale
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.
Warning: Language, MPREG
Summary: Dean ignores him in favor of pushing to his feet, and Sam watches his brother sway for just a second. And then Dean shakes his head, and offers Sam a hand up, says, "Gray thing grabbed me. Hurt like a son of a bitch." Dean punctuates this by winding his arms around his midsection, like even the memory of the pain is too much to bear with their usual stoicism.
Author's Notes: Also known as: The One Where Dean Doesn't Have a Kid. Okay, so honestly, MPreg is one of my biggest squicks. It weirds me out and I don't get the appeal. And so, of course, I would try to write a fic where it worked for me. Because I'm insane that way. This turned out really, really, dark. I mean, seriously. It's not happy. At all. And there are no babies. Or wincest. But possibly some stuff that could offend. In fact, this might offend just about everyone. Wee!
Beta: marysue007, who I inflicted this upon. She's a brave, brave soul.
Sam doesn't see what happens to make Dean scream. He can't look up from the runes he's sketching around the altar, can't break the chant of Latin or they'll have to come back and do the entire ritual over again. He's almost done, and so he grits his teeth and keeps his head down and feels Dean's scream crawl up his spine.
In his head, though, he knows it has to be terrible. Because Dean doesn't scream. He shot his brother in the chest with rock salt, and he didn't so much as grunt. Shot him in the shoulder and Dean just cussed him. The last time he heard Dean make a big deal out of pain was when the demon in their father's body had been taking him apart from the inside.
He's imagining that, now, scraping desperately with the chalk, Dean's wail stretching and then tapering off into hiccups. The chalk breaks between his fingers and he grabs the longest piece and keeps going, because what choice does he have, really?
And then it's done, and the crack of the altar being broken drowns out the little whimpering sounds that Dean is making now. Sam doesn't sit around to watch the limestone crumble. He's already on his feet, moving towards the antechamber where Dean had stayed behind to guard, heart in his throat.
Dean's curled on his side, balled up, all Sam can see is the line of his spine and his boots. It's enough to see that Dean's rocking himself, as best he can on the cold flat earth. It's enough to see the violent tremors that are quaking through Dean's body.
But Dean isn't what Sam focuses on. Because there's a shapeless gray form looming over his brother, like the grim specter of death itself. Sam yells, a wordless vocalization of fury, and then his shotgun in his hands, and he's charging the thing when he fires.
The rock salt dispels it, and he has a moment of heady relief. And then he's on his knees beside Dean. Dean, who is still shaking, who is making little animal sounds of hurt in the back of his throat. Sam can't see the wound, or smell blood, but that doesn't mean anything. Somehow Dean's worst hurts always end up inside.
Dean flinches violently when Sam grabs him, tries to manhandle Dean onto his back. The movement tears a fresh wail out of Dean's throat, and Sam yanks his hands away, aware of the furious pounding of his own heart, the way he can't seem to get enough air into his lungs. He wonders, absently, if this is what a panic attack feels like.
His hands fumble with his cellphone, and it takes three tries to get his suddenly clumsy fingers to dial 911. He's wondering how he's going to describe their location-yes, a cave in the middle of the woods, near the really big oak tree, you haven't been there before?-when Dean takes a deep breath, coughs, and goes limp.
Sam feels the phone slip out of his fingers, hears it crack against the stone floor, but it seems far away. Dean's sprawled now, his unconscious body apparently unable to stay in the tight curl.
Dean's skin is burning hot, even through his shirt, when Sam pulls him onto his back. His neck is clammy with sweat when Sam searches desperately for a pulse, and there it is, fast but steady under his fingers. Sam laughs, high and desperate, slides his palm over Dean's mouth and laughs again when Dean's breathe curls against his skin.
His phone is now sporting a nice crack in the screen, but it's on and it still has service, and he's moving to call for an ambulance again, because if Dean's messed up inside he doesn't want to move him and make it worse.
And then Dean coughs again, the movement curling him up off the floor. Sam reaches for him, dropping his phone again and this time it makes a sad little dying sound. But it doesn't matter, because Dean is batting his hands away, is sitting up and rubbing at his head. Sam can hear his own voice, thin and strung out, "Fuck, man, you can't do that to me. What the hell happened?"
Dean ignores him in favor of pushing to his feet, and Sam watches his brother sway for just a second. And then Dean shakes his head, and offers Sam a hand up, says, "Fucking gray thing grabbed me. Hurt like a son of a bitch." Dean punctuates this by winding his arms around his midsection, like even the memory of the pain is too much to bear with their usual stoicism.
Sam feels a chill climb his spine, hears himself, "You think it was the spirit tied to the altar?" Because if it was then they were damn lucky it didn't kill Dean. There'd been some serious spell work in this cave, and Sam hadn't liked the implications of the blood on the altar and the human skulls thrown haphazardly into the corners.
"Didn't look like a fertility spirit to me." Dean shrugs, even manages to smile. But he keeps his arms wrapped around his gut all the way back to the car, and curls up in the passenger side without a word of complaint or explanation.
They call to ask Bobby if he's ever heard of anything like the gray spirit-thing. He hasn't. Sam makes small talk with the older man until Dean gets tired of eavesdropping and disappears into the bathroom to shower, and then Sam turns the conversation to his continuing search for ways to get Dean out of his deal. Bobby is frustratingly unhelpful on that front as well.
It's been half a year since Sam died, and hot panic bubbles up in his throat every time he thinks about that and realizes that the hourglass is half empty now. He can only work on so many crisis at once, and so the gray spirit gets pushed out of his mind to make room for the more important work of making sure Dean is still alive is six months.
The next day they turn the car south towards Georgia and a potential gnome infestation.
When Dean walks into a diner three weeks later, goes pale, and then bends over and pukes his guts out right there in the entry foyer, Sam laughs. He doesn't mean to, but it's kind of helplessly funny, even if it does mean that they get kicked out of the only food joint in town.
Dean glares at him all the way to the next town up the road, and Sam tries to stifle his laughter and doesn't quite manage it. They end up stopping at a McDonald's and Dean looks a little green around the gills the entire time they're in the restaurant, but he doesn't throw up, thank God. Sam, feeling a little worry creep in under the amusement, orders their food to go.
They're pulling out of the parking lot when Dean takes his first sip of coffee. Sam watches his brother's eyes go wide with surprise, and then Dean's shoving the cup into his hands, slamming the door open and bending out away from the car. Dean throws up half out of the McDonald's parking lot and Sam watches the cars speeding by inches from them and rubs his brother's back.
They decide that it must have been some kind of random two hour stomach flu, later, because Dean's stomach is fine after that. He looks a little queasy whenever they go to a diner, but he doesn't throw up again, and Sam writes off the way he gets pale as bad memories.
It is weird that Dean stops drinking coffee, but Sam's had his own tastes change on him without notice before, and it's probably better for Dean's heart to cut back on the insane amount of caffeine he drinks anyway. Although Sam's really not sure that sweet tea, at least in the amounts Dean starts consuming it, is any better.
Sam doesn't think anymore about it, but sometimes he catches Dean staring down at his own stomach with an unreadable look on his face. He pushes the concern in his own chest away, because Dean wouldn't appreciate it anyway, and besides, there's no reason to think it's anything worse than an ulcer.
Two weeks later Dean disappears for a few hours. That's hardly unusual, but Sam worries anyway because most of the time Dean tells him when he's going to go get laid. They've been keeping close tabs on each other since Sam got possessed, all those long months ago. This is, Sam thinks, the first time Dean has just left with no explanation of where he was going.
Sam paces restlessly around the motel room the entire time he's gone, bouncing his new phone in his palm and contemplating calling Dean every five minutes. He ends up calling Bobby, and irritating the crap out of the older man, who from the breathy sound of his voice might have been getting laid himself.
Sam is contemplating the fact that he is possibly the only person in the world not having sex right at that moment, when Dean pushes through the door.
Dean's got a Wal-Mart bag in one hand, and a brown paper bag in the other. Sam can't see what's in the plastic bag, not in the poor lighting of the motel room, and he says, "Hey-"
But Dean talks over him, voice low and gruff, "Not right now, Sammy." And then he's stomping into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind him. Sam feels his mouth hanging open, and tries to close it, because usually Dean's in a better mood after fucking. Well.
At least Dean's back, safe and sound and where Sam can kick down the door if he needs to. Sam sprawls across his bed, and tries to find something half decent to watch on the television. He ends up watching some kid's movie that he remembers vaguely from years ago, and must fall asleep watching the talking cats and dogs trying to find their way home.
When he wakes up, his mouth dry and sticky, his back aching from the uncomfortable position he'd been sleeping in, there's an infomercial on television and Dean is not in his own bed. Sam startles, rubbing a hand over his face, glancing absently at the bedside clock which is off anyway. His own watch says it's four in the morning.
He pushes himself to his feet, scanning the room, wondering where the hell Dean is. The keys to the Impala are still on the dresser where Dean left them, and it's then that Sam realizes the bathroom light is on, creeping out from under the door.
Which, okay, that means Dean's been in there four hours. Which is not unheard of, but, well, it seems kind of unlikely right now for some reason. Sam scowls, bangs on the door and expects Dean to curse him, or bitch, or something.
The low whimper, he had not expected.
Sam feels fear jag sharp and hot up through his gut, that fear that hasn't gone away since he died and was brought back. This terrible desperation that is white hot noise inside his skull. That is knowing he might have to live without Dean and knowing he can't do that. This aching protectiveness, this need to make sure that Dean is okay.
Sometimes it scares him. Right now, he doesn't care. The door is locked, and he sways back and slams his shoulder forward into it. It gives under his weight. These days, since he's finally finished filling out, pretty much anything gives under his weight.
And it's like a flashback, in the bathroom. Like running into that antechamber a month and a half ago, and seeing Dean curled in on himself. But there's no gray spirit here, nothing but Dean, pale and whimpering on the dirty tile floor.
Sam's vaguely aware that apparently Dean set fire to the wastebasket at some point. It's still faintly smoking, even after Dean had thrown it in the tub and flooded it with water. Sam wonders what the hell he did it for, but he's more concerned with Dean himself.
The tile is cold and hard under his knees, and Dean's skin is almost as cold when Sam reaches for him. Dean whimpers at his touch, tries to fold himself into a tighter ball. Sam's fear transmutes itself into panic, and he knows he's rougher than he should be, but he can't stop himself, terrified out of his skull.
He gets Dean on his back, but his brother still won't uncurl. Sam grabs one of his legs, tries to force it to straighten and Dean throws his head back and screams. Sam lets go, scrambles backwards and then forwards again, hovering over Dean without having a damn clue what to do.
Dean's screams choke off after a few terrible minutes, and when he curls back up Sam lets him.
Dean isn't dying, as near as Sam can tell, and when he tries to get up, to get blankets or pillows or call the hospital, Dean grabs his wrist and won't let go. Sam tries to make himself comfortable, which is impossible because the room is too small and too cold and smells like burnt plastic.
He finally manages to get his legs stretched out by the toilet, manages to get Dean pulled into his lap. His brother's skin is like ice, his muscles bound up like rocks under his clothes. Sam rubs his free hand up and down Dean's arm, his side, trying to bring warmth back into him, soothe away the pain.
He's ashamed later, that he manages to fall asleep. He wakes up with his head tilted back against the wall, to Dean's soft snores. Dean is spread out across his lap, body relaxed finally, and Sam wonders how long they've set on the floor. By the way his legs and back hurt it's been hours.
Dean stirs against him, small careful movements like he's still hurting. Sam leans over him, tries to get a look at his face, smoothes his hands across Dean's shoulders and down his back. Says, and his voice is hoarse, "You okay now?"
Dean groans, his hands flat on his stomach, fingers clenching and unclenching like it's hurting him. Sam slides his own hands down, presses against the cool skin, feels the muscles jump against his palm. "Seriously, Dean, you scared the crap out of me, man. What the hell happened?"
"Nothing. Nothing. Just a stomach flu thing." And then, as though to prove it, Dean throws up all over him.
It doesn't happen again, and so Sam stops worrying about it. He has bigger fish to fry.
But Dean's quieter now, than he was before. Sam tells himself that it's just the end closing in on them, that maybe this life is just finally dampening Dean's natural glow. But he's not sure, one hundred percent, not down in his gut where he just knows things about Dean.
Dean stops smiling, stops fucking girls every time they pull into a new town. That doesn't worry him as much as the drinking does, the way that Dean gets drunk what feels like every other day. Or the fact that Dean is smoking, that he doesn't seem to go anywhere without a cigarette between his lips or fingers.
And sometimes, when Dean doesn't think he's watching, he cradles his stomach, the look on his face so broken that Sam can never make himself ask what's wrong. He doesn't think he'd be able to take knowing. He tells himself it can't be that bad, it really can't. At worst it's cancer
or something, and they'll worry about it after they get Dean out of the demon's deal.
But that doesn't feel right, in the space under his ribs.
They're in a diner, eating eggs and sausage, Dean sucking down coffee, which he's been able to miraculously drink again since his stomach flu thing. Dean's been staring at the cashier the entire meal, eyes far away, glazed with whatever pain he's remembering.
Sam watches him, shoving food absently into his mouth, wondering what the hell is so fascinating about the tired, plain woman in the pea green uniform. Every time he opens his mouth to ask something stops him. Some darkness in the corners of Dean's eyes, some tightness in his fingers closed around the fork. Sam doesn't want to know, and so he keeps his mouth shut.
When they leave Dean hangs back, standing close to the woman, who looks up at him after a moment. She smiles, small and flustered like she doesn't know what to make of the strange man looming over her. Sam watches from the door, unsure what to do, hesitating.
Dean's voice is so soft Sam barely hears him, "How far along are you?"
And for the first time Sam realizes the woman is pregnant. Just barely enough to show, a swell around her middle and her ankles. The cold from outside is chilling him down to his bones, the warmth from the diner buffeting his face. He stares at the woman and Dean.
The woman blushes, and the flush of color is kind to her complexion, drops a self conscious hand to her stomach. Her voice is the honey and molasses burr of the natives around here, "Oh, only three months. It's already making me fat, I know."
"No." Dean's voice, low and ragged, and Sam can see his brother's shoulders hunching in, "No. It's not. You're not. I mean. It's a beautiful thing. Kids are." Sam can see the shake in Dean's hands from the door, the way he's gone pale, the shine in his eyes.
The woman must read his naked pain as well, because she completely turns away from the cash register, reaching for him with her tiny hands. She says, "Oh, honey. Are you okay?"
Dean laughs, humorlessly, and the woman is rubbing her hand up and down his arm, gentle and soothing. Dean's staring at her stomach, his hands clenched into fists and his sides. His voice is almost a whisper, "I lost-I lost-"
And Sam watches the woman's expression just break, hears her cooing softly to Dean. And then the tiny little woman is just pulling Dean down into a hug, rocking him back and forth, her thin arms around his back, rubbing circles into his shoulder. Sam can hear her, just vaguely, "It's okay, honey, oh honey, it's okay. You poor thing, oh, it's okay-"
Dean's silent in the car on the way back to the motel, and Sam lets it stretch. He wonders who it was, that Dean knocked up. Wonders how Dean had found out about it and how they had lost the baby. Wonders if it was when he was in college or even before that.
He manages to keep his silence until they're back in the motel room, until Dean shoves a cigarette between his lips and starts wrestling with a bottle of vodka. Sam sits on the bed, watches him, says, "You never told me you lost a baby."
It hurts, that lack of trust. Especially because Dean is so obviously torn up about it. But then, he would be, wouldn't he? Dean who loved kids, who treated them with the most care that Dean ever displayed to anything. Dean, who loved family more than any other thing in the world.
Dean shrugs, taps his cigarette against the ashtray. Says, "Yeah."
Which is not exactly as descriptive as Sam had been hoping for. Sam scrubs his hands over his face, tries to breath out his irritation. It's not exactly a useful emotion right now. "Was it-are you okay? I mean. Do you want to talk-" he realizes how stupid a question this is halfway through and cuts it off.
Dean laughs, harsh on the other bed, flashes his eyes up to Sam and they're so dark that it chills Sam down to his bones. His voice is so bitter that it almost stings, like a whip lash, "Go ahead. Ask what you want to know. Might as well get this out of the fucking way."
Sam flinches, at the words and their tone, reaches out for Dean without thinking about it and Dean jerks away from his touch. His hand curls back, back to the safety of his chest, and Dean watches him with suspicious eyes. Dean's voice is taunting, "C'mon, Sammy, one time only offer, ask me anything you want to know."
"When?" it's on the tip of his tongue and out of his mouth before he can stop it.
Dean blinks at him, flicks the cigarette again, and then snuffs it out with a frustrated sigh before grabbing a new one. Says, "A month ago." And Sam just stares, because that doesn't make any sense, any sense at all. And then the math falls together inside his head, and that really doesn't factor as any kind of sanity.
Sam clings to a more sane line of questioning, "Who was the mother?" And Dean laughs again, throaty and desperate, throws his head back and lets it boom out of his throat up to the ceiling. And then he clicks his mouth shut, and his eyes flash when he meets Sam's again.
There's a long moment where they just stare at each other and Sam tries to make sense of it all and Dean puffs on his cigarette. And then Sam's mouth is running without any permission from him, "That gray thing, it…you were pregnant?"
Dean's smile is hard, crooked with the cigarette hanging in the corner of his mouth. Sam can feel something cold and terrible crawling up his spine, thinking of Dean, curled on the floor of the bathroom, balled up with pain, screaming. The bottom of his stomach drops down to somewhere in the region of his knees.
His voice, when he speaks, is embarrassingly shaky, "You…miscarried?"
Dean laughs again, loud and humorless, his smile twisting up to something ugly. To something cold and dead and Sam recoils at the sight of it. "Sure." Sam can taste the lie. Feels something else inside him snap and break because, God, Dean.
He reaches out again, and this time he gets a hand wrapped around Dean's wrist and doesn't let go. He can feel the tremble right beneath his fingers, the upset that Dean can't or won't vocalize dancing through his muscles. He says, "Dean-" Because he doesn't know what else to say.
Dean shakes him off, jerks to his feet and throws his cigarette, burned down to the butt, to the ground. He grinds it out with the toe of his boot, arms crossed over his chest. He growls, down into Sam's face, "Shut up. It wasn't a-it was-it was a monster thing. It wasn't a real baby. I had to. I would have died, anyway, before-so just. Leave it."
And he storms out of the motel room, like a man on his way to the gallows.
They don't talk about it. Which is almost miraculously unsurprising. Not that Sam would know what to say, in any case. This is one of those situations that have no right thing to say, nothing to say at all. I'm sorry you were carrying an impossible baby that you aborted?
The days drain away, Dean's year running out like water through a sieve. And Dean doesn't care, even less now than he ever did. Sometimes Sam catches Dean playing with their guns, turning them over and over in his hands thoughtfully. It scares him, a deep unease that he can't vocalize.
And then he walks into the room one day and finds Dean sitting on the edge of the bed, one elbow on his knee, bracing his head up with the barrel of a .45. Sam drops the pizza he had brought back for dinner, crosses the room with his heart in his throat, and tackles Dean onto the bed. He grabs Dean's wrist, pins it to the bed and squeezes till he feels Dean's fingers spasm open.
He only realizes he's yelling when Dean goes completely still under him, hears himself, "-you idiot! You idiot! What do you think you're doing! You could have-"
And Dean says, calmly, right up into his face, "What's it matter, Sammy? Now or next month? What's it fucking matter?"
It's like a sucker punch in his gut, and he just stares down at Dean, not believing. Not wanting to believe. God. He'd known that Dean was never that torn up about dying, but he hadn't realized that Dean was perfectly willing to go early. It twists something in his gut. "Dean-"
Dean smiles, small and broken, and Sam's sucks in a desperate breath. "I killed my kid, Sammy. What kind of man am I? I don't-I can't live with that. I tried to, but I can't."
And Sam doesn't try any of the arguments that jump to mind, because he's pretty damn certain that none of them would actually help Dean. Instead he tightens his hold on Dean, holds him even when Dean struggles and squirms against him. Just pulls him close and listens to the pulse pound of his heart, and feels him breathe.
Dean's voice is a shattered whisper from his chest, "I can't."
Sam curls around him, tries to make his own voice strong. "You can. We can. Okay? Together." Dean laughs, short and bitter, but doesn't argue. Sam presses on, "Promise me you won't kill yourself, Dean. C'mon. Promise me."
The silence stretches and grows and Sam can feel something bitter rising in the back of his throat. And then, after what feels like hours, Dean's voice, "Fine. Fine. I promise." That's good enough.
It has to be.
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