caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Fic: But my dreams, they aren't as empty as my conscience seems to be


But my dreams, they aren't as empty as my conscience seems to be
Genre: Gen, hurt Sam
Length: About 3000 words
Rating: PG-13 for language
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, Charlie Bradbury, Castiel
Synopsis: This takes place immediately after 10.18, "Book of the Damned," where the Styne family attacks the Winchesters and Charlie, and Sam stashes the Book of the Damned instead of burning it. Let's pretend that Sam was more seriously injured in the fight with the Stynes than anyone realized.
Notes: The theme of the 2018 ohsam birthday meme was Hurt vs. Comfort, in which we were invited to respond to a prompt and write either about the hurt, or the comfort. An anonymous poster made this request: "Gen. Dean hugs Sam hard to hold him in place while someone cauterizes the wound in Sam's back." I started to write it, realized I'd gone with stitches instead of cauterizing, got frustrated, and gave up. But now I'm back. (Oh, and since we were supposed to choose between angst or schmoop, guess which one I chose. Go on, guess.) And yes, the title is from "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who, which was featured in 10.18.


"You okay?" Dean asks, after the bodies are taken care of.

"I'm fine," Sam replies. It's a lie. His back is on fire. Every movement pulls at the wounds on his shoulder blade and at the middle of his back, both infuriatingly out of reach. He'd slap some kind of bandage on them if he could, anything to soak up the blood gluing his t-shirt to his skin, but they've got to get some miles between themselves and this cabin before the rest of the Stynes show up.

Charlie gives him a stern once-over. "You look like crap. You should take a nap in the back. I'll ride shotgun." She's got her hands on her hips, taking no shit, as if she expects Sam to argue. He's not going to. He would like nothing more than to hide in the back of the Impala, avoiding Dean's eyes and his questions and his Mark and his intuition that Sam has done something wrong.

"You okay?" he asks Dean. "You don't mind driving the whole way?"

"I'm peachy," Dean says. He's lying too, but Sam's not going to call him on it. They both knew it was a courtesy ask anyway. "Get your beauty sleep, Princess."

Sam crawls carefully into the back seat and settles on his side. He leans forward slightly to prevent his torn-open back from touching the seat and tries to shove down the pain, tries to ignore the guilt and fear clawing at his gut every time he thinks about the Book of the Damned lurking in the bottom of his duffel.

Eventually the world fades away.

At one point in the drive, he's pretty sure Charlie is leaning over from the front seat, under the glaring light of a drive-through, asking if he wants anything. At another point, he's equally sure that Dean is sitting next to him, slowly pushing a nail into his forehead. When he turns away, Jacob Styne is on his other side, grinning at him with vampire fangs and whispering with his soft Louisiana accent. I know what you did, boy, and you're gonna regret it.

Sam shivers in the back seat. Jacob Styne breathes on the window, frosting it over, and draws a smiley face in the frost. Lucifer did that too, but this isn't Lucifer. He's just a ghost. That must be why it's so cold in the Impala.

That's right, boy, Styne says. Nothin' but a ghost. And here you are without a weapon. How are you gonna fight a ghost?

Sam turns back to Dean, who shrugs and pushes another nail into his head. Then he takes a longer one, more of a railroad spike, and shoves it into Sam's chest. Sam cries out in pain as the spike erupts from his back with a gush of blood and broken ribs. He shivers harder and wraps his jacket more tightly around himself. Dean and Jacob Styne are gone, but Sam can still feel the pain of the metal spike protruding from his back, pinning him to the car.

Everything fades away again.

Then there's a lurch and a bump and a bright light that yank Sam back into the world. Dean's voice is roughened from fatigue and disappointment. "Dammit, Sam, don't make me drag you out of the car. I'm not carrying your ass to bed."

Sam flinches and clenches his eyes shut and tries to figure out where he is and why everything hurts so goddamn much and why the light is so fucking bright and why Dean is mad at him and Jesus God, why does he hurt so much? He opens his mouth but nothing comes out.

Dean becomes Charlie, the good Charlie, kind and warm, tapping gently on his shoulder. "Sam? You okay? C'mon, big guy, let me help you out." Her hand slides down to his shoulder blade and he hisses in pain as she draws it back. "Dean!" she calls, horrified. Sam doesn't know what he did to frighten her. He's done a lot of frightening things.

When he manages to pry his eyes open, he sees Charlie displaying her bloody palm to Dean. She must have stabbed it on the spike poking out of Sam's back. He tries to apologize, but he can't tell if he's making any noise.

Dean stares at her hand, puzzled. "What'd you do?"

"It's not my blood, it's Sam's. He's hurt." Then more hands are on him. Not Charlie's warm gentle little hands, but big rough hands that poke and prod and turn him over and hit that spot on his back where the spike comes out, Christ, and everything turns black.


When he can see again, he's halfway down the bunker stairs, good arm slung over Dean's shoulder. He can't see any more nails in Dean's hand, but you never know. Dean can be tricky. "No more nails," Sam begs. "Please, no more nails."

"Sure," Dean says, but it doesn't sound sincere. He half-carries Sam down the rest of the steps and into the kitchen, where he eases him down to straddle a straight-back chair, facing backward. Sam flops over the back of the chair but Dean grips his chin and lifts his head, putting a hand to his forehead.

"Dammit, Sam. You're burning up. What the hell happened to you?"

"Not burning. I'm cold."

"Yeah, okay. Listen. We're gonna get your jacket off. There's a lot of blood soaked through it. This might hurt."

There are more hands, pulling on everything, and more muttering about how hot he is. But that's a lie. He's fucking freezing. His teeth are chattering and everything's muffled and blurry, and he doesn't know why. Maybe Jacob Styne did it. "Was it the ghost?" he asks. "Did he do this to me?"

"No ghosts here, Sam." Dean's voice sounds far away.

"He must still be in the car. You gotta get him out, Dean. Don't let him stay in the car."

The pulling stops, and Dean's face emerges from the blur right in front of him. "Sam," he says. "Listen to me. You've got a fever and you've lost some blood and I don't know what you're seeing, but it's not there, okay? There's no ghost in the car. You're fine."

He's fine. Dean wouldn't lie to him.

He lies to you all the time, Jacob Styne whispers into his ear. And why wouldn't he? You lie to him. You're lying to him right now.

Styne is interrupted by muted cursing from Dean. "I'm gonna need you to cut his shirt off." There's a scraping noise that reverberates against Sam’s aching skull, and then Dean is in another chair, facing him. "Sam, you hearing me?" He clamps his hands on Sam's upper arms. "Charlie's going to cut off your shirt now. It's all stuck to you with dried blood. It's probably gonna hurt some. Just hold still, okay?"

Sam tries, he does, he tries not to flinch when he feels the cold steel of the knife against his back, but as Charlie works the blade further, it feels like the skin is being peeled off. Styne peers over his shoulder for a closer look. Wonder what she wants all that skin for? Maybe they're making another Book of the Damned. Dean keeps one hand on Sam's arm and puts the other on the back of his head, pushing him down against the chair back. And maybe if they need his skin for another book, he should just give it to them. Yes, he'll do that. He'll give up his skin if it will save Dean, if a book grotesquely carved from his own body will somehow save Dean from the Mark of Cain.

Charlie's knife skitters over the spot where Jake Talley cut the first piece out of Sam's soul. He grasps the chair, white-knuckled, as the knife tears further up his back. "Shit," Charlie mutters, "this is bad. We should get him to a hospital."

Dean stands to look over Sam's shoulder, his hands still clamped too tightly onto Sam's arms. "Too close to home," he says. "If any more Stynes are looking for us, they might be watching hospitals. I don't want to lead them here. Anyway, Cas should be here by tomorrow at the latest. He'll fix him up right. You stitch him up enough to hold him together for now, and he'll be fine."


"Yes, you. You can do this. You just stitched up your own gunshot wound, for fuck's sake. This has got to be easier than that." Dean settles back into his chair, hands gripping Sam's biceps.

Charlie's voice is shaky. "Dean, this is pretty big. I don't know if I can do it. You've got a lot more experience than I do. Why don't I hold him and you—"

"Goddammit!" Dean snaps. His grip tightens as Sam flinches again. Then he sighs deeply and his voice gets softer. "I'm sorry, Charlie. With the way he's acting right now, I don't think you can hold him still. And even if you could, I don't… fuck… I don't trust myself. I can't get my head straight. I'm afraid I'm gonna hurt him."

"Dean, you're not—"

"No, listen, I can't. It's the Mark. It still feels like it did when I was around the Book of the Damned, you know? Like the Mark is still reacting to it. It's not a good idea for me to be aiming pointy things at my brother right now. I need you to be the one to do this."

The book, God, the book is still here, because Sam lied, because Sam stole it and lied to Dean, and it's not even in the Kryptonite box any more, it's just in the bottom of Sam's duffel with nothing but layers of cotton between its skin-and-blood pages and the Mark. And it's why Dean is going to hurt him.

Sam tips forward, leaning his forehead on Dean's shoulder. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't save you. I'm sorry I did this to you. I'm sorry.

He must have said it out loud, because Dean sighs again. "Stop it, Sam. It's not your fault, okay?"

Sam's arm is freed, and then a bottle of whiskey is waved under his nose. The sharp whiff of alcohol makes his stomach churn and he turns his head away, gagging. "Your choice," mutters Dean, taking a long drink before offering the bottle to Charlie. "Pour some of this on him."

"You know, you've got a bottle of actual rubbing alcohol in your first aid kit," she points out. "I think I'll use that."

"Nope. That bottle's actually holy water. But you should probably use some of that too. Who the fuck knows what the Stynes were up to. If there's some kinda mojo in his wound, it would explain why he's running a goddamn nuclear fever." Dean grips him tighter again. "Hold still, man. It's gonna sting."

The holy water stings, but not as much as the whiskey does. Charlie apologizes as she sloshes it down his back. The burning just makes him colder. He shivers harder, the wooden chair rattling against the tile floor.

"I'm going to start here on your shoulder, Sam," Charlie says. "Just hang in there, okay? It'll be over soon." Sam jerks at the first stab and Dean grips him harder, hands on his upper arms, holding him like a vise. He can easily picture the needle, a long strip of bone, curved like Lucifer's smirk, exactly like the needles he would carve from Sam's rib when he wanted to sew his eyes shut, bone needle pulling gut-thread through Sam's flesh.

You know what they're doing, Jacob Styne murmurs. They're making you an angel again. They're sewing a wing onto you, right now.

Oh, fuck, no, Dean wouldn't do that to him, wouldn't do it again (but he would; he would and he did and he is), and Sam jerks out of his hands, flails behind him with his good arm, trying to push Charlie away. "No, don't," he begs. "Please, Dean."

Hands grab at him and Dean's arms encircle him. "Sam," he says, his voice tight, "I don't know what's going on with you, I don't know what you think is happening, but we're not gonna hurt you."

He's forced back down into the chair and Dean wraps completely around him, not a hug but a binding. His ear is smashed against Dean's chest, his arms are pinned to his sides, and his ribcage is crushed against the chair back. Charlie stabs at him, again and again, and he waits to feel the weight of the prosthetic wing hanging from his shoulder. "Please, don't," he moans into Dean's shirt. "I don't want to be an angel. Please."

Dean's voice rumbles through him. "Jesus, Sam, there is no fucking angel!" His grip tightens furiously and Sam cries out in pain. "Charlie's just stitching you up where the Stynes sliced you open," he says, softer. "That's all. I swear to God. You've got a fever and you're confused or hallucinating or something. I promise, you're gonna be fine." But Sam can see the Mark burning hot on Dean's forearm, glowing through the fabric of his shirt. The Mark is in control, and the Mark is so, so angry at him. It knows he kept the Book of the Damned. It knows.

"I'm sorry," Sam says. To the Mark, to Dean, to anyone who will listen. "I'm sorry. I'll burn it. I'm sorry." He's got to get to the book; he's got to burn it. He tries to twist out of Dean's grasp again, but his brother grips him tighter. Sam's ribs are crushed against the back of the chair and he can't breathe and Dean pulls him in harder, tighter, and then his hand pushes against the point of agony on Sam's back and everything goes black again.


When Sam wakes, he's on his stomach, lying on something soft. Opening his eyes, he sees he's in his own room, on his bed. Then he feels the familiar echo of angelic grace and his heart clenches with terror. Oh God, Dean what have you done? But after a second, he hears a gravelly voice.

"Sam? Are you still in pain?" Cas's trenchcoat comes into view; he's standing next to the bed. It was just Cas. No other angels. It's fine. He's fine.

"You should be able to turn over now," Cas says. "I've healed your wounds." Sam tentatively rolls onto his back. The excruciating pain has left nothing but a faint afterimage. "The Stynes must have used a poisoned weapon, or some type of magic. You were feverish. And quite delusional, according to Dean."

"Quite delusional? Is that what he said?"

"Actually, I believe the exact term he used was batshit crazy. But I knew what he meant. Are you better now?"

Sam pulls himself up to sit on the edge of the bed and goes for a carefully tentative stretch. A pile of bloody dressings lies discarded at his feet. He shivers, but that's because he's shirtless. Not because of ghosts.

(There are no ghosts in the bunker, he reminds himself. That was the batshit crazy talking.)

"Yeah, I think I'm okay now. Thank you, Cas. How long was I out?"

"A few hours. I regret that I wasn't here sooner. The stitches, the fever, the… the crazy. I could have spared you all of that if I'd been here."

(The certainty that his brother was doing the worst possible thing to him, against his wishes, again.)

Sam looks at the angel in front of him and suddenly wants to weep for Jimmy Novak. But this is Cas. Cas is a friend. "No, it’s okay," he says, reassuringly. "It's not your fault."

Cas nods unenthusiastically. "Dean told me you weren't able to use the Book of the Damned to remove the Mark."

"No. But that's okay. We'll figure something else out." With a mixture of guilt and hope, Sam thinks of the book nestled in the bottom of his duffle. (But what if — oh God — what if he didn't actually keep the book? What if that was part of the crazy too?) He swallows down his fear and looks up at Cas. "How is he?"

"Dean is in the library. Getting, quote, shitfaced with your friend Charlie."

"Ah, so you've met Charlie."

"Yes. She is… very excitable. She'll be glad to know you're awake. She was concerned about you."

"Would you mind letting them know I'm okay?" Sam forces himself to smile. "I'm coming out; I just need a minute."

"Take as long as you need," Cas says, backing politely out of the room.

Sam waits until he can no longer hear the angel's footsteps before scanning the room for his duffel. It's there, thank God, in front of his closet door. It only takes a few seconds to confirm the book is still tucked under his dirty clothes. Charlie or Cas must have brought the bag to his room. Dean would have known, as soon as he picked it up, would have felt the malevolent presence of the Book of the Damned hiding inside. He sighs in relief and makes a new hiding place for it in his closet. Then he pulls out a clean shirt and stands clutching it in trembling hands, because he can't put it on yet. Because he has to check.

(It's stupid. He doesn't have to check. That's the craziest part. He knows you don't become an angel by having wings sewn onto your body. He knows this better than anyone. That was part of the crazy. And Sam Winchester, of all people, should recognize crazy by now. Should know that his brother wouldn't force him into housing an angel.)


(Just do it, goddammit.)

He takes a deep breath and crosses the small room to look in the mirror, twisting and straining to see his entire back. There's nothing there, of course. Just smooth, unmarked, grace-healed skin. No flayed patch. No wings grotesquely stitched onto his shoulders.

(He knows that if Dean really had secretly stuck an angel in him, he wouldn't be able to see it at all.)

Sam pulls on the clean shirt and his I'm fine face and quietly closes the door of his room behind him, leaving the crazy behind. He's got work to do.
Tags: 10.18 book of the damned, episode coda, fic: castiel, fic: charlie bradbury, fic: dean winchester, fic: hurt!sam, fic: moc!dean, fic: sam winchester, my fic, season 10, supernatural

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