Length: 4500 words
Rating: PG 13 for language
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, Benny Lafitte
Spoilers: Front half of season 8
Synopsis: Dean gets a surprise after he returns from Purgatory. Fills a prompt (link at the end of the fic) from the ohsam fifth anniversary challenge.
The first time it happens is about a month after Dean gets back from Purgatory. He doesn't think much about it, and honestly, he needs the break as much as Sam does. They're not getting along all that well and it makes sense that Sam would want to take off for a while. It doesn't make sense that he's out all night, that he leaves his phone turned off, and that he's pale and wobbly when he gets back. But the little asshole never could hold his liquor, and whether he's crawling off to see that bitch of his, screwing some local chick, or just crying into his lonely beer all by himself, Dean's too pissed off to give a shit. And the next evening, when Sam stumbles on a job and drops his gun, turning a fairly routine hunt into something fucked-up and bloody, Dean unloads on his brother the whole time he's stitching him up, venting a stream of pay attention, almost got yourself killed, coulda got me killed, is this your way of getting out of hunting, maybe you'd be sharper if you hadn't taken a year off until Sam finally grabs the needle from his hand. As he limps into the bathroom, muttering that he can finish it himself, Dean realizes that he should feel a lot worse about it than he actually does.
The next time, about a month later, he disappears while Dean's out, leaving a note that says Gotta take care of some stuff, back in a couple. Dean assumes the "couple" means hours, but Sam's gone for three days, refusing to answer his phone and only responding to Dean's increasingly agitated texts with sorry, all is well, back soon. Dean uses those three days pumping up his righteous anger. By the time he hears Sam's key in the door, he's so magnificently furious that he can't even speak, so angry he's throwing off sparks. He punches Sam square in the jaw as soon as he's in the room, before he can squeak out an apology or an explanation, because whatever lie he was planning to tell, Dean does not want to hear it, thank you very much. "Three days," he growls at the figure huddled at his feet. "Three fucking days. I should have just left your sorry ass."
Sam's curled on the floor in a graceless heap, blinking up at him, the red mark left by Dean's fist highlighting just how pale the rest of his face is. He raises an arm in self-defense, and the way it trembles pushes Dean's anger closer to the edge, because really? He's hung over? He was on a three-day bender while Dean sat here all alone in this stupid fucking hotel room? Dean grabs him by his jacket and hauls him to his feet, but what he sees when he's upright stops him cold. There are a small pair of holes (not holes, bites, Christ, they're vampire bites) on Sam's throat, just hidden by his collar.
"What the fuck, Sam?" he yells. His anger has curdled into fear, but it's just as intense.
Sam readjusts his jacket, covering the wound. "It's nothing."
"Nothing? It's a fucking vampire bite, Sam! Where were you? What did you do?"
"It's no big deal, okay?" Sam wobbles on his feet. "I just ran into a vamp while I was gone. It's okay, I got bit and I took care of him and it's fine. Can I sit down now?"
But Dean doesn't let go of him, because a horrifying scenario is creeping into his brain. "A vamp? You just happened to run into a vamp? A single vamp? And you took care of him?"
"Yeah, and I'm fucking exhausted. Can I please sit down?"
Dean shoves him against the wall. He swallows hard, reluctant to name his fear aloud. Could this be Sam's way of getting back at him for killing Amy Pond? Or could he be jealous enough...? "Was it Benny?"
Sam tenses and his eyes widen. "What?"
"Was it Benny," Dean repeats, cold as ice. He punctuates each word by pushing Sam against the wall again. "Did. You. Kill. Benny."
Sam relaxes a little bit, slumping against the wall, and huffs a bitter little laugh. "No, I didn't kill Benny."
"I swear to God, Sam, if you're lying..."
His brother tilts his head and gives him an odd look, like there's some joke he's not getting. "I'm not lying, Dean. I didn't kill Benny." He sways in Dean's grasp. "But thank you for your concern. I'm gonna lie down now, if that's okay with you." He pushes Dean off, stumbles to his bed, and collapses on top of the covers. In a few minutes he's asleep, still in his jacket and boots.
Dean picks up his own jacket and keys, slamming the door as he leaves. After a quick "how you doin', no reason" call to confirm Benny is, in fact, still alive (or still undead, whatever), he drives around for a while, arguing with Sam in his head. And in his head, Dean always wins. Sam always apologizes for being weird and secretive and not looking for him and promises to do better and the next day he's not a pissy little bitch and they work together just like the good old days. But the trouble is, of course, that things never go this way in real life. In real life, Dean gets back to the hotel and Sam's still asleep and Dean wonders how much blood he lost and if he should be worried and why he's keeping secrets again and how the hell he hasn't figured out that if he can't tell Dean about it that means he shouldn't be doing it and for fuck's sake, Sam, just stop, whatever you're doing, please just stop. And the next morning they don't talk about it. Or anything else. And if Sam's obviously only semi-functional for the next couple of weeks, if he's weak and tired and dizzy, well, it's his own damn fault for running off on his own and getting hurt, and maybe he learned his lesson. But Dean thinks he probably didn't.
A month later, when it happens a third time, Dean is ready. When he hears Sam's phone vibrate with a text message in the middle of the night, he pretends to be asleep. He keeps his eyes closed as Sam writes a note Dean won't bother to read, listening to the scratch of cheap ballpoint pen on a napkin. And he smiles into the darkness when the door very quietly clicks shut, because he turned on the GPS on Sam's phone, and tonight he's going to catch the son of a bitch and find out what he's really up to.
Carefully lifting up a corner of the curtain, he peeks out the window and watches Sam walk to the end of the block and approach an old pickup, leaning in to talk to the driver. He has to quickly close the curtain when Sam turns to look back at the hotel, and when he decides it's safe to look again, Sam and the truck are gone. Dean doesn't want to follow him too closely anyway - the Impala isn't exactly stealthy, even when you're not worried about being followed. And Sam's obviously concerned about being followed (and once again, Sam, if you don't want me to find out about it, it's probably because you shouldn't be doing it, Jesus). He packs his duffle with a little bit of everything, because there's just no telling what kind of evil asshole Sam has fallen in with this time, and hits the road about half an hour behind him.
Dean pulls up forty minutes later, a few houses down from where the old truck is parked. He shuts the Impala's door as quietly as possible - whatever Sam's sins are, they don't include being stupid or hard-of-hearing - shoulders his duffle, and creeps silently to the darkened house. The front window doesn't reveal much, other than showing that the house appears to be empty. Then he catches it, a small movement on the left, almost out of his line of sight. Whatever moved is too close to the window for him to get a good look it, but there's another window on the opposite wall, and he silently sprints to the back of the house.
The full moon, bright behind him, illuminates the interior clearly. What it reveals makes his heart lurch, because it's Sam, sprawled on his back, hands clenched, face frozen in a grimace of pain, a hulking figure looming over him with its face buried in his neck - a vampire; he ran into another goddamn vampire. Dean has already kicked in the door before he realizes his machete is still in his bag out on the lawn, but it doesn't matter, he's going to saw this fucker's head off with his hunting knife, he's going to break every bone in its body, he's going to torture it for days and he's going to enjoy it, because it's draining Sam and he can hear that noise, the noise Sam makes when he's trying not to cry out in pain, and Dean's got to make it stop. He slams into the vampire, rolling it off Sam and onto its back, and as he pins it to the floor and raises his knife to stab it in the throat, he hear's Sam's weak voice.
"Dean! Stop! Don't!"
And at the same time, another familiar voice says "Dean?" He looks at the vampire's face for the first time and sags in defeat, in confusion, in despair. It's Benny. Dean stares, stunned, then rolls away and crawls back over to Sam, checking his wound, palpating for a pulse, and not feeling very good about either one of them. The vampire's teeth (Benny's teeth, God, it's Benny) must have been in Sam's neck when Dean pushed him away, because his wound has been torn into a jagged gash. Dean peels off his flannel shirt and uses it to put pressure on the sluggishly bleeding wound.
"Shit, shit, Dean," Benny stammers as he climbs to his feet. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I got carried away."
"Carried away?" Dean shouts. "You were feeding on my brother, Benny! What the fuck were you thinking?"
Then he realizes Sam is feebly patting at his arm. "Dean," he says weakly. "Dean."
"Shhh," Dean says. "Don't try to talk. Save your strength. You're gonna be okay."
"No," Sam mumbles. "Not Benny's fault. Was my idea."
Oh God. Is this Sam's twisted way of making it up to Dean? By taking care of Benny? "Jesus, Sam, why would you do that? You don't owe him anything. You don't owe me anything."
"I do," Sam says, even more quietly. He's fading. "Made a deal."
Dean turns to stare at Benny. "What the hell is he talking about?"
He waits for Benny to shake his head and tell him his little brother's delirious, to come up with some explanation that makes all of this okay, but he doesn't. The vampire - the vampire who was fucking feeding on his brother - sits there with this sad guilty look and finally says "It's true. We made a deal. His blood, to get you out of Purgatory."
And suddenly everything Dean knows, everything he believes about his brother and his friend, is wrong. But he can't think about it right now, can't deal with it right now, because Sam's eyes are drooping and he's still bleeding and his pulse is weak and thready under Dean's fingers. "Fuck," he says. "Fuck. How much did you take out of him?" Dean throws Sam's left arm over his shoulder and motions to Benny. "Take his other side. We've got to get him in the car." He keeps one hand clamped over Sam's wound as he and Benny drag him to the Impala. They lay him down in the back seat and Dean slides under his head, shoving his keys at Benny. "Hospital's back that way. Passed it on the way here. Drive. Fast."
Sam's face is pale and clammy. Dean keeps one hand pressing on his throat, and the other on his wrist, feeling his pulse. "Sammy," he says. "Stay awake. Talk to me. Tell me what happened."
"It doesn't matter," Sam says, without opening his eyes.
"It does," Dean says, as sternly as possible, remembering other panicky rides to the hospital, trying to keep his brother or his father tethered to him. "Talk to me."
Sam sighs quietly. "Demon told me there was an angel in Purgatory. Knew it had to be Cas. So you had to be there too."
"But what does that have to do with Benny?" Dean asks. He can feel Benny watching him in the rear-view mirror, but he keeps his eyes and attention on Sam.
"Benny knew the portal. I sent him back. Promised him my blood." Sam is silent for a minute, eyelids fluttering.
"Sammy? Stay with me, man. Don't go to sleep."
"It took too long, Dean," Sam murmurs. "I thought I was wrong. Thought you were dead. I stopped. I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Sammy. Everything's okay."
"Shouldn't have stopped. I'm sorry."
Sam falls silent.
When they pull under the emergency room awning, Sam hasn't spoken for five minutes, despite Dean's pleas. Dean and Benny haul him inside as Dean shouts for help. A nurse meets him with a wheelchair, but Dean pushes it aside, not willing to let go of his brother. Wisely deciding it's not worth the fight, the nurse makes a "follow me" motion and leads Dean into a small ER room. Benny falls back at some point, a point which doesn't even register on Dean's radar, because Sam is still unconscious and so goddamn pale and cold.
"Tell me what happened to your friend," the nurse says, as she helps Dean slide Sam onto the bed.
"Brother. Dog bite. He's lost a lot of blood."
The nurse briefly eyes Dean, giving him the once-over, before she turns to Sam. "I don't see much blood on him, or on his clothing," she says, as she wraps a blood pressure cuff around his arm. "Usually an injury that causes major blood loss won't be so... clean. Did anything else - "
"It was on his jacket," Dean blurts. "And on the floor." (But mostly inside the fucking vampire, the vampire I thought was my friend, the vampire who was feeding on him, and please just stop asking stupid questions and take a look at him, see how messed up he is, he's gonna die if you don't do something, please just fucking do something.)
The nurse's skeptical look changes to concern as she takes Sam's vitals. "BP is low, pulse is rapid and thready, temp is below normal," she mutters. She sticks her head out the door and shouts a name as Dean pats Sam's cold, clammy face, and suddenly the room is full of people yammering about hypovolemic shock and saline and blood type and blankets and he's being hustled out the door by a burly nurse who insists he needs to answer some questions about Sam's injury. Dean's pretty sure they're just trying to keep him out of Sam's room, but he dutifully makes up a semi-believable story to explain how Sam lost such a massive amount of blood, and when another nurse steps out and says Sam is stable and doesn't seem to be in danger of dying any time soon (but no, you don't understand, Sam is always, always in danger of dying), he allows himself to be steered back into the waiting room.
Benny's slumped in a low-slung chair, arms crossed, head tipped back to look at the ceiling. He doesn't look at Dean when he speaks. "He gonna be okay?" Dean nods, not really caring if Benny can see him or not. "For what it's worth," Benny says quietly, "I would have done it anyway. After I met you, I would have rescued you. Without the blood."
Well, it's worth something. Although Dean isn't sure how much, right now. He runs a hand over his face. "But you didn't turn it down once you got back, did you?"
"No, I didn't." Benny chuckles, low and soft. "Problem was, he gave me a down payment before I went to Purgatory. Kinda got me hooked. Your brother's blood, it's special."
Dean sighs and takes the seat next to him. It always comes down to this, doesn't it? Dean's special brother. Can't talk about Sam without using the D word. "Yeah, his extra spicy demon-flavored blood. I've heard it's pretty awesome. Glad you liked it."
Benny turns to look at him. "Demon? It ain't demons, Dean." He stares at the ceiling again, remembering. "I didn't get it at first. Not until we found your angel. But you know vampires can smell things humans can't smell, right? It's something in his blood, but not demon. It tastes a little bit the way an angel smells. I don't know why."
Oh, Jesus. Dean knows why. "Yeah, well, he's... he's had some exposure." Hundreds of years of his soul marinating in the grace of two pissed-off archangels. Lucifer himself roaming around inside his nooks and crannies, probably leaving his taint everywhere he went. Yeah, you could say he's had some exposure.
"That's why I got carried away. It's why I kept taking so much. Hard to stop, once I got started."
So, Sam's blood is like crack to vampires. That's just awesome. He's going to be thrilled to know his experience left a permanent mark. "Shit. You didn't tell him about it, did you?"
Benny shakes his head. "We haven't exactly been chatty."
"Don't," Dean says fiercely. "Don't ever tell him. You understand?"
"And you know you're done, right? No more of this."
"Hell, Dean, I told him we could stop. Last month, I went too far and I said let's just call it done, but he wouldn't. He said he didn't want to owe me. I don't think he trusts me not to go back on my word. Like I'm gonna send you back to Purgatory if he doesn't hold up his end of the deal." Benny smiles. "Don't worry, brother. I wouldn't touch that boy again with a ten foot pole." Dean winces a little at the word brother, drawing a concerned look from Benny. "I mean it. You've been like a brother to me. I could have left you any time, you know. I could have told you where the portal was and left you to find your angel on your own, but I didn't. I wanted to make sure you got out okay, and it wasn't for your brother's blood." He sighs. "I'm sorry I wasn't square with you."
"So, be square with me now. Tell me the truth."
"Truth is," Benny says, "the portal works for anybody. Any of us - vampire, werewolf, whatever - we can go though it."
Dean frowns in confusion. "Then why don't they? Why doesn't everyone escape from Purgatory?"
"Not many know about it. Ones that do, they think it goes to Hell. That's what the fellow who threw me into it thought he was doing; sending me to Hell. I guess anyone who finds out where it really goes has enough sense not to talk about it. But me, well, I never had much sense." He chuckles. "One day I'm bragging to someone about getting out of Purgatory, next thing I know, your brother's shooting me full of dead man's blood, asking questions. Says there's someone he thinks is in Purgatory, needs me to get him out."
Dean is silent for a minute, reliving months of conversations in his head. Months of lies. "Why didn't you tell me the truth?"
"Gotta ask your brother about that. It was his idea. He insisted."
Dean looks toward Sam's ER room and sees a pair of scrub-suited figures leaving. "That's just what I'm gonna do," he says.
The room is small, and Sam takes up most of it, but for some reason he seems small, too. Small and frail and helpless. His color is a little better, thanks to a partially empty bag of blood still making its way into his veins, but he still looks wiped out, and Dean wonders why he didn't notice the pale skin or dark circles under his eyes earlier (three months, Benny's been bleeding him for three fucking months), why he didn't notice Sam's been stumbling, dizzy, fatigued. And the awful truth is, he did notice. He was just too angry and hurt to care.
Sam opens his eyes and smiles cautiously. "Hey," he says, his voice raspy.
"Hey, Sam. You want to tell me what's going on?"
The smile fades. "I'm sorry. I know you're mad, but just let me -"
"Shut up," Dean sighs. "I'm not mad. Okay, I'm a little mad. I'm mad at Benny. I'm mad that you lied to me. But mostly I'm just glad you're okay. And I need to know what happened."
Sam's silent for a minute. "After you and Cas," he starts. "After the thing with Dick. I just, I kinda fell apart, I guess. I thought you were dead and I left the phones, I didn't read email, I just stopped. But a demon found me, and you know how they are. You know how they love to talk. He told me there was an angel in Purgatory. And I knew, as soon as he said it, I knew it had to be Cas, and that meant you might be there too."
"And then you found Benny."
"Yeah. Cause how would a demon who's topside know who was in Purgatory, right? I figured someone had to have a way out. So I found out about Benny and he told me about the portal and we made a deal. A year's worth of blood if he could get you out."
Dean is torn between being proud of the little brother who could put this together, and enraged that he was stupid enough to offer his throat to a vampire. You could have died, Sam, you could have fucking died. "Why'd you lie about it? Why did you want him to pretend the only way he could get out was by catching a ride with me?"
"Oh, come on, Dean," Sam laughs bitterly. "We both know what you'd say if you found out I was working with a vampire. Sam and the monsters again. I knew you'd be disgusted. If you even believed it. You might just think he was lying. So I had to make you think he needed your help."
Dean starts to argue, but realizes he can't. Sam's right; he would have been furious, or suspicious. And if Benny had just pretended to be a well-meaning vampire who wanted to help a friend get out of Purgatory... yeah, there's no way he would have gone along with that. Only the belief that Benny needed his help, that he couldn't turn on Dean because he needed him, allowed him to let down his guard. But still.
"And after? After I got out? Why couldn't you tell me the truth then? Why'd you tell me you didn't look for me?"
Sam sighs sadly. "Cause I stopped, Dean. It took so long that I figured the demon was lying, and you weren't in Purgatory after all. And if you weren't there... you had to be dead. And I would have tried, God, I really would have tried to get you back. But I remembered how you felt when Dad made a deal to save your life, how you said what's dead should stay dead, and I didn't want to do that to you. I'm sorry. I stopped, and I shouldn't have. I let you down."
"Jesus, Sam." Dean thinks back over every awful thing he said in the past few months, and he's pathetically grateful that Sam didn't come right out and say you brought me back from the dead and I wish you hadn't, so I wasn't going to do that to you. "You thought I was dead, and you were messed up. I get it. It's okay, Sam. I don't blame you. But I still wish you'd told me. It would have made it easier."
"Maybe." Sam won't meet his eyes. "But when I saw how you trusted him, you were calling him brother... I just didn't think you'd believe me."
And if that doesn't feel like a punch in the gut... Dean leans on the wall, trying to think of a way to make this right again. Or as close to right as it can get. "Sam, you know, we are always going to be fucked up, okay? We are never going to have any kind of normal, apple pie lives."
"Well, thanks for the pep talk," Sam laughs weakly.
"You know what I mean. There's always going to be something out there messing with us. Demons, angels, normal creepy crawlies, whatever. And if I can't depend on you, and you can't depend on me, we're not gonna make it. Dammit, Sam, you could have died. From the blood loss, or a hunt, because you weren't all there. You should have told me. Can we just... can you just promise to tell me the truth, even if you think it's gonna make me mad?"
Sam narrows his eyes. "Yeah, I can, if you can. Cause you didn't tell me about Benny either, you know."
"Okay, I fucked up too. Fair enough. And can you also promise never, ever to make a deal that turns you into a goddamn vampire buffet again?"
"God," Sam groans, "it was not supposed to go like this. I feel like shit."
Yeah, thanks to your super delectable angel-flavored blood. Dean files that information away, hopefully never to be retrieved again. He settles into the chair next to Sam's bed and slips his fingers through the bedrail, just barely touching his brother's arm. "I bet you do. Go back to sleep, Sammy. We'll make our getaway before they start your rabies shots."
Sam's brow furrows in confusion, but it only lasts a moment before his eyes close and his face smooths.
You could have died, and it would have been my fault. And I never would have known why.
(Or I would have. And that would have been even worse.)
And Dean knows at some point he needs to go talk to Benny, renegotiate their relationship and figure out what the fuck they are now, either reassure him or send him on his way. But for now he just turns off the overhead light and sits in the semi-darkness and watches his little brother sleep.
Author's Note: The prompt can be found here. Anonymous prompter, I'm sorry I took liberties with your prompt. No matter what else I tried to do with this story, this is the direction the muse took. I hope you can still appreciate the fic.
I need to point out that I don't really think Sam needed an excuse not to look for Dean. He thought Dean was dead, and he knew how Dean felt about John's sacrifice to save his life. I think he did for Dean what he wished Dean would have done for him at Cold Oak. But when I saw this prompt it made my little heart go pitter patter so I had to write it.
Title is from "Man in the Moon" by R.E.M.