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the island of conclusions

Old fic: "Only Halfway Home"

the island of conclusions

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Old fic: "Only Halfway Home"

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Dean-Castiel
rei17 just heroically put all the comment fic from April's h/c meme up on del.i.cious here . And that reminded me that I had never posted one of the fics I wrote for it. Which I'm doing now, but just for safekeeping/ recording keeping. No need to read: it seems kind of dated already.

Title: "Only Halfway Home"
Rating: Gen
Characters: Sam, Dean, Castiel
Warnings: set ~4.07, spoilers through 4.11
Word count: ~2K
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit

A/N 1: For this prompt: Dean has a fever or a concussion and thinks he's back in hell. Sam and Castiel have to look after him and try and talk him through it. Some Dean/Cas shippiness would be nice if you can fit it in but gen is also fine

A/N 2: I know I keep saying that I can hardly read any Dean/Castiel slash, and that's true, but I do love the character, and I clearly have a little kink for Castiel as deux-ex-comforter. Hackneyed use of an angel, I know...
ETA: I've, uh, kinda come around to the idea of Dean/Cas...;)

A/N 3: title from "Wide River to Cross," by Julie Miller and Steven Miller, performed by Levon Helm.


I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I'm still a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me
'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

"Wide River to Cross" (lyrics here )

Sam woke with a start, and saw the angel standing at the foot of the other bed, carrying Dean like a child in his arms. It took a minute for Sam to process the incongruity of the image—Castiel’s vessel was smaller than his brother, and physically, it didn’t seem like a carry like that would work—but once he did was on his feet in a flash, helping Castiel lower Dean onto the bed.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. I called him, woke him, I suppose. We were talking, and then he just collapsed. He is injured, maybe? His leg?”

But Sam had had time now to take in Dean’s pallor, only broken by the flush over his cheekbones, and he suddenly knew exactly what had happened. He ran his hands over Dean’s legs, and quickly found the puncture wound on Dean’s left ankle, bright red, swollen, and hotter even than the skin around it. Sam swore under his breath, and looked up to find Castiel’s questioning eyes.

“The swamp thing—the thing we were hunting—thought we’d worn enough protective clothing, but it must’ve got him after all. Poisoned claws—nothing lethal, but it’s going to lay him out for a few days. Fever, muscle aches, miserable, but not worse than that. Unless,” he paused hopefully, “you can, uh, do something about it?”

“No, Sam, you know I cannot.”

“Well, okay, then,” Sam tried to cover any disappointment with briskness, “I just need to get him comfortable, get some ibuprofen in him, get some ice for his leg. Nothing to do but ride it out.”

At which point, Sam expected Castiel to take off, as usual. But he stayed, only retreating slightly as Sam bustled around. Sam really wanted to ask him to either help of get out his way, but he couldn’t think of a polite way to say those things to an angel. So he endured Castiel’s cool gaze as he roused Dean enough to get some pills and water down him, and some layers off him, left the room for ice, and packed it, wrapped in towels, around the injured ankle.

Sam tried one more time, when he had gotten Dean as comfortable as he thought he probably could.

“So. Thanks for getting him back in here. I think he’s going to be alright for the rest of the night. Think I’ll try to get some rest myself.”

But the angel clearly couldn’t take a hint—just stayed propped against the wall near the window. And since you couldn’t flat out ask an angel to leave, Sam had no choice but to follow through on his own bluff, settle himself on the other bed, and close his eyes, leaving Castiel to watch his brother.

***

After what seemed like only a few minutes, though, Sam was dragged back into consciousness by a horrible sound. Dean was making a kind of pleading growl, the only word distinguishable in it a guttural, repeated, “no.” Sam’s eyes flew open, and he saw Dean had both arms up around his head, warding off invisible blows. The ice around his leg went flying as Dean dug his heals into the bed to push himself against the headboard, away from whatever was attacking him, drawing himself into a tight ball. His shirt was soak with sweat around the collar, under the arms and down his back, his hair sticking up in damp clumps.

“Dean, hey. Hey, it’s alright—you got hurt, but it’s gonna be alright—you’re safe,” Sam said, trying to pry Dean’s arms away from his face. “Nothing’s gonna hurt you—I’m not gonna let anything hurt you.” Dean’s skin was hot, way too hot, and he fought Sam as Sam tried to stop his thrashing. “It’s okay, quiet down, you’re gonna make your leg worse,” he tried. Suddenly remembering they weren’t alone, Sam looked around for Castiel; the angel was still there, face no more expressive than before, seemingly content for him to talk his delirious brother down on his own. Sam turned back to Dean.

Finally, he got Dean’s hands away from his head, and both of his own hands around Dean’s face, which he tilted to meet his as gently as he could. Looking into Dean’s eyes was almost worse, though, because he looked at Sam without recognition, the muscles around his mouth and eyes stretched taught with fear. “I won’t,” he kept saying, “I don’t care what you offer me, I won’t do that, I won’t be that.”

“I know, Dean, I know,” said Sam, even though he sure as fuck did not know. “I’m here—it’s Sam—can you see me? I’m right here.”

“Sam?” Dean’s voice changed, got softer, more desperate, and he looked at Sam, seemed to see him, or some version of him. “You gotta know I won’t do it, I couldn’t do it, you’d never forgive me, never think about me the same way, I’m not weak like that.” He breathed harshly for a moment, gripping Sam’s shirt and pulling himself toward him. “But,” he whispered, “…hurts so much…so tired… “ And then he was back to that horrible moaning, the sound shaking him.

Dean was on his knees now, fingers clawing into Sam’s shirt, recognizing Sam without recognizing his surroundings. Sam had gone up on one knee beside him, one hand firm on the side of Dean’s face, the other hard along his ribs, trying to steady his brother against the full-body shudders now wracking through him. Sam tore his eyes away from Dean’s anguished ones for a moment, and found Castiel again, still watching them, some kind of knowledge lurking behind his eyes.

“What’s going on?” Sam gritted out, his own voice choked, “Do you know what he’s dreaming about?”

“He’s not dreaming, Sam. He’s remembering.”

“Remembering? Remembering what?” But Sam knew--of course he knew. “He told me he couldn’t—he didn’t—“

Castiel did not reply, and a wave of pure fury swept over Sam. Not really at the angel. His impassiveness was galling, sure, but he was the one, after all, who had pulled Dean out of all that; and, needless to say, not at Dean. Maybe a little bit at himself, for not having found a way to stop all of it happening, or of ending it sooner. But mostly just a directionless anger at a universe in which such things could happen, in which Dean would not only suffer such things once, but relive them in pain and confusion now. As quickly as it had arisen, though, the anger was gone, replaced by desperation.

“Can’t you do something? Can’t you help him?”

“I told you, Sam, I can do nothing about the poison.” But under Sam’s hands, Dean gave another harsh gasp and stiffened, as though bracing himself against more pain, and something in the angel’s face changed, crumpled a little. “But maybe--, It might be possible—“

Castiel sounded, for the first time in Sam’s experience, unsure; the angel moved around the side of the bed, and perched behind Dean, so that he was facing Sam over Dean’s shoulder. He reached out a hand and placed it gently on Dean’s back, between his shoulder blades. A single, simple gesture, but at the touch of Castiel’s hand, Dean’s trembling started to ease. He looked—well, there was no getting around it—he looked as if something were settling over him: the fear eased out of his eyes, and his body quieted. And then Sam felt it—felt them—too. Just a little, just where his hands were touching Dean. Cool, smooth, not at all like bird feathers, more like watered silk, maybe, yet undeniably alive. Sam drew in a breath, and stared at Castiel, but the angel was watching Dean, the intensity of his regard mesmerizing in its own right.

After a minute or so, Dean stilled enough that Sam was able to gather him in a bit, so that his forehead was resting against Sam’s collarbone, and Sam’s arm was supporting some of his weight. The three of them stayed like that for a long, strange, stretch of minutes—Castiel’s hand and gaze on Dean, Dean resting against Sam, Sam holding him and watching Castiel—until Dean at last seemed to be sleeping, or at least in a peaceful sort of unconsciousness.

Then, by mutual accord, Sam and Castiel stirred, moving to get Dean horizontal again. This time, the angel helped Sam—helped him get Dean out of his sweat-soaked clothes, and into the dry sheets on the other bed. Sam thought that he should probably say something—say thank you—but he felt swamped by what had just happened—the ugly proof of Dean’s memories, the angel’s uncharacteristic intervention, and he didn’t trust his own voice. Castiel, too, seemed disinclined to speak. Finally, Sam muttered that he was going to get more ice.

When he came back into the room, Dean seemed to be truly asleep, still pale, but breathing softly and evenly. Castiel had stretched out on bed next to him, on top of the coverlet, propped on one elbow, one hand lightly resting over Dean’s heart. Dean’s slack face was turned toward the angel—his eyes were closed, but Castiel’s were open, unreadable except for the fierceness of their focus on his brother. Sam halted just inside the doorway—the scene felt intimate, like something he shouldn’t intrude on, shouldn’t be seeing. For one horrible, ungrateful moment, he wished the angel would get away from his brother, out of the private life they had always shared. But then he remembered the panic in Dean’s voice, his remembered pain, and he hoped just as passionately that Castiel would stay, give Dean the peace he needed for a while.

He wasn’t going to sleep again himself, though, wasn’t going to let the angel keep solitary vigil over his brother, Sam thought, as he settled himself on the other bed, arms crossed over his chest. But for the second time that night, he did exactly that.

***

Sam woke abruptly, head banging against the headboard. Daylight was streaming through the gaps in the motel curtains, and Dean was sprawled on his stomach on the opposite bed, still peacefully asleep. The space next to him was empty, not even a dent or wrinkle in the covers to show that the angel had been there. Sam padded over and put a hand on Dean’s forehead: still warm, but much cooler than the night before. Dean stirred under his touch, and then groaned as his movement jarred the wound on his leg. “Sam,” he rasped, gingerly turning himself over, propping himself up a bit more, “bitch got me—shoulda told you last night.”

"It’s okay, man. How’re you feeling?” Sam handed Dean the glass of water that had been on the table between the beds, and a couple of pills.

“Not bad, considering. Leg feels like it’s gonna fall off—“

“I’ll get you some more ice—“

Dean seemed to suddenly take in the fact that he was in a different bed, and different clothes, than the ones he had gone to sleep in.

“Sam…I didn’t…uh…I mean, I hope I didn’t give you too hard a time last night—“

Sam snorted. “You were a little out of your head, yeah, but nothing we couldn’t handle.”

“We?”

Sam stared at him. “Shit—you don’t—you really don’t remember?”

But mentioning it seemed to bring something back to Dean, and Sam watched a series of emotions flicker across his face.

“Cas was here…?”

“Yeah”

“And he…?”

“Yeah—Yeah, he did”

“Oh”

Sam knew he should ask now, ask about what Dean remembered of Hell, ask why the fever had plunged him back into the midst of some anguished, shameful decision. But he couldn’t, wasn’t ready for more information about the trauma his brother had survived, the invisible scars he was bearing even as the external ones had disappeared. The strange kind of grace they’d been granted last night.

“I’ll get that ice—“

“Okay.” But as Sam turned towards the door, he heard Dean ask, in the smallest voice he’d maybe ever heard him use. “Did you feel them too?”

“Yeah.”
  • *guh*

    (I mean that in the nicest way!)
  • That was absolutely lovely. Emotionally charged, physically draining and imagery-wise? Amazing.

    I could live a lifetime and not get tired of the internal image, which you put together so well, of Dean leaning back against Sam, Dean's forehead resting against Sam's collarbone. Castiel off to one side, watching. Someone totally needs to make a banner for that. Wish I knew how.

    Anywho, excellent work.

    Edited at 2009-09-02 06:16 pm (UTC)
    • Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you liked that image--that gen threesome was the kernel of the story for me--

      Gosh--I wish I knew how to make banners (and icons) too! someday....

      thanks again for reading and commenting--
    • Hey--I just popped over and looked at your user profile, and I see that we're about the same age and both have two boys!

      *gives you a fist pump of solidarity*
      • DUDE! WE BOTH LIVE IN A HOUSE FULL OF .... DUDES!

        *lifts fist in unity with you*

        Do your boys find it half as disturbing as mine that their Mom would love/listen to rock AND classic rock, like shows/movies with swearing, write/read stories with same-said swearing?

        I actually think it's cool :D

        Oh, and I see that calamitycrow is your beta - it's like six degrees of separation and she happens to live like a few hours from me.

        I think we'll need a secret handshake or something. *g*
        • Whoa--you talk to your boys about writing fanfic? That is cool! Mine are 8 and 4, so so far I am keeping my sekrit identity sekrit (though the 8-year-old keeps asking why I have some many weird messages names in my gmail account, and what this "ariadnes_string" website is...so I may have to come clean soon...He would probably find it interesting, though--he keeps urging me to start a blog--little does he know!)

          And you and calamitycrow live near each other in TX? I'm over here in NC, where it's after midnight already--so, more anon--

          we should all definitely have a secret handshake!
          • LOL.. my boys are 12 and 17 so talking to them 'bout this stuff isn't such a big deal.

            Now, the youngest, he reads the funny SPN fanfics I find, he loves the show with me, though I pre-watch for content before he can watch. He's my SPN fan, second only to me and we share a great love for lots of other Science fiction shows; Merlin, Legend of the Seeker and the like.

            The current SPN fic I'm working on, he'll never read. Way too much language for his young eyes.

            I'll work on that secret handshake dude ;)
            • Yeah, my boys and I were watching Merlin together this summer, which was a blast, and we've watched the LOTR movies ('cause even the little one loves the battles!). It's fun to kind of steer them towards liking SF, so I can have someone to enjoy it with (bwahaha).

              I just got the S4 DVDs and I'm thinking we might watch some of the less scary ones together--Monster Movie, maybe?

              I would love to find some funny, PG SPN fic, especially podfic, so we could all listen to it in the car on our endless journeys around town...The swearing is a problem, hypocrite that I am...

              Friending you--hope that's okay?
              • LOL.. You know, I've yet to come across a recing community for funny, more kid-friendly SPN fics. I imagine there wouldn't be many but still, something to consider...

                Anyway, here's a funny one http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5048499/1/Playing_Pilgrim that I read aloud to my 11 year old just the other night. Not that he can't read, mind you, it's just that I enjoyed it so much the first time, I truly got giggle fits in watching his reaction to my reading it.

                Thankfully I happened to save it on my ffnet page, otherwise it would've been lost forever to my sketchy memory.

                Monster Movie would be very good to watch with them along with Wishful Thinking. Ryan, my little one, and I had tears in our eyes when Teddy tried to off himself and fluff flew instead of blood-splatter. :D

                You know, I was just thinking that I'd friend you when you friended me first! I figured that kindred spirits should stick together, right?

                So, I friended you right back. ;)
  • Awww, such a sweet piece. I love that Castiel comforted Dean with his wings. &hearts
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