Category: Gen, Drama, Humor, Angst
Characters: (Past) Dean, John, Bobby; (Present) Dean, Sam, Bobby, Castiel
Spoilers: Through I Believe the Children Are Our Future
Summary: When Dean suffers a relapse of a debilitating supernatural illness he once had several years earlier, Bobby must bury his feelings of helplessness and inadequacy if he's to help Sam find a way to save Dean without reliving the mistakes of the past.
Word Count: 17,400
Disclaimer: See previous posts.
[Chapter 1] [Chapter 2]
Sam had been gone all but five minutes when the banging began. When Bobby looked up from the book he had open in his lap, he wasn't the least bit surprised. Sure enough, Dean was awake, and he was pissed.
Dean yanked his chained arm repeatedly, trying to break away from the tubing. He was heading for a dislocated shoulder if kept this up. With a sigh, Bobby tossed aside the book and wheeled to the edge of the room that held Dean.
"Will you stop," Bobby muttered. "None of that's gonna help."
Dean froze at the sound of Bobby's voice. For a minute there, Bobby thought maybe he'd gotten through to the boy, but in a matter of a seconds, Dean was back to thrashing around like a wild animal caught in a trap. Bobby knew he couldn't get close, especially not with Dean like this, and especially not in his damn chair.
But even when he'd had legs, Bobby had known that this was bigger than him. He'd been useless back in 2003. He was even more useless now.
Bobby felt helpless as he watched Dean tear up one of his rooms. He and John had done their damnedest to keep anything sharp or pointed out of Dean's grasp, but Dean had gotten creative. He'd done a decent job unscrewing nails out of the floor to toss at both their heads, and in a fit of frustration, had nearly gnawed off his restrained arm.
Dean's blood was smeared across the floor. Bobby winced at the rawness of his flesh where his nails and teeth had left their mark.
"This isn't working," Bobby said. "He's gonna kill himself."
"I know, but we can't just let him run around."
Bobby knew John was right. Dean would be out the door in an instant. But every thing they'd tried, spells, charms, hell even yelling, had done no good. They were plum out of options.
Save one thing Bobby had found.
"There's an old West African myth that says that bori can be placated through song and dance."
John stared at him.
"Yeah, I know. Crazy. But hear me out. There's another one I found straight out of Hausa that talks about the infected, not the possessed, specifically."
"And well, it's all about reaching the victim," Bobby said. "Something about the key to reaching the mind is through the heart."
"I'm not into philosophical nonsense."
"I know, but it's a worth a shot for Dean, ain't it?"
John looked to Dean. He was quiet now, having run out of steam several minutes ago, but the dullness in his eyes was a warning. Bori victims never were meant to last this long. Bobby eyed Dean's left arm, which had gone limp by his side.
They were running out of time.
Finally, John nodded. "What are your ideas?"
Sam came back with a large bag in his hands. He stopped short the minute he saw the chaos inside the den.
"What the hell happened?"
"What's it look like?"
Sam blinked and shook his head.
Bobby followed Sam inside the den. Stacks of old newspapers he'd saved were torn to shreds, while a couple of boxes that had been in Dean's reach had been left overturned and destroyed. Bobby didn't miss the nails that Dean had started pulling up from the floorboards.
"You missed the fun," Bobby said wryly.
Sam didn't reply. He was too focused on taking an inventory of the room and Dean.
Oddly, Dean had since stopped. Bobby knew it was way too soon for his body to be winding down. But he was assessing them, watching them the way a cat watches a mouse.
"What happened to his arm?" Sam asked.
"Take a wild guess."
Several long scratches ran the length of Dean's right arm, up to his wrist, which was red and swollen. It didn't look half as bad as what Dean had done to himself the last time he'd went wild, but it was bad enough.
"We can't leave him like this."
"I'm all ears."
Sam crept into the room, keeping his pace even, slow and deliberate, as he moved toward his brother. Dean reared on his haunches and his eyes narrowed. If he could, the boy would be growling by now.
"Sam, better leave him be. He's none too happy to see you."
No surprise, Sam didn't listen to a word he said. He kept inching closer and closer to Dean, who now was taking this incoming threat more seriously. It wasn't just anger in his eyes. Whatever darkness was swirling in there went beyond anger. It was deadly. Cold, quiet death.
A wave of uneasiness rippled across Bobby. He stiffened in his seat. No way was he going to have a front row seat to Dean tearing into Sam.
Sam held up his hand and waved Bobby away. He was just out of reach of Dean now. A couple more steps and Dean could rip his throat out if he wanted. Not that Sam was a pushover. Just Dean's strength couldn't be underestimated.
Dean never broke eye contact with Sam. Not once. Not when Sam stopped and opened the bag and not when Sam pulled out a flimsy cellophane case.
"I thought you might be hungry," Sam said, placing the box on the floor. He popped the lip to open it.
Dean shifted the weight on his haunches. He finally broke off his murderous glare and lifted his head, giving the air one short sniff.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Sam said, bringing his hands up as if surrendering. "Not anymore."
Sam gave the box a swift kick toward Dean before he backed away. As he moved, Bobby caught a glimpse what was in the box. He should have guessed. Sam had grabbed a large bacon burger oozing with grease with a side of French fries that were so oily that they could have been swimming in the stuff.
It was like a greasy treasure waiting to be claimed.
Dean hesitated. Bobby could tell he wanted it. He kept eyeing the slop like it was a newfound prize, but wasn't sure what to do with it, or if he should chance taking it. Dean kept glancing up to Sam, who was crouched just a few feet away, before he finally reached out his hand and snatched the burger.
What a bite. Dean chomped into the burger so hard and so fast Bobby was afraid he would choke. And then something happened.
Bobby never saw Dean's face pucker so fast. He gagged and spit out his large bite onto his ruined hardwood floor.
Sam started laughing.
Great. Dean had gone feral and Sam was a raving loon.
"And this is funny how?"
Sam didn't glance back, but Bobby could tell he was smiling. "Dean has this irrational hate towards pickles. Don't ask."
He didn't ask. He sat there, mildly confused and mildly curious, as Dean opened up the burger and started flinging pickles everywhere. Sam must have ordered extra.
"Don't you see? Dean's still in there."
"You're basing this on a pickle test. I want him to be right, too, but this is a stretch."
"I don't think so." Sam paused and then stood.
That uneasy feeling hit Bobby again. He was going to do something stupid. Bobby just knew it.
Sam, as if remembering his height, crouched low again and, with caution, started to creep towards his brother. Dean was happily munching on his burger and fries, seeming to have abandoned his murderous intent on Sam. But as Sam inched closer, Bobby saw Dean stiffen, his eyes narrowing as he peered at Sam through the corner of his eyes. He tried to act like he didn't care that Sam was coming closer, not unlike how Rumsfeld used to act when someone he was trying to ignore came too close. That would before all hell broke loose.
Bobby dropped his hands over his wheels and prepared to come after Sam if things went wrong. "Sam, don't."
Again, Sam ignored the plea. He stopped just out of Dean's reach, though Bobby swore he'd come closer this time. He opened the bag again and withdrew a half-pie, already pre-sliced. Sam popped the cover and discarded it. He held up the pie for Dean to see.
Dean stared at the pie like it was the Hope Diamond.
"You want this?" Sam placed the pie at his feet. "You need to come get it."
"Sam!" Bobby hissed.
From where Bobby was parked, he could see Sam digging into his pocket. Before Sam took out what was in there, Bobby knew. He knew the moment Sam had gotten close to Dean.
Sam took the key and carefully reached for lock on the handcuffs. Already, Dean was tensing up and his eyes boiling with a mix of fear and desperate anger.
Bobby was going to kill them both.
"It's okay," Sam said, his voice smooth, hovering just above a whisper. He motioned with his chin to the pie. "It's yours. You can have it." He slipped the key into the lock while Dean was distracted. "You don't deserve to be chained like that. No one does," he added quietly.
Bobby's face burned. It took everything in him not to look away in shame.
The lock clicked.
Dean let the handcuffs fall to the floor with a loud clang. He didn't move. He didn't make a sound. He just stayed there, in that one spot, crouching low.
Sam didn't move. Bobby didn't move either.
Dean surveyed his surroundings, his eyes wild. Bobby knew he was sizing up the place, deciding which direction was safest, which way he should go. He was going to run.
Sam forced a smile and held up the pie. "Here."
Once again, Dean's attention was drawn from whatever rambling thoughts flew through his mind to the comfort of food. He stretched out his hand toward the pie, his fingers just out of reach from the container in Sam's hand.
Seeing that Dean was close, Sam scooped up a slice of pie and gently lowered it into Dean's extended hand.
Bobby tensed and prepared for the worst.
It never happened.
Dean took the pie and started to shovel it into his mouth. Blueberry filling dribbled down his chin and onto his already soiled shirt, but he didn't seem to notice. He just kept on eating.
Bobby saw Sam grimace, but to his credit, he didn't push back. Instead, he lowered himself onto the floor, opted to sit cross-legged, and settled in directly across from Dean. Sam grabbed the second piece of pie and took a modest bite. He nudged the now nearly empty container to Dean, showing him he could have the rest.
To Bobby's surprise, Dean mimicked Sam and sat down, his shoulders noticeably relaxing. The two of them ate pie in silence, but without any palpable tension.
As Bobby watched them, partly amused and partly in awe, he couldn't help but wonder if he and John had chosen another way, things would have turned out different.