Rating: R - Gen - hurt!Dean - hurt!Sam
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: (early S4) Sam POV. A hunt goes wrong and the Winchesters become the next victims of a demented doll collector.
It had told Sam that it was going to replace his eyes with orbs of glass.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been blinded by the tape, but the dark and his sleep had began to flow into each other until he wasn’t sure which was which. His memory flickered back and forth to how the doll maker had revealed the bright yellow marbles in a dusty piece of cloth like they had been gems. The thing had whispered to him softly about how perfect he soon would be while sculpting each curl of his hair with gold. Sam had slipped in and out of his dreams as he slept and woke. For a while he heard gravel under his boots as he walked down a dark road with his brother at his side. Dean had been telling him a story, a story about a skeleton that would rise from its grave and dance in the candlelight…
Sam frowned at the change in his brother’s voice. He wanted Dean to tell him the rest of the story. He wanted to know what happened to the skeleton when the candle finally went out.
Sam, please help me.
I’m drowning. I can’t breathe. I can’t-
Sam heard himself groan as the fog of the road quickly faded away. The dark was suddenly filled with a blistering heat and a strange shrill sound of something in pain. With a wave of confusion, Sam slowly comprehended there was no longer any rope around his wrists or tight chain biting into his neck. He wasn’t even on that damn table.
Sam realized he was standing up.
Moving his hands to his face, he felt the smooth plastic covering his eyes. Digging his fingernails into the paint on his face he ripped at the tape, gasping as it peeled away from his eyelids. Blinded for so long he stumbled backwards from the dizzying blaze of the fire right in front of him. Turning up his palms he blinked at the black streaks of ash that covered his hands. He could still feel the weight of the iron poker and the feel of it sinking into the creature’s frail body.
“What… What happened?” he rasped. “Dean? W-What did I do?”
The body in the hearth had stopped moving, its flesh over fueling the fire and causing the flames to lick up over the bricks. Sam staggered towards the table he’d been laying on, his eyes beginning to burn as sweat mixed with the paint on his face. He groped through the monster’s carefully arrayed tools until he found a clean looking cloth and a rusted bucket filled with water. After a few minutes of scrubbing the burning receded to a dull sting. He stared down at his gold hands and knew he had to get it all off. It was smothering him as slowly and as surely as being held under water until he drowned-
Sam went cold as he remembered his brother’s plea in his dream.
His vision was blurred, the fire too bright and big to see much else. Wiping the damp cloth over his eyes a few more times he held his arm up to better see in the shadows. The table Dean had been on was in the other corner, under an old chandelier and an open window. His skin prickled with fear as he got closer, his brother’s silence quickening his unsteady step. There was the sudden and terrible thought that maybe Dean had been taken away, placed for display for some hiker to find in the woods. But to his relief Dean was there just as he’d last seen him before the tape had been placed over his eyes…
Sam paused uncertainly.
For a moment he thought he had somehow slipped back into the dream of the dark roadside. Because instead of his brother there was a skeleton laying on the table flickering under the orange light of the flames. The skull had a wide set of perfect teeth and gaping eye sockets. The ribs lay in perfect symmetry along with the fine network of the wrists and fingers. A subtle curve to the pelvis and the straight lines of the femur. Dean had told him in the dream that the skeleton would live until the candle dwindled and died on its wick. And when the light went out the bones would collapse back in the grave where they belonged.
Sam reached out towards the skeleton, his trembling fingers feeling nothing but smooth plastic at first. But then he felt the body heat underneath and the soft yield of flesh when he pushed at the black and white paint.
It was then that his vision adjusted enough to see the black eye sockets weren’t completely black. His brother’s eyes hadn’t been sealed or painted over, they were open, the green of his pupils rolled back in his head until only the whites were showing. Sam’s shaking hands felt Dean’s face, the adhesive that had been spread on his eyelashes were forcing his eyes to stay wide open.
“H-Hey, I’m here,” Sam squeezed Dean’s hand as hard as he could. “I’m right here, okay?”
Dean moaned in a strange muffled way. Sam looked in a panic at the bucket with a few inches of water left before he looked over at the staircase. There had to be a bathroom in this place and it had to have running water. But water wasn’t going to do much. Sam moved fast, reading the peeling labels on the old jars and jugs that sat among the brushes and tools.
“It’ll be all right, Dean,” Sam said. “I-I got you.”
With a wave of dizziness he had to brace himself against the table until the sickening sensation passed. His skin itched and prickled as his body struggled to sweat through the layers of gold paint. The toxic chemicals he found had been used on his brother made his heart thud faster in his chest. Sam hadn’t been coated with even half of this stuff and all he wanted to do was lay down and close his eyes.
Righting himself, Sam clenched his fists and took a deep breath.
He had to hurry this up.
Sam didn't expect the first room he saw at the top of the staircase to be a cozy bedroom. It was warmly lit by a lamp on the bedside table and filled almost wall to wall with a large four poster bed. Sam had to force himself not to go check to see what was laying under the threadbare quilt. He knew he wasn’t going to startle an elderly wife who had retired so she could rise early in the morning to tend the overgrown garden. And he knew whoever the unlucky soul had been to play the part of the beast’s sleeping companion was far beyond anyone’s help. The rest of the upper floor wasn’t lit but the few bulbs that were in the sockets flickered on when Sam tested the switches.
He steadied himself with a hand on the wall as his eyes adjusted in the dim light.
There were more bodies lining the hallway waiting like sentries in the dark. Sam moved quickly past them and tried not to look at the grotesque sag of their painted skins. The creature that had recreated them had been a brilliant artist but apparently hadn’t been quite as skilled in the art of taxidermy. Sam breathed a sigh of relief when he reached the end of the corridor. Not only had he found the room he was looking for, he had more importantly found a large cast iron bathtub that was connected to plumbing that actually worked. He twisted the hot and cold faucets on full blast before sorting through the jugs he’d brought with him.
Turpentine. Rubbing alcohol. Acetone.
The fire was still crackling and hot when he returned to the first floor.
Dean twitched when Sam’s hands gripped his arms and got ready to haul him up. But Sam quickly realized he wouldn’t be able to remove Dean easily from the worktable.
“I’m here,” Sam told him. “Can you hear me?”
He figured that the doll maker had probably left his brother alone to allow all the coats of sealant to set so none of the careful brush work would be marred. Dean let out a strained groan when Sam unstuck one arm at a time from the wood table and then began to work each leg loose. By the time Sam had sat him up, Dean was breathing too hard, his chest heaving as he wheezed for air. Sam watched as Dean’s eyes rolled again, his eyelids fixed open with glue.
“I-I’m sorry,” Sam had soaked a rag in acetone. “I gotta do this.”
Sam began to wipe the rag over Dean’s forehead, mumbling another apology when Dean jerked violently in his arms as the solvent dripped into his eyes. When Dean was finally able to blink, Sam quickly poured clean water over his face until he finally focused on Sam, tears streaking the black paint down his cheeks.
“Say something,” Sam said. “Please…”
Dean groaned again, weakly trying to raise his hands to his face. Sam decided not to wait around for a more coherent response. Maneuvering Dean off the table, Sam hefted his brother’s dead weight up into his arms to begin the climb up the stairs.
The bathroom was foggy with steam from the running water.
Sam lowered Dean as gently as he could into the filling tub. There was only a few inches of water in it but Dean jerked in Sam’s hands when he made contact with the water. Cursing under his breath, Sam stuck his hand under the faucet and found it was near boiling. Twisting the cold on as far as it could go, he grabbed the turpentine and poured it over a towel. He wasn’t sure where to start first so he started scrubbing at Dean’s chest, the reek of the paint thinner mixing with the steam making him swallow back a wave of nausea. Although he’d opened the small window all the way it go the fumes were already making him sick to his stomach.
“Dean, try-try to stay still,” Sam coughed. “It’s going to be okay.”
The outer layer of sealant started to quickly dissolve, and to Sam’s surprise he was able to peel some of it off. And to his incredible relief the thick paint started to come off with it in long strips. Sam pulled at the delicate creation of white ribs away exposing pink skin beneath. Another layer came away off Dean’s hip and down his leg. Sam tossed the slimy strips behind him, dully reminded of the feel of a shape shifters shedding skin.
Dean’s shaking hands suddenly stopped him.
“What?” Sam had to force himself to stop scrubbing. “What is it?”
Dean’s hands were at his mouth, his jaw working like he wanted to say something but all he could do was make more of that muffled noise. And then all of a sudden it occurred to Sam why it was that his brother hadn’t been speaking.
Sam blinked in disbelief.
He worked his fingers around Dean’s mouth and found his lips had been sealed shut. Sam felt another wash of nausea as he thought of how Dean’s eyes had been fixed open too. Holding his brother’s face, he checked and found his ears had been sealed as well. The spackle had been smoothed in almost perfectly but Sam was able to work it loose until it started to crumble away in his fingers. Dean’s face was smeared with gold paint by the time he was done, Dean’s mouth bruised and bleeding.
“Almost done,” Sam assured him. “Stay with me.”
As soon as his lips parted Dean hissed in a breath of air, choking and coughing. He growled and thrashed under Sam’s hands when Sam tried to wipe the blood away from his mouth. That was when Sam realized it hadn’t been just Dean’s lips that had been glued closed.
“Christ,” Sam said. “Your teeth…”
He had to sit back for a second.
He had to take another deep breath and just think.
“Can you breathe?“ Sam asked. “Can you breathe okay?”
Ignoring the question, Dean was trying to talk, a hissing plea behind clenched teeth. His hands, the fingers still fused together, were now pushing down between his legs. Besides the hot water and solvents Sam could think of about one hundred reasons why Dean would be experiencing an extra special kind of pain down there. If the paint irritated the skin on his face, Sam wasn’t even sure he wanted to know what it felt like anywhere else. But Dean was making an angry desperate sound that Sam thought he understood. Stripping this shit off didn’t feel good, and whether Dean liked it or not, Sam had to use the same chemicals and harsh scrubbing there too.
“-sam,” Dean rasped. “-hurts.”
“I know,” Sam tried to smooth his hand through Dean’s sticky white hair. “I’m going as fast as I can. Don’t worry, I’ll get all this washed off and then--”
Dean started to writhe like he was being burned.
“What? What is it?” Sam felt the panic he was barely keeping under control start to take over. Dean‘s hands were back between his legs, desperately reaching between his thighs. “Okay, okay, just let me look, just let me look…”
He took Dean’s hands away and wondered with a sinking dread if he had missed some injury. Some kind of mutilation or wound that they hadn’t found on any of the other dolls. But Sam could feel nothing but the sticky sealant and the greasy feel of dissolving paint. Then Sam abruptly remembered the coroners reports he had read and reread for all those weeks on the hunt. Besides the cosmetics, most of the bodies had been prepared in other ways for short term preservation. Sam slid his hand lower and felt the edge of the hard plastic that Dean had been trying so hard to reach.
“Fuck.” Sam breathed as he tried to get a grip on it. “I get it. Calm down… I get it.”
His brother’s body tensed, his breathing coming in shorter frantic gasps.
“Oh man,” Sam said. “This is gonna be bad, Dean.”
He was glad when Dean let him shut his eyes. Dean even covered Sam’s hand with his own. Sam was real glad. Because the next agonized sound Dean didn’t attempt to smother made him wish he couldn’t watch either.
He doused the place with a few jugs of the solvent and lit a match.
Sam waited until the flames spread to the second floor of the old house before he left. The motel wasn’t very far away, just under an hour on the highway that met the meander of the unpaved mountain roads. When he opened the door to their room he could still smell the lingering scent of turpentine and soap. He’d cleaned most of himself off, but he had made sure Dean was practically spotless before he finally let him rest.
And his brother was right where he left him.
Sam paused at the bed and put a hand on Dean’s head. The only thing he hadn’t gotten off was the paint in his hair, shocking and stark white like a skeleton’s bleached bones. Moving his hand to Dean’s forehead he frowned at the fever that was flushing his cheeks red. His brother roused under his touch, blinking groggily up at him with uncertainty before he realized who it was.
“It’s all gone,” Sam told him. “Doubt anyone will even report a fire.”
“Good.“ Dean slowly rubbed a hand sleepily across his bloodshot eyes. “Uh saw fire.”
“Don’t try to talk, dude,” Sam said. “Just try to sleep.”
Sam hadn’t been able to do anything about the glue used in Dean’s mouth. Besides pouring paint thinner down his throat the only other thing Sam could think of was to just give it some time to break down on its own. The way Dean kept grinding his jaw Sam didn’t think it would take very long anyway. But it looked like the fever was giving Dean a few hallucinations to go along with it.
“…it was in yur eyes,” Dean mumbled. “Saw it.”
Sam rubbed his fingers together, the red and yellow paint that had covered his own face still in the creases of his palms. His thoughts flashed to the moment he woke standing and realized he’d killed the doll maker. The blistering fire had licked the ceiling as the beast had burned alive and Sam couldn’t remember one moment before he’d plunged the fire poker into its body.
Sam dragged the quilt off the other bed and put it over Dean.
A shiver ran through him as Sam lay down on the bed, a hand absently wiping across his own forehead beaded with a cold sweat. He got in as close to Dean as he could and wrapped one arm under his shoulder.
“Now?” Sam asked.
His brother made a noncommittal sound as his eyes slipped closed again.
Sam wanted to sleep but he turned on the television instead, glancing down at Dean to make sure the volume didn’t bother him. It never had before but there was a first for everything. With a yawn, he checked his watched and counted the hours until dawn. There was doctor a few towns over that agreed to see them see them though it was a Sunday. Sam pulled the blankets closer over them both and flipped the channels until he found something he could concentrate on without thinking too much. Another night of lost sleep was nothing he was going to miss.
Especially the dreams.