Following: Payment Plan 1 - 3
Rating: PG - Gen - Wee! & Teen!Chesters - Dean POV
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
It was impossible to know how long he'd been hanging within his own mind.
The dim spark on his consciousness was like a lone sputtering light bulb dangling on a frayed cord in the middle of a vast unlit space. It could have been for hours or days. The only reason he didn't think it had been days was because he still seemed to be alive. There were things just outside of his own small pool of senses that proved it. Voices. Sounds. Footsteps. He faded in and out with the slurred reality of his agony and the rush and grotesque blossom of dreams as vivid as the kind that flashed and burned in a fever.
He thought maybe there had been some mercy in giving him whatever had made that mug of water bitter and sour. It was like being split in two. His body was one place and his mind was numbly adrift. And with them unconnected they would both strain so thin until soon there'd be nothing left at all. There were moments of relief when he saw his father's face. Then the crushing knowledge that it was just conjured in his dark, fading away back to the sound of himself struggling to breathe.
He flinched at the chatter of voices, unsure if there were people indeed there sitting all around his body or it was just another product of his tampered state. Their tone shifted and hissed, turning inhuman and strange. A small sharp whisper near his ear told him that he was dying. It had crossed his mind before that he could die but he had never imagined anything so prolonged. How long would it take before his darkness eclipsed him and swallowed him one last final time? Would the colors that exploded over and over behind his eyes just shift into some clear cloudless sky? Would there just be finally maybe just nothing at all?
He heard himself whimper at the thought that maybe he could survive for days just like this. Maybe forever. Voices drifted over and around him. Muffled and indistinct. He heard his father say his name over and over again but he knew that his father couldn't actually be here.
If he was than he would help him.
Sammy was crying.
Why was Sammy crying?
He tried to ask but his mouth wouldn't work right. It came out garbled and strange.
There was a distant echo of gun shots but he couldn't move. His body felt sluggish and on fire, his muscles cramped and burning. Was he still dreaming? The half sleep in the black had been filled with this. Fresh air. The dizzying profound relief that none of this had ever even happened. He was still in bed. He had nodded off in the car. But no. He always saw his salvation fade back into the stifling blank nothing that surrounded him.
This was just another one of his cruel hallucinations of freedom. Hands were cradling his face, checking his eyes and turning his head from side to side. He heard himself moan when the pain roared through him again as he was lifted. He tried to twist and stiffened so he would be dropped but he couldn't. His face was laying against the familiar smell of a leather jacket.
I've got you. I've got you.
"I'm d-disappearing." His voice didn't sound like his own.
It's ok now. It's ok now.
It wasn't until he heard the loud engine turn, his cheek pressed up cold against the smooth back-seat that he thought maybe some part of himself had seeped back through the seams of the living. He leaned over and felt his hands on the car's vibrating floor, an icy sweat breaking out over his forehead and down his back.
The bitter water came up, all the scattered voices and all the colors that had churned behind his eyelids flooding up and out of his mouth. He heard someone say they should pull over.
It was then that he really knew.
It was over.
"You tell me."
"I mean it Dean, don't think I won't follow you into that shower myself."
"Do I have to take you to a doctor?"
Dean stared hard at the floor between his feet.
He had come to with one foot still in a sneaker and the other one bare and wrapped up tight in an ace bandage. It throbbed and ached. His head wasn't spinning as badly as it had been but he still felt groggy and detached. His entire body felt used up and beaten. Sore and stiff. He couldn't stop touching the corners of his mouth with his tongue, the stinging chafed skin puffy and swollen. The back of his throat was raw from puking.
All his joints hurt when he moved. His shoulder felt almost like the last time he had dislocated it. A few forced glasses of water left him feeling nauseous and even more empty than he had felt before. It was hunger to the point of sickening stomach cramps that came in waves, almost doubling him over. The chills that followed made him shudder where he sat on the bed's edge.
But nothing was broken.
"He got your head pretty good."
Dean's fingertips lightly touched the three small stitches that were carefully placed on his brow. He had woken up when they were being tugged into tight knots.
"What about your ankle, you fall on that too?"
"What about your face?"
A brief but solid image of open scissors appeared in his mind.
"I don't remember."
Dean listened to his father let out a ragged sigh as the older man sat back into the overstuffed motel chair. He couldn't look up at his Dad and meet his eyes anymore. He couldn't keep answering the same questions over and over again. All he wanted to do was lay down somewhere and just click his brain off like a light switch--
"What else do you not remember?"
"Damn it Dean, what if I hadn't found you? What if that son of bitch had headed right over state lines before I even knew you were gone?"
Dean felt his fists tremble as he worked them opened and closed.
"Are you listenin' to me?"
He knew he should answer. Or nod. But he stared straight down, his vision going in and out of focus. His stomach lurched again, and there was a hard sharp pain starting behind his eyes that made him clench his teeth.
"I asked, are you listening to me--"
The large hand that suddenly touched Dean's arm made him jerk backwards on the bed with enough force to startle them both.
Before he knew what he was doing, Dean lunged and started to swing out wildly. Angry growling sounds that he knew must have been coming from himself came unchecked as he felt his fists contact with flesh over and over again. His ankle buckled under him and he felt himself start to go down. Almost as fast as it had begun he was on the floor, panting and wheezing, the heavy weight of his father on top of him, holding his right wrist wretched high between his shoulder blades.
"Ok, ok...calm down...calm down..." His Dad was saying breathlessly over and over again. "you're fine, you're ok...just breathe..."
Dean shut his eyes, trying to inhale and exhale normally and not start screaming or sobbing or the horrible combination of both of those things that wanted to erupt from the back of his throat. He tried to struggle free one more time before collapsing limp under the firm hold, his heart thudding and face flushed against the itchy feel of the carpet.
His father's steady litany of mindless reassurances finally lulled him into laying completely still, letting out even shallow breaths with his eyes stinging hot. His wrist was released, the pressure off his injured shoulder making him groan as he was rolled over, his father looking down at him with a dazed startled look that Dean was fairly sure he shared and wore himself.
With his adrenaline ebbing, the various pains that covered him flooded back through his frame. He didn't know what else to do but lay there shaking on the floor and wait for his father to say something.
Dean blinked up at him when he didn't.
His father's hand was oddly gentle on the uninjured side of his face before it slid up roughly into his hair. Kneeling back, the man slowly got to his feet and almost collapsed back into his chair.
"I'm gonna get headed to Wisconsin tomorrow." He murmured, his gaze falling on the curtained window and the parking lot beyond.
I'm headed. Not we.
Dean heard his voice cracking and didn't care.
"Dad, I'm s-sorry, I didn't mean to--"
"I think- I think you and your brother should stay in Blue Earth for a while."
Dean sat up slowly, rolling his shoulder and wincing.
"You head on to bed." His Dad told him. "We leave early in the morning."
It was easy to lose Sammy.
All he had to do was run as hard and fast as he wanted and his younger brother would have no choice but fall behind until he was out of sight. All that was left was a voice calling out his name that would get further and further away until it wasn't there anymore. There was some cruelty to it that he'd never actually intended but never felt much like explaining when he eventually returned home to a pair of narrowed accusing eyes.
After a few days, Sam stopped trying to follow him anyway.
At night he'd play the game his Dad had taught him a long time ago when he had once complained that he couldn't get to sleep. Just try it the other way around, he had told him. Just lay there and try not to go to sleep. It usually worked like a charm no matter how wound up Dean happened to be. Not these days. As soon as Sammy's lamp went out the dark would feel like some physical thing that would start to choke him. He had to keep the window by his bed cracked no matter how much Sam complained of the cold draft that flowed in through it. He started spending the early morning hours in front of Pastor Jim's old television instead. After being caught at that a few times he started slipping out to take walks down along the nearby creek.
It was comforting to move along in the night like a shadow. It felt like he was the one that everything else didn't know was there. He was what everything else ought to be afraid of. They would hear his near silent passage and wonder just what he might be.
That thought sometimes brought on a small smile.
Some nights he went through the unlocked basement window of the church that sat at the bottom of the Pastor's unpaved driveway. The silent building was like the abandoned plowed farm land that he transversed unnoticed during the daylight hours. Completely empty and his alone.
He would sometimes take a seat in one of the long pews and watch the sunrise slowly soak and ignite the panes of stained glass that had been assembled into their various tales. Dean knew some of them but most he did not. He invented a few for himself instead, like a sailor on the night ocean picking pictures out of the chaos he found in the sky. As the days went by he started sleeping more and more. After a few weeks he woke up one morning at dawn and realized he had stayed in his bed the entire night through. Any ideas that his night time activities had gone unnoticed were removed when that same very morning Pastor Jim had carefully and happily squeezed him on the shoulder as he ate his cornflakes.
He still took his day time walks though. Every now and then he even let Sam tag along.
It wasn't until almost a month had gone by that he finally saw a small scrap of paper waiting for him on the kitchen table. He picked it up, his name written on it in clergy man's neat cursive script. Under it was a phone number with a Michigan area code.
Looked like Dad was headed back their way again.
With a sigh, he thought about the time he had left in terms of miles and the hours it took to span them. He had known ever since he had made this exile his choice that he wasn't going to remain in the mild sanctuary of these walls forever. But it had been something to be standing still for a little while. He looked up over at the telephone that sat on the wall but didn't move towards it.
Crumpling the paper in his fist, he pushed it down into his front jean pocket.
Sometimes standing still was the only way you could catch your breath.