Title: I’ll Take Care of You
Genre: gen, hurt/comfort, missing scene, wee!chesters
Summary: Takes place immediately after Sam completes the spell in 8x19 Taxi Driver. There was one thing that Dean was better at than being a warrior…
/ “Sam!” Dean ran across the muddy yard towards the fallen four-year-old. He had seen what was about to happen, but was too far away to stop it. “Sammy, you okay?” he asked worriedly, finally reaching him.
Sam nodded as he was helped to his feet, but his bottom lip was wobbling something fierce and….
“Lemme see it,” Dean insisted, gesturing at the arm he was cradling. /
Crouching next to him, he squeezed the trembling shoulder beneath his hand.
He said he was fine.
“H-how far is the car?” he asked, confirming what Dean already knew.
He wasn’t fine.
“A few miles. I parked as close as I could get. Think you can make it?”
Sam swayed where he was on his knees, “Think you can carry me?” he asked shakily, only half-kidding.
/ “Come on, kiddo,” Dean said, picking up his brother. Wrapping his arms and legs around him, Sam pressed his face into his neck. /
He already had a hand under one of Sam’s armpits when he was waved off. “I’m…I’m okay, Dean.” His smile was very, very tired though. “Really.”
Dean crouched back in front of him—concerned and not-so-convinced. “Alright…but all you gotta do is say the word. I meant it literally, too…even if I have to drag your gigantor ass.”
Mouth turning up shyly, Sam ducked his head and nodded. Dean gave him a moment to rebuild his resolve before holding out a hand and asking tentatively, “You ready, Frodo?”
Exhausted eyes met concerned one. Then taking his hand, Sam conveyed a lifetime of gratitude in one word, “Yeah.”
/ “You’re okay, Sammy,” Dean reassured, sitting him on the edge of the kitchen table to get a better look at him. “Does it hurt anywhere other than your elbow?”
Bottom lip still wobbling, Sam shook his head.
“Alright, let’s have a look.”
Holding out the injured limb, a lone tear slipped free from big worrisome eyes.
“Hey, you ready?” Dean asked gently, making sure.
Meeting his big brother’s eyes, Sam took a deep breath, put on a brave face, and nodded. /
His little brother—having already sacrificed himself to hell once, had marched right back in via purgatory to save an innocent—to save Bobby. A big brother couldn’t get any prouder.
Sam stumbled again and Dean steadied him with a hand under the elbow. They’d been doing this more and more over the last mile, but Sam wasn’t anything if not stubborn. They didn’t talk as they made the seemingly endless trek back to the car. There was plenty to say, but really…nothing that needed to be said right now.
/ Wordlessly, Sammy leaned into his big brother after he was done checking the small wound. It had been quite a drop—at least eight feet from the top porch railing to the ground, but he thankfully seemed more shaken up than anything. Thank God it had been raining non-stop for a week.
“’s’kay, I’ve got you now.” Dean wrapped his arms around him. “I’ve got you now, Sammy.” The fall had probably scared him as much as it did his little brother./
He was just glad…he had feared that returning to hell might awaken the devil Sam had so remarkably buried. But other than being emotionally and physically exhausted beyond words…. He seemed to have returned to him just as he had went.
“Alright, you nap or whatever while I take care of Benny,” he said as they finally reached the Impala and he opened the backdoor for him.
/ Helping him off the table, Dean instructed his brother to grab his pajamas and get ready for a bath. “You’ll feel better after we get you all cleaned up, Sammy. Trust me.”/
Sam squeezed his arm in appreciation and maybe even sympathy, but opened the passenger side door instead. Then he just kinda…stalled out. He stood there, leaning against the roof of the car like he didn’t know what his next move should be.
“Sam? You plannin’ on runnin’ alongside her, or…?”
“Hmm?” He looked over at him dazedly between long, hard, confused blinks.
Dean’s eyes softened. He looked like a gigantic two-year-old fighting bedtime. “Alright, come on little brother.” Placing one hand under his elbow and one over his head so he wouldn’t bump it, Dean started to guide him into the car. “Time for bed.”
Legs giving way, Sam latched onto his jacket. “Easy, I got you,” Dean promised, stepping in closer to control his descent. “I got you….”
Finally seated, but spent, Sam leaned against him, forehead to stomach.
“You okay?” Dean asked softly, worriedly, letting him rest there. He felt the answer—a hum, reverberate through him. Sam probably meant it as a yes, but Dean knew better. Sighing, he squeezed the back of his neck. “Come on, buddy,” he said, gently nudging him sideways so he could get his feet in. “Almost there.”
Curling towards the driver’s side, “Dean?” Sam’s eyes opened briefly before drifting closed again.
“Right here, Sammy,” he automatically replied, lifting long legs into the car.
And after that little bit of reassurance he probably didn’t even realize he had sought…Sam was asleep.
Sitting back on his haunches, Dean wiped a hand down his face and took a good look at his little brother. He was pale, somehow thinner than the last time he had seen him, and…he placed a warm hand over Sam’s much cooler knee… still trembling. As if the trials weren’t enough, the spell to seal the deal was just as, if not more taxing.
Sammy slowly trudged into the bathroom dragging his footy pajamas by the sleeve in one hand and Cubby in the other. He had been playing hard in the mud all day, and the scare from the fall seemed to have sapped the last bit of strength he had right out of him./
He had made it back to the car on autopilot and Dean worried…he wondered how much of a little brother he’d have left after the damn trials were over. He wished nothing more than to carry the burden of them himself. No secret there. Some things were ingrained so deeply into who he was that if a threat bore down on Sam—even after all these years, no matter how many times Sam has proven himself…Dean’s big brother instincts were kicked into high gear.
Because Sam—all six-feet-four-inches of him would always be the little brother.
/ “Can Cubby get a bath, too?” he asked as Dean tugged his muddy shirt off over his head.
Dean regarded the stuffed bear where it now sat on the sink. “Cubby doesn’t need a bath. He wasn’t playing in the mud all day.”
“Oh, but I was,” Sam clarified, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “Right?”
“Right, Sammy,” Dean replied smoothly, nudging him gently towards the tub. “Come on.”/
Taking the opportunity now that he was asleep, Dean decided to do a more thorough check for injuries. Starting with his head, he ran his fingers through the long hair, searching for bumps that he wasn’t familiar with, that shouldn’t be there.
/ “I almost got all the soap, Sammy,” the eight-year-old said, rinsing the brown locks with warm water. “Just let me be sure.”
Sitting in the tub, Sam had his eyes squeezed shut tight and a towel over them. He hated it when he got soap in his eyes. It practically traumatized the kid. He patiently waited, though—trusting Dean to let him know when it would be safe again to open them. /
Moving down to the arms, Dean checked the temporary bandage he had wrapped around the self-inflicted wounds.
/“Snoopy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” he asked after Sam was dried off and in his pajamas. Sam pointed at the Snoopy bandage—he was such a girl—and Dean smoothed it over the small cut on his elbow./
Moving onto the ribs, he gently ghosted his fingers along them.
/ Giggling, Sam dodged away and climbed onto his bed. /
Dean frowned when his suspicions that he had lost weight were confirmed. His ribs were noticeably more prominent than they used to be. “Damnit, Sammy,” he whispered dejectedly.
Moaning, Sam curled further into himself and turned his face into the seat as a tremor shot through his body.
“Easy, buddy.” Rubbing his upper arm, Dean reached over him to pull a blanket from the back.
/ “You’re a boy, not a burrito, Sam.”
“I don’t want to fall out,” he insisted.
“If I tuck you in any tighter, I’ll never be able to get you out,” Dean replied.
Sam’s grinning face fell and grew worrisome. /
Closing the gates to hell would be…well, big. The entire world would be able to breathe a sigh of relief whether it knew it, or not. They would be able to breathe a sigh of relief…but Dean knew—it wasn’t the world Sam fought for, had given up his own apple pie life for; it was Dean. And that was hard to swallow, because he was hurting right now.
He was hurting so that Dean would know hope.
/ “What makes you think you’ll fall?” The eight-year-old asked gently, exhibiting the patience of an adult. “Have you ever before?” he pressed, already knowing the answer. “From bed, I mean,” he added.
“No…but you usually sleep with me,” Sam answered truthfully, big hazel eyes begging for reassurance. /
Dean finished smoothing the blanket over the younger man. Even after all these years it still pained him not to be able to be there every time his brother needed him to be. He was fighter, a protector to the core. And he was sidelined and forced to watch while his little brother took the blows.
Fortunately, there was one thing that he was better at than being a warrior….
/ Sitting on the bed next to his brother, “You’re not gonna fall,” Dean eased. “And even if you do, I’m right here. Okay? In the bed right next to you. I’ll help you back up, just like I always do.”
Sam seemed to think on this for a second, but when he met Dean’s eyes again they were still worried. “But…what if I get hurt again, or worse?” he asked softly, still troubled by the fall.
“You’re not gonna get hurt.”
“But…” His eyes filled with tears. He needed to know before he’d be able to sleep. “What if I do?” /
Dean palmed the top of Sam’s head—the sum of his life tucked into the front seat of their sixty-seven Chevy Impala, and repeated thickly the creed he had lived by since the moment his sasquatch was born, “Then I’ll take care of you.”