Rating: PG (language)
Category: SPN Gen
Word Count: 2,150
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue, no offense, no money.
It was important to remember to check yourself when you got smacked by a witch.
It was especially important to do so when your overly zealous brother just shot the witch full of Hyoke powder and she was combusting.
Right after you said, “No, Dean, wait!”
Right after you noticed the protection wards around the room.
You get smacked by this witch because you’ve happened to move towards her when you noticed the wards and then got closer when you turned to the aforementioned zealous brother and held up your arms and said…
You just check.
Sam is looking at himself in the mirror, prodding at his chest and sides, turning at crazy angles to try and see his back. “Are you sure?” he asks for about the fiftieth time.
“I don’t know Sam, were you always that tall?” Dean calls from the motel bedroom, sounding completely unconcerned and even a bit amused. Sam scowls at his reflection, even though the expression is meant for Dean.
“Fine! See if I check you for horns next time a crone lays something on you,” he snaps back, knowing that he sounds, as eloquently as Dean puts it, pissy, but not being able to help it. He feels the first stirrings of the urge to piss but tries to ignore it because he’s sure it’s going to be purple.
“You’re fine you big girl,” Dean says, appearing in the bathroom doorway. “She barely touched you.” He has a box of Lucky Charms and tips it up, pouring dry cereal into his mouth. There’s a carton of milk in the other hand but Sam turns back to his reflection before he has to see that.
“Those were contact wards in her room, Dean. She just had to touch me to transfer whatever it was.” Sam runs fingers through his hair, pressing down and around and coming up with nothing but scalp. The longer it takes him to find something, the more worried he’s getting. “She’s definitely done something.”
By the third day Sam is getting ready to grudgingly admit that Dean is right, he is fine when the something finally presents itself.
In the form of a small goblin in the back seat of the Impala.
“Holy crap!” Sam exclaims and Dean wrenches the wheel sideways, startled. They thankfully hit nothing but a grassy curb when the Impala swings sharply to the left and Dean recovers, coasting her to a stop before he turns around to glare.
“Dude!” he barks. “If you wanted to kill us, fine. Just not in the Impala!”
“I’m sorry but I thought you’d want to know there was a creature in the back seat,” Sam grouches, hooking a thumb over his shoulder. Dean turns around, blinks a couple of times and then faces forward again.
“Is this payback for the last couple of days?” he asks.
“What? You think I put it there?”
“Put what there? There’s nothing back there,” Dean says and Sam swivels, still seeing the dark blue goblin, a Sam-hand tall, happily chewing on one of the seatbelts.
“You don’t see that?” he asks, wincing when his voice goes hysterically high-pitched.
“See what?” Dean asks slowly, looking spooked. Sam knows Dean’s not about the disbelieve him. Thankfully Dean is more than willing to believe in the presence of something he can’t see on Sam’s say so but that doesn’t console him in the slightest.
The goblin seems to finally notice it’s being watched and looks at Sam, makes a rude gesture and seems to melt into the seat.
Sam knows he’s never going to sit in the back again.
“It’s gone now,” he says, wondering if maybe the constant nightmares and horror have finally started invading his waking thoughts. It’s possible I’m crazy, he thinks sullenly.
“What’s gone?” Dean demands but Sam ignores him, curling against the passenger seat and pulling their father’s journal into his lap. He finds the section on goblins and reads, knowing before he gets to the passage in his Dad’s crabbed hand, just what the witch has done to him.
Goblins can’t be seen by human eyes.
Not normal ones, anyway.
Dean has something, all black lines and angles, curled around his shoulders and across his back. Sam tries to make out details surreptitiously, knowing that he can’t actually tell his brother what he’s seeing because Dean will try to exorcise it and Sam isn’t one hundred percent sure it isn’t meant to be there.
Whatever it is has talons and a long, reptilian head. It almost looks like a glassy black dragon but Sam doesn’t want to assume anything. It tracks his movements and noses at him if he’s near but Sam doesn’t feel threatened. If anything the creature seems to snuffle good-naturedly whenever he’s close enough.
Dean’s shoulder demon isn’t the most disconcerting thing. Sam has a little trouble with the small, green fuzzy monster that yells every time he goes to fill the Impala’s tank. The tiny water droplets with feet that dance in the sink as he brushes his teeth are hard to ignore and he’s stopped looking under motel beds for his sanity.
“Maybe it was some kind of whacky hallucinogen?” Dean wonders absently. While he lies on his bed the black dragon curls around his boots, looking as content as a puppy.
Sam’s been wondering the same thing.
They call Bobby when Sam nearly gets them into another car accident swatting small burning pixies away from him and then Dean. They send an email with pictures of the symbols through as they talk and Bobby makes a considering noise.
“Not really your run of the mill curse,” he decides. “Looks more subtle than that.”
“She trying to kill us from the grave by making Sam randomly freak out?” Dean asks. His dragon has taken to pawing at Sam’s sleeves whenever he’s close enough and Sam is finding it really hard to not let on about the damn thing. Sam is wondering if it’s truly insane to think that the thing has Dean’s grin.
“The symbols aren’t for protection; they’re for letting protection down. Making the normal barriers in the brain give way. It’s opening Sam up to everything he shouldn’t be able to see.”
“That’s a good thing right?” Dean asks, clapping Sam on the knee. “Make our job a hell of a lot easier.”
“Dean, it don’t work like that. The human mind can only take so much. There’s barriers for a reason. It’s a progressive letting down. If it continues Sam might not be able to function normally, differentiate between what he’s seeing and what other people are.”
“How do we stop it?” Dean asks, lips thinned down to a grim line. Sam is up and pacing, Bobby’s voice tinny through the cell phone speaker.
“Hell, I’m not sure you can. Some doors can’t be closed once they’re opened.”
Sam understands what Bobby is talking about the next day when he pours himself a glass of water and something bloated and red bobs around in his glass. He sets it aside, rubbing his face with his hands and Dean gives him a quizzical look while pulling on his jacket, the dragon seeming to merge with the material for a moment before it settles again, separate and coiled along his brother’s nape and down one arm.
“We’re going to fix this,” Dean says, going for his most reassuring tone, the one he used to use to chase nightmares away. “Your freaky brain stuff has never stopped us before.”
“It’s not my freaky brain stuff though,” Sam sighs.
Missouri doesn’t look surprised to see them, but Sam suspects it has more to do with her just knowing those kinds of things than Bobby calling to give her the heads up.
“There’s no quick fix,” she warns, watching Dean devour the sandwich she’s fixed him and, with a little more concern, Sam merely push his around the plate. “Putting barriers back up is a hard business and not to be taken lightly.”
“Believe me, I’m not taking this lightly,” Sam says, poking a finger at the pink centipede-looking thing that is winding its way down his crusts.
Sam startles awake when weight settles on his legs. For a moment he thinks it’s Dean but when he switches on the bedside lamp, liquid black eyes blink at him in the half-light. Dean’s dragon is lying across his knees; tail curled around one of his feet. “Go back to Dean,” Sam snaps, making shooing motions with his hands but the thing just flattens itself and makes a grumbly noise that reminds Sam of when Dean is half-asleep and being disturbed.
“Fine, but I hope you don’t snore like him too,” Sam relents and the dragon makes a happy chirrup and winds its way up until its head is lodged under Sam’s chin. It’s warm and Sam feels strangely safe.
“I’m calling you Bob,” Sam decides, knowing it’s probably ludicrous to name the embodiment of Dean’s fierce protectiveness, but sometimes Sam knows you just have to roll with the punches.
Sam hates meditating.
This both puzzles and amuses Dean who wonders aloud why someone so boring as Sam, who can stare off into space for hours when they’re driving, has such trouble crossing his legs and emptying his mind.
“Some of us aren’t lucky enough to start out with a mind that’s pretty much empty,” Sam rejoinders and Missouri has to chase Dean out before the ensuing wrestling match destroys any of her furniture. Bob looks torn as Dean leaves the room and Sam rolls his eyes. “Go on,” he dismisses and the little creature bounds after his brother.
“You know, interacting with what you see is going to make letting go of it harder,” Missouri says, half scolding and half curious.
“What is this stuff I’m seeing anyway?” Sam asks, as he settles back into position. “I mean, I thought by what Bobby was describing I’d be seeing spirits and stuff but the things I’m seeing are pretty odd, pretty random.”
“I can’t say for sure, but I think it’s what’s on the edges of our conscious,” Missouri says, tapping a finger to her chin. “Always there but we ignore out of pure necessity. Our world’s a crowded place and it ain’t just the living and the dead that dwell here, but all the stuff in between. What defies such conventional categorisation.”
Sam dwells on this, but after a few minutes Missouri smacks him in the forehead and tells him that thinking so hard is his problem. “Gotta let go of that,” she says. “Picture your consciousness snapping free of your body, like a series of cables if it helps.”
Sam does, feeling strangely lighter as he lets each cable go until he reaches the last. He hesitates at that one because there are a lot of things holding it in place, duty and an underlying fear that if he leaves Dean alone for even a moment his brother is going to disappear like a puff of smoke chief amongst them. He forces those thoughts away and lets go and somewhere in the distance he hears the sound of wings.
Cool fingers at his brow rouse Sam and Dean’s worried face is the first thing he can focus on. “I should start carrying around a pack of smelling salts,” Dean jokes although his eyes are still dark with concern. “Way you keep fainting like a real lady.”
“Let him alone,” Missouri snaps. “He’s fine, just let go a little too well for his first time is all.”
Bob is a vibrant red, tail curled around Dean’s throat and paws resting on the top of Dean’s head so it can peer at Sam. Its colour shifts to inky black as Sam sits up and smiles wanly. “I’m fine,” Sam says as Dean’s hands come up and hover around him as he stands.
“I ain’t never going to accuse you of being a slow learner Sam Winchester,” Missouri is saying with a grin. “Should only take us a few days to see you right as rain. I’ve put my feelers out and gotten a few things to help you along.” Missouri leans forward and drops a charm around Sam’s neck on a chain of silver. Between blinks Bob disappears.
“What is it?” Sam asks, lifting the charm and seeing it is a tiny wood carving, three lengths of what look like brambles knotted in the middle.
“Very temporary but should give you some relief while we train you up,” Missouri says, patting Sam on the shoulder before she moves away.
After four days, Sam removes the necklace before taking a shower and finds there is nothing in the bathroom except him.
Sam hadn’t realised he’d been staring until Dean turns his head and glares.
“Nothing,” Sam says.
Coda - Here Be Dragons.