TITLE: The Drawbridge
CHAR: Dean, Sam, Bobby
RATING: PG 13
A/N: An X-mas wish fulfilled for seize_my_day, who asked for "Dean in a body cast or multiple broken bones." What can I say? Sometimes inspiration just strikes? Sometimes I need someone else to back up my ridiculous kinks before I have the guts to put them to page? Enjoy? Merry Christmas?
SUMMARY: Dean stops hunting. The painful way.
Dean can’t move.
Something buried deep under a haze of pain whispers a death toll, and he doesn’t know who it’s for. His body wages war against his mind, sends him into the blackness. It’s a smooth black, trimmed with chrome and smelling of vinyl and turtle wax.
He doesn’t move for a very long time after that. Not under his own steam. Only when he hears the low and heavy groan of warping metal and is pulled on and strapped down and dragged into the light that shines blood red through heavy eyelids that he doesn’t dare open.
He doesn’t want to see it. He can’t take it. He can take the physical pain that radiates from every bone in his body. But he can’t take seeing that. Not again.
They inject something into him, and instead of it making him go, it makes him disappear. How can they know what he needs? It takes years to understand just how far you can go, just what spot to hit. The right thing to say. The right screws to tighten. They are strangers. Joy riders.
He doesn’t move. He is warned not to. His eyes are open now and he understands why. Sees how much damage has been done. He doesn’t move because he is broken everywhere. No part of him has been granted mercy.
He can breathe the dry, antiseptic air, see the white plaster covering his limbs and feel the ebb and flow of drugs. Those are the only things that tell him he is alive.
Sam doesn’t have other words. Just his name, and that’s enough for now. Dean wishes Sam didn’t have to see him like this, so broken and beyond repair, is proud of Sam’s strength when he looks at Dean and doesn’t cry, when he comes closer instead of running away.
The body that is no longer his own, except for that it weighs him down and causes him pain, seems like a inanimate thing between Dean and the rest of the world, a wall or a raised drawbridge, whitewashed and bright and distracting. It feels as though it will be there forever. Sam finds ways to inveigle his way closer, though. Touching Dean’s forehead to check for fever, rubbing warmth into toes or fingers that protrude from the end of his casts, white-cold from poor circulation.
Sam knows just how far, just where to go.
“Lets make this clear. Toes and fingers are the only thing I’m rubbing for you.”
The right thing to say.
He’s had far too much practice.
“Hey…” Sam says, worried because his joke didn’t get a laugh. Dean closes his eyes against the hand pressed to his cheek. It only makes the wall feel thicker now, immortal like the pyramids.
“It’s over for me,” he hisses around the wires holding his jaw together.
“She’s gone. Isn’t she?”
“I’m sorry,” Sam says, and Dean’s heart shatters again because some small, unbroken part of him (maybe his nose or his pinky toe) had hoped she was salvageable. “It’s a miracle you made it out alive, man.”
“Not gonna be the same,” Dean explains, not sure if he means the car or himself or the world.
“No. No. I know.”
“They told you? ‘Bout the bone. Stuck up in there,” he whispers, stares down at his chest, his heart. Tries to imagine the tiny piece of bone splintering off his ribcage and lodging itself into his aorta. Making itself at home like a land mine in a Vietnamese rice field.
“Casts come off, I’m still fucked.”
“You aren’t fucked. You’re retired.”
He’s not stupid. He knows what that means. Because he’s not like other people. He is nothing without the work he does. And when he can no longer do that work, he is of no more use than a racehorse with a broken leg, a machine with one vital piece missing.
Bobby comes and yells at the doctors for him, and frets over every groan he lets slip past his lips. He stares at the monitors behind Dean’s bed and reads him Casino Royal . He doesn’t mention the car or the splinter in his heart.
Dean won’t be able to move. Not for at least six weeks. They all tell him he’s lucky to have survived at all. Lucky to have been crushed to within an inch of his life, feel every bone in his body snap in two and lucky to be trapped in casts and be in constant pain. They are emphatic.
They are also emphatic about the splinter of bone in his heart, and how over-exerting himself or being jostled or hit in the wrong way could dislodge it and cause him to die instantly.
Dean can’t move. And it seems right, somehow, that without his car, he will stop. As if she twisted around him just so. As if she made sure. Because she knew it was time. That he was finished.
When Dean is released, Sam and Bobby put him in a 1986 Chevy Nova with a faded Northwestern University parking sticker in the back window. The back seat is soft, worn down cloth, baby blue like an old city bus. The casts on his arms and legs, propped up on it like four pieces of unwanted luggage.
The shocks are soft and smooth, and Dean is wrapped in blankets and the radio is low.
He imagines someone’s proud father handing the keys over to their son, helping pack a bedroom’s worth of memories into the trunk and the back seat. Stuffed so high you can’t see out the windows. This car has seen the country, but it’s seen no battles.
When they get to Singer Salvage, Sam helps him into the wheelchair with hands that are certain only in their caution. Like an experienced antiques dealer.
Everything is different now. Sam is patient with him, abiding. Bobby doesn’t ever raise his voice. If there are fights, if there is any kind of upset, it is kept far away. All Dean has now are gentle voices and careful hands. Guardians of a precious and fragile weapon from another time.
After his bones heal, he never regains all his strength. Can’t push himself, can’t fight. There will be no more violence. That life is over.
Now there is Sam brewing coffee downstairs and Bobby with an arm around his back, helping him to the kitchen one step at a time.
Now he is kept safe, and that’s all.