Characters/Pairings: Dean, Sam, Bobby
Word Count: 2,048
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: Written for hc_bingo prompt, exhaustion.
Summary: Ever since he came back from Hell, Sam goes on hunt after hunt. Then he collapses.
Ever since he had returned from Hell, Sam Winchester kept pushing himself to hunt. He refused to take any breaks, except for when Dean forced him to rest. That didn’t happen very often, however. Sam just kept finding new hunts for them to go on.
Now they were going on a simple salt and burn about half an hour from Bobby’s house. A ghost was attacking the new owners of the house it had previously lived in. Sam was finding it a little bit hard to focus on the task at hand, though. He was having trouble keeping his eyes open.
“Sammy, you okay?” questioned a worried Dean as he watched his brother dig the grave up. He had a slight concussion from their previous hunt, and Sam refused to let him dig because it was hard work.
“I’m fine,” Sam lied. He was having trouble focusing, but he was mostly okay. He wanted to get this job done and start researching the next hunt.
Dean eyed him warily. He didn’t think Sam was fine at all. He hadn’t stopped once since returning from Hell. It was like he couldn’t sit down without having something to do. And then, when it was time to go to bed, he drank himself to sleep. Actually, he didn’t sleep all that much either. Sam either had nightmares or just didn’t go to sleep at all. Dean understood that, having been through it himself after returning from Hell, but Sam wouldn’t admit to having nightmares. Dean knew his younger brother had nightmares, but Sam refused to talk. Dean was starting to understand why Sam had been so irritated with him before. “Whatever, Sam.”
Sam was halfway through digging the grave when he swayed on his feet. “Dean?” he cried out in a panic. His brother was always the first person he thought of when he wasn’t feeling well.
Dean jumped to his brother’s side. “Sammy, what’s wrong?” He knew that there wasn’t something right with his brother. He hated being proven right this time around, though. Dean loathed it when Sam was sick or hurt.
“I don’t feel so good,” he mumbled. Sam would have collapsed in the grave if Dean hadn’t been holding him up.
“You’re going to the hospital,” Dean decided. He wasn’t about to take any chances with Sam’s health right now. He somehow managed to get Sam over to the car. He laid his brother in the back seat and called Bobby on the way to the hospital.
Sam was immediately taken in for some tests, and admitted to a hospital room about three hours after arriving. He finally woke up around an hour after that.
“How are you feeling, boy?” Bobby questioned. He had immediately headed to the hospital when Dean called him to tell him where he was taking Sam.
“Tired,” Sam muttered. He couldn’t really remember anything past starting to dig the grave to get rid of the ghost.
“Well, that’s because you collapsed,” Dean bit out before he stopped talking. He wasn’t going to get angry with Sam. That was not the point here.
The doctor came in and interrupted their conversation. “Hello, Mr. Seger. We’ve determined that you are suffering from exhaustion. There seems to be medical causes for it. Have you been experiencing any stress lately?”
Sam shot a guilty look towards Dean as his brother answered. “We have a job where we travel all over the place. We’ve been working job after job lately. Could that be why he collapsed and had to be rushed there?” He glared at his younger brother.
“Yes, that could definitely be a cause. Mr. Seger, I suggest you slow down and stop working so hard. I’m going to keep you overnight for observation, but you should be fine to go home in a couple of days.” He smiled at the three men in the room and left.
“You two are coming back home with me. I’m not taking no for an answer,” Bobby informed Sam and Dean. He and Dean would make sure that the younger Winchester rested.
“You’ve been pushing yourself too hard, Sam.” Dean had already decided they were laying off hunting for at least two weeks.
Sam started to protest. “Dean, can we not discuss this right now? I’m tired. I can’t think straight. And I really don’t want to be here.” He hated hospitals. That’s why he tried to stay out of them as much as possible and take care of his own injuries. That didn’t always work, however.
Dean sighed. “Fine. But you’re not getting out of this conversation. We’re talking as soon as you’re discharged and we’re at Bobby’s.” He figured Sam would try to weasel his way out of talking to him, but Dean wasn’t going to let him. It was time they talked anyway.
Sam resisted trying to sleep while he was stuck in the hospital, but that didn’t exactly work out too well. The doctor had prescribed him something to get him to sleep, and it kicked in half an hour after his diagnosis.
The next morning, he was discharged from the hospital. Dean drove him back to Bobby’s house and sent him upstairs to bed. He and Sam still needed to talk, but the kid needed his sleep. And since he was suffering from exhaustion, Dean was going to leave Sam alone.
Sam slept off and on for the next few days, although he kept being woken up by nightmares. On the seventh day, when he could actually stay awake for more than two hours, Dean sat him down in Bobby’s kitchen so they could finally have that conversation.
“I don’t want to talk,” Sam tried. This was only going to end badly, and he wanted to avoid that. He didn’t want to break down in tears, which was definitely going to happen if Dean made him talk.
“Tough, Sam. You collapsed and that’s not alright with me. You’ve been pushing yourself so hard since you came back from Hell, and that’s not good. You need to talk about this. I know it was bad, Sammy. I was there, too. But you can’t hold it all inside and work all the time. It’s not good for you. That’s why you ended up in the hospital with exhaustion.” Dean stared at his brother, waiting for him to start talking too.
Sam sighed. He stared at Dean for about ten minutes before finally breaking. “Hunting helps. It keeps me from thinking about Hell and what I went through.”
“See, now you’re talking. And I don’t care that it’s a chick flick moment. Now, what else is bothering you?” Dean gave his brother an encouraging smile.
Sam stared down at the floor. “I can’t stop remembering. I was there for thirteen months Earth time, but you know what Hell time is like. That was two hundred years. They tortured me down there. They tried to break down. And you know what? I didn’t even last as long as you. I broke in twelve years. Can you believe that? I’m so weak and stupid. But they just kept torturing me. They didn’t care. They laughed at the fact that I broke. And I had to deal with that for two hundred years. And it hurt so bad, but they wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t do anything about it.” And sure enough, he started crying, which was exactly what he was trying to avoid.
Dean choked back some sobs of his own. Sam needed him to be strong. He could break down later out by the cars, where he had some privacy. It’s not like he hadn’t done it before. “Oh, Sammy. I am so sorry, Kiddo. No wonder you’re having nightmares. But you need to rest. This hunt after hunt thing isn’t good for you. I’m pretty sure we just proved that. You can talk to me about this. I know I wasn’t down there for as long as you were, but I still had to deal with the torture. Remember? As long as I’m around, nothing bad’s going to happen to you.” He would help Sam deal with this.
“I’m sorry,” Sam sobbed. He wanted to stop crying, but now that he had finally said all of this, he couldn’t stop.
“Don’t be sorry, Sammy. Never be sorry for what happened to you in Hell. You have Bobby and I to talk to. Cas, too. I can’t say that everything’s going to be okay, but it’ll get better. That I can promise.” Dean smiled at him.
Sam continued sobbing and went in for a hug. Dean let him go as Sam sobbed into his chest. He rubbed circles into his little brother’s back to calm him down. Gradually, the tears began to slow down and Sam actually cried himself to sleep.
Dean and Bobby managed to get Sam over to the couch to sleep without waking him up. “Don’t let him drown. He needs our help bad,” Bobby told Dean.
“I know.” Dean reluctantly left his sleeping brother on the couch and went out into the junkyard where he cried out his frustration. Sam was going to have his support. Two hundred years of Hell wasn’t just going to go away, especially when it was all torture. He was glad that Adam had returned to Heaven and wasn’t dealing with post-Hell issues.
He returned to Sam’s side about an hour later, and left his brother sleeping. When it came time for dinner, that’s when Dean woke him up. The Winchesters and Bobby ate in the kitchen, and for the first time in months, Sam actually smiled and laughed at Bobby and Dean’s jokes. The conversation had helped him out a little bit. He actually felt happy for the first time in a long time, although Sam doubted that would last.
Dean refused to leave Sam’s side that night when they went to bed. He pushed the second bed over since he didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as his little brother. Sam was a kicker when he was slept, and Dean didn’t want bruises in the morning.
When Sam woke up in the middle of the night because of yet another nightmare, Dean calmed him down. He talked to him and assured his younger brother that he was okay and nothing was going to hurt him. Sam relaxed and fell back asleep rather quickly.
“Thanks for helping me out last night,” an actually smiling Sam said to Dean when he woke up that morning and started eating breakfast. Bobby had cooked one of his favorite meals.
“Sammy, you don’t have to thank me. Seriously. I’m your big brother. That’s what I’m here for.” Dean dug into his food. He was starving.
“I know, but still. Thanks, Bobby!” Sam started to eat his breakfast and didn’t talk for the rest of the meal. After he helped out Bobby with dishes (Against Dean’s wishes), Sam decided to look at the library again. Bobby had changed it since the year he was gone.
“Don’t read too much. As soon as you start getting tired, put the book down and go back to bed,” Dean ordered. He didn’t want Sam to overwork himself.
Sam sighed and rolled his eyes, but smiled anyway. “Okay. I promise I won’t work too hard.” All he wanted to do was read. That shouldn’t be that hard to do.
Dean turned out to be right. About half an hour later, Sam’s eyes started drooping. He was still exhausted. He fell asleep in the library, still clutching a book. Dean took the book off him and covered his brother up. “I knew this was going to happen, but he didn’t listen,” he whispered to Bobby.
“Leave him alone. He’s getting better.” Bobby returned to the living room to research something another hunter had called him about.
When Sam woke up, Dean popped a movie in the DVD player. He and Sam watched the entire thing, and the younger Winchester actually stayed awake for the entire thing.
Sam had a long recovery period ahead of him. He wouldn’t be great for awhile, but at least he had Dean, Bobby, and Castiel to help him deal with his memories.
As long as he had them, nothing could go wrong.