Happy Valentine's Day!
This Old Heart of Mine
Season 14, shortly after Lebanon
A few days before Valentine's Day...
"Yeah?" Sam straightened, arms full of grocery bags.
Dean leaned against the car, a magazine in his hands and a thoughtful expression on his face as he didn't help unload the groceries.
"You want a manatee?"
"A what?" Sam almost laughed.
"A manatee." Dean waved the magazine, then moved to the trunk and finally grabbed a couple bags. "Big, ugly, flabby dolphins."
"I've never heard them called flabby dolphins before."
"It's true, though, right?" Leading the way into the bunker, Dean said, "They're kind of flabby dolphins."
"Why are we talking about manatees?" Sam tried to get the conversation to the main point. Whatever that was.
"We could adopt one." Dean shook the magazine. "There's an ad. Adopt a manatee for Valentine's Day."
Sam couldn't help but laugh this time.
"It's a unique gift." Dean sounded for all the world like he was actually considering a manatee as a potential gift option.
"It's a weird gift."
"You're not romantic at all." After dumping the bags on the table, Dean started flipping through the magazine again.
"You're the one talking about flabby dolphins, dude. What's wrong with chocolates and flowers?"
"Chocolates and flowers are so lame. For the Valentine who has everything, adopt a manatee and share the love." Dean looked up from his reading. "See? Romantic."
"They've got a point, though."
"Yeah." Dean set the magazine aside. "Think about it. All the half-priced candy. All the dead flowers."
"What about them?" Sam started stacking the canned goods in the pantry.
"The waste. You can get candy and flowers every day of the week. They just change the color of the packages for Valentine's day and charge extra. But adopting a manatee, that's...that's important."
"You can probably adopt a manatee at other times of the year, too, if you feel that strongly about it," Sam said, struggling to maintain a straight face.
Dean didn't answer. He was putting the beer away, clearly still pondering the manatee-as-gift topic. When he stepped back from the fridge, he had two bottles in his hands and seemed to have reached some sort of decision.
Holding out a beer, Dean said, "It is kind of a weird thing to give as a Valentine's gift."
"Maybe just a little." Sam accepted the beer with a smile. "I'm sure there's a manatee loving lady out there somewhere who would be thrilled with an adopted manatee."
"Probably not in Kansas."
"You never know." Sam took a sip of beer, unloading another grocery bag with his free hand. "Valentine's Day is this week. You could try your luck."
Dean looked pensive, then shrugged. "I'm gonna skip it this year."
He didn't elaborate and Sam didn't press for details. He didn't need to; he could see it written all over his brother's body.
Dean's shoulders slumped with an invisible weight. He frowned; his forehead seemed permanently creased with pain. Pain from the never ending screaming of an enraged archangel. Sam knew all too well what that felt like.
No wonder Dean didn't feel like going out.
The beer didn't sit so well in his stomach and Sam put the bottle aside, choosing to focus on getting the produce into the refrigerator. His brain, previously distracted by grocery lists and manatees, went back to the same things he'd been worrying about for the past few months.
Dean and the enraged archangel he was fighting so hard to contain.
Sam wasn't stupid; just because he'd managed to talk Dean down from his horrifying archangel-lockbox idea didn't mean they were out of the woods yet. He refused to entertain the possibility that they weren't going to defeat Michael even if, at times, it seemed like Dean had already given up. Nearly every moment of every day was spent turning the problem over and over in his mind, trying to come up with a solution that wouldn't lead to world destruction or worse.
There was no outcome he would accept that left him brotherless.
While the Michael situation was the most time consuming and mentally draining, he had a lot more on his mind, too.
The collection of survivors from the other world weren't all necessarily living in the Bunker full time anymore, but they still needed support and assistance. Dean was thrilled the Bunker had finally emptied out and he could have some peace and quiet restored. Sam hadn't admitted it aloud, but he was just as glad as his brother was the survivors weren't underfoot anymore. Having the bunker back to themselves had done wonders to restoring a sense of balance they both needed so desperately.
Even with that aspect of their lives somewhat returned to baseline, it sometimes seemed like the more they clung to the frayed ends of normalcy, the more they unravelled.
Sam was spending most of his energy, granted, on finding a way to save his brother from the doomed future of suffering from angelic possession forever, but he couldn't help but worry about Jack and Nick.
He'd never really understood what parents went through with their children until Jack had come into their lives. Looking out for someone who was essentially a toddler in a teenager's body was a new form of responsibility. It was one of the most rewarding things he'd ever experienced, but by far one of the most stressful. He knew he was failing Jack - not giving him the attention and support he desperately needed.
Nick was another failure - one that would forever haunt him.
On top of all of that, Dad had been in the bunker less than seventy-two hours ago.
In the bunker. Talking to them. Eating with them. Even now, days later, it was too much to
process; their surprise family reunion had left them all stunned. It had been seventy-two hours and he could still hear Dad's voice. Could still feel his presence, his touch, his love.
Dad had been gone for three days and Sam missed him so much it hurt.
"Hey," Dean's voice brought him back to the present. "I thought you wanted that healthy crap."
Sam looked up as Dean tapped him on the shoulder with a head of lettuce.
Dean was staring at him with eyes narrowed. Assessing. Shifting where he stood, he asked, "Why're you throwing it all on the floor?"
Sam glanced down at the produce scattered around him. He grabbed a cucumber, an apple and a few stray grapes, then tossed them into the refrigerator. "Wasn't paying attention."
"Yeah, I caught that."
Sam kept his back to his brother and finished putting the groceries away. He expected to hear his brother walking away, but Dean continued to loom over him; apparently standing by to ensure Sam didn't drop anything else. It might have been annoying at another time, but right now Sam was more than happy to be annoyed by his brother because it meant he still had a brother.
"You ok?" Dean asked, hovering.
Straightening, Sam nodded.
"I'd say you seem distracted," Dean said, a half-hearted smile on his face, "but that's not really anything noteworthy anymore"
Sam offered a half-hearted smile of his own. Dean had a point.
"Come on," Dean said, tugging on his sleeve. "Let's go find a hunt. I've got cabin fever. We've been home for days."
Cabin fever. And he'd been ready to lock himself in a coffin for the rest of eternity. Sam could hardly breathe at the thought, but nodded stiffly and waved a hand toward the door.
Dean's smile grew just a bit wider. He pointed at the coffee pot and said, "Coffee. I'll get the pie."
On one hand, going on a hunt seemed like a terrible plan with everything else they had going on right now. On the other hand, Dean had been twitchy and impatient ever since their little family reunion. They both needed a return to normal.
So Sam moved to start a pot of coffee.
Dean was happily slicing up his cherry pie and talking about...something. Only half-listening, Sam found himself glancing through the magazine Dean had left on the counter. The page about the manatee adoption appeared and he couldn't help but read the article.
Supporting wildlife conservation was a good thing, but giving a manatee as a Valentine's Day present? That was weird. Ok, it was also unique, Sam did have to admit that.
He also had to admit they kind of looked like flabby dolphins.
Just not aloud.
Valentine's Day - early morning
Dean hadn't intended to go out on Valentine's Day, but he also hadn't expected to spend the day of hearts and flowers laid up in a hospital bed.
Him winding up with a berserker claw embedded dangerously close to his heart had, understandably, made Sam a little twitchy. Or, more precisely, completely panic-stricken. Dean had argued against it, but Sam had dragged him to a hospital anyway. Of course he had.
Maybe he should've been a bit more stressed himself about the wound, but he'd been too focused on the taunts and screams of rage banging around in his skull. Getting knocked out with some anesthesia had been the best sleep he'd gotten for almost a year. He woke up just after one AM in the recovery room, still comfy on extremely wonderful painkillers, to find Sam at his bedside (of course) looking like an utter wreck (of course).
Dean tried to remember the last time Sam hadn't looked like an utter wreck but his drug-addled brain couldn't stay focused on one thought long enough to pursue it.
"It could be worse," was the first thing Dean said; grinning because he couldn't feel much and it was won-der-ful.
Sam just breathed out a long, low breath and turned a grey-er shade of grey.
"You gonna pass out?" Dean squinted, trying to focus on his brother's face. Damn drugs.
"I'm not the one who just had heart surgery, Dean." Sam's voice was soft and unamused.
"It wasn't heart surgery. Technically."
"They did surgery -"
"Minor surgery," Dean interjected, waving his brothers concern off with numb fingers.
"-to remove a claw that almost skewered your heart, so I think-"
"Almost. But it din't. Didn't," Dean repeated, struggling to get his tongue to cooperate. Damn drugs. He shook his head, a thought occurred to him. "Skewered. Like an arrow?"
"What?" Sam's frown deepened. His eyes were bloodshot and shadowed.
Dean tried to lift his hands in the motion of an arrow being shot from a bow but probably just wound up saying something offensive in American Sign Language. Eileen would've laughed. The thought of her made Dean want to cry.
Sam shook his head, obviously clueless, apparently angry, and extremely worried.
"Like Cupid, stupid." Dean snorted, then laughed despite everything. There was a faint discomfort across his chest, but he ignored it. "Shot to the heart..."
He almost went on to the next line of the song, but he was lucid enough to know that saying and you're to blame would make Sam feel worse even if nothing about the situation had been his fault. From his expression, Sam had probably finished the lyrics in his own head and was already blaming himself.
"I just meant…uh…" he tried to figure out exactly what it was that he meant.
"Dean, go to sleep."
Ignoring his brother, Dean muddled through the background noise and his flighty thoughts and latched onto the one he was trying to express. It seemed important.
Snapping his fingers, he said, "Shot like an arrow. Yeah, it's a claw. Was a claw. Whatever. It's Valentine's Day. It is right? So, it's like I got shot in the heart by Cupid. Except it was a berserker. And it was a claw. But still. Right?"
Sam's eyebrows rose and Dean could've sworn there was at least a hint of amusement in his troubled eyes now. Even as drugged as he was, Dean was having trouble deciphering his own scattered attempt at explanation. It made sense in his head; it was just getting it all out of his mouth that was the issue.
"You are so high," Sam said softly, a brief smile lit his face. "I should take a video of this. Give me blackmail material for the rest…"
His voice trailed off and the words of your life hung between them in the stale hospital air. Dean hadn't thought Sam's color could turn any more sickly, but it did. He wondered how long it had been since Sam had eaten anything. And then he was hoping it had been a while because Sam looked ready to throw up.
"You gonna hurl?" Dean tapped the little pink basin next to his left leg.
Sam closed his eyes and lowered his head to rest in his hands, elbows on his knees. Even high on painkillers, Dean felt a pang of regret for his flippancy. If their positions had been reversed, Dean would have been freaking out too.
He shook his head against the pillow and said, "This is gonna be a crappy Valentine's Day."
The only answer he received was the sound of the monitors bleeping out his heart rate. With another sigh, he closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes again, it was brighter outside and the pain throbbing across his chest was distracting to say the least. He was in a different room, but the scenery hadn't changed much.
Sam was to his left, in the ubiquitous uncomfortable recliner native to every hospital room everywhere. If anything, he looked worse than he had earlier. Dean rubbed his chest, feeling the bulky bandages under the hospital gown. The claw had done a surprisingly limited amount of damage. The damage it could have done was what had Sam still on edge.
"You alright?" Sam asked quietly, leaning forward.
"I'm fine." Dean tilted his head, blinking to clear his vision. He smiled, trying to look healthy. "I'm fine."
"For being nearly dead, you mean."
"I'm not nearly dead."
"You were almost dead."
Dean snorted, rubbing his chest again as he quoted, "Mostly dead is slightly alive."
Sam laughed outright, surprising them both.
Grinning, Dean asked, "You didn't go through my clothes looking for loose change, did you?"
"No, you idiot, I know you were still slightly alive." Sam rolled his eyes, a hint of a smile lighting his weary features. "But if you do have some loose change, I will take it and go get some coffee."
"Help yourself," he said, glancing around the room for his clothes. "If you can find my pants."
Sam pushed himself to his feet and crossed the room to the small shelf under the tv. He started digging through a plastic bag.
Dean searched out the clock. Midmorning now. Grimacing at the ever more noticeable pain in his chest, he asked, "When are we getting out of here?"
"Soon as they finish pumping you full of antibiotics." Sam turned around with Dean's wallet in his hand. He pulled out a few bills, then dropped it back into the bag.
"No overnight stay?"
Sam shook his head slowly like he was afraid it would fall off if he shook it any faster.
"Good. Got things to do."
"What do you have to do?" Sam frowned, resting one hand on the bedside table.
"Valentine's day, dude."
"Thought you weren't doing that this year."
"Well, recently I had a near death experience." Dean patted his chest. "Realigned some priorities."
"And you think going out for a night on the town after having a berserker's claw removed from your chest is now the priority?" Sam's voice was low and carefully controlled.
He was hovering over the edge. Worried. Frustrated. Stressed.
Basically, he sounded and looked exactly how he'd sounded and looked since Dean had shown him the box and explained his plan to contain Michael. Despite their agreement to keep looking for options until there was absolutely no other possible way, Sam was a picture of misery whenever the topic came up.
Dean didn't know what to say or do to make it any better.
Any of it.
Between the never-ending pounding in his brain, their recent shocking family reunion, to say nothing of the barely dulled pain in his chest, he was more than a little stressed himself.
"I'll be right back," Sam said, walking out the door.
"I'll be right here," Dean whispered to the empty room.
a few hours later...
Dean was being sneaky about it, but he wasn't as sneaky as he thought he was.
Sam could see the way he was hunched awkwardly against the car door, his right hand surreptitiously massaging his chest. There wasn't a lot that could be done at the moment, unfortunately. He'd received a dose of painkillers before they'd left the hospital and wouldn't be due for more for quite awhile yet.
In addition to the berserker claw that nearly killed him, he'd busted a couple ribs when he'd hit the ground. Broken ribs did not make for good times travelling. Dean wouldn't say anything, of course. No, he'd just sit there suffering in silence the whole way home.
Except they weren't going home. Not yet, anyway. Sam was keeping that to himself, though, because they'd already had the argument once and he wasn't having it again. Well, he would be having it again because as soon as he pulled into a motel parking lot they were going to be arguing again, but he wasn't going to start the process early.
He already had a headache. No point in making it worse.
Adjusting the visor against the early afternoon sun, he tried to concentrate on the road ahead. He'd decided to drive for an hour before finding a motel. In an hour, Dean would be in enough pain that he might just surrender to the motel without a fight. With a lot of personal experience on the subject of broken ribs, Sam knew the lure of even a semi-comfortable bed and a few ice packs would help get Dean through the door. Yes, going home to their own beds would be even better, but they weren't going to make it that far today.
In fact? They weren't going to make it any farther today.
A nice hotel, the kind with a pool and continental breakfast, was on the left and he turned sharply into the parking lot without a second thought. His driving skills did not impress his brother who startled out of a light doze to threaten to take the keys from him forever. Sam felt a little bad knowing the abrupt turn had probably hurt his brother. But mostly?
Mostly, he felt tired.
Not just tired but exhausted. Beyond exhausted, actually. He doubted there was a word in any language that could adequately describe the level of fatigue he felt right now.
"Sam, what the hell?" Dean smacked him on the shoulder. Hard.
Sam put the car in park then grabbed the keys from the ignition. Leaving his brother sputtering and swearing behind him, he headed into the office. By the time he returned, hopefully Dean would have simmered down and started thinking about how great ice packs sounded.
"Happy Valentine's Day!" A cheerful young woman called out from behind the desk as he walked into the office.
He would have groaned at her excessive enthusiasm except he didn't have the strength to bother.
"I need a room," he said, stepping up to the desk. Leaning an elbow on the edge, he fumbled in his wallet for a credit card.
"Sure." The girl's voice was a bit less cheerful, a bit more cautious. "Are you ok?"
"Just tired." He forced a smile, pushing the card at her. "A room. Please."
She nodded and launched into a well-intended description of the available options of which it seemed there were very few. He didn't care. As long as there was one room, even if it was a broom closet, he'd take it at this point.
Her words blurred in his head as much as the words on the paper she gave him did. She apologized for something, asked if something else was ok, then asked him to sign here please. He had no idea what she was saying to him. His hands shook as he scribbled a signature on the form. He wasn't even sure if it matched the name on the credit card.
The girl kept talking as she gave him a copy of the form and his credit card back.
"Thank you and have a Happy Valentine's Day!"
Sam nodded, mumbling something that hopefully was a decent response to her friendly sentiment. He glanced at the paper map she'd given him. She'd circled the closest outside door to the room, but he couldn't decipher any of it. Shoving the door open, he walked back outside, squinting against the blinding sun.
Bracing himself for the incoming argument ahead of him, Sam got back into the car.
Instead of an argument, though, Dean asked, "You didn't sleep at all, did you?"
"Not really." Sam started the car, then handed him the map. "Which way?"
Dean cursed under his breath and gave him directions to the door.
After parking in the closest space, Sam pushed himself out of the car before the temptation to just sit still and fall asleep right here overtook him. He dug their gear out of the trunk and made it around to the other side of the car before Dean had even managed to stand up straight. Hand braced on the car, Dean wavered, his face sheet white.
"Give me my bag," he ground out through gritted teeth.
"Funny." Sam shook his head. "You stood up too fast."
"Of course I did." Dean took a few slow breaths, regaining just a pinch of color in the process. "Was trying to come help you."
"You can help me by not falling over, ok?"
Dean nodded, bracing a hand on his chest and closing the door with the other. Stiffly moving forward, he said, "Give me the key. I can at least get the door."
Sam only dropped one of their bags as he struggled with uncoordinated fingers to find the key card and give it to his brother. Dean just sighed and slowly made his way to the door while Sam picked up the bag. He followed his brother just as slowly. Between the headache and the lack of sleep, he was unsteady and clumsy.
"Fifth floor, huh?" Dean punched the button on the elevator. "You get us the penthouse suite or something?"
"I got whatever was available." Sam leaned a shoulder against the wall, trying to keep his eyes open. "Something about a medical conference…"
"What about a conference?"
"The clerk." Sam yawned, following his brother into the elevator. "Said something about something...not a lot of rooms."
He waited for the inevitable discussion of how they just should have gone home or at least found a cheaper motel somewhere out of the main part of town. But nothing happened. Glancing at his brother revealed that Dean was having just as much trouble staying on his feet as Sam was. Dean's breathing was cautious, he hadn't stopped bracing his chest, and his face was tight with pain.
There really was no option. They had to stop whether either of them liked it or not.
The elevator finally reached their floor and Dean led the way toward the room. It took him a couple tries to get the card to work and Sam was torn between impatience and the thought of curling up on the carpet and sleeping in the hall. Dean finally got it open, though and it was all Sam could do not to knock his brother over to rush to the nearest bed.
And then Dean let out a startled laugh.
Sam elbowed next to him into the room, rubbing bleary eyes to try to see whatever was so funny.
"You expecting company?" Dean asked, closing the door behind them.
"Or was this all for me? I take back what I said about you not being romantic."
That woke him up a little. Sam blinked hard and the room came into focus and he almost laughed. He hadn't really paid attention to what the clerk had said, but he did remember her saying something about a cancellation. He didn't remember her saying the cancellation was for...
"The Honeymoon Suite?" Dean was practically giddy as he made his way to the table. It was laden with chocolates, a bottle of champagne, and a dozen red roses. "You shouldn't have."
"I didn't," Sam said, feeling a little dizzy. He dropped their gear on the coffee table. "I didn't know this was what she meant."
Dean shrugged, already unwrapping a piece of chocolate. "Long as it has a bed, I don't care."
Sam looked around the room, heart sinking when he realized "There's only one bed."
"Well, you're the one who's going to be doing the sleeping," Dean said around a mouthful of chocolate. "I've slept enough."
"Shut up and listen." Dean waved him off. "You're asleep on your feet. I just want to sit down with a movie and an ice pack. I'm not tired. You sleep and I'll...eat."
He grabbed another piece of chocolate.
Sam watched him for a moment, then glanced around the room again wondering how on earth he hadn't heard the words honeymoon suite.
"Sam. Bed. Now."
A gentle nudge had him moving toward the bed.
"You're due for your meds…" he started to say, then glanced at his watch, completely uncertain.
"I'll figure it out." Dean was beside him now, hand on his elbow, guiding him forward.
"When you wake up, you wake up," Dean said, tugging on his coat. "Get this off and get some sleep."
Sam pulled off his coat and shoes then collapsed on the bed.
"I can't believe you planned to drive all the way home. Get under the covers, moron."
"You're the one who insisted we go home," Sam mumbled, briefly considering getting under the covers but deciding he was too tired to move.
"Well, of course I insisted. I always insist."
He sounded proud of the fact and Sam was torn between laughing at his brother's stubbornness and wanting to wring his neck for that same stubbornness.
"But you were really just going to keep driving, weren't you?"
"I pulled over here, didn't I?" Sam pulled a second pillow over his head. "I thought you told me to sleep."
"Yeah. You did pull over here. That sharp left turn alerted me to the fact that there'd been a change in plans. I did tell you to sleep, but you're not sleeping-"
"It's difficult to fall asleep while you keep talking!"
"Grumpy. Grumpy." The bed moved a little as Dean nudged it with his knee. "Alright, get some sleep. I'll be here. And yes, I'll take my pills, and get off my feet, and rest, and not do anything stupid. Ok?"
Half-asleep already, he was vaguely aware of Dean's slow movements around the room as he settled in and ate more than his fair share of the chocolate from the sounds of it. Knowing his brother was alive - not dead from a berserker's claw or locked in a box forever - was almost enough to allow him to relax completely into sleep. He just couldn't quite give in, though. Ears straining to pick up on everything Dean was doing, he felt a blanket drop over him.
"I'm not going anywhere," Dean said softly. "So go to sleep."
It was less a command, more of a reassurance.
And it was all it took for Sam to fall asleep.
Dean hovered, suspiciously waiting for Sam to sit up and insist he wasn't really that tired after all and attempt to zombie forward for another hour or so before his body gave up on his stubborn brain and collapsed out of spite. But Sam didn't sit up. Instead, all the tension went out of his body and he was snoring into his pillow within a minute.
Hands held out cautiously, as if he might break the spell, Dean inched backwards, wary of disturbing the magic. Nothing happened as he moved a few feet away. Grinning, he raised his arms like he'd just scored a touchdown.
And then he gasped and hunched over, arms wrapped around his suddenly screaming chest.
"Stupid," he muttered to himself.
Afraid he'd disturbed his brother, he remained where he stood for another minute or so until it was clear Sam wasn't going to wake up. Sighing, he relaxed a little, trying to breathe slowly and cautiously. It wasn't easy when his entire chest was on fire. An ice pack was sounding really, really good right about now.
He watched his brother for a few more seconds, then headed for their gear to hunt for an ice pack.
Five minutes later, he was settled on the shockingly comfortable couch. Ice packs against his chest, feet up on the coffee table, he had pillows surrounding him, had taken his pills like a good boy, and was flipping through the nine million cable channels only to discover that, no matter how nice the hotel, there was never anything good on TV. The painkillers helped make him a little less discerning than usual, though, and he settled on an infomercial for...well, he wasn't quite sure what it was for. But it was better than any of the ten dozen romance movies that were playing.
It was Valentine's Day, sure, but there were plenty of movies with explosions that had romantic subplots. Why weren't any of them on right now? He debated going around the dial again, then decided it was too much work and the item on the infomercial was actually quite an interesting device...whatever it was. Unwrapping a piece of chocolate, he narrowed his eyes and tried really hard to focus.
Only $19.95 and you got two of...whatever. Plus, the free mini version. No, two of the free mini versions! Even better.
By now, he was almost certain it was a cleaning device. They could use it around the Bunker. And they'd get four of them if he bought now. Two for each of them. For $19.95. Free shipping if he bought in the next ten minutes.
"What a gimmick," he muttered under his breath.
He kept his voice low and the volume on the TV low as well. Peeking to his left, he was satisfied to see his brother was still out cold. Hopefully, he would sleep for several hours.
A twist of concern mingled with regret ravelled through him, spreading and growing like a disease.
If only Sam hadn't...what? Hadn't been nosy? Hadn't come after him? Hadn't dissolved into desperate anger and heartbroken tears right in front of him?
If he hadn't, Dean wouldn't be munching on chocolate in a nice hotel room. He wouldn't have broken ribs or a scar from a berserker claw, either, but that wasn't really the point. The point was that if Sam hadn't intervened, right now Dean would be in the process of being tortured by a furious archangel. A process that would never end.
The chocolate almost came straight back up.
Pressing a hand to his ribs, he relished the sharp jab of pain. It cleared his mind. The drugs were messing with him. Hell, he wanted to buy the stupid $19.95 special and he didn't even know what it was. No wonder he was getting lost in a spiral of nightmarish thoughts.
But now that he was lost, he wondered if he'd ever be found.
It was all fine and dandy that Sam had talked him out of the Mal'ak box - and of course he had - but that meant they still had the original issue. Michael was still a threat, although right now he was a quiet one. Maybe it was the drugs or maybe he was just taking an angelic time-out and sitting in the corner pouting. Either way, Dean couldn't have been more relieved. But it didn't solve the problem and, sooner or later, he wasn't going to be able to fight Michael anymore.
As grateful as he was to his brother's not-entirely-unexpected intervention, Dean was angry, too. If he'd been able to carry out his plan, the Michael issue would be taken care of and he could at least have carried that satisfaction with him into the depths of the sea. Knowing he'd trapped the monster forever would have given him some measure of peace.
The horror of the reality of what that future would have held for him was something he couldn't fully consider because it would probably drive him crazy.
Glancing across the room as Sam shifted on the bed, Dean didn't know whether to laugh or cry as he remembered standing in that parking lot, dodging punches and trying not to drop his beer as his stunned mind had tried to process his little brother's absolute desperation.
From the moment Sam had shown up at the cabin, he'd known it was all over. Even when they'd made the agreement to do it together, he'd known. He'd absolutely known Sam would never let him go through with it. Which was why he'd done everything he could to keep his brother from knowing in the first place.
But he'd failed at that. Or rather, Sam had succeeded. It was both a blessing and a curse that they knew each other so well.
Dean shook his head, trying again to focus on the infomercial. Anything to keep his mind off the pressing issues closing in on them from all sides.
They were both alive and mostly in one piece and, for now, that would have to be enough.
The next few hours passed in a drug-haze while he watched infomercials, napped, then channel hopped around and around the dial. He found a surprisingly entertaining nature program about whales and it made him think of manatees which lightened his mood considerably.
Apparently adopting animals was quite the trendy Valentine's Day gift these days.
"Who knew?" he whispered to himself, mystified that, for all these years, he'd been missing out on such an extremely popular gift option.
Not that his Valentine's Day gifts had ever gone beyond a box of chocolates. Maybe a single rose or a cheap bouquet of flowers somewhere along the way, but nothing more extravagant. There had been very few times in his life when he'd even been in a relationship over the holiday. Most of the time his Valentine's had been one night stands.
Just like cheap bouquets, they'd been a little less pretty the next morning and faded into nothingness the next day. He honestly couldn't even remember a single one. Maybe one of them had been the type of girl that would have enjoyed being gifted a flabby dolphin for Valentine's Day.
The thought made him laugh. He hadn't touched the champagne, but the painkillers were giving him a nice little buzz. Probably should eat something. A granola bar was as appetizing as a rock; he might as well gnaw on the remote.
A commercial for a local pizza delivery place came on right then and he decided delivery was the way to go. It was almost six and lunch had been a very unappetizing affair at the hospital. He glanced at the end table next to him and found a convenient guide to local restaurants. His wallet was resting on the arm of the couch and he remembered he'd pulled it out when he'd, briefly, considered buying one of the incredible devices from one of the many infomercials.
As the commercial ended, Dean consulted the guide. Right on the first page was a frilly pink page with a giant heart in the center proclaiming the Valentine's Day specials at the restaurant next to the hotel. Spaghetti, of course, was listed because somehow pasta was the most romantic of all food groups. Thankfully, pizza was also mentioned and, snickering at the description and the little extra that was available (at no extra charge), that's what he ordered.
Next on the agenda was a trip to the bathroom. It wasn't easy to unearth himself from the ice packs, pillows, blanket, and chocolate wrappers. His chest did not appreciate the activity, but his bladder won that argument and he stumbled to the bathroom, gritting his teeth against the pain.
Once that mission was accomplished, he wavered his way back toward the couch. Midway there, he redirected himself to the table. He didn't want to have to drag himself up from the couch when the pizza arrived. Gingerly sitting down, he glanced through the little basket of treats that was on the table next to the dozen roses.
He'd eaten most of the chocolate. Feeling a pinch guilty, he was reassured by the sight of some fresh fruit that actually looked pretty good. That would pacify his brother if he started complaining about how little chocolate was left.
"You think Mom's ok?"
Dean jumped at the sudden interruption of the silence, his chest spasming in displeasure. Heart racing, he rubbed his ribs. Glaring at his brother, he said, "You could've warned me you were awake."
"Isn't that what I just did?" Sam was on his back, hand over his eyes.
"Yeah, but next time, I don't know, move or something first. I thought you were still asleep."
"Do you think she's ok?"
Dean shook his head, thinking of her expression when Dad had faded from view. The way she'd assured them she was fine, but that she just needed to take some time. Get away. Just like she always did. He didn't want to feel bitter about it, but he did. She always needed to be away from them.
"No, I don't think she's ok."
"Should we...call her?"
"No. If she wanted to talk to us, she wouldn't have left."
A hint of that bitterness must have been in his tone because Sam asked, "Are you angry with her for leaving?"
"Don't try junior psychologizing me."
"I was just asking…" Sam's voice trailed off and he sighed. "She hasn't seen him for years-"
"Neither have we."
"But it's been longer for her. I'm sure she just doesn't know how to...deal with it."
"Well, she's not the only one," Dean snapped despite his attempt to keep his anger in check. Taking a deep breath - as deep as his collection of injuries would allow - he refocused his attention and asked, "Are you ok? With..."
"With seeing Dad?"
Sam lowered his hand, staring up at the ceiling. After a moment, he said, "I think so."
"You think so?" Dean couldn't help but smile.
"It was...hard. But, it was good. And we talked. So...I think I'm ok."
He still sounded a bit uncertain, but there was just enough confidence in his voice to be reassuring. After a moment, he pushed himself up to sit on the edge of the bed. Despite having slept for several hours, he clearly needed at least a week to even begin to look rested.
"What about you?" Sam asked, blearily squinting in his direction. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine." Saying it aloud, he realized how true it was. Nodding, he repeated, "I'm fine. Like you said, it was good to see him. I wish we could have had more time with him, but I'm glad we had the time we did."
Sam smiled, looking just a bit less haunted.
"I think Mom will be ok," Dean added, hoping it would help.
"She will." Sam yawned, looked suspiciously at the table, then asked, "Did you eat all the chocolate?"
"There's oranges, bananas, and strawberries."
"So you did eat all the chocolate."
"You like fruit." Dean held up a plump strawberry. "There's fruit."
"So you did eat all the chocolate," Sam repeated dryly.
Dean rolled his eyes. "I left you a few pieces."
"Oh. Thanks. That's very generous of you."
"Good. Because our Romantic Pizza Dinner, complete with garlic bread and a festive brownie, is on the way."
"It came with garlic bread and a festive brownie, Sam," Dean said, holding his hands palm up. "I wasn't going to order the regular pizza dinner that didn't come complete-"
"With garlic bread and a festive brownie," Sam finished for him. "I would have done the same thing."
"Damn straight!" Dean grinned.
Shaking his head, Sam smiled and asked, "So have you just been binge watching Animal Planet over there all afternoon?"
A scene of lions chasing their prey across a savannah played on the screen. Dean cringed as they tore into the flesh of the unfortunate creature. After being the unfortunate prey of a berserker, he felt a pang of sympathy for the animal being devoured on screen.
"I was watching some other stuff," Dean said, looking away from the carnage and unconsciously rubbing his chest. "Then I had to hop some channels to find something interesting."
"Ah. So. How are you feeling?"
"Sore. Hungry. Not terrible."
"And all quiet-" Sam broke off and waved his fingers by his head.
"All quiet on the Angelic front." Dean managed a smile.
Sam nodded, the air rushing out of him like he'd been holding a breath the entire time.
For a moment, they sat in silence. There was so much they needed to discuss and yet Dean didn't want to talk about any of it. Maybe it was a bad time to take a night off, but then again, he was wounded.
"So." Sam's voice broke into his thoughts.
"We taking the night off?"
"Yes. We are taking the night off. It's a holiday."
Holding up a hand, Dean cut him off. "It's a holiday. I don't want to hear the history, again, or why you think it isn't a holiday, again. It's a holiday and we're celebrating it."
"It's usually not a holiday that brothers celebrate." Sam smiled.
"And if I didn't have broken ribs, I'd be out with a sexy lady celebrating all night long." Dean grinned as Sam rolled his eyes. He shrugged, winced, put a hand to those broken ribs and said, "Besides, it's not that weird. I was your first Valentine, after all. Finger paint masterpiece, that one was. I don't know why you thought green was the right color for a Valentine's Day heart...well, it was really more of a mutated, bloated circle."
Sam laughed. "I don't remember that."
"You were three and a truly terrible artist. Not that you ever improved."
"Need I remind you of that horrible sketch you did for that guy whose brothers had been eaten by the Big Bad Wolf."
"I don't want to talk about it." Sam pushed himself to his feet, crossed the room and started digging through the basket for chocolate.
"Yeah, I bet you don't. That was horrible."
"I can draw a Devil's Trap, can't I?"
"Yes. Yes you can." Dean nodded. "Guess you've just had more practice."
"Sad that I've had more practice with that than with drawing people."
"Or hearts," Dean added.
"Shut up. I was three." Sam sat down in the chair across from him and munched on a strawberry instead of the piece of chocolate he'd been looking for. "You gave me an anatomical model of the human heart from a science lab mannequin - one that was haunted, by the way - so I'm not sure you should be critiquing the validity of the Valentine I gave you when I was three."
"Don't forget the actual heart I gave you when we were investigating that case with the Cupid." Dean shuddered. "People would not go around thinking Cupids were cute if they actually saw one."
"Yes, the heart of a dead person is a perfect Valentine gift." Sam rolled his eyes, but he was fighting not to smile.
Dean beamed; he still felt rather clever about that Valentine.
A knock at the door interrupted them and Sam went to get the pizza - with garlic bread and festive brownie. Making his way slowly to the couch, Dean caught a glimpse of the somewhat befuddled delivery girl. He snickered as he settled back on the couch. It was probably a weird sight. Two beat up looking guys in the honeymoon suite with a bunch of roses and chocolate. Flipping through the channels again, he decided he didn't care what she thought or what anyone else thought.
He wouldn't in a million years say it aloud, but spending Valentine's Day with the most important person in his life was actually pretty damn perfect.
Settling on the most recent of the Fast and Furious franchise, he watched Sam spreading out their feast on the coffee table. It was only a matter of seconds before Sam would open the pizza box and…
"What the hell?" Sam exclaimed before busting out in shocked laughter.
He looked so happy that Dean decided getting nearly skewered in the heart by a berserker's claw had been well worth it.
"What?" Dean asked innocently.
Sam tilted the box up so Dean could see the heart shaped pizza with Bitch spelled out in mini pepperonis.
"I can't believe…" Sam couldn't even finish his sentence, he was still laughing too hard. His ears turned pink when he looked back to the door, obviously considering what the pizza delivery girl might have thought. "I can't believe you would do that!"
"Alright. I can, actually."
Dean just grinned and asked, "Be my Valentine?"
Sam snorted, setting the box down and staring at the pizza with a mixture of amusement and horror. When he met Dean's gaze, though, there was some fond affection mingled in there.
"I'm the only one you've got," he said with a smile.
"We are definitely not watching any chick flicks tonight." Dean groaned.
"You're the one who ordered us a Romantic Pizza Dinner."
"You're the one who booked us in the Honeymoon Suite."
"It was the only room available!" Sam handed him a paper plate laden with half of a heart.
"Well, the couch is comfy so I can't complain."
"That would be a first."
Dean elbowed his brother as Sam settled onto the couch next to him with his own plate. "Shut up."
Sam did, but only because he was stuffing his face with pizza.
No complaints about the heart shaped pizza now, huh? Dean thought smugly.
They ate the entire pizza, the complementary garlic bread and the entire tray of festive brownies. They watched TV until neither of them could keep their eyes open. Dean had been more than content to fall asleep right there on the surprisingly comfortable couch, but Sam refused and dragged him to the bed after giving him a handful of pills.
"You're being ridiculous," he argued as he stumbled along with his brother. "The couch is fine."
"You just got out of the hospital. Your heart-"
"My heart is fine, too." Dean smiled, sitting down heavily on the edge of the bed. He tapped his chest. "This old heart of mine's been broken a thousand times."
"Those are song lyrics," Sam said, his voice suddenly thick with emotion as he rearranged pillows.
"Yeah, they are."
Sam just sighed and gently pushed him back against the pillows.
Catching his sleeve, Dean tugged on it and said, "Go get some sleep."
Of course, he didn't go lie down on the couch but instead started going around and around the room, cleaning up the trash and arranging their gear.
"What are you doing? You're not the maid. It's late. Get some sleep."
"I will," Sam said for the second time which Dean didn't believe any more than he'd believed him the first time.
Shifting to a more comfortable position, struggling to keep his eyes open, Dean said, "I will walk over there, shove you onto the couch, and sit on you."
"Uh huh," Sam said, not sounding in the slightest convinced by Dean's threat.
After a few more minutes of neatening, though, Sam finally went around and turned down the lights before collapsing onto the couch like his strings had been cut. Hopefully, he would actually be able to sleep tonight. Hopefully, they both would.
All things considered, given the way the day had started, it had turned out to be a pretty great day.
"Happy Valentine's Day, jerk," Sam whispered from across the room.
Dean smiled in the dark and said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Sammy."
Two days later...
Two days after they got home, Sam picked up their mail in town. There was a stack of fliers and junk mail, but he did find the envelope he'd been looking for and grinned. He discovered there was a duplicate envelope which was weird, but he shrugged it off and shoved them both into his pocket.
What was weirder still was the fact that there was a large box and two smaller ones in addition to the mail. What made it even weirder was the fact it was all addressed to him.
Too curious to wait to get home to open the boxes, Sam opened them as soon as he got back into the Impala. Opening the boxes didn't really clear anything up, though. More confused than when he'd started, Sam studied the array of weird cleaning products and unidentifiable devices that were packaged neatly in the boxes.
It made absolutely no sense.
No sense whatsoever. He shook his head, set the packages aside and started the car. He'd puzzle it out when he got home. The weird thought crossed his mind that maybe Dean had ordered it, but that also made no sense. It was a bunch of random stuff and Dean had mostly been sleeping or binge watching Netflix while he healed up from the hunt. He hadn't been surfing the internet buying stuff. At least not as far as Sam knew.
Giving up, he focused on the road.
Once he was home, he hauled the entire collection straight into the kitchen where he could hear Dean singing off-key while he prepared their lunch.
"Dean," he said, setting the boxes onto the table. "What the hell is all of this?"
"What the hell is all of what?" Dean asked, turning around with a plate in his hand.
"All of this." Sam motioned to the spread of randomness on the table.
For a moment, Dean stared at it blankly. And then his eyes lit up and he said, "Oh. All of that."
Exasperated, Sam waved at the pile. "Yes. All of that. What the hell is it? Did you order it?"
"Yeah. I did actually." Dean snickered, setting the plates down and coming over to dig through the boxes. "Cool."
"Cool? What is it? And why is it addressed to me?"
"Wellllll," Dean dragged the word out as he held up something that vaguely resembled a mop. "Remember at the hotel when you were taking your nap?"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Yes."
"Wellllll. I was kind of out of it on the drugs, right? So I wound up watching infomercials for awhile."
"You have to be joking."
"Nope." Dean popped the p and grinned. "I got it all for $19.95! With free shipping!"
Sam couldn't help but smile at the childlike glee on his brother's face.
"It's awesome, Sammy. Check this out. I don't know what it is, but how great is this?"
"It is, isn't it?" Dean asked, clearly missing the point that Sam had been trying to make with his lack of enthusiasm. "It was supposed to be your Valentine's Day present. And then I got the pizza. Oh, and I got you something better, too."
Sam blinked, shaking his head at the confusing muddle of words his brother had just thrown at him.
"Where's the rest of the mail?" Dean asked, setting his treasure down and starting to dig through the scattered mail. "Where is it? It was supposed to...is there more mail?"
Pulling the duplicate envelopes out of his pocket he handed them to his brother and said, "Well, actually, this is your Valentine's Day present."
Dean snatched the envelopes from his hands. Staring back and forth between the envelopes, Dean opened one and then the other. Sam waited, watching puzzlement flicker across his brother's face as he studied the papers that had been in the envelopes. He'd been hoping Dean would be pleasantly surprised with the present even if it was kind of silly, but Dean just looked oddly confused.
And then he broke out in a wide grin and laughed aloud.
Sam smiled. This was more of the reaction he'd been expecting. And then Dean was laughing so hard he couldn't speak and was thrusting one of the papers into Sam's hands. Frowning, Sam took it and stared at the page, trying to figure out what was going on.
Dean just kept laughing, sitting down at the table and holding his chest.
Looking down at the paper, Sam realized it was a certificate of adoption.
This is to certify that Sammy Winchester has adopted a manatee in need on this day, February 14th, 2019.
Your friends at the Manatee Preservation Foundation thank you for your support.
Your adopted manatee, Gambler, thanks you as well.
There was a little picture attached of a manatee swimming in the wild.
"But…" Sam started to say, still frowning.
It wasn't supposed to say Sammy. It was supposed to say Dean. Why would it say Sammy? It made no sense...and then he looked at his brother. Dean had his head down on the table now, still roaring with laughter. With one hand, he was waving the other letter. Sam took it.
This is to certify that Dean Winchester has adopted a manatee in need on this day, February 14th, 2019.
Your friends at the Manatee Preservation Foundation thank you for your support.
Your adopted manatee, Gizmo, thanks you as well.
"Did you...did you…" Dean could hardly speak. He pushed himself up and gasped for breath, tears streaming down his eyes. "Sammy, did you adopt a flabby dolphin for me?"
Sam nodded, staring at the two forms, realization finally clicking.
"Did you adopt one for me?" Sam asked, dumbfounded even though he really shouldn't have been surprised.
Dean nodded, laughing and gasping and clearly enjoying the irony.
Looking back at the papers, Sam busted out laughing too.
For a long time, all they did was laugh. Sam had no idea how long it had been since they'd laughed like this, but it was a truly wonderful feeling.
I love you
This old heart,
darling is weak for you
I love you, yes I do, yes I do
~This Old Heart of Mine, The Isley Brothers, 1966~
Hope you enjoyed the sweet treat. :) I had fun writing this one.
Have a good day, don't eat too much candy (says the girl who is planning to buy a bag of chocolate on her way to work lol).