Ice Cold in LA
Just an excuse for some Sick Sam.
Dean can't seem to get over what Sam did to him at Roosevelt, and his inability to forgive places his little brother in jeopardy.
Sick Sam and Guilty Protective Caring Dean.
A/N: Dedicated to Phx – because of something you told me not so long ago.
We've lost an awful lot of excellent authors from this fan fiction site, partly due to the website mods increasing restrictions, but mainly due to some pretty shitty attitudes by some readers. So this is also dedicated to all those readers who still love Sam, whether you bother to review or not. Though, it would be nice if you did from time to time; after all, it is the only payment we writers get for all our hard work, and we don't ask for much else...
... not complaining. Just saying that some of you readers are slacking off! ;-)
Now. Lecture over. On with the Limp Sam...
Unbeta'd: all bullshit belongs to me.
Sam glanced over at Dean several times during their journey, but the older brother ignored him, hands wrapped tight, white knuckled around the steering wheel.
In spite of six days and three hunts separating them from the events at Roosevelt Asylum, the atmosphere felt thick with tension and unspoken anger. Sam had given up on the endless apologies after the first few hundred miles, but still Dean chewed the inside of his mouth from time to time, as though ripping into the tender flesh could keep damaging thoughts at bay.
However, words and thoughts would not bring about the downfall of the Winchester brothers' this time. As the old saying goes, actions speak much, much louder...
Freezing rain pummelled the windshield, tiny hailstones bounced harmlessly off the hood, as the Impala swept to a grumbling halt outside Old Oak Motel, Rock Cafe and Gas Stop along the 405 – Wax and Valet while you wait, only $50, or $25 for motel guests in residence for more than three nights.
Dean almost snorted out loud. No way would he let some stranger mess with his baby, and especially not some long haired, stoner, surfer dude in bright neon green board-shorts.
The older Winchester's eyes narrowed against the glare of those shorts as the guy swaggered up, bent a little to peer in at Dean through the driver's window, and offered a cocky grin, rain water dripping from his dirty blond hair.
Guy didn't seem bothered by the unseasonably freezing weather. Los Angeles had been in the grip of some record breaking low temperatures this winter, and surfer dude was dressed for the tropics.
Must be all the 'herbs', thought Dean, wryly, and rolled down his window. He was immediately hit by a cold blast of wind that nearly took his eyebrows off. When his vision cleared, the surfer's face swam back into view along with the cocky, inane grin.
"Duuuuude!" he exclaimed long and loud above the drumming of the rain and hail. "Sweeeet ride!" he finished with a whistle and a long sweeping nod of appreciation, eyes scanning the Impala up and down and left to right in a manner that made Dean feel vaguely dirty.
In addition, just as Dean had suspected, the guy's breath confirmed he'd smoked enough Moroccan Woodbine to stone out the whole of Woodstock for several weeks.
Dean had uploaded his fair share of weed over the years – though, never, ever while on a case - so he was the last person to judge, but frankly it amazed him that this guy was still standing.
"Thanks, man," Dean replied, congenially, and grimaced as a wall of rain water was blown into his face. Scrubbing a hand over his eyes to wipe away the moisture he added "Nice weather for the time of year."
"Oh, dude, like you wouldn't believe! Waves s'gonna be awesome, man" the surf bum nodded, excitedly. "M'headin' out when my shift's over."
Dean covered his horror with reasonable success, nodded and smiled back at him. "Ok then. Good luck with that," he replied in a manner that suggested men in white coats would be along any second now, and was about to ask about the motel when the guy gently thumped the car roof, and wandered away without another word, that blissed out, dreamy grin still plastered on his rain-soaked face. Hands in pockets, he disappeared into the motel reception office without so much as a backward glance at his potential clients.
Dean stared after him, just a little confused. "Well, that sure was random."
"Wha-?" Sam jolted upright in his seat, hair stuck up comically on one side of his head where he'd been pressed against the passenger window. "Where we?" he muttered, sleepily, gazing out at the grey, blustery world of wintertime Los Angeles. He caught the sign for the 405 and another for Venice Boulevard, and blinked once, slow and heavy. "Oh."
Dean might've laughed at Sam's bewildered little-boy-lost routine if not for the anger still bubbling away in his gut.
"I need a shower, food, and sleep," he answered, shortly. "We'll head out for another hunt tomorrow. Been driving all damn day and I'm tired. Time to hit the hay."
"I take it you still want separate rooms?" asked Sam in a low, melancholy voice.
Dean's answer was a soft, derogatory snort before he exited the car, slamming the door shut behind him. A quick rummage in the trunk for his duffle, and he was off.
Sam sighed deeply, and watched his brother with mournful eyes as Dean hitched up his jacket collar against the rain, and sprinted to the reception office. The brothers hadn't shared a room since Roosevelt either; never mind Sam's complaints about the cost.
He'd really hoped they'd get passed all this. That Dean could forgive him for what he did, for what he'd said, but this prolonged period of exile was a symbol of just how deeply Sam had hurt him:
Dean wasn't usually one to bear grudges, not against Sam at any rate.
At least, not for long.
Sam reached for the door handle just as Dean left reception. Without so much as a nod or wave in Sam's direction, the older brother headed towards a motel room right at the far end of the block, unlocked the door and disappeared inside.
The door shut with a finality that made Sam's eyes water with sadness. He knew he wouldn't be seeing his brother again that day. Next time he heard from Dean, it would be in the form of a text message, announcing that he would be in the nearest diner for breakfast if you want to meet up, but that's not an order or anything. Don't wanna be accused of ordering you about.
Sam huffed, fastened the top button of his coat, and stepped out into the rain. He used his own set of keys to lock up the car, after taking his own duffle from the trunk, and set out to secure a room, all the while casting forlorn glances at the dimly lit window of his brother's. There was movement behind the tightly drawn curtains, and Sam guessed it was Dean checking the room over, laying salt lines and wards.
Sam smiled sadly, picturing the scene in his mind's eye, and desperately wishing he could be a part of it again. He turned away, shivering in the freezing cold rain.
The reception area was toasty warm and a pleasant shock to the system after coming in from the Arctic, Sam reflected with some relief. It was a good sign that the rooms would be nice and cosy...
Some blonde surfer type in too bright shorts was standing behind the desk, and fixing a 'No Vacancies' notice to the bench in front of him. When he saw Sam standing just inside the doorway, looking like an over-sized, sopping wet, drowned rat, he grinned and pointed needlessly at his badly handwritten sign.
"Sorry dude," he shrugged. "Just gave away the last one." His big, goofy, friendly face seemed to brighten even more, if that was possible. "Hey! You were in that sweet car with the dude, catchin' some Zs. Maybe he'll let you bunk in with him!"
Sam felt his heart sink, and his face sagged along with it. "Nah... uh, he's kinda a private guy. Keeps himself to himself," he glanced around, and asked hopefully "Is there somewhere else nearby?"
"There's another motel 'bout two miles from here," Surf Bum added cheerfully. "S'little over-priced and the rooms smell of piss, but hey! S'better than nothin' right? 'Specially on a day like this?"
Sam fervently agreed, but didn't fancy a two mile trudge in the rain, and he sure as hell wasn't going to risk Dean's wrath any further by taking the Impala. There was only one other option.
"Uh, thanks anyway," said Sam, as he backed away and turned towards the door.
"No problemo, man!"
Sam rolled his eyes. As far as he was aware, no one with any sense of style or taste had used that phrase since the early nineties, it having, thankfully, died a painfully slow death, eventually followed by the likes of Hasta La Vista, Baby, and Wassuuuup. Apparently, they were buried alongside '80s mullet hairdos and spandex.
Stepping out into the rain and gloom, Sam huffed into his hands and rubbed them together. A quick wallet check revealed $45, enough for a meal and a couple beers to warm him up. He was going to need all the help he could get in that arena, because the rear seat of the Impala on a cold night was no picnic.
Fuck all on TV, an empty mini-bar and the sheets were damp. At least there was hot water.
Dean grumbled under his breath as he searched the room for spare bedding.
"Should've checked the damn bed first," he said, and hitched up his towel again. "Maybe an evening at the bar ain't such a bad idea..."
The lack of Jack Daniels wasn't the biggest problem. He could always order in or head out to a liquor store. But his wonderful plans to slide under warm blankets, TV remote in one hand and a sizable shot of JD in the other, was blown all to hell after he stepped out of the shower and took a running leap onto his bed.
Some idiot had left the nearby window wide open, allowing the rain in to pummel the carpet and bed, damn near soaking it.
"Fuck!" he exclaimed, angrily, and slammed another drawer shut.
That completed his search of the room. No spare sheets or blankets. Fucking wonderful.
His eyes turned to the twin bed furthest from the door. Biting his bottom lip, Dean folded his arms and contemplated the sharp twinge of guilt that suddenly shot through him.
No matter where they were in the world, and no matter what came between them, this was always going to be Sam's bed.
But Dean just wasn't quite ready to see his little brother sleeping there again.
And tonight, with Sam safely ensconced in his own room, Dean's need was greater.
Sighing, he pulled his clothes back on, grabbed his wallet and slipped out to find that liquor store. Maybe he'd stop off, have a beer at the bar and get pizza on the way, or KFC, and some popcorn.
Yeah. It was gonna be a good evening after all.
He forcefully shoved down his guilt, and split.
Dean's first stop was the rock cafe, and he didn't stay long. He opened the door, took one look inside, saw his little brother sitting at the bar nursing a drink, and left before the kid could turn around and spot him.
Sam felt the icy cold draft through his damp clothes, signalling the arrival of a newcomer, but when he turned to look, all he caught was the back of his brother's leather jacket disappearing in rapid retreat.
That was probably the point when his subconscious decided it was a really good, no, great idea to get heavily drunk.
He almost went after Dean, to apologize again, to try and explain again... but experience had already spent many hours teaching him about exercises in futility.
Instead, Sam shivered, took a long swig of his warming whisky, and tried to ignore his breaking heart.
After all, Dean was perfectly within his rights to be angry. He'd been shot in the chest at point blank range with rock salt, had to face a rage-filled little brother holding Dean's Taurus on him... a little brother who, with barely any hesitation, had pulled the trigger five or six times...
If he never forgave Sam... well, Sam couldn't in all honesty blame the poor guy.
So if that was the way it had to be now, then so be it...
Sam was vaguely becoming aware of a few things: his thoughts were growing as slurred as his speech last time he spoke to the bar tender, he'd probably had a little too much to drink, and he'd still yet to order any food. Chances were he wouldn't get around to it before he ran out of money anyhow, so he decided to stop worrying about it.
Two more double whiskies later, not much else mattered either.
Dean stumbled through the door, juggling a large pizza box and a brown paper bag. Dumping his load on the motel room table by the window, he brushed freshly fallen snow from his hair and shoulders, and kicked the door shut.
"Damn, that weather changed fast!" he muttered, shrugging out of his jacket.
The temperature had dropped yet again, just as the day seemed to bypass evening and go straight to nightfall. Rain, sleet and hail joined forces and pretty soon LA was being peppered with a heavy fall of snow.
Dean had been to Cali many times over the years, including his clandestine check-ups at Stanford to ensure that Sam was not only alive and breathing, but well fed and healthy, and this was the first visit in which it had actually fucking snowed. Not a brief flurry or a light dusting, but proper, full-on, Santa Claus's indahouse, kinda snow.
Just a damn shame it wasn't actually Christmas.
But when he switched on the TV and found Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, Dean grinned, pulled out a six pack of beer from the paper bag, followed by a bottle of JD, and settled on the furthest bed with his pizza.
Sam knocked back his sixth double and promptly bolted into the rest room.
There was nothing quite like a good worship at the porcelain altar to put things in perspective, Sam sickly acknowledged, and from his perspective public toilets could definitely use more bleach. This train of thought was a sure fire sign of his continued drunken state, so Sam decided it was time to bed down for the night and leave.
Or was that: leave and bed down for the night?
Tripping out the rock cafe onto the asphalt, Sam lay on his back in the mud and slush, staring up into the night sky.
"Wassat? Agh!" he spluttered around thick, white, icy globs falling onto his face. He lifted a large, clumsy hand to wipe the stuff from his mouth and sighed heavily. "Sn-sn... snoooow. C-cooooold."
And it was all Dean's fault Sam was stuck out here for the night. He'd kicked Sam out... no. No, that was wrong. Dean had taken the last fucking room! With a loud, angry grunt, Sam hauled himself up onto unsteady feet and stood there swaying. After a long, decisive blink, he set off towards his brother's room, but by the time he got there the anger he'd felt a few seconds ago was gone, now replaced with sadness and regret.
"D-Dean, m'sorry, man..." he sniffed, tears melting the snow on his face.
Sam stared at the door, knowing his big brother was on the other side, only a few feet away. Shadows flickered against the curtains, some TV show or other keeping Dean entertained for the night, and the smell of pepperoni and hot cheese drifted up Sam's nose, making his empty stomach growl.
He raised a loose fist, rested it gently against the cheap wooden door, preparing to knock. But he couldn't do it.
His eyes clenched shut with remorse.
Big brother didn't want him around, just like Dad, and truthfully? If Sam could've escaped his own skin, he would have. Just a damn shame suicide wasn't in his nature.
Sam caught his own reflection in the motel room window, and cringed. It was time to face the grim truth.
Sam Winchester was a coward and a liar. That was why he'd lost his brother and father in the first place, probably why he'd lost his mom, and most definitely why he'd lost Jess.
Sam was done.
He'd sleep it off in the car for a few hours, and then he'd be gone, out of Dean's life for good.
And this time he'd change his name, go somewhere his brother would never find him.
At least that way his family would once again be safe from his stupidity and selfishness.
Turning his back, Sam staggered drunkenly across to the car and fumbled with his keys. Somewhere in his whisky-fogged brain a little voice was encouraging him to dig through the trunk for some blankets. Then it suggested a pillow might come in handy if he didn't want a crook neck come morning, and rounded off with the advice that maybe unlocking the friggin' door might be to his advantage, instead of just jiggling the handle uselessly back and forth.
Sam swayed, blinked, and let go of the handle before he broke it.
They were in his other hand. He held them up to his face and peered at them, squinting and blinking.
How's this go?
Sam dropped them on his first attempt to unlock the rear passenger door.
And the second.
On the third and final attempt, it was a damn near disaster. The key bounced off the lock and it was only by some extraordinary reflexes that Sam managed to avoid leaving an ugly great scratch down the side of the car, which came as a surprise given the state he was in.
With some awkward fumbling Sam managed to remove his wet jacket and left it draped over the trunk, that little voice having previously warned him about protecting the car's upholstery.
Snowflakes tickled his nose into a loud volley of sneezes, nearly knocking him on his ass and making his head pound.
Time to stop all this nonsense and just get in the damn car!
Wrapping the small mountain of blankets around himself, Sam crawled clumsily into the back seat before anymore snow could settle on him, and yanked the door closed against the cold.
Within minutes, he was asleep and snoring the deep, congested snore of a man who'd consumed way too much alcohol.
As the night ticked by, the temperature continued to plummet, but Sam didn't notice, even when he shivered in his sleep. Which meant, of course, that he was even less likely to notice when his body stopped shivering.
Snow built up in thick layers on the roof, hood and trunk, smothering Sam's jacket and freezing it stiff as a board. While his body quickly became hypothermic, breaths growing shallow and uneven, Sam slept on, oblivious to his own peril.
To Be Continued... ?
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