'Oh my God Dean!'
Before I had the chance to shut the front door, Lisa rushed over to me and traced the marks on my face.
'I'm okay.' I mumbled unable to open my mouth properly due to my swollen and broken bottom lip. My face was a hideous mix of red, purple and blue blemishes, it must have scared her to crap but the only thing on my mind was the aspirin in the cupboard above the fridge.
'What the hell happened?'
'Fight.' I loosely took hold of her wrists and lowered them. I didn't want her to know her touch was hurting me so I clasped my fingers through hers and said, 'It's okay.'
'Come and sit down. Let me take care of this.'
I followed her into the living room and sat down on my usual chair. She was welcome to take care of me because I certainly didn't have the energy. It took everything I had to make sure Sam was medicated, treated and snuggled up in bed. Bobby helped thank God, but it was hard work being in the condition I was, it exhausted me. It was a miracle I even made it home. Those guys had worked me over good.
'Where's Ben? Didn't he have a day off school today?'
'He's at Steve's for lunch.'
'Good.' He didn't need to see me like this. He had more to worry about than me turning up bloodied and beaten. Thank God he was out. Hold on. 'Lunch? What's he having for lunch?'
'Don't worry about that. I told Bev what he can and can't have. It's fine. It's handled.' She shook her head at me and looked at me with concern. 'God Dean. Maybe you should go to a doctor.'
'No, I don't need a doctor. Just aspirin – please.'
'Okay.' She nodded and stepped out of the room leaving me to lean my head back on the couch and close my sore and puffy eyes. I hadn't been in this much pain for fricken months. I smiled. It was kind of a great feeling in a lot of ways; so familiar, so normal.
So fricken painful.
'Here.' She handed me the pills with a glass of cold water and unzipped the first aid kit. For a moment I wondered if she even knew what to do with it, but then I remembered she was a mother with a sports nut for a kid. Of course she knew. I had seen her use it before myself; just never on me.
'Who did you get into a fight with?' She asked as she went to work. I closed my eyes and answered.
'Some jerks. Trying to rip us off by hustling pool.'
'What did they end up like?'
'Worse.' I smiled again as I remembered back. Sammy was drunk off his head and he was losing it big time; I was sure he was at breaking point when he huddled in that corner unable to do anything but scream my name. It almost made me crumble in defeat just so those guys could give up and I could get to him, but I watched as something changed, I saw my little brother dig deep and pull himself up – for me, to save me.
Glimpses of the old Sam and our old lives played out right in front of us and we pulled together and remembered everything we knew. It didn't matter that he was weakened by experience and alcohol, it just mattered he remembered and instead of running from it, he ran with it… and we won. We beat them. We fought until it was them that gave up, until it was them that were weak and beaten, until it was them that were huddled in the corner – screaming out for us to stop. We kicked their asses. In the end, we kicked them but good.
'I don't want you fighting Dean.' Lisa said applying some sort of spray. I wasn't watching, my eyes wanted to stay closed and the longer I kept them closed, the more I could think about how we'd won. Me and Sam; my brother and I.
'I don't like knowing there are people out there in worse shape than you.'
'They deserved it.'
'And I don't like that you think that.'
'They were idiots.'
'They were humans.' My eyes snapped open; more out of instinct than anything. For a split second she sounded like Sammy, and for that split second I forgot he was back even though I had just been thinking about him…and the terror, God the horror I felt when he had been gone all of a sudden slammed back through me. It's okay, he was back. He really was. The relief nearly made me pass out. Thank Christ. I breathed out. Then I stood up.
'What are you doing?' Lisa frowned.
'Going back to the motel.' I nodded making my mind up. 'Gonna stay there the night.'
'What?' She looked dumbfounded. I felt sorry for her but this was something I wanted; more than anything.
'Can you pack me a bag babe?'I pushed my luck by asking.
'Why? Why can't you stay here?'
'Because Sam needs me.'
'So do we.'
I nodded, 'Sam needs me more.'
'Or do you need him more?'
Both, I thought but didn't say.
God, I felt like crap. Dean was too hurt himself to realize I was only pretending to sleep. It was way too early and the pain that pulsed through my body along with the alcohol still pumping through my veins was doing nothing to help me doze.
The volume on the TV was turned down so low Bobby was struggling to hear it. His ear was tilted to grab any words he could. The poor guy - he must hate this trip. Worst trip ever I bet; stuck in here, looking after me.
'Turn it up.' I said as I sat up. 'You can't even hear it.'
'How're you feeling?' He turned to me and asked not surprised I was awake.
'Probably better than Dean.' My brother copped it worse than I did. Much worse and here he was not more than an hour ago making a fuss over me. Instead of arguing like I wanted to - it should have been me looking after him - I let him, to save prolonging his stay. He needed to get home to Lisa so he had someone to take care of him for once.
'He'll be alright.' Bobby said purely for my benefit. I could see right through him though; he was just as freaked with Dean's battered face as I was. Neither of us was used to it anymore. 'Are you? Alright?' he asked me.
'Pretty dumb idea getting drunk.'
'Not really. It helped.'
I watched him frown but it was okay; I expected it. 'Only temporarily. You know that.'
'Temporarily is better than not at all.'
This time he turned off the TV and glared at me. 'Don't you go grabbing onto another problem Sam. Alcohol is not the answer. You are smart enough to know that.'
The hum of the impala interrupted our conversation. I frowned at Bobby while he stood up and peeked through the curtain. 'He's back.' What was he doing? He should be taking it easy, not driving around. Why didn't he call Bobby if he forgot something? The truck was here.
Probably because he wouldn't let me stay alone even if I was sleeping. He worried too much.
It ached to stand but I followed the old man to the door regardless, receiving a heavy glare from him for leaving my bed. It might have only saved three seconds in total, but I had to know why Dean was back and more importantly, I had to know how he was.
'What are you doing here?' Bobby questioned watching him shut the door lightly and slowly fling an overnight bag over his shoulder. Oh no.
'What are you doing up?' My brother frowned at me ignoring Bobby's question.
'Did you have a fight?' Was all I could reply. She couldn't have kicked him out for fighting could she?
He looked at me as if I was a lunatic and stepped past us into the room, tossing his bag on my bed. 'You know I did,' he said as he pulled out a chair from the table and winced as he sat down. 'You were with me remember?'
'No, I mean with Lisa?'
'Oh.' Using another chair for a footrest, he looked from me to Bobby and said, 'Nah.'
'Then why are you here?' Bobby asked.
He shrugged. 'It's where I want to be.'
I shouldn't have smiled. I felt like kicking myself – on my bruised shin – to really feel the pain. What a selfish bastard I was; happy hearing my own brother say those words. I mean, really, what did I want for him? To live a better life with a better family or want to be with the mess that was his brother? I should have picked door A, I know, but truth was; having him choose me today – especially when he was hurting; just rocked my world.
He smiled back. 'Get back in bed.' He then ordered causing me to roll my eyes.
Lisa and I might not have fought but she was pissed. I had chosen my brother over her – over Ben as well and she didn't like that one bit. I couldn't blame her but I couldn't do anything about it either. At a time like this, all I wanted was my brother; to be around him, to see him, to stay with him. I loved Lisa, I did – and Ben, but it was different. It was always going to be different and when I was down like this, it was proven to me – by me – by the way I felt.
So I couldn't blame her. And I knew I would have to deal with it at some stage too. I wasn't sure what it meant for me exactly – or what it meant for us – any of us. I just knew it was the way it was.
Sam and Bobby were due to come over for dinner the very next night. Lisa had shopped for all the supplies and was pretty excited about it too. I wondered if that had changed now. I couldn't ever handle her resenting Sammy – or being bitter over the way I was feeling. To Lisa and Ben; I had done the wrong thing.
To Sam; I had made him happy.
I still pick Sam. And the guilt still ripped at my insides. There was nothing good about upsetting Lisa and I wanted to call her to make sure she was okay; to try to reassure her that I still cared and I was sorry for putting someone before her, but something stopped me and when I looked at him, I knew what that something was. That something was my brother and putting him first was all I knew. It was all I ever wanted to do.
I had nothing to apologize for.
'You look like crap.' The brat said.
'Right back at ya.'
'Both of you,' Bobby said, 'should be in bed. I'm going to see if we can get a twin room.'
'Good idea.' That way, Bobby could give up his room and stay with Sam full time.
Once he had shut the door behind him I nodded at Sam to get back in bed even if it was for only a few minutes.
'How are you doing?' he asked me once under the covers.
'Been better. Been worse too. You?'
'Same. What are they going to say about all the bruises at work?'
Work. Yeah that.
Sam waited. I looked at him. How could I change the subject? Usually I was quicker at thinking than this. Too late, he was already suspicious.
'Dean?' His marked brows knitted together.
'Don't worry about work Sammy. They'll be fine.'
'What's going on?'
'Dean, what's going on?'
He had me. 'I quit.' I shrugged.
'You what? Why?' Then it dawned on him. 'Oh no way. Don't tell me it was because of me.'
'Not because of you. I wanted time off, my boss said no; I told him where to go. Simple. He was an asshole anyway. Forget it.'
His eyes showed me he had no intention of forgetting it.
'I'm better off out of there. Trust me.' I continued in an attempt to stop him. His bed looked so comfortable. I thought about telling him to scoot over so I could take a side of it.
'You need work.'
'And I'll get it. Don't worry.'
'Where? When? What are you doing for money?'
'You don't have to worry about it Sammy.'
'You lost your job because of me, how can I not worry?'
'I didn't lose it because of you, I just told you. I lost it because I told my boss where to go. Apparently you can't do that.' I shrugged in an attempt to lighten the mood. 'Who knew?'
'Scoot over. These chairs are uncomfortable.'
Oh yeah, this was better. Much more comfortable. I flicked on the TV via the remote and leaned back against the bedhead.
'Sammy,' I said as I heard Bobby turn the door handle. 'We did good today, didn't we? We rocked it.'
(to be continued…)