Summary: After the End verse. Sam and Cas are far away from home in the woods when Sam has a seizure.
Characters: Castiel, Sam
Disclaimer: If they were mine, Sam would spend a lot more time being beaten up than he currently is. I dunno what that says about me. ;)
Warnings: A lot of swearing.
Neurotic Author's Note #1: Written for the ohsam challenge for a prompt by 4422shini which read simply "Sam has epilepsy." So that's what this is.
Neurotic Author's Note #2: Many thanks to rainylemons for letting me bounce ideas and more importantly for bouncing them back at me for this.
Cas always liked the late fall, when the trees would lose all their leaves in preparation for winter, when the wind would grow cold and biting. It used to remind him of some of his favourite places in Heaven, untouched by the imagination of men, which tended toward the lush and verdant for the most part. Cas enjoyed greenery too, of course, but there was something about the bare starkness of it all that made him feel more at peace, as though there was simply less around to clutter his mind. It made him feel just that much closer to God. Of course, that was before God jumped ship, followed by all the other angels in the sky. Now the last, frigid days of autumn are merely empty and stretch out endlessly before him.
There's a thin layer of frost over everything, making the dead leaves crunch loudly under his heavy boots. He wouldn't even be out here if this weren't one of the last chances they'll get to build up their store of firewood before the heavy snow storms that have become the norm during the winters in these parts. It's a recent phenomenon, the few locals who have remained in place tell him: before Lucifer walked the earth, the winters had become relatively mild, with only a few snowfalls worth mentioning at all. Now, though, the countryside is covered in a thick blanket of white starting in early December which doesn't begin to melt until the first weeks of April. It's pretty enough, he supposes, and might be nicer if it didn't mean that he was all but trapped with Sam for months on end in their tiny cabin with no escape except drugs.
He's too caught up in his thoughts to notice at first when Sam –who's been following quietly behind him in order to lend a hand carrying the new firewood in a large tarp– falls even further behind. It's only when he realizes that he can no longer hear two different sets of footsteps in the frozen leaves that Cas stops to glance over his shoulder and feels his stomach bottom out when he can no longer see Sam anywhere.
There's no answer. He retraces his steps in the leaves, following the faint outline of his boots on the ground. Sam can't be far, he reasons, even though they haven't actually spoken a single word since they left the cabin early this morning. Cas is always more or less aware of where Sam is at any given moment, can sense the last, faint particles of corrupted grace that still cling to him like dust motes. So if Sam fell behind a long time ago, he'd have sensed it, he's almost entirely sure of it. He hurries in spite of himself, seized with a sudden inexplicable sense of urgency, finds himself calling out Sam's name even though he's pretty sure Sam can't or won't answer.
He finds Sam less than three minutes later, sprawled awkwardly across the frozen path, eyes staring sightlessly at the grey afternoon sky. He's split open his cheek on a protruding rock, and blood is oozing sluggishly from the cut, a few stray drops landing on the dead leaves, the crimson bright against the dull brown and black. Just in time, Cas thinks a little distractedly as he kneels beside him. The tarp, half-filled with wood, has spilled part of its contents along the ground a few feet away, as though Sam dropped it and then managed to stagger forward before he fell.
"Sam, can you hear me?"
It's too late for that, he can tell Sam is far beyond hearing him, the rapid-fire blinking a dead giveaway if nothing else. Cas rolls Sam onto his side, shoves his knee into the small of Sam's back none too gently to get him into the requisite position that will ensure Sam doesn't choke on his own vomit during the seizure, pulls on his leg and arm until he's assured Sam won't just roll back to how he was before, then finds what he hopes is the least uncomfortable spot on the ground and waits for it all to be over.
"You have fucking inconvenient timing," he tells Sam even as the twitching starts. "It's going to start snowing any day now, and you're going to be fucking useless for at least a day after this, which means I'm going to have to carry all the damned firewood by myself. That means we won't be able to get as much, and we'll probably run out before the end of winter and freeze to death."
Sam is convulsing now, eyes rolled back in his head, long limbs jerking spastically. Cas rolls his eyes skyward (he won't say heavenward anymore, because it's just not true), wrinkles his nose when the acrid and unmistakable scent of urine permeates the air. Micturation and the elimination of waste is the one thing about the human body with which he's never been able to fully reconcile himself: it's tedious and still vaguely repugnant to him, even after over five years of being almost entirely human. Sam shares his distaste, too. Having housed an angel for the better part of three years (albeit a fallen one), somewhere along the way he developed the same vague disgust for the baser bodily functions. Sometimes Cas wonders if that extends to sex for Sam, since he's never once been visibly aroused when they've fucked. Then again, Sam was literally possessed by the Devil, and Cas is willing to bet that that would fuck anyone up beyond repair.
"You almost done?" he inquires nastily. He can allow himself to be callous while Sam is still seizing and unable to hear him. Overhead the sky is growing dark, though he can't tell if it's just due to the lateness of the hour, or if they're about to be rained on. "We still have to get you back home after this, and the wood. How long has it been? Two minutes?"
Predictably enough he doesn't get an answer. His leg is falling asleep, so he shifts and immediately regrets it when it feels like a million ants are crawling just under his skin. He stamps his foot against the ground to rid himself of the pins and needles, and tries to ignore the sensation of a vise tightening itself around his stomach. There's nothing he can do, even if a seizure that lasts for more than five minutes constitutes a 'medical emergency.' It's something he learned, ironically enough, from Sam, long before the world started to end. It was Dean, then, having the seizure after a particularly nasty head injury. Sam had shown Castiel exactly what to do: how to place his head and limbs, how to time the seizure, how long they should wait before calling for help. He wasn't anxious then –Sam knew what he was doing, and at the time he'd still had enough of his own powers that he was reasonably sure that he could keep Dean from suffering any permanent harm.
"You'd better not die," he tells Sam. "The ground's too damned frozen for me to dig, and I don't want to set fire to you. The smell alone…" he stops. "And by the way, fuck you for not letting me bring any of my stash out with us today. I'm freezing and bored and you're having a fucking seizure in the middle of the forest. This is all your fault."
It is Sam's fault. All of it is, right from the start. Sam's the one who dealt with demons and drank their blood and said yes to the damned Morningstar. The world ended and it's all Sam's fault, and sometimes Cas just wants to kick him until he shatters all his ribs, because it's so, so much easier to blame Sam for all of it instead of shouldering his own responsibility. It's so much easier than acknowledging that he was only one of dozens of angels (and demons) who lied and manipulated and withheld information until Sam couldn't see straight and made all the wrong decisions for all the right reasons. It's so much easier to hate Sam, because then he doesn't have to worry about how much he hates himself.
"I don't hate you, you know."
Sam vomits. It's foul-smelling and dribbles down his chin and cheek, and Cas comes close to gagging himself before he gets the reflex under control and shuffles forward to make sure Sam's airways are clear. It's disgusting, forcing his fingers into Sam's mouth and scooping out the mess, but it's either that or Sam stops breathing, or Sam aspirates and develops pneumonia and stops breathing a few days from now. Sam isn't allowed to die, because he begged Cas not to leave him alone out here and Cas figures that turnabout is fair play.
What feels like an eternity later Sam's body finally goes lax, and his eyes roll forward again, though they stay closed. Cas places two fingers under his chin and tilts his head back, listens carefully for the sound of his breathing, and sits back to wait again. He hunches in on himself as a fine, cold rain begins to fall. It's not so bad at first, but after a few minutes it loses its mist-like quality and begins to fall in earnest, soaking his hair and plastering his waterproof jacket to his skin. Sam is still out for the count, but he's soaking wet now (Cas is wearing the only waterproof jacket they own that's not made for much colder weather than this) and already starting to shiver, face pale and lips beginning to turn bluish with the cold.
Cas glances at the tarp with the firewood, then pulls all the spilled wood back into it before securing it. At the very least it'll keep this batch dry until he can come back for it. Sam's already wet and cold, it won't do him all that much good, he reasons.
"You're going to get sick at this rate, and then it'll be up to me to nurse you through another of those wretched fevers. You'd think you'd be in better shape, to look at you," Cas shivers a little in the cold. His foot is aching now, the one he broke all those years ago when, under the influence of a truly impressive cocktail of drugs, he'd managed to convince himself that he'd still be able to fly if only he believed enough. "I'm not dragging you back to the cabin, you're going to walk there under your own power on your own two feet." He reaches over and shakes Sam by the shoulder. "Come on. Sam!"
Normally this would be a lost cause. Sam's almost always out for the count after a seizure, for a good half hour at least. This time, though, Cas is rewarded with a faint fluttering of eyelashes.
"There you go, you son of a bitch," he says encouragingly. "Wake up!"
Sam doesn't quite wake up the whole way, though, so Cas shifts again on the ground that's now turning muddy on top of being freezing and really uncomfortable, and tugs him into his lap. He smooths the wet hair away from Sam's face with more gentleness than he intended.
"You with me yet?"
Sam's eyes flutter open this time, and his throat works convulsively for a few seconds before he manages to form a proper sound. "Cas?" It's more of a croak than an actual word, but Cas understands him anyway.
"Hi," he says, and tries to act like he hasn't realized that he's petting Sam's hair.
"Hi," Sam rasps. "Seizure?"
"Huh." Sam's never all that coherent afterward, it was probably too much to hope for that he'd figure out they were both freezing out here in the woods in the pouring rain in November.
"We need to get home. Can you get up?"
Sam shakes his head. "Feel shitty," he slurs. "C'n I sleep first?"
"No. We're going to freeze, and I'm bored and you're getting sick. Besides, you managed to piss yourself and vomit and slice open your cheek all in one go. I wouldn't be surprised if you broke your cheekbone, too, by the looks of the bruising. So we're going to get up and you're going to walk home with me, okay?"
"Okay," Sam nods vaguely, but he just twists a little in Cas' lap in order to lean his head more against Cas' stomach. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
Cas keeps petting his hair. "I know you didn't. It's not your fault. We'll dose you up before we go out next time. Make sure you don't collapse in the middle of important wood-collecting work. Hell, maybe we'll make an outing of it and take you to that doctor I heard settled down a couple of towns over, get you some proper treatment. Though I don't know how we'd explain it. Seizures caused by being host to Satan. How'd you like that?"
Sam is drowsing against him. "Go to town?"
"Sure, why not? Supplies are running low anyway," he says, thinking of his stash. "Hell, I'll even treat you to dinner, if you're good."
"You offering to take me on a date, Cas?"
He snorts. "Dean was right about you. You are a girl."
Sam clings a little harder. "Dean was right about everything," he murmurs, and it's only too easy to hear the self-loathing in the words.
Cas hauls Sam up further into his lap, can feel the startled reaction from him as he wraps his arms more firmly around him and pulls him tightly against his chest. After a couple of seconds Sam doesn't resist, just curls up more comfortably in his arms, head against his shoulder, perfectly placed so that Cas can lean in to whisper in his ear.
"Not about everything," he says, just for Sam's ears.
And Sam smiles.
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