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[personal profile] caranfindel
Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother
Genre: Gen, h/c, angst
Length: About 1600 words
Characters: Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester
Spoilers: None
Synopsis: A kind of remix of With Gravy, a season 2 fic by the amazing kalliel, which you need to read first. Basically, I read her story and knew I had to hear Sam's side. (It's not as good as Dean's side, because seriously, she's amazing.)


Sam switches off with Mariana. Estimates she can go five minutes, tops, before slowing down to the point of ineffectiveness, to the point where he takes over again.

It's just numbers; 100 to 120 beats per minute. "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees sets the perfect rhythm. It's all right, it's okay; I'll live to see another day.

She stops to give rescue breaths, and Sam wants to tell her not to, that it will tire her out faster, that it's actually more effective to do hands-only CPR. But he's not going to tell her how to keep her husband alive. He gets up to tap her shoulder, to take over, to get back into his rhythm. Life going nowhere, somebody help me, somebody help me yeah.

Sam, stop. Dean's voice is hoarse and frail. Sam doesn't want to argue with him, doesn't want to use up whatever little bit of Dean is left on an argument over something as pointless as whether or not to save a dead man.

And he knows Dean's right. Sam knows these numbers too; knows that after half an hour, there's almost no chance of CPR being successful. (Exceptions: Hypothermia. Asthma. Toxicological arrest.) But almost no chance doesn't mean no chance. It's not permission to stop. You're not supposed to stop.

(Exceptions: When the victim has bled out. When each pump of your aching arms sends blood sluicing out of his torn artery instead of circulating it through his body. When every minute you spend trying to save a dead man is a minute you spend not rescuing your wounded, poisoned brother.)

Sam removes Fracture Guy's shirt (he doesn't even remember his name; he let him die and he's going to leave him cold and alone in a monster's cave and somehow it would feel like less of a failure if he could at least remember his name) and wraps it around one of the smaller kids, the one who's been too quiet. Retrieves his belt, now warm and sticky in spots.

We'll be back, he promises. Adds this to the list of things he regrets.

But they're okay. The rest of them, Dean and Mariana and the kids, they're okay. It's all right, it's okay.


(Things Sam regrets, in no particular order:

- Not giving Fracture Guy five more minutes
- Giving Fracture Guy half an hour, when he could have spent that time getting their group half an hour farther away from whatever the fuck lives in this cave)


He hears the scuffle and thinks, for a second, that Dean has just fallen again. But there's a pained groan and three gunshots in quick succession and then the sound of Dean falling. He can hear his brother's ragged breathing, and he can also hear something else - a different quality to the echo of the gunshots. They're close to the exit.

He thinks, for a second, that they're going to be okay.

Then he hears claws skittering across the stone floor, hears Dean's low warning. He tells Mariana to take the children and run.

(Things Sam regrets, in order of importance:

- Not spending more time looking for his gun after the first attack
- Not packing a fucking machete)

He draws his knife and rolls the flashlight to Dean. Dean doesn't pick it up, but in its erratic bouncing beam Sam sees whatever the fuck it is crawl right over his brother, heading straight toward him. Sam slashes up as the monster claws down and they both hit home, the monster lurching back with a guttural roar and Sam crying out in pain as its claws rake across his abdomen. The monster swipes at him again, clawing his arm open, and the knife slips from his blood-slick hand and clatters to the ground. He reaches for it, but recoils when he touches something - claws, leathery skin, whatever the fuck it is, it's not his knife - and he reverses course, scrabbling back. He needs to regroup but he can't hear Dean's ragged breaths any more and maybe this is where it ends, here in the dark, maybe the only thing left to do is hold the fucking thing off long enough for Mariana and her kids to get out

(Things Sam regrets: Everything)

and then suddenly he does hear him, hears Dean weakly call his name, crawls toward him, feels the knife under Dean's hand in the dark. He leans against Dean and slashes up as the monster claws down and this time he hits something vital, feels the deluge of the beast's hot, acrid blood, feels its death tremor above him and his brother's back firm against his own and he laughs, he laughs with its blood in his mouth because everything is going to be okay.

But then everything goes quiet, and the only ragged breathing he hears is his own.


It's just numbers; 100 to 120 beats per minute. "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees sets the perfect rhythm. It's all right, it's okay; I'll live to see another day.

Sam knows that after thirty minutes, there's almost no chance of CPR being successful. (Exceptions: Hypothermia. Asthma. Toxicological arrest.)

Toxicological arrest. Poison. It's fucking poison. But it's a poison meant to take down a child, not Dean Winchester. All he has to do is be Dean's heart until the poison clears his system. It's okay. Everything's going to be okay.

Push, push, push, push. Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother you're stayin' alive, stayin' alive. (Except Sam's mother is dead and his brother oh god his brother.) No, don't think. Just hear the song and push. Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin' and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive. He switches from compression-only to full CPR, sealing his mouth over Dean's, waiting for the smack upside the head, the indignant what the fuck, man, but it doesn't come, and he watches Dean's chest, watches it rise and fall as he forces breath into his lungs and then go still when he stops, presses his fingers against his brother's throat and feels nothing, shakes out his trembling arms and starts again.

He ignores the fatigue, the ache of his arms, the burn of his wounds, the nausea as the poison seeps into his bloodstream, the awful crack as one of Dean's ribs snaps under the pressure, ignores everything except the rhythm of the song (life going nowhere, somebody help me, somebody help me yeah) and the count (thirty compressions, two breaths). The voice in the back of his head reminds him that after thirty minutes there's little chance of CPR being successful, and he ignores that too because exceptions: toxicological arrest. He counts thirty compressions and two breaths, thirty-and-two and thirty-and-two, loses himself in the numbers; 100 compressions per minute means three sets of thirty-and-two takes about one minute and he's somewhere in the sixties before he loses track of how many sets he's done, but he knows he's gone longer than an hour, longer than very little chance of success after thirty minutes but that's okay because exceptions: toxicological arrest, and the voice reminds him that the guidelines say to stop when you're too exhausted to go any further but fuck that voice because exceptions: Dean. Because he has lost everyone and everything else but he is not going to lose Dean.

It's all right, it's okay.

(Oh god, maybe it's not.)

Life going nowhere, somebody help me, somebody help me yeah.

Sam keeps going. The flashlight grows dimmer and he stops to turn it off, fumbling at the switch with hands shaky from fatigue. He's got to conserve the battery because when Dean wakes up, they're going to need the light to get out. Everything is going to be okay. He can't see Dean in the dark, can't watch his chest rise and fall with the rescue breaths, but he puts a hand on his chest and feels the motion. Dean's shirt is damp with blood, his and Sam's, damp with the sweat dripping off Sam's forehead and maybe tears and he's going to be pissed when he wakes up but it's okay, he is going to wake up. Everything is going to be okay. Sam's going to save his brother because that's what Sam does, he saves people (exceptions: everyone he loves) and he's going to save Dean.


He's breathing so hard that he almost misses Dean's first soft, gasping inhale. He stops and presses a trembling finger against his brother's throat. The slow but steady lub dub, lub dub pulls a relieved sob from deep inside his chest. There are a lot of things he should be worried about right now - the poison that's making its way through his own system, the possibility of more monsters in the cave, the fate of Mariana and her children. But Sam ignores all of those. He positions Dean on his side with his head resting on his arm, lies down next to him on the cold hard stone floor, props a hand against his chest, and falls asleep feeling each rise and fall of his breath.

(Things Sam regrets: Nothing.)


The title is, of course, from Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees. And yes, it does provide the perfect rhythm for CPR. And yes, people have reportedly been brought back after several hours of CPR after certain types of cardiac arrest, including toxicological. The rest is most likely nonsense.


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