“At what point do I have to call your brother?”
Dean was hunched on the floor, head over the toilet, where he’d been for the last 20 minutes. His stomach was clenching, and he felt disgusting, head spinning.
Riley was sitting up on her bed, watching him through the doorway. She was wearing only a pair of tiny black lace underpants and a white singlet. Her legs that went on for days stretched out in front of her.
“Ah, let me think about that…” Dean mumbled sarcastically, and then threw up again.
“If you pass out you know I have to take you to the hospital? I’m not even sure I shouldn’t be doing that right now.”
“I’m fine,” Dean grunted.
“It would –“ he coughed, “seem that way.”
Riley got up and leaned against the doorframe, staring down at Dean.
“You about done in here?”
Dean sagged against the arm he had resting on the toilet bowl, “I think so.”
“Ready to come to bed?”
Riley managed to get him up off the floor and steer him towards the bed. He flopped down on his back and slammed his eyes shut.
“Room spinning?” she enquired with a little too much amusement.
“Urrrrgh,” Dean groaned.
“Come on, let’s sit you up a bit more.”
Riley got Dean set up on a few more pillows and took up position beside him, her hand on his chest.
The lamp beside her was on and she grabbed a book from the nightstand, sitting up against the headboard, her other hand still rubbing soft circles on Dean’s chest.
“What have you got?” Dean asked, one eye open.
“A book,” she smiled, “Go to sleep.”
“I haven’t had my… stuff yet.”
“I know, but I’m not giving it to you if you’re going to puke it up.”
Riley chuckled, “I’ll wake you up in a bit.”
“You’re not going to sleep?” Dean asked, words running together.
“I usually stay up a bit later than 8pm,” she laughed.
“Is’at the time?”
“Sure is,” she changed her soothing circles to light scratches.
Dean was silent for a moment, “I screwed up, didn’t I?”
“Don’t think about it, honey. Just go to sleep.”
“I might… have a nightmare,” he opened both eyes and fixed them on her.
“No, it’s not.”
“Dean…” she bent down and kissed his forehead, letting her lips linger there for a moment, “You’re warm.”
Both of them were quiet for a moment.
“I went on a date today.”
Riley’s hand stilled on his chest, “Really?”
Riley raised her eyebrows, “That cute little thing from the hospital?”
Dean grinned, sleepily, “She is cute, isn’t she?”
“Do you like her?”
Dean frowned, “So, what if I do?”
Riley smiled, “Nothing,” she shrugged, “And I know we’re not anything… but let me ask you this,” she leaned right down near Dean’s face, her hand running through his short hair, “When you needed help tonight, why did you call me and not her?”
Dean stared at her with his big green eyes, face looking almost forlorn, “What?”
She grinned and kissed him, “Never mind.”
Dean grabbed her hand and put it back on his chest and she took the hint and started rubbing again.
“Go to sleep. I’ll wake you up to have your pills later.”
Dean’s eyes were closed, “Promise?”
Riley’s smile disappeared and she took a breath in, “I promise, Dean.”
When Dean woke up later he was still drunk, although the fog was beginning to lift. Riley was sitting cross-legged beside him, with a little plate with a few pieces of plain toast on it and a bottle of water, his pill bottles on the quilt in front of her.
“Hey,” he grunted, his voice husky.
“Time for pills?”
“Mmhm, and you can eat something too.”
Dean took the plate from her and looked down, unmoving for a while, “Did you tell Sam I was here?”
Riley unscrewed the cap off the water bottle, “Yeah,” she said, taking a sip, and then handing the bottle to Dean.
“What did he say?” Dean said, taking a sip himself and handing it back to her.
“He said to be careful with you,” she grinned.
Dean laughed, “God.”
“Eat your toast,” Riley nodded, sipping from the water bottle again.
“You shouldn’t share with me,” Dean pointed to the bottle with a triangle of toast.
“I’ve kissed you, Dean. Damage is done.”
“When did you kiss me?” Dean furrowed his brow.
Riley grinned and stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth, “Don’t tell me I’m that forgettable,” she teased.
Dean coughed, smiling, “You are many things, Riley. I’m not sure forgettable is one of them.”
“Yeah, damn right,” she said, sitting back and grabbing her book again, “Eat your toast.”
Dean quietly munched on his toast. He only made it through one and a half triangles before his stomach started turning and he thought it best to call it quits. Riley got his pills out for him, probably not trusting him to get out the right thing in his current state. He swallowed his pills with the same water bottle they were sharing and handed it back to her. She brushed her hand across his forehead and hummed.
“I might need Tylenol,” Dean said, picking up on her concern.
“You can’t have Tylenol with alcohol, honey. It’s bad for your liver.”
Dean furrowed his brow in confusion, “How do you know that?”
“I’ve run a bar for 6 years… and my sister’s a nurse.”
“You have a sister?” Dean grinned.
“Don’t even think about it,” she warned.
Dean chuckled, and sipped the water again.
Riley moved closer to him, so her hip was touching his side, her body warmth blending with his. She set her hand down on his chest again. Dean’s eyes fluttered shut. The room was still spinning in circles under closed eyelids, but the hand on his chest kept letting him know which way was up. And it might have been the alcohol numbing his pain, or the pills kicking in, or Riley… but he didn’t feel so scared for the first time in a long time. And he went to sleep.
When Dean woke up he felt like his head was going to explode. The pain was agonizing. His mouth was dry and his body was shaking, cold sweat coating his skin. His stomach was cramping, as well as his back. He was alone in a bed that wasn’t his but he quickly recognized it to be Riley’s bedroom. Glancing around he could see she had a candle burning on the bedside table, filling the room with the subtle scent of vanilla. A book was open and upside down on the bed, holding her place, and a cup of coffee, still with steam curling off it sat next to the candle. Her dark curtains didn’t allow much light into the room but he could tell it was morning.
Just as he was about to think about getting up Riley came back through the open door that went out into the kitchen/dining area.
“It lives,” she smiled, “Good morning, darlin’. How you feeling?”
She sat down at his hip and held out a cup of coffee to him.
Dean avoided her question, “What happened?”
“I was hoping you could tell me,” Riley raised her eyebrows, “You called me at 7pm, blind drunk. What were you doing drinking?”
She didn’t sound angry with him and Dean was grateful for that. What he didn’t need right now was judgment. He would surely get that from Sam when he found out.
“I don’t know,” Dean shook his head.
“Okay,” she nodded, watching him take a sip of coffee.
Dean finished his coffee and took a shower. It took a lot of energy out of him without the shower chair. Just having to stand long enough to wash himself was exhausting.
When he came out, Riley was sitting at the table, eating a croissant and reading a magazine.
“I have to go to work soon,” she told him, “Sam says to check your phone.”
Dean sat down across from her and grabbed the croissant off her plate and took a bite. She didn’t react.
“My phone’s dead.”
Riley dusted off her fingers and picked up her phone, sending a text.
“What does he want?”
“He wants to know how you are.”
“What are you going to tell him?”
“I’m telling him you’re okay… avoiding the part where you’re completely hungover,” she smirked.
Dean rubbed his face and smiled, “Thanks, Riley… you know, for everything.”
She shrugged, “I’m asking Sam to start work early to give you more time to pull yourself together.”
Dean coughed, “Sorry.”
“I’m lying to your brother, Dean,” She raised an eyebrow, “I don’t like lying.”
Dean stilled his hand, about to steal her croissant again. He looked at her dark eyes, “Then why are you?”
She huffed, and pushed her plate towards him, “Because you’re an idiot.”
Dean ate the last bit, licking his fingers, “Correct.”
She smiled and got up, taking the now empty plate back to the kitchen. She was still wearing what she was last night and Dean had to stop himself from making a sexist, slightly inappropriate comment, even though he was sure she probably wouldn’t mind.
She came back over to him with a big glass of water and a few pills.
“Nurse Riley,” he said with delight.
“Eat your heart out,” she grinned.
As Dean sat, trying to get his twisting stomach under control, he started to remember a few things from the day before.
Dean cleared his throat, “I didn’t, uh, say anything embarrassing last night, did I?”
“Do you mean did you tell me you went on a date with another girl?” Riley said, sounding amused.
Dean almost choked on his water.
Riley laughed, “Relax, Dean. Like you said, we just have a bit of fun.”
Dean swallowed, reading something more in Riley’s face.
“Where are my clothes?” he asked, nonchalantly trying to change the subject.
“They’re in the dryer. Your coat’s hanging up in the other room. They smelled a bit of booze and vomit,” she smirked.
Dean felt his cheeks heat up, “Thanks.”
“I’m going to shower,” She said, wrapping her hair up into a bun and tucking it under so it stayed there, “I assumed you wanted to get home but if you want to hang out here while I’m at work I don’t mind.”
Dean knew Bobby would probably be home. He was still a wreck, his body wracking with tremors, the alcohol leaving his system. His stomach was uneasy and he wasn’t sure if the croissant wouldn’t make a sudden reappearance some time soon. His head was pounding and the pain in his chest was worse with every breath.
“When are you leaving?” he rasped, having to clear his throat.
“In about an hour.”
Dean looked down at the ground, chewing on the inside of his lip. Bobby would see him. Bobby would know what he did.
“You can stay,” Riley came over and kissed him on the top of his head.
“Thanks,” Dean sighed, relief washing over him.
“Go back to bed, sweetheart. You look like you need it.”
Dean only woke as Riley put a soft hand on his head and kissed him goodbye on her way to work. The next time he woke it was nearly lunchtime. He was covered in sweat, muttering to himself in his sleep as he dreamed of hooks, and blades, and strings, and metal, and teeth, and wire, and cold, sharp, fingernails. His breathing was out of control but it usually was when he first woke up. Riley had left a water bottle on the nightstand next to him and he pushed himself up to sit, rubbing a palm across his aching chest. His hand was shaking as he took a sip and somehow he didn’t think they’d ever be steady again, not after what he’d seen. Not after everything he’d gone through.
He was distracted, thinking deeply, and didn’t swallow properly, causing a trickle of water to go the wrong way. He coughed and spluttered.
“What the hell?” he croaked out, gripping the mattress and sinking to his knees at the raw pain in his chest.
He coughed again and felt like a knife was in his ribs, a white hot poker.
“Son of a bitch,” he winced, clutching a hand at his chest, the other pushing him up as he tried to get his feet under him.
The pain in his chest was so bad he lost vision for a moment, the sound of the blood, hot in his ears, the only thing he could hear. Dean pressed forward somehow, trying to find his damn phone in the haze around him, because something wasn’t right, not at all. He couldn’t get a breath, and he was starting to panic.
“Shit,” he cursed. He’d made his way out to the kitchen, hanging onto the bench to keep standing.
He tried breathing again, more deeply, and the pain was agonizing. He was in danger of passing out soon so he tried to take shallow sips of air, not enough to expand his lungs and cause that awful pain.
Just as he felt his knees buckling he heard a key in the door and someone coming home.
“Dean?” Riley called from the front of the house.
Dean tried to straighten, clutching at anything on the bench. He ended up knocking a glass off, hearing it hit the floor and shatter.
“Dean!” Riley was coming through the door now, “Oh my god, Dean.”
Dean grabbed onto Riley, unable to stop himself sinking to the floor. She tried to help him but he was too heavy.
Dean took a few more shallow, wheezy breaths and glanced in her panicked eyes, “Might be… time to… call my brother.”