Title: 12 Steps
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Sam, Bobby AU
Word Count: 33032
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am making no profit from this fanfiction.
Warnings: mentions of past drug use, mentions of parental neglect.
Summary: The 12 Steps tell you to keep it simple, but Dean Winchester has never been good at keeping anything simple. So, with the help and support of the core people in his life he’s giving sobriety his best shot, which even on a good day is a struggle. But as he works at it he makes progress and starts to rediscover himself, and maybe find love with the new guy next door.
How It Works
1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Dean hears the machines beeping before he opens his eyes. He takes a breath and his chest hurts like hell.
Guess that means I’m not dead.
He tries to swallow, his throat hurts, and the machines all go crazy. By the time his room is full of nurses Dean figures he must have pushed it pretty far this time.
He fades in and out of the conversation. Something about being unconscious for three days and needing chest compressions in the ambulance. He can tell they pumped his stomach. His hands are still stained from the charcoal they used. Dean responds to their questions as best he can and fades back into unconsciousness as soon as they let him. He’s just so tired.
He dreams about driving the Impala. With his dad in the passenger seat drunk and passed out and his little brother in the back buried under blankets. In the dream he’s just barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel and it’s snowing outside. Dean thinks maybe it’s not a dream but a memory. There’s so much he’s tried to forget.
“Mr. Winchester? Mr. Winchester. MR. WINCHESTER!”
Dean cracks open his eyes and sees a lady wearing a suit in the doorway. Not a nurse then, they wear uniforms. “Lady, Mr. Winchester is my dad and I’m sleeping here. What do you want?” he grunts
“It’s time for group,” she says, and her voice leaves no reason for him to doubt her meaning.
“No fucking way,” he snaps back, and rolls over until his back is to the door.
“Dean, look—” She says it like he’s a willing participant in this conversation. “You can either come to group or not. But if you stay in bed you’re just going to be here longer. You can’t leave until you finish your psychiatric evaluation.”
Dean chuckles until the pain in his chest makes him stop. “Honey, if you think a psych eval is going to help me get out of here then you haven’t worked here very long.”
He stays in his room until Sammy calls. He’s screaming into the phone about how pissed he is at Dean and how scared he was. It’s not helpful. Dean wants to get drunk, or shoot up, maybe find some coke—anything to make him feel less like shit. Sam runs out of steam after about five minutes. Dean listens to him breathe into the phone until Sam mutters, “I liked you better when you were locked up Dean. At least then you were sober and I knew where you were.”
Dean slams the phone down and stalks to the nurse’s station. He bangs on the glass and yells, “I need some Ativan. Now.” The fucking social worker smiles at him all bright and cheery and tells him, “You want your Ativan, come to group and you can have it.”
God, he hates that bitch.
He hates groups. This is not Dean’s first time in treatment. He sits in his hospital-issue pajamas with all the other little mental patients on the unit, and grinds his teeth down as hard as he can to keep from exploding. His legs shake, his hands shake, he still nauseous all the time. He can almost feel the bugs crawling up under his skin. Dean’s pretty sure he might make it through the group if the floor would just stop moving. Fuck—he needs to get high so bad right now. He grinds through his Feeling for the Day and has never been more grateful for the hospital lunch special that breaks up group time. He eats it all, too, knowing in a half hour he’ll be puking it all back up anyway.
It takes fourteen days for Dean to not feel like he is going to die every waking minute. He’s starting to think more clearly, and the floor stopped moving about three days ago. The social workers tell him they think he needs residential treatment for his drug use. Dean stares at them blankly, because the hell he is going from here to another lock down unit: he just got out of jail four months ago. They tell him it doesn’t matter what he wants—He’s being held involuntarily and until they say he can go, he’s not allowed to leave. The medical intern uses the term ‘danger to yourself or others.’
Well, Dean’s never been one to disappoint somebody. The guy ducks the chair Dean throws at him but he gets in a few good punches before they call in the sedation team. That Haldol packs a hell of a punch. They schedule him for discharge a week later, say they are going to step him down to a less restrictive unit for continued care.
“How long?” he asks the suit wearing bitch responsible for his case.
“30 days. That’s the course of treatment there. Then outpatient counseling,” she answers, her voice carefully neutral, and Dean is so tired of being treated like a wild animal ready to attack.
“I’m not fucking going to outpatient. You told me I had to do residential, not that,” Dean states.
“We can’t control anything past the 30 day stay. But your probation officer says you’re going to do outpatient or go back to jail. I encourage you to consider your options.” She says it like she means it, like she really thinks counseling or jail are his only choices. She’s an idiot.
They transport him in the back of a sheriff’s car in handcuffs. It’s a nice drive. Dean won’t ever admit it, but he didn’t even know they were back in
The building is ratty as hell. Dean stumbles out of the car and into the front door of the place looking for something other than crumbling brick and partially torn up floors. He answers one hundred fifty questions from the nursing staff before they let him out of the cuffs and agree that he is medically stable. He gets one phone call, so for laughs he calls Sam.
“Dude, where are you?” Sam asks.
“Some inpatient treatment unit for drug addicts. They won’t let me go until I finish treatment,” Dean mumbles out.
Sam takes a deep breath before he says, “Sounds like where you need to be, man. Dean, please, let them help you.”
Dean opens his mouth to say some kind of smart-ass response, but he can hear the hurt in his brother’s voice. Plus, Dean’s been thinking he doesn’t exactly have anything to get back to. He walked out of the hospital with nothing. He’s still wearing the hospital pajamas—Turns out they had to cut off his clothes when he came in the ER. He’s got not clothing, no ID, no job, no home, no friends.
What am I in such a hurry to get back to?
It’s a question he ponders for most of his first week. They spend all freakin’ day in groups or individual counseling. He hates it. Half the fucking time Dean can’t even identify how he feels, much less is he willing to actually tell them the truth about it. He’s grateful when he gets assigned to the kitchen. The lady that runs it is scary as hell, but at least he can get out of the building by helping her at the store.
Missouri Mosely is no joke. She is bossy, blunt, and rigid in the way she likes things done. She takes one look at Dean and says, “You ever worked in a kitchen like this before?”
Dean shrugs. “I worked in the kitchen detail while I was locked up.” It was a pretty good experience, too.
She scrunches up her face in distaste and says, “Boy, forget all that. I’m gonna have to teach you the right way to run a kitchen.”
She works his ass off. Dean is up at five in the morning getting food ready and hits the bed right at curfew. She yells at him, shoves him around, and drags him everywhere. When she’s not there Dean spends half his time threatening the other clients to keep them out of the food. No way in hell is she going to come in there and blame him for something being missing. He’s worn out and exhausted, but he loves every minute of it. Dean feels useful for the first time in a long while.
Sam brings John along with him for visitation. Dean feels his whole body jerk with shock when he sees his father. Sam is looking good, says college is going well and that he hopes to see Dean over break. Dean’s not paying much attention, his whole being focused on the older man sitting beside him. His dad is stoned. Dean knows it just as surely as he knows his dad still has shit on him. When they get ready to leave his dad says, “Sammy, give me a minute alone with Dean, will you?”
Sam’s eyes go wide and he gives Dean a slow shake of his head as he backs away. He’s not stupid: Dad probably offered Sam some of his stash on the way there. Sam doesn’t really give a shit about that kind of stuff. Dean’s never been able to turn it down.
As soon as Sam’s out of sight he’s sliding a baggy into Dean’s pocket and squeezing his arm tight. “Something to get you through this, son. I know it’s hard, but you can get out of here soon and forget about all this crap. Stay strong.” His breath reeks of whiskey, and Dean doesn’t think he takes another breath until he walks him to the door.
He doesn’t even look in his jacket pocket that night. He’s too scared to see what his dad brought him. Dean wants it so bad. If he sees it, he’s going to use it, and he’s just starting to think he might be able to do this sober thing. He’s just starting to think his life maybe could be better. He doesn’t want to fuck it up by getting high now.
But he does fuck Ruby, one of the female clients, up against the dryer in the laundry room. It’s not the high he was looking for, but it does make him forget for a while. When it’s over he feels just as guilty as if he had shot up.
“Boy, you scrub that pan any harder and you’ll rub the handle right off.”
She looks at him for a long time in silence then puts her hand on his arm and says to the rest of the crew, “Get out.”
They run for cover. Dean ends up sitting on a pallet of cans next to the broken down office chair she has in the corner. She calls it her office. “What’s eating you?” It’s not really a question, more of a command.
Dean shifts and tries not to rock back and forth. He’s going to get kicked out of here and then go back to jail. He’s only a week away from finishing, too. “Nothing.”
“Dean, something is wrong with you, and you’re going to tell me what it is, right now.”
He looks at her and shakes his head. She takes a deep breath and says, “Boy, I know those instincts you have are telling you to keep your mouth shut right now. But I need you to believe me when I tell you that you’re sick and your instincts are wrong. You just need to do everything they’re telling you not to do. Now let me help you.”
Dean snorts—but in the end, he doesn’t have anything left so he has nothing to lose. He takes the baggy out of his pocket and drops it on the desk. “My dad slipped me this yesterday during visitation. I didn’t use any—you can test me, I’ll be clean.”
She looks at the bag and then back up at him. “And?” she says, unimpressed.
“Not if that’s not all your hiding,” she states, leaning back in her chair.
“I fucked Ruby in the laundry room last night.” Dean says it directly to the shelf full of dishes.
He gets banned from talking to any of the female clients ever again, and they extend his stay by another month. Dean’s grateful: it’s better than jail or being on the street. Ruby slips him her phone number when she gets out and Dean hands it right over to
They don’t let Sam or Dad come back for visitation. Dean puts up a fight for his brother but gets told he is co-dependant and enmeshed. He’s not entirely sure what those words mean, but when his counselor tells him he wouldn’t be so upset about it if they weren’t right, then he lets it go. God, he hates counselors so much.
When he leaves for the halfway house and outpatient counseling, the last thing
Pamela Barnes is not what Dean thought his counselor was going to be like. She’s sassy, ballsy, and sees right through his bullshit. He doesn’t even make it through the intake without her saying, “Wow, you’re lying and you don’t even know it, do you?”
Ok so I am—but still…
“Let’s try again,” she says. “Tell me about how you grew up.”
Dean takes a deep breath. He remembers what
“My mom died when my little brother was born. Sam’s four years younger than me. I don’t remember much before that. We traveled a lot. My dad didn’t like being in one place too long.” Dean hesitates.
“Why not?” Pam prompts.
“He always said it was because he wanted us to see the world.” Dean remembers those slurred comments on how great the next place would be as Dean packed up the car and Sammy for the next trip out.
“What do you really think that was about?”
Dean grips the arms of the chair he’s sitting in, hard, and swallows. He’s not sure he’s going to do this until he hears himself say, “I think my dad is a fucking drunk. A drunk and an addict and he would take us to these shit-hole places and ditch us for weeks sometimes—then show up in the middle of the night and drag us out of bed and on to the next place. We never had enough food, we never had enough money and he was never around. I spent most of my time taking care of Sammy only for him to come home and say it wasn’t good enough and beat my ass.”
“So you supported yourself and your brother while he was gone?” She’s digging and he knows it.
“Yeah.” Dean’s response is clipped.
“How? What did you do?”
“Anything and everything I had to do.” Dean looks her right in the eye. He’s not going ever be ashamed of making sure his brother had food to eat and a place to sleep no matter what he had to do to get it—angry that he was put in that position, absolutely, but guilty never.
“What’s your drug of choice?”
“Whatever I can get. But I usually start drinking and wind my way around to everything else. If you’re asking for my top three: its alcohol, coke, and if I can’t get that then heroin.” Dean’s voice is steady but he’s thinking about the track marks on his arms.
“Tell me about when you started using.”
“Dad gave me my first drink when I was ten. I used to sneak his stuff after that. When I got around fifteen he started letting me drink with him. I did that until I could buy my own stuff. A girl I was dating in high-school turned me onto coke when I was seventeen. I started shooting up heroin in my mid twenties. Got hooked on that with a guy I was fucking around with.” Dean doesn’t guess his sexual preference really matters in the bigger scheme of things.
“Explain your use pattern to me.” Pam’s taking notes.
“When I was drinking I drank everyday. I used coke two or three times a week. I shot up like a couple of times a month at first, but by the end I was doing it everyday or I got sick. I use until the money is gone and people quit giving it to me.”
“Tell me about how you got here.”
Dean laughs. “It’s a long story. Sammy and I were doing a side business for dad three years ago. Moving some drugs from one side of the state to the other. That’s the family business—drug transportation. We got picked up speeding through some back-hills redneck town and they thought I was drunk driving. Which, you know, I was.” Dean sighs and shifts in his seat. “They searched the car and found the dope. Sammy had a scholarship to Stanford. He had plans. I took the heat for the whole thing and got ordered to treatment and probation.”
She smiles and tips her head. “That’s not how you ended up here. That was three years ago.”
Dean nods. “Yeah, I was too stupid to stop using and bombed out of the treatment program. I ended up taking my felony and served two years and three months. When I got out my dad picked me up at the jail, and in like a week I was back at it with him. A couple of months after that I got involved with this girl and was crazy about her. When Cassie left me I lost it—hit the streets and woke up in a hospital. I overdosed and they say my heart stopped. Anyway… I got court ordered to residential treatment for a month and then my
He can feel his stomach rolling and twisting. Dean’s never been big on self disclosure. He’s let a lot fly in the last hour and he’s ready to go. Pam gives him the treatment schedule and he flops into bed that night looking at it.
Ok. Only thirty six more weeks.