|What If Dean Had Asthma?
Author: Unhobbity Hobbit PM
Life has a very fine balance, change one thing and it could all go to hell, so what if Dean had asthma? The story is possibly not what the title would lead you to expect. Character deaths.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Tragedy - Sam W. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 18,517 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 11-07-06 - Published: 09-05-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3141441
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
What If... Dean Had Asthma?
Sam stood and stared at his feet. New shoes stared back at him, black like the day should have been. The bright sun was mocking him, the light, fluffy clouds were laughing cruelly. A tear ran down Sam's nose and dripped onto his spotless shoe. Someone was talking somewhere, and he was supposed to be listening, the words were supposed to mean something to him but he couldn't bring himself to hear them, in case they made everything even more real.
He looked up only once during the whole service, to watch the burnt and boxed remains of his father be placed ceremoniously into a hole in the ground. He could have laughed. He had during Dean's burial two days previously. He'd watched the box being slowly lowered in to the ground and all he could hear was Dean saying, "Dude, get on with it." He hadn't been told off, hadn't even been shushed. The few people who did glance up had pity in their eyes and that just reminded Sam how wrong everything was. His laughter had died on his lips.
Someone was directing Sam now, pointing him towards a mound of soil. Sam picked up a handful of it and stared at it. His mouth was dry, his eyes were red, he could barely swallow down the sobs that were bubbling up inside him and here he was with a handful of dirt, as though it meant something. He threw the dirt into the hole. It landed on the box and obscured the shiny metal plaque that cheerfully proclaimed the contents to be John Winchester. If he were alive he'd be telling Sam off so badly for throwing a handful of dirt at him. Weird that this was meant to be respectful.
Sam hated that he had to think of his family in terms of 'if they were alive'.
He took the handkerchief that was pressed into his hand by an unknown person, he couldn't identify them by their shoes. He stared at it, he'd been doing a lot of staring recently, ever since he'd seen Dean's hand still clenched tight around the gun. The bright white of the tissue had been marred by the soil Sam still had on his hands, marred like his father had been when... Sam blew his nose. He pushed the tissue into his pocket where it joined two others that were in much the same soggy state.
Sam realised that the talking had stopped and there was just the quiet mumblings of people moving off, going about their business. Sam wished he'd been listening to what had been said, maybe it would have given him an idea what he was supposed to do now. Pastor Jim knelt down in front of him, forcing him to look at his face. To Sam's relief there was no smile there and Pastor Jim wasn't expecting a smile back, he had an expression that was part concern and part 'it hurts, doesn't it?'. Sam dropped his gaze back to his shoes and wiped his nose on his sleeve.
Pastor Jim stood up and took Sam's hand. He began leading Sam away, away from the last of his family, but they were gone anyway, so Sam didn't care, he didn't care where they were going, he didn't care what was happening. All he knew was that Pastor Jim wasn't going to lead him to a room where he'd find his dad and brother sitting alive, unscathed and completely bewildered by the fuss Sam was making like he did in Sam's dreams. Those dreams that made him wish that he never woke up.
Sam climbed into the passenger seat of the car he'd been lead to. It was the Impala. It was black, black was a good colour to be. In mourning until the wear and tear of years eventually reduced the car to a shell of its former self, fit only for burial. Just like Sam.
Sam had been disappointed by how much the Impala hadn't comforted him when he'd first returned back to it and the motel they'd been staying in. He'd expected to find some part of Dean or his dad there. They'd each spent so many hours of their lives in it, looking after it that Sam had thought perhaps there'd be some kind of imprint of them here, something he could hang on to, maybe something more than memories and dreams. Perhaps that had been too much to expect from a car.
It had still taken a number of hours for anyone to persuade him to leave the Impala. Even more time had been spent cajoling him into eating something. They'd let him keep the jacket he'd found on his father's bed and had taken everywhere with him since. It was this Sam reached for as Pastor Jim started the engine. He pulled it from the back seat and buried his face into it. It smelt of his brother and of his father, of home and everything he'd ever known. He was careful not to let his tears fall on it. Still clutching it to his chest with one arm, he loosened his tie with his free hand.
The smart clothes had been someone else's idea, Sam forgets who, or maybe he never knew. The past week had been such a blur of soul-shattering grief and a fragile state of manic happiness, switching between the two without warning, or just sitting, everything about him blank. He hadn't paid much attention to anything. He hadn't had to, other people had happily done everything for him, made everything as easy as possible, which still hadn't been that easy. "That's a bad habit to get into," his fathers voice warned him. Sam just stared out of the window at the trees flying past.
He rested his forehead on the window. It was a small thing to do but it still made him clutch all the more tightly, desperately at the jacket. He squeezed his eyes shut and waited for something to be said, for someone to tell him to stop making the window all greasy, for someone to threaten him with washing the car at the next stop. It was a futile wait because he was really waiting for it to be his dad and Dean riding in the car with him. The last time they'd all been in the car together had been on the way back from the crematorium, but it just hadn't been the same when his dad and Dean were just piles of ashes, though Sam had kept glancing back at the boxes as though they were going to do something other than just sit there.
Pastor Jim parked the car in front of a house Sam had never seen before. Sam slowly got out, pulling the jacket out behind him and stood and stared. There were people here, they'd all been at the service. Some of them he knew, most of them he didn't. Pastor Jim took his hand once more and lead him in through the front door to a living room where there were snacks and plates of food adorning every surface and people milling about talking, laughing. Dean would have enjoyed this so much more than he was now.
Pastor Jim pointed him towards a chair and he perched on the edge of it. The chair was made to be comfortable and Sam was anything but. He was back to staring at his shoes. Someone sat down next to him. Sam glanced from his shoes to theirs and was surprised to find that the person was a woman, or wearing a dress anyway. Dean had once told him that the two didn't always necessarily go together.
"Would you like something to eat?" she said gently, placing a hand on his arm. Sam looked at the hand for a while, he hadn't looked up to her face yet but she had a calming presence. She gave Sam all the time he needed. Sam finally nodded, saying no made people talk to you more. The woman was gone and back in less than a minute, bearing a plate with a bit of everything on it. Sam took it and poked the food around a bit, trying to decide what seemed the most appetising and what was least likely to come back up. "Hey, you gonna eat that?" he heard Dean say. He finally broke off part of a bread stick and ate it. It stuck horribly to his mouth and seemed to dry out, becoming hard and scratchy, with a huge effort Sam gulped it down. "Perhaps you'd prefer a drink?" Sam nodded without hesitation this time.
When the woman returned with a glass of water, Sam took it and drank the whole of it without pause. The woman then handed him a second glass, as though she'd known how thirsty he was, even when he hadn't. Sam looked up at her face to thank her but paused when he saw the look of pure understanding on her face. He stared.
"I know, child, I know," she said, patting his knee. She then left him with his plate of food resting on his lap and his glass of water in his hand, jacket tucked behind him where no one else could touch it. For all that she was a calming presence, Sam was relieved to see her go. He always had the feeling that other people expected something of him, that they thought talking to him would make him feel better and that they were disappointed when it didn't. He wasn't much of a talker right now, anyway.
He sat and sipped his water for a while. He eventually gave up on the food and put the plate on the floor and then sat back in the chair, once again hugging the jacket to himself. He knew what he must look like, he knew that it was easy to guess who he was, even for the people who'd never seen him before. He was grateful to every single person in that building for not talking to him, not looking at him, not loudly broadcasting their thoughts of 'oh you poor boy, it must be terrible for you!' like the policewoman had. The one who'd thought he shouldn't be allowed to see his father and brother, that he wouldn't be able to handle it. The one he'd kicked pretty damn hard when she wouldn't let him go. The one he'd collapsed back into when he'd found out that she was right.
Sam got up and went to Pastor Jim, taking the jacket with him. Pastor Jim turned to him immediately, cutting off the conversation in the middle of a sentence, but the person he was talking to didn't seem to mind at all.
"Bathroom," said Sam.
"Upstairs, first door on your left," replied Pastor Jim. Sam nodded and followed his instructions and found himself in a white, pristine bathroom. One bath, one shower, one toilet, one sink, infinitely better than any motel bathroom. Sam felt out of place.
He locked the door behind him and carefully folded up the jacket, bowing his head into it one last time before he set it reverently on the toilet cistern. He lowered the lid and then backed up until his back was against the door. He stared at the jacket. "You can't stay like this forever," he heard his dad say.
Sam's face crumpled, he tried desperately to stop it, he wanted to look at the jacket, but the tears came fast and soon blurred out his vision. The shell of blankness that had formed within Sam was quickly cracking and falling apart, giving way to the gaping abyss he felt inside. He slid down the door and huddled into a ball, eyes still on the jacket. Tears ran freely and unnoticed down his cheeks as he let himself remember what had happened. His sobs were no longer silent but loud and they caught in his throat and soon he was screaming his discontent out to the world. He had no mind for the people downstairs who had all stopped talking to listen, only for himself and for that night.
His fingernails were digging into his arms, but he paid no attention to them. It hadn't meant to be a hard hunt. Dean wasn't even meant to get involved, just to watch, to learn. Two hours at the most, that was what his dad had said.
They'd been so much longer than two hours.
By three in the morning, Sam had worked himself into a frenzy. Hunts went on longer than expected sometimes, but not this long, not when they'd left Sam alone at the motel. Pastor Jim had been the first person he'd phoned. He'd promised that he'd get there as quickly as possible, but what if that wasn't quick enough?
Sam had called the police, because that was what they said to do at school. Dad had always said that the cops couldn't do anything, but what if they could this time? Sam had called them. He'd waited tearfully in the doorway of the room for them to come. He'd refused to tell them where to go unless they took him as well.
They'd sped to Burrow's Grove where dad had said they were going. Then the search had begun. Sam calling, screaming into the night because if they were there and they were fine, they would have shown themselves by now. A shout had come from a dense bush and Sam's heart had leapt, but no, it had been a police officer. He'd found something and it wasn't something good.
As soon as the nature of the discovery had been revealed, one woman had made it her life's mission to stop Sam from seeing it. Sam had fought and escaped, he was trained for this sort of thing. Training doesn't prepare you for everything, though.
His dad was lying at his feet, what was left of his dad. He could only tell it was John Winchester by the clothes he was wearing. And then, a little farther off, was Dean, stretched out, clutching the gun like it was a lifeline, completely untouched, completely unmoving. Sam couldn't move, could only stare.
The policewoman had taken him away again and held him while he screamed, cried, vomited and finally just fallen limp. The bodies, because that's what they were now, had been taken away to the morgue to have cause of death determined. John's was obvious, you only needed to see the body.
Dean's result came a little later. He'd died of an asthma attack. Panic-induced they said. That couldn't be right, Dean didn't panic. His asthma wasn't fatal. He'd faced all kinds of demons and spirits before and all he'd ever needed was one puff of his inhaler after any particularly hard fight and he'd be right as rain!
It wasn't right.
It wasn't fair.