|I Hear the Bells
Author: hionlife PM
Sometimes it’s a good day to die, and sometimes…it’s a good day to jump off a cliff. What happens when it's all over. Post Series, AU.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Dean W. & Sam W. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 8,050 - Reviews: 65 - Favs: 62 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 09-21-06 - Published: 09-12-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3151414
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
-Thanks again to everybody that reads. Makes me smile. I think I got to reply to everybody, but either yahoo is eating my emails or the alerts aren't working, cause I just realized there's some reviews that I never got emails for. Sorry if I missed you.
-Recently watched the movie "Smoke Signals" in a communications class, so there's a few references from that and a quote (which I really butchered by the way). If you've seen the movie, you'll recognize them, otherwise, don't worry about it. Doesn't really matter in context.
-Granted, this is not the end of thier story, I just wanted to give them a sort of happy ending. A possible end all. Sorry if it feels like a stretch. I'll say, not to be...proud or something, but this is probably one of my favorite things I've written. I hope you liked it too.
I Hear the Bells
The demon is just a dead smear in the rearview mirror.
John is finally at rest and Dean is who knows where.
Psychological worry literally made physical.
Strep throat is going around the dorms and the nurse quarantines Sam to his dorm room for a minimum of ten days. Three days in, he's climbing the walls, sweating with a fever, and chewing on throat lozenges like their candy.
He tries calling Dean again.
There's no answer, of course, and the message is the same as it's always been. Dean hasn't changed it yet. Not in the months after, probably not even in years.
Just the sound of his brother's voice, even and well and making himself available to help all sorts of people when he can't even answer the phone for his own brother, makes Sam's fevered blood boil.
"Hey Dean." He starts out calmly enough but his voice is hoarse and rough, breaking on every other word. "If you get this then you've probably gotten all of the other messages, too. And I have to say, bro, this disappearing crap is getting a little old. It's just like what Dad used to do and you hated that. So don't do this to me, okay? Don't do this. Dad's gone Dean, and you're it so just answer your goddamn phone already. I don't care what you're doing. I'm just worried. I--"
The phone beeps monotonely, cutting him off.
Sam sighs and tosses the phone onto his bed. He shuffles into the bathroom to splash some water on his face. It's hot in the dorm. Or maybe it's just the fever.
The faucet is loud and Sam's ears are ringing, but he still catches the vibrating buzz of his phone over that. He stumbles back into the other room with little grace.
"Dean?" He breathes roughly into the receiver.
"Hey Sammy," comes the soft reply.
Sam heaves a heavy sigh of relief and flops back onto his bed. "Damn you."
"I'm sorry," Dean says, sincere and quiet in a way that Sam doesn't often hear. He takes pause by it.
"It's alright." He breathes deeply, anger fading away with the reassurance that Dean is okay. Everything is okay.
"You don't have to cry." The familiar, teasing tone is back in Dean's voice.
"I'm not crying," Sam squeaks indignantly. "It's strep."
"Strep Throat?" Dean asks.
"No, Dean. Strep knee. It's this really terrible disease I have."
"Shut up, man. Are you okay? Are you at school?"
"Where else would I be?" Sam sits up slowly, realizing he should be the one asking the questions. "Where are you?"
"Indiana," Dean answers offhandedly. "How sick are you? You sound like hell."
"I'm fine. Just…a little warm."
"Did you go to a doctor?"
"Yeah, they gave me some stuff."
"Do I need to come get you?"
"This isn't kindergarten, Dean." Sam sighs. "Where would we go anyway?"
There's a long pause in which Sam can hear Dean moving around, maybe walking somewhere.
"I have a fence," he finally says.
"It ain't white and it ain't picket."
"What?" Sam stands up. "You bought a house?" His fevered brain doesn't find putting a house on a fake credit card quite so ridiculous.
"I didn't buy a house, Sam. How the hell would I do that?"
"You stole a house?"
"Sam?" Dean's voice is equal parts concern and exasperation. "You can't steal a house, you dork. That's not possible. Would have done it a while ago otherwise. Listen, I'm getting in the car right now. Give me a day to get there."
"You really don't need to. I can't go anywhere. I'm quarantined."
Over the phone line, a car door creaks shut and a roar follows as the engine turns over.
"Hang up the phone, Sammy," Dean says. "Lay down. I'll be there in awhile."
Sam does what his brother says without thinking, not realizing he's severed the first contact he's had with Dean in about a month. But with the phone still in his hand, he allows himself to smile. Dean sounds better. And he's coming back.
When there's a knock on the door the next afternoon, Sam figures it's Mike with some food. His roommate had been staying with friends for the past few days, but stopped by every so often.
Sam takes his time getting to the door. Muscles and bones aching as he gets up from the bed. He reaches for the doorknob, but before he can touch it there is a faint clink and click and then the door pops open in front of him.
Dean stands on the other side, grinning, credit card in hand. "Those are some cheap ass locks," he says.
"Hey." Sam exhales. "Yeah."
Dean ignores his astuteness and stalks into the room. "So, where's your stuff? What do you need?"
Sam watches him moving about the room, tangible and right in front of him. It's suddenly hard to remember the weeks he spent worried that he'd never even hear from his brother again. "Dean," he says as loudly as his swollen throat will allow.
Dean stops what he's doing and turns around.
"It's good to see you," Sam says.
"Yeah." Dean nods, eyes soft. "Yeah. Look, Sam. I'm sorry about that. I just…I had some stuff."
Sam watches him, eyes widening. He knows. He had stuff too. He had two months in bed worth of stuff. It sure is something to hear Dean say it though.
"So." Dean claps his hands anxiously. "Are you ready? Got your beauty kit packed yet, princess?"
"Funny," Sam remarks, knowing well enough not to force any more conversation. He opens the closet and tosses a few changes of clothes onto the bed. "How long is this going to be?"
Dean gathers the clothes into a pile and shoves them into a duffel bag. "As long as you want."
"The nurse said I'm going to be sick another week, at least."
"What, is she psychic?"
"It's a virus thing."
"Yeah, I know. You better sleep in the car, 'cause I don't think camping is a good idea when you're sick."
Sam turns around. "Camping?"
"My fence." Dean grins.
Sam isn't sure he wants to know.
It turns out there are still people in the world that deal in land.
John Winchester helped and saved many a soul in his time. There were a lot of people that owed him a favor and more than one had offered him a chunk of land as payment. Backwoods people, who had nothing but their pride and their land, offered him the one thing they could in thanks. A few acres.
John couldn't say that he needed it, but refusing it was out of the question. He knew a thing or two about pride and payment, so he took the grants and tucked them away, hoping they'd serve a purpose at some point.
In death, this land was passed over to Dean.
They're in southern Indiana, driving down a narrow gravel road, passing fields and trees, the pattern only broken by the occasional grazing animal. It's early evening when Dean suddenly jerks the wheel hard to the right and goes off road, bumping through an open field of weeds and grass.
"What are you doing?" Sam yells hoarsely, bracing himself on the dash.
In response, Dean grins and stomps on the gas, throwing up dirt behind them as the tires struggle for traction.
The field closes in on a line of trees, but there's a well worn space in the middle and Dean steers through it. On the other side of the tree line, the field opens up again, vast on all sides, green and misty gray. In the center, looking small and remote is a blue, nylon tent.
Dean pulls up right next to it and parks there in the dry dirt.
Sam is starting to think that this isn't such a good thing.
"So…this is it?" he asks carefully.
"Yep." Dean climbs out of the car and takes a deep breath of air.
Sam climbs out after him, stretching stiff muscles. With a smile, he takes note of the split-rail fence that runs around the edge of the field. Beyond the fence, high, leafy, green trees are shadowed by the setting sun. The air is clear and crisp.
Sam smiles. "It's…nice."
"Such enthusiasm." Dean smirks. He circles around the car and ducks into the tent for a second, coming back out with some newspaper and a lighter.
"It's just not what I expected," Sam says.
Dean kneels by a circle of rocks in front of the tent, a well-established fire pit, and begins to crumple the newspaper to start a fire. "Yeah, well, people were getting on my nerves."
"You needed a break."
"I needed to get away before I ended up shooting somebody in the face," Dean says seriously.
Sam nods. "Understandable, but…I thought you hated camping?"
"It's an acquired taste." Dean smiles. "Would you rather sleep in the car?"
Sam glances around the open, airy field once more. "No, this is good."
"Sure?" Dean glances up as the first wisps of fire illuminate his face. His tone is that of parental concern and genuine kindness, rolled into one word.
Sam feels his throat swell for reasons that have nothing to do with a virus. It's so rare that people take such pause and care for each other. This is what family is supposed to be. It's all that they have anymore.
"Yeah," he finds himself saying. "This is perfect."
Its still late September warm, but the fire burns all night and their sleeping bags are those sub-zero temperature types.
It's better than sleeping in the dorm, Sam decides. His head has even cleared and his throat doesn't feel like hot sandpaper anymore.
"Morning." Dean grins as Sam emerges from the tent.
He joins his brother by the fire, sitting Indian style. "You know, Dean," Sam observes quietly. "This is really Zen of you."
"Zen my ass," Dean replies. "Want some Spam?"
Sam grins and takes the offered breakfast, along with a cup of coffee.
"Sleep alright?" Dean asks.
"Yeah." Sam nods. "I feel better."
"Psychic nurse said you were going to be sick another week."
"Guess her clairvoyance is on the repair."
"Guess so." Dean sits forward anxiously. "Hurry up and eat. I want to show you something."
"Show," Dean repeats slowly. "Not tell."
Sam eats slower yet, chewing obnoxiously just to annoy him, but Dean is unfazed. He changes tactics. "So…" he starts, glancing about the field. "This is good?"
Dean eyes him suspiciously. "Yeah…"
"Better," Dean says decisively. "What about you?"
"I was asking about you."
"Yeah, well I'm asking about you."
Sam sighs. "I'm good, Dean, really. School is great. I've just been worried about you."
"Yeah, well, you don't need to be." Dean tosses the rest of his coffee into the grass and sets the mug down. "Listen Sammy. We're not going to talk about this. Probably not ever. Dad was Dad. For all his faults, he did what he had to do." He looks down and shakes his head. "I just don't want to talk about it anymore, alright? It's over. We're okay."
Sam watches his brother closely, a slow realization coming over him. "You forgive him," he says, his tone not quite a question.
Dean squares his shoulders. "I did that a long time ago."
As soon as he's done eating, Dean hauls Sam up and takes off across the field, dew grass soaking through their shoes.
There's something different about Dean. Good different, lighter different. But as his brother clambers over the fence, Sam notices the most glaring change.
"Dean?" he asks slowly.
"What's up?" Dean turns to make sure Sam is following, but his brother is just standing there, staring.
"You're wearing shorts," Sam says slowly.
"What about it?"
"You never wear shorts."
"So?" Dean shrugs defensively.
Sam smiles. "Nothing, man, nothing."
"Shut up, Sammy." Dean turns back toward the trees. "They're…convenient."
Sam laughs quietly, ducking under a branch. "Where are we going anyway?"
"This isn't going to be like the time with the Honeysuckle bush and the rabbits, is it? 'Cause I still have nightmares."
Dean has to stop walking to laugh, bent over with his hands on his knees. "Oh, man. That was funny."
"Traumatizing," Sam counters.
"They were rabbits, not werewolves."
"I was five."
"You knew I was scared of them."
"You got to face your fears sometime, Sammy."
Sam stops to stand beside Dean and squints up into the trees and sun. "Dad tore you apart for that one."
Dean smiles wistfully. "Yeah, he did." After a beat, he goes on. "I guess werewolves were okay. You just weren't supposed to be exposed to the evils of wild rabbits."
"Dad's logic at work."
"Writes like Yoda, thinks like Chewbacca."
Wrote, Sam thinks quietly. Thought. Out loud, he says, "Chewbacca was really smart."
"So was Dad."
"In his own way."
"Not unlike Chewbacca." Dean laughs again, but starts back through the trees.
He's still limping, Sam notices, watching him go, but not near so bad as before. It's odd, now that he can see Dean's knee. It looks fine, perfectly normal, not even a scar.
Some hurts, apparently, can remain hidden, even as they heal.
The dirt is firm clay beneath their shoes and the sun slants spotty through the trees. Up ahead, the branches open up though and Sam can see an edge where the dirt drops off at a cliff and hints of a valley beyond that. It's a view. Forest spreading out for miles beyond the edge, trees clustered like heads of broccoli.
"Here," Dean says with a nod. He veers a little to the left ahead of Sam and slips out of his shoes, bares toes leaving prints in the mud as he continues toward the edge.
"Dean?" Sam asks.
Dean ignores him and pulls his t-shirt over his head, discarding it on the forest floor, before quickening into a run.
Sam realizes his intentions just seconds too late.
Dean runs right off the edge of dirt, hanging in dead air for one long second and then falling, disappearing from Sam's view.
"Dean!" Sam yells. His heart suddenly thunders with fear and adrenaline as he dives after his brother, skidding to a halt at the edge, dirt crumbling away beneath his shoes. "Dean!"
A splash echoes up from below and then laughter, bouncing up off the trees and rocks.
Sam looks down and nearly faints with relief.
There's a large water hole, dark and deep, about thirty feet down, maybe even forty feet or more. It's hard to tell from above. It's a big jump, but apparently survivable.
Dean bobs in the water and thumps a fist against his chest. "Still tickin'."
"Lucky," Sam yells back, fear turning into annoyance. "You crazy bastard."
Dean laughs. "Scared you."
He did. He really did. And Sam's a little tired of being scared all the time.
You got to face your fears sometime, Sammy.
"What are you waiting for?" Dean yells, gesturing for Sam to come. "The water's fine."
Sam eyes the height warily. "Dean, I don't think…"
"Sammy, come on," Dean chides. He's grinning hugely, arms moving slowly to keep himself afloat. "You can do it."
When Sam hesitates a moment longer, Dean huffs impatiently. "Come on. You know, Sammy, sometimes it's a good day to die, and sometimes…it's a good day to jump off a cliff. Today is a good day to jump off a cliff."
Sam laughs at Dean's echoing words. If there were any hikers around, even miles away, they could probably hear him too, the way the forest seems to catch his words and toss them around. "What the hell does that even mean?" Sam yells back.
"It means quit thinking about it, quit talking about it. Just jump already."
Sam nods, assessing the height one last time and taking a deep breath. "Alright." He moves back from the edge, steps out of his shoes, and leaves his t-shirt strewn on the ground beside them. The autumn sun hits him hot right between the shoulders as he begins to run. Bare toes sticky with mud, arms swinging, he hits the edge, and jumps.
"Shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning, for shutting doors, for speaking through walls, or never speaking, or never being silent?
Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs?
Or in their deaths, saying it to them, or not saying it?
If we forgive our fathers…what is left?"
–Thomas Builds-the-Fire, "Smoke Signals"