A/N: Hello all!
This takes place after the recent episode, Season 9x14, because frankly I'm sick and tired of the brothers' relationship going to shit. Hopefully, you guys are too. So, this is my take on what the Winchesters would do if Dean lost his memory and it's Sam who has to care for Dean. It's not sappy but it is a chance to rebuild their relationship and fall in love in the process.
There will be SPOILERS, mentions of previous season, so readers you have been fair warned.
Chapter 1: A Not so Supernatural Accident
Kevin is right, their whole feud is stupid and Sam knows it. How are they supposed to fix things with each other though? Did Sam even want to?
After the door to the bunker is closed, Sam hears Dean say, "Well, that was," but Sam has already turned his back for the hall towards their bedroom and doesn't hear the rest of it. He doesn't want to hear what Dean has to say; he doesn't want to attempt to mend together what's been tearing them apart, and he doesn't know if he even wants to forgive Dean.
Sam stares at his door, hesitating to open it, because this is the first time he has blatantly walked away from Dean without a word. At the same time that there is guilt, there's also frustration coursing through Sam; he pushes it aside as he enters his dark room. Closing the door, he turns on the lights, sees the bedroom that isn't his and is his all at once.
There's discomfort and satisfaction when Sam takes it in. It's not the bedroom he's always wanted, but it's a Dean-less one, and Sam never usually gets what he wants anyways. Through the walls, he can hear the slam of his brother's door closing.
The next morning, they don't talk about it. Sam finds a case to make sure they don't talk about it, and Dean, thankfully, has complied. It's the usual with Sam riding shotgun and Dean cruising down the highway, both of them silent as radio tunes play.
They never make it to the next town though.
"Are you alright?!" Sam cradles Dean's head with one hand while the other grips the man's shoulders. Sam shakes him, fear in his voice and alarm in his eyes. It's like being back in Broward County, Florida again except this time there isn't any trickster god hanging around to point the finger at.
Red and blue lights flicker and sirens wail as they approach Sam, but the young Winchester barely registers the emergency crew until they are upon him, prying him from the still body. He lets them when he realizes he can't do a thing. Cuts and dislocated shoulders he can deal with, but being pulverized by a car? Sam is no doctor. Feeling helpless, he follows them wordlessly in to their vehicle.
Not a month, or a day really, goes by without incident for the Winchester brothers. Most times they were petty arguments between Sam and their sergeant-like father. Other times it's the bottomless loneliness Sam and Dean shared during their years apart while Sam was in Stanford. In the past nine years, it was about hunting the yellow-eyed demon, dealing with Sam going dark-side, saving Dean from Hell, trying to stop the Apocalypse, getting Sam's soul back, searching for Purgatory, stopping Castiel-gone- rogue, killing the Leviathans, trying to close Hell's Gates, and now Earth has become a battleground between all the major players of Heaven and Hell.
Life is a mess and it's clear that there is no escape. Not even from each other.
Sometimes, Sam thinks that if he and Dean weren't brothers, they wouldn't have experienced all their life tragedies and more. It is like a curse, being brothers. Belonging to a family is a curse. Making friends and loving people is a curse. Bottom line though, being human at all is a curse in itself. Yet there is hope for people unlike any other supernatural creature.
Despite being the most vulnerable to pain, possession, and temptation, they are also privileged. Salt and iron are everyday tools, and pentagrams do not trap them. They cannot be summoned through magic and they cannot be burned by holy water. If anything, humans are damned if not also favourites. After all, would God leave an Angel and Demon tablet on Earth just for kicks if not to allow people a chance against all that is at odds with them? God may have left the building, but Sam likes to hope that all is not lost.
However, what matters at the moment is not angels or demons duking it out. It's not about good and evil or even about the angel that had possessed him. No, what matters, as it always does, is Dean. Dean who he cannot trust anymore. Dean who begrudgingly agreed with Sam to not be brothers in the line of work. Dean who is in a hospital, connected to machines and wires and is as silent as a corpse. Dean who was hit by something as mundane and unsupernatural as a car. While he was crossing a mundane street. Back from his mundane task of giving Sam his morning coffee.
As he hunches over, elbows on his knees, looking at his brother's silent body, Sam thinks it's ridiculous. Sure they were hit by a truck before while in a car, but the driver had been possessed by a demon. Dean was hit by a drunk, a nothing but a human drunk, and therefore natural at that. Yet, it is the stupidest excuse in the world to end by in their business and Sam isn't entirely sure if he's ready to let Dean go if that's the case. He doesn't want to. Not again.
For what is probably the umpteenth time, deep-rooted guilt grasps Sam by the throat and chokes him. If he hadn't decided to work with Dean again after meeting sharp-teethed Garth, maybe they wouldn't be here.
Hell, Sam thinks. If we weren't, brothers—if we weren't family—if I hadn't been healed back to life—
Any finality to Sam's thoughts is swept aside as the man snaps his head towards Dean. Scraping his chair back, Sam stands up in a second, bending over the medical bed to see his brother more clearly, hands at the man's shoulder in a firm grip. Honestly speaking though, Sam just wants to make sure the first thing Dean sees is his lil' bro's face when the man wakes up.
"Dean," Sam says his voice cracking. It has been hours since he last spoke with the doctor. He knows his brother broke a few bones, but what worries Sam the most is the concussion. Dean hasn't woken up in over twelve hours. "Dean? Are you alright?" Sam asks. His right hand slips from the man's shoulders to his neck until his thumb rests at the bottom of Dean's jaw. Absentmindedly, he strokes the stubble that has been growing there. They are all practiced motions from the many times Dean has landed himself unconscious in the hospital; all for the reasons of hunting and equally just as much for Sam.
Dean groans again. He frowns and blinks furiously against the light, but Sam can see his brother's eyes slowly focusing and it's easily one of the more wonderful parts of Sam's life, despite their recent rocky relationship.
"Hey, you alright man?" Sam asks again, a breath of relief escaping him. His brother is fully awake now.
"Yeah…yeah, I'm alright," Dean answers squirming in what seemed to be away from Sam.
Relieved, the younger Winchester sighs, pats the man, and smiles as his hands slides away from Dean's jaw line. He sits back in his chair rubbing his face. "Good. You were out for hours, Dean, and not the beauty kind of sleep either. The doctors said there might be side effects from your concussion but—"
So far so good, was what Sam was about to say, but he is swiftly cut short.
"Wait, who's Dean?" the man asks struggling to sit up. He winces at the effort. "And while we're at it—ah shit," he grumbles, rubbing his head, "—who are you?"
Sam goes rigid in his chair. He snaps his eyes to Dean to see if he was serious. "Dude, don't joke with me here." He sees his brother's pallid face though; the scrunch in the man's brows, the slightly parted lips, and Sam knows before he is even given an answer.
"Is this a face of a joker?" Dean sounds almost angry. "Who's Dean and who are you?"
A dozen thoughts flash through the younger Winchester's mind. He knew the possible consequences of the concussion, amnesia being one of them, but he never thought that he could hurt that hard from hearing a few simple words; whoever said that, "words will never hurt me," clearly hasn't been a Winchester. Sounding almost shell-shocked, Sam responds. "Dean's your name. I'm Sam. Your brother."
All that flashes across Dean's face though is anxiety and confusion. There's no time for further discussion because right then, Dr Nicks, whom Sam spoke with earlier, comes walking right in with a clipboard. He's a tall elderly man with greys in his hair and wrinkles carved into his skin.
"Ah, it's nice to see you awake, Mr…Floyd Nugent," Dr Nicks says after glancing at his clipboard. He stands opposite where Sam is sitting and asks Dean, who frowns at the younger man, "How're you feeling?"
"I'm sorry, what's my name?" Dean asks turning to the Doctor, and Sam feels his stomach sink just a little lower.
"Floyd Nugent," the Doctor repeats over his spectacles. "Oh dear. Looks like the concussion has done a lot more damage than I thought if you can't remember who you are. What's the last thing you can recall?"
Dean's brows knit together. "I don't know… Just waking up here I guess."
"You were in an accident, Floyd. This gentleman rode with you here to the hospital. Do you remember him?"
Sam wants to punch the doctor for even bringing up the question because he sees the look of distrust on Dean's face again. That look of unrecognition towards him. So, he steps in hoping to deter any more misunderstandings.
"Look, Dr Nicks, I've already been through with Floyd with who I am. Just tell me, is this going to be permanent?"
"I can't say for sure. Patients have had temporary memory loss while others have been permanent. We will keep Mr Nugent here for the time being until he is well enough to leave and see if his memory will slowly come back."
Sam hopes so, but he can't afford to stay in the hospital for any longer than necessary. Not with angels and demons looking for them and Crowley and Abbadon on the loose. "Thank you Dr Nicks."
"It's not a problem Mr Paige." Sam flinches at the name as the doctor continues, "I will be checking up on you later Mr Nugent." And just like that, he leaves without another word.
Not a moment is spared after the doctor leaves. "So…if my name is Dean, then why did Dr Nicks call me Floyd?" Dean asks. The suspicion is clear in his voice as he stares Sam down. "And as if we're brothers. We don't even have the same last name!"
"Dean, just calm down," Sam tries, fleeting thoughts from before being recalled. He can start fresh—a life with no relation to Dean—but Sam pushes it aside. His brother may not remember now but maybe he will later. In the meantime, Sam has to convince the man that he's telling the truth. "Your real name is Dean and I am your brother. You have to trust me on this."
"And why should I do that?"
Sam doesn't blame the scepticism in Dean's voice; if their situation is reversed, Sam wouldn't believe Dean either. It's just a part of who they are to not trust people easily.
"Because I wouldn't lie to you about being brothers! And frankly, I'm just plain tired of all the lies and secrets between us already!" Sam is downright frustrated by now. The only relationship he has managed to keep, albeit hanging by a thread, is being threatened by none other than the one who holds the other end of it. But then again, it was Sam who didn't want to be brothers anymore, not while hunting at least. However, this is different because at least Sam knows what they meant to each other then, what Dean still means to him now, and it's obviously a one-sided feeling on Sam's part. He isn't used to it.
"Then why do we have different last names? We're long lost brothers or something from different families?" Dean asks, without an ounce of hesitation. His eyes are still narrowed and Sam can only feel more frustration accumulating within him.
"They're aliases Dean. You made them up."
"Why do we need aliases?" Then Dean inhales sharply. His next words are hushed as his eyes dart around the room, landing at the open door. "Are we…criminals?"He nearly whispers.
Despite all his frustration, Sam laughs. "Try hunters, Dean."
"…Why do we need aliases for that?"
It was a simple question, really, but it dawns on Sam the extent and severity of Dean's amnesia. If his brother can't remember being a hunter, he won't remember much anything else. Not their mother, their father, and all the moments they saved each other—what they are to each other. Being a hunter is Dean's life. And begrudgingly Sam's as well. How could it be forgotten so easily?
"Shit," the younger Winchester mutters. He gets up, and closes the door to their room. He needs Castiel ASAP.
"Hey, what're you doing?" Dean asks with a certain panic to his voice.
"Shut up, Dean. I'm going to pray." And Sam does under his breath. No later than ten seconds later, Castiel appears with a subtle rush of wind right beside Dean's bed.
The wayward angel leaves no room for silence as soon as he spots the brothers. "Sam, I've been looking for you two—"
At the voice, Sam turns his head sharply towards Dean, who's looking at the angel with surprise. The bewildered man asks again, "You're Cas, right?"
Castiel blinks, his jaw firm as he slightly tilts his head with uncertainty. "Of course I am. Why do you ask Dean?"
"So my name is Dean."
It stings a little for Sam to watch the exchange. How could Dean recognize the angel right off the bat while he doubted Sam, his own brother? He can't help but snap, "That's what I've been trying to tell you this entire time!"
"Whoa, calm down there, Sasquatch," Dean says raising his brow, one hand up in gesture of defense. He looks at the angel. "Hey, Cas, who is this man anyways?"
"Dean…this man is your brother, Sam," Castiel answers, looking more confused than before. He turns to the younger Winchester. "Sam, what's wrong with—"
"Oh, so you believe a man who just popped out of nowhere rather than me, your own brother?" Sam interrupts as soon as he sees that Dean has taken Castiel's words to heart. He doesn't want to admit it, but Sam is feeling more hurt by the minute. He spent hours watching over Dean, waiting for him to wake up, waiting for any sign really. And this is the result? To be forgotten? While Castiel is easily remembered?
Despite the absurdity, Sam feels betrayed. Even when Dean had his memories, the lack of trust was present then as it is now only the emotional damage is more severe.
Dean is quiet for a moment, taking in Sam's words. "I don't know. I can't help it if I don't remember you. I'm sorry…Sam." The look the man sends the younger Winchester is apologetic, but Sam is relieved to even just hear his name on his brother's lips again.
"…No, don't apologize. I'm just overreacting…Cas," Sam says turning to the angel. He shouldn't be overreacting since Dean can be fixed—or at least Sam hopes the amnesia is reversible. "We can't stay here long. Can you heal him and bring back his memories?"
Castiel frowns in a way only the fallen angel could frown, with brows scrunched, lips tight in all seriousness, and still managing a look of juvenile curiosity. "I can heal the broken bones, yes, but I can't reverse the memory loss."
"Whoa, whoa—what kind of healing?!" Dean asks trying to squirm away, "Who are you, people?!"
Sam ignores the protest. "What do you mean you can't? You've erased people's memories before!"
"Memories are a fickle thing, and erasing isn't the same as bringing back, Sam. I can't retrieve what's already lost," Castiel, answers sternly. "Give it some time. Perhaps Dean's memory will naturally return. I will heal his injuries though."
"Hey, you're not touching me you—"
"Dean, he's an angel. He'll heal you in no time flat and then we can get out of here," Sam says impatiently. He slumps back in his chair, yet again helpless, watching Castiel place two fingers against Dean's forehead. Light shines at the point of contact, flooding the room for a split second as bones are heard cracking into place. After the light disappears, so does the sickly colour in Dean's face. Tan replaces it, comforting Sam in a little way.
"Wow…that was weird," Dean mutters wide-eyed. He straightens his posture though and looks at the bedside angel. "Thank you…?"
Staring down, Castiel responds with a small awkward quirk of his lips, "You're welcome, Dean."
"Huh. I always thought angels were more…angelic. And less constipated looking."
Tired of watching the two converse and just tired of being in the hospital for a lifetime, Sam stands up with a huff. "Hate to break it to you Dean, but most of them are just dicks. Now, get dressed. We need to get outta here before trouble comes and finds us."
Sam raises his brow at his brother's outburst. Moments earlier, Castiel had brought them to their bunker through just touching them. Dean hadn't dressed in his old clothes however, blood staining his shirt and some parts of his jeans being a few of the reasons. From what Sam can see, the older man is simultaneously surprised by the teleportation and the room they are in.
"This is awesome! Where are we?" Dean asks, spinning around to face Sam with a face brighter than the few times Sam had seen since Gadriel left his body.
Amused by the sight of his barefooted and hospital gown adorned brother in such a formal setting, Sam snickers. The older man is the spitting image of vulnerable. It's not like Sam hasn't seen his brother walking around in nothing but a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers; the domesticity of it has always comforted the younger man and unsettled him at the same time, because while Dean made the bunker his home, Sam still has his doubts about it himself. He answers, "We're home," before he can stop himself though.
"We live here?" Dean exclaims appreciatively with a whistle. "This is great! It's just like the Batcave."
"There are no bats in here," Castiel states from beside Dean. Disappointment could be heard clearly in his tone of voice. "I've already checked."
"Dude," Dean laughs and claps Castiel several times on the shoulder before eyeing Sam, "are all angels as clueless as him?"
Sam shrugs, trying to ignore the tug of frustration that arises from watching Dean's casualness towards the angel, and settles in to the library chairs. Dean didn't even try touching Sam—not once since the man had even woken up.
"Cas has always been a bit special," the younger man replies calmly, "even amongst the other angels. You, on the other hand, look ridiculous in that get up." Sam gestures to all of Dean, who just grins and walks away for further exploration. For an amnesiac, Sam admits his brother is doing pretty well with all the unorthodoxy of his situation.
"Cas, can you leave us alone for a minute?" Sam asks, looking expectantly at the angel.
"Of course," and then with the sound of beating invisible wings filling the air, Castiel disappears.
Curious about the sudden need for privacy, Dean stares at Sam. Another frown graces his features as he stands awkwardly by the library table. "What is it?" he asks.
The younger Winchester exhales a breath, motions his older brother to sit, before he starts talking. He's thought about it, put the unintentional betrayal into the back of his mind, and comes to the conclusion that maybe this is his second chance—a chance to not be brothers with Dean—a chance not to screw up with each other and everyone else; all Sam has to do is draw a line between them again.
If somewhere in the middle Dean does get his memories back, then Sam will face the consequences later. Right here and now is the more important issue.
Decided, Sam leans across the table on his elbows, where Dean has settled opposite of him, and begins with all seriousness, "Look, I know I said I'm your brother but we aren't actually that close." A lie, but a necessary one. Their bond is special, unlike any other brothers and unlike any other family, but it's because it's so special that it's also destructive; Sam knows that.
Dean raises a brow and slowly nods his head. "Makes sense. Explains why I didn't recognize you when I woke up. Guess you weren't that important to me."
At that, Sam bristles and swallows his disagreement. He shoves the negative emotions away, fingers tensing from their position at halfway across the table. "That's right...we argued a lot, never saw eye to eye…" he says through clenched teeth before returning to his normal voice. "We had an unhealthy relationship," he sums up; all true too. People have often said enough that their codependency has been detrimental.
"Ok…so why are we living together? And why were you all over my face at the hospital?" Dean asks, his brows nearly touching.
Sam scoffs and feels like a child again as he retreats back from the table. "I was so not all over your face."
"Uh, yes you were. Your gigantor forehead was the first thing I saw. Then your nose. Anyways, answer the damn questions!"
Huh, Sam had been hoping Dean saw his eyes first. He rolls his shoulders though and shrugs it off, trying not to feel self-conscious about his forehead. "I was at the hospital because despite our bad relationship, I'm not a jackass. I still care about you," Sam explains, "As for living together, it's safer under this roof. It's dangerous out there. The kind of hunting we do isn't exactly a deer and moose chase, Dean."
At that, the older Winchester gives Sam a pair of curious and sceptical eyes. "…And what exactly do we hunt?"
There is no need for the other man to know about the Yellow-Eyed demon, about their Mom or Jess, or even Bobby and Kevin, Sam thinks. Dean doesn't need any more burdens, or guilt trips, and neither does Sam, in the meantime at least; he doesn't know how long the amnesia will last.
Sam answers readily, briefly wondering if he should pull out a few books to show his brother. "Ghosts, vampires, werewolves—you name it. Even demons and angels." Which is essentially the family business, a tiny detail that Sam decides to forego.
Dean slowly nods, and then blinks hard. "Wait—even angels? What about Cas?" He asks alarmed. "He's good right?"
Sam chuckles. "Don't worry about Cas, he's on our side. I can't say that for sure for the rest of them though." And as Sam explains the fallen angels and their factions, never mind how they fell, he also fills Dean in on Abbadon and Crowley and their search for the First Blade.
Watching his brother contemplate and take in their situation, he's prepared when Dean asks, "Why are you telling me all this?"
"I know it's a lot to take in, but you accepted Cas pretty easy. Besides, there's no point in keeping it from you. You're gonna have to go out eventually and you're going to need to be prepared. Plus, you have the mark of Cain there," Sam points to the red-wing-like burn mark on Dean's right inner forearm, "and the only person who can use the blade, according to yourself at least, is the one who wears that mark."
"Cain, as in Cain and Abel?" After Sam nods, Dean stares at it pondering out loud, "How did I get it?"
Sam stiffens. Dean never told him how he got it, just that it was necessary to use the First Blade. "You didn't tell me how. We…weren't really on speaking terms." And Sam truly does want to know because Dean having the mark of the first murderer can't possibly be a good thing. Factor in the murdered was Cain's own brother and Sam gets a sick feeling in his stomach. The comparison hits too close to home for his liking.
"And now?" Dean asks.
"Now is different. You're not yourself," Sam explains leaning back in his chair and resting his hands over his lap. "So, if you have any more questions, just ask me."
"Alright, well everything just sounds downright crazy so far," Dean admits. He briefly glances around before he fixes them on Sam, his aloof expression suddenly serious, "but I only believe you and Cas because you're my brother and he's an angel and you guys are the only people I have right now. But if I find out any of this is a lie, brother or not, you're going to regret it."
For a moment, Sam's blood runs cold because the look Dean has given him is one never directed at him before. It's dangerous, void of any wonder or amusement, and even though Dean has no recollection of hunting, Sam can see the man he knows as his brother—the hunter underneath who means business.
Barely suppressing a shiver, Sam nods his head in understanding. He's only left out a few details and hasn't actually lied; if Dean calls him out on that when his memories are back, then Sam will deal with it when they get there. "I'll take your word for that, Dean."
"Good. Now where can I get some grub around here?" Dean asks, face sliding back to friendly. "I'm starving!"