Facing the Truth
By: Ridley C. James
Author's Notes: I wasn't planning on this chapter, but someone mentioned that they'd love Dean's view, so here goes.
P.S. This is my take on what could happen with the whole issue of the episode Faith. If you haven't seen any spoilers for it, I hope this doesn't confuse. Chapter 2 is proudly sponsored by all the really sweet reviews from Ch. 1. Thanks a bunch.
Marilyn Castle was lost in thought, gazing out the window at the quickly fading Texas sun, when a soft knock at her door brought her back to the piles of client files on her desk. "I should at least look like I'm working," she told Marshall, who glanced up from his task of chewing the head off his latest squeak toy. Apparently, he had no problem slacking on the job.
"Come in," she called, after picking up the top file and pretending to flip through it.
"Is this a bad time?" The voice was vaguely familiar, but the ruggedly handsome face peering at her from around her door wasn't ringing any bells.
Then the kid smiled and it hit her like a ton of bricks. He had a great smile, just like his brother. "Dean," she stood, hiding her shock, "please, come in."
In her defense the last time she'd seen the poor boy he had just awoken from surgery, was black and blue, and half his face was swollen to twice it's normal size. Now, five days later, he was definitely much improved. "I must say that you are looking a lot better than you were the last time that I saw you, young man."
Dean walked completely in the room and closed the door behind him. "I'm not sure if that's saying much."
Marilyn laughed. The resemblance to his brother was subtle, but the striking features were there. He wasn't as tall and his build was more athletic than lanky like Sam's. His hair was lighter and shorter, and he had a confident James Dean swagger about him. Definitely different than his kid brother's shy demeanor. She had heard through the typical rumor mill that the Winchester men had struck quite a tune with the nursing staff and she could understand why. In her younger years, she might have joined in on the 'hottie" watch. Hell, even Dr. Greene had admitted to having a man crush. Of course, Marilyn believed that had more to do with what Ben referred to as their "tricked-out ride", than the boys themselves, but still.
"Please, have a seat." She motioned to one of the chairs by the window and then proceeded to the one facing it.
Dean cast a quick, unsure glance around the room. Shrinks made him nervous as hell. The office was full of toys and beanbags, and had a strange smell to it, but at least there wasn't some freaky leather couch anywhere around. "Thanks. Dr. Howards finally gave me the clean bill of health today."
Marilyn sat down and smiled warmly at the young man. "I take it that you're leaving us then."
Dean gingerly sat down, his hand reflexively going to his side. He was still surprised at how much he hurt. "Yeah, just waiting on Sam to get back with some things we needed." Things being money. It was a good that Sam did learn how to hustle pool, even if he hadn't liked it, or they'd never have covered the first payment on the medical bills. Dean would be sure to rub that in as soon as they were on the road. Of course his brother had picked up a day job at a local construction site too, which Dean wasn't too happy about, considering Sam was still recouping himself. They could have just left, sneaked out in the middle of the night, but Sam wouldn't hear of it.
I haven't seen your brother around much since that first night. I hope he's doing as well as you appear to be."
"Yeah, he's good. Just been busy tying up some loose ends." And driving me crazy, hovering.
"Not tying up anything or anyone sinister, I hope?" Dean avoided her dark gaze, and Marilyn was more than slightly amused at the mixture of panic and surprise that crossed his handsome features. "Your brother told me that you two are amateur detectives."
"Detectives?" Dean nearly choked on the word. Sam could sometimes come up with off the wall explanations for their lifestyle.
Marilyn waved her hand in the air. "Detectives, bounty hunters, what have you. Let's just say that he eluded to the fact that you all have very interesting lives."
"Yeah," Dean cleared his throat and twisted the ring on his right hand around his finger. It was a habit he had when he was nervous, and it didn't go unnoticed by Dr. Castle. "Uh, I just wanted to come by and thank you for staying with Sam while I was in surgery."
He swallowed hard, cursing the medicines that were still making him loopy, and way too emotional. "He's...well, I just usually...you know..."
"You usually take care of him." Marilyn did know. Sam had made it crystal clear exactly what Dean did for him.
"Yeah," Dean ducked his head, a slight blush creeping onto his still bruised face. "I mean, I know he's not a kid or anything. He's a grown man and more than capable of taking care of himself. I trust him with my life." Dean shook his head slightly. "He's too damn smart for his own good sometimes."
Marilyn smiled. So, Sam wasn't the only one who thought that they had the best brother this side of Mars.
"It's just that he's my responsibility, and I'm sure he would have been fine on his own, but I'm glad that someone was there when I couldn't be
and I ..." Dean couldn't stop the image of his brother lying at the mercy of the demon from flashing through his mind. He rubbed at his head, just above the bandage that still rested on his forehead. He winced. "I'm just glad that he wasn't alone, and..."
Marilyn decided to rescue the poor boy from his own rambling. "You're welcome, Dean." Marilyn appreciated the fact that the simple display of courtesy and appreciation wasn't at all simple or easy for the young man in front of her. "I'm afraid that I didn't do a lot really. Sam just joined me for coffee."
"Sam can get freaked out when it comes to people getting hurt. He's pretty sensitive about all this stuff, so you probably did a lot more than you think."
"He adores you, that much is obvious." Marilyn shrugged, "So, I think his 'freaking out' was perfectly justifiable. He was afraid he was going to lose you."
When Dean only stared at her, she continued. "It's not easy when people depend on you and it's really bad when they do, and you're not able to be there when they need you."
His reply surprised her a little. "Sometimes, it's not easy to be there." Where the hell had that come from. Dean glanced away from the doctor. It had to be the damn drugs.
Marilyn tilted her head slightly, trying to catch his gaze again. "Especially when you're just a kid."
"Sam told you about that?"
"Sam told me that you saved his life and then practically raised him."
Dean shook his head. Did he also tell you that I could leap buildings in a single bound? Sometimes he wasn't sure where his geek brother got some of the crazy ideas that he pulled out of Swiss-cheesed memory. "Nah, my old man raised us both."
"Sam mentioned that, but he said that your dad worked a lot."
"Yeah, but most parents do these days, especially if they're alone."
"Some choose to."
"Dad didn't have much of a choice." None of them did. "Sometimes life just dictates what you do."
Marilyn raised a brow, "Like you taking care of your brother?"
"It wasn't a death sentence." Dean wasn't sure why people thought that the fact he took care of Sam was such a big deal. "I liked taking care of Sam." Sure sometimes he was a pain in the ass and there were times when Dean would have rather been out with his friends, or on a date, but for the most part he wouldn't change anything he'd done in his past. Especially anything concerning Sam.
"I'm sure you did. Sam is great, and I have an idea that the way Sam turned out is in large part due to you."
Dean laughed. "No. Sam is our dad made over. They are so much alike. That's why they were constantly at each other's throat."
Sam had told her that he and his father had been at odds a lot while he was growing up. It seemed that Dean didn't have that same experience. "It must have been hard to play the peackeeper. I bet you got caugh in the middle sometimes."
Marilyn watched as Dean glanced out the window. She had a hunch that he wasn't merely mulling over the orange and pink skyline beyond them.
"Sometimes." Dean remembered one particular fight when Sam and John had disagreed on a hunt. He'd ended up in the middle all right. In the middle of a bloodbath.
They were on a hunt and Sam had researched the area for days, and he was sure that one thing was going on, while his dad had been just as sure it was another. They were so busy fighting each other, that they'd left Dean unprotected. In the end, they'd both been wrong, and Dean had almost been killed.
It was the closest he'd ever seen the two of them come to exchanging blows. If that had happened, Dean wasn't sure what he'd have done. Probably, what he'd always done. Defend Sam. No one touched his baby brother, not even their dad. Not that John would ever hurt Sam, on the contrary, he was crazy about him, and almost as protective of him as Dean was.
He pulled himself from his musings to find Marilyn still patiently watching him. "Sam doesn't really remember what Dad was like before..." He caught himself, before he could say it.
"Before your mother died."
Again, Dean found himself surprised. His little brother seemed more capable of talking about that part of their past than he did, but this woman was a complete stranger. Maybe it was because he didn't remember any of it. Maybe Sam could distance himself from the pain. Damn, he was glad Sam didn't remember. "Yeah, John was different then."
Marilyn nodded in understanding. "Death changes people. When someone that close to us dies, they take a part of who we are with them. Sometimes, they take the best part."
It was true that the biggest part of the father he had worshipped for five years disappeared with his mom that night, but Dean didn't blame John for that. He blamed the Evil behind it all. "Dad just did what he had to do."
Marilyn hadn't missed the fact that Dean was much quicker than Sam to defend their father. "It must have been hard to deal with your mother's death, with your dad so wrapped up in his own grief and pain."
Dean looked puzzled for a moment. "Dad did the best thing he could have done for me." His gaze held Marilyn's. "I don't blame him for anything he did. I don't have a reason to be angry with him, no matter what my brother might think. He gave me everything he had, everything that I needed." Dean's hazel eyes glistened with an emotion so deep as he spoke that Marilyn could feel her own heart ache for the little boy she could sense trapped inside. "He gave me Sam."
I doubt it. No one understood what Sam was to him. Not even Sam, maybe he didn't even understand it himself. All he knew was that ever since Sam had been born, even before their mother's death, he'd felt an almost desparate, innate, calling to protect his brother. "I'm not saying Sam is my life, but he, well, he..."
"Gives you a purpose?" Marilyn understood that feeling. She'd been a parent, after all. She'd loved someone so unconditionally, that she would have walked infront of anything to protect him. Marilyn also knew how risky it was to identify so completely with another. It was one of those blessing/curse ironies in life that really could kick you in the ass.
"How sad is that?"
It wasn't the heartbreaking sincerity of the words so much as it was the imploring look on his face that had Marilyn aching for the young man again.
"I don't think it's sad at all, Dean. I think it's quite beautiful."
If he'd had the energy, Dean would have been pacing. The sluggishness that had rested over his body like a fog, was another side effect of the medicines that he hated. "Beautiful. Right." The young hunter looked down at his hands. How could he make her understand this?
"There was this one time we were living in some run down trailer park in Arkansas, and I guess I was about fifteen. Sam made friends with this kid a few trailer down from us."
Dean could see Zach's face as if it were only yesterday. He was a scrawny kid a couple of years younger than Sam. What he remembered most though were his vacant eyes, and the bruises he always had.
"Sam was always bring home strays when we were kids. Cats, birds, you name it. If it was sick or hurt or lost my brother wanted to save it."
"I can see that." And Marilyn could. In the short time she'd spent with Sam, it was obvious to her that he was capable of great caring. Dean might have been born to wear the tough guy mask of indifference, but his brother wore his heart on his sleeve.
Dean looked up at her. "Sam came home from playing one day and he had a black eye and busted lip." The damn image was one of many burned into Dean's memory. Sam in spite of his 6'4'' stature these days, had been a small kid. His clothes never seemed to fit right and his long brown hair always managed to be hanging in his expressive brown eyes. He was like an adorably cute puppy in the pet store window. No one could deny him much, not John, and certainly not Dean.
So, seeing little Sammy with his favorite Spiderman shirt torn and splattered with blood, and his eye quickly swelling to one hell of a shiner, understandably sent his big brother Dean over that invisible edge.
"Did he and the little boy get into a fight?" Marilyn hadn't missed the fact that Dean had clenched his hands into fists and his warm hazel eyes had grown hard and distant.
He shook his head. "No. I knew Zach wouldn't have been able to get the best of Sam." His kid brother might have been small and too kind for his own good sometimes, but he'd been trained by one of the best. John Winchester had taught his boys to defend themselves against the worst evil that could be conjured. No eight year-old could have hurt Sam.
"It was the kid's old man." Dean had known the guy was bad news. John had told them both to stay away from the place, but Sam had begged Dean to go and play with Zach when their father was working, and telling Sam no just wasn't as easy as their father made it look. "He came home from work early one day when Sam was there."
Marilyn was a firm believer in the idea that everyone had those moments in their lives when they made a choice that would shape, or change, who they were forever. She was sure Dean was about to give her a glimpse at just such a moment in his. "I imagine that you and your father were very upset."
Dean looked at her as if she had just said that Angelina Jolie was somewhat attractive. "I lost it." He looked back down at his hands. "Dad was working late, and Sam was bleeding, and crying, and I didn't know what to do."
"What did you do, Dean?"
"I found the bastard drinking it up with some of his buddies, watching a football game." Zach had apparently made the mistake of walking in front of the TV and his dad had felt the need to get him out of the way by backhanding him across the room. Sam had inadvertently gotten in the way, while trying to help. The old man had actually grinned when he told Dean that his shrimp of a baby brother needed to learn how to respect his elders.
"Did he admit to hurting Sam?"
Dean nodded. "Did I mention that Mr. White Trash weighed about 260 and had to duck just to get through his doorway?"
Marilyn sighed. Unfortunately, the cruelties of what a parent could afflict on a child didn't surprise her. She'd worked with far too many children to have retained that innocense. "Did you tell your father?"
"The police did." Dean swallowed hard. "After they arrested me."
No, Dean really didn't think she did. "I beat him until I could't feel my fists any longer, and I took his friends out too, because they were there, and they didn't do anything to stop it." The admission was said calmly and with a matter of fact air.
Marilyn had heard bravado before, but that wasn't the impression she was getting from Dean. It was hard to imagine a fifteen year-old taking on three full grown men, but something in Dean's eyes told her that he was more than capable. He wasn't bragging, he was just telling her like it was. A chill raced its way down her spine. So, the brothers were more different than she had previously thought. "What stopped you?"
"Sam." The name sounded almost like a prayer when he said it, and it had Marilyn rethinking her previous assumption. Dean's eyes glistened as he met her gaze. "Sam stopped me."
Okay, so maybe they weren't so different after all. "He must have been very frightened."
"All I could think about was the fact that this man had hurt my brother. I wanted to kill him, would have killed him." He shook his head. "That's not beautiful."
Marilyn started to reach out and lay a hand on his arm, but rethought her decision. This wasn't Sam she was dealing with. "Dean, someone once said love causes people to do great, beautiful, terrible things. And it's true. Love is the most powerful emotion that I have encountered. It can move mountains, and it can destroy kingdoms. Who is to judge what we do in the name of something so extraordinary."
Dean swallowed hard, fighting with the emotions swirling through his aching head. Was that it? He did love Sam. He didn't say it often. Hell, hadn't said it since they were kids, maybe. But he felt it. Every single day he felt it. He loved Sam more than he wanted to.
"I can't let anything happen to him."
Marilyn wasn't sure if Dean was more motivated by that creed, or if he was trapped by it. Was he justifying his life, or merely explaining it? "Sometimes, Dean, we can't stop bad things from happening." She'd seen so many desparate people try. "It's out of our hands."
Dean shook his head. She didn't get it. Sam's life had been in his hands since the day John Winchester placed him in Dean's arms and told him to run.
He was still running. He didn't know how to stop running.
"You don't get it, Doc. Sam expects me to have all the answers." The scary thing was, Dean felt completely clueless most of the time.
Marilyn felt for the kid, not for the first time. It was obvious that as much as Sam's biggest fear was losing Dean, Dean's biggest fear was letting Sam down.
"I think you are too hard on yourself, son."
"I screw up a lot when it comes to being his brother." Dean knew that the doctor didn't know how many times Sam had been hurt. She didn't see his face after Jessica. She didn't have to live with the nightmares that tore him from forgiving sleep every night. "I've messed up. A lot."
Sam wanted a normal life and despite Dean's feelings on that subject, he wanted to give his brother whatever he wanted. But they kept getting pulled in deeper. Dean only wanted to find John, so that Sam wouldn't be alone. He wanted him to be protected. But now Sam was having wierdo visions that kept coming true and Dean was finding it hard to quiet the voices that always screamed at him that something wanted Sam.
"Dean, we all make mistakes, but from what you've told me, all you've ever done is care and protect Sam to the best of your ability. Trust me, he doesn't believe you've messed up at all."
"But could he forgive me for leaving him alone? Would he be alright with that?"
Marilyn had the sudden realization that Dean hadn't merely came to see her to offer a thanks. He wanted to know what his brother could handle. He wanted what many people did, a reassurance.
"I mean that's what you do right?" Dean waved his hand around the room. "Sam said that you counseled people who are dying, or who have lost their families. You help them get through it, like that Kubler Ross lady."
Marilyn was slightly confused at the sudden change in subject and even more surprised that muscle car driving Dean, self proclaimed chick-magnet, Winchester even knew who Elizabeth Kubler Ross was. "I do work with patients and their families, Dean, but there is no cure for grief or loss, hon. It's a long process."
He looked so lost and disappointed at that moment, that Marilyn rushed to offer him something. "I can tell you that your brother loves you very much. It's obvious to me that he would be devastated to lose you, but that's a moot point, seeing as how Dr. Howards has given you a clean bill of health. Right?"
"Doctors can miss things." Especially if they didn't know what they were looking for. This woman worked with cancer patients everyday. Didn't she understand that? He wasn't going to explain it to her. If he couldn't tell Sam what was going on, he sure the hell wasn't going to tell some damn shrink.
Marilyn felt her heart drop. Oh no. How could she have missed it. "Dean, if you're sick..."
"I know how I want to live my life." Dean held up his hand to halt the protest he saw forming in the warm, sympathetic, gaze. "I need time to find my father. To make sure he and Sam are okay. My family comes first."
Marilyn remembered the story that Sam had told her about Dean and his broken arm. "You don't want to leave Sam alone."
There was no doubt reflected on his face, all insecurity faded. "I can't leave him alone. I won't."
The doctor leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. She didn't know where all this was coming from, but she had a pretty good idea. "What do you want from me, Dean?"
"I want to know how Sam will handle my death. I mean, if I die, will he be okay? You've spent time with him, and you're an expert. I want the truth."
Marilyn felt her eyes fill. Anyone who said therapists should remain distant observers had obviously never sat with someone in terrible pain and anguish. She had heard Dean's question from so many, but never had it held the intensity that it so obviously did for Dean. "The truth is I don't know, Dean. The truth is that nobody can give you what you're looking for."
It wasn't what he wanted to hear. His eyes pleaded with her. "I need to know he'll be okay."
Sam had so many things that he was meant to do. Dean was sure of that. "You don't understand, lady. He's the best thing that's left of my majorly fucked up and twisted family. I can't be the reason he doesn't have a chance to become something great."
"What you don't seem to understand, young man, is that you can't control how Sam feels. You can't shield him from death, Dean. Not your mother's death, not anyone else's that he loves, and most assuredly not from your own. That is not your job."
He looked at her, and slowly shook his head. "Yes. It is my job."
Marilyn sighed, and leaned back in her chair. "If the stubborness that runs in your family counts for anything, then I have a feeling that both you and Sam will be fine."
Dean would take whatever comfort he could get. "So you think Sam will be alright?"
She knew he was twisting her words, so she raised an eyebrow in challenge. "As long as you're alright."
"Damn it!" Dean raked both his hands roughly through his hair and winced as his ribs protested. He glared at Marilyn. "That might not be possible."
She shrugged. "It doesn't seem very possible that a little kid could rescue his baby brother from uncertain death, or that he could raise and protect said brother while he was trying to grow up himself." She leaned in closer to Dean again. "It doesn't seem possible that a boy could best three men to exact revenge, or that a person could lift a car off their child, or that someone could survive on Mt. Everest for eight days without rescue." She smiled sadly. "Do you know that it's aerodynamically impossible that a bumble bee can fly at all."
Dean rolled his eyes and sighed. "I get it. Miracles and all that shit."
Marilyn nodded. "Miracles and all that shit. Love is a powerful motivator, Dean Winchester, and you are not lacking in that department. If you want Sam to be alright, I suggest you stop trying to find a way to take care of him, and start focusing on how to take care of you."
Before Dean could reply their conversation was cut short by booming laughter in the hallway. "Jack," Marilyn looked aggravated. The man had amazingly terrible timing.
She caught the look of panic on Dean's face and watched as he quickly swiped at his eyes and straighted his leather jacket. "I told the nurse downstairs that I was coming up here."
A quick wrap on the door and then Dr. Howards entered, still deeply engrossed in a conversation with the youngest Winchester. "I must say that was quite a ride, Sam."
"There you are." Dean stood quickly and glared at his brother. "I thought you'd be back hours ago. Where the hell have you been?"
Sam ignored the gruff questioning and smiled at Dr. Howards. "Are you sure you can't give him anything to help with a bad attitude?"
Jack smiled, shoving both hands in his white lab coat's pockets and looked at Dean. "I suppose I could readmit him for further testing, let Nurse Jean have another go at that sponge bath that he refused her. That might whip him into shape."
Dean groaned, recalling the burly older woman who was way too anxious to get him wet and naked. "Sorry, Doc, there's only so much a person can take of being poked and prodded and I won't even get started on the lousy food."
Jack nodded, rubbing his robust belly that bulged beneath his bright blue shirt. "Tell me about it. If it wasn't for Mari providing me with coffee and danish every now and then, I might blow away in the wind."
It was Marilyn's turn to groan. "Don't let him fool you boys. He has a running tab in our cafeteria that rivals our national debt."
"That's only because she won't take me up on my offer to go to a decent restaurant every now and then. I even offered to let her cook me a meal, but still she refuses." He glanced at Dean, and scratched his head. "Yet, she seems quite taken with you two boys. I can't wrap my mind around it."
Dean looked at his brother and then to Marilyn. "Women have never been able to resist the Winchester charm. It's a curse."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Actually, it's the car. Chicks really dig the car."
Jack's blue eyes lit up. "I can see why." He looked back at Dean. "Your brother was kind enough to take me and Dr. Greene for a little spin. Ben may have drooled all over the backseat I'm afraid."
"Sam," Dean growled.
"Hey, they did help save your life."
"And in your brother's defense, he refused to let Ben drive, despite his pitiful display of begging. Although, you two may have to have Harry forcibly remove him from it before you go on your way."
Sam laughed and looked at Marilyn. "Maybe we'll just have Dr. Castle and Marshall take a go at him. She is the more believable bouncer."
Dr. Howards' pager chose that moment to ring, and he sighed heavily. "No rest for the weary." He stepped forward and offered his hand to Dean.
"You try to stay in one piece and make sure those stitches come out in about a week. I wouldn't want to disappoint any of the fairer sex."
Dean shook the doctor's hand. "Thanks for saving my life."
"You're welcome." He winked at Marilyn. "Us chick magnets have to look out for each other."
The pager buzzed again and Jack slapped Sam on the shoulder as he strode past him. "Take care of yourself and that car, young man."
"Sure thing," Sam watched him go and then turned back tot his brother and Marilyn. He had a sudden feeling that something was going on between the two.
"Is everything alright?"
Marilyn recognized the worry filled gaze that Sam shot Dean. "Dean and I were just discussing the Cowboys."
Sam raised an eyebrow at his brother. "Really?"
Dean nodded. "Yep. Got to love Dallas." He glanced up at the clock on the far wall. "I guess we should be hitting the road before it gets any later."
Sam didn't buy it for a minute, but he doubted that he was going to get any other answer. Instead of trying he walked over to Marilyn and handed her a shiny bag from the gift shop. "I...we...just wanted to say thanks."
"Oh, Sam, you shouldn't have." She reached in and pulled out a green, furry frog, that squeaked as she held it up. "Really, you shouldn't have."
"That's for Marshall." The Golden Retriever who had been sleeping in the corner, perked up at the mention of his name, and seeing the new squeaky in his owner's hand swiftly rose to relieve her of it. "I didn't want to leave him out."
Marilyn shot Dean an amused smile, who merely rolled his eyes as if his geeky brother was an idiot. "Of course not." She reached in the bag once more and pulled out a shiny, black model car. "Oh my."
"Dean even painted our liscense plate number on it." Sam's smile grew at the embarrassed look on his older brother's face. "Now, you'll have something to remember us by."
Marilyn felt her eyes grow misty again. "I don't think I'll forget you boys anytime soon."
"You ready to hit the road?" Dean suddenly felt the need to be out in the fresh air.
"Yeah," Sam opened the door and nodded to the doctor. "Thanks again."
Marilyn caught Dean's arm as he started to walk away. She nodded towards Sam. "You take care of him, and yourself, you hear."
Dean nodded, and started to follow Sam out the door, but then stopped suddenly. "Dr. Castle?"
Marilyn looked at him and held the car close to her, "Yes, Dean?"
"That little girl, Sarah Jane. She had cancer,didn't she?"
"Yes. She's had it for a while now. No one expected her to beat it."
A smile tugged at Dean's mouth. "But she did."
Marilyn nodded. "You bet your boots she did."
Dean nodded. "I'll see you around."
The door closed and Marilyn leaned on her desk, letting the tears finally fall. "I hope so, Dean. I certainly hope so."