Disclaimer: I don't own them, though I wish I did.
Summary: No father should have to bury their child. And no brother should have to say goodbye to their knight in shining armour but sometimes faith just isn't enough.
Character Death, though nothing graphic.
A nurse had been going through the personal effects of the deceased, carefully being gentle, and taking care in doing so aware that they belonged to another. She found a wallet and opened it up gingerly, seeing no driving licence but instead a small bundle of square pictures, crammed inside the pouch with the clear wall.
One was clearly the deceased, though not that much younger, maybe some five years ago? There were another two in the picture, one much older, haggard and clearly not pleased about the picture being taken at all, while the other in the picture was just down the hall, and from the way his arm disappeared out of shot it was obvious he had been the one holding the camera as they attempted a photo.
It was sad to see the smiles, and she looked back to the bed. The man wasn't smiling, his mouth was tilted slightly to make way for the tube that lay there, finally disconnected after a five minute long asystole. His chest was bare, and she sighed, wondering when the clean up would begin. She realised it would most likely be once the other was informed. The one who had come in with him. The younger one, taking the picture in the photo.
She grabbed the rest of the items and walked solemnly through the corridors and opened the door. She looked at the youngster, and to her, that's all he was. A young man, about to have his world come crashing down on him. His eyes weren't focused but he understood all that he heard, or at least, he listened. Understanding was a whole other situation, something she knew he wouldn't want to be alone to comprehend.
The orange glow was not bright, or that obvious, it was simply the coming of the sun as the last remnants of the harsh rains fell away. The clouds still there, still hanging filled with water. It couldn't be sunrise, it was too late in the afternoon, but surely it couldn't be sunset already? Wasn't it too early?
Time didn't matter anymore. Nothing did.
"Sam?" The voice was at the door.
He wasn't listening. He was looking out of the window, watching, silently in awe as a cluster of black birds flew in sync against the dirty white clouds, slowly turning pink from the sun's rays.
It must be sunset, he realised. Nothing else made sense.
"Sammy?" The voice was still there, but it was impossible, and he refused to believe. He had been left alone and that was all there was to it. He had waited and he had longed for him to return but he never did. He never came in to visit, he couldn't. The birds crowded together before dispersing away, leaving each one on its own. The glow was fading and his breath caught in his throat. He didn't want it to go away. He didn't want to be left. But it wasn't there. He knew it. It was his brain searching for a feeble but believable hope, and by doing so he was regurgitating memories, mixing his brothers voice as he called to him into this scenario of being left alone. And to him, it was worse that being in silence.
Sam had been told, and he hadn't spoken since. He didn't understand. It was too confusing. Someone had seen them, lying so still and had called an ambulance. They had been rushed there immediately, treatment as good as can be had been offered but it hadn't been enough for the both of them. Only one had survived, and the Winchester brother's were no more.
"Is there someone we can call for you?"
No, his mind screamed, there's no one, he wouldn't come anyway. But all the same Sam managed to tell her their father's number, surprised that he knew it off by heart. She had smiled and walked away, before returning stating that she had left the message. The nurse was kind, and stayed with him despite his rude want for her to leave him the hell alone. He didn't know what to do, how to act, or what to think, so he looked away and kept staring out of the window at the sweet suburban sunset as it coloured the fading skies.
John Winchester hated hospitals, because the stench of death was too strong. Because hopelessness lined its walls, hidden beneath the sickly cream and white walls attempting to calm waiting loved ones.
He'd been making a noise, making a scene, desperate. The message was so simple. Details of the location and a mention of Sam. He'd panicked, and somehow knew it was bad. Very bad. He had to get there, and it was by pure luck that he had been close, following the trail out of California for a while, close to where the boys latest gig was, to where the deaths had occurred in the small back town in middle-America. Closer than this sons would have ever known had the tale not ended so tragically.
"Where's my son?" He bellowed. He had to see him, he'd been told of his son's hurt, and now they wouldn't let him see him? Couldn't they see how much he needed to his son's. Where was Dean? Why wasn't he in the waiting room? No doubt by his brother's side, as always.
"Sir! Please!" She's trying to calm him down, but it isn't working. The man assures her that he would be a lot calmer if he was only allowed to see his boy. "God damn-it, where's my son?"
"You have to listen-, your eldest son, Dean, he-sir please, he's dead." And he stops. Just like that. The Nurse stops talking, and John stops moving, stops struggling and for a second he stops breathing.
"Where's my son?" The voices were loud outside his room, but Sam continued to stare out of the window, the birds long gone, and the glow too. Now twilight was setting in, it would soon be dark, and the rain looked as though it might pick up again.
"Sir! Please!" Clearly she was trying to calm him down, restrain the man outside of his room that he no longer had the energy to care about. "You have to listen-, your eldest son, Dean, he-sir please, he's dead."
The scuffling stopped, and Sam cringed at the silence, before the barely audible denials.
He had done it too, and for that reason, it was one thing to cross off of his list. His list of things to hold against John Winchester. No, he might not be able to tell the man to suck it up and accept it, but he still had plenty of ammo as far as abandoning his children went. And what about making them hunt in the first place, or being the catalyst for Dean's death? The true cause, being him and his bloody crusade.
Oh yes, Sam had plenty to say, but suddenly, it didn't seem worth it. The words died on his tongue, and the thoughts, the anger, burned away as he saw his brother's face. Telling him to respect their father so many months ago, as he had held the bones in a box under his arm, after a heated discussion because Sam had told some kid to up and leave his family when the time came around to leave for college.
"You know, truth is, when we finally do find Dad, I don't know if he's even gonna wanna see me."
"Sam, Dad was never disappointed in you." He had said so simply with a hint of sadness, almost annoyance that Sam could even think such a thing. "Never, he was scared."
"What are you talking about?"
"He was afraid of what could have happened to you if he wasn't around, but even when you two weren't talking, he used to swing by Stanford whenever he could to keep an eye on you, make sure you were safe."
And then he was reliving the fight, the battle all over again. His own stupid mistake as the gun jammed, of all times for a fucking pistol to jam it had to be when Sam was holding the gun, the gun with its silver bullets. They didn't even know if they would work, it was no werewolf, or Shapeshifter, though it was vaguely similar to a black-dog, an omen, it was nothing they had been able to pin-point in time, but they knew it had to be stopped. Before it killed again.
Either way, the bullet would have repelled the thing for a while, buying them time for Dean to use every single spell, incantation and random recipe for ridding the world of evil from their fathers journal. But Sam's fun had jammed. And he had failed his brother. The dog had lunged at him as he desperately tried to cock the gun without any luck, and Sam had looked up to see his brother jump too.
Jump in front of him, jump in front of the attack and take the fatal blows meant for the youngest Winchester.
Once again, Dean had stepped in and saved the day. For the last time. Sam swallowed the lump in his throat and rolled slightly, burying his face into the pillows beneath his head. Leaving the blue comforter wet with his tears
He didn't scream or shout when the older man came in, the last Winchester bar himself as he entered the small room, taking a breath at thefrail formand puttinga hand on Sam's shoulder, and not once did Sam protest when he was pulled into an embrace that was long overdue. He just cried, because there was nothing else he could do, and that was that.
He hadn't worn a suit in god-knows how long. For days, months, almost a whole year he had been back on the hunt with his brother, back on the road, and back into wearing the same clothes for weeks. Dean had often joked that the smell would help repel evil spirits, while Sam would reply that it merely repelled everything else in the process. For so long he had been content with the same pair of jeans, what did it matter anyway? He certainly wasn't out to impress whatever evil entity they would be up against next, and it wasn't as though Dean cared much about his younger brothers fashion sense.
I bet he'd have a few things to say about this suit though.
Dean didn't like suits either, and come to think of it, Sam couldn't recall the last time he had seen his brother in anything close to formal. They didn't have much need; the only family they had was each other, which left out weddings, or funerals.
And if they had ever gate crashed either (though they seldom did so) they didn't make an effort then either, more of chance that they were being held at that very moment than disrespect.
And seeing his brother, in a god-damn casket, wearing some stuffy suit that he wouldn't be caught dead in, excusing the morbid pun, made him fume inside. He may have been out of his life for two years, but he still knew him better than anyone else in the entire world. That man, who dared call him their father, had no right to come in and take over. He had no right to dress his brother up like some doll.
But every cloud...
Sam had however managed to preserve his brother's wishes for being cremated. Both had seen too many bones in their time, and neither wanted to think of becoming such things.
Though, once, Sam had been given an insight into an entirely different reason for his brother's wishes.
Death is a tricky subject, one many tip-toe around, until inevitably it is too late, but since no human can truly speculate when that time will be, there is no way to know of the opportune moment. So you just have to bring it up, and hope against hope that it was the right time to do so.
They had been driving, though such a thing was no surprise for recent times, and after a particular hunt, involving a horrid decomposed body, Sam had voiced his concerns over becoming something similar.
"You're not exactly going to be around to complain, Sammy." Dean had said, taking the no-sympathy route in an attempt to ignore the possibility of losing his brother. His baby brother. Sam had rolled his eyes at his brother's perfected bravado, but continued nonetheless. "I mean it, I don't want that," And Dean hadn't replied instantly, and when he had answered it had been devoid of sarcasm. "I know."
Both of them wanted to be cremated, Sam had voiced the obvious connection to their line of work, while Dean, well, Dean had said something that had stuck with Sam ever since. "If there's nothing there to grieve for, then people can't mourn, right?" The laugh that followed was half-hearted, and almost bitter. He had turned his eyes off of the road for a second, turning to his brother. "I don't want people to grieve, so there's no point sticking a big rock in the ground for someone to talk to. It's not like I'd be able to hear them..." He was rambling ever so slightly, but always keeping eye-contact. By someone, he had meant Sam, and it was painfully obvious. Because in Dean's eyes, he clearly didn't, couldn't, see his father being present. Even at his funeral, even after.
But he was. He was standing there, playing the part of the bereaved parent. The murderer.
The service was more of a compromise. Both knew there was no point in doing so in a church. It would only give point to the emptiness around the echoing chamber of God. And they didn't need to be in a giant hall with stained glass windows, to receive the Big Man's Blessing for a son of Adam to be welcomed up-top.
They stood in the grass, the crisp green grass, on what could almost be described as a sunny morn, though clouds still loomed over-head. It had been that way, ironically, since Dean's passing. The rain had fallen ferociously, only increasing as Sam himself was reminded of what he had lost the night before. And it had continued to fall, even in the early hours before Dawn, he had heard its pattering on the window, but then when he had woken up, when he had gotten himself dressed in the stiff suit his father had found for him, the sun, or at least, a portion of brightness that could be considered similar to sunshine, had peeked out behind the grey.
But despite the morning atmosphere, Sam knew things wouldn't be all right.
The scene would be beautiful if you turned to face the road, if you looked at the rest of the grass, bare as it led to the tarmac and ignored the precession behind you, you could almost convince yourself you were in some strange dream. Or waking from a hell-of-a hangover that had somehow landed you in the middle of a field...
And then, like every normal human being is such a thing exists, you would turn, if only to wonder if the hope in your heart that its all a horrible nightmare would come true if you turned to see nothing but more grass as it carried on into the distance. They would say their words in silence, their minds replaying that which they dared not speak in front of each other. In front of anyone, and then, the body would be cremated. Sam preferred to think of it that way, rather than thinking of his brother being burned, only increasing the reality of his nightmares.
Because it was a sibling's worst nightmare to lose someone that close to you, someone who knew you better than you know yourself. Better than you could ever know yourself. Brothers and sisters alike, were bonded, even through hated, and breaking such a bond, was more painful that anything you could possibly imagine.
Parents are in a whole other league, because even with the strongest hatred among siblings, there is always some common ground, and there is always a shared grudge of the parent in question. Because no matter what, you will be friends once more, and you will miss one when the other is gone.
To not only lose Dean, but to then lose him indefinitely to the fire...
But it was his brother's wish, and his ashes would be scattered accordingly over a beautiful landscape, that though in life Dean may have thought cheesy, in death he would surely appreciate. It was only right that someone so good, should be scattered amongst a place so beautiful, though it was true, neither remaining Winchester had yet decided on a location quite beautiful enough.
He preferred it being just them, because that was how it was; in life and death. The Winchesters, all alone in their grief, damned to spend their days in search of vengeance, in need of repent and never thanked or acknowledged for their endless battling against the damned. He would have been uncomfortable around others. (Not that any of his feelings were comfortable at present.) And he could only imagine his own anger at seeing the well-wishers, who had promptly avoided the family for years, suddenly turning up as though it were nothing more than a reunion. A reason to catch up, "So, how's things?" They would say in far too chirpy a tone for a wake, and he would reply, and he had no doubt he would become the cynic his brother detested, and say, dripping with sarcasm; "Oh just peachy, you know, seeing as my brother just died."
He might not have been present at all that many funerals, but he had never held respect for faux-sympathy, no matter how good their keepers intentions may be, they only served to annoy those who grieved. What good was a misplaced sorry when you had to go home alone? What did it matter if it was "such a tragedy," if you had to wake up alone in the morning. God, who gave a crap if it was "unexpected" if the world carried on without them. It was betrayal. It was leaving your men behind. They might not be wounded, and they may be beyond medical treatment but you couldn't just leave them for the desert sands to swallow them up, or for the creatures to receive their just desserts. Literally.
No, that was something John Winchester had imparted on his sons from a very young age. "No one gets left behind, okay boys? No one."
Sam might have left his brother once, but he had returned after a good push (that he would always consider a shove) in the right direction, and a tragedy to accompany it of course but he would never leave him again. He would never leave him hurt, or alone when comfort of any kind was needed. John had been the one to leave Dean behind, and Sam realised, that the only one who ever truly stayed, the only one who had yet to abandon either of them, had finally escaped.
Sam had gone to college, and John had taken his crusade a little too far. But Dean? He was the one left behind. He was the one stuck in the middle, torn between the want to make his father proud, and to receive the admiration he longed for, and his brother, his brother who he shared a bond with, stronger than any other. His brother who he loved, and would die for. His brother. And who ever was on the receiving end of the recent showdown between father and son, it was Dean who received the brunt of it all, and he held the entire world on his shoulders without complaining once, or daring to ask for help in sharing that burden.
What was it he had once told Dean? "You can't save everybody."? Oh how he hated his own words at having said such a thing, such a prophesy he could never have predicted with any more accuracy. He closed his eyes at the wind picking up and the small breeze that surrounded them and he took a deep breath of the cold air, letting it fill his lungs and cool his throat, so hoarse from the screams as the grieving began.
While he had slept, Dean had died. While Sam slept, unaware of his surroundings in the most peaceful slumber he had had in months; his brother valiantly fought the clutches of death.
Leaving Sam with no goodbye.
"Sam?" John's voice floated over to him, careful not to startle the boy in his silent reverie. The sun had long begun to set, and now twilight had descended around them. For much of the time they had spent there John had stayed standing, eyes closed, and hands clasped in front of him, though Sam couldn't tell if he was praying or simply remembering. He hoped it was both, because he was doing the same. Praying and remembering.
But it was time to go. They would never stand still long enough to remember what they had lost, and it would never be enough but they had stayed long enough for now.
"I don't want to say goodbye to him." Sam said, so quietly, that John strained his ears to hear it, but hear it he did, and his heart broke at the words, though he understood completely and put a hand on his youngest-
He took a breath as he corrected himself.
At least, his only breathing son. And it hit him like a barrage of hammers, thrown with such force at his aching temples.
His hand gripped Sam's shoulders, and as the boy's head bowed, tears falling uncontrollably, John rested his own head on his son's shoulder, on his hand, letting the worlds problem fade away in the wake of their own personal tragedy. Their own hell. Each of them sucked in a breath, seemingly taking the ironic Dean approach and bottling up their emotions, telling themselves that they would cry no longer, and they would mock in future, make jokes, like Dean did, anything to keep his spirit alive.
In their heads, both had managed to produce the morbid joke that Dean would return to haunt their asses if they stepped out of line when it came to being rocks for each other. It didn't matter, they wouldn't listen, they'd be too busy wallowing in pity, begging for forgiveness each of them blaming themselves and wanting nothing more than for the sleepless nights to end.
John sighed. Lord knows humans aren't immortal, and maybe that was for the best. It made you cherish things more, or at least, it should. John wished he'd spent more time with his boys, and for the first time, he completely and utterly regretted going after Mary's killer for vengeance.
For the first time in over twenty years, he doubted each and every one of his decisions, the worst of all, being him leaving his sons. The worst of all, was leading his son's down a path that only led to death. And now it had finally found one of them. What could he do now? It was just him and Sam, and he couldn't, he wouldn't leave the boy on his own, not now, not ever. He was needed, and for this first time, the first time in over twenty years, he finally acknowledged it and let himself be a father to his youngest son. His only living son. The other lost forever
He didn't want to say goodbye either and he knew the second they let the ashes go, that was what they would be doing, but no, nothing lasts for ever, and in truth, nothing really ever should.