Rating: PG-13 for violence and gore
Category: AU gen vignette filled with angst and little bits of my attempts at humor and happy moments.
Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the Warner Bros television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.
I. The First Wednesday
Dean dies on the third Wednesday of that month.
The leaves are arduous red and furtive orange that month, and they smolder together to smear fiery foliage against the warm autumn winds. The frost crochets white patterns of crystal lace on the world when night falls and melts into shy dew drops when the morning sun rises that month.
Sam refuses to leave their room until a new month of calloused ice and resilient snow begins, and the days are no longer all Wednesdays.
- - - - -
II. Wednesday plus Three
Sam drinks with his father three days after Dean dies.
There is no funeral, no ceremony, just a six pack of dark ale between the two men and a motel room that smells of Dean's aftershave with a quiet broken television. Sam's eyes are still bloodshot from crying, even though he runs cold water over his face multiple times before his dad drives from the other side of the country to be with him.
He had called his father after he buried Dean underneath the black maple tree where he had died. John's response was silence on the phone line, followed by a sputtering crackle of static and it took a moment for Sam to realize that his father was crying. Then was the promise that he would come to Sam as quickly as he could, and he hung up, leaving Sam alone amongst the silent witness of the trees.
Now, Sam meets his father at the motel door and can't look him in the eye until John places his hand on Sam's shoulder. Instantly, Sam crumbles, throwing his arms around his dad, grabbing sweet, familiar leather in his sore hands and pressing his unshaven cheek to graying hair. There's a lump in his throat, and his voice trembles when he whispers, "Dad."
John holds his youngest son, his only son he can now hold, and guides him to a table where they sit together under a solitary light. He removes the lids on their bottles, and Sam swallows slowly, tasting the bitter drink of his brother's death. They don't talk about Dean at first, not with the earth's crust unsettled over his body, but talk of other things. Everything leads back to Dean eventually though.
When his father tells him to return to school, Sam looks down at his hands, ruddy and chapped where he has washed them for hours to remove Dean's blood from his skin, and he says that they should not be separated. John agrees with Sam's words, but he knows that there is something more important than this. Sam still doesn't lift his eyes, and hot tears gather in a threat to spill onto the table as a testimony of his grief.
"You were happy there," John says. "I know that." He reaches across the table and envelops Sam's trembling hands in one of his own, callused fingers warm in their comfort. "Dean knew that, and he would want that for you now."
- - - - -
III. Seven through Ten Wednesdays
Sam returns to school, and the faces that were once familiar speak foreign words now, and he feels as if he's been living in a different realm for years. When they ask him where he was, he shrugs off their questions with excuses of "family trips" and "family stuff." The ones who knew him better ask about his brother who stole him away that infamous night, and at those questions, Sam turns his face away when he shrugs, and every lie he tells never seems to be the right one.
He buys his textbooks and notebooks, highlighters and pens, and he finds a job in one of the college offices to pay for a private studio apartment close to campus. He types essays that he's written a thousand times onto his laptop, but his fingers see through his fraudulent actions when they hover over the keys and shudder. They remember what it was like to press against Dean's spine when he had held Dean against his chest, and what it was like to close Dean's eyes when they remained open and empty after he had passed. They know that the plastic keys of a computer are not a way to assuage Sam's pain.
But, he attends his classes and reunites with people who were his friends, and when they cast sneaking, worried glances in his direction, he pretends he doesn't notice. He goes out to the bar and feels naked without a pistol resting against his back, and sometimes, he kisses the girls who eye him seductively until he pushes them away and tells them that he can't do this just yet.
The Impala is parked three stories below his apartment, and he vows never to touch it again. The car is his now, he knows, but that doesn't mean he has to use it. He drove it out to California, and ever since then, he walks anywhere he needs to go. There's too many memories, too much Dean is that car, and it destroys a piece of him every time he unlocks the door.
So he stays up late, working on papers about historical facts and legal terms, glancing only at his digital clock when he feels a headache forming and drinking another cup of coffee only to keep himself awake. He's halfway through a sentence that includes vocabulary complex enough to form a new language, when there's a smirk behind him, and then two words shove him from his chair and onto the floor: "Hey, Sammy."
He's on the ground and looking up at his bed, fumbling for the gun filled with rock salt stored behind his dresser and cursing his late-night fatigue as the amused laughter continues. By the time he's on his feet, gun raised and finger pressing on the trigger, there's a man sitting on his bed, wearing denim jeans with threadbare holes and red flannel over a gray t-shirt. There's a thick silver band on the man's right ring finger, two leather bracelets on his wrist, and when he smiles again, Sam's vision seems to explode.
"C'mon, put the gun down, already. I don't bite."
It's Dean's voice coming from this figure on his bed, and when his mouth moves, it's Dean's dark stubble rippling on the man's skin. But, all Sam can see is how Dean's cheek was torn from the side of his face, and how Dean's voice had rattled at the end when he coughed blood from his punctured lungs.
The gun wavers, and the man rises to his feet. When he walks over the cheap rugs on the hardwood floor, he doesn't make a sound in his thick boots. He reaches for the gun twice. On the first try, his hand passes through the barrel, but the second time, his fingers connect with the matter, and he yanks the weapon away from Sam and tosses it on the bed where it lands with a defeated bounce.
They stare at one another until Sam chokes out, "Dean?"
And he laughs and says, "Took you long enough."
- - - - -
IV. Tenth Wednesday plus Two
He walks through the park with two knives on the inside of his wrist, a gun positioned on his hips, and Dean on his right side. There's no one in the park at three-thirty in the morning, and Sam thinks that's a blessing because he's talking to Dean who exists for him alone.
Sam asks him if he remembers his death, and Dean thinks for a minute, before he shuffles his feet and shrugs his shoulders. Sam swears he hears the soft swish of denim when Dean walks.
"I don't remember all of it, but I remember enough," Dean replies at last. He doesn't ask for the details, and Sam doesn't offer them. After all, Sam relives every horrid aspect of Dean's death when he sleeps, such as the way his fingers touched Dean's innards when a hole had been ripped through his ribcage, and the way Dean's skin had been peeled from his muscles in the moonlight. Sam sees such things in his nightmares; he does not want to voluntary see them when he's awake.
When Dean asks him how their dad took the news, Sam nods a little too jerkily, and his Adam's apple bobs twice before he speaks. "You know Dad..."
Dean suddenly gives a leering grin and punches him in the shoulder, a gesture that Sam feels despite his brother's transparent figure. "Did you cry?" When Sam doesn't answer, Dean laughs a bit. "You did cry." Then he grows quiet, and the only sound is the soft murmur of traffic in the distance, and he says under his breath, "S'okay. I cried too when you left."
Sam doesn't know exactly when Dean means, and even though he thinks of all the possible moments, he doesn't ask. He changes the subject, and he decides not to stop himself from smiling when Dean's laughter scatters across the sleeping grass.
- - - - -
V. Ten through Thirteen Wednesdays
Dean comes and goes, appearing at random moments throughout the three weeks that follow. He sits beside Sam in the massive lecture halls, jumping down the declining aisles and sitting on the professors' desks. On test days, he'll look at the answer sheets and yell the answers to Sam in the fortieth row. Sam still secretly fears that one of these days, Dean's going to become visible to everyone, and the girl with the bubblegum tank top is going to scream when the empty seat next to her fills with a strange winking man.
Dean tags along with Sam when he goes out, and he makes disgusted comments throughout the night about Sam's friends' abilities to play pool. Occasionally, he'll move from his position next to Sam and throw one of the balls with a quick flick of his wrist across the green felt to cause the players to start yelling at each other about who hit it when it wasn't their turn. Then he'll return to the bar and slide Sam a glass of untouched beer from the guy down the line who's looking the other way.
As is typical Dean, he grows bored quickly with Sam's college life and expresses his distaste with things at obscene morning times. Even though Sam has an exam that day, and he still hasn't been asleep for two full hours, he turns on the light and squints over to his desk, where Dean is sitting with his legs crossed and propped on the surface of the small table. His brother's return is both a burden and blessing.
Sam will not choose which one.
Finally, Sam tells Dean one day that he's leaving college. Dean's eyes expand to twice their size, and he is silent for the first time Sam can ever remember.
"And where exactly do you plan on going when you leave?" he asks after Sam rises to his feet and pulls out his laptop, flopping back on his bed.
"Where else?" Sam shrugs, then turns back to his laptop as if his announcement did not range on cosmic proportions in their lives.
After Dean finishes cursing and yelling at Sam for all his hypocritical moments, Sam responds with a half-hearted reply that he can't pretend to live one life while there's still unfinished business in another.
Brooding, Dean runs his tongue along his gums, forming a bulge underneath his lips, and then he nods his head quickly. "Fine. But, I'm coming with you. You're not going back to hunting without me. You need me, and you know it."
- - - - -
VI. The Last Wednesday
Sam's in the middle of his deepest fear with a demon after him, and Dean's nowhere to be found. There's opened wounds on his gooseflesh skin, bleeding fresh under the moonlight, and he's gasping in rolling clouds of steam in the cold night air. Behind him, he hears the demon scream, and he whips in that direction with a gun leveled.
He remembers his final hunt with Dean for the same demon that is now chasing him through the abandoned forests, and how they became separated in the eluding shadows. The demon had lifted Dean in the air and cracked his ribs against rocky ledges, ripping the flesh from his muscles, and then discarding him under the tree he would eventually die beneath. Sam had called Dean's name in the darkness until his throat was burning and his voice was fading, and by the time he had found Dean, his older brother was already drowning in his own blood that pooled on the muddy ground.
Sam knelt beside Dean, and they both knew that there was no salvation at hand. Instead, Sam pressed his forehead against Dean's and gently took his older brother's hands in his own, whispering every apology and every plea on his tongue. Dean's face had twisted in pain, and he coughed blood onto his mangled chest. Then, he looked into Sam's eyes and squeezed his fingers tight around Sam's hands before he slipped away forever.
While John Winchester hunts for the killer of his wife, Sam hunts for the killer of his brother. At last, he finally understands his father's lust for vengeance.
There's another scream that now shakes the trees, and their leaves shudder in fear as the demon grows closer. Sam's pulse pounds to a deafening roar in his ears, and he licks his lips where the blood from his nose has ran down and dried to a salty crust. He knows that he only has one shot at the demon, and it must be true. If he misses, he will never receive another chance, and the demon will most surely destroy him.
A massive eruption from a patch of trees sends the demon hurtling Sam's way, talons outstretched and blasting shriek wrenching Sam's face in agony. As the demon grows closer, prepared to feast upon him, Sam is suddenly shoved out of its path where he lands safely off to the side.
Dean's voice shouts to his brother from the darkness, and then he yells his challenge to the monster that killed him. When the demon turns its filmy eyes upon him, a glowing figure of the night, a ghastly snarl forms upon its red lips, and Dean smirks in return while Sam readies his weapon.
He's choking for air, his chest suddenly tight, and he levels the gun, hands shaking and vision wavering in fear. Thick locks of hair fall in his vision, and he narrows his eyes to where the demon that took his brother stands.
Then Dean's with him, and the world is quiet once again. There is one hand lying on his shoulder, and the other hand rests over his finger on the climactic trigger. When Sam turns to look at his older brother beside him, Dean smiles and nods.
Sam knows that this is the end. He needs no premonition to tell him that the demon will die soon and that Dean will leave him for another realm that Sam is still unable to reach. Although Sam wishes for his brother to stay with him, he refuses to allow the demon to live, knowing what flesh it has consumed to feed its blackened soul.
The demon turns on its deadly haunches, swiveling in a blackened cloud of decay, and opens its mouth in a horrible roar that vibrates through the ground and up to the sky. It lunges towards Sam, and before the gun explodes and shakes the night, he hears a familiar voice that carries hope and comfort on its quiet cadence.
"I'm right here."
Two fingers pull the trigger together.
"I'm always going to be here, Sammy."