A Letter Home
Disclaimer: Neither Sam, Dean nor Supernatural are in anyway mine (unfortunately) – see E. Kripke and CW for ownership details.
Summary: Sam and Dean return to their motel after an injury during a hunt. Previously unread letters are discovered and a new path chosen for the brothers. (Set shortly after the pilot but no real spoilers)
Rating: A few mild curses
'Geez, just keep still Dean, stay here. I'll just get the door open and I'll help you in.' Sam clambered out of the Impala and ran for the motel room door, searching through his pocket for the key as he went. Turning back, he looked at Dean, 'Christ, Dean, I said to wait. What is the matter with you? Can't you do anything the easy way?'
'Obviously not. I don't need you to mother hen me Sam. I can manage.' He stumbled and his leg gave way, as his brother darted forward snatching enough of his jacket and arm to keep him from face planting on the floor.
'You're an idiot. What would it take to let me help you in? That thing's claws went straight through your leg, how do you expect to walk on it with the amount of blood that has been pouring out?'
'Give it a break, Sam. My ears are in more danger of dropping off from the damage your whining is doing to them.'
'Well they've not being doing you much good lately. Do you listen to anything I tell you? Don't answer that, I don't want to know the answer. What was that about anyway? You do not have to put yourself between me and every evil thing that comes along. I could have shot it, just the same as you.'
'Yeah, but it would have hurt you first before you could have shot it.'
'What? You mean, instead of it hurting you? Dean, this is stupid, we've had this conversation before. I do not expect you to sacrifice yourself to keep me safe. I know what we do, I know what the risks are and I am not a child anymore.'
Dean dropped on to the bed nearest the door with a grunt of relief. 'Mmm. That's better. Are you going to bring the stuff in from the car? I'm going to crash out for a bit.'
Sam looked in disbelief at his brother. 'No way. Not yet. Not until I've sorted your leg out.' He flicked on another light in the dim room and saw the sickly pallor of Dean's skin. 'Come on, bro. You don't look good, let me sort it out, then you can crash out, but we can't leave it.'
'Just pass me the first aid kit and I'll do it. In fact, just give me a hand to the bathroom and I'll do it there.'
'No, I'm doing it. I don't care what you say. I'm not giving in, you can be as stubborn as you like, but we're doing this my way. Come on, it'll be easier in the bathroom anyway, the light's better in there too.' He leant down, moving his arm under his brother's to pull him upright. 'What have you been eating? You weigh a ton!'
'I do not. And it's got nothing to do with what I eat and everything to do with muscle. I'll have you know this body is a finely honed fighting machine.'
'A finely honed fighting machine that gets its fuel from burgers, fries and sodas. Would you even recognise a vegetable if one turned up on your plate? Come on, help me out here.' Sam looked again at his brother who looked if possible even worse than he had moments before, his eyes glazing. 'Dean, Dean, stay with me here man. Don't lose focus now.'
'I'm focusing Sammy, trust me, I'm focussing.' His breathing hitched and he swallowed repeatedly, fighting the nausea washing through his system.
'Is it that bad?
'Not great Sam, not great,' he said, sighing with relief as Sam lowered him down onto the toilet seat. 'That helps.'
'I'm sorry Dean but we're going to have to get your jeans off, so I can get at it properly.'
Dean nodded an acknowledgement. Taking a deep breath, he loosened the button then pulled himself up. 'Go and get the kit from the car. I'll be ready when you get back.' Sam looked at him, unsure. 'Go Sam, this bit I can manage and if I don't, you know where you'll find me,' he finished pointing his finger at the floor with a wry smile on his lips.
Shaking his head, Sam left to bring the first aid kit and the rest of their stuff in from the car. He didn't close the bathroom or the motel room door, hoping that he would hear if Dean fell. It only took a couple of minutes to grab everything he needed but when he got back, Dean was sat on the floor, leaning against the side of the bath. 'You fell?'
'Not exactly. It was just easier to be here and throwing up than there. I think I ate something off earlier.'
'Do you indeed? No way, it could be shock or pain or maybe that thing had poisonous claws? What do you reckon Dean? It couldn't possibly be anything to do with the fact that you have a whopping great hole in your leg now, could it?', irritation was obvious in his every word as he watched his brother. Dean's head dropped and he stared intently at the floor. 'Dean, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I just, I hate to see you hurt.'
'Yeah me too.'
'You managed to get your jeans off I see. You gonna hitch round let me see your leg?'
'No, it's okay. It's not as bad as you thought now I've seen it. I can manage, just leave me the stuff. I'll give you a shout if I need you, pull the door to behind you.'
'I think not. This leg that is supposedly not as bad as I think has already bled through the towel you've covered it with Dean. Now let me see, let me put us both out of our misery.' He reached out to grab his brother's foot intending to help turn him round for a better view.
'Aargh! Watch it! Don't grab at me like that!'
'Dean, I only touched your foot, sure I was going to move it but I didn't, let me see because if it hurt that much it isn't good.'
Dean turned his body towards his brother, dragging the offending leg round, then clamped his hand over his mouth, breathing rapidly through his nose trying desperately to calm his stomach, sweat breaking out on his forehead.
'You okay?' Sam watched as his brother tried to keep his body under control. His breathing slowed gradually as the nausea abated. 'You ready for me to start?' He waited until Dean nodded his assent then lifted the towel Dean had used to cover his leg 'Oh God.' Dean's eyes momentarily caught Sam's before his head dropped back against the bath and the beads of sweat appearing on his forehead appeared to intensify.
Dean closed his eyes and tried to think of anything other than what was happening with his leg. His brother's hands were sure and quick, gentle and thorough but they couldn't stop it hurting and they couldn't take away the nausea he was fighting.
Sam was astounded that Dean had lasted as long as he had with as little complaint, the wound was angry and not only had it gone straight through just near the knee but in part it was long as if the creature had dragged the claw along the edge of the bone and muscle. It was amazing that Dean had been conscious at all, let alone the fact that he thought he could walk from the car. He worked as swiftly as he could, cleaning it as best he could trying not to cause Dean any more pain. It wasn't quick or gentle enough as suddenly, Dean shot up from his resting position, shoving him away with a warning sob of 'Sam!' before starting to retch into the toilet again.
'Hey, just breathe', Sam rubbed circles on his brother's back until the retching calmed, then eased him back to the position he'd had before. He stood up and fetched a glass of water and a damp facecloth. Dean sipped a little of the water gratefully before Sam took the glass back as he noticed the tremors passing through Dean's body. He placed the cool cloth on his forehead and looked at his eyes. Dean was losing his focus but Sam wasn't sure whether, given the work still to do on the wound, it might not be a good thing if Dean actually passed out.
'You going to get on with it?' Dean's voice was gravely and uncertain.
'Sure. You'll be fine.'
'Course I will. I've got an ace lawyer sorting my leg out what more could I ask for?'
'Hmm. Very witty Dean. Now just try and hold still.'
'Not going anywhere, bro. not going anywhere.' He sounded exhausted and Sam turned back to his leg, hoping to get through quickly.
He peered intently at the wound. 'What the hell?'
Grabbing the tweezers from the box lying between them, Dean's hand dropped on top of his. He looked up into Dean's pain-wracked eyes. 'What?'
'I don't know. There's something in there. I'm going to have to get it out. I'll be as quick as I can but I need to make sure it's all clean.' Dean swallowed slowly and nodded. Sam turned back with the tweezers and dug straight into the wound, wincing himself as he heard Dean's sharp intake of breath. He pulled out the offending item, relieved to see it come out in one piece so he didn't have to dig around too much more. It was still too much for Dean who pushed him feebly away as he started to retch again. Nothing left now, but bile, anxiety and pain. Sam waited, supporting his brother's weight as he seemed to get weaker with each stomach convulsion. Eventually it stopped and Dean leant back again allowing Sam to continue with the work on his leg.
Fortunately, the worst of it was over and Sam was able to clean it up and stitch the edges together rapidly and without further incident. He rocked back onto his heels, 'Done. You're all good now. Let's go and get you into bed.'
'Yeah Dean, it's me. I've finished your leg. Let's get you up.'
'No. I need…'
'Come on bro, let me tell you what you don't need. You don't need to spend any more time sitting on this floor; you need to lie down in bed.'
'I need you to…' he tried again. God it was so hard to think and Sam just kept on interrupting.
'Come on Dean.'
He tried again, 'Sam! Stop!' Dean began to struggle with his t-shirt.
'Dean, what is it?' He knelt down again to help where his brother seemed to be struggling to co-ordinate his limbs. 'Shit! It got you there as well. You didn't say anything.'
'Not as bad.'
'You weren't going to tell me about this bit were you? You've only told me 'cos the other bit was so bad you can't do it yourself. I don't get you at all, man.' Both brothers sighed. The scratches were nowhere near as bad as the leg wound and Sam made quick work of cleaning and covering them before helping Dean up from the floor and through to the bed.
'Cold.' Dean's voice was weak and tired.
'I'll get you a t-shirt from your bag, just hold on.' Sam turned and grabbed Dean's bag setting it down on his bed, he pulled the zipper and started to rummage through looking for a loose fit t-shirt. His hand hit a bundle of papers, which he glanced at quickly before returning to his search. He pulled out an old Metallica t-shirt that he knew was clean and that his brother often slept in, he took it over and helped Dean get it on. 'Don't lie down just yet, I'll get you some painkillers first.'
After the tablets, he helped Dean lie down and get comfortable pulling the blanket over him, then watched as his brother slipped rapidly into a much needed sleep. He flipped the TV on and flicked through the channels, looking for something worth watching. Nothing. Curiosity piqued and he wondered what the papers had been in his brother's bag. Maybe they were something to do with Dad, maybe he could solve the puzzle of where exactly his father had gone, maybe Dean had missed something and if they weren't, he wouldn't read them, he'd just put them back and ignore them.
He leant over to the bag which was still resting on the bed and started to rummage again. It only took a moment to find them again and pull them from the bag. They were all bundled together with a band, he snapped the band off and opened the first of the papers, and began to read,
I don't know why I'm writing this down as I have no intention of posting it to you and have written you a postcard instead. Like I say, all is fine here and I am working flat out to deal with the jobs that need sorting. …'
He closed it and opened the next…
'Happy New Year Sam
Hope you had a good Christmas and that you enjoyed yourself with your friends and up at Jessica's folks. Actually, that's not true. Sure that's what I wrote on your postcard but actually I hope it sucked, so that maybe, just maybe you will look back at our family Christmases and you won't be so disappointed…'
As he went through the pile and read the start of each one, he realised that many were letters to him, letters Dean had written but never posted during his time at Stanford. They were interspersed with the letters he had sent to Dean. Why had Dean written letters and never posted them? He went back to the first and began to read. He looked over at his still sleeping brother. Guilt swept through him, he had never realised just how much Dean hurt when he left.
He picked up the next and read again. 'Well Sam, suck it up, you really are a selfish bastard,' he whispered. Dean never gave a hint that this was what had really been going through his mind. He'd never guessed how lonely Dean must have been feeling, neglected and ignored by his family. Unappreciated would have been an understatement. Sam considered how his own ignorant letters full of complaints about all they had missed out on would have hurt his brother more. If he had truly put some thought into it, he would have known that it was Dean and not Dad who had kept track of birthdays and Christmases and made sure there was some acknowledgement of the day, some semblance of family on those days, and he had ridiculed that, saying Jess' family did it properly.
Reading on he found out about his father's growing distance, leading to Dean's belief that he was the failed son, the one his Dad hadn't wanted despite his every effort to please. Then came the final straw, the absolute desertion of his son, abandoning Dean to a life of not knowing what had happened, weeks spent trawling hospitals and morgues looking for his father before in desperation he had turned to his brother for help. Help he had only begrudgingly given, Sam knew it had been a very fine line he had walked and he had almost refused Dean that weekend, had only given in, in the hope that it would get Dean away from Jess quicker, Dad found and then he'd be left alone again but maybe he'd have had a chance to make things better with Dad. So his reasons for joining Dean had been selfish, what was new? He regretted it, he'd never looked at his life from Dean's point of view, he'd been selfish and Dean had let him get away with it.
These letters provided a lot of answers to just who Dean was, why it was that Dean always put himself in danger to save Sam, why there were so many things he wouldn't say. Sam glanced over at his brother and promised to do better by him. He folded the letters and put them back in Dean's bag, then reached over for his own, he moved aside the clothes until he found the envelope he was looking for and pulled it out. He'd never been sure why he'd kept it after writing it, maybe it was just one of those things that were meant to be. Now he'd seen Dean's unsent letters, maybe it was time for Dean to see his. 'Forgive me, Dean. I won't leave you behind again. I can't hunt forever, but I won't turn my back when I go, I promise you that.' He crossed to the other bed, reaching down he felt his brother's forehead to check for fever, smoothed the sweat slicked hair and settled the cover again, tucking his brother in as Dean had done so often for him when they were younger. He put the envelope on the nightstand propped against the bedside lamp, then moved back to his own bed where he undressed and lay down to sleep. Tomorrow they could start putting things right between them. Sam promised the mother he only knew from the stories Dean had told him that he would make sure of it. Turning out the light he closed his eyes.
Author's Note: This is the end. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope you have felt it was worth the effort to get here. Have I dragged it all out too much? Do I drag this one too much? Reviews would be appreciated. The more episodes I see, the more damaged I think Dean is – am I wrong?
Further Author's Ramble: As a few people have suggested that this should be continued further, I have in part caved to this opinion - it gives me something else to write. This piece will remain complete as it stands, as I think it can finish here, however, I have started a companion piece 'Pick up the Pieces and Start Over Again'. As this story was entitled 'A Letter Home' it seemed wrong to move too far into events without letters. The new story will start before the beginning of this Chapter 14 and go some way to explaining Dean's injury, before dealing with the fallout of the letters. The first couple (maybe three) of chapters will cover in quite a bit more detail the events to the end of this story before moving into new territory.