Spirit Fall, Chapter 12
A/N: I need to properly organize my thoughts here...
-Thanks to everybody that stuck with me while I muddled my way through some kind of plot. Never having written something of such length, I wasn't sure how it was all going to work out, but you were all extremely supportive. Thank you.
-'Nother big thanks to chocolate rules who betaed the whole darn thing. I would've quit it a while ago without her advice.
-There's some technical mumbo jumbo in here, while I'm fairly sure it's accurate, don't go quoting it in your next book report or something. :) Couldn't let you all go without learning something. :)
-This chapters got a whole lot of dialogue, which is a bit different, I suppose. Also, John's been in every darn scene, but I thought just Sam and Dean needed to talk,so while he is in the scene, he isn't really there. Yea...Just a warning, I'm afraid it may be a bit off pace.
-Sammy is a weepy, weepy boy. Sometimes, I don't even want him to cry. He just does.
-I know I can get pretty schmoopy at times myself. Tried to limit the schmoop factor, but it didn't really work. I hope I didn't annoy anyone with the schmoopiness.
This would be the serious face, guys. :)
-Finally, hopefully, this fic was supposed to show what it would take to make John realize Sam and Dean come before the hunt. If it hasn't done that, hopefully you have been at least mildly amused throughout. :) Read on...
Living is kinetic. It's rolling highways, a boot on the gas pedal, mostly nowhere, blurring towns, in and out, dead(er) things in their wake. It's swinging fists, loud words, a shaky finger on the trigger, instinct, action, anger, rage, and revenge. Don't think. Don't hesitate. Don't slow down. Don't stop.
But now all of it, every last second, hangs on a number.
"I would have preferred zombies," Sam states matter of factly.
"You hate zombies," Dean reminds him. "I hate zombies. They're the worst."
"Still," Sam shrugs. "I'd have preferred them."
"To a little needle?"
"Dean, it was a big needle." Sam gestures with his hands.
"Whatever dude. Welcome to my life." Dean holds up an arm, displaying track marks and two needles still taped under the skin. "I look like a freakin' druggie."
"Well, with any luck the transplant won't be necessary," John interrupts.
"With any luck," Sam repeats.
"Yea, cause that's something we're really known for," Dean deadpans. "Our awesomely good luck."
"Dean, you should really be more optimistic." Sam reminds him with a patronizing grin
"Dad," Dean moans, turning to see his father. "This kid and I are from different planets. How the heck do they expect our bones to match up?"
"It's not the bone, it's the marrow," Sam interjects. "That's the spongy insides of the bone where--"
"Sammy?" Dean flops back into his pillows and throws a dramatic arm over his eyes.
"Please shut up now."
"Okay," Sam nods.
The number of white blood cells per total blood volume. In leukemia patients these cells divide abnormally, crowding out the healthy cells and rendering them functionless. To be considered in remission, a patient must attain a normal white blood cell count.
In a healthy person, this number is near 10,000 cells per mm3.
In Dean, this number is free falling, a wild dive toward health.
"So, can we get out of here yet?" Dean asks from the bed. He pulls at the neck of the patient issue shirt. "I'm tired of wearing the same thing everyday."
"No," John shakes his head. Of course Dean would cite a trivial reason to want to leave the hospital. "Not until you're better."
"I'll be better when I can get out of here."
"Well, you can get out of here when you're better."
"That didn't even make sense."
"Dean," John quiets him sternly. Dean shifts anxiously.
"I feel better."
"That's good," John nods. Fact is, Dean is getting better, everyday, would probably get out of the hospital in a week or so. But as it is, he's still stuck in a bed and as he recovers, John's visits had become less the silent vigil and more and more a test of his patience.
"Where's Sam?" Dean asks abruptly.
"Library. Research," John answers shortly.
"A hunt?" Dean perks up.
"No. No hunting right now."
"He's just there again?"
"For no reason?"
John nods in response, tired of talking, and picks up a newspaper from the bedside table.
"They'd ought to just let him move in," Dean rambles on. "Pitch a tent right between the sections on 'brain surgery' and 'rocket science.'"
"Smart kid," John remarks vaguely. "Likes to learn."
"When's school start back?" Dean asks, leaning back against the pillows. John glances at him over the weather page. Dean had been a bit scattered lately, more so than usual anyway, but John had thought he at least knew what month it was.
"It's been back."
"Oh," Dean frowns, surprised. "Sam's…not going?"
"He'll catch up."
"Shouldn't have to," Dean remarks quietly. John pauses.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Dean shrugs evasively.
"We've been in this town for awhile. You're not hunting. There's no reason he couldn't have been in school."
John stares at Dean pointedly.
"What?" Dean shrugs.
John shakes his head, smirking as he returns to his paper.
"It's hard always being behind like that," Dean goes on, oblivious. "Always trying to catch up. He's better than that."
"Yea, well," John sighs and folds the paper away. "Aren't we all."
"A perfect match," the doctor beams up at John.
"Nope," she smiles and hands him a few sheets of test results, numbers and letters that don't make any more sense than Greek.
"Yea," he nods, looking up from the jumble on the paper. "I see."
"Lucky," she grins. He shifts awkwardly and forces a polite smile.
"That's what they keep telling us."
"Even though it won't be necessary, Dean's recovering amazingly on his own, it's nice to know that we have the option of bone marrow transplant with your other son if it's ever needed," she pauses. "They have the same mother then?"
"Yes," John frowns at her prying. "Of course."
"Sorry, none of my business. But they sure don't look alike."
"Yea, um," John purses his lips, not knowing why he feels the need to explain. "Dean…looks like his mother. Sam takes after, after…me."
The doctor nods amiably, unaware of his discomfort.
"I can see that. It's still something though. A perfect match," she shrugs and shifts her papers, preparing to walk away. "Doesn't happen very often."
"Are you warm enough?"
"Do you need a blanket?"
"No, Sam," Dean snaps. "I do not need a blankie. I don't need anything. I'm good, okay? This is good."
Sam frowns, but nods compliantly.
"Okay." He settles back onto the park bench and squints up at the sun, so bright it makes his hair go shiny and auburn in places. The hospital garden is composed of a winding, paved path between plots of water-starved flowers and shrubs. They sit along one of these paths, Sam on a bench and Dean in a wheelchair, too accustomed to that fact by now to complain anymore. John paces, a few plots away, frowning and muttering into his cell phone.
"Who do you think he's talking too?" Sam asks. Dean shrugs and smirks.
"Probably the truancy officer. Trying to explain why you haven't been in school. Trying to convince him not to take you away."
Sam turns to him with wide eyes.
"No. Sam, geez. It's probably Jim or somebody."
Sam frowns and shifts away from him.
"Why'd you say that?"
"I don't know," Dean shrugs. "I just did. It was a joke. Chill out."
"Sorry," Dean returns, but Sam doesn't look at him. "Dude, are you mad at me now?"
"No," Sam replies too quickly.
"I said I was sorry. It was a bad joke. I got it."
"That's not it," Sam says, eyes following their father's path through the flowers, back and forth, like a tennis game. Dean shifts in the chair, rolling a bit out into the path.
"Well, what is it then? The brain's been scrambled more than a few times, Sammy," Dean says, gesturing at his head. "You've got to spell this stuff out for me."
"It's just," Sam shrugs and squirms. "Other stuff. You know."
"No, I really don't." Dean watches his brother in earnest, waiting for an answer, but then Sam looks away and sniffles. "Aw, man, Sammy," Dean moans. "Are you going to cry? Didn't Dad give you that talk?"
"No," Sam says again, too quickly and too quietly. Still watching John with eyes becoming red now as the tiniest blood vessels burst. Dean huffs and rolls closer, resting one cool hand on the back of Sam's neck.
"Okay, what's the problem? Tell me now, cause I'm not asking again." It's not a threat, but a way to get Sam to talk. And it works.
"It's just, you, um," he stutters and coughs. "You…"
"Sammy, you're killing me here."
At this, Sam lets out a harsh sort of laugh and smiles watery through his tears.
"I just want you to be okay," he spits out, voice wavering near the end and he scrubs at his eyes. Dean sits back, relieved, and spares a glance at John.
Sam shrugs and nods.
"Sam, I'm going to be fine."
"I know that, it's just…I need…Dad's not good at some stuff, and you…I just want…I just want you to be okay," he finishes weakly.
"Sammy," Dean wavers, forming his words. "You're smart, you know this stuff doesn't just go away and that sucks. It really, really sucks, but I promise you it will be okay. No matter what."
Sam nods minutely, meeting his eyes.
"They tell you how we've got the same bones?" Dean asks abruptly. Sam rolls puffy eyes.
"It's not the bone, Dean, it's the marrow."
"Yea, yea, I know. I'm just saying, it's kind of hard to believe, but I guess we're made up of the same stuff after all."
Sam pauses and glances at him, scrunching his face up in the sun.
"Was that supposed to make me feel better?"
"Yea," Dean drawls. "Did it work?"
Sam nods easily and shrugs, wipes his face off again. "Pretty much," he says, holding onto the bench beneath him. Dean leans forward suspiciously.
"You're not still hung up on what that spirit guy said, are you?"
"Good, cause spirits don't run our lives."
"We ruin theirs," Sam grins.
"Hell yea," Dean nods, leaning back in the wheelchair and closing his eyes for a moment. John's voice can be heard moving closer, mumbled thanks and goodbye and then the click of the phone being closed.
"That was Jim," he says, suddenly right in front of them on the path. Dean sits up straighter.
"No," John cuts him off sternly. "I told him we're not hunting right now. He didn't know about," he gestures toward Dean and clears his throat. "Anyway, he said they'd dedicate the morning mass to you tomorrow."
"Did you warn him the church might get struck by lightening?" Sam asks jokingly. Dean makes a noise of protest while John, ignoring them, leans closer to Sam, just noticing the reddened eyes.
"Everything okay?" he asks, glancing sideways toward Dean. Dean grins.
"Yes sir. Just fine."
A week later, John enters Dean's room with Sam at his side and a set of clothing in hand. Dean's jumping out of the bed before anyone say's a word.
"I'm out of here," he says excitedly, reaching for the clothes his father holds.
"Hang on a second," John interrupts, moving his hands out of reach, he waits for Dean to focus on him. "Just…slow down, okay?"
Dean pauses and nods.
"Take it easy."
"Okay," John hands him the jeans and over shirt and Dean disappears into the bathroom. He's back out a moment later and while the thick shirt covers the sharp angles of bones, there's no hiding the fact that he has to hold up the jeans with one hand. He laughs hesitantly.
"I, uh, I think you brought me some of your stuff Dad."
It's a glaring reminder that this is far from over and that this won't be over for a long time. One day at a time though, he's come to realize it's the best and only way to survive.
"Here." Sam pulls off his own belt, doesn't really need it anyway, and hands it to his brother.
"Thanks," Dean replies humbly.
"One other thing," Sam grins and reaches under the bed, pulling out the old, battered cowboy hat. He holds it out.
"Thanks man," Dean laughs, about to place the hat on his head. John frowns and shakes his head.
"Not inside." He'd let it slide before, but they had to get back to basics. Back to normal, or at least, their own modified brand of normal.
"Right," Dean nods. "Sorry."
A nurse appears at the door then, wheelchair in tow.
"Ready to go?" she asks.
"What, are you kidding?" Dean replies. John helps him into a jacket while Sam gathers his things and they head for the door, not bothering to glance back into the room.
Dean drops unceremoniously into the chair and points sharply down the hall.
"Sixth gear, please ma'am. I'm going home."
Sam laughs while the nurse rolls her eyes.
"Dean," John reminds him quietly. His son turns in the chair to grin up at him as they move toward the elevator.
"I said please."
"I said ma'am."
Dean raises a questioning eyebrow, waiting for an explanation.
"Just…chill out," John fumbles, irrationally concerned with Dean's health outside of the hospital. He had to stay calm, not tire himself out.
"Hey Sammy," Dean laughs as they enter the elevator. "Dad just told me to chill."
Sam laughs quietly and John sees the nurse put a muffling hand over her own mouth. He shakes his head. It really is a lost cause.
The elevator doors ding open, no angry marches outside, no harsh words, they step out as a family.
"What are we going to do now?" Dean asks.
"Not sure yet," John shrugs. "I figured we'd take it easy for awhile." Dean glances up at him suspiciously.
"Easy? How easy?"
"I don't know. A vacation, maybe."
"The beach," Sam jumps in excitedly.
"The mountains," Dean grins slowly.
"Somewhere," John shrugs.
The nurse pauses by the front doors.
"You have all of your discharge instructions?" she asks. "Appointment dates? Prescriptions?"
"Yes ma'am," John nods.
"Okay then." She moves to help Dean out of the chair, but he shrugs off her hands, straightening sturdy legs and taking his hat from Sam.
"I'm good," he says and John can tell it's the truth. The nurse nods, retreating back into the hospital with a small wave.
"Thanks," they wave.
They cross through the door and onto the sidewalk, warmed under their shoes by the late evening sun. Across the parking lot, and out in the desert, the sun is settling on the horizon. The sky is on fire with orange and pink streaks, tearing across the landscape and blurring into the dusty earth. This, the perfect time of day, when the line between sky and ground isn't visible. Heaven is only a small step away from earth and angels can cross over freely. This, the perfect time of day, when spirits can fall, down and up.
Dean steps forward, a silhouette, positioning the hat on his head.
"Free at last," he smiles and spreads his arms wide to the sky.
It isn't any kind of invitation, but a father shouldn't need one.
John moves in and wraps warm, comforting arms tight around his son in a long past overdue hug.