What Might Have Been
By Elizabeth Goode
Dean was the first to awaken. He opened one eye, and saw that Sam was still asleep beside him. Sitting up, he let out a groan. His head didn't exactly hurt, but it felt oddly stuffy, as if he was about to get a cold. He could smell bacon cooking downstairs, and fresh coffee brewing. Stretching his tired muscles, Dean slid off of the bed and started for the door, only to be stopped by the sound of his brother's voice.
Sam's voice sounded sleepy, but normal. Dean couldn't hear any of the pained underscoring he'd heard yesterday. He turned, almost reluctantly to face his brother.
Struggling with the tangled comforter, Sam sat up, his brow creased in confusion.
"I dreamed some weird stuff. Did I have a vision? I can't remember …"
The temptation so go with it, to pretend nothing untoward had occurred and pick up where they'd left off was great, distressingly so. It had taken a severe shock to reveal to Dean just how ingrained his tendencies to gloss over emotional issues were, and the strength of his desire to brush it off, even knowing everything he now knew, made him feel sick. What kind of brother would want to sweep something like suicide under the rug? What kind of person was he, that he had even entertained the thought? Unwilling to let his own comfort zone stand in the way of ensuring that his brother continued to live, Dean walked back across the room and sat on the edge of the bed. Sammy deserved the truth from him.
"What's the last thing you remember, Sammy?"
Sam yawned and rubbed at his left temple. "Head hurts."
"You hurt it in the wreck, and then you had a pretty powerful vision. Do you remember that?"
The younger Winchester rubbed at his temple again, straining to remember. "We went to meet Dad at Missouri's. We got out of the car and I – I think I had a vision. I remember falling, and then…"
He fell silent, a look of horror crossing his face.
"You had a vision that Dad and I were killed and you were out of your head delirious. You thought you needed to kill yourself so the demon would leave us alone."
Sam gasped, surprised that Dean would get to the emotional heart of the matter so quickly and sincerely.
"Your psychic geek-boy powers went wacky and started broadcasting your previous visions, past memories, and projected possible futures into Missouri's head. She –"
Sam interrupted, still looking horrified, "She didn't … tell me she didn't tell you or Dad what – what she saw?"
Shaking his head, Dean sighed. "No such luck, Sammy. She told us. We know your visions first started when you were twelve, manifesting themselves as nightmares. We know that you – that you thought about killing yourself then, and actually tried to off yourself when you were fourteen. God, Sammy! If I'd known, I wouldn't have said those things, Dad wouldn't have, either!"
It didn't seem as though Sam was even hearing him. As a matter of fact, it looked like his massively tall little brother wanted to disappear into the down comforter.
"Sammy!" Dean winced as his tone sounded sharper than he'd intended. "Sammy, don't hide from this, from me! I – I didn't know you'd considered it, or tried it, and I sure as hell don't want you to ever consider or try it again. If that means we talk about our feelings until I have to change my name from Dean to Deanna, then that's what we're going to do!"
Dean's speech brought fresh tears to Sam's eyes. Too tired and confused to hold them at bay, he let them slide slowly down his cheeks. "Really?"
Through the tears, Dean thought he could see a glimmer of hope or comfort or something like it in his brother's eyes. Was this really all it took to keep his Sammy in working order? Could something so simple as an offer to talk and listen really help in any meaningful way?
"Yes, really. Listen, I know it's late in coming, but you need to understand something, little brother. You need to understand that if you ever – ever died, especially by your own hand, I would NOT be okay. If I didn't blow my own brains out to join you, I'd probably drink myself to death or walk out in front of a bus or something. Not even killing the yellow-eyed demon is worth losing you. Am I clear?"
"Good. Now, we need to get some food into you. You've been picking around for days. "
"But I'm not –"
"Don't care. You're eating something, end of argument."
Dean had been all prepared for an argument, and so when Sam agreed without a struggle, he was caught by surprise. Eyeing his brother distrustfully as though he expected Sam to have some sort of trick up his sleeve.
"You stay put. I'll go downstairs and get us both some breakfast."
The anxious look that crossed his brother's face pulled hard at Dean's heartstrings. Sam didn't want him to leave – was he worried that Dean wouldn't come back, or that their father or Missouri would come while Dean was gone?
"Dad and Missouri are downstairs. I'm going to get us some food and come right back."
The anxiety seemed to be slightly relieved. "And then we'll talk?"
"Until you're blue in the face."