Author's Note: I wrote this
because like so many I feel there're so many bits and pieces missing
to the episode "Faith", and I would have loved to see more
of the brothers dealing with the fact one of them is going to die
Kudos to Glorfinniel for beta-reading!
In The Meantime
Sam sits on his bed, wide awake. His face is covered by his hands and he's got a headache from thinking too much. And from worry. He can't remember the last time he was this worried. Maybe he's never been this worried, like the fear is creeping up inside of him, eating his soul. He feels cold and he reckons that even if he wanted to sleep, he couldn't.
He sighs and looks up, first rubbing his temples, then running his fingers through his hair until he lets his chin rest in the palm of his hands. A glance over to the clock on the bedside table tells him it's five past 3AM. He considers starting to bite his nails. Or doing something else, just something.
Dean's lying in the other bed, fast asleep. He looks weird- usually he sleeps on his belly or on his side, or if he sleeps on his back he tends to have his arms mingled in some strange position that makes Sam wonder whether Dean possesses any bones at all. But this night he's very still, resting on his back with his hands simply folded over the blanket. Though it's warm in the room he's wearing a shirt with long sleeves and still seems to be freezing, shiverering every now and then. His face is almost white except for his eyes that are shadowed by dark circles. Sam's never seen Dean like this and he has to summon all his willpower to look at him and not turn his face away, or hide under his blanket, close his eyes and wish this was just another bad dream. It certainly feels like one.
He can't afford to sleep though. He needs to watch Dean in case - in case. His mind goes blank whenever his thoughts wander in that direction. There will be no 'in case' - or will there? What if?
Dean's a pain in the ass. Sam hates the way his older brother still treats him like a child, calls him Sammy, how he puts their father on this pedestal and never questions his actions. There was a reason why in his two years at college he never picked up the phone to give Dean a call and ask him how he's doing. He thought that he'd be better off without him, and that Dean on the other hand didn't care much how he, Sam, was holding up.
Sam can't afford to lose Dean. Not with his mother and Jessica dead and his father God knows where. Dean is all he's got - the thought strikes him with an unexpected intensity. For a moment Sam holds his breath, his thoughts spinning round and round so fast that he grabs for the blanket just to have something to hold on to. There's a big giant claw clutching to his heart. He can scarcely breathe.
What if Dean ... he'll be alone then. He'll be left behind and Dean will be gone. That just can't happen. There's still so much Dean needs to do first. He's so young. And so far his life's been nothing but fighting evil demons with his father and taking care of his little brother. Sam feels a lump growing in his throat. He's never really thought about it like that.
Life's not been exactly kind to either of them. But Dean still managed to stay kind, and caring though he tries his best to not have that side about him revealed. Dean's built walls around him so he won't get hurt. Sam's built walls around himself because he thought his father and brother just wouldn't care. But Dean's a good person. He's a good brother, Sam realises. Even now, while Dean's - Sam can't force himself to think the word out - his first concern is still his little brother. He makes evil jokes about his illness to keep Sam from worrying. It doesn't work, naturally, but there's the effort. He must be so scared, but he doesn't show it. Even now Dean won't permit himself to be weak. Even now he tries to take care of his little brother.
Tears fill Sam's eyes but he hastily wipes them away. There's no time for crying now. Dean moans quietly in his sleep and he shivers again. Slowly Sam gets up, walks over to the bed and pulls Dean's blanket up a little. He'd like to hug Dean now, or at least squeeze his hand or something but he knows Dean wouldn't allow it and so he doesn't. No chick flick moments. Sam smiles a little. Seems like that was ages ago.
Dean furrows his brows when Sam tucks him in, but he doesn't wake. For a moment Sam just stands there and watches him, then he sighs and crosses the room to fetch his father's journal from the table. He's gone through it fifty times at least, but he can't help but do it again and again, turn the pages in the desperate hope that he missed something, that maybe there's still a phone number noted down that Sam hasn't called yet. Or a hint. Anything.
Sam's never felt this helpless before. If this was a curse, dark magic or something supernatural he would figure a way out to break it. It's what he's good at after all.
But Dean's ill. He's "just" ill. Dean's heart is weak, and it might give up soon, and all Sam can do is cling to the hope that perhaps that faith healer in Nebraska can work the miracles the doctors can't. It's a very small hope and so far it's all that Sam's got.
Time ticks on. Sam keeps reading, and scanning the internet. He's gone by without sleep for so long he doesn't feel the tiredness anymore. Half past five. It's still dark outside. There're steps on the floor, an engine running, some people are leaving early. Dean's still sleeping.
It's not right. Dean's not supposed to be like this. He's the funny, strong one. Will their father come? Did he receive the message Sam left on his mobile? If only someone was there to back him up. Sam has not the faintest idea what to do, how to behave - he never expected that one day he'd have to. Dean was always there for him. The one person that would always, always be there. And now Sam's so close to losing him he doesn't even dare to think about it. He's afraid that thinking it out might make it real.
An hour later, Dean wakes up. Sam doesn't notice at first because he's busy reading websites, and so he jerks when he suddenly hears Dean's voice:
"Don't tell me you haven't slept at all tonight."
Closing the laptop Sam forces himself to smile, and he knows it looks fake because he normally wouldn't smile like that. "I did get some sleep."
Dean chuckles quietly and averts his eyes. "Liar," he says.
"Yeah, I think you got me." Sam puts away the laptop, gets to his feet and walks over to Dean's bed. He looks a little recovered, the circles around his eyes less dark, but they're still there and frightening. "How're you feeling?"
"Great." Dean's voice is a little different. It's raspy, and fragile. Goosebumps start to make their way over Sam's arms up to the skin on his head.
"Why're you already up anyway?" Sam asks gently. A little too gently, he knows Dean won't like it. Surprisingly, Dean doesn't seem to be in the mood to argue.
"Not used to sleeping at night I guess."
"Yeah, me neither." Sam replies absent-mindedly. His eyes wander over the blankets, the bed, the floor - anything but Dean's face. "Well, if you're up we can leave earlier then..."
"Right." There's the bitter chuckle again. "As if I'd let you drive in that condition. You know, I might be a dead man but I'm not taking any chances. First you get some sleep, Sam."
Sam shakes his head in a stubborn manner. "I'm fine." He wants to get going now. He doesn't want to wait and waste time.
"Well, I'm not going anywhere until you've had some sleep," Dean says. He suddenly sounds like always, strong and a lot like their father, but then he adds a little more quietly: "I'm not going anywhere Sam. I promise."
Now Sam can't help but look up and his gaze meets Dean's. He looks truly worried, he's worried over his little brother again. When Sam really should be his least concern. At last Sam sighs and shrugs a little. "Alright."
"That's my boy," Dean says, and now it's Sam who chuckles. But then he notices Dean's breathing has gone slightly raspy again, his chest is rising and sinking heavily, and the chuckle vanishes.
"You sure you'll be alright?" Sam asks. He halfway expects Dean to make a funny comment or at least what Dean thinks is funny but he doesn't. He just nods.
"Go to sleep, Sammy. Get some rest."
Somewhat reluctantly Sam sits down at the edge of his bed, rolls over and stretches out. As he closes his eyes he thinks he'll never be able to sleep now, but the next moment he's already overcome by exhaustion and dozed off.
Dean watches him. It breaks his heart to see what he's doing to Sammy. And more importantly, what he will be doing to Sam. When he dies. Not if - when. Dean hopes Sam will get over it, eventually. He's fairly sure Sam will. He's not like himself. Sam can do without family. Sure he'll be sad at first, and grieve but as time goes on Sam will forget about the pain, and he'll come to realise he doesn't need his brother, never did. Not really.
In a way, it's relieving, taking a lot of weight from Dean's shoulders. It will make going easier, when it comes down to it.
But in the meantime, he will watch over Sam.