Author's Notes:

(1) This was written in a burst of lunchtime inspiration for P.L. Wynter's Missing Scenes challenge. I uploaded it w/o a beta (sorry!) so please forgive any silly mistakes. Reviews encouraged. :)

(2) Like an idiot, I forgot to give big thanks to Lp29 for taking mercy on a first-time fic writer and beta-ing my first story, "The Good Son." I was utterly nervous about posting it, and the encouragement really meant a lot.


Sam was killing him.

That wasn't really fair. His damaged heart was killing him. Sam was just helping it along by leaving him alone in a hospital full of strangers and plain nurses. The white walls, white sheets, white everything were driving him crazy. One more hour of daytime television, and he'd be begging to be put out of his misery.

And Sam wasn't here. He could stop breathing at any moment, and Sam wasn't here. He'd been abandoned in favor of a wireless connection.

Dean shifted in his hospital bed, closing his eyes when the motion elicited a twinge in his chest. Truth be told – and he'd never tell Sam this particular truth – he was terrified. Yes, he'd accepted the fact that he was going to die. He'd always been a realist. But that didn't mean he wanted to go, or that he welcomed it. No. There were places, believe it or not, he'd never been to. There were things he hadn't done. There were people to save, evil SOBs to kill.

And he was terrified of leaving Sam alone. Who'd be there to protect him when Dean was gone? Not dad. There'd be no one. Sammy would be on his own.

He heard the door and slowly opened his eyes, hoping to see his shaggy haired beanpole of a brother duck through. But it wasn't Sam, just grandmotherly Nurse Susan. She gave him a sunny greeting that he didn't return and started checking all the machines that were driving Dean crazy with their beeps and sighs and hisses.

"You seen my brother around?" he asked when she was about to leave.

She turned in the door, her eyes and smile sympathetic. "No I haven't, honey. I'm sure he'll be by later; he's so good at visiting."

"Yeh. Real good," he muttered, turning his head to look out the window.

It wasn't like he didn't understand what Sammy was up to. Hell, he'd probably be doing the same thing, but Dean wasn't in the mood to be sympathetic. He didn't have time to be understanding. He was dying, and Sam wasn't here. He had days, maybe a week left, and he was spending that time alone.

Suddenly Dean couldn't deal with it, not one minute more.

He would have yelled out for Nurse Susan if he could, but he was reduced to pushing the stupid call button over and over until she reappeared. He had to give her credit – she hid her irritation well.

"Yes hon?"

"I'm checking out. I need my clothes," he said as he began the slow process of sitting up.

The look of surprise and disapproval on her face was unmistakable, even though he didn't care about her opinion one way or the other. "That's not a good idea, Mr. Winchester; the doctor said–"

"I know, I know, it'll be against medical advice," he interrupted, breathing a bit heavy now that he'd managed to sit. "Get me whatever forms you need me to fill out so I can leave."

Her face softened, and something told him she was about to go all grandmother on him. He just didn't want to deal with that. "Please, just get Dr. Bierce for me so I can leave. I'm not going to die here."

"Oh, sweetie, I understand," she said, leaning against the doorway. "But why don't you wait for your brother, so you two can talk about it?"

"No," he whispered. "I just want to leave."

The nurse hesitated, then nodded. "I'll page him. You just sit tight until then, okay? Once you're all done I'll help you change."

She left, and Dean simply sat. It took energy just to do that much, and the realization frightened him all the more.

It took 15 minutes for Dr. Bierce to come talk to him. He started off with the standard language that Dean had heard before – this wasn't exactly the first time he'd checked out or been checked out against a doctor's wishes, so he barely listened to the words now. But Bierce was going on for too long.

"Look, doc, I understand," he interrupted. "I've got less time out there than I would in here, and if something happens there won't be time for me to get to a hospital. I don't care. I'll sign one of those DNR thingees if you want, so I don't waste anyone's time. I'm done. Dead man walking."

The doctor looked like he wanted to argue, but both of them knew Dean was right. Finally Bierce sighed and handed over the forms. "The only thing I'll say is to think about your brother. We can look after you here, but if you leave he's going to have to do it all. Are you sure he can handle it?"

It was the one statement that made Dean pause. But a moment later his messy scrawl was on the consent form. "He can."

He wasn't going to make Sam put up with much. It didn't matter how weak he was, or if he was in any pain. He'd stay in bed, or in the car, and when the time came he'd just go. It didn't seem like it would be too hard, dying.

Nurse Susan helped him get dressed, which left him so tired that he didn't even argue when she bullied him into a wheelchair to take him to the lobby. He didn't let her call Sam to come get him, but he did let her summon a cab and help him into the back seat. And when he saw the tears glistening in her eyes he managed to give her a smile and a thanks, pressing his hand against the glass.

Dean gave the driver the name of the hotel they'd gotten a room at before all this happened, then closed his eyes and leaned bonelessly back, propped up by the juncture of seat and door. When they got to the hotel the cabby helped him get to the door, which was embarrassing but sickeningly necessary. He had to save all his strength for Sam.

He waited for the cab to leave, and even then he hesitated. Dean knew he was about to put his brother through hell. He was going to force Sam to watch him die. He shouldn't do it to him, not after what he'd already gone through with Jess – it was enough to make him feel very guilty. But that guilt couldn't win against one overwhelming truth:

Dean was terrified of dying alone.

"Sorry Sammy." Raising his hand, he knocked on the door.