Summary: Oubliette – from the French oublier, 'To forget'
Disclaimer: Not mine yet, but if that Warlock I hired earns his pay, they will be soon! Bwaa ha ha! Okay, fine. So I can't afford a Warlock – Neither Supernatural, Dean, nor Sam are not mine… Sigh…
Warnings: Bad language (sorry, but I just can't see Dean saying "Aw, shucks…" when he's pissed. Seriously, can you?)
A/N: Yes, yes, I know I have one more chapter to do for 'Burden of Sight', but this plot bunny came to me this morning, bit me squarely in the ass, and refused to let go until I got this down. Don't worry, I'll finish BoS soon… :)
Sam woke slowly to the unmistakable scent of antiseptic and sickness, his eyes blinking open groggily. He felt heavy, blurred, and as the stark hospital room came into focus his confusion intensified. He was lying on his back in a raised bed, his face turned toward the window. Sunlight streamed in through the open curtains and he squinted, his eyes watering.
Sam's head rolled toward the familiar voice. Dean was sitting in a chair next to his bed, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and a weary look on his face. There was a thin layer of stubble on his cheeks and his eyes were red-rimmed.
"Dean? What happened?" he asked, taking a mental check of his body. Nothing hurt, there were no bandages, no IVs, no monitors. And yet, he couldn't remember where he had been before this moment.
Dean looked away, his face tightening for a moment.
"We were hunting a spirit in Charleston, South Carolina. It knocked you over a balcony and you sustained a… head injury." Dean answered, still not looking at him.
"Oh," he managed. "I don't remember."
Dean flinched and stared at him with a strangely mournful expression.
"Yeah, Sam, I know."
"My head doesn't hurt," Sam mused, patting at his skull experimentally. "I feel… fine."
"Well, you were out for a while." Dean replied, sitting back. He looked exhausted and oddly thin. Sam pulled himself into a sitting position and stared at his brother levelly.
"I'm awake now." He pointed out, "Where's the doctor? Can we leave?"
"No, Sammy. The doc said… one more day, for observation. But hey, your nurse is kinda cute."
Dean smiled weakly, but it lacked his usual air of cockiness and suggestion. Sam felt a small surge of anxiety, sensing something off in his brother's voice.
"Dean, is something else wrong? What's going on?" He shifted nervously in the bed.
"Everything's fine, Sammy, I've just been… worried" Dean reassured, but his voice sounded forced, and Sam didn't miss the use of his pet name twice in as many sentences.
"Really?" he pressed. "I'm okay?"
Dean's eyes shot up and he swallowed thickly before giving a strained smile and nodding.
"And you? Did it hurt you, too? You're not-"
"No," Dean insisted, "I'm fine."
Sam sighed in relief and leaned back.
"Good… Did we get the spirit?"
"Yeah, I sent the fucker straight back to hell."
The raw anger in Dean's voice surprised Sam, but he didn't comment. He was probably just tired and stuck in protective-big-brother mode.
Sam's belly rumbled and he grinned.
"What does a guy have to do to get some food around here?" he asked, rubbing his stomach.
"Careful, Dude. You may end up wishing you'd gone hungry. It's Meatloaf Monday in the cafeteria."
Sam shot his brother a strange look.
"Jeez, Dean, you've memorized the menu already? Weirdo…"
Dean scrubbed his palms over the knees of his jeans and looked away.
"Yeah, well, maybe I can get you some takeout later."
Sam couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something Dean wasn't telling him. There was a minute of strained, awkward silence and the room seemed to shrink in on itself. Sam felt the sudden urge to be outside. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed he stood. Dean looked up at him questioningly.
"Can we go outside? It's really… stuffy in here." He asked, shifting from side to side. Dean nodded and joined Sam on his feet.
"Sure. There's a nice garden out back of this wing. We can go there."
He scooped up a pair of loafers from beside the bed and handed them to Sam, who grunted his thanks and slipped them on. The shoes looked unfamiliar, but molded perfectly to his feet as though he'd owned them for months. His brow furrowed with confusion for a moment, but then Dean was leading him out the door and down a long, bare hallway.
They passed several open doorways, and although he felt a little ashamed for doing so, he glanced into each one as they walked by. Two rooms held patients who appeared to be deeply unconscious, another a woman who sat rocking on her bed and drooling, a strange keening coming from her lax mouth. One man sat slumped in a chair by his window, a dark seam of stitches crossing the top of his bald skull in a long line.
"Dean, what wing of the hospital is this?" Sam asked, unnerved.
"It's where they treat patients with brain injuries."
"But, my brain's not injured."
"A concussion is still a brain injury, Sam." Dean said sharply, his fists clenching at his sides. Sam frowned.
"Sor-ry…" he mumbled, shooting a sideways look at his brother. He saw Dean take a deep breath and consciously relax his muscles.
"No, Sam, It's okay. I'm sorry. I'm just – tired." He sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Let's just go outside, okay? Maybe the fresh air will wake me up."
He rested a hand on Sam's shoulder and squeezed gently before leading him through the doors into the small garden.
"Wow," Sam breathed, "It's so nice out! Wasn't it colder, before? I mean – I feel like it should be colder." He scratched his head, perplexed and slightly disoriented.
"Nah." Dean dismissed offhandedly. "We were having a bit of rainy weather when you got… hurt."
Sam shrugged, turning his face up and watching the slight breeze rustle the leaves of a nearby Live Oak tree. It felt good to be outdoors, and he was again surprised at how well he felt, considering the fact that he was apparently concussed and being held in a hospital.
"So now that we're done here, what's our next gig?" He asked, sitting on a nearby bench.
Dean sat next to him, watching a sparrow hop after a tiny beetle on the pathway.
"Don't really have one, yet." He said vaguely.
"Oh, well, I'm sure we'll find something soon. Or something will find us. Things always seem to work out, don't they?"
Dean didn't answer, his head bowed. Sam felt a growing concern for his brother and reached out to clasp his wrist.
"Dean, hey, snap out of it, Dude. It's alright. I'm fine."
Dean stood abruptly, pulling his arm from Sam's grasp.
"I'm gonna go see about that takeout, alright? You… sit tight. Don't go anywhere, okay?"
"Sure," Sam replied automatically, watching his brother stride purposefully back inside.
What the hell is going on here?
Dean burst through the restroom door, locking it securely behind him before sinking to his heels against the wall. He inhaled shakily and pressed his hands to his eyes. With monumental effort he calmed his breathing and slowed his heartbeat, forcing himself to relax.
Sammy needed him to stay strong. Sammy needed him.
Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself to his feet and unlocked the door. He made his way past the open doorways of the wing's other inhabitants, being careful not to look inside. He couldn't stand to see them, visual reminders of his own brother's… damage.
As he approached the nurse's station to call for the food, he heard the hushed voices of two women in quiet conversation and slowed automatically to listen.
"…the Poor kid. He's got the most severe form of Anterograde Amnesia I've ever heard of. Can't remember anything that's happened the last three months – just goes to sleep and wakes up a clean slate."
Dean froze, recognizing the voice of Hannah, the portly day nurse who worked weekdays.
"And poor Dean, here every day… By tomorrow his brother won't even remember he was here at all, but he keeps on coming in, pretending, to keep Sam calm…"
The second nurse tsked sadly.
"Might've been better for them both if he hadn't survived the fall at all…"
Dean trembled with rage and forced himself to breath before rounding the corner. Both nurses jumped guiltily as he slammed a palm down on the counter.
"It might be better for you two gossipy whores to shut the hell up about things you know nothing about." He ground out.
Hannah gasped and the younger nurse's mouth fell open in shock. Dean narrowed his eyes at them and they shrank back from him slightly.
"Now," he said calmly, straightening and removing his hand from the counter. "I need to use the phone to order some food for my brother."
"Of-of course…" Hannah stuttered, gesturing at the handset. Dean turned his attention from them and snatched up the phone. He dialed the pizzeria's number by heart, having ordered from them often enough in the past three months to be on a first name basis with the staff. He ordered a large cheese and some sodas to be delivered, then slapped some money on the counter.
"Tell them to keep the change, and bring the pizza outside when it arrives - if you can find the time, that is, in between deciding who should live and who should die."
The younger nurse nodded hastily, looking like she would cry, and Dean almost felt bad for her.
But as heart wrenching as it was to watch Sam forget, over and over again, he was still his brother, and it was better than losing him altogether. How could they understand? How could they know, that their father had ignored Dean's frantic, broken voicemails - that Dean had no one left but Sam, broken as he was.
He kept his head down as he walked back down the hall, trying to compose himself. He paused as he stepped outside again, watching his brother blink lazily in the late morning sun. Sam turned as he heard the door click behind Dean, his eyes wide, trusting, and clueless.
Just as they'd been, every day now, for three months.
A/N: Anterograde amnesia is real, just not to the degree mentioned in this story. Usually patients lose the ability to store memory of events after a head injury for a only a short period of time. I've distorted reality for the sake of the plot (and that's why I write fiction instead of research papers. :) As I'm sure many of you will realize, the inspiration for this story is very loosely inspired by the movie "50 First Dates". But don't worry, the similarities stop after the amnesia. :) And no, Drew Barrymore will not be appearing in this story.