Some Kind of Angel
Warnings: Major spoilers abound for season two premier In My Time of Dying. And it was difficult to censor the boys in this story, so there is some mild profanity. No Wincest, just brotherly love with some hurt/comfort. And, um, angst. Who doesn't love guilty!Sam and vulnerable!Dean?
Author's Note: I've been kind of quiet lately…and this is the first thing I've written since one of my dogs, Lilly, had to be put down a month ago which I'm still getting over…so I'm not sure how this turned out. I was actually weary about writing anything ever again for some reason…but after this episode I was just beckoned to write something. And now I know how much I missed it. I apologize if Sam and Dean seem too emotional…it might just be my all-too-girly emotions that I've lost control of recently. But I revised this several times and each time tried to tone it down and keep it true for how I perceive the characters.
Side Note: I know there are already quite a few wonderful tags/missing scenes for this, and there will be several more I'm sure, which I can't wait to read. This is just my interpretation of what happened directly after the screen went black, so on and so forth.
Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable in this story. And Kripke owns me.
"Where were you last night?"
"I had something to take care of…"
"Okay, that's it everybody. I'll call it. Time of death- 10:41 a.m."
Sam watched in idle horror as the nurses and doctors surrounding John slowly departed. Dean took a few steps back until he was against the wall and Sam guessed he was whispering no, no, no, no, no, but all he really heard was that incessant flatline beeping that screamed your dad is gone, gone, gone, and you can't bring him back. As the doctor shut the monitor off, Sam was certain the machine laughed.
"What? No…" Sam protested immediately. Most of the hospital staff was already out of the room but one remaining doctor stopped in the doorway and glanced at the boys sympathetically.
"I'm sorry, boys…He's gone. You two should leave the room, it's not—"
"You're just going to give up on him?" Sam cut him off.
"We've done everything we could." The doctor said, and the brothers learned quickly to hate those words.
"Like hell," Sam spat, lunging forward and beginning compressions on his father. The doctor stepped into the room again, ready to stop Sam, but Dean caught him first and pushed him back firmly. The older brother had an almost violent stare down for a moment with the doctor, and the grief in his eyes did most of the talking.
"I'll take care of him." Dean bit his lip as he spoke, motioning for the man to get out while he could still walk. He was in no mood to fight a doctor, but Dean about had it with this hospital and everything that's gone on since they arrived.
The doctor gave a disapproving glance at Sam but quickly passed an understanding nod and shut the door on his way out. The look Dean gave him was nothing to be argued with.
Once it was just them and their dad, Dean almost let his wall crumble at the sight of Sam hovering over John like a little boy begging his dad to wake up. But Dean knew better.
"Come on, Dad!" Sam yelled. "You don't want to fight with me, then fight for me." He huffed out, putting as much pressure as he could on his father's chest. "Fight for us!" he cried out, and Dean winced from the painful desperation in his little brother's voice.
"Sam," Dean tried. He didn't know what was supposed to come next. Winchesters didn't give up on family. He didn't know what to say. His entire life was spent following orders and preparing for all kinds of situations…but never for this. Never for their father dying. He was almost waiting for some direction, some command, for John to just wake up and tell him what he needed to do and that it'd be okay. But he heard nothing, and between Sam's bitter breaths it was the saddest silence.
Dean secretly hoped that maybe Sam could revive their father. But it had been too late. For them, it was always too late.
"Sammy," he gained a bit more strength in his voice now. He walked towards Sam and placed his hands over his brothers and pressed down gently. He exhaled sharply before saying what needed to be said. "It's over."
Sam looked at Dean as if he were seeing a stranger, and that hurt all the more. Dean would never let it be over. It was never supposed to be over.
"NO!" Sam growled, and knocked Dean's hands away. He then made a fist and slammed down, pounded down on John's chest. Dean grabbed Sam's arm but the taller Winchester pulled away furiously. "You can't be dead! Damn you!" Sam shouted. Angry tears spilled down his face and he grimaced shortly before striking John hard across the face. "I'll hate you for leaving us like this! I'll hate you for dying!"
"Sam, STOP!" Dean said through gritted teeth.
And for the smallest instant, everything went black and there was a flash of light—firelight and heat and smoke and blood, and someone was crying and someone was screaming—"Take your brother outside as fast as you can. Now, Dean—GO!"—running—running—always running—do as your told, save Sammy, help Sammy, run—run—run—the fire is coming.
Dean grabbed Sam and tore him away. As Sam fought for control, Dean had no choice but pull him away harder. Away from the pain, away from the suffering, away from the fire always behind them.
He pushed Sam up against the nearest wall and held him there, but Sam wouldn't look him in the eye. Dean was beginning to regret the decision as his body had been through enough. He didn't know where the strength came from, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that he was pretty well numb, couldn't feel much of anything, and adrenaline was coursing through him.
"Look at me, Sammy. Look at me." Dean ordered, and he felt his voice break. He grabbed Sam's chin and forced him to face him and then Sam was nearly hyperventilating. Dean felt tears of his own well up as he looked at Sam. There was so much aged sadness in his young eyes, too much damned guilt masked with unbridled anger. At first Sam scowled and he wanted to shout and kick and hit and run and hide but Dean wouldn't let him, Dean wasn't going to let him go and Sam knew that.
"It's my fault…all my fault…" Sam shook his head.
"No, it's not. Don't you do this to yourself. Don't you dare."
"God, Dean…it can't end like this…" Sam said harshly.
Dean wanted to cry. He felt the tears stinging his eyes, but he couldn't let himself cry. He fought against the tears because he had to hold himself together. He couldn't fall apart because someone needed to take care of Sam, and Dean knew he was the only one who could.
"Aren't you going to do anything, Dean? You haven't even tried…"
There was a familiar loneliness behind the words that Dean recognized but couldn't pinpoint where from. Hazy bits of memory pieced together like a severed puzzle.
Nothing you can do about it.
Death is nothing to fear. It's time to let go.
Aren't you gonna do anything? Aren't you even gonna say anything? I've given everything I've ever had and you're just gonna sit there and watch me die.
It's my sandbox.
Nothing you can do about it.
The fight is over.
Nothing you can do about it.
"Sometimes, there's nothing you can do…" Dean said in defeat, unsure of where the words came from but struck by the brutal rationality of them. "I'm sorry, Sammy."
"He was fine, Dean! He was fine…what happened? I don't understand…I…"
"Sam, I know…I don't understand either, but…"
"Those things I said to him…I…I don't even know if he knows I love him, Dean," Sam said, and finally the mask of anger broke and the tears poured out from a burdening storm Sam kept inside. He whimpered as Dean pulled him close into a tight hug.
"God, Sammy," Dean whispered, squeezing his arms as hard as he could around his younger brother. Eventually Sam relented completely and his body gave way and he fell into Dean's embrace.
"I love him…but I was also so mad around him…and now, I can't even tell him I'm sorry and that I love him," Sam unraveled entirely as he shook with sobs he couldn't control. Dean was beginning to lose it himself, and somehow, together, they slid down to the floor and cradled each other in a huddle. Sam buried his face in Dean's chest and screamed so quietly, so weakly, that Dean bit his lip to halt his own tears so fiercely it bled.
"He knows, Sam. Believe me. He knows." Dean chanted in Sam's ear softly.
"We…we were supposed to be…a family. Like you wanted…like you deserved. We're supposed to be together…as a family, Dean," Sam muttered, gripping his brother's shirt so hard it almost tore.
"We are a family, Sam. We are. And we will be okay. It's gonna be okay, kiddo."
"I want him back."
Dean felt his stomach churn with a wave of nausea when Sam said those words. Four little words that said so much. Four tiny words that cut Dean's heart in millions of pieces because he always would give Sam whatever he wanted but this one thing he could not.
"So do I. But we've gotta be strong, you know that? We need to hang in there for him, okay?"
Sam slowly nodded and subconsciously pressed himself closer to Dean and clung.
"Don't leave, Dean. Don't ever die on me."
Dean almost laughed. He was already on borrowed time and he knew that. He hated it as much as he was grateful for it. And the notion of never dying coming from such a brilliant mind was laughable. Somehow, he beat two reapers with the help of Sam. He wouldn't be surprised if he'd do it again some day, but he wasn't ready to press his luck. He put his head on Sam's shoulder and ruffled his brother's hair.
"I won't." Not anytime soon. "We've got work to do, Sammy."
Dean knew, one day, he'd have to pay back the time he borrowed and then some. But that day wouldn't be until all the wrongs were rectified, until justice more than revenge could be served, and most of all…until Dean knew beyond a reasonable doubt that Sam would be okay. No Demon. No plans. Just life, and the best one he could have. Only then would Dean let go. But not now.
Dean sighed, tossing his cell phone away from him at the end of his bed.
"It's all taken care of. Made arrangements with Bobby. He also has a car we can take to Lawrence tomorrow morning. We'll work out the…burial…details later." Dean cleared his throat.
Sam stayed in his position, the same position he'd been in since they arrived at the dusky motel just a couple hours earlier, lying on his back staring at the ceiling, half on half off the bed.
"Did you call Missouri, yet?"
"I will in a little while. Although, I'm kind of hoping she already knows so I don't have to tell her that Dad is…" Dean stopped and looked around the room as if some prickly entity might scold him for his nonchalance given the subject matter.
Sam, for the first time, turned his head to face Dean and really looked at him.
"I know," Sam finished, matching Dean's adversity with saying the word.
"We, uh…we have a long drive tomorrow. You should get some sleep."
"I'm not very tired."
"My ass. I already know you hardly slept at all since we'd been admitted to the hospital. Get some rest, Sam."
Sam rolled over on his side, facing Dean completely, and puffed out a breath. "You need your rest, too, you know."
"Yeah, well, I was only comatose for nearly two days. Excuse me for not being so tired."
Sam narrowed his eyes and then flipped himself over roughly, facing the wall. He didn't want to cry. He was so sick of crying. But now all he saw was Dean lying there with a tube down his throat and machines breathing for him, living for him. He remembered those endless hours waiting for Dean to recover, to wake up—because they were just starting to be brothers again.
He remembered almost losing Dean there in that hospital. He almost watched his brother die. Sam felt ill suddenly. Saliva was building up faster than he could swallow, and then it was difficult to swallow because his entire chest felt weak and it was pounding and he could hardly breathe.
Sam didn't answer. Instead he partially hopped but mostly fell out of the bed and ran to the bathroom where whatever little food he'd eaten the last few days made a startlingly gross reappearance.
Dean got out of his bed and stood outside the bathroom door.
"You okay in there?"
Sam moaned what Dean allotted to be an 'I'll live' and so he eased up a bit. He sat down on the edge of Sam's bed and waited.
"You two are all I've got. But I guess we are stronger as a family. So... we go after this damn thing...together…"
Dean's mind was wandering to places he didn't want to go. Sam was still in a fragile place. Dean couldn't afford to let his guard down. But one of his greatest abilities is to remain strong and optimistic for those around him, those he cared about…and it was also one of his greatest weaknesses. Because when he was alone, in his own solitude is where his true misery lies because only when he's alone does he allow himself to feel sorry or sad…because the only person he'd be letting down is himself.
And he glanced around the quiet, empty room. Then he saw it. He didn't know why he didn't see it before, or maybe he wasn't looking for it…but it was there.
That journal. That legacy their father left behind.
He walked over to the table it was on and stared down at it. He was afraid to touch it, afraid to pick it up for some reason. But he wanted to. It was their Dad. And he wanted him back so much. Carefully, as if it were a sacred object that could disintegrate if handled improperly, Dean picked up the worn, leather-clad journal and traced its pages with his fingertips.
Somehow, a droplet of water landed on one of the ink-ridden pages, and then another drop and another. At first, Dean looked up, wondering if there was some leak in the crappy motel ceiling, but it didn't take him long to realize the roof wasn't leaking. He was crying.
"Shit…" Dean cursed beneath a wary breath.
"Dean?" Sam held his stomach with one of his arms and used the other for support as he leaned against the bathroom doorway. "Dean, what is it?"
Dean, under normal circumstances, would pass along a nice, friendly white lie. Nothing, Sam. Forget about it. But these weren't their kind of normal of circumstances. Their dad was dead. Gone. And not coming back.
"I just...it's...his journal. I was just thinking...this is the last thing he's given us. Everything he is, all he was...is this book."
"He was a lot of things, Dean."
"This journal...all it is, is a reminder of twenty-two years he spent hunting evil, dedicated to finding the demon and killing it. Twenty-two years of a crusade, marching in and out of hell on a daily basis, dragging his two warrior sons behind him. Twenty-two years, Sam, that stole our father from us. And now he's dead! He's fucking dead and he'll never get to see it through. It was all for nothing!" Dean yelled, and Sam watched in agony as the journal was thrown ferociously against the wall. Yellowed, torn pages flew around the brothers as a pallid snow of painful memories.
Dean didn't know if he was crying. He knew his eyes burned and his face was damp and it was getting hard to see Sam standing there because everything was blurry. But he didn't know if he was crying. He just hoped he wasn't, and everything else was a coincidence. But Sam knew.
"It wasn't for nothing," Sam spoke softly. Dean flinched a little when Sam took a step towards him and Sam stopped, looking worried. He wasn't much good at being the comforter--that was always Dean. But Dean was so broken and someone needed to take care of him, and Sam knew he was the only one who could.
"This fight is just starting. We're all going to have a part to play."
Sam found his ground and walked over to Dean, who tried to turn away but Sam held his shoulders firmly before he could.
"I haven't always enjoyed the life we had. I didn't like all the long nights, all the close calls, all the moving around…but what Dad started? What we've done? We've helped to save so many people. Good, innocent people. I know you're trying to stay strong for me. I know the fact you're crying right now is really pissing you off because you think it means you're weak. I know, Dean. And I appreciate you trying. But, God, Dean, you're only human."
"I don't know how to make this better. I don't know how to make the pain go away for you, for me…I don't know what to do without Dad here."
Sam pressed his forehead onto Dean's and laughed a sad laugh.
"We're Winchesters, remember? We'll figure things out. Man, you've got to let go of some of this. You can't always take on responsibility for everything bad that happens. Sometimes, there are no answers on what to do next. You can't flip out on me, okay? I can't lose you…I wouldn't survive that." Fresh tears began to brim in Sam's eyes, which he quickly wiped away. The brothers sat down on the nearest bed, staring at the ground.
"Sammy…" Dean started to calm down. He didn't know what he was doing to himself. What was he holding inside and why was he afraid to let it go?
"I miss Dad. We both do. We're in this together. You and me are gonna finish what Dad started."
Dean wiped his own eyes and blinked a few times, turning to look at Sam.
"Are you just saying that to make me feel better?" Dean said with a twinge of amusement in his voice, but he hoped Sam was sincere.
"I mean it, Dean. For a long time I didn't think I wanted to be a part of this…and after Jess…well, a lot has happened to us along the way…now I'm sure we're meant to do this. This is our destiny. And you gotta admit, we make one hell of a team."
That drew a real smile from the elder brother.
"Sam…I, um," Dean sighed heavily, rubbing his hands over his face. "Thank you. Thanks for being here for me."
Sam sniffled, curling half his lip into a smirk.
"Where else would I be?"
"I could name a few places. Probably somewhere that you're big brother isn't having a nervous breakdown."
"Ha!" Sam laughed dryly. "Don't feel so bad. I wasn't exactly the epitome of calmness this morning, either."
Dean ran his tongue across the front of his teeth while in a mildly deep thought.
"Yeah, well, that's to be expected little brother. You are the baby." Dean smiled.
"Said the guy who had a fit and threw a book against the wall." Sam countered, with a devilish grin and a boyish chuckle.
"Great, Sam. I'm glad my pain is humorous to you." Dean said, but he left the joking tone of his voice out, and he furrowed his expression purposely into a frown.
Sam immediately looked worried and jumped into an apologetic stance with his hand on his brother's knee.
"Dean, I was just kidding—that was—I'm sorry—I—"
And Dean just started laughing.
"I know. You're an easy target."
"So…is this okay?"
"Is what okay?"
"Making jokes…laughing…feeling okay?"
Dean got off the bed and knelt on the floor, starting to pick the loose pages of the journal up. Sam mirrored his brother.
"Honestly, Sammy…it's a lot easier to laugh than to cry right now, or to be angry. It doesn't change things or take away the pain…but we have to get through this. We need to."
"You feel guilty for smiling? For feeling kind of happy? You feel guilty for living when Dad isn't?"
Sam didn't need to nod. He didn't need to say anything. The answer was obvious.
"You know, Sam, when Mom died time kind of stopped for a while. It was always November 2nd. Dad wasn't the same—was never the same—and there was so much silence, so much sadness…and I never knew what to say or do and he didn't either. And there came a point one night when Dad sat me down, and I was holding you, and he said…this isn't what Mary would want. Our Mom would want us to keep smiling, keep laughing, and keep living. And it's the same now. Dad wouldn't want us to sulk. It can't stay 10:41 a.m. forever, Sammy."
Sam used his sleeve to dry his eyes and he sniffled a few more times.
Dean raised his eyebrows giving his brother a 'duh' look and Sam smiled.
They each spotted the same thing on the floor between them: an old photograph with torn edges and a scratchy finish. The picture must have been at least ten years old. It was of the two of them, tossing a football around in what appeared to be a field that was near Pastor Jim's place, and they were each surprised at how happy they looked. Must have been one of the times Sam and Dean stayed and Jim's for a few weeks when their dad was on an extended hunting trip.
Dean picked up the picture and turned it around. On the back of it was John's handwriting and Dean moved it closer so both he and Sam could read it together.
This is what I'm missing everyday. Keep fighting until the end, until it's safe for them to just be children and just be happy, and I can just be the father they deserve.
Dean felt a lump swelling in his throat and the all too-recently-familiar hot, moist sensation gathering in his eyes.
Sam shut his eyes and sat down with his back against the bed, placing his head in his hands and tried to stifle his cries. Dean was about to say something, but then Sam started laughing. He laughed so hard that he almost couldn't breathe. Dean, a little fearful of this, decided to indulge his brother and began laughing, too, playing along with whatever Sam's game was.
"It is a lot easier to laugh than cry, Dean. But you're right…it doesn't stop it from hurting."
"And it won't," Dean smiled sadly. He gathered the rest of the journal pages together and set them on a table. He then offered his hand to Sam and helped him up. "But if you ever need to just cry, I understand. Just drop me off at the nearest bar, I'll be fine."
Sam tilted his head back and laughed as the last of his tears disappeared into the air. Dean patted him on the back and walked around to the other bed.
"Dean," Sam started to say, climbing back onto his bed.
"I know. I'm a good brother."
"No, Dean," Sam sighed. "You're an awesome brother."
"Nah," Dean set the picture they just discovered on the table between their beds and then sat up in his bed and stared ahead. "We're both awesome. I'm just better looking."
Sam snorted. "Whatever."
It was starting to get late and the long hours that had gone by throughout the day were taking their toll on each of them.
"Sometimes," Dean commented thoughtlessly with a small laugh. Sam rolled his eyes.
"No, really, Sam, what?"
Sam was quiet for a moment, wondering how he wanted to ask his question.
"…Do you believe in Heaven?"
Dean wasn't expecting the question. And he wasn't expecting such an unexpected question to have his thoughts so wildly entertained and distraught.
Really, Dean wasn't sure.
There were a lot of things in their lives that most people would never believe in that he knew were real. Of Heaven, he wasn't quite sure. He liked the idea of Heaven. He liked the comfort of the idea, knowing there was a safe place where all loved ones go when they die. But did he believe in it? He just wasn't sure.
Then he looked over to Sam, his younger brother with such a desperate, pleading look that shined in his eyes. Dean could tell Sam wanted to believe, and maybe with the right push, the right perception, he could believe and be offered the faithful comfort that goes along with it.
And if he could look at Sam—his Sammy—and see a bright hope for the future amid a dark, frightening past and present—
If he could look at Sam—his Sammy—and feel that there has to be something better out there, because his brother earned the right to have it—
If he could look at Sam—his Sammy—and see not just a brother, but some kind of angel who was sent to give him purpose and show him what it means to love unconditionally—
Then there could be just as much good in the world as there was evil.
There could be a Heaven.
And Dean could believe in it.
"Yeah. I believe in Heaven. Now, how about we get some rest."
Sam dropped his shoulders as if a burden was lifted, of course he'd never admit to having one. That was what big brothers were for- to figure things out without really being told. And the Winchesters were masters at saying things without really speaking. Although, once in a while, certain things need to be said, and more importantly—heard.
"I'm really glad you're alright, you know?"
"Me, too. Glad you're safe."
"I…I just want to tell you that…I…"
"Wait, Sam. This isn't going to be one of your 'just in case' speeches, is it? You know how I feel about—"
"I love you."
It had been a long time since those words were said. They were often whispered, screamed, yelled, and spoken through actions…but there's something different about hearing them said aloud.
"Just in case…?" Dean waited for something, wondering what would come next. If Sam said anything about dying or losing the fight, Dean was gonna kill him. But Sam just smiled and shut the light off, leaving them in the dark with a few splinters of light from the streetlamp outside the window.
"No. Just because." Sam answered. Because sometimes you should get to hear that. Because I don't tell you enough. Because I do.
Dean slunk down into his bed, staring blankly at the dark ceiling.
"Ditto," Dean said, and he heard his brother shuffle in his bed.
"Ditto?" Sam repeated, trying not to laugh.
"Yeah, you know like they said in that movie Ghost?"
"Yeah…okay. Well, first of all, Ghost did not coin the term 'ditto'. And secondly…why Ghost?"
"I don't know, dude. It was just in my head. I bet when I was having that out of body experience, I totally gave Swayze a run for his money. I wish I could remember what happened…"
"Only you would make that comparison, Dean. Only you." Sam said, his voice quieting as he got situated and ready to try and sleep. "But if it's all right with you, I rather forget your spirit was outside of your body."
Dean caved in his poking fun, remembering what happened earlier when Sam recalled the events from the other morning. Dean couldn't imagine what it'd be like thinking Sam was dying, and he guessed Sam felt that pain full force when Dean was dying.
"Yeah, no problem," Dean was quick to say. "You put up with a lot from me. I don't know how you do it."
"Simple. You're my brother. I'm glad you're my brother, too. Even if you are a pain the ass."
Dean snickered quietly. He then decided, just this once, for Sam, to swallow his pride and let down his wall and take off his mask…and say something by actually saying it.
Because sometimes Sam should get to hear it. Because he doesn't tell Sam enough.
"I love you, too, Sammy." Dean whispered.
Because he does and always will.
It's one thing John never had to tell Dean to do. And whenever Dean remembers the photograph John took in secrecy, an aching motivation to strive forward and fight for the win, Dean will remember that John loved Sam and him. And he'll make sure he, nor Sam, will ever forget that.
"Goodnight," Sam said, and Dean heard the smile in his voice.
"Night, Sam. Oh, and by the way…"
"It's okay, Sammy. We're gonna be okay, I promise."
"I know, Dean. I know."
"It's very unseemly, making deals with devils—If only your boys knew how much their daddy loved them."
"Where were you last night?"
"I had something to take care of…"
I did it for you two. I love you both. I'm sorry for a lot of things. But mostly…I'm sorry you'll never know how much I love you.
Another Author's Note (Because you love them): I just know I'm going to re-read this in the morning and wonder 'what the hell did I do?' but I don't care. I feel better now that I got this out. And hopefully someone enjoys it. Right now this is just a one-shot, and I doubt I'll make any additions or sequels for it…but, who knows. I guess anything is possible.
Thanks for reading. Any comments, complaints, suggestions, criticism—always welcome and appreciated.