Disclaimer: The pretties still belong to someone who's not me. But I'm working on it… evil fangirl grin
A/N: Yep. Still can't get over it. So here's a totally freakish, AU way of dealing with that promise Sam coerced out of my poor boy.
Warnings: Spoilers for 'Playthings'. Not much else.
It was a quiet car ride. Too quiet. The only sound in the car coming from the tiny splutters of rain against the roof and windows. Sam was staring out the passenger side window at the quickly changing view. Dean could almost swear there was a little dark cloud above his head, showering his brother with bad mood.
Not that he was in much better mood. He tried turning the radio on a few miles back, but the music grated on his nerves and he switched it off.
They'd been driving for a while now; away from Susan's hotel, away from Connecticut. Dean didn't know where, just that he needed to drive. He tried to talk to Sam a few times, but the words always died on his lips before he managed to get them out. He supposed calling his brother names wasn't going to get him far. Might make him feel better, though.
"Jerk." Dean muttered quietly, glimpsing at his little brother. Nope. Didn't make him feel better at all.
"Feels good to get back in the saddle, doesn't it?" he had asked.
"Yeah…" Sam replied, and Dean preferred to ignore the tone of his voice. Couldn't ignore it for long, though. "Yeah, it does." Sam repeated. "But it doesn't change what we talked about last night, Dean." Dean's heart skipped a beat. His stomach lurched. Still had his poker face on, though. Maybe Sammy doesn't mean… Please, don't let him mean…
"We talked about a lot of things last night."
"You know what I mean." And it felt like a punch to the stomach. You know, if the punch was delivered by a semi.
"You were wasted," Dean bit out, almost accusingly, almost defensively.
"But you weren't." Sam stopped him, "And you promised."
He tried to think of something to say to that, but he couldn't. God, why couldn't he ever just catch a freaking break? Just once in his life, was that too much to ask?
So okay, yeah. Sam's past this whole 'I'm so pissed you kept this secret from me' thing, which was good. And he was starting to look at things objectively, which was also good. But why did he only see the half empty part of the glass? That's what he's asking Dean? To kill him? Because Dad said? How screwed up is that? Damn it, Sam, why couldn't you just ask me to help you fight this thing? To make sure nothing ever happens to you? To find and kill that sonofabeast before he ever gets the chance to put his mojo on you? Why couldn't you ask me to promise that, huh?
"I'm hungry." Sam said nearly an hour later, breaking the silence. He sat up in his seat, looking at his older brother. "Aren't you hungry?" he asked. Dean looked at the time. Nearly dinnertime.
"Yeah, we'll stop at the next motel, get some food, get some rest." Dean said dryly and started looking for any sign of a motel. He wasn't really hungry, didn't have much of an appetite, but he needed some more time to think.
Dean had Sam check them in this time. He hoped it would take longer, but apparently neither Sam nor the desk clerk were in a chatty mood.
"D'you get the room?" Dean asked, pulling his bag out of the trunk, leaving Sam's for his brother to carry.
"Room 27." Sam said, taking his bag out of the car and waited for Dean to lock it. Dean followed him to the room, which was sort of nice, considering where they've been staying lately. It was on the second floor, with a nice, roofed hallway and little planters with colorful flowers every few steps. It was well lit and seemed clean. Dean couldn't complain.
He walked inside the room, dropping his bag on the first bed. He opened it, rummaging inside, and took out his toiletries. Leaving his duffle open, Dean put his things in the bathroom.
"So, I'm gonna go get some food," Dean said as he got out of the bathroom. Sam gave him a slight nod, carefully putting the laptop on the low table. "I… saw the washing machine's free of charge. Any chance you'll do the laundry?" he asked. Sam made a face.
"I don't really feel like it." He said. "Hey, try to get onion rings, would you?"
"Dude, free laundry!" Dean admonished. Sam sighed rolling his eyes.
"Yeah, okay." He said. "But you do it next time."
Sam took his time at the bathroom. It wasn't everyday he got the chance to use such a clean toilet, and damn if he wasn't going to take advantage of it. He washed his hands, drying them on a chaffy towel. Well, at this price, not everything can be perfect, he supposed.
He sighed and reluctantly turned to his duffle, sorting out his clean clothes from his dirty ones. Rolling them all inside one big shirt, he put them on Dean's bed. For a moment, he contemplated just taking Dean's duffle, wash everything, but the duffle was heavy and they've done their laundry fairly recently. With an even more reluctant sigh, Sam began rummaging inside his brother's duffle. The sox and underwear were easy; Dean always kept the dirty ones in a smaller, cloth bag. The rest of his things would need sniffing. Man, how much Sam hated that part…
And then something caught his eyes. A large envelope. A large, fat, official looking, envelope. With a hospital logo on it. Sam's brow creased as he pulled the envelope out of the bag. It was too big to be a bill, and what would his brother be doing keeping a hospital bill anyway? Wasn't like they actually paid any of them. Besides, bills don't usually come in large envelopes marked 'do not fold', do they?
The name on the envelope was Trevor Frogger, an alias Dean adopted after young Sam asked him if they could keep his pet frog.
Sam glanced over his shoulder, but Dean was nowhere around anyway. He hesitated for a moment, but then flipped the envelope over, opening it. A few papers fell out, but there were more inside, along with old x-ray films.
Sam bent over, picking the papers off the floor, hoping Dean didn't have any special order for them. A few words caught his eyes. Allergic reaction, and some medical talk. Huh. He knew Dean was allergic to Penicillin, but that wasn't the drug the paper said Dean was allergic to. Stupid jerk, why didn't he tell Sam about it? With the number of visits the Winchesters made to the hospital, allergies were high on their 'need to know' list.
Sitting down on the bed, Sam flipped through some more papers. Most of them were old test results. They didn't seem to be in any special order, but that could just be because they fell out of the envelope. And then Sam's heart missed a beat. He swallowed hard, reading the hand written note a couple more times. The tests appear normal, blah, blah, blah. No evidence of the cancer.
His brother had cancer.
His brother had had cancer, and never told him about it.
The laundry forgotten, Sam took everything out of the envelope, going through it all carefully.
Hodgkin's lymphoma. There was an old, rumpled pamphlet with some information about it. The survival statistics showed over 80 percent of people with stage one or two Hodgkin's survive for at least ten years.
Sam reread the doctor's note about Dean's recovery at least a dozen times.
His brother had had cancer, and never told him about it.
Sam didn't even look up when the door opened.
"So I guess you found something better to do than laundry." Sam ignored his brother, reading another set of test results. "What've you got there, Sammy?" Dean asked, not particularly curious, as he put the food on the table. "Oh, hey, I got you a girly salad. They had these salads in the fridge, so I figured…" Dean shrugged. Sam still didn't look at him. "What? You found us a new job already?" he asked, unceremoniously pushing Sam's dirty clothes to the floor and sitting on his bed. "Is it porn?" he asked with a smirk, wiggling his eyebrows. "Aw, come on, Sammy, share." That got him a death glare. Dean raised his hands in mock surrender, getting back to his feet. "Fine, keep your porn. It's better when you actually see it, though." He quipped, getting back to the food.
"You think this is funny?" Sam was beyond livid. Dean glanced at him over his shoulder.
"I don't know. Is it?" he quirked his brow. And there was that death glare again. Dean ran his hand over his face. "What?" he asked dryly.
"Cancer?" Sam cried, jumping to his feet and nearly shoving the papers in his older brother's face. "You've had cancer?" he shrieked angrily. Dean took a step back.
"Uh, yeah." He said, quickly turning away and fiddling with the food.
"And has it ever occurred to you to tell me about it?" Sam yelled. Dean glanced at him.
"Nope." Sam's mouth opened and closed a couple of times. He stuttered, completely shocked at his brother's reply.
"No?" he managed at last.
"Nope." Dean repeated, biting into his cheese steak sandwich. Sam stared incredulously at him. "Look, Sam, it's no big deal, alright. It's gone now. I'm fine." Dean said quickly, putting his sandwich aside and opening a bottle of beer.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me, Dean?" Sam demanded.
"'Cause." Dean said. "You didn't need to know." Sam had so much to say to that, that he ended up stuttering again.
"what?!" he yelled the only coherent word he could manage.
"Look, you were busy with college and stuff. Didn't want to bother you." Dean shrugged. "Besides, don't matter now. It's gone."
"It's cancer, Dean!"
"Y-eah, I know." Dean drawled. "I'm the one who had it, remember?"
"Why the hell didn't you call me?" Sam demanded, "You didn't even bother to…"
"What, Sam?" Dean clipped, giving his little brother a glare of his own, "Call you? You didn't pick up the phone when I was healthy, why would you suddenly pick up, huh? 'Cause I was sick? I didn't need your pity then, and I don't need it now!" he snapped, and as much as he wanted to, Sam had nothing to say to that. He turned his back to his brother, pacing the room, trying to get over the shock of finding out his brother had had cancer and kept it from him.
Sam hoped the pacing would cool him off. It didn't. But it did give him time to think. Of what might have been. Of what probably had been. Of what could still…
"When was the last time you got checked out?" Sam asked. Dean shrugged.
"I dunno. Few years back, I guess." Sam sighed.
"Dean, you need to get checked out. With cancer, you never know, man. You can't take the risk." He said – gently, so as not to make Dean push him away.
"I'm fine, Sam." Dean said dryly. Sam shook his head, looking skyward, and ran his hands through his long hair, crossing his fingers at the back of his head.
"Dean, you really should get checked out." He repeated.
"Why?" Dean bit out, "I'm not sick, Sam." He said. "And even if I was, there's no way I'm going through this again." He added, catching Sam's eyes and holding them, "No way, man. The puking, the constant nausea, the itching, the fatigue, the burns… No way, in hell I'm going through that again." Sam swallowed, feeling his stomach tightening, tying in knots.
"I can't do that, man," Dean went on, "I can't…" he finally looked away, clenching and unclenching his jaw. "To know it could still be there, inside me, just waiting… That eventually, it's gonna happen, that I'm gonna get sick again…" and Dean's eyes locked on Sam's again. He shook his head, swallowing, and licked his lips.
"You gotta promise me, Sammy," he said, taking a couple of steps nearer to his brother, putting his hand on Sam's neck, pulling his little brother closer. "You gotta promise me, man. If it happens, if I ever get sick again, you have to promise you'd kill me." He said. Sam gasped, recoiling, pulling back as if Dean's hand on his neck was pure acid.
"Sammy, man, you don't know what it can be like," Dean went on. "If I get sick… I can't do that again… You gotta promise me. No hospitals and shit, you end it."
"No!" Sam cried. "Dean, look, I don't know much about this cancer, but it looks like it has a pretty good survival rate." He said, "I mean, you survived it, man. You're healthy, right? There's no reason to think…"
"I need you to promise me, Sam." Dean's hazel eyes bore into Sam's. Sam shook his head.
"No. No, listen, we're getting ahead of ourselves here, alright? There's no reason to believe you'll get sick again…"
"Happened once," Dean cut him off, "hell, Sammy, it's not exactly like I'm living a healthy life, you know? Sooner or later…"
"Then we'll fight it." Sam said authoritatively, giving a slight nod. "It won't happen. And if it does, we'll deal with it. We'll fight it. Together." There was something in Dean's eyes, but Sam couldn't quite read it.
"Wow." Dean said, and then smirked, turning his back on Sam. "Well, you're a real hypocrite."
"Excuse me?" Sam demanded. Dean turned back to him, looking more than a little angry.
"Something's out there, something might make you turn evil. And you're not fighting it. You're giving up. You want me to kill you. But if I ever get sick again…"
"This is so not the same thing!" Sam snapped.
"Isn't it?" Dean asked, "You're asking me to give up on you, Sammy. You made me promise to give up on you." he said calmly, and for some reason, that's what got to Sam.
"I'm not… Dean, it's not what I meant." Sam said gently.
"Isn't it? You'll fight this thing as long as you're okay, but if anything should happen, if the Demon or whatever does get to you, you want me to kill you. How is that any different? Huh?"
For a long moment no one said anything. He's planned this, Sam realized. Dean'd planned this all along.
"Alright." He said eventually, sitting heavily down on his bed. He looked up at Dean. "Alright. We'll fight it. Whatever happens, we'll fight it. We won't give up." He said. Dean just stared back at him, saying nothing, the muscles in his jaw working. Sam ran his fingers through his hair again. "So, you said you brought me a salad?"