Sam walks out the door, and Dean is alone with an empty heart.
Sam hurried through the hallways of the hospital, counting the room numbers that were passing by. Soon, the young man found the room he was looking for and walked in anxiously.
The breath he was holding was released in a relieved sigh, and he shuddered as he folded his arms across his chest to hide his anxiety. "Dean, thank God." Sam felt the rush of relief when he saw his brother lying there, and while he did look like crap, the older brother was still very much alive.
Dean's eyes cracked open some and as he saw his brother standing there expectantly his face split into a crooked grin, "Hey Sammy, long time no see."
"You're an idiot Dean, what were you thinking coming here?" Sam didn't know whether to laugh or cry or yell at his brother… he felt like he should do all three at once.
"I wanted to see my little brother, wish him a Happy Thanksgiving."
"Thanksgiving was two weeks ago Dean," Sam scowled; Dean didn't live on "normal" people time.
"Pastor Jim and I set up Christmas decorations."
Sam sighed, and planted himself heavily in the chair next to Dean's bed. His older brother looked awful; he had an IV in one arm, and bandages covering almost every outer extremity except his face, which still had its fair share of bruises and stitches.
The doctor had said Dean had been in a motorcycle accident, and Sam didn't believe him when he said that it was Dean who was driving the motorcycle. Dean had his Impala, John had his truck, and Sam used public transportation, which was the extent of the Winchester transport.
"I hate freakin' hospitals," Dean muttered.
Sam switched his tone to that of concern, "Dean, what happened?"
Dean groaned and looked at the window in his room, "Jim had a chopper, I wanted to try it out."
"In the middle of winter Dean!? You could've died!" Sam replied quickly, "Did you even think about the fact that the roads were going to icy? You've never driven one before, your not immediately going to get the hang of that… that death machine in the cold."
The two brothers weren't looking at each other; both were too busy pretending to be furious at each other.
"Dean, I'm serious, that was stupid of you. Imagine if you were two inches closer to that car? You might have lost a leg or worst…" Sam didn't want to imagine the worst.
"I know Sammy," Dean replied quietly.
"Look, I appreciate you wanting to come down here and wanting to hang out… but Dean?"
Dean raised an eyebrow.
"Dean, I'm in college, I don't have time for family visits. I need to draw the line somewhere, if I let you visit it might slip to me helping you on a hunt, and I can't do that anymore… you know that."
"God, dude…" Sam leaned back, "So Pastor Jim had a motorcycle?"
"Yeah, kind of hard to believe huh?" Dean chuckled, he was grateful the conversation had shifted, "Bro, it was gorgeous."
Sam grinned, "Until your reckless ass crashed it."
"You need to find a way to pay Jim back for the damage, and the hospital bill." Sam thought for a moment, and then he exclaimed, "Wait a second… how did the hospital find me? Did you actually have on a real driver's license?"
"Yeah, and no weapons either…" Dean sighed.
Sam gave his older brother an expression of disbelief.
"Okay, I had a bowie knife and a shotgun with me, but they don't count since I always have those with me."
Sam laughed, and Dean smiled at the sight, crashing was worth seeing his brother again, they way they used to be, rather than how it ended, with Sam in ill spirits and Dean tired of playing mediator.
"Find a girlfriend yet Sammy?"
"No, not yet, there is this one girl though…"
"Are you going to tell me about her?" Dean smirked.
"No, I think I'll keep this one to myself," Sam said slyly, remembering his last "girlfriend" and how Dean managed to charm his way into that relationship. Well, that wasn't right, the girl turned out to be a complete airhead and Sam was going to break up with her anyway – her cheating with Dean made it easier, so in the end all parties were left happy, plus Sam got Dean to feel guilty about the whole ordeal and that meant Dean was Sam's slave for a week.
"Anyway, I suppose…" Sam muttered, unsure of what to say next.
"How's college treating you Sam?"
Dean was avoiding the matter of the whole time that Sam had been avoiding his older brother, and Sam knew it, but then again, Sam didn't want to talk about it. It scared the younger brother, because he was more perceptive that Dean gave credit for and it honestly scared him… if Sam wasn't in contact with his brother for a mere couple months? Look at how reckless Dean became, look at the lengths he would go to see Sam…
"Ah, well… to be expected I suppose… lots of work. Heh, my roommate, Allen Carraway, he likes the same crappy music as you and Dad. He's such a slob so he doesn't disturb the salt lines I set down. You'd like him; he's a history major, and kind of a stubborn ass, but a nice ass."
"Did you just say he had a nice ass?"
"No!" Sam snapped, "He's a smart normal version of you!"
"Hmm, does he have my dashing good looks?" Dean joked. In truth, Dean knew exactly who Allen was, because Dean and John pulled a couple strings and found another hunter whose nephew was going to Stanford along with Sam… Allen followed the same path of his uncle, but decided to learn more in folklore and history in order to help fellow hunters.
Allen would be a professional geek boy hunter… kind of like how Sam was before he… well… before he decided to just be a professional geek boy.
Sam didn't know that, and he didn't need to, but it helped Dean to transition easier to not constantly being able to be there for Sam.
The older brother winced as Sam laid a hand on his shoulder, and watched as Sam scrutinized over what Dean had done to himself.
After he had hit the other car Dean had slid over a slick sheet of ice on the road, spinning violently until he finally came to rest (rest was the tame version of it… stopped moving abruptly would more likely be appropriate.)
All he could recall was that everything hurt… everything hurt badly. His right leg was the worst, because he had hit the truck with it, the jean he wore had been torn to shreds and there was blood and cuts covering the length of it.
"You know, it was actually kind of cool," Dean said.
"The motorcycle, I really liked riding it."
Sam laughed, "I'm not even going to ask what possessed you to drive that death trap." He grew quieter, and then said, "Dean why didn't you call me? Why didn't you say you were coming over? And why didn't you call me when you got in the accident?"
"I didn't think you'd pick up."
The simplicity and truth to the statement pierced Sam through the heart and ran through his blood like ice. Sam knew Dean called him, almost everyday, but not once had Sam answered. What if the other driver hadn't called an ambulance for his brother? If Dean called had Sam the younger brother probably wouldn't have answered… Sam could've been the one responsible for Dean's death.
How much had he missed since leaving? How many times had his brother gotten hurt that he didn't know about?
Besides his leg Dean busted some ribs as he veered off the icy road, gathering a menagerie of lacerations and bruises along the way. Dean remembered not being able to move when he finally stopped, he was in just so much pain, pain all over from his head (Thank God Jim told him to wear the helmet) to his toes.
Oh God, so this is what it felt like, it wasn't the first time Dean was close to dying, he'd nearly drowned that one time in Jersey because of some demon, a rather pissed off spirit intent on dropping a bookcase on Sammy back when he was fourteen or so…
Oh, and the fire – Dean hated fire, but right now he was so cold.
This must be how so many of the ghosts he'd "killed" came into being… by dying, tragically and alone. His dad didn't want to be with him, Sammy wanted to get away from him, and Mom had already been taken from him.
He was cold? Why was he cold? Dean in his haze attributed it to the fact that it was almost Christmas… and everyone he loved… was gone.
The driver of the truck ran over to the young man, repeatedly saying "I'm sorry, I lost control of the car, I'm so sorry," and then calling 911 for help. When the paramedics arrived Dean was finally starting to lose his grip on reality and all he could think of was the fact that he wouldn't make it to his brother's dormitory in time, how he wouldn't make it to wish Sam a happy Christmas. And then the cold took him, and it was all he felt for a long time.
The doctor had told Sam that Dean was lucky to have gotten off the way he did, there was soft snow, and his brother hadn't hit anything after the initial hit with the truck. He was lucky that he wore his helmet, and that he was lucky he only fractured bones rather than breaking them.
Sam knew that his brother was damn lucky… he didn't need to be reminded.
"I will next time, I promise," Sam replied, he wasn't sure how true this was, he just wanted to live his own life, away from hunting and his father and all that that entailed.
"Sure you will."
Another moment of guilt racked through Sam, Dean knew that Sam was lying too… that only made Sam feel worse. The doctor said Dean was lucky that Sam was so close to be able to be there for him when they brought the older brother in.
"Thanks Dean, I mean it, for coming out here," Sam said quietly.
"No problem Sammy, it's what I do best."
"And you're doing a hell of a job," Sam responded, looking warily at his older brother's injuries, he didn't want to be the reason Dean hurt anymore.
In Sam's mind, he was the reason his brother was reckless… in Sam's logic, in order to keep Dean from killing himself, they needed to lead their own separate lives… for Dean's sake… of course… right? But in his heart Sam felt a shift… that was an excuse, to lead his own life… God, how did they end up this way?
How would Sam make things better for the long run? How could he make it so Dean wouldn't try this again? How could he, the little brother, protect Dean from himself? He wanted to go to college he wanted his own life, but not at the expense of Dean's health…
So that was it then, he needed to push Dean away too.
That sucked, he didn't want that, but what other way was there?
Time to take the plunge…
"Dean I can't go through this again, you need to let me go."
"So… well… I'll call you, I promise…" like I have these past couple months, "but you can't come back," Sam sighed and pushed himself up from the chair. "I'm going to call Pastor Jim to tell him to come pick you up; I need to go study for an exam."
"Yeah, I figured," Dean replied sorrowfully… he felt it… Sam was letting go of him, and distancing himself from his own family.
"I really did miss you Dean," then with some hesitant emphasis he added, "Be careful out there."
"I missed you too Sammy, merry Christmas."
And with that, Sam walked to the door, and left Dean, once again, alone with the shattered remains of the Winchester family.
Author's Note: Well I couldn't have it end happily could I? I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did writing it, as Nana65 said in reviews for chapter 2, this story needed to be told too I suppose, how the brother's don't always have happiness and sunshine when they are reunited, and how Sam's not always the sensitive one… and that most of time, it's actually Dean who gets hurt in the end, both physically and mentally.
Enjoy! I don't know when I will post my next story, maybe when I'm done with it in a week? Two weeks? It'll be good, I hope, stay tuned.