I'm waiting for you

Disclaimer - Dean, Sam and John do not belong to me, I have just borrowed them for a while. I promise I will give them back. Also much as I would love to have a professional writing career, I don´t and I don´t have any money from any other source either right now, so please don´t come looking for me.

Summary - Post Season 1. An alternative ´what happens after that crash´ to the beginning of Season 2. Dean is in a coma and Sam is waiting for him to recover.

He couldn't do it, not this, not now, it wasn't right. He closed his eyes, took a deep, calming breath, but as he released it, he didn't feel calm, he just felt...angry.

Standing here, hands grasping the safety bar, white-knuckled, he looked down at the body on the bed. The shell. That's all it is, they'd said to him earlier, a shell. "They're giving up hope, Dean. They keep saying you're not in there any more, but they're wrong because where the hell else have you got to be?"

He looked down at his hands and the bar. In frustration, he shook the bar hard, "What's this for anyway, huh? It's not like you're fucking going anywhere is it? You don't even open your eyes, Dean. You're hardly going to fall out of bed. You don't react when they flash that light in your eyes. Fuck you, you don't even breathe on your own. What's that about? Why are you doing this to me?"

He slammed his hand angrily against the bar, heard the metal bed frame protest and looked at Dean. Nothing. "Dean, please... please," he begged quietly.

He turned away, wiped the tears from his eyes before they could fall. Resigned, he leant back against the bed, one arm resting on the bar, the other on Dean's leg, feeling its warmth through the cover.

"Dean, you can't leave me like this. I can't do this on my own. And me and Dad... well, without you that's not going to work is it, dude?

He rubbed his hand up and down his brother's leg, hoping for a reaction. He'd known he wasn't going to get one.

"You know they want to cut you up and take stuff out. Apparently your kidneys are in great fucking shape, ... shame about the rest of you. Dean, I... You always said... I hated it, but you said you wanted a hunter's end, so what the hell was a donor card doing in your wallet?"

He turned back to look at what was left of his brother, "Is that what you want? You wanna give up, huh? Say something, Dean. A sign, give me a sign because I'm not gonna give up on you otherwise."

He ran his hand gently along the side of his brother's face, "Where are you, Dean? Where have you gone? I'm here, I'm waiting for you."


Sam turned to face his father, snatching his hand back from his brother's cheek.

"Sam, you okay?"

"Here," he said, turning the chair to make it easier for his Dad to sit, offering his arm in support.

"You didn't answer my question."

"I'm fine."

"Sam, we need to talk."

"They came to talk to you and now you're going to try and convince me they're right."

"Sammy, maybe it's time to let him go."

"Let him go! No, fuck that, he'd want me to fight for him. I know him, Dad, he... he wouldn't just give up like this. He'd want to come back, want to make sure we were okay."

"Maybe he knows. Maybe this time..."

"You're just giving up on him. You're just going to let go, like he didn't matter, like he's not worth fighting for?"

"No Sam. It's not like that."

"What is it like then? Because I can't see any reason to give up on him. This is Dean, we're talking about." He turned back to the bed, laying a hand on his brother's shoulder, affectionately. "It's just Dean, you know what he's like, never picks the easy way to do something, likes to be the centre of attention. Isn't that right, bro? But see, Dean, it's not working right this time, 'cos instead of them giving you the attention, they're sitting back thinking you've gone. You have to do something, Dean, just so they know, then they'll fight for you."

John Winchester rose stiffly from the chair and moved to stand by his youngest son's side. "Sam... son... I don't want to let him go, I don't want his life to be over, but the doctors, they say there's nothing..."

"Don't give up on him, Dad, please don't give up yet."

John looked into the anguished eyes before him and nodded, drawing his son's head down on to his shoulder. "We won't give up on him, Sammy. We'll give him some more time, I promise." He felt as Sam drew in a ragged breath and knew as the tears began to flow. He said nothing just held on tighter, determined to be there for Sam, determined not to let himself crumble this time.

He looked over Sam's shoulder at Dean and felt his eyes fill, blinking trying to disperse the tears without letting them fall.

Sam drew back, watched as his father dashed tears from his eyes and nodded but didn't say anything. Instead he turned back to Dean and leaning close, Sam said, "We are waiting for you, Dean. Come home."

A nurse came in and, smiling, said, "Hi Gentlemen. How are you both doing today?"

John afforded her a nod and a gruff, "Fine, thank you."

Sam didn't acknowledge her at all, He was still leaning over his brother. "Come on Dean. You know me you always said I was a selfish bastard, well I haven't changed and I want you here."

"Sam." John figured he'd almost expected the lack of response. He moved alongside the bed trying to keep his eyes away from the too-still form of Dean and focussed purely on Sam. "Sam, come on. Let the nurse do what she needs to. Give her some space. Let Dean have some privacy while she..."

"Privacy! You call it privacy when she's..."

"Sam, let's take this outside for a minute. Come on son, please."

Outside in the corridor, Sam slumped in a chair, head in his hands. "Sam, you need to calm down. I know how you feel but riling the staff isn't going to help Dean."

"He's hiding."

"What? Who? Dean? What do you mean he's hiding?"

"He spends his whole life hiding. Did you know that?"

"Hiding from what?"

"From us... you and me." Sam looked John straight in the eye and said sadly, "He hides from us. He shouldn't have to do that, but he does."

John put a hand on his son's shoulder before moving it gently to cup his cheek. "Let's get a coffee, Sam and then you can tell me what you mean."

Sam rose without his usual grace. John could see exhaustion and pain in his movements and put his hand out to stop his son, "Do you need to see the doctor again, Sam? Honestly."

"No Dad. No, I don't, I'm just tired. You know maybe that's it with Dean. Maybe he's just tired, maybe he's just resting."

"Let's get coffee, Sam."

They walked in silence down to the coffee machine. John gently pushed Sam to a chair before moving to the machine. Once they both had coffee, John settled carefully next to Sam. "What makes you say he's hiding?"

"Because he does it all the time. He thinks he has to. He thinks he's protecting us by not showing us what he wants, what he feels because he puts us first. When was the last time either of us put him first?"

"Seems to me, I heard tell you drove him halfway across the country to Nebraska to save his life."

"Yeah, I did, but that doesn't count. Because stopping him dying isn't the same as putting him first, see. Stopping him dying means I still have him here when I need him, when I want him to do something."

"So tell me. When was the last time we put him first?"

"I don't know. I can't remember a time when we ever did, unless he was ill. I don't remember him ever asking for something that really meant something."

"Sam, maybe Dean just didn't need much in life. He didn't expect too much. Dean wasn't... isn't like you, he doesn't have high ideals and big expectations of life. He's not so... ambitious."

"Did we ever give him a chance? Did we ever let him have a dream?"

"What do you mean?"

"When has he ever not put us and what we needed first? When he was eighteen, he wouldn't have left us, would he? No, because we still needed him. When I left home, he couldn't leave you on your own."

"You're saying he wanted to go with you and I didn't let him."

"No," he sighed, "That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying I have no idea what he wanted but he spent his life looking at us and working out what we needed and doing that. I don't know if he even knew what he wanted for himself. Most of the time, he just wanted us to be okay. I think maybe all he ever really wanted was for us to be a family, together."

"Sam, I'm sorry."

"Me too. We never managed to give him that, did we. We couldn't let him have the one thing he wanted and now... now he's just lying there and I can't let him go Dad, not without trying to put it right."

"No Sam, we can't let him go, not without trying." John heard the sigh of relief in his son as he committed himself to this. He just hoped it was enough. He didn't want to let go of Dean anymore than Sam did, but this... this was too much. He didn't know how Dean had survived as long as he did for Sam to get him in the car and then the crash on top. How his heart had still been beating John would never know, but it had. And now some doctor somewhere wanted to pull the plug, said there was no hope. No. It wasn't going to happen. Sam was right. Dean was always there and fighting for his family, well now it was their turn, their turn to step up and fight for him.

The wail of a flat-line broke the quiet of the nearby nurses' station. Both men looked up and Sam continued the movement to take in his whole body. He started to move with an anguished "Dean" on his lips.

John followed suit.

They arrived back at Dean's room to see the crashcart, doctors and nurses gathered round and the persistent wail of the heart monitor in flatline.

"Dean!" Sam's cry shocked everyone into turning toward him and in that moment the wail stopped and Dean's heart beat once more. A random staccato beat, not strong, not regular, but a beat it was.

"I told you he was still there, " said Sam. "He knows... he knows I still need him."

The medical staff gave the man before them a sad look and turned their attention back to the form of the man on the bed, attempting to regulate the weak and stuttering heartbeat. Content that they had done all that was needed, all that was possible, they left the room.

"Sam. You okay?"

He nodded as answer to his father's question, not daring himself to speak.

"I'm going to go and speak with the medics, see what they have to say." Sam nodded again, his attention still on his brother. "I'll be back soon, son." John gave a reassuring squeeze to Sam's shoulder.

"Dean. You frightened me doing that, that's one mean prank to pull. Jerk!" He rested a hand on Dean's forehead, wanting to see inside and find Dean. "You know, dude, it's almost time for you to have a haircut, maybe if you don't wake up soon, I won't let them cut it. I'll leave it grow long 'cos I know how much you'd like your hair to be longer like mine." Sam choked back a sob, "You have to fight for this, Dean. I know it's hard, but you have to fight for it."

Sam wiped tears from his eyes, clearing his blurred vision to see his brother's eyes open, watching him. "Dean." Relief was evident in his voice. "It's good to see you, bro."

He watched as Dean blinked slowly. He gently smoothed his brother's hair. "I better call the nurse, let her see you."

He watched as Dean's eyelids drifted in a slow blink. "Hang on, Dean, stay awake for me." He pressed the call button and saw Dean blink again, taking even longer to re-open his eyes. The next time they closed, Dean's eyes didn't re-open, but Sam left his hand resting on his brother's forehead anyway.

The nurse arrived. "Everything okay, Mr Winchester?"

"It's Dean, he opened his eyes."

She looked at him, pity evident in her eyes. "Mr Winchester, I know the doctor spoke with you earlier, your brother's condition..."

"I know what he said, but, like I said, Dean opened his eyes."

"Mr Winchester, you understand about the ventilator."

"What? That it's doing his breathing for him? Yeah, I understand that."

"Okay, so when people first wake up when they're on a ventilator, their instinctive response is to fight against it. Dean didn't do that so..."

"Look, I'm telling you, he opened his eyes and he looked at me."

She leant over Dean's face and gently lifted one eyelid, flashing the torch into his eye. She repeated the process with the other eye. She let both eyes close and stroked her hand through his hair before repeating the process. When she concluded the second time, she looked at Sam and said, "I'll get the doctor."

He watched her leave and said, "Come on Dean, you can show them, prove them wrong. They don't know you, they don't realise how much of a fighter you are."

The doctor came in. "Mr Winchester."

John walked in behind him, "Sam, what is it?"

The doctor moved to Dean's head and repeated the process. Sam watched anxiously. The doctor stood up and stepping back from the bed turned to Sam. "The nurse here tells me you say you saw your brother's eyes open."

"I did."

"Hmm. Well it's unlikely at this stage, however, there has been a degree of improvement. Your brother is showing a reaction, it isn't much, so it is still not an indication that he will ever recover from his injuries, however, it does give room for a very small amount of hope."

"He's going to get better." Sam's words brooked no argument.

"I'll be back later. There's nothing more I can do at this stage. I would suggest that you keep talking to him. We can always hope it might stimulate further improvement, I suppose."

John saw Sam bristle, understood his feeling. "I would think the fact that he has, contrary to your expectations, made some improvement would give us room to hope for more."

"No harm in trying Mr Winchester. Now if you'll excuse me."

As the doctor left the room, John moved forward to rest his hand on Sam's arm, saying "Like you said, Sam, they don't know Dean, we do."

Sam and John sat for the next two hours talking to Dean, before John saw what Sam had seen earlier, the glorious colour of Dean's eyes. This time the look in his eyes was tinged with fear as he actually registered the intrusion of the ventilator. "It's okay, son, don't fight it, it's helping you," he said, reaching for the call button.

"Dean, it's good to see you awake." Dean's eyes flicked to his brother. "Don't panic, Dean," Sam said, registering the same fear in his eyes. The fear ebbed as he blinked, slowly taking in the reassuring presence of his family.

The nurse entered in time to see his eyes open, but she saw the struggle he was having to keep them that way. "Well, it seems he is quite exceptional," she said, noticing the lack of panic. "I'll just check a few things, if I can get through, gentlemen."

It was hours before Dean woke again and this time his father and brother's reassurance didn't come quick enough to calm the panic at the sensations generated by the ventilator. The nurse and doctor arrived to the frantic tension in the room.

"Okay, young man. Hold it there. If you let me just check on a few things. I'll remove this monstrosity for you, but you have to let me check first and for that I need you calm and in control, you hear me. Just let the machine do what it does, close your eyes a minute and listen to my voice."

John was relieved that a shift change meant it was a different doctor. This one seemed able to calm Dean with his authority, as much as he calmed Sam and John, himself.

"That's great. Dean, isn't it? Okay, Dean, what I'm going to do is..."

Sam held onto Dean's arm as the ventilator was removed. He continued holding on as Dean struggled to take back control of his own breathing. He held on as Dean's eyes drifted closed as his breathing evened out.

"Quite right, young man, more than enough excitement. Definitely time for a nap." The doctor patted Dean's shoulder, then turned to John and Sam, "Phenomenal."

"Does this mean?"

"I would give him a good prognosis at this stage. We´ll need to do some more tests and there may be some lasting damage, he may not be able to be as active as he was before, but he is likely to continue to improve and given his amazing progress so far, I would hold out a good hope for him."

"Thank you doctor."

John and Sam sat and waited, watching for the slightest sign that Dean was going to wake again. They waited for hours, their eyes strained from staring. Then as morning light began to filter through the blinds on the window, his eyes began to move.

He opened his eyes and saw his family, waiting for him. "Sam? Dad? You okay?" his voice hoarse and quiet, but determined.

"Yeah, Dean. We´re fine now. We were just waiting for you."