Title –Towards Dean
Rating – PG15
Fandom - Supernatural
Characters – Sam Winchester, Dean Winchester, John Winchester
Summary –The first word he ever spoke wasn't Daddy or Dada, but Deeeeen. His first steps in life were towards Dean and away from his father.
Disclaimer – Sadly nothing in the Supernatural fandom belongs to me. But Eric Kripki and the CW have the bragging rights for owning everything.
Authors Note – Warning for Character Death! ..It seems I like killing people off.
Beta - Thanks to sailorhathor for being an awesome beta, I changed some things after I got it back so any and all mistakes left are mine.
The only memories he has of his mother are fake and constructed bits and pieces he's gathered over the years from what his father and Dean have told him. How her hair smelled, how her eyes sparkled, her voice soft and soothing, and a smile that could make a blind man take notice. He knows the stories of how she'd hold him in her arms and dance with him to Bob Seger. How she'd play patty cake with him after she'd finished changing his diaper. How she could fit his entire foot in her mouth. He knows all these stories by heart. So he takes everything he's ever heard and patches it all together with bits of Scotch tape in his head. The memories play like a badly tracking VHS tape; they jump and squiggle, blur and get hazy, and he doesn't even know if he plays them in the right order, but he hopes so. He wants to remember her even if he knows everything he remembers is just illusion.
Some of his memories of Dean are built in the same fashion, just with fewer pieces and less tape. He knows what Dean would have looked like back then, how he would have sounded, but still some stuff he has to imagine on his own from what he's been told. Like the way Dean would sneak into his crib every night and hold him close, protecting him. How the first word he ever spoke wasn't Daddy or Dada, but Deeeeen. How his first steps in life were towards Dean and away from his father. John has told him all this, with a proud look in his eyes, a smile on his face, but with a broken distance weaving into his voice. Those memories have less jumps and squiggles, less tape to make the picture blurry, but still, he can't claim them as his own.
He does have his own memories of Dean, ones that he can play over and over and are as clear as day. No skips or jumps, no faded black and white pictures that he puts in there just to fill the spaces because he doesn't know what else is supposed to fit.
Memories like the one Saturday afternoon in Idaho - hot sun tanning their skin, a warm breeze tangling his hair. It was the day Dean took the training wheels off of his bike."Dean, I'm scared. What if I fall?"
"I won't let you, Sammy. Just pedal like any other time. I've got you."
He did; he started pedaling, and he wobbled and swerved, but with Dean's hand placed firmly on the back of his banana seat, he never fell. He squealed with delight and went faster, Dean keeping up with him all the way. By the end of the afternoon, they were racing each other home down the dusty gravel road from town. To this day, Sam suspects Dean let him win.
Not long after bike riding came shoe tying.
"Sammy, you can't wear velcro all your life. I promise it's not hard. Let me show you."
And with that, Dean was walking up and down the aisles of K-Mart checking the prices on shoes he decided were cool enough for his little brother to wear. He finally decided on a black and orange pair that had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sprawled on the sides with a picture of Leonardo on the backs."You like these?"
Sammy nodded his head in approval as a smile spread over his face. Dean sat him down on a bench located beside the display of the latest fall fashions for boys and slipped the new shoes on his feet. Then Dean sat beside him, untying his own shoes until the laces fell to the sides like Sammy's.
"OK Sammy, follow me."
Sam did it exactly as Dean showed him: tangle the two sides together, make a loop, go around it, and through it and done, just like that."Easy as pie, huh Sammy?"
It took him a few more tries, but when they left the store, Sammy was holding his big brother's hand and wearing brand new shoes that squeaked when he walked, with laces he had tied all by himself.
Other memories have no lessons behind them, just Dean being Dean. Like the bedtime stories Dean would tell as Sammy curled up against him, listening to every single word. Stories like Goldilocks and the Three Vampires or Three Winchesters and the Big Bad Werewolf, and his personal favorite, Dean and Sammy and the Evil Wicked Witch (That Dean Toasted for Even Thinking About Hurting his Little Brother). Really, the title had pretty much told the story, but Sam had never gotten tired of listening to it.
Then, of course, there were tons of birthdays and Christmases, first days of school, hunts and road trips, but one memory is the most vivid in Sam's head with such crystal clear clarity that it could have happened minutes ago instead of a year ago.
They're in a parking lot of a mall, heading towards the car, stomachs filled with cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes from a celebration lunch for a hunt done well. The weather is warm, but gray clouds are moving in, threatening to bring rain, and really, Sammy doesn't mind because it's been awhile since he and Dean stayed up to watch a good lightning storm. He's about to open the back door of the Impala when Dean grabs him in a head lock and runs his knuckles over his head.
"Dad!" he yells, trying to get away from Dean.
His father has his head thrown back and is laughing that carefree laugh he only has after a hunt when both his boys are safe and there is one less evil thing roaming the earth.
"Should always be on your toes, son," he says as Sammy pushes Dean away, or maybe Dean just finally let him go.
"Take the front seat, Sammy. I want to stretch out."
"You sure?" He doesn't quite mask the giddiness in his voice, because Dean may give him a lot, but very rarely can he puppy-dog-look his way into the front seat when all three of them are in the car.
The radio is blaring "Boney Maronie" with them singing along at the top of their lungs, and Sam can faintly see the blue and yellow sign of the hotel they are staying at a half mile up the road as the light turns green and they start off again. The last lines of the chorus are coming through the speakers when it happens, when Sam hears a loud crash. Sounds of twisting metal and shattering glass drown out everything else. They spin twice, finally stopping under the other traffic light facing the direction they just came from. He can't hear the rumble of the engine anymore, but the tape has kept going, and now the beginning sounds of "Ruby Baby" fill the car.
His head hurts and he's sore all over, but he doesn't think he's hurt - no broken bones or blood. His dad seems fine because Sam sees him turning off the radio as he turns around on the seat to check on Dean.
Dean looks fine. Just like Sam, he has no spilled blood; no bones seem to be twisted at an odd angle. Sam sighs with relief as he nudges Dean's knee.
"Come on, Dean, wake up."
He can feel his stomach sink and hear the panic enter his voice. It breaks when he tries again. "Dean, joke's over. Wake up."
He's in the back seat with Dean before he even notices he's moving, shaking him with all the strength he has.
"Dean, please, Dean."
That was a year ago, exactly a year, two hours, and thirteen minutes ago, and every time Sam has played the memory over, he hoped it would become more blurry, more faded and have a few jumps and squiggles like the few of his mother, like it was just a big illusion. Turns out it's not. Doesn't seem to matter how hard he tries to forget…so instead he replays it with a purpose, wonders if he concentrates hard enough if he could hear the snap of Dean's neck, could pin point the exact moment he lost his best friend, his big brother, his hero…wonders if he could pin point the exact moment he lost his everything.
Dean's favorite shirt is now threadbare with a hole under the left arm. New stains have accumulated, and the scent of Dean has long ago been washed away, but Sammy slips the faded gray t-shirt over his head anyway. It hangs long and loose on his thinning frame. Dean's jeans are still too big for him to fit into, the legs far too long and the waist too wide, but Sammy keeps them in Dean's duffle bag because one day, they'll fit. If they never do, it's still something he has left of Dean.
John allowed him to keep the silver ring Dean had started wearing non-stop the year before, but the pendant, that went with Dean. John wouldn't budge on that, said it meant a lot to Dean, and Sammy hates himself for never asking Dean about it, not once. It was just so much a part of Dean, he never thought anything of it…until it was too late. When he asks his father about it, needing to know all he can, needing to grab things he can store away in his mind before his memories of Dean start to blur and be forgotten, but John just gives him a small, sad smile and says, "Sorry, Sammy, not my story to tell."
John tries to tell him other stories, tries to fill the void in Sammy that was created when Dean died, and Sammy loves him for it, but the truth of the matter is that John is not Dean. Never will be. When he says as much to his father's face, John gives up, defeated. So they don't talk so much anymore, not that they ever really did, but now it's more strained, and they argue more than they ever did. He thinks about saying he's sorry, that he never meant those hurtful words, that he understands that John lost Dean too and that he was just trying to help, but something stops him every time he's about to open his mouth. So finally he just gives up.
The guidance counselor reassures John that Sam is handling things like any kid his age would. That there is nothing to worry about - something this traumatic will take time to work through, but that Sam is showing improvement. Sam just rolls his eyes and walks away from the door he had his ear pressed to. Thing is, that is another memory he has of Dean, a confident ten year old sitting his little brother down on the steps of some house in some state he can't remember anymore.
"Sammy, tomorrow we have to go see the school quack, and you need to know some things before we do."
"Like what? What's a quack?"
"Like what? What's a quack?"
Dean just shook his head. "Some nosy body at school that wants to make sure we're doing OK. But that's not important. If they think something's not right, they won't think twice about taking us away from Dad..." Sam remembers the flicker of fear that tickled his stomach at those words, but it wasn't until Dean finished his sentence that fear and panic turned his body cold and sent a shiver down his spine. "…and splitting us up, Sammy. They can take us and put us in different homes."
"Dean, they can't!" The fear was clear in his voice.
"Don't worry, Sammy, I've talked to these people before; you just gotta tell them what they want to hear. If they're worried you're not fitting in, then you give them some story about how since we move around so much that you're shy. Grades slipping? Well, you've been busy unpacking. They notice a bruise on you from training, then you say your older brother is a doofus and wouldn't let you play with his football…and if all that fails, then you show them your puppy eyes, Sammy. Full force…like when you're trying to sucker me into giving you the last cherry popsicle. Got it?"
Sam can't help but giggle. He didn't know Dean knew his secret about the cherry popsicles. Then he nods. This is nothing he can't handle; it's not much different then when they are on a hunt, trying to fake their way into someplace.
"Dean, what if I goof up? What if they split us up?"
"Won't happen. But if it does, then I'll find you."
What Dean said could be counted as gold as far as Sam was concerned, so Sammy forgot about the possibility of ever being taken away from Dean. Still, he had one more pressing question he needed an answer to.
"Dean…what do you do? You can't do the puppy eyes." Sam finished by flashing his best ones at Dean.
Dean nodded, "Yup, I can't pull those off, but I do have this charming smile."
Sam giggled as his brother smiled brightly in his direction.
The conversation his father had with the guidance counselor the day before was about just a bunch of half-truths Sam thought the counselor wanted to hear. He didn't even feel guilty about it. His father had promised him months ago that the ache he was feeling would get better, it would ease with time, that some day it would feel like he could breathe again. So far it hadn't happened, but then again, John Winchester was never that good at keeping promises. That was Dean's job.
Sam can remember a lot of things, but he can't remember what it feels like to wake up in the morning and not have this feeling of loss seep through his body seconds after he opens his eyes, can't remember feeling whole. He walks through the day with this ache, an indescribable ache that's just there running through him like the blood in his veins. He can't run from it, can't hide from it, can't drown it out with the loud music Dean used to listen to, can't numb it by sneaking some of John's whiskey, or smoke it out with pot that Jamie stole from his sister's room. But Sam thinks he's figured out a way to get rid of it; in fact, he's sure of it.
He slips the black cord holding Dean's silver ring off of his neck and places it on his father's journal, silently hoping it's enough, that it helps John understand. That it will give him answers to questions he'll have the next afternoon when he returns home from the hunting trip. He turns and starts toward the first aid kit that has everything one can ever think of stored away, including painkillers that he knows better then to take more than two of at any given time, and even then, that's risking it…but for this pain…he thinks the whole bottle of them should work just fine. As he makes his way closer to the battered up box that holds all his answers, he smiles, the first real smile he's had in a year.
He knows how ironic it all is, that the last steps he takes in his life are away from his father and towards Dean.