Never Underestimate a Winchester
Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.
Author's Note: I know, I know…you all want yet another tag for AHBL:2 like you want an encounter with a ghost (without Dean and Sam there to protect you). This is my attempt to give the season finale an uplifting outlook. After all…you should never underestimate a Winchester. Warning: Sap ahead.
Dean was seven steps away from Bobby's front door when he crumbled to the ground before Sam could react, could accept that his invincible brother was undone by things more tenacious than his stubborn will. A panicked "Dean!" tore from Sam as he dropped to his knees beside the crumpled, unmoving figure of his bigger than life brother, desperate, trembling hands latching onto Dean's coat. "Hey, hey!" he beckoned, needing his brother to wake up, to smirk, to chide him for sounding so scared, for being so scared.
But Dean's didn't react, his eyelids never fluttered, his mouth never twisted into a smirk, a groan didn't escape from his lips. And in that moment, Sam thought Dean had lied. Lied about the deal he had sealed, the sacrifice he had made for his little brother's life, lied about having a year…about having even another day. "Dean!" Sam choked out, tears slipping down his cheeks, dropping onto Dean's too pale, too inanimate face.
When Bobby dropped to Dean's other side, Sam didn't pull his gaze from his brother's face, couldn't, anymore than he could loosen his grip on his brother's coat, on his brother's soul. "Dean?" Sam pleaded as Bobby gently moved Dean's head to the left, giving him room to slip his hand against Dean's neck to search for a pulse.
"Pulse is strong," Bobby's words washed over Sam like Niagara Falls, drowning him in relief, saving him. "Between the head-wound and the last coupla da…" at Bobby's stuttered stop, Sam raised his eyes from Dean to the older man, feeling as if Bobby knew something about Dean's health that he didn't.
"Bobby what…" Sam pushed out the words amid the tightness in his chest, his hands still wrapped possessively in his brother's clothing.
But Bobby's eyes flittered away from him, fell down to Dean as he spoke, "Let's get him inside," his hands already reaching for Dean's shoulders. Bobby was unprepared to have Sam's hand wrap cruelly around his wrist, denying him contact with Dean, refusing his assistance to carry Dean inside his house. Bobby's breath caught in his chest, his eyes closed as he remembered too vividly only a few days prior when another Winchester had rejected his help, had nearly broken his wrist with his iron grip, had succeeded in breaking his heart with his sorrow-drenched eyes.
"Bobby?" worry and wonder coated Sam's call as he released Bobby hand, his voice pulling Bobby from memories that should not matter now, not when Sam was at his side, breathing, living. Looking down at Dean, Bobby felt his throat constrict. The memories mattered, they were not unmade, not some nightmare he had had, that Dean had had. They were truth and loss and every horrible thing you hoped would never come to pass.
Raising a hand that wasn't as steady as it should be, Bobby wiped his hand over his mouth, faced Sam, faced Sam's questions, his worry. "He wasn't sleeping…eating.."he said, softer than he planned, with more of a hitch in his words than he ever thought he'd allow. And when Sam winced, when he swallowed down his emotions, when he looked so guilty, Bobby knew Dean would not have wanted him to tell Sam that, to tell him the truth any more than he had wanted Sam to know the bargain he had made, the price he had paid for Sam's life.
But when guilt morphed into such a look of love upon Sam's face as he took in Dean's every facial feature, Bobby wished Dean was awake to see that transformation, to see the proof that nothing was stronger than Sam's love, Sam's connection to his big brother. Slipping his hands under Dean's knees and behind his shoulders, Sam pulled his brother into his arms, couldn't help the hitch in his breathing as Dean's head lolled limply against his chest. Steadying himself, Sam climbed to his feet, careful not to jostle his brother's seemingly fragile body in his arms, unmindful of his mending back and shoulder's protests.
Walking by Bobby, Sam headed for the front of the house, finding Ellen holding the door for him as he turned to slide through the doorway. It felt like deju vu, carrying Dean once again into Bobby's son's bedroom, but this time more than drug induced sleep claimed his brother. Gratitude filled his eyes as Ellen swept into the room and pulled back the bedcovers, and even more gratitude surged through him as she left the room, left Sam with his brother. Gently settling Dean onto the middle of the bed, Sam withdrew his arms from underneath Dean's body and sat down on the bed at Dean's hip, his tear soaked eyes fixed on his brother's slack, bloody, haggard face.
Dean had asked him not to get mad, had said it in a way that had broken Sam in a thousand ways that no one should ever be broken, in a thousand ways that Dean was broken before Sam had died, before a bargain was made, before his soul was bartered away like a cash crop. And in that moment, Sam only knew the bitter, horrid taste of unimaginable fear, of dread so deep that it resonated in every breath he took, just as he reveled in every breath Dean took now.
Tenderly, Sam's hand came to rest on Dean's face, to feel the warmth of his brother's very alive flesh under his fingers. With the fear generated from Dean passing out still thrumming through him, Sam knew that, as crazy as it was, things could be worse. Dean could have been given no time at all, could have died right then and there in the dirt of some crossroads, leaving Sam to "wake up" to a world without his brother, to a world that Sam would have forsaken the first chance he got. Because the ties of brotherhood cut both ways, equally. It was all or nothing with them, always had been, always would be.
Whatever reaction Bobby had anticipated from the youngest Winchester it wasn't Sam stalking into the kitchen, asking if he had any onions as he began rummaging through the refrigerator. Shooting a confused worried look to Ellen, Bobby asked gently, like talking to the mentally unstable, "Onions, Sam? For what?", racking his brain for a ritual that might require the use of onions.
"For hamburgers," Sam matter-of-factly replied, head still in the refrigerator. "Do you still have some of that ground beef in the freezer?" opening the freezer now, hands rooting through the frozen foods like it's a scavenger hunt.
Sam's actions threw Bobby off, because, out of the two Winchester boys, it's Dean whose passion is food. Or had been, until he had held the lifeless body of his little brother in his hands. Ruthlessly, Bobby pushed those memories aside. "I don't have any ground beef but if you're hungry I can find something else to fix up…
"No…no it's gotta be a hamburger with lots of onions," Sam insisted, spinning a moment later to face Ellen. "I need to make a pie," and there was a keen desperation in his eyes that gripped tenaciously onto Ellen's heart.
"Sam…what… a pie?" Ellen stammered, looking to Bobby for some help but the other man simply shrugged his shoulders, as lost as Ellen in this new development. Looking back to Sam, seeing the anxious determined set to his face, she gently asked, "A pie? You mean like a 'from scratch' apple pie?"
"Not apple! Never apple since that whole scarecrow scene," Sam rejected, then his eyes lit up, "No….blueberry, yeah, blueberry."
Bobby latched onto Sam's arm, feeling as if he needed to ground the boy before things got out of hand. "Whoa. Whoa. You're not making a lick of sense, Sam." When Sam stilled long enough to meet his eyes, Bobby felt his breath catch, he had seen the same intense, determined, hurt emotions in Sam's eyes before
Dean wakes up he'll be hungry," Sam insisted with the same need,
same determination he told Bobby that Dean would want to work on the
Impala when he woke up from his coma. Interpreting Bobby's look as
doubt, Sam amended, "Well, hungry or not, he's going to be eating
so it might as well be something he likes, right?"
Bobby stammered, "Ah yeah, guess so," unable to stand up to the formidable willpower of a Winchester .
Ellen, noting the hesitation that Bobby's lackluster support created in Sam, supportively offered, "I think that's a smart plan. Sam. If we send Bobby to the store with a grocery list, we'll be able to whip up a burger and pie before Dean stumbles his way into the kitchen."
"Yeah, sure, I can run down to the deli mart," Bobby agreed, knowing that this time his food run for Dean won't be in vain, that it won't go uneaten this time, not with Sam there, especially with Sam threatening to force feed Dean.
When Dean woke up it was to the smell of pastry baking. And that coupled with his need to see Sam, to be reassured that it wasn't just some happy fantasy he dreamed up, is enough to get him to crawl from bed, to stumble out of bedroom, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, stretching.
you're awake?" Sam greeted, a smile lighting up his face as he
put down one of Bobby's books that he was pouring over and came off
the couch toward his brother. "How are you feeling?"
"Confused," Dean admitted, rubbing his head. "Last thing I remember is pulling into Bobby's driveway."
"Yeah, well that's because you passed out on Bobby's front yard," Sam revealed, a lightness in his tone that the situation hadn't garnered in him at the time, Studying his brother, he was relieved to see more color to Dean's skin.
"Did not," Dean denied, scrunching up his face with the two words.
"Ah, yeah you did. Dean you had a bleeding head-wound and you hadn't eaten or slept in days…" Sam countered, struggling to not let his words come out as a reprimand, nor to let his voice crack with emotions neither brother was up to facing just yet.
"No, I ate with you…" Dean contradicted because it was all he remembered, was the most recent memory he had about eating food, wanting food, caring about food. Eating with Sam, eating with a very alive Sam, a Sam that wasn't going to be taken away from him, that was what he remembered so clearly it made his eyes threaten to water..
"Half a piece of pizza, Dean?! That was it," Sam gently clarified, remembering now the look Dean had worn when he walked back into the room Sam had woken in, the freakin' joy and gratitude and …Sam didn't know what else. And then the hug, the tight, desperate hug Dean had locked him in, a hug he had been too stunned, in too much pain to return. Suddenly, regrets piled up in Sam, drowning him, wishing that he had done more, said more, that he had latched as tightly onto Dean as his brother had latched onto him in that few second span.
I ate," Dean still protested, drawing Sam from his memories, from
the regret that was burning in him, for many things now.
"Yeah, well, I made you lunch and you're eating it," Sam said firmly, leaving no room for any more of his brother's protests. But he forced his lips into a small smile as he tacked on, "I said I'ld save you, not lug your carcass around after you faint on a hunt like some anorexic chick."
"I don't faint," Dean growled in denial, finding himself being steered into the kitchen by Sam. But Dean came up short at the homemade blueberry crump pie sitting on the table, steam still wafting from its time in the oven.
Pushing by his suddenly immobile brother, Sam headed to the refrigerator and began pulling out the hamburger patties and the chopped onions. "So, one burger or two?" he asked, shooting a look over his shoulder when Dean made no reply.
Dean swiveled his look from the pie to his brother's questioning
"You want one hamburger or two?"
Dean mumbled, taking a few steps forward. He stood behind Sam's
right shoulder, watching as Sam went all domesticated, putting the
beef patties into the pan that caused a roar of sizzles to echo
throughout the small kitchen. "You take a home economics course in
college that you forgot to tell me about?"
"Burgers are hardly gourmet, Dean. Now stop lurking over my shoulder and sit down," Sam said, but there was no bite to the words, only teasing, concern as he used his elbow to nudge his brother gently back. Catching Dean's smirk, he turned around from the burner, leaned against the counter. "What?"
another Djinn get ahold of me or what? You grilling up burgers,
Bobby making pies. Course I really don't think even my mind's
warped enough to think this up."
"I made the pie," Sam couldn't help proudly point out before his voice turned theatrically indignant, "And I did it for you, you jerk. But hey, if you don't want any of the pie…" starting to head toward the table, toward the pie as if he would take it away, hide it. His brother's hand on his chest stops his forward motion and Dean's smile eases some of the ache in Sam's soul.
"Don't be so sensitive, Sammy. I'll choke down a slice for you," Dean allows, giving his brother's chest a pat with his hand before he claims a seat at the table. There is a beat of hesitation in Sam, a yearning, for what, Dean isn't sure but then Sam turns away.
Turning his focus on flipping the burgers, Sam fought down the urge that had sprung within him. Seeing Dean smiling, watching him claim a seat at the time like a king waiting for his servants to lay out his buffet for him, reading that look in his brother's eyes, a look of love, of gratitude that his little brother was alive, was safe, was with him, it made Sam want to abandon the burgers to their own devices so he could just sit down with his brother, to not waste time they had seemingly in short supply, to just be with Dean. But the unnerving memory of Dean passing out cold in Bobby's yard kept Sam determinedly at his task.
With the burgers finished, Sam slid the plate bearing a burger piled with onions in front of Dean and claimed the chair to Dean's right. He watched as Dean made a show of lifting the top bun, of seeing the overload of onions. When Dean looked up at him, bestowed a real honest to goodness smile on him and said, "You done good, Sammy," before taking an impossibly huge bite of the burger, Sam fought to keep the floodgates of his emotions sealed. As it was, he ducked his head, not wanting Dean to see the tears in his eyes and misinterpret them for sorrow instead of the relief, the joy they represented at having Dean at his side.
There seemed no need for words between them as they ate. Though their eyes tracked one another's movements, flickered to each other's eyes only to focus again upon the burgers, their eyes never strayed from the world they had carved out just for them in Bobby's kitchen. When the burgers had been consumed, Sam stood up, crossed to the refrigerator and pulled out a gallon of vanilla ice cream. Without a word, he put a scoop on Dean's pie's plate, earning him a surprised, even touched look from his brother that he would remember that pie al a mode was Dean's favorite way to eat pie.
At Dean's first bite of pie, a blissful look settled on his face and he said, mouth full, "No way you made this pie."
beamed. "Good isn't it."
Pointing the fork at Sam, Dean pressured, "Admit it. Ellen made it or, wait, you bought it, tossed it in another pie plate Bobby had buried in the back yard somewhere."
"Ellen just gave me the recipe," Sam quietly provided, smiling wider at having pleasantly surprised Dean with his successfully efforts.
"Dude, real men don't use recipes. They don't even say the word recipe," Dean shot back, but there was something mysteriously like pride in his eyes.
"Maybe real men don't salivate over some sissy slice of pie," Sam taunted, snagging onto Dean's pie plate and beginning to slide it away.
Dean's hand dropped heavily onto Sam's thieving hand, while his other hand rescued the pie and returned it back to its rightful place, in front of him. Sam laughed even as Dean threatened, "You make another grab for this pie and you'll be less one hand, Sammy."
And Sam's smile was half gloating, half joyful bliss as he started in on his own hefty slice of pie. Dean's words startled him, caused his eyes to snap up to look at Dean.
His head down, Dean quietly said, his voice a little too hoarse, "Thanks for this, Sam. I…I appreciate it…" When his eyes came up, whatever barriers Sam had in place suddenly weren't strong enough, not to see the tremulous look in his brother's eyes. Sam swallowed thickly as Dean continued, "I really do, but you didn't have to do it."
"Do what? Worry about you? Take care of you? Be nice to you because you're my brother and believe it or not I want you to be happy?" the trembling words spilled from Sam, bottled up as they had been so long, too long, his eyes shining with the tears that ached to be released.
Dean shook his head, not in denial but at a loss at what to say, what to feel, how to adjust to Sam's sudden need to make him the center of his universe, to be the protected, nurtured. Again, Dean gave his pie his full focus.
About as lost as his brother on how to go forward with their new footing, seemingly new roles, Sam cleared his throat of the emotions that he refused to burden Dean with right now. "Hey you should just be thankful I didn't make you another Sammy Special."
got a groan from Dean, had his eyes snapping up to Sam, his fork
brandished at Sam like a weapon. "Don't even mention that
or I'll toss my cookies right here, man."
But Sam was relentless now, the smile that leapt to his face promising no mercy. "I could tell you what I put in it, you know, so you could make it yourself sometime."
Dean warned, his voice low, his eyes narrowed, "We had a deal! You promised that you would never tell me what was in that, Sam."
Sam laughed, remembering the memory with fondness "Man, you ate it, every single crumb that I put in front of you. You told me how great it was, what a nice birthday dinner it was."
"What was I suppose to do, tell you it smelled worse than the septic system and tasted like month old burritos," Dean asked, incredulously.
did' sprang to Sam's mind but aloud he said, "Yeah, Dean,
anything but eat it?!" shaking his head at his brother's
"Sam, you were only seven years old!" Dean stated, as if that justified his actions, made them no-brainers.
"And you just couldn't break my little heart, could you?" Sam asked, the words quiet, barely escaping his throat closing with emotion, his eyes on his brother.
'Never' came instantly to Dean, the response automatic, ingrained, the heartfelt truth always breaking clean when it came to his brother. But Dean clamped his jaw shut, couldn't let the one word escape, not this time because, for once in his life, it wasn't true. He probably would be breaking Sammy's heart…in a year's time. But he didn't regret the choice he had made, couldn't, not when it gave him back Sam, allowed Sammy to be here with him, making him burgers and pies and looking at him, affection, love in his eyes.
Sam didn't need Dean to make a reply, he knew now without a doubt how his brother felt about him, had always felt about him. And with everything in him, Sam knew Dean would never consciously break his little brother's heart, ever. "Yeah, well, I'm holding you to that, jerk."
Dean's breath caught in his throat a moment, his eyes piercing Sam's, knowing his brother's words were not random, vague, demanded something Dean wasn't sure he could deliver. But the desperation, the need, the love and gut-wrenching plea in Sam's eyes did what Sam's words had not, could not. They evoked a nod from Dean.
At Dean's nod, air rushed back into Sam's starved lungs, light chased the shadows from his eyes and that terrible crushing grip slipped its hold from his heart. Because, with that one small bob of his head, Dean had made him a promise and his big brother didn't break promises to him, ever.
As if the matter of his brother's fate was settled, Sam sat back in his chair, a devious smile on his face and declared, "Sardines."
"What?" Dean exclaimed, worried that Sammy had finally lost his marbles.
"One of the things in the Sammy Special was sardines."
Horrified, Dean looked at Sam, the last bite of his pie forgotten. "Tell me you're joking."
"Don't you remember, I pleaded with you to get them at the store," Sam reminded, the day clear in his memory.
"And I told you I would only if didn't make me look at them, ever," Dean growled back, his stomach churning at the real possibility that Sam wasn't lying.
"Yeah, but you didn't say anything about not wanting to eat them. I even put them in the blender so you wouldn't have to look at their eyes.…." Sam pointed out his consideration for his brother's dislike of food that had the capacity to stare at him.
Growling lowly in his throat, Dean lunged for Sam but Sam dodged out of the chair and ran for the door, his brother in hot pursuit.
Just about to enter the house, Bobby dodged Sam's headlong charge and barely evaded getting tackled by Dean as the boys swept by him, descending on the junk yard like two tornadoes. Bobby shook his head as Sam used the hood of a hollowed out Camaro as a bridge and leaped onto the roof of a station wagon, laughing at having thwarted his brother's grab for him. Sidestepping both obstacles, Dean got ahead of his brother, and promptly tackled Sam. Bobby didn't miss the fact that Dean twisted around, made sure that he himself landed on bottom, that his body took the greater impact. The laughter of both of the Winchester boys as they wrestled on the ground, trying to get the upper hand, put a smile on Bobby's face.
'brother'!" Dean taunted, trying to put dirt in Sam's
Twisting his head away from the dirt pie his brother was trying to make him eat, Sam retorted, "No you say 'yum yum sardines'!"
"I can't believe you did that! Sardines! Gross!" Dean exclaimed, satisfying himself with smudging his brother's forehead with the dirt he had collected.
"You're my brother, you deserved the very best for your birthday," Sam laughed back, jabbing Dean lightly but pointedly in the ribs with a well placed elbow.
Bobby was surprised to find himself erupting in laughter. "Winchesters," he said in awe and reproof and love, remembering now two truths that he had learned years ago: never underestimate a Winchester and, secondly, the only ones wily enough to beat a Winchester…. was another Winchester. All other comers, they didn't stand a chance.
Well, hope you liked it. I know sappy but what do you really expect from the likes of me?!
Thanks for reading!
Have a wonderful day!