I am very sorry this came in so late. But I want to thank everyone for reading and a big thank you to Amy and Jess for being so supportive :)
Waiting is a fire on hold.
One month ago, and it would have been another one of those weird expressions that he wouldn't bother to even acknowledge. But it's weird how certain things can make you see the things that were once hidden.
No doubt Sam had always known what it meant, hell – maybe he could even relate.
And the weirdest thing? Now Dean could. Too much. Now he even knew what it was like waiting for something that never seemed to change. Something that just wouldn't alter itself no matter how hard you wished it would.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
If that wasn't the description of what he'd been doing for a month, he didn't know what was.
It was just like watching a fire burning as if it would just never fade – never fade into those grey ashes.
And it was just like this.
Everything seemed to be set on hold, and still Dean was moving. But everything else was just standing still. Sam was still in a coma and Dean felt as if he'd been waiting a year for his brother to wake up. It was a month. A painful month, but it was only one month.
He wondered if Sam felt this way after watching the love of his life burn in front of him, and if that was the case, was she still burning? Did he feel like a giant tow truck had stepped in, just tearing his whole fucking world apart? Dean was pretty sure Sam could still see that fire in his head, and that was the problem wasn't it? He hadn't allowed himself to move on because of that guilt he was harbouring inside.
But not anymore.
Dean made a promise to himself that if Sam woke up – no, when he woke up – he'd make him see that he hadn't done anything wrong.
He only prayed Sam would listen.
He hadn't known for how long he'd sat there, just staring. Staring straight ahead, his eyes fastned on the bundle that was Sam's chest, seeing how it seemed to rise and fall. He didn't even hear all those buzzing sounds coming from all the machines around Sam's bed. Dean didn't know how long it had taken him to tune them out but now it was like he couldn't even hear them.
He felt like he was losing his mind. Well, maybe he was.
Now all he could do was sit there and stare, and still it was like he couldn't see. And that prickling sensation in his eyes just wouldn't seem to go away.
"Damnit, Sam!" Dean's voice was hoarse from frustration and panic. "You can't fucking do this to me, you hear me?" Dean yelled, as all that frustration he'd kept on a restraint, just seemed to pour out of him.
"You can't leave me, Sammy. You can't." He wiped away a rebelling tear, his other hand holding onto Sam's hand. "I just can't do this without you kiddo, alright? I won't. And you are not supposed to go anywhere without me, remember?" He laughed weakly at the memory. "You gotta remember."
Because Dean knew he would never forget.
It wasn't funny anymore. It'd been funny when Sam was hiding and ran behind Dean trying to scare him, but now – he'd been gone for way too long.
Panic was weighing his heart down when he couldn't find his 6-year-old brother anywhere. And he should know, he'd looked everywhere you could possibly look.
"This isn't funny anymore, Sam." He yelled out. "C'mon already."
There was no answer. Dean couldn't see that little bouncing ball of energy anywhere.
But then he did see something and he was certain his heart almost stopped, because Sam was standing in the middle of that road – and yeah it wasn't that big - but he could hear more than see the car.
And Dean knew that something strange was happening to him, as his legs seemed to turn to jelly he was still sure he'd never been able to run that fast.
Like those moms lifting cars to save their babies.
Almost like super strength.
And it worked because he got to his brother in time, in time to save him.
"Sammy," he said, his voice shaking slightly as he held his brother closer.
"It got away," a soft voice said, somewhere near his ear.
"What got away?"
Dean couldn't think. What had Sam seen?
"I only got to pet it once," Sam continued. "It was a nice snake, Dean."
Snake? Are you freaking kidding me?
"You're not supposed to go anywhere without me, Sam! You hear me?"
"Ow! De-ean, you're hurting me."
"If that car had hit you, do you know what would have happened?" Dean loosened his grip, glaring at his little brother.
"But...but the car didn't hit me."
"You could have gotten really hurt, Sam."
Sam looked up at him, tears glistening in his eyes, threatening to fall. "The car didn't hurt me, Dean."
Dean sighed, realizing that his little brother was still really a baby, and Dean just wasn't good at explaining right now. "Just don't go anywhere without me, okay?" And as he could feel that little chin nod against his
neck, a small hand gripping his shirt, he held on more tightly.
You can't leave me Sam. You can't.
"Sammy..." It was like that frustration had suddenly been replaced by that desperation. "Come on, don't you think a month is enough of sleeping?" Dean laughed bitterly, the way you would when you're so upset that your body can't figure out how to react.
But he couldn't crack a joke anymore. Not when he remembered how Sam always rolled his eyes at him, it made his heart ache.
Sam hadn't even blinked. There was just no sign of any kind of response.
"Sammy," he whispered. "Please. Open your eyes for me."
He hated himself for admitting it, but for one moment he understood the meaning of what that doctor had really been saying. If Sam didn't wake up any time soon, who knew when he would?
Watching his baby brother, feeling that cool skin under his fingers – it was just painful. It was painful to see that paleness, that vulnerability that hadn't been there as Sam had proudly introduced his girlfriend.
And Dean remembered being impressed, because obviously Sam had seen something within Jessica that went beyond looks.
That Sam was – well, he was gone. He was out of his reach.
But Dean wasn't one for giving up, none of the Winchesters were. Every one of them were stubborn as well, and maybe that was also why Dean could never give up on his brother.
The one person he'd sworn to protect.
"Just give me a sign here, kid. Just squeeze my hand if you can hear me, can you do that for me Sammy?" Dean was whispering, his mouth just below Sam's ear.
He couldn't believe he was starting to talk to him as if he were a kid. But what else was he supposed to do? This was something he couldn't deal with, because this was never supposed to be happening.
Sam wasn't responding to anything anymore.
And Dean just didn't care how he sounded, or that his own tears seemed to fall on Sam's skin like water drops.
"Sammy... don't leave me. Please don't leave me." His voice broke. "Tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do."
But Sam wasn't telling him anything. And now Dean could feel his heart beat so much louder and so much harder, that it was a miracle it wasn't ripped out of him.
Dean's hand was slowly brushing thick dark curls out of his brother's eyes, trying to make him remember.
Remember that there would always be someone waiting for him.
But the truth was, Dean was terrified. He was terrified of the mere thought that his baby brother were somewhere he couldn't get out of.
That he didn't want to get out of.
"Sammy, you gotta remember. I'm not going anywhere. Just... please open your eyes. Alright?"
He almost expected it, the lack of movement – the lack of response. But it was still painful as hell to watch. Because all this time, all these weeks he'd tried to cling onto the idea of hope – for Sam.
Now he didn't know where Sam was, and it was as if he was slipping away. Just like Sam seemed to slowly slip away from Dean.
And this time, no matter how hard he'd try, Dean couldn't do anything about it.
"We've already gone over this."
Well that was true. But dreams about his girlfriend dying, and too many pieces of a shattered dream wasn't something he'd forget in a rush. And yet there she was, standing right before him, like some kind of golden angel you only so in those historical paintings. There was an inner glow about her, something he couldn't remember seeing before, and yet now it was almost as if some kind of inner piece was shining through.
But that couldn't be right.
"Jess, sweetheart" he started, "the thing that got to you, it came... it came because of me."
"I don't really care why it came."
It was his fault, he knew it and on some level she had to know it too. She was a smart girl, and surely she'd figured out that the reason she wasn't breathing anymore was because of him.
"Sam, listen." Her eyes suddenly turned serious, and Sam was shocked to see actual tears glistening, threatening to fall. "I want to believe that I died so they wouldn't get you."
"Jess, I was supposed to protect you, not the other way around!"
If only he had told her the truth, if only he had let her in like she had so readily let him in, then maybe they wouldn't be standing here. But he hadn't, he and his stupid pride hadn't let anything or anyone get close enough to the family secret. Not even the girl he loved. Now what did that say about him?
"Sam, look, there are some things you can never protect yourself from - no matter how prepared you are." She smiled sadly at him, "they will happen anyway."
Sam couldn't quite explain how that one word still made him feel like he was walking on water, or the knowledge that she was looking at him like that – like she saw something he couldn't even see.
"I never wanted this."
"Neither did I."
She must have heard it. The guilt, the anguish of knowing what had happened, and knowing that this was all they had left. Her eyes were shooting sparks. "No, you don't get it," she said in a harsh voice.
"When you went with your brother I didn't even know if you'd come back."
"I told you I'd come back," Sam whispered, tucking a golden curl behind her ear.
Tears were falling as she fought to get the next words out. "I was almost going crazy without you." She tried to smile. "God that sounds so lame."
"It would be equal to how you were the one thing that kept me going."
"Yeah well, that doesn't sound too bad to me." Her eyes were dancing as she let out that laughter, and they were that close again. Close enough to see all those emotions passing by, everything that felt so real.
"I want to stay here," he whispered, even though he got a lump in his throat when the words left his mouth.
"You can't." Jessica sounded devastated. "You know you can't. You have someone waiting for you, and that person isn't me." Then she winked. "Guess you're gonna have to sail that ocean without me, Sailor."
"It's a pretty damn big ocean, Jess."
Her sigh seemed to echo around them. "I know you can make it, and you won't be alone. You can do this without me."
"Yeah, well, I don't want to." The words came out of nowhere, but he still remembered that they were his brother's. He wondered if it was just a coincidence or something else.
"Sam, you have to."
He knew what this was, she wanted him to say goodbye. But he wasn't ready for that. Not yet. But she had to know. "I love you."
"Yeah, I love you too, gorgeous." She managed to get a laugh out of him. "Just don't go blaming yourself okay? Or I will seriously find some way to come back and kick your pretty little ass."
"Gotcha," Sam laughed.
God he loved her so much.
"Now what will it take for you to kiss me?"
And there it was.
They were closer than ever before, close enough for their lips to touch, but Sam just hadn't had the guts to do it. Because it meant goodbye, he knew it. Maybe that was what he was so afraid of.
But this time he couldn't resist the pull of that hot affection burning between them. Feeling that cold softness of her fingers fitting perfectly with his, one hand moving up to his neck and that one kiss light as a feather – it made him feel like fireworks on the fourth of July.
And then there was nothing.
Dean didn't know what else to do. He'd tried everything, but with no success. He wasn't even screaming at the doctor anymore, not even when he reminded him of the possible outcome. There wasn't a sign of life coming from his brother, and he'd never thought that he'd come to this point – the point where he was really considering it.
Betrayal was weighing down his heart, because that was what it was. He was Sam's big brother, and it was his damn job to make sure that this wouldn't happen. Yet he could feel it, failure screaming louder than every heartbeat that now sounded like the drums of death approaching.
"This wasn't supposed to happen, Sammy." His brother didn't react. Dean automatically brushed those bangs out of his eyes. "Not like this, damnit. I was supposed to keep you safe." Tears were burning behind his eyes for what felt like the thousand time, but he didn't have the strength to give a damn.
"Sammy." It was barely a whisper, but it came out of him as easily as he breathed.
Dean would have missed it if he blinked, but he didn't.
He saw it.
When Sam blinked, it was like some muscle worked harder than it had ever done before. "C'mon, Sammy, open your eyes for me," he pleaded with his brother, as he let his thumb rub circles on the inside of Sam's wrist.
It had to be real, he knew that it couldn't just be his imagination. Sam seemed to want to open his eyes, but he couldn't. It was all that it took for hope to spark up within him, because Dean couldn't give up now. Not when he'd seen those obvious movements in his little brother's eyes and jaw. It had to mean that he was waking up. And Dean wasn't about to let anyone tell him anything else.
But nothing could prepare him for that moment when two brown eyes stared at him, eyes that held such deep emotion it almost robbed him of his speech.
Sam was fighting the tube again, hands trying to reach it and Dean was reminded of how Sam had tried to remove it in panic before. Now he was really gagging on the tube that had been helping him breathe when he couldn't by himself.
"Whoa, easy, Tiger" Dean said. "It's helping you breathe, just slow down." He pressed the button for help while he shouted for a doctor. "Easy, Sammy."
Sam's eyes were glued onto Dean's as he firmly stopped Sam's attempts at pulling the tube out. But Sam never even blinked, not even when Dean began to draw circles with his thumb on the inside of Sam's too pale wrist. It was almost like he was afraid that Dean would disappear if he blinked, the tight grip on his arm told him so.
What he couldn't explain was the strength in Sam's grip on his arm, especially after that coma that had felt like an eternity. And yet, when he looked into those brown orbs it was like he was looking into the same soulful eyes of a much younger Sam, who had put all his faith in his big brother. The same faith he still harboured inside, that Dean would be able to make everything okay. "I'm not going anywhere, Sammy."
Dr. Graham came in, Mariah following in his shadow, both their expressions unreadable. Despite the feeling of déjà vu, Dean couldn't help feeling relieved. He had been holding his breath, not even daring to believe that Sam really was awake and that he would make it out of this alive.
But know he knew.
As the doctor came closer to the bed Sam seemed to get a grip on Dean's sleeve, holding onto it like it was his lifeline.
"Hello there, Sam," he said in a calm voice. "We're going to take that tube out alright? I'm going to need you to relax for me."
Sam continued to stare at Dean with that puppy dog look, as if he was really expecting him to be the one to make it all better. The only thing he could do was grab his brother's hand. "It's okay."
With the help of Mariah, Sam's doctor the extubation went much faster then the last time. Dean couldn't help but wondering if that was because something was wrong with his brother. Maybe it was because Sam was clinging onto him like he had never done before, or maybe they realized that Dean wasn't about to leave the room even for a second, not when it came to his brother's health.
By the looks of it, it seemed like Sam had passed the test, he didn't even seem to need the oxygen mask anymore. Dr. Graham was noting Sam's answer to his questions, nodding encouragingly and speaking softly in reply.
It was pure relief to hear that the only thing the doctor needed was a simple MRI scan, to check that everything was in order. "Well, Sam, I will see you later when we know the final results."
"Thanks Doc," Dean said, sincerely grateful for all the work this hospital had done for his brother.
Even if he'd wanted to kill that doctor a while ago.
Sam's voice caught his attention.
"T-Thank y-you d-doctor," he whispered, his voice wheezy from the obvious pain it took to form the words. It shattered a piece of Dean's heart to see his brother like that.
"You're very welcome, Sam," Dr. Graham smiled. He left the room with the nurse, their coats becoming blurred shapes.
Sam kept his gaze at the blanket, his throat feeling as if broken shards of glass were pressing against it. He knew he was avoiding Dean's gaze, but he knew he couldn't explain what his brother wanted to know. The need to hold onto his brother was gone, deep inside he knew that Dean wouldn't leave – he probably never would.
And that made everything so much worse.
"So you gonna ignore me now?" Dean said lightly.
Sam shook his head. "N-No."
"Then what is it?" Dean hesitated. "Are you hurt?"
...And now he sounded more like a broken record.
Sam glanced at his brother as he let out a frustrated sigh. "I can't help you if you won't tell me what's wrong, Sam."
"N-Nothing's wrong, D-Dean. N-Nothing." He winced at the too obvious weakness in his voice.
Dean only snorted. "Yeah I can see that, Sam. And if you hadn't just woken up from a coma I might have believed you."
"'M'okay, D-Dean." Sam's gaze locked onto Dean's hoping that he wouldn't notice the way his eyes seemed to burn. But who was he really trying to kid, Dean had always been able to see right through him right into his very core.
"I t-think I wn'be a-alone n-now, D-Dean." Sam's throat was still hurting as he spoke, but he wasn't going to let his brother see him cry. Not after what he'd seen, not after what he'd realized.
"Sorry, kiddo. Not gonna happen."
"W-Why t-the hell n-not?" He probably already knew the answer to his own question, but he needed to be alone. Sam needed to be alone with those memories he still couldn't quite piece together. All he knew was that Jess had been there, and she'd been telling him things he needed to remember. Then she was gone and all the proof Sam had was that funny feeling in his stomach. That feeling that only came when that strawberry taste of Jessica's lips had enveloped his. She was the only thing he could remember, and some sort of place that felt like soft clouds surrounding him. Couldn't Dean just see that if he couldn't be alone he wouldn't remember? And he had to remember.
Dean glared at Sam, looking as if he couldn't believe what he was actually hearing. "Because, I'm not leaving you alone after you've just woken up from a coma, he said. "A coma, which lasted for a month by the way," he added quietly.
A month? Dean must have gotten that wrong. He couldn't have been in a coma for a month.
More to have something to do than anything else, Sam grabbed the cup of water standing beside his bed, lifting it to his mouth. What he hadn't expected was how his whole arm was shaking from the weight of that little plastic thing. Just as it slipped out of his grip, he could feel Dean catching it and lifting it to Sam's lips. "T-Thanks," he mumbled. He was staring at his arm, flexing the muscles, wondering how it was possible that he couldn't even hold onto such a small thing.
"Huh, w-what?" Dean's voice sounded so far away, but he forced himself to stay awake. He had to stay awake.
"You okay, Sammy?"
"M-my arm? W-What's wrong w-with m-my arm?" When Sam looked into Dean's eyes he only saw worry clouding the otherwise sharp green eyes. He was trying to look for an answer there, but he couldn't find it. Instead, Dean gently pushed him down onto the bed so he was lying down. "I'm...you...and..."
Dean studied him carefully. "It's from the coma, Sam. Your muscles haven't been in use for a month, but you'll get those back in no time." He flashed him a confident grin. "Get some rest, Sammy."
"M'not tired," he mumbled failing to stifle a yawn. He couldn't be tired, not after sleeping for a month. Surely that had counted for something? "S-Shut up, D-Dean," he managed to grit out when he saw that all knowing smirk play on Dean's lips.
"Hey, man. What can I say? It's not my fault I know you better than you know yourself." Dean smirked at his own joke, while watching his brother as he nervously played with the hem of the covers. "What is it, kiddo?"
But before Sam could even open his mouth someone had stepped into the room, calling his name. Normally he would have known what was happening even before his name was called, but now, he could already feel his strength giving away. Yet he could more sense Dean than actually feel his strong hand on his shoulder.
"...think it's time we had that MRI so we know all the facts about how everything is healing."
Dean was standing in front of him, his fingers combing through Sam's hair. "What d'you say, Sammy? We'll let the doctor take a look into that freaky head of yours, huh?"
Well that was Dean for you, always with the jokes.
But Sam knew that if it hadn't been for the heaviness weighing down his head, he could have sworn that there was also an unveiled concern there. "Kay, D'een." It didn't make sense how one could be that tired after having slept for a month, but he trusted his brother.
He trusted him more than he trusted himself.
It almost made him laugh.
The irony of it all triggered that hot fury from somewhere within him, that same fury he felt everytime something dangerous came too close to his baby brother, but this time it almost shocked him. Dean never knew that his dad's 'Winchester way' would almost make him choke on his own anger, especially since he knew the reason being his dad's motives. But none of that excused his actions for the past month that had been worse than any pain he'd yet come to experience.
It figured that John Winchester would call when Sam was finally going in the right direction to getting better. And wasn't it just so goddamn ironic that he picked that exact time to call?
Dean hadn't even been able to get a coherent word out when the nurse told him about that one phone call. It was mostly a bunch of grunts and a bunch of his "I'm his father," and "Sammy would want me there." It was bullshit, that's what it was. And yeah so his anger had gotten the better of him but he didn't care. Sam was his first priority, like he had always been. And everything that came after that just didn't really matter as far as he was concerned.
The wait had been taking every ounce of patience he had left in his body, so when the doctor appeared next to an asleep Sam, he wanted to shake the man and demand the answer that would reveal Sam's fate.
But he couldn't wait any longer. "So... what's next?"
Dr. Graham consulted his clipboard yet again, before looking up to meet Dean's eyes." There's no sign of any complications whatsoever, there's no bleeding or any sign of brain damage," he explained.
For a moment Dean felt dizzy, then he caught himself holding his breath. Because he just couldn't allow himself to hope, it had seemed like too much to ask for. As a Demon Hunter, as a person who'd made so many mistakes and miscalculations he couldn't count them anymore.
"...of course he will need to come back for check-ups, but if everything goes well the physiotherapist, and of course if Sam is ready – he could be released in the next couple of days." He fixed Dean with a calculating stare. "You'll have to watch him carefully of course."
"Of course," Dean said, not missing a beat.
Twenty minutes later there was still nothing worth watching on the TV he'd glared at for so long it was starting to haunt him. "Unbelievable," he muttered to himself.
Out of the corner of his eye a movement caught his attention when Sam's blanket seemed to move forwards. The moment his eyes flew in to Sam's face, he found himself staring into two sharp pools of brown. "Finally," he muttered quietly.
"Nothing. How're you feeling?"
"Fine," Sam mumbled.
"You sure? No headache, dizziness or any of that shit?" Dean eyes were sharp as he stared at his brother intently.
Sam's lips twitched slightly before he turned to Dean with a smile. "No, I'm fine Dean."
"Good to know we're past one word sentences," he grunted. "Now, there's something you wanted to tell me?"
Sam stared at him in confusion. "Huh?"
Dean sighed. "What do you remember from before you fell into the coma?" His eyes were sharp on his brother.
"I...uh, remember that we had a fight and then nothing." Sam sighed heavily. "And that I acted like an idiot."
"And this is news to me?" Dean smirked. Then he turned serious. "You weren't the idiot Sammy, trust me."
Dean knew he would never have been able to forgive himself if things had gone the other way, and he wasn't blind. He knew thing could have gone another way if he only had acted differently. But that didn't matter now when Sam was finally safe, he was finally out of the woods. And Dean was going make damn sure he stayed that way.
Sam stared at his brother. "Are you trying to tell me something?"
"It was obvious that you weren't dealing, and I should have backed off. All this," he waved a hand between them, indicating Sam lying in bed, "could have been avoided."
"What are you saying, that this is somehow your fault?" Sam asked in disbelief. He wouldn't let Dean take the blame for this, not after everything he'd put him through. He had only himself to blame, and he knew it.
Dean stared straight into his eyes, as if he was trying to bore a whole right through him, right through his soul. "What I'm saying is, if I had acted sooner, gotten you to a doctor faster then yeah things might have been different."
"None of this was your fault, Dean. It was my fault, I know that. No listen to me," Sam held up his hand to stop Dean from interrupting, "I know I was stupid for doing some things but this was never your fault."
"Huh, you know I could say the same thing to you." Dean raised one eyebrow.
Sam closed his eyes. "I know."
"You do understand that Jessica would never have wanted you to go through all this, don't you?" His voice was soft when he continued. "She'd never want you to hurt yourself like this, Sammy."
"Yeah." Because Sam finally got it while his gaze fastened on his brother. He saw the pain clouding his eyes mixed with the obvious relief when he was looking at him.
Jess would never have wanted him to blame himself, and in the end there was nothing he could have done. Just like there was nothing John Winchester could have done to save his Mary. But Jessica Moore knew how much Sam had loved her, and for now that was enough.
Sam wondered where John was, and if he had showed up when he was unconscious, but Dean would mention that right? He was about to ask him about it, but when he saw that look in Dean's eyes he just couldn't bring himself to.
There was something fierce there that he couldn't put his finger on, some mixture of protectiveness and a harshness he knew wasn't there before.
And then his eyes sort of softened when he thought Sam wasn't looking, or the way he'd tuck the covers closer around him like he'd done when they were kids. And somehow, John Winchester didn't matter, it didn't matter to him if he was there or not. Not now, when he saw how Dean probably hadn't left his side for one second. It almost made him ache to see all that affection warped into that same protectiveness that had surrounded him ever since he could remember.
"Sam? You with me, buddy?"
What was he saying? "What? Oh, yeah."
Dean chuckled quietly. "Guess that means my time is up here, and you should get some rest. We'll be outta here tomorrow." Then he smirked. "If you're up to it that is..."
Sam reached out and punched him in the shoulder, not as hard enough as he would have liked but he was pretty sure Dean got the message. "Shut up."
"Guess that's a yes then."
"Damn straight," Sam muttered.
Dean's eyes lit up as Sam wrinkled his nose when he reached out and ruffled his hair. "Tomorrow."
Sam's eyes held Dean's for a moment, glad to see that there was only relief and affection there. There was no room for guilt anymore, and now Sam could relate. "Tomorrow."