THOUGH ENOUGH, STRONG ENOUGH, FEARLESS ENOUGH.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Just borrow the characters to play with.
Summary: When Sam doesn't know what to do with a girl, big brother comes to rescue.
Author's note. So this is a AU story about what would happen if Sam didn't want to hook up with Jessica, but Dean did. :) Sam is at Stanford and he and Dean are still close, but John and Sam are still not getting along at all... Please R&R :) Big thanks to Bee, for cheering on me and to Maya, my amazing beta! You guys rock!
Someone bumped into Sam, making him drop his books on the floor. Suppressing a curse, he got down on his knees and started to collect them.
"I'm so sorry," he heard a familiar voice say from above him.
"It's okay." He picked up the last book and stood up, sighing inwardly as he met the embarrassed gaze of Jessica Moore. Jessica was nice, but clumsy. It was the third time this week she had bumped into him, making him drop something, and to be honest, it started to get annoying. But he knew she couldn't help it. She probably had some kind of trouble with her eyesight or something.
He had shared that thought with Jake, but he had just laughed, telling Sam he was an idiot, claming that the reason Jessica kept bumping into Sam – and only Sam – was because she wanted Sam to notice her. Jake said Jessica had a crush on Sam, and the whole thing scared the shit out of him, because Sam simply didn't understand girls. Girls had always been Dean's thing – girls and hunting. Sam's thing was studying and research. Maybe he could call Dean and ask what to do. Dean would know, because what Dean didn't know about girls really wasn't worth knowing. Sam knew that for sure. Dean usually told him everything about his escapades with women and suddenly he wished he had listen closer, but the thought that he could call Dean soothed him, and he flashed Jessica a smile before walking away.
"Sam?" Sam stopped and turned around. "Yeah?"
Jessica blushed. "Um…I was thinking, maybe you could help me with the chemistry. I find it kind of difficult and I thought, since you had a full score on the last test, you could help me out a bit…"
Sam wondered how she knew his test scores, but he guessed she had asked someone. It wasn't like it was classified material or anything… But still the whole thing made him nervous, because he started to think Jake was right and, if he was, the last thing Sam should do was to encourage her, but, on the other hand – if she really needed help – it would be cruel of him to turn her down. God, he really needed to call Dean.
He swallowed hard. "Um… sure. Tomorrow? I'm kind of busy tonight." Busy finding out how to deal with this.
Jessica nodded and flashed him a bright smile. "Sure. Thanks, Sam. You're the best."
Sam lied down on his bed and closed his eyes, gently massaging his temples. The Jessica business has given him a headache and the tiredness he had felt all day threatened to overtake him, although it was only eight o'clock. But he couldn't go to sleep yet. He needed to call Dean first. He picked up his cell phone and dialled the number.
"Hi, Dean. It's me."
"Hi, Sammy. What's up?"
"I need your help," Sam said, trying not to sound like he was five.
"Why? What's wrong?" Dean asked, worry evident in his voice. "What kind of ghost is it?"
Sam smiled. It was so Dean to assume it was a ghost problem. "It's nothing like that. I guess I need your advice more than your help."
Sam could almost hear Dean's eyebrow rise. "My advice? On what kind of subject would a collage boy like you need my advice?"
"It's about a girl," Sam answered quietly, suddenly feeling very stupid and he could hear the grin in Dean's voice when he replied.
"Well, then you have come to the right place. I'm an expert on the subject and I'm glad you finally realized it."
"Dean. Please," Sam begged. "This is serious."
Dean sobered up. "Okay. Shoot."
And Sam told him everything about Jessica and her clumsiness and, when he was done, Dean said; "Your buddy is right, Sam. She has it bad for you."
"Why do you sound so tortured? This is great – unbelievable – but great!"
"You don't understand," Sam said tiredly. "I don't like her – not that way."
"Come on, Sam. Give her a chance. She sounds nice and she's hot, right?"
Sam sighed. "I guess, but that's not the point. I don't want a relationship right now, and, besides, she's not my type."
Dean laughed. "And how exactly would you know what's your type, Sam? You never had a girlfriend."
"Doesn't mean I haven't looked," Sam replied in an offended voice.
"That's my boy!" Dean said with a laugh before turning serious. "Look, Sam. If you really don't want to give it a try then you'll have to tell her you're not interested. Anything else would be cruel, because, as long as there's even the slightest bit of hope, she will keep trying. Chicks are funny that way. You need to play fair with them."
"That sounds pretty pompous coming from the king of one night stands."
"Hey! I never promise them anything. I always make my intentions clear from the start!" Dean sounded truly offended and Sam felt bad. "I know. I'm sorry. It's just..."
"I know. But it will be okay, Sammy. I promise."
Dean's voice was soft and reassuring. It was the 'don't-fear, big-brother-is-here' voice and Sam's eyes teared up. Suddenly he missed Dean so much it physically hurt. Stanford was great, but Dean had been close by his side his whole life, protecting him – fixing things – and sometimes Sam felt so lost. An almost overwhelming need to see Dean washed over him.
"Okay." A heartbeat of silence. "Dean?"
"Could you…um… Could you come here?" Sam asked, trying to keep the shakiness out of his voice, but he knew he had failed when he heard Dean's worried reply. Not that it really mattered. Sam knew the request itself was enough to give Dean a heart attack. You didn't ask for those kinds of things – not in their family.
"What? Why? Is there something else going on?"
Sam swallowed hard. "No. Everything is fine. I just… I just miss you."
Sam groaned inwardly. He couldn't believe he just said that. If Dean wasn't already convinced that Sam was possessed, insane or dying before, he definitely would be now.
"Are you sure you're okay, Sammy? You don't sound so good," Dean said, and then a faint "Christo."
Sam couldn't help but smile. Good old Dean. Always reliable and predictable – which was why Sam missed him so much.
He ran his hand over his face, quickly wiping away a couple of tears that had escaped as he tried to put himself together. This was ridicules. He was a grown man and here he sat crying like a baby because he missed his big brother.
"Yeah. I'm okay. Just tired, I guess."
"Dude! You're not doing that 'not-eating, not-sleeping, study-all-night' thing, are you?"
"No. I promise. I just… I'm sorry. It's stupid. Just forget I said something."
Sam's voice cracked slightly and he cursed his inability to hold it together.
"Look, Sammy. Don't sweat it, man. I'll be there. But it's gonna take a couple of days. I'm in the middle of a hunt I need to finish and I'm pretty far from you. Gonna take me a couple of days to get to you. But I'll be there in three, four days tops, okay
There was a brief silence. "And if you need your amazing big brother's help with something else – like tying your shoes – just call, okay?"
Sam smiled despite himself. "Jerk."
In the end, it took Dean five days to get to Stanford. The poltergeist had given him hell and he had to call Caleb for back up. The strange phone call from Sam didn't help at all. It had really made him worried and unfocused and, in the end, it almost cost him his life. He was just lucky Caleb got there in time. Dean made a face. Dad would kill him if he knew… But Dean couldn't help himself. Something was wrong with Sam. He knew it. It wasn't like Sam to be so clingy, so needy.
He knocked on the door and, just moments later, he was greeted by a smiling Sam. "Dean. Hi!"
"Hi, Sammy," Dean replied and stepped inside, closing the door behind him before giving Sam a good look over. The kid was pale as a ghost, dark circles under his eyes and he looked thinner than he had when Dean last saw him – six months ago.
"Dude, you look like crap! I knew you were doing the 'not-eating, not-sleeping, just-studying' thing again!"
"It's not true! I am eating and sleeping."
Dean raised his eyebrows doubtfully. "Really?"
Sam blushed slightly. "Okay, so maybe not as much as I should, but I need to nail my tests or they're gonna kick me out. I'm here on a scholarship, remember? And…" He looked down and bit his lip. Dean frowned worriedly. "Money has been kind of tight lately."
"You're not eating because you don't have enough money?" Dean asked, his voice somewhere between anger and disbelief. "Why the hell didn't you call me?"
Sam shrugged. "Wanted to be independent, I guess and, besides, it's not like you have an ocean of money either."
Dean huffed angrily. "Independent, huh? Yeah, starving to death is a great way to prove your independency, and you know that, if I had known you needed money, I would have found a way to come up with it."
"I know. But…"
"No buts, Sammy. Next time you call me or I'm gonna kick your ass. Are we clear on that?"
"Yes, sir!" Sam replied mockingly, but there was a smile playing on his lips.
"Smartass." Dean whacked him over the head.
Dean grinned. "So what are you up to? Studying some geek stuff?"
"Yeah. I have a test in four days," Sam said with a sigh.
"Okay, why don't you get back to that? I'm gonna head out and get us some food and when I get back, we're gonna eat and then you're going to bed."
"Dean!" Sam protested indignantly. "It's only eight and I have tons of studying to do. You can't order me to bed like I'm four."
"Seriously, Dean. I can take care of myself!"
"Really? After what you just told me, I think the jury is still out on that one, little brother. Not to mention that you called me five days ago, pulling a major chick flick, making me think you were dying or something."
"Look, Sammy," Dean said, his voice a lot softer. "You're overworked and you need some food and rest. Listen to big brother, he always knows best."
Dean watched Sam's face crumble and the way he blinked his eyes and looked away told him his brother was close to tears and he felt his stomach tighten. What the hell was wrong with the kid?
"Sammy..." he started but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Sam quickly went and opened it. Standing outside was a gregarious blond with an amazing body and Dean couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. This definitely was someone he would like to hook up with.
"Hi, Sam," the girl said shyly. "Feeling any better?"
"Yeah. I'm good now."
The girl smiled warmly. "Good. You had me worried."
Dean frowned. Was Sam sick? Was that why he looked like crap?
Sam blushed slightly. "No need to be. It was no big deal. I'm fine now."
"That's great, Sam. Look, since you're feeling better and everything, I was thinking. I'm gonna have a small party on Saturday. You think you'd like to come?"
"I don't know. My brother just came to visit and I don't want to leave him alone."
Sam shifted uncomfortably and Dean suddenly realized this was the famous Jessica.
"Oh. Your brother is here? That's great, Sam. But he can come, too – it's not a problem."
"Jess… I don't know," Sam said hesitantly.
"You still feeling ill?" Jessica asked worriedly and Dean set his jaw. He was so going to kick Sam's ass for not telling him he'd been sick, but, at the same time, he was relieved. Sam's illness – whatever it was – explained his strange behaviour. As a kid, Sam had always been a clingy, overemotional wuss when he was sick and apparently that hadn't changed over the years.
Sam shot Dean a quick, guilt-filled look. "No, no. I'm fine. The antibiotic worked just fine. I'm still kind of tired, though, and I have this test on Monday and it's been awhile since I saw Dean…"
"Oh. Okay," Jessica looked slightly disappointed, but then an adorable smile lit up her pretty face. "Maybe some other time?"
Sam was about to answer, but Dean interrupted him, determined to put an end to this before it got really ugly. The girl was obviously totally wiped and, the longer Sam waited to tell her there was no chance, the longer it would take for her to get over it.
"No, it's fine. We'll be there. I'm looking forward to meeting some of Sam's friends."
"Dean!" Sam protested, glaring at Dean.
"Are you sure?" Jessica looked hesitantly between them.
Dean nodded. "We're sure. Sam spends way too much time in this room. He needs to get out more."
Jessica smiled warmly. "That's exactly what I've been telling him. See you Saturday then?
Dean flashed her his most charming smile. "Count on it."
Jessica smiled happily and said, "Bye, Sam."
"Bye," Sam murmured and closed the door. "Dean! How could you? You know I don't want to see her!"
"I know that, Sammy, but obviously you haven't told her the truth as we agreed you would and this is an excellent opportunity to do so."
"No, buts, Sammy. I told you; chicks need the truth and, the longer you wait, the harder it's gonna get. And, speaking of the truth, Sam," Dean crossed his arms over his chest, "she obviously isn't the only one you've kept in the dark."
"What's wrong with you?" he demanded. "How long have you been sick and what's the matter? And, most importantly, why the hell didn't you tell me?"
"Dean, look. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but you never really gave me a chance and it's no big deal – just a simple strep throat. I went to see a doctor and he gave me some antibiotics for it. I'm fine now, Dean. I promise."
"Yeah, sure. Because you look really great."
"I'm okay – really. It's just some after effects. I have no fever and it barely hurts anymore. I'm fine now. I really am."
Dean wanted so badly to believe him, but Sam's pale face and haggard appearance told him otherwise. Then something dawned on him and he narrowed his eyes.
"Were you sick when you called me, too?"
Sam had the decency to look embarrassed. "Yeah, I was. But it had just started and I wasn't even aware of it. I swear!"
Dean rubbed his face in frustration. "God dammit, Sam! Do you have any idea how badly you scared me? I thought something was seriously wrong. Almost screwed up the hunt because of it! You can't call me and pull shit like that, Sam. It's not fair – not to mention dangerous!"
"I know and I'm really sorry," Sam whispered and Dean could see that – once again – it was tears in his eyes, which confirmed Dean's suspicion that Sam still wasn't entirely well. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"It's okay, Sammy. I believe you and I forgive you, but, in return, you'll have to do as I say, okay?"
Sam nodded mutely.
"Good. Now you're gonna lie down and rest while I get the food and, as soon as you have eaten, you're off to bed."
Sam looked like he was about to object and Dean held up his hand. "No buts, Sam. You promised to do as you were told, remember? And, besides, you need to be well rested to nail that test, not to mention to be able to deal with that Jessica chick."
Sam sighed deeply and looked even more miserable than he had before.
Dean squeezed his shoulder. "Don't worry, Sammy. It will be okay. I'll be there, having your back – as always. Now get some rest."
"Okay," Sam said quietly and lay down on this bed.
Dean smiled a smile of victory and headed out through the door.
Saturday came way too fast for Sam's liking and soon he found himself standing in Jessica's small apartment, her arms around his neck in a hug. "Sam! It's so good to see you!" she squealed happily.
Sam patted her back awkwardly and decided that he might as well get it over with and then maybe he could go home. "It's nice to see you, too, Jessica. But I think we need to talk."
Jess looked worriedly at him. "About what? Is something wrong? Are you sick?"
Sam couldn't help but smile. She had the same one tracked mind when it came to him as Dean and Sam found it kind of ironic that she wanted him when she and Dean obviously were a match made in heaven.
"No, I'm fine. It's just that I…um… I think I'm picking up a vibe here." Sam closed his eyes. He really sucked at this. Taking a deep breath, he tried again. "What I'm trying to say is that it feels like you want us to be more than friends."
Jess smiled gently. "You're right. I do. You're a really sweet guy, Sam, and I would really like for us to be more than friends."
So this was it. This was where he broke Jessica's heart. Sam swallowed hard. He couldn't for the life of him understand how Dean did this all the time. "Well, the thing is… um… I don't feel the same and I don't think I ever will, so…" He looked at Jess, willing her to understand what he couldn't bring himself to say, and the way her face fell and kind of crumbled around the edges told him she did.
"Oh…Okay… I…" She swallowed hard. "I'm sorry. I never meant to make you feel uncomfortable. I'm just… God, Sam. I'm sorry. I never meant to…" Her eyes teared up and she quickly turned around and ran for the door.
"Jessica! Wait!" Sam called and went to go after her, but a firm hand on his shoulder stopped him.
He turned around and met Dean's serious eyes. "No, Sam. Let her go. Trust me; she doesn't want to talk to you right now."
"But she was upset! She cried, Dean!"
Dean gave a snort of laughter. "Well, what did you expect her to do? Thank you?"
"I don't know! I've never done this before, remember?" Sam replied angrily, and then, a lot softer, "I just don't want her to be alone when she's sad. She deserves better."
Dean sighed. "You look like crap again. Why don't you go home and get some rest?"
"But what about Jessica?"
Dean sighed again. "I'll go after her. Just go home and get some rest. I don't want you to end up sick again."
Sam hesitated. He did feel exhausted, but he had a feeling it had more to do with the tension of having to hurt a sweet person like Jessica than with getting sick again. "You're sure?"
Dean nodded. "I'm sure. Just get out of here. Big brother will fix this."
Sam gave him a grateful smile. "Thanks."
Dean waved him off. "Just go." And Sam disappeared through the door.
Dean made his way through the small crowd gathered in the apartment, trying to find Jessica, but she was no where in sight. Sighing, he ran his hand through his hair, trying to come up with an idea of where she might be. He really didn't want to do this. What he wanted was to go and check on Sam. The kid didn't seem to be able to quite bounce back from his illness. He was still pale and tired, despite Dean's efforts to nurse him back to health, and Dean started to fear it was something seriously wrong with him. But at the same time, he knew Sam and he knew how Sam used to totally ignore his own wellbeing when it came to studying. He simply seemed to forget to eat and sleep and Dean had had a hard time making him eat and sleep enough when he lived at home, and he could only imagine for how long Sam had been doing this now when no one was there to look out for the signs.
Dean sighed again and forced his mind back to the task at hand. He had promised Sam he would try to comfort Jessica and, the sooner he found her and got it over with, the sooner he could go back and take care of Sam. He decided to check outside. Maybe she had gone outside to get away from her friends, to be able to grieve in peace.
Dean spotted her as soon as he got out. She was sitting on a bench on the other side of the street staring at the ground. Dean crossed the street and sat down beside her on the bench.
"Hi, how are you doing?" he asked softly.
She looked up at him and the despair on her tear-swollen face stirred something inside of him that he usually only felt around Sam – an urge to protect and make things better.
"Your brother just told me he's not interested, how do you think I'm feeling?" she asked with a mix of anger and resignation in her voice.
"Pretty crappy?" Dean suggested carefully, making a face when he realized how stupid it sounded, but there was a reason he avoided chick flick moments like the plague, and a crying chick was even worse than a crying Sam.
But, to his surprise, the girl gave a snort of laughter. "Something like that, yeah."
Dean smiled. "You gotta forgive my brother. He's a dork."
Jessica looked down again and whispered. "No, he isn't. He's one of the nicest guys here."
Dean sighed. She was right. Sam was nice – too nice. Always had been. It was like his own personal curse and, as usual, it came back and kicked his ass. And this time, it managed to hurt someone else in the process. Life really sucked.
"Okay, maybe he is, but he's a dork when it comes to girls. You can't take it personal. It has nothing to do with you. Girls just aren't his thing."
"No?" Jessica looked up and dried at her tears. "You think he's gay?"
Dean laughed. "No, just a geek. All he can think of is books and studying and test results. He's always been that way. Even makes himself sick in the process."
"So I have noticed," Jess replied softly. "He's like a lost puppy or something, you know? You just can't help liking him and worry about him."
Dean rubbed this face tiredly. "Yeah, he's worry material, that's for sure."
Jess smiled. "That's cute you know?"
"The way you worry about him. Because you do that a lot, don't you?"
Dean shrugged. "I guess. It's kind of my job."
"To take care of him?"
"To take care of him, protect him, clean up his mess – whatever he needs." Dean replied uneasily, wondering why the hell he bared his soul to a total stranger.
"Was that why you came after me? To clean up his mess?"
"Yes and no. He wanted to go after you himself, didn't want you to be alone when you were upset, but I figured he was the last person you wanted to see, so I offered to go instead, to ease his mind."
Jessica's eyes filled with tears again. "I told you he's nice."
"Yeah, yeah, he is. But it's his loss, you know?"
"You really think so?"
"Yeah, I do. And don't worry. As nice and pretty as you are, you can have pretty much anyone you want."
Dean smiled again. "Really."
They sat in comfortable silence for a while and, when Dean was sure she had regained her composure, he said, "Well, I better be going. Good luck with everything."
Jessica smiled warmly at him. "Thank you. For coming after me. For comforting me."
Dean shrugged, trying to hide his discomfort. This girl made a lot of feelings well up inside him. Feelings he wasn't used to and it made him nervous. "You're welcome."
"Will I see you again?" she asked seriously.
"Probably. I'm planning on hanging around for awhile to make sure Sammy doesn't starve himself to death."
"Okay, see you around then, Dean Winchester," she said, giving him one of those pretty smiles of hers.
Dean smiled back. "Yeah, see you around."
Then he turned around and headed towards Sam's room, eager to check on his brother, but, at the same time, he already longed to see Jessica again.