What's Important?

By: supernaturaldh

Chapter 4

Broken Body, Mending Heart

Dean stared at his little brother. Sam just sat, gazing into space with a distant, vacant look on his face. What was he thinking? Was he lost in his memories of Jessica, Stanford, and a life he could have had? One thing for sure, he was making Dean very uncomfortable.

Sam moved slowly across the bed, easing up onto his side and stuffing at the pillow with his good hand. It had been two days since they made there way to the Alto Motel and moved into this dingy room. Sam was a mess. Dean tried to make him comfortable and Sam did what he could to make it easier. He took his medication when he was told to, slept when Dean said so, ate when Dean forced him to, and moved with Dean's help. His broken body was a heavy burden, and so was his broken heart. The memories of his time at Sanford, and his life with Jessica, were overwhelming him. He didn't want to be this way, but he couldn't seem to snap out of it.

Dean looked down at Sam's hospital release papers, one more time. He checked again to see when Sammy had therapy. Soon please…. He could use that to get Sammy out of the room. No such luck; Sam didn't have therapy until Monday. It was Friday and the weekend loomed out in front of them. Oh boy, three more days of a withdrawn Sammy. Great!

Dean tugged his fingers through his hair and flipped off the television. His head darted across the room to check on his too quiet little brother. He attempted to read his expression, to figure out what was going on in that freaky head of his. Was being in Palo Alto too much? He didn't know what to say, how to make it better. Maybe it wasn't a good idea for them to stay here. Yeah, Sam said he was okay, but Dean knew better than that. Sam was not okay, Sam was far from okay. He also knew it was never a good idea to leave Sammy dwelling in his own head for too long. His little brother thought way too much. He needed to get Sammy to talk.

Dean shuffled from the bed to his feet, and stretched, arms tugging up above his head, muscle popping and snapping with the movement. His eyes watched Sam.

"Hey, gimpy, you want to go get something to eat?"

Sam's head bobbled up from the pillow and shrugged slightly, giving Dean a blank, drug induced glower. He moved uncomfortably against the bed, wincing as he did so.

"I'm not that hungry." Sam shook his head.

"Sam? You haven't eaten today. You can't take you're meds on an empty stomach." Dean jingled the Impala keys in his fingers just in front of Sam's face.

"Just bring me back something?" Sam stated sullenly as he gave up his squirming and settled back against the covers.

"Oh come on Sammy, you need to get some fresh air." Dean's voice was firm as he gazed directly into Sam's red rimmed eyes and the dark shadows that rested beneath them. He looks exhausted.

Sam raised his head, his long bangs falling gently across his forehead, his pale features looking wide eyed up at Dean, his face so fragile and childlike.

Dean blinked, a distant memory flashed in his mind and bounced around in his head.

A five year old boy; sitting in front of his big brother. Long legs curled against a musty motel room bed somewhere in West Texas, a broken mattress, and gangly arms that rested up against knobby knees. Dean could still see the large, wide eyes of a little Sammy as if it were yesterday. Sam's small face full of innocence and trust. His features pleading for Dean to 'make it all better'...

But sometimes, Dean couldn't fix it. As much as he wanted to, needed to, was driven to; it wasn't happening. Sometimes life just dealt the Winchester's a crappy hand and they had to learn to deal with it. This was one of those times. Sammy had to come to terms with this himself, and all Dean could do was be there for moral support.

The same large hazel eyes were now giving Dean that same look. The look that begged Dean to make it all better, the face that pleaded with him to 'fix it'. The two words Dean had heard thousands of times were now sitting on the tip of Sam's tongue and Dean knew it. He dreaded it, yet waited for it. He steadied himself for the onslaught. He knew what was coming.

"Can't…can't you just bring me something back. Don't make me go out….Please Dean?"

And there it was. The classic Sammy Winchester; spouting words that tied Dean up into knots. The words that were hard to refuse when Sam was small, and now, unfortunately for Dean, it had never gotten any easier. Be tough, make him get off his ass and get out of this room. He needs to face it.

Dean rolled his eyes at his little brother. "I'm sorry Sammy, but I can't bring you anything, you need to come with me, you need to get out of this room. Please Sam, come with me?" His tone had dropped to an obvious concerned one. Let me help you deal kiddo. Please let me help you.

"Dean….I just…." Sam sighed, tired, fingers pulling slowly through his long hair and pushing it off his face.

Dean gave his brother a reassuring smile. "Come on, like you said, you have to see Palo Alto sometime. Now is as good a time as ever."

Sam gave his brother no response, sighed heavily and pushed up from the bed standing on one shaky leg, balancing precariously with the broken leg hanging out in front of him. Dean's sturdy hand came up quickly to grasp him at the elbow, to hold him steady. Then the older brother grabbed up the crutch and held it out for Sam to take.

"You're right, I know you're right. It's just….it's hard for me to be here." Sam murmured, "So many memories…"

"Come on, I'm right here with you little brother. Right here." Dean's grip never left Sam's arm as helped him toward the door and pulled it open.

Sam hesitated, eyes glancing around the parking lot, fearful expression rising to his features.

"We'll do t his together, kiddo. You and me just like always." Dean whispered, fingers still clutched to his brother's wobbly frame. Then Dean noticed a vague smile tugging at the edges of Sam's frowning lips. Now they were getting somewhere.

-O-

The conversation in the Impala lulled into nothing as Sam seemed to have lost him self to the memories that were assaulting his senses. Places he and Jessica used to hang out blurred past the Impala windows.

"So, you okay? Dean reached over and placed his hand comfortingly on his brothers' shoulder. His eyes darted from the front windshield to the sign they were slowly rolling past, "Stanford University". He let his eyes fall to Sam, who seemed to be caught up in the moment, the dampness visible welling just beneath his eyelids.

Sam gave him a weak smile and blinked the tears back slowly, dragging his mind from all the memories that were battering him; he let his older brother's face come into focus.

"Ye…Yeah. I'm fine. Dean, just fine." Sammy whispered. He felt Dean's finger's holding steady to the nap of his neck, grounding him.

"Sure you are." Dean gripped his fingers and held on tightly. Sam didn't flinch away, but sat and let his big brother hang on.

"See that park bench right there?" Sam's eyebrows arched up and he pointed across the street as the Impala idled at the stoplight.

"Yeah, I see it." Dean grinned.

"That's where I first saw Jess. She was sitting right there, talking with her friends. I about tripped over my feet trying to walk one way and look back at her." Sam chuckled lightly, and Dean smiled broadly. Good, finally, he's opening up.

"Really, so, your big ole boat feet got in the way, go figure?" Dean snickered and eased his hand off of Sam's neck, resting it slightly on the bench seat behind his brother's head. Just in case.

The light changed, and the car continued to hum along down the two lane road, Sam now eagerly taking in everything and smiling.

"And right there, that's where we went out with all our friends. Me, Jess, and a bunch of other people, Zapata's Pizzeria. See Dean, it's right there." Sam's eyes lit up, and his excited hand bounded across in front of Dean's face. "See…"

"Yes, kiddo, I see it." Dean smiled. "Didn't spend too much money, I hope?"

Sam rolled his eyes, "Dean, I didn't have any money. You know, I left home, and had to take a job at the college cafeteria just so I could eat. I was hungry man, no food, no money, that part of college life sucked."

Dean shifted uncomfortably in the set. "Yeah, but I thought you got some additional scholarship money. Didn't you tell me that one time?" Curious blue eyes glared at Sam.

"Yeah, I did actually, right after I got here, just after my first semester I got a letter from the D.J. & B. Corporation, out of San Mateo, saying that I had been selected to receive their scholarship fund. Man, it was awesome; I got like 1500 a semester in an account at a bank here in Palo Alto. I got to quit my part time job and study all the time. It was great."

Dean's face beamed at the words from Sam's lips. D.J. & B. Corporation, what a nice company!

"What are you grinning at?" Sam looked perplexed at the large smile adorning his older brother's face.

"Nothing…nothing…" Dean looked out the windshield, fingers gripping a little tighter against the steering wheel. "That was a nice scholarship for you. I am sure you were excited about it. Change the subject, change the subject. So, where we eating?"

"I don't know." Sam slumped back in the seat, his mind churning over the last information he had just received from his big brother. "What a minute…" he looked perplexed. "Wait a freaking minute….D.J. & B. Corporation? Dean….?" His eyebrows arched up as he peered at his older brother.

Dean's eyes grew wide. Uh oh. "Man it's hot out tonight lets go find us some beers."

Sam's eyes stayed focused on Dean's face.

"So how bout Mexican, I know this great little place in San Mateo." Dean's eyes fixed to the front of the car. I think I been caught. Dean's shoulders shrugged, a small smile curling up on his lips.

"Holy crap, it was you…you, Dad, and Bobby. Wasn't it? Dean? The Dean, John and Bobby Corporation? Awe…man. I was so excited and happy to have the scholarship, I never questioned it."

"And so what if you had?" Dean darted his eyes over to his brother. "What difference would that have made?"

Sam just sat, eyes glaring at his brother across the bench seat. "I…I dun no…none, well, no, I thought Dad didn't want me to go."

"Sam, Dad didn't want you to go, but he loved you and wanted to make sure you were okay. He worried, hell, we all did." Anxiety etched into Dean's tone and he glanced over at his brother.

"Dad worried….about me?" Sam looked surprised as he sat staring at Dean.

"Sam, just because we didn't want you to go, didn't mean we weren't still your family. Yes, it was the Dean, John and Bobby Corporation that gave you that money. We all pitched in, opened up the account for you."

"But why…why didn't you just call and tell me?" Sam's eyes wide with disbelief.

"Would you have taken it?"

Sam's head slowly nodded in a no motion, "No, I guess I wouldn't have. I was kind of mad at the world back then."

"Well, no shit." Dean chided with a large smirk. He parked the Impala in front of Las Casa de San Mateo Restaurant and turned off the engine, turning to look at Sam.

"Look Sammy, Dad was a lot of things, but he loved us, he loved you. He wanted you to be okay at Stanford, and he made sure of it. We all did."

Sam stared at his brother, wide eyes filled with stunned surprise. "I never knew."

"Well, all those books." Dean shook his head, "Not as smart as you thought you were, huh, kiddo."

Dean pushed open the driver's door and slipped out of the car. Now had been the right time to tell Sam about the money. He was glad it had come up, hoping that it would give Sam some comfort in the knowledge that Dad cared.

Sam eased out of the passenger seat, eyes taking in the Mexican Restaurant in front of the car. He waited while Dean pulled his crutch from the back seat and handed it to him.

"Where are we?" This looks familiar? Sam let his eyes fall to the front of the quaint little restaurant, memory once again running amuck.

"Oh man, this place has the best Mexican food; I ate here with Dad a lot back when we were hunting together." Dean's smacked his lips, the prospect of the delectable food making him very hungry.

"Where was I?" Sam's eyebrows shot up in curiosity.

"School." Without thinking, the word left Dean's lips. Shit. "Hell Sam, how do I know where you were? Jeez, you'd think I kept up with your ass all the time or something."

Dean scurried toward the front door of the restaurant, hand clutching at the doorway as he turned back to observe his little brother.

Sam hadn't moved. He was still standing by the car, leaning against the hood. His crutch had fallen to the ground and his arms were crossed. An angry glare was leering across his face as he gawked at his older brother.

Dean's fingers released the door, and he stood, mouth falling agape as he realized, he had once again stuck his foot in his mouth. Okay, it's okay. Just freaking tell him and get it over with.

Dean walked slowly back toward his little brother, shoes scuffling on the pavement. When he reached his brother, he stopped, pulled in a breath of the evening air, and leaned down to grab Sam's crutch. He held it out to his brother.

"You were here, weren't you? You, Dad, in San Mateo, while I was at Stanford?" Sam's voice seemed shaky, weak as he stated the question, staring fixedly at Dean.

"Yes Sammy, we were."

Sam slumped against the Impala, bringing his good had up to wipe at his forehead, staring down at a rock on the ground in front of him. Silence sat around the brothers as both let the information Dean had just admitted to churn between them.

Dean finally drew in a weary breathe and spoke.

"Sam, when you left. Dad was frantic. I know you never thought that he would be, but he was. He was so worried about you being here, on your own, alone. The demon was out there, and let's face it, at the time, Dad knew a lot more than you and I."

Sam looked up at his brother through his bangs, teeth biting into his quivering lower lip unconsciously.

"We came here, to San Mateo and made it our home base. Yeah, we traveled some, took on some hunts, but we always came back here. Dad would ride over and sit in the car and watch your apartment. Hell, we all took turns doing it. Me, Bobby, Dad, we had to check on you, Sam. It was important for us to know you were okay."

"I can't believe I never knew it." Sam shook his head. "I never saw you, any of you."

"We didn't want you to, Sammy."

"I can't believe it." Sam sighed.

"Just so you know, it was Dad's idea to put the money in the account; Bobby came up with the scholarship scam. I just came up with the name."

A slow smile rose to Sam's lips as he blinked harshly against the tears. "D.J. & B, come on Dean, there is nothing original about that."

"Hey, it fooled you didn't it." Dean smirked.

Once again, Dean reached down and picked up Sam's crutch, handing it back to his little brother.

"Listen, I ain't picking that damn thing up again." He grinned.

"I came here…." Sam pulled in a large gulp of air and looked around the parking lot. He turned his face into Dean. "I came here before, with Jessica, right before she died."

Dean was stunned into silence. He stood staring at his little brother. What a dumb ass, just bring him right to the restaurant they ate at, you stupid ass.

"We can leave." Dean offered.

Tears rolled silently down Sam's cheeks as he gazed at his older brother, a smile curling up to his lips. "No, let's eat here." Sam's free hand came up and he wiped his shirt sleeve against his eyes. He leaned into the crutch, and eased forward slowly toward the restaurant.

Dean followed beside him, fingers at the ready, just in case Sam needed to be steadied, helped, or just comforted. His right hand reached out to pull the door open as his left hand helped his brother up the step.

"You know, there was a hot little oriental girl in here last time I was here…"

Sam rolled his eyes, "Dean, it's a Mexican Restaurant…."

"So, what does that mean, bitch?" Dean smiled widely as he eased inside the restaurant behind Sam.

"Whatever, Jerk"

END!

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