Title: Up Around The Bend

Rating: K
Length: 1530 words
Warnings: none
Spoilers: AHBL2
Characters: Dean, Sam
Notes: Gen
Summary: Dean's has a year left to live, and Sam is making plans.


What do you do when you fail as a brother?

Sam sat on his bed and stared at the door, as though staring at it could change what just happened.

The room still vibrated from the violence of the door slamming shut, and Sam felt numb as the sound of his own voice only moments before echoed in his mind... . There was no way to take back the words he said.

"Do you think I'm here because I want to be? I have nowhere else to go."

Laundry was strewn over the two beds, half folded. The computer sat on the table, screen glowing. Sam rubbed his hands over his face and looked back at the screen. The e-mail didn't mean a damn thing, and Dean wouldn't have even known anything about it if Sam had used an ounce of sense and closed the screen before going for a pee.

But he didn't. It was stupid. It didn't even mean what Dean thought it meant, not that explaining that to Dean would mean anything, because it wasn't the e-mail that drove Dean away. Sam had done that all on his own.

After seeing the e-mail, Dean said nothing. Saying nothing was Dean's equivalent of having a temper tantrum. The Dean Winchester philosophy of life: ignore it and it will go away.

Even though he knew he should just shut up and leave it alone, Sam couldn't help himself. "You looked at my e-mail?" Sam asked.

"Not like I was deliberately going through your stuff if that's what you mean, but yeah, I saw it."

"You're pissed off."

"Who says I'm pissed off?"

"You're saying you're not?"

"Right." Dean answered, and turned away to angrily pair socks from the laundry.

How was it even possible to angrily pair socks? Sam ducked as a sock-ball flew at his head. That was how. "Look, you already read it, so what do you think? I know now isn't really an ideal time to think about it, but after..."

"Hey, if it's what you want to do, do it. Not like I'll be here."

"What?"

"What do you want me to say? Yes Sam, it's a good idea. Do it now if you want. There's no one stopping you." Dean said flippantly.

"You think I want to go back to college?"

"Don't you?"

"Well, aren't there things you want to do?"

"Yeah Sam. I want to enjoy the time I have left, and send a whole horde of those evil son's of bitches back to hell before I have to go join them." Dean gave up folding laundry and turned back to Sam. "How about you?"

"Isn't there anything else you'd rather be doing?"

"You heard my answer. Now it's your turn." Dean's tone was deceptively calm.

"Do you think I'm here because I want to be? I have nowhere else to go."

And the next thing Sam knew, the door slammed shut and Dean was gone.

At least the car was still parked. If Dean had taken the car, Sam would have serious doubts as to whether or not his brother would be back. He sold his soul for me; do I really think he'd ditch me now over a stupid fight?

No. Of course not. Dean would be back, and Sam would explain.

It just took longer than anticipated for it to happen. Sam finished folding the laundry. He separated the clothes and repacked them. He cleaned up the pizza boxes and beer cans left from their mini we-killed-the-yellow-eyed-demon celebration the night before. He surfed news feeds for signs of demonic behaviour. He flipped through Dad's journal looking for entries about crossroad deals already knowing he wouldn't find any. He searched the net for information about deals with demons and made himself a list of books to look up.

Dean walked out the door at ten that morning. Sam phoned Dean's cell at around six that evening. Dean answered, and the conversation went something like this;

"Hey." Sam said.

"Hey."

"Everything okay?"

"Fine. You?"

"Fine."

Sam wondered if an outsider might think they were co-dependant.

At around ten that evening he phoned again.

"Hey." Sam said.

"Hey." Loudmusic played in the background.

"Everything okay?"

"Fine. You?"

"I'm sorry." Sam blurted. "For earlier…I didn't mean it like that."

"You're such a chick."

"You didn't read the whole e-mail, did you?" Sam asked, though he already knew the answer.

"I don't nose around through your stuff."

"Yeah, I know. Come back and read the rest of it. You deserve to know the truth."

"Right. Later." Dean answered and hung up.

Later turned out to be sooner than Sam anticipated, and within half an hour Dean was back in the motel room. Without saying a word, Sam downloaded the e-mail and got up to give Dean his chair at the so he could read.

"You really want to go back to college?" Dean asked before looking at the screen.

"Read it, I think it would be a good thing, you know?"


Fw: Enquiry to Admissions & Recommendation
From: "Ash" drbadassahomailcom
To: "Sam" samw1983agmailcom
February 19, 2006 4:03:24 AM

Done.

-- Original Message--

From: "David Whitmore", dwhitmoreamitcom
Subject: Enquiry to Admissions & Recommendation
To: "Ash", drbadassahotmailcom
Sent: January 28, 2006, 3:17 PM

I can't tell you how wonderful it was hearing from you last week, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but with midterms afoot, well, you know how it can get.

Now, as to your question, because I assume you've been anxious to hear, I spoke to the Dean of Admissions about the person you mentioned, and his abilities, and lack of academia in any true formal educational setting. The Dean said that if you can get one other tenured professor to write a letter of recommendation, we'd be more than willing, if he can do as you claim, to extend an invitation to join us! Someone with that kind of natural talent would be an asset to our institution - excellence in academia is not the only mark of true greatness.

I can tell you right now, I know your instincts in this area and if he is even half of what you say, well, given my tenure, I'd be more than willing to write that letter. I'd like nothing better to meet this exceptional young man, so as soon as you can call, do so. We'll set up an informal meeting. It's always wonderful meeting someone with natural talent.

Please, follow through with this and let us meet him in person at the fall interview sessions. Anyone with the sort of qualifications you are intimating would be perfect for our university.

Sincerely,
David Whitmore


Sam chewed his lip, and though Dean didn't move, he knew the moment Dean finished reading.

"When I said I had not where else to go, what I meant to say was you do. Hunting, all that crap about my destiny, it's got us running in circles going no where. You deserve the chance to do something for yourself. Ash still had some friends over at MIT. They know you as Dean Jones; they already have your official transcripts and letter of recommendation. There are financial aide packages that cover most of the tuition. I figured I'd get a job and take care of what ever other expenses there'd be. Or if, you know, if I wasn't there, there's on-campus housing."

Dean looked pale. "How long did it take to set this up?"

"A while. Ash and I, we worked on it between jobs, and research... before he…" Sam shrugged. "I needed something to focus on; something that wasn't about the Yellow Eyed Demon."

Sam waited for Dean to say something, but when the silence lingered and when his eyes remained fixed on the computer screen. Sam got up and paced the room. "Look, I go where you go, you know that. And next year, you'll see, you can still have that interview. That's why I was looking at it again; I need to request an extension for next fall."

"Sam..."

"I've never seen anyone do stuff with electronics like you do. I showed Ash that EMF meter you made and even he was impressed you could get that from a walkman. Not to mention all the other stuff you've put together out of nothing over the years. You can do it."

Dean was looking at him now, his eyes soft but determined. "What we do matters, Sam. The lives we've saved."

"Yea but… haven't we given enough? We've both been on the losing side, and I…" Sam stopped, his voice choking back the swell of emotion. "I'm going to save you, Dean. But after, I don't know if I can keep doing this and not lose my mind."

Dean closed the laptop and leaned back in his chair. "Okay."

The response left Sam momentarily stunned and all he could do was stand there, blinking in surprise. He studied Dean's face for any sign that he was placating or mollifying his little brother.

There was none… just earnest acceptance.

Sam nodded, satisfied. It was the closest he'd gotten to Dean admitting there was a possibility they'd make it through the year and for now, that had to be enough.


Thanks jackfan2 for the Beta, and the letter from Admissions