A/N I: One year ago today (18-July) I posted my first story. It's been such and amazing year! At the risk of a chick flick moment, I would like to take just a second to thank all of you and send each one a hug. Your support and kindness has meant the world to me, and has gotten me through some very rough patches. Thank you again!
A/N II: When I started In Darkness, I know I said that I would have a one-shot for the anniversary fic. I guess I lied, I tried to make this a one-shot, bit it seemed like cheating the story. Oh well, new year, new traditions. After hearing from friends that they were having a hard time finding hurt Sam, I thought of this. Special thanks to Nana56 for reminding me of the story of one brother's devotion to another, and how it can save a life. The story is offered especially for TranSan, Manavie, Abni—and dedicated to all my Sam girl readers.
De Miraculis Sui Temporis
The illness had swept through the small town with a speed and ferocity that had John Winchester convinced it had to be supernatural, if not demonic, in origin. It tore through families and schools with a violence that shocked him. It struck the young and vigorous of both sexes, suddenly and completely. One moment they were fine, the next fighting for life, no segue, no warning, just from one moment to the next life changed. John hadn't believed it, not really, not even after talking to the parents. Not until it had been brought home in a few short minutes three days before.
The boys had been in the field behind the extended stay motel they were living in. John was sitting in the patio chair, trying to ignore their serial argument. He had no idea when it started, or even what it was about any longer, the boys just started sometimes, usually during training of some kind. Maybe it's the training that sets them off? John glanced up from the book he was reading, the boys were practicing hand to hand. Dean at seventeen was as graceful as a cat. Sam at thirteen was more like an awkward puppy. Sam's hands and feet had grown faster than the rest of him and he had a tendency to trip over his large feet, just like the Lab puppy that lived three doors down from them.
"No, Sammy, feint then punch, like this," Dean said, his voice tinged with impatience. John watched as Dean took his brother's hands and moved him through the action. "See?" Dean asked. Sam nodded. "Good, let's try again."
"I don't want to, I'm sick of this." Sam pulled away, gave Dean a little shove and paced across the field.
"Don't walk away! We're almost done," Dean snapped. John noted the tension in Dean's shoulders. "Sammy!" Dean's anger and annoyance vibrated in his voice. John understood his elder son's frustration, Sam needed the skills to survive. John sighed and turned back to his research. "C'mon! Lighten up," Dean said. "SAMMY!" The shout was completely different in tone, John looked up in time to see Sam collapse and his brother catch him before he hit the ground. John was up and moving before Dean's shout, "Dad!" left his son's mouth.
"Three days ago, Mary," John said quietly addressing his wife as he drove through town. "Three days, each day worse, we're going to lose him." John felt a tear run over his cheek. "What do I do?" He sighed. "I'm going to bring him home. I can't live with the thought he'd die alone. It would kill Dean. Do you think I'm doing the right thing?"
John pulled up in front of the garage Dean was working at, pausing for a minute before he got out. He wiped the tears off his face, stepped out and walked into the small auto parts store that was part of the shop. Dean had gotten the job after stopping by the store looking for parts for the Impala, the owner Rod Weaver, had taken a liking to Dean and offered him the job. It was under-the-table, strictly cash, but Dean enjoyed working and Weaver sold him parts for the Impala at cost.
"John!" Weaver smiled as he came in. "It's good to see you, I'll get Dean."
"Wait, I'd like to talk to you." John cleared his throat. "Has Dean told you…" He stopped himself. Of course Dean hasn't told him. "My son Sam…" He stopped again, this time held up by the ball of grief that was nearly choking him.
"Sam? Great kid! He was here, uh, helping Dean the other day." Rod smiled. "He talks a lot, too!" Something on John's face stopped him. "What is it?" he asked softly.
"Sam…He's sick. He's at St. Martin's right now, but I spoke with his doctor and I'm going to bring him home tonight."
The other man's face crumpled into a mask of grief. "My son, Zev, died when he was about Sam's age. Cancer. I brought him home, too. I'm so sorry. Dean's job will be waiting for him. He'll need to work, John." Rod put his hand on John's shoulder. "I know you move around a lot, but stay till Dean's feet are back under him. Yours, too. I understand, you can talk to me, if you need it."
"Thank you," John said. "Is it okay for Dean to leave now?"
"Yeah, he just finished up a job, in fact." Rod walked to the door leading into the work area. "Dean!"
"Yeah?" Dean stepped out of the back, wiping his hands on cloth. "You got something else for me? I was going to…Dad?" All the color drained out of Dean's face. "Sammy?"
"He's okay, I just spoke with his doctor. I'm going to bring him home. I want you to come with me." The words came out of John in a rush.
"Yeah, home. Keeps me from having to bail you out," John said with what he hoped was a smile.
"Bail me out?" Dean asked, stopping in front of them.
"Yeah, someone might catch you sneaking into the hospital after hours."
"You know about that?" Dean looked surprised. "Don't worry, dad, the night nurses know."
"You should have told me." Because the first night I found your bed empty I panicked.
Dean shrugged. "Yeah, sorry. Thought you'd know."
"Go get your stuff, Dean. You need to be with your brother. You should have told me about it sooner," Rod said quietly. "Don't worry, the job's not going anyplace."
"Thanks," Dean said. He turned and walked away. John watched as his son stood with his back to him, shoulders bent, head down, as broken as John had ever seen him. A moment later, Dean squared his shoulders, his head came up and he turned back towards them, his coat in his hands. "Let's go. Sammy will be surprised to see us." He smiled at Rod and walked out.
"Thanks again," John said, turning to follow Dean.
"Yeah." Rod walked with him to the door. "Take care."
John nodded and walked out to the truck. Dean was in the passenger seat, staring out the window. John got in and looked over at his son. Dean's hands were clenched, John could see his son's jaw working as he ground his teeth together. "Dean?"
"Does Sammy know we're coming?" Dean's eyes stayed focused forward.
"Not to bring him home. I usually go by around now," John answered as he pulled out.
"How is he? Is he still walking?" Dean asked. He knew the progression of the disease as well as John did.
"The doctor said yes." John sighed. "He's having someone come in and show us how to take care of Sammy."
"No one needs to show me how to take care of Sammy," Dean growled.
"Dean, I meant…"
"I know what you meant, dad. I had Tom, one of the night nurses, show me what I need to know."
"Why?" John asked, trying to still the little pulse of panic in his chest. He was planning something. Dean shrugged. "Dean, answer me."
"I don't know, dad. I thought I should know, that's all."
John sighed. He knew when he wasn't going to get anymore information from his elder son. "Good idea." John pulled into valet parking rather than trying to find a spot in the crowded lot. Dean hopped out and headed towards the doors. "Wait for me," John called. Dean looked over his shoulder with a frown, but stopped and waited by the entrance.
They walked together through the hallway. Silent as they took the elevator. John watched Dean trying to keep his emotions under control. Each step closer to his brother's room impacted Dean physically. Sam's doctor was waiting for them.
"I'm going to go talk to Sammy." Dean turned towards Sam's room.
"Dean?" John grabbed his son's arm to stop him.
"I don't need him to tell me about Sammy, dad. I know what's happening." Dean turned and walked away.
John watched Dean walk down the hallway. His son paused outside of Sam's room, John saw him lean his head against the doorframe for a moment. Even from where he stood, he could see Dean's hands trembling. A thought formed, with the bright clarity of an absolute truth. John swallowed, his chest aching with the realization. When we lose Sammy, Dean's not going to last long. Oh, god, what do I do? Mary? How do I save our sons?
Dean stopped outside the door to Sam's room. What he'd told his father was true, he knew what was happening. His brother was dying. Dean could feel bits of himself dying along with Sam. Dean sighed and rested his head against the cool doorframe for a minute before going in. He could hear the TV coming from Sam's room. From the sound of it, Sam had found a documentary to watch. His brother's penchant for documentaries was something Dean didn't get, but he let it slide most of the time. They'd made a deal—for every show on PBS Sam got to watch, Dean got two shows on another channel. So far it worked well.
With a deep breath to still the trembling of his hands, Dean pushed the door open, watching Sam for a moment before he went in. Ah, Sammy. "Hey," Dean said before he was all the way in the room, letting his brother know he was there.
Sam looked over and scrubbed the tears off his face as quickly as he could. "Dean? Shouldn't you be at work?"
"Rod gave me the afternoon off. I finished the job on the Chevy, and he said I could go."
"I thought you were going to work on the Impala today," Sam said, frowning as Dean sat on the edge of the bed.
"I was planning on it, Sammy, but I used the distributer in that sixty-six I was working on the other day. Rod ordered another, but it hasn't come in yet." It was only half a lie. He had used the distributer, but the new one arrived that morning. "Thought I'd come by and spring you."
"Spring me?" Sam asked with the same disapproving frown he'd used the night before when Dean had brought up the idea. He looks so much like dad when he does that, I wonder if dad can see it? "Dean…"
"Dad's here too, Sammy, he wants you to come home too." Dean laid his hand on his brother's leg and gave it a little squeeze.
"He does?" Sam coughed, his face tight with pain. Dean grabbed a tissue and handed it to his brother so Sam could wipe the blood away.
"Yeah." Dean watched the emotions play across Sam's face. Fear, or maybe it was dread, had the upper hand. "It's okay."
"No, Dean. I know what that means. There's no hope for me, is there?" Sam sighed as Dean opened his mouth to protest. "I know I'm not better. It's getting worse." Sam leaned forward and put his hand over Dean's. "But I'm glad we're going home."
"Let me get your clothes, can't have you running around with your ass hanging out," Dean said, getting up and walking to the closet. He swallowed the lump in his throat. Sammy doesn't need tears right now. Suck it up. Dean pulled the clothes he'd brought the night before out of the small closet and helped Sam into them, carefully easing the IV through the sleeves.
"Charlie died this morning, a little after you left," Sam said.
"Oh," Dean said, looking at Sam. Charlie Firkins has been brought in a day and a half before Sam. "Sammy…" Dean stopped, unsure of what to say. He was saved when his father came into the room, followed by a nurse pushing a wheelchair. She unhooked Sam from the nearly empty IV bag. "Doesn't he need that?" Dean asked.
"We have more for when we get home," John said, holding up a large plastic shopping bag.
"Okay, good. Time to go?" Dean asked.
"Yeah," John said quietly. "Ready, kiddo?"
"Sure." Sam said, nodding and swung his legs off the bed. Dean helped him to the wheelchair, letting Sam take the few steps as best he could, but ready to catch him if he fell.
"Let's go," Dean grabbed the wheelchair and wheeled Sam out of the room. He heard Sam chuckle when they rounded the corner to the elevators at a near run, Dean lifting the wheels off the floor a little. "Hit the button, Sammy," Dean said. "We can beat him down." His brother giggled and punched the button, the elevator doors opened and Dean pushed the chair in. Sam was poking at the "door close" button, waving as the door closed before their father could get in. Dean thought he heard a growled curse before the doors shut. Sam laughed.
They exited the elevators and Dean pushed Sam through the hall and into the lobby as fast as he could. Sam was laughing, the joyful sound carrying across the large room. Several people turned to frown at them, but no one stopped them. Dean zoomed out the door and stopped, with an added screech, by valet parking.
"Very funny," John said, coming through the door behind them.
He handed the claim ticket to one of the waiting attendant. Several minutes later, the truck pulled up in front on them. Dean helped Sam up, and gently settled him in the middle. He got in after his brother, putting his arm over Sam's shoulders to give them both more room. Dean noticed his father took the turn that would take them the long way back to the motel, through the agricultural area Sam liked. He looked over at his father, John smiled at him.
"Llama!" Sam said with a laugh, a few minutes later. Dean chuckled and tightened the grip on his brother, trying to let Sam's light-hearted laughter push the dread away. It wasn't working. Sam leaned against him with a sigh. "Llamas, Dean. Remember the one we saw at Christmas? With the red eyes?"
"Demonic llamas, who could forget that?" Dean said, smiling at Sam. Sam smiled back and watched the farm land roll past. By the time they reached the motel, Sam was nearly asleep. "Hey, we're home, Sammy."
"Oh, I missed the buffalo," Sam said sadly.
"We'll go see them tomorrow, Sammy," Dean said gently, squeezing Sam's shoulder.
"Promise, Dean?" His brother looked at him with bright eyes. If I promise, it means he'll be here tomorrow to see them.
"Yeah, Sammy, promise."
"Okay." Sam scooted to the edge of the seat when Dean got out of the car. Dean helped him down, but let him walk into the room, hovering behind him, ready to catch him, but letting him go on his own. "Thanks, Dean," Sam said as he sat on his bed.
"Nothing." Sam slid under the covers, Dean pulled them up. "Do you mind if I sleep for a little while?"
"No, I think it's a good idea. Just let me get your IV hooked up first."
"Can I sleep for just a little while without it?" Sam asked, when Dean hesitated he reached out and put a hand on Dean's arm. "I can't roll over when I have it in."
An hour or two won't make any difference. "Okay, but just for awhile. Call me when you wake up'" Dean patted Sam's chest. After making sure Sam could reach the remote when he woke up, Dean walked out. "Dad?"
John was sitting at the table, his face bleak, tears on his face. "How's Sammy?"
"Taking a nap. Thanks for taking the long way, dad. He enjoyed it."
"He always does."
"You find anything?" Dean asked, sitting across from his father.
"Nothing, not a damn thing." John sighed and ran his hands through his hair. "Time's running out, we have to find an answer."
"We will dad, I know we will."
"In time to save your brother?"
"Yeah. We're already closing in on it. We know it only kills kids under fourteen, we know it started two weeks ago. We're getting close, dad."
"Sammy's dying, Dean."
"You think I don't know that?" Dean demanded. "Sorry." He stood and put his arm around his father. "We'll find the answer in time."
"He has, maybe, thirty-six hours," John said quietly to the table.
"We'll find the answer, dad." Dean leaned against his father. "We have to."
To Be Continued