Picking Up the Pieces
Summary: Sequel to 'Shattered Beginnings.' They thought they'd found the answer. They were wrong. Sick!Dean. Spoilers for 'Faith'
'Beginning's Verse': AU Pilot- Dean and Sam's first meeting actually occurred months later, during the events of Faith. The story closely follows canon, at least to start. After that I kind of weave their world whichever way I find convenient, but basically, Jess is still alive and John's still missing.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Supernatural sandbox, but I do so love playing in it.
Dean moved quickly over the open ground, his muscles alert, the chill running through his body having little to do with the cool night air. Though the only light came from a few pole-lamps, he was a hunter. He didn't need much.
His eyes searched the night for the creature he knew was out there. Watched for it.
Waited for it.
With a sickening 'POP', the first lamp went out, followed by the next bulb and the next and so on down the row until Dean was plunged into darkness. Felt a shiver go down his spine.
Felt it watching him.
He turned, came face to face with its dark empty eyes, its withered skin…so pale it was almost translucent. It's cold smile.
The reaper put a hand to his face, and he could actually feel the life being drained out of him. Could feel himself dying.
He was caught.
He was dead.
With a jolt, Dean opened his eyes.
"Okay, we'll be back in a few days…."
Sam sat on the opposite bed, his back to Dean, talking quietly into his cell phone, voice low so as not to disturb his brother.
"Yeah, I'll tell him…. I know. I miss you too, babe." Sam picked absently at the edge of the comforter as he listened to the voice on the other end of the line. "I love you," he said softly, before ending the call.
Dean cleared his throat. "Hey, Sam?" He said, voice still rough with sleep.
"Where's the trash can?"
Sam turned, surprised as he realized his brother was awake. "Um, over here. Why?"
Dean massaged his temple. "Cause listening to you two lovebirds… I may hurl."
"Nice." Sam replied. He put the phone on the nightstand and moved around the bed so he could sit facing Dean. "How're you feeling?"
"Right. How are you feeling?"
Dean made a face. He considered his options. Between the headache and the fact that he was still too tired for a good lie, he settled on a rare moment of honesty. "Still kinda rough."
"How long?" Dean asked, pushing himself to a sitting position.
"You've been out cold for like 18 hours, man. I was gettin' a little worried."
Dean glanced at the clock in surprise. Shit. He'd been asleep for 18 hours.
It had been just over that since they'd stopped Sue Ann, destroyed both the cross and the altar she'd used to harness Death. Dean had crashed as soon as he'd touched a bed, completely wiped from his second go-round with the reaper. Hell, he'd barely made it back to the motel still conscious. Sam was on alert the whole drive making sure Dean didn't run them into a tree.
Dean ran a hand over his face.
Eighteen hours...Damn, he really must have been in bad shape if he'd been out that long. Then again, nearly dying…again…tended to take a lot out of a guy. Despite all the sleep, Dean still felt like shit run over twice. Or twenty times. And his head was screaming for some attention, not to mention some aspirin, right about now. He really needed to do something about that, except that his Dad had always taught them to prioritize, and right now, the building pressure on his bladder was vying for Grand Marshall of the pain parade.
"Jess says to give you a hug from her, by the way," Sam said casually, doing his best to control his amusement. He knew how his brother got about emotional displays of any kind.
"Raincheck, thanks," Dean replied, already shuffling towards the bathroom. "Though I guess I should be glad she didn't send a kiss."
Dean heard his brother snicker as he shut the door. As soon as his wall of privacy was secure, Dean grimaced.
First thing was first.
He leaned his arm against the wall over the toilet, head bent, eyes closed as he relieved himself, trying to ignore the staccato rhythm being played against his brain.
Once he'd taken care of the more pressing matters, he moved over the sink. Gripped the edge of the counter.
Looked in the mirror.
Not a pretty picture. Still, not nearly as bad as the Living Dead impersonation he'd been rockin' the last couple weeks.
He instinctively reached for the first aid kit so he could chug about a bottle of aspirin, before realizing it was still out in the car. He hadn't even brought in a change of clothes for the shower.
He sighed and ran the faucet, splashed some water onto his face. Did his best to get the game face back in position. The last thing he needed right now was to set Sammy off again. The amount of hovering his brother had clocked in these past few days had more than fulfilled the quota from the missing two years he'd been at college. Dean could really do without him putting in any overtime.
Besides, he was cured.
No trace of anything was wrong with his heart. No trace there ever was.
Still, he couldn't shake the feeling that something was just…
There was a soft knock on the door.
"Dude…you okay in there? You didn't like, fall and knock yourself unconscious on the sink or anything did you?"
Dean rolled his eyes. Put a hand up to squeeze his forehead when even that small motion hurt. He pulled open the door, having to step back in surprise after almost colliding with his brother, who was standing right outside.
Sam held out a stack of clothes.
"Thought you might want these."
Dean took the folded sweats. " Uh, thanks."
Sam studied his brother for a minute, a look on his face like he wanted to ask if Dean was all right but didn't want to actually ask the question.
"Dude…personal space," Dean prompted, moving to nudge the door closed.
Sam stepped out of the way.
"Dean…," he began.
Sam's eyes stayed on him a moment longer "Just…don't use all the hot water, alright?" He said, his body language conveying the concern he didn't voice.
"No worries, Sammy." Dean replied, shutting the door on his brother.
On the conversation.
Dean rubbed his temples again.
Jess sat on the edge of the bed. She grabbed a ponytail holder off the nightstand and fixed her hair up into a sloppy bun.
Sam would be home soon.
He'd called her from the road, letting her know he and Dean were close.
She made her way into the kitchen, stopping to grab a potholder and a spatula from the counter drawer as she headed to the oven.
She checked the clock. Opened the oven. Peeked inside.
She pulled out the tray of cookies, savoring the scent of warm chocolate.
It was funny. She never thought she'd be one of those girls to count the minutes until her man returned, but damn it, she'd missed him. So what if that meant she was whipped? Sam was her fiancée. Her future husband.
And he'd be home soon.
She felt the butterflies in her stomach just thinking about how good it would feel to hug him again. Kiss him again.
God, she'd missed him.
Dean, too, despite the little time they'd known each other.
Sam hadn't gone into the details when they'd talked- she'd press him later- but he'd confirmed what she'd asked. Dean was better. Somehow cured...some miracle treatment. She didn't know how yet, just knew he was going to be okay. Still not a hundred percent, but getting there.
Would get there.
She scribbled out a note on a spare piece of paper. Placed it on the plate beside the fresh cookies.
She smiled, giving the scene one last look before heading upstairs to take a shower. To get ready.
Her boys would be home soon.
"Honey, I'm home." Dean called tiredly, tossed his bag unceremoniously onto the floor.
"I think that's my line," Sam said, stepping around his brother. He swung the faded duffel off his shoulder.
Dean sank gratefully into one of the kitchen chairs. "Such a buzzkill, dude."
"Jess?" He called."Jess? You home?"
"Maybe she went out." Dean suggested, eyes falling on the plate of cookies.
Sam fingered the keys on the wall hook. "Car's here. She's probably just upstairs." He glanced at Dean. "If you're tired, the couch is still made up for you," he added. A not so subtle hint that Dean looked exhausted.
"I'm good for now."
Truth was, he was stiff, sore, had the headache from hell, and wanted nothing more than to sleep for the next month and a half. Still, a week ago he was staring death in the face.
A little headache he could deal with.
At Sam's hesitation, he sighed.
"Dude, seriously, I'm fine. Just a little tired." But not enough to go to bed at 9:30.
"Okay," Sam nodded. "I'm…gonna go upstairs," he pointed with his thumb. "Tell Jess, we're back."
Dean nodded, fingers tracing the edge of the note on the table. 'Missed you two. Welcome home.'
Dean smiled. Gotta admit, you snagged a good one, Sammy.
He picked up one of the cookies.
They were still warm.
He was just thinking how good they tasted when he heard Jessica scream.
So? What do we think?