All Roads Lead To Nowhere
Summary: AU... Canon up until Pilot. Sam still went to college. John still left. But Dean never went to Stanford for his brother. Until he got the call.
Hurt!Broken!Sam, Protective!Freakedout!Dean. WinchesterAngst!Aplenty.
Author's notes: Okay, really should not be starting another story since I'm still in the middle of my other fic, but this one was actually inspired by the alternate ending to 'Shattered Beginnings.' The more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed that Dean would just show up for Sam after all that time just because John walked out. I know, I know it's another Pilot AU, but I'm kinda hooked on a theme right now.
Disclaimer: Sam. Dean. I don't own you, but I will steal you. And make you do as I wish. That is all.
Dean folded the last pair of jeans. Shoved it in his bag. Zipped the duffel closed. He took one last look around the dingy motel room. Made sure he hadn't left anything behind.
After all, there was no one else to check if he had.
Dad had been gone for weeks now.
Jeans. Shirts. Weapons. Those his father had remembered to take. It was his son he'd left behind.
As he slung the bag over his shoulder, the tinny sound of Metallica came blaring from his pocket. Dean dropped the duffel, dug in his jeans for his cell.
'Lo?" He answered gruffly.
"Is this Dean Winchester?"
He frowned. Not many people had his number. Bobby, Caleb, a few of their father's contacts. Dad. And well….
"Depends who's asking."
"I'm calling from the Stanford University Medical Center. Are you related to a Sam Winchester?"
Dean stiffened, fingers tightening on the cell. "He's my brother."
"Mr. Winchester, I'm afraid there was an accident. A fire…"
Fire? Dean felt his throat close up. "Sam...s' he okay?"
"He's stable. We're treating him for some second degree burns, smoke inhalation. But he's been through a lot. We're going to be keeping overnight but it would be good if he had someone there when he was released tomorrow."
"Yeah," Dean said. "Yeah, sure. I, uh…" He swallowed. Tried to mentally calculate how long it would take to get to California. Tried to remember what state he was even in. "I can be there tonight."
"Okay. We'll let him know."
"Thanks." Dean slowly closed the phone. Let it slide from his hand.
He sat there for a moment, replaying the phone conversation in his head.
Then, swiping the phone and his bag, he bolted for the Impala.
Dean barreled through thie pristine, white hallway, the scent of antiseptic hitting him like a brick wall.
He sidestepped an orderly, a guy with a walker, a gurney. Finally reached the reception desk of the Burn Ward.
"I'm looking for Sam Winchester."
The nurse on duty glanced at Dean with disinterest, phone cradled between her shoulder and chin. She held up her index finger and mouthed 'one minute'.
Dean gritted his teeth. Tried again.
"Sam. Winchester. He was admitted after a fire... If you could just tell me what room-"
She frowned. Pointed to the phone receiver next to her ear.
Dean's fingers scraped the counter. He tried to keep his voice level. Failed miserably. "Look, lady, I really need to see him…and I just drove a helluva long way to be here, so if you don't hang up that friggin' phone, I swear-"
"There a problem here?"
Dean turned sharply. A man with silver-grey hair, dressed in scrubs and holding a clipboard, stood with an unamused expression on his face.
"No," Dean said, bringing himself under control. "No, there's no problem. I was just asking this…," he grimaced at the nurse, "charming woman, here, where I might find my brother."
"I see. And what's your brother's name?"
"Sam. Sam Winchester. You know where I can find him?"
"Yes actually. I'm his doctor. Dr. Lewis," he said, extended his hand, which Dean accepted grudgingly. "If you follow me, I can take you to him."
"Thanks," Dean replied, shooting a glare at the desk.
"No problem." The physician started off down the hall, giving the nurse a quick nod.
She pointed to the phone again.
"She's, eh…really got a way with people," Dean said wryly once they were out of earshot.
"Ah, don't let her fool you. Nurse Harris is one of the best we have. She worked on your brother when he was brought in."
Dean sobered at the mention of Sam. "When they called, they said he was being treated for burns…"
"Yes. Mostly minor, though there were a few more serious areas. His right arm, neck... I'm not gonna sugarcoat things, he's going to be in some pain for a while, but they should heal without scarring."
Dr. Lewis stopped in front of one of the wooden doors. "Here we are..."
As he went to turn the handle, Dean grabbed his arm.
The doctor looked up in surprise.
"Sorry," Dean said, as he quickly let go. "I was just, uh, wondering about something else."
"Sam and I…it's been awhile, since we saw each other. Kinda surprised he had me down as next of kin..."
"Actually, he didn't."
Lewis checked the chart. "His girlfriend, a Jessica Moore, was his primary contact."
"Right…," Dean said carefully. "His girlfriend."
The doctor hesitated. Lowered the clipboard. "She was, in the apartment when the fire broke out," he said slowly. "I'm afraid she wasn't as lucky as your brother. She died on the scene."
Seeing his reaction, the physician went on. "Mr. Winchester…"
"Dean," he corrected automatically.
"Dean. I'm only telling you this information because I'm worried for Sam's mental state. More so actually than his physical recovery. He's been…withdrawn since he was brought in. We have people who can help with this kind of thing but he refuses to talk to anyone. Maybe you can help pull him out of it?"
"Right...sure," Dean said quietly, still trying to process the information. Trying to figure out what the hell he was going to say to his brother. "Uh, thanks Doc."
The older man nodded, started back down the hall, leaving Dean to stare at the wooden door. Funny, how two inches of pine separated him and his brother, but Dean felt like they were still miles apart.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed opened the door. Felt his heart drop as he slowly entered the room, as he laid eyes on his baby brother for the first time in two years.
He swallowed as he took in the machines, the metal railings on the bed.
His brother was dressed in a gown, a thin blue blanket covering his lower half. A nasal canula had been placed under his nose and thick white bandages covered most of his neck and hands. His right arm was in a sling, the portion that was visible wrapped almost completely in gauze. His hair was longer than Dean remembered, but Dean could see sections that were darkened, singed.
His brother had his face turned away from the door. Away from Dean.
Dean cleared his throat. "Hey, bro," he said quietly.
Sam lay still, his attention focused out the window. "Hey, Dean."
Glancing around the room, Dean spotted a chair in the corner. Pulled it next to the bed.
"I, uh, came as soon as I could...," he began awkwardly.
Sam stirred but didn't turn towards him.
"Your doctor says you're gonna be fine. No scarring. Little time, you should heal right up."
All he got in reply was the steady beeping of machines.
Dean rubbed his neck. Tried again. "I got us a motel room...for when you're released tomorrow. So if you need me to grab any of your stuff-"
"I don't have any stuff," Sam said quietly. "Not anymore."
"Right." Nice going, Slick, Dean berated himself. "I'll just, uh, pick you up some clothes and things in the morning." He noticed with surprise that most of the bed was taken up by Sam's lanky form. Kid had gotten huge. "Might have to give me some sizes though," Dean added lightly, "I see you've been eating your Wheaties."
Dean shifted awkwardly in his seat, the plastic covering squeaking obnoxiously as he fidgeted.
Jesus, Sammy...throw me a bone here.
"They tell you about Jessica?"
"Yeah, they did." Dean cleared his throat. "Sammy, I'm sorry. To lose someone like that-"
Sam finally met his eyes. "They tell you how she died?"
Dean felt a prickle of unease at the question. "The fire-"
"She was on the ceiling, Dean."
Sam ignored the question. "I was shopping," he began, his voice lifeless "Had to buy a suit. Supposed to have this interview tomorrow….for law school. When I came back, the shower was running and then I felt this…Drop. On my face. It was blood. I looked up and Jess was…She was on the ceiling. "
"Sam, hold on…".
"She was bleeding, Dean. Burning. On the ceiling."
"Just like Mom. Just like Lawrence..."
"Sam stop!" Dean pushed out of the chair. "Just. Stop."
Sam turned away.
"Look, " Dean said slowly. "You've been through a lot tonight, okay? The fire. Losing your girlfriend. And I know things between us aren't...," he fumbled for a word. "Aren't the best. But Doc says they have people here. People you can talk to..."
Sam stared out the window. "I'm not crazy, Dean."
"I never said you were crazy. You just, went through something no one should have to go through. Look, you're exhausted. You're hurt. I'm just saying, maybe you, didn't see... what you thought you saw."
"You think that's what they said to Dad?"
"I know what I saw, Dean," Sam said flatly.
Dean studied his brother. His level-headed, way-too-boring, skeptic of a little brother. Who had just told him that the mysterious monster that killed their mother 23 years ago had suddenly reappeared in normal-town and killed his girlfriend. This was insane.
But this was also Sam they were talking about. Besides, not much about their family fell in the sane category.
Dean scrubbed a hand over his face. Studied the coffee stain on the tile floor. "Okay," he said quietly.
Sam glanced at his brother.
"Well, I mean not, it's not okay," Dean said, as he slipped back into the chair. "But, if you say it happened…I believe you." He huffed softly."I gotta tell ya, man... I'd be lyin' if I said I had a clue what the hell's going on here. But we'll figure this out. Together."
Sam blinked. "Thanks," he said softly.
"Yeah, well. That's what older brothers are for, right?"
Sam nodded, his fingers tightening on the woven blanket.
Dean glanced at his brother's face. Saw the stiff way he held himself. "Hey, you hurtin'? You need somethin'?"
"No," Sam said, his voice belying his words. "M'okay."
"Right," Dean scoffed. He reached for the call button.
"No," Sam protested, putting a bandaged hand over his brother's.
Dean pressed the button anyway. "Relax... nurse'll be here in a minute with the good stuff." That is, if she ever unhooks the freakin' phone from her face. "In the meantime, why don't you try and get some rest, huh?"
Sam shook his head. The last thing he wanted to do was sleep. To see the images of...
"Hey..."Dean prodded. He put a hand on his brother's arm, on one of the few areas not bathed in a white dressing. "Take it easy, Sam. I'm here, dude. You're safe. I won't let anything happen to you."
Sam seemed to relax a little. He hesitated for a moment. Debating.
Then slowly, uneasily, he closed his eyes.
Usually I'm a Deantorture-type o'girl but for some reason got a hankerin' to abuse poor Sammy today. -shrugs- Hey, at least I'm equal opportunity ;)