Synopsis: One-shot. Sam gets an unexpected visit from Dean while he's at Stanford.
Notes: Thanks as always to my wonderful beta's Phoebe (I incorporated a bit of her stories 'Canaveral' and 'Adrenalin' which I love to bits, if you haven't read them … then read them) and Amarintha. Their suggestions and changes managed to save me from myself (again) LOL ;0) - Thanks also for taking the time to read my stories, your support keeps me going!
Warning: Mild language
Something wrenches me from deep sleep.
I blink a few times in confusion, rubbing my hands over my eyes. I have no idea what woke me or why I'm suddenly wide awake. A small sound, a feeling … maybe another nightmare? I've been lying over my desk, drooling embarrassingly onto my textbook again. I wipe at my mouth in irritation, pulling a face in disgust. These late night study sessions are seriously starting to catch up with me.
I look around the dimly lit dorm room, the only light coming from my table lamp, the small alarm clock reads 2am. My ears prickle again … and I listen … barely breathing, years of training instantly kicking in.
There it is. A soft call, so faint it feels like my imagination.
I know that voice. Instantly I'm on my feet, half walking, half running to the door, my heartbeat thundering in my chest. Only one person calls me Sammy ... but it can't be.
I stare at the door stupidly for a second. I'm alone, my roommate is staying over with his girlfriend for the night, but it's not fear that's making me apprehensive. My hand slowly moves up to the handle just as the cell phone in my pocket vibrates, making me jump slightly as I reach for it, opening the door tentatively at the same time.
I look at him in dumb confusion; the shock of actually seeing him standing in front of me makes me switch off my cell phone with a flick of my thumb. Whoever it is can leave a message.
My throat feels tight as I swallow. He just grins at my stunned expression. I can't believe it, he's actually right here in front of me, worn leather jacket, hands casually in his jean pockets, standing with his usual relaxed and silent strength, rolling on his heels. I almost pinch myself to make sure I'm not still sleeping … dreaming this.
"Yeah it's me, Francis …"
He clears his throat in apparent embarrassment.
"Um, awkward. So can I come in … or are we going to stand here in the doorway gawking at each other?"
I move back, letting him saunter unceremoniously past me into the room, leaving a draft in his wake. I'm so completely shocked that my mouth just opens and closes a few times in silence as my eyebrows raise in confusion … what the hell is he doing here? I never thought I'd ever see him again, not after the way things ended with dad. Then instant fear hits me. Something deep in me that I don't want to explore, grips at my heart. My voice shakes.
"Is dad … okay?"
He moves over to a chair, flopping down with familiar comfort, like he's been here before. I can't help but grin as I close the door. Dean is like a chameleon, he fits into his surroundings with such ease, blending so well into his surroundings that you can miss him if you're not careful. A talent he has honed after many years of practice, something that is useful in our … in his … line of work. I almost forgot how unobtrusive he can be, even though he's usually the best looking person in the room.
"Yeah … he's fine … out somewhere … probably hunting down that … fugly with the huge claws. I never did find out what it was. But ya know him, he'll take care of himself."
I find myself sighing, didn't realize I was actually holding my breath. Dad and I don't get along, but I still love the man, still worry about him and Dean.
I settle myself in the chair opposite my big brother, just staring at him in voiceless amazement as I shake my head. He's the last person I ever expected to see. Funny how it feels like nothing's changed, like we haven't been apart for six months, two weeks and four days. I watch him carefully, he seems uncomfortable under my deep scrutiny, but I can't help myself, I've been missing him for so long. He's avoiding eye contact, even looks a little pale. Maybe it's just the lighting … but I need to make sure.
He remains quiet for so long, I almost think he hasn't heard me, but then he looks back and inspects me with the same intensity before a customary smirk pulls at the corner of his mouth.
"Good as can be expected I guess … you?"
I lean forward, letting my arms rest on my knees.
"Fine … I'm doing good …"
We sit in uncomfortable silence … so much I want to say, hundreds of questions running through my head, so much I want to tell him … but I can't seem to talk … don't even know where to start.
It comes out in unison, both of us speaking at the same time … and we chuckle, breaking the uneasy tension.
"You first …"
He waves his hand in my direction looking at me through hooded eyelashes, misty green orbs staring back at me, sparkling with humor … and I try to soak up his image … trying to see if I can notice any changes to his features … but he still looks the same … just more tired, more soul weary.
"So Dean … not that I'm not happy-as-all-get-out to see you … but honestly, what are you doing here? Why aren't you with dad?"
His eyes cloud up for a second … a flash of something that could be mistaken for pain flickers in them, before it disappears and he grins at me cockily again.
"Can't a brother just visit when he's in the neighborhood?"
I grin back, shaking my head again.
"Not if the neighborhood is 200 miles due west of the nearest big hunt or supernatural activity dude, I keep track ... it's one of the reasons I chose California, this is one of the least un-supernatural spots in the country."
He snorts, unconvinced.
"I don't know about that, Sam. The coasts have a lot going for them. What about Skunk apes dude? Remember those ugly mothers?"
He mumbles under his breath, "… not to mention that water leopard thing … shit, in fact anything with smelly saltwater fur."
He reflexively starts scratching at his arm and I look at him, puzzled. What he hell is he talking about?
"Dean, skunk apes are in Florida."
"Yeah … well maybe they migrated."
I wait … he's using evasive tactics. He can pull this bullshit off with anyone … anyone except me.
"So … you gonna tell me why you're at my doorstep at two in the morning … when I haven't heard from you, or seen you in months … or do you want me to play the guessing game the whole night?"
I use my soothing tone mixed with the understanding and sincere look that, I'm almost amused to see, apparently still works on Dean. And there it is … the corresponding look … a mixture of disgust at himself and lopsided, awkward embarrassment for giving in to my patented puppy dog eyes. Some things never change.
He sighs, leaning back into the chair, and suddenly he looks more exhausted than I've ever seen him in all my life, and that's saying a lot. More questions flood my brain … did he and dad have a falling out? … concern is making me slightly agitated cause Dean never looks like this … something must be seriously wrong. He speaks slowly, his words barely a whisper.
"I'm tired, Sammy."
No shit, Captain Obvious … I try to stay calm, fighting the urge to jump up and just shake the information out of him.
"What does that mean?"
I'm surprised to find that I can't read the look that suddenly plasters itself on his face, something I've always been able to do … until now … that thought hits me hard, the time we've spent apart seems to have severed our once close bond.
"It means … that I'm tired … tired of traveling all the time, living out of a bag in some shitty, over decorated motel room … I'm just tired, Sammy …"
He rubs the back of his neck irritably.
"… tired of hunting."
The silence is deafening.
I look at him dumbfounded … I don't know what I'm supposed to say, I wasn't expecting this, not from him … cause quite frankly, he never shares his feelings … not Dean ... not with anyone, especially me. He'd rather face a cave full of demonic rats.
"What would you say if I told you that maybe … just maybe … I'd like to live the 'apple pie' life? I mean look at ya … ya even gaining a few pounds over there chubby."
I snort, I'm in great shape, he's just baiting me. He chuckles, but it's not a happy sound. He's trying to make out that he's just messing around with me, joking … but I know better …
"Dean … I don't know … what ... I mean all you've ever done or wanted was be a hunter … at dad's side fighting evil. I had no idea …"
He looks at me wearily, probably not sure if he's said too much or too little.
"Yeah … they do … but I just can't imagine you in a 9 to 5 job is all … you love the open roads, the adventure … hell, even the danger … I just can't see you behind some desk … you'd go stir crazy … besides, I didn't think you'd ever … well … ever leave dad."
I regret those words the instant they're out of my mouth … the look of guilt on Dean's face cutting me deeper than any knife.
"… it's not that … shit … Dean, I didn't mean …"
He just nods his head … almost in acceptance.
"Yeah, I know … you're right, you're right … I guess."
He quickly moves to stand up and my heart instantly sinks. He came to me with the most important question of his life and I'm stuffing it up, saying the wrong things … damnit … I need to fix this, I don't want him to leave again … not like this.
"Well guess I better hit the road … was nice seeing you, kiddo."
"Dean, wait … I'm sorry, please don't go … you just caught me off guard."
He chuckles, brushing off the hurt and putting up those walls of protection he's built around himself.
"Nah, you're right … it was just a silly idea, kinda been bugging me … just needed to vent a bit is all."
I brush my bangs out of my face, letting my fingers run through my hair impatiently.
"Shit, Dean … you know … you should … I mean you can … you know, do whatever you want, seriously dude … don't let dad or me or anyone dictate your life for you. If you want to leave … leave! It doesn't matter what anyone else wants, what they expect, none of that matters … but this needs to be your choice … I know it's hard, trust me …I've been there …"
His eyes are downcast, staring at a fascinating spot on his boots.
"… but I also know you'll make the right decision no matter what. You always do. Besides you're a fighter, Dean … and a survivor … seriously dude, you just never give up. It's one of the things I admire about you."
I don't tell him it's also one of the things that elicits that deep-seated fear in me, cause I know Dean will do anything for me, for dad … risking his own life to save us … it's why I had to leave … I don't want to be the reason he gets hurt … or worse.
A strange panic settles on me as he turns … I can see it on his face … he's still leaving ... and I'm already starting to miss him …
"Thanks, Sam … you're right … fighting and hunting, it's what I do, what I'm good at … I won't give up … besides, I need to watch dad's back, he's getting a bit long in the tooth, ya know."
I snort as he chuckles … knowing dad would so seriously kick Dean's ass if he could hear him now.
He slowly starts making his way towards the door … I don't want him to go, not yet … but I know I can't stop him.
He turns to look at me over his shoulder.
"It was nice seeing you …"
I've missed you.
"Yeah, you too …"
He doesn't say that he'll keep in touch, cause we both know he won't.
"… and Dean …"
He grins, I memorize it … he hates chick flick moments, but damn if I don't want to hug him right now.
"… keep fighting …"
"You know I will, Sammy."
He turns for the last time, his hand reaching for the door … just as his body unexpectedly starts glowing oddly in the dim room … my heart misses a beat as I watch him flicker … I blink … he flickers again and then instantly … disappears.
God … I look around in confusion … have I been dreaming? I pinch myself to make sure, the pain confirming my worst fears.
Panic assaults me like a tidal wave as I rush to the door, stupidly opening it and looking down the passage before running to the stairs.
There's nothing … no one … no trace that Dean was ever here. Oh god … no … please no.
My cell phone.
I pull it out of my pocket, quickly switching it on … four missed calls in the last twenty minutes … oh god … I listen to the messages, suddenly sick to my stomach …
"Sam … it's Bobby … call me."
… oh god … oh god …
"Sam … I know you don't want to talk to any of us, but please kid, call me back … it's urgent."
… no … no … this isn't happening …
"Sam, where the hell are you boy? … it's Dean, he's hurt bad, son, your dad has gone off half cocked to hunt down some creature … all he knows is that it has huge claws … call me when you get this message."
… please … please … don't be dead … don't be dead … I stare at the last message, too scared to listen, to scared not to.
"Sam … I don't know where you are, I can only assume that you're asleep, that your cell is off. Dean got hurt, kiddo, on the last hunt … Sam … they're not sure … they're still working on him … please … call when you can."
Bobby's voice breaks, like he's crying … my hand shaking so much I can barely find his cell phone number on my contacts as I press speed dial.
I listen to the first ring, holding my breath … please … please …
"Sam … that you?"
My eyes tear up as I try to hold back my emotions, my lips trembling uncontrollably …
"… please … Bobby is he?"
"He's alive, Sam … but it was far too close … he was in cardiac arrest for twenty minutes … it was touch and go son, but that brother of yours is one stubborn sonnavabitch … nearly gave up … nearly lost him … but he came back, almost like he made up his mind to start fighting."
I swallow back the sobs threatening to overwhelm me. It was Bobby calling me when I answered the door, when Dean was dying … dead.
Everything starts flooding back … waking up to my brother softly calling my name … the cold draft as he entered my room … his luminescent eyes … I should have known something was wrong … I felt it …
"Is he …"
"Yeah … the doctor says his vitals are good … he should make a full recovery. I'm sorry I had to call you like this, Sam, but I thought you needed to know. Your dad just phoned me, he's on his way back ... he found the creature, and tore it a new one … but it messed up your brother pretty good …"
I can't talk … Bobby seems to understand as he continues …
"We weren't sure he was even going to make it to the hospital … but he did … and he's fine now, Sam ... he'll be fine."
He's fine? I let those words sink in. Dean was with me the whole time … he came to me … and the realization hits me so hard I have to sit, sliding down the wall as my knees suddenly give way under me.
"I'm tired, Sammy."
He was giving up.
"… you're a fighter, Dean … and a survivor …keep fighting …"
"You know I will, Sammy."
I swallow back the urge to vomit as the ramifications of our talk hit home. He was asking me to save his life … he nearly gave up …
But he also made a choice … he chose to stay and fight … and suddenly I can't hold back the tears as I sob uncontrollably …
"Sam … you okay son?"
Yes … no … hell I don't know … all I know is that my brother is alive … and I've never been so thankful for anything in all my life ...
"He's a fighter Sam … he'll be okay … you know that right?"
The words tremble through the tears streaming down my face as I wipe my nose across my sleeve.
"We're in South Dakota, kiddo, you can come down if you want to see him … I'll speak to your dad."
"No … no … it's okay Bobby … just keep me updated please … and don't tell dad."
I hear him huff loudly in exasperation.
"You two … hell … you're probably the two most stubborn bastards I've ever met."
I smile through the raw pain aching in my chest.
"Okay … I'll call you if there are any changes … but if your brother asks for you or if I see that he needs you, no matter what … well then, all bets are off, I'll come and fetch you and drag you to him, don't care what your daddy has to say about it … your stubborn ass fight with each other isn't Deans fight … you hear me boy?"
"Good … I'll call you in a little while … as soon as I know more. They're patching him up right now … he's still unconscious, but if there are any complications Sam, I'll let you know immediately …"
I don't tell him that it won't be necessary … if anything happens, if Dean needs me, needs to find his way back … I'll be here to put him on the right path, help him make the decision cause their won't be an alternative … Bobby won't need to tell me if Dean is in trouble.