One-shot in honour of gidgetgal9 for her birthday...but with a distinct possibility for a sequel. Not sure yet.
Ok. Decided. I have another chapter to post!
We learn by our mistakes. But for Sam the consequences of a near miss become too much to handle.
Warning: Suicide attempt. Going on the basis that life often gets out of hand and way too serious for teenagers, but for someone like Sam Winchester given what his family gets up to? We're talking a major recipe for disaster.
Sam 14, Dean 18.
Form your own opinion about John in this one. I look forward to hearing from you.
Oh, and please read any authors notes at the end, just in case there are any misunderstandings.
On his brother's instructions Sam crept round the other side of the graveyard, shotgun raised, eyes peeled for the slightest movement. However, his mind was wandering. He shouldn't have been here tonight. In fact his father shouldn't have been here tonight. It was parents evening at Sam's school and though he didn't really expect John to go he had kind of hoped he would. Aside from wanting his dad to hear about his achievements and be proud of him for once instead of his erstwhile older brother, Sam wasn't looking forward to explaining to his teachers why John hadn't been there to discuss his youngest son's future. But then, John didn't think Sam had a future, at least not in the academic sense.
Stifling a sigh, Sam edged forward until the wide expanse of the graveyard opened up. Somewhere on the other side his father was digging his way down to the coffin, with Dean standing by, lighter fluid at the ready.
Yeah, Dean got to stand proudly at their father's side, whilst Sam was relegated to reconnaissance. He'd pretty much figured out that this was the way things would always be. John and Dean Winchester, great hunting team…oh, and that nerdy geek, lurking in the background….what was his name again? Sam someone?
A sudden bolt of anger and shame swamped him at the thought, and he slumped miserably against a nearby tombstone. The argument that had taken place earlier that evening hadn't helped his mood…
Dad, we got parent's evening tonight. Remember?
Sorry Sam, but this bitch of a ghost is causing havoc.
That's enough Sam. I want you ready to go and in the car in two minutes.
It had been on the tip of Sam's tongue to point out that he really wasn't needed on a routine salt and burn anyway, but the furious gleam in his father's eye warned him right off any further backchat.
Dean hadn't been impressed either. He'd been standing in the kitchen doorway at the time, and when John moved out to the car couldn't resist putting in his own two cense worth.
It's just parent's evening dude. Get over it; last thing we wanna hear is you whining all night.
And that was just Dean being Dean, no malice involved just speaking in his usual matter-of-fact tone; his own warning to his little brother that the last thing he wanted was to once again come between his father and brother. That he was fed up with being used as a human shield.
But then they hadn't known just how hard he'd worked on his science project, had even won an award for it. It was meant to be one last ditched attempt to actually feel like a success in the family, to actually feel a part of the family.
Sam was startled out of his thoughts by a shout followed by a cry of pain, which he recognised as Dean's, and immediately broke into a run over the uneven ground, fear and adrenaline pumping through his veins. He skidded to a halt at the sight of his brother sprawled on the ground, groaning and clutching his wrist, the spirit poised over him ready for its next attack, and his father desperately trying to scramble out of the grave and frantically yelling for Sam.
The spirit dove for Dean, wrapping cold grey hands around his neck, and Sam could hear his brother gasping for breath as his windpipe was slowly crushed.
Biting back his panic, Sam raised the shotgun and fired. The spirit screeched angrily, didn't dissipate in the slightest, just changed direction and suddenly the young Winchester found himself the target of one very pissed off ghost. Standing his ground, head high, Sam fired again just as she swooped in for the kill and shortly realised he was airborne a split second before the back of his head connected with a stone mausoleum. Fighting to stay conscious, Sam reached sluggishly into his jacket pocket for more rock salt shells. He could just about see the ghost lunging for him one more time and he knew he was too slow.
The smell of accelerant suddenly filled the air followed by burning wood and bone. A loud screech was cut short leaving a shocking silence in the night air.
Sam understood what happened; his father had used Sam's distraction to salt and spray the corpse then throw in the lit match, because even with his darkening vision he could spot the flames leaping inside the grave, right from where he lay on the cold damp ground.
The spirit was taken care of.
But Dean was hurt and that didn't sit well with Sam, especially as he knew full well it was his fault. If he hadn't been distracted by his own self-pity it would never have happened. It was that thought that forced Sam to snap open his eyes. Just how bad was his brother hurt?
Nononono...she was strangling him...please Dean be ok...
Ignoring the skull splitting pain in his head, with the help of the very stone monument that caused it, he got shakily to his feet and tried to make his way over to his family in double time.
His dad was crouched beside Dean, one arm round his shoulders and helping him to stand up. Dean groaned in pain, still holding his wrist which was now swelling nicely.
"Dad? Is he ok?" Sam called softly, anxiously.
"I'm gonna get him to the ER. That wrist's probably broken and needs a cast." And Sam bit his lip at the neutral tone, and the way his father wouldn't even look at him.
"Let me help." And Sam made to slide an arm round Dean's other shoulder to assist him to the car.
"Leave it Sam." John replied, voice still neutral though this time there was a distinct edge to it.
Sam backed off and trailed behind his family, self-loathing and misery warring for space in his head. He fought back tears as his head suddenly pounded with renewed viciousness, and swallowed back a gasp of pain. Blinking frantically to stay awake, Sam trudged onwards. His family would hardly thank him for passing out on them after his performance tonight. God, he was such a screw-up they'd probably just leave him lying there if it weren't for the one hell of a bawling out he knew was coming. Sam was resigned; it was nothing more than he deserved.
But that thought didn't stop his heart from breaking a little when Dean brushed off his apology with just a shrug of the shoulders. And just like their dad, his brother wouldn't look him in the eye. Sam wondered if Dean realised how similar he was to their father at times.
The journey to the hospital was quiet, strained, and Sam tried to block it out as he laid his aching head against the passenger window. The next thing he knew he was being shaken awake none too gently by John and Sam blinked in surprise. He hadn't realised he'd fallen asleep.
Sam wasn't even allowed to accompany his brother into the ER, and was told to wait in the car. Three long hours later, Sam was shivering with the cold and his head hurt even more. His eyes filled with tears until he saw the familiar silhouettes of his brother and father leaving the building.
His father slid behind the wheel without a word and Dean followed suit into the front passenger seat.
Sam's eyes swivelled from one to the other in the darkness of the car, wondering if he should try again to apologise, but the atmosphere felt so loaded with animosity that he reluctantly swallowed the words and bowed his head.
On reaching the rented apartment, John ordered Dean to get some sleep, but told Sam to go stand in the kitchen.
Stand. Not sit. John was quite clear on that and it wasn't a good sign.
Sam waited for at least half an hour, swaying on his feet, before his father entered the room, closed the door and sat at the kitchen table. Sam just about managed to stiffen his spine the moment John finally really looked at him.
John eyed his youngest worriedly. Where was the defiant Sam Winchester? The one that would look him in the eye and argue that black was in fact white until the cows sauntered home? This wasn't his Sam. This person stared at the floor, quiet and withdrawn, clearly feeling too guilty for a screaming match. But John couldn't afford to go easy on him, not this time. It had been too close.
"Sam, where were you when Dean was being tossed about like a rag doll?"
No answer, not even sullenly shrugged shoulders.
"Look at me when I'm speaking to you."
Sam raised his head, but the long fringe hid his eyes from view, and for some reason John was rather relieved about that.
"You jeopardized the hunt and Dean got hurt because you weren't focussing. Fortunately, things turned out ok but it could have been a lot worse. Someone could have died, Dean could've died and it would have been on your shoulders."
He noted with grim satisfaction the small flinch at that. It wasn't that he was trying to hurt his youngest, he just wanted him to realise that his irresponsible day dreaming could have had serious consequences. And he just knew Sam had been doing exactly that: day dreaming, or at least brooding over that damn parents evening.
Seeing the mouth down-turned in shame and misery, John thought maybe he should throw him a lifeline.
"However, I am impressed with how you held off that ghost and kept it distracted so I could finish her. You saved Dean's life, so all is not lost son." John didn't notice the total lack of reaction to that, and unfortunately ruined the small morsel of praise he'd dealt out with his next statement. "But that's beside the point, Sam. If you'd had your head in the game to start with Dean wouldn't have gotten hurt in the first place. I expect to see a vast improvement in future. Now go get some sleep."
Sam didn't say a word, just shuffled dejectedly out of the room, his head once again bowed as if trying to shut the world out.
John sat there at the table for a moment longer, one eyebrow raised. Maybe Sam was finally getting it, learning that the constant questioning of direct orders was downright dangerous. He shrugged to himself and headed off to take a shower, thinking no more of it.
Sam reached out to turn the door knob but found the door well and truly locked. His head shot up in shock and read the note attached to the bedroom door.
There's blankets and a pillow on the couch; not in the mood for one of your emo conversations tonight. Get some sleep bitch.
Dean probably thought it was funny and it usually was. Locking each other out of their shared bedroom every time one of them needed some alone time was commonplace; after all, they were both teenagers now and there were some things that needed a little privacy.
But tonight it struck a wrong note with Sam, and he blinked the tears away. Wrapping his arms round his stomach he headed back downstairs to the living room, and slowly lowered himself down to the couch, absentmindedly fingering the blankets.
He sat there just staring into space, feeling almost hypnotised, until Dean stumbled into the room yawning widely. Sam blinked up at him in surprise and realised his brother had asked him a question.
"…long you been up?"
Sam just stared at him, not sure he understood the question. Dean rolled his eyes, trundled across the room and wrenched open the curtains with his good hand, letting in a bright burst of morning sunlight that made Sam's head suddenly spike with pain.
Dean heard a small gasp behind him and turned sharply. "Sam? You ok?" He watched his brother with concern as Sam brought his hand down from his eyes.
"Yeah I'm fine. Just, sun's a little too bright, too soon." But Sam still wouldn't look at Dean. He got to his feet and headed for the door. "Gonna take a shower and get ready for school."
Dean frowned. "It's Saturday dude. No school. We're grocery shopping this morning, remember?"
Sam paused in the doorway but kept his back to Dean. "Uh…sure. Forgot. I'll be downstairs in a few." And left the room.
Dean heard his footsteps on the stairwell and turned to glance at the couch. Sam must have folded the blanket as soon as he woke up.
He shook his head in amusement and muttered "ever the neat freak" before making a bee-line for the kitchen and breakfast. So Sam was still sulking. Dean checked the cast on his arm and smiled grimly. Won't do him any harm to stew in his own juices for a bit.
Sam stood under the spray and closed his eye. He didn't understand what was happening to him. He felt weird. Sam had checked his eyes in the mirror and there was no sign of concussion, though he knew it could be a delayed response setting in. His head still hurt like a bitch and he just couldn't get coordinated. Sam was fairly certain he'd managed to keep it to himself however, and hoped his family just put his behaviour down to brooding over last night's events. Which wasn't far from the truth.
The water suddenly felt cold and he realised he'd been standing there for at least half an hour. Where's the time gone? Turning off the water and towelling himself dry, Sam stared at himself in the mirror once more. He realised just what he was looking at. An utter failure. Before tears threatened once more, he turned to make his way into the bedroom and dressed slowly, reluctant to face the day.
Down in the kitchen his brother and father were chatting away amiably, but as soon as he entered the room all talk ceased. It was all he could do not back out and head up to his room but he forced himself to sit at the table, hair once again hiding his face. He wasn't all that hungry but a bowl of cereal had been placed in front of him, so to avoid an interrogation he dug his spoon in and took small bites, chewing without enthusiasm. He didn't speak unless he was spoken to and only then he kept the answers to 'yes sir' or 'no sir' for his father, and with Dean he just 'hmmed' and 'snorted' in the appropriate places. Truth be told, he had no idea what they were talking about and didn't much care to get involved. His head just felt so fuzzy, and it was starting to scare him the way he kept fazing in and out without even realising it until he found that time had passed and he had no recollection.
A sudden firm grip on his arm made him look up into the less than amused face of his father.
"…you hear me Sam? You better quit this sulking real soon 'cos I'm already getting tired of it. We talked about it and it's time to let it go. We all make mistakes Sam, what's important is that we learn by them."
Sam stared at him in confusion. He had no idea what he was talking about so he just nodded along with it. "Yes sir."
Then without another word he got up, took his cereal bowl to the sink, washed and dried it, then left the kitchen. His father and brother stared after him in astonishment.
"Something's wrong with that kid, Dean." John mused aloud.
"You think that ghost did something to him last night? Cursed him maybe?" Dean asked, feeling rather alarmed by now and also starting to feel guilty for locking Sam out of their room last night. Sure, he'd been angry with him and didn't want an argument getting out of hand; when that happened things were said that shouldn't and one of them always ended up getting hurt. But if Sam was getting sick because of something they hadn't foreseen on a hunt…well, it didn't bear thinking about.
"Dad? Maybe Sam should stay home today. I'll go get the groceries on my own this time." Dean suggested, though he didn't really want to leave his baby brother, especially if there was a problem.
"Don't want you doing too much whilst that wrist of yours is mending."John tapped a finger thoughtfully on the table. "It's probably nothing, just bein' a typical moody teenager. Let's see how he gets on. I'll be going to the gunsmiths whilst you two are in the store, so I want you to keep a close eye on him."
Dean listened to Sam's movements in the next room, presumably putting his shoes on. "You know I will Dad."
Sam wandered down the aisle in a bit of a daze, trying to remember what the hell he was supposed to be searching for. His head still felt fuzzy, achy and his limbs were as heavy as lead. A strip light on the high ceiling was flickering slightly, annoying him and he lifted his head to glare at it. He couldn't be certain but it seemed as though the flickering got worse, and suddenly he felt sick. His vision tilted violently as the world began to spin, slowly at first but with increasing speed.
He reached out to a shelf at waist height to steady himself, but the spinning and the flashing increased, then the floor rushed up to introduce itself to the back of his head.
Try as he might Dean could barely get a response out of Sam, though he did managed to catch his eye at one point, and that helped Dean relax a little. His kid brother was still sulking over the hunt; the guilt and fear in his eyes were evidence of that.
But something just wasn't quite right, because Sam wasn't being Sam. Maybe it was the teenage hormones kicking in, but Dean still worried about it.
He wheeled the cart down the canned goods aisle, determined that when they got back to the apartment he and Sam were going to have a long talk. Dean glanced at his watch. He'd sent Sam off to find the fabric softener a few minutes ago and he still hadn't shown his face.
Probably gotten himself lost in the aisles.
Hearing a commotion on the other side of the store made Dean wheel the cart to a halt and frown. Someone was yelling in panic, and even though it sounded nothing like his brother Dean knew instinctively the kid was involved. Shoving the cart to one side, Dean sprinted down his aisle, turned left and headed towards the panic.
To be greeted with the shocking sight of his little brother convulsing violently on the floor, eyes rolled white and saliva bubbling at the corner of his mouth as a concerned citizen held his head firmly to stop it thumping against the tiled floor.
"Sammy!" Dean crashed to his knees beside his brother and tried to haul the kid into his arms, but someone stopped him.
"I wouldn't if I were you. He might not mean to son, but he could hurt you."
"Back off!" But Dean glanced up angrily into the kind eyes of the store manager, and his anger deflated a little.
"I've called 911; an ambulance is on its way." The manager wasn't in least bit worried by Dean's aggression. "What's your friend's name?"
Dean instantly regretted snapping at the guy; he was obviously trying to help. "His name's Sam; my little brother. I'm Dean."
His attention was caught when the guy holding Sam's head suddenly spoke up.
"I think he's calming down now."
Much to Dean's relief it appeared he was right, though Sam still looked terrible. His mouth gaped open as he struggled to pull air into his body and his face was almost bloodless, limbs still flailing about but with less urgency.
Dean found himself gently pushed aside by the paramedics and he stood by helplessly as his brother was quickly examined. An oxygen mask was strapped across Sam's pale face, an IV started, and in a whirl of activity Sam was lifted onto a stretcher and carried out to the waiting ambulance.
"Please, he's my brother. I need to go with him." Dean begged, fear edging its way up his spine.
"I'm sorry kid but there's no room." One of the paramedics glanced at him regretfully. He rattled off the name of the hospital and before Dean could blink the medic was gone, the ambulance speeding its way through the main street.
Pulling out his cell phone with shaky hands Dean called his father.
"Dad, something's happened to Sam…I don't know what, but it's bad."
"How long's it been now?" Dean was pacing again and it was driving his father crazy.
"Dean sit down and no more coffee." John growled. Though he couldn't in all honesty blame the kid. By the time they'd arrived at the hospital Sam had already been whisked away for treatment and a barrage of tests and scans, and that was hours ago.
"Sorry Dad, but…I just keep seeing him in my head…Sammy... Never seen anything like it before," Dean leaned his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands tiredly.
John reached out and grasped hold of the nape of Dean's neck, offering comfort. To everyone in the waiting room John was a concerned father, keeping his oldest son calm. But on the inside he was screaming how could I have let this happen?
"Mr Hamilton? We need to talk."
Dean and John glanced up at a tall middle aged guy in a white coat. His name tag read 'Dr Mitchell' and there was a glimpse of concern and sympathy on his otherwise impassive face.
"If you would care to step into my office." The softly spoken doctor lead the way to a paper strewn room lined with filing cabinets, and vast shelves high up on the walls crammed full of medical text books and journals. Once everyone was seated the doctor cleared his throat and smiled respectfully. "I'm the consultant neurologist here. Please excuse the mess; I'm just borrowing this office for the time being." Aware of the barely concealed impatience in the two men, he got straight to the point. "I was called in to examine Sam after he was admitted to the ER with severe convulsions; we've since run a series of tests to try to get to the bottom of it, but I do have a few questions for you. I spoke to Sam briefly after he woke up." He paused before delivering gently "are you aware of his head injury?"
John stared at the doctor in shock.
"What?!" Dean, of course, had to be more vocal. "What head injury?" He turned to his father. "Sam never said anything to me; why would he hide it?"
"Dean calm down." John murmured, and then to the consultant he added "No, he never mentioned it. But I have to admit that he's been acting pretty strange since last night."
The doctor seemed interested. "Do go on."
John scratched his head. "He's been moody, I mean moodier than usual." He let loose a small laugh. "He's a teenager right?" Dr Mitchell smiled his agreement at that. "But…I don't know. He's been vague, not paying attention, and he's barely talking to us."
Dean threw his father a slightly incredulous look. It was unlike John to be so forthcoming with the facts. Leastways not without the thumbscrews being applied.
John ignored him; he wanted to hear what the doctor had to say.
Dr Mitchell nodded, satisfied with the answer. "Sam told me that he slipped down some steps in the park yesterday evening and hit his head on a stone wall. He has a slight concussion which may account for his behaviour, but the seizure is a slightly different matter." Dr Mitchell stared John straight in the eye. "Is there any history of epilepsy in your family?"
John stared back at him, and answered honestly, heart sinking. "The boys' grandfather had it. On their mother's side."
As he heard Dean stifle a surprised gasp the doctor nodded again, fully expecting the answer. "As I said, I have spoken with Sam…"
Dr Mitchell hid his guilt well at this stage.
Sam gazed at the doctor in horrified shock.
"But…I can't be."
"I'm sorry son, but it's true." And Dr Mitchell couldn't help but feel bad for the poor kid. He looked like a frightened dear caught in the headlights.
"No….please….run some more tests. It's gotta be something else." Sam whispered desperately, eyes filling with tears. He could feel panic rising in his chest and he started hyperventilating. He couldn't believe this.
"Easy Sam." The doctor refastened the oxygen mask across his patient's face. "You'll pass out if you don't calm down. Nice slow breaths. Don't need another seizure at this stage. Right?"
Sam tried hard to comply but his mind was racing. The concussion he wasn't altogether surprised at, even though he'd checked his pupils a few times. Ok, so he hadn't been totally out but he had knocked his head pretty hard.
No. Oh God no.
He realised the doctor was still talking to him and tried to concentrate on what he was saying.
"…anticonvulsant therapy. We made need to try a few different types to find what best suits you, but eventually we may be able to bring your treatment down to just one." He'd already written out the prescription for the drugs, and he left it sitting on Sam's night stand. "I'll get your dad to fill this out at the hospital pharmacy when you're released. But in the meantime, we have you on IV drugs, and we'll take a closer look at letting you go when that concussion's cleared up."
"Sam? You ok? I know this has come as a shock, but it'll get better. Plenty of people suffer from epilepsy and lead relatively normal lives."
Sam smiled weakly and nodded. Bet they aren't hunters though. Great way to get my family killed; go into status epilepticus just when Dean and Dad need me to watch their backs. He thought miserably. The spooks will be lining up round the damn block for a glimpse of that show.
Dr Mitchell was watching him worriedly. "I have to go speak with your family, Sam. Then they'll be right in, ok? They've been waiting for hours to see you so I'd hate to think what state the waiting room will be in." Doctor Mitchell got to his feet smiling.
Sam suddenly looked frightened at the mention of his brother and father. "Please don't tell them," it came out so fast and desperate that the doctor looked surprised.
"Please." Sam fixed him with the puppy dog eyes and the doctor smiled sadly.
"Your father needs to know, I'm sorry son. You're a minor so my hands are tied."
Sam sighed resignedly; no way he was getting away with his latest failure then. "Ok. But…can you tell them I'm asleepor something? I'm just not ready to see them yet."
Dr Mitchell gently grasped his shoulder and nodded. The kid needed some time to think about all this and he could understand that. It was a huge shock. "Alright, I'll grant you a brief reprieve from your extremely worried kin." He smiled. "Epilepsy is nothing to be ashamed of, Sam. You'll soon adapt."
As he watched the doctor leave the room, Sam couldn't help but feel a mix of relief from not having to see his brother and father, and sadness because he really did feel so scared and alone.
"I don't get it." Dean huffed out "How can he suddenly wake up one morning with epilepsy?"
"He was already susceptible to it, but the head injury may well have been the trigger." The doctor shrugged. "Just one knock too many, coupled with going through puberty perhaps…"
"Can we see him now?" John asked, face and voice neutral.
"I'm sorry but your son is still asleep and I don't really want to subject him to visitors until he's ready. Sam was a little overwhelmed by the diagnosis and had a minor anxiety attack." Dr Mitchell raised a hand to fend off the arguments he could see brewing on their faces, and silently congratulated himself on the smooth lie. He got the feeling these guys didn't often fall for bullshit. "Go get something to eat, maybe get some rest and relax. Sam is in no danger now he's on anticonvulsants to keep him stable. Come back in a few hours when he's awake."
Dean fully expected his father to argue, but John just nodded in agreement. "Come on Dean. Let's go sample the joys of canteen food." Grasping Dean's arm, he led him from the office and out of sight of the consultant.
"Dad what the hell?" Dean began, immediately rounding on his father.
"Button it!" John ordered, and Dean clamped his mouth shut. "The doc's right; Sam's had a nasty shock and the fact that he's sleeping right now is a good thing."
Dean clenched and unclenched his jaw repeatedly and John could see the inner war raging. He wanted to go to his brother but was unwilling to disobey a direct order.
But then John hadn't witnessed Sam's violent fit, felt helpless to stop it, and Dean could almost feel how scared his kid brother was right now, even through the walls.
He was just about to capitulate when he caught sight of a familiar figure through the double doors onto the ward.
Sam stared out the window of his room and tried to stay calm, but the feelings of despair and panic just wouldn't leave him be. He couldn't face his family now, not after this.
He didn't think he could withstand their expressions of disapproval, the fact that his major screw up the night before had bigger consequences than he'd ever imagined, and the next time could get someone killed.
His father's words rang deep into his troubled mind. So much shame seemed to weigh on his shoulders that it was becoming unbearable; he needed to get out. How could he stay with his family now, when he was so damn worthless? Trouble was he didn't think he could live without them. Especially not Dean.
Decision made, Sam threw back the covers and gingerly climbed out of bed. He knew what he had to do, what he probably should've done before last night's fiasco and maybe Dean wouldn't have gotten hurt.
He'd already been a pain in the ass; he wasn't gonna stick around to be a liability on top of it.
Finding his clothes folded neatly in the chest of drawers under the window; he quickly changed out of his hospital gown, slid into his boots, crept to the nightstand and snatched up the prescription. Sam listened out for the sound of people passing by, and when it went quiet he slipped from the room. Glancing both ways up and down the hall, looking for a discreet way out, his gaze was drawn to the glass of the double doors.
Dean was staring right at him, eyes wide in surprise. He felt pretty sure Dean mouthed his name, but it didn't matter as panic once again swept over him.
Sam turned and ran like hell.
As soon as he saw Sam, he felt relief. The kid still looked pale but at least he was awake and on his feet. But the stricken expression that assailed his little brother's face shot additional warning signals through Dean. And he knew.
A split second before Sam bolted like a frightened colt, Dean knew, and he was already running, barging through the double doors on to the ward.
"Sam!" He saw his brother disappear through the emergency exit and followed suit. Sam's long legs were carrying him down the stairwell at one hell of a lick, and Dean struggled to keep up. "Sammy wait!"
Sam was out of sight by the time Dean arrived at the bottom, but the emergency door was swinging in the breeze and he burst out of the building just catching a glimpse of his brother's back before he rounded the block. But by the time he reached the street, Sam was gone.
"Sammy where are you?" Dean whispered, terrified for his brother's well being.
Sam smiled grimly as he handed over his money. He had just enough to get the prescription filled and now he was completely broke. On leaving the store, he made it another few blocks before he came out at the riverside, and virtually collapsed from exhaustion, his head pounding. Tears still streamed down his face from hearing Dean desperately calling out, begging him to stop.
I'm doing this for you, Dean. You and Dad.
Sam stumbled alongside the water for a about a mile until he found a concrete bridge. It over hung a footpath running along the banks of the river, providing a small dark shelter hidden from prying eyes. He'd expected it to be occupied by the homeless, but although there were still signs it had been used as such, Sam was thankful it was clear. He slumped against the wall, slid down and wrapped his arms round his knees.
Finally the sobs broke free as Sam sat shivering in the cold.
"Yelling at me isn't going to help find your son, and believe me with the state he's in that should beyour priority right now!" Dr Mitchell squared up to John Hamilton.
John stared at him. "What's that supposed to mean? He's alright aint he?"
"He has a concussion, he's just been diagnosed with a pretty major disorder, and it's damn cold out." The doctor was almost nose to nose with John. "What do you think? Please tell me; I'm all ears." Those last three words were hissed in the doctor's first real show of anger.
John had to reluctantly admit it wasn't exactly the consultant's fault and he had an equally reluctant respect building for the bastard. The nurses should have been keeping a better eye out, but then Sam was highly trained in escape and evade so it was unlikely they could have stopped him. Dean was out looking right now, had been for hours in fact. His oldest son had refused to answer his phone after John's fifth attempt to rein him in, and John was worried that by the end of the day he'd have two missing sons.
Sam took out the anticonvulsants and stared at them for a long time. Two containers of tiny pills that would forever rule his life. And he couldn't, he just couldn't.
He shook one out and balanced it in the palm of his hand, summoning what little was left of his waning courage. If Sam was no longer around to screw things up then at least Dean and his father stood a chance.
Tipping his hand to his mouth, he dry swallowed the pill, then shook out another, and another, until both containers were empty. He rested his head back against the stone bridge, tears rolling slowly down his face, and waited for oblivion...and peace.
Dean continued his desperate search, scouring the streets, showing a recent photo of his little brother to anyone who would stop for long enough and take pity on him. He must have been through half the neighbourhood by now and still no sign of Sam, and it was time to widen the search. Exhausted and scared, Dean finally rested against the railings of the bridge, head hung down low, facing the water.
"Come on Sammy, please. Where are you?"
The temperature was dropping as the day wore on, evening not far off, and Dean wondered if it was too late. He was pretty sure what his brother had in mind, what he was going to do, and that hurt so damn bad it was like a knife in to his heart. Trudging off the bridge he swore angrily when it started to rain. It was coming down in torrents and Dean was soaked to the skin in seconds. Barely able to see a hand in front of his face Dean had to admit defeat for now, and glanced around for somewhere dry to stand under.
That's when he spotted the overhang, a small path leading under the bridge along the river bank; it was the perfect place to take shelter.
Scrambling down the bank and ducking underneath, he felt instant relief from the cold pummelling of the rain storm. Dean brushed himself off and stamped his feet to get rid of the excess water, hoping like hell that Sam had managed to find somewhere safe and dry, but when he turned and saw the dark figure huddled against the wall his heart jumped. Instinct had Dean stumbling over and calling out his name.
"Sam!" Dean grabbed his shoulders, giving them a gentle shake. His eyes swept over Sam in the dark, looking for sign of injury but came up with nothing. "Sammy? Can ya hear me?"
Running his hands down Sam's body and checking his vitals Dean grew even more concerned at his brother's laboured breathing, not to mention that he still wouldn't wake up. Was it another seizure? The concussion?
His frantic thoughts ground to a halt when his fingers grasped at something in Sam's pocket. Two round, light weight cylinders. Pulling a tiny maglite from inside his jacket pocket Dean gasped at what he found. The two cylinders were containers for prescription anticonvulsants, the name Sam Hamilton printed on the labels.
And they were both empty.
"Oh shit! Oh shit Sam!" Dean had known deep down just how far Sam would go, but it still came as a one hell of a shock, and a part of him had hoped he was wrong. Cell phone out once more, he placed a 911 call then followed it up with a call to his father. Ignoring the questions, and hanging up as soon as he'd explained, he set about placing Sam in the recovery position. Covering his little brother with his jacket, Dean kept two fingers on the pulse at Sam's neck and kept checking his breathing.
It seemed like a long and hellish wait, in which he could swear Sam was getting weaker.
"Please kiddo; just hold on a little longer for me. We can work this out, Sammy, I promise." Dean begged and pleaded until he could swear he was blue in the face, but he could still feel his little brother slipping away.
"Hello? Anybody home?"
Dean recognised the voice of the same paramedic from earlier that day. "Over here. Hurry; he's running out of time!" After handing over the empty pill containers, he backed away to let them work on his brother, but listened intently to what they were saying.
"Dean?" A deep gruff voice by his ear startled him and Dean turned to face his extremely worried father; John must have followed the ambulance in. "How's he doin'? You didn't say much on the phone."
Dean bowed his head for a moment, eyes tightly closed before he answered softly. "Sammy took an overdose."
"What?!" His father staggered backwards as if the words had physically hit him. Dean just nodded as he watched his baby brother being intubated. He knew what that felt like, waking up with a thick tube wedged in your throat, remembered the blatant panic of not being able to breathe. He felt that panic rise again but this time it was for Sam, as the EMTs secured him to a collapsible stretcher for the second time that day.
"What did he take?" John frowned deeply at the sight of his youngest son so still and pale, unable to breathe on his own.
"He must have taken the prescription Dr Mitchell wrote out for him, went to a pharmacy somewhere…" He didn't need to finish the sentence. John pretty much got the gist.
"Oh Sammy, kiddo…" John whispered as Sam was wheeled swiftly to the ambulance. The sirens blared out just as the rear doors slammed shut, and whisked Sam back to the hospital, a black Chevy Impala following on almost bumper to bumper.
The older Winchesters were in for another long wait once the ambulance pulled up outside the hospital. They didn't even get a chance to see Sam once he was lifted out the back, since he was instantly surrounded by doctors, nurses and, of course, the neurology consultant Dr Mitchell.
Dean was shaking with the cold; his drenched clothes clinging to his body like a second skin, and John pushed him into a seat and pressed a steaming cup of sweet tea into his hand, ordering his son to drink it. He knew full well it wasn't just the cold; Dean was in shock, and grieving deeply over his brother's drastic actions. Even the warm blanket a pretty young nurse tucked round Dean's shoulders didn't ease the shivering and he barely noticed anything going on around him. His gaze was fixed on the double doors to the ER and nothing John could do or threaten would pry him away.
The silence became suffocating to John, but it was suddenly broken by Dean of all people.
"I'm so damn mad at him I can hardly think straight Dad." Dean whispered.
After a pause, John scrubbed a weary hand over his face. "Yeah, I know how you feel son."
"Why? Why would he do this?" But Dean already knew the answer, and all he needed was his father to spell it out.
"Isn't it obvious?" John muttered softly. "He must've felt so damn worthless, and I did that to him. I pushed him too far. Christ!" He got to his feet and tipped his head back to stare at the ceiling. "I didn't even know he was hurt. I should've known; all the signs were there."
If Dean was surprised at this sudden bout of introspection from his father he didn't show it. "You were worried about me, and I was in too much pain to notice. We got sidetracked, and angry, and we didn't even think about what we were doing to him. He made a mistake and we made his life a misery for it. Hell, I even locked him outta the bedroom without even thinking how he might take it. Neither of us wondered about what happened to him when that bitch attacked."
Another long silence followed and John could almost feel the cogs turning in Dean's brain.
"We can't get angry with him when we go in there Dad, no matter how we might feel. That's the last thing he needs and it might push him back over the edge." John dropped his gaze from the ceiling to stare into haunted green eyes. "This epilepsy is life changing stuff for Sam, and we need to figure out how we're gonna help him, make sure he knows he's not alone."
John nodded and managed a small smile at his son's perceptiveness, and his own past insensitivity. "Yeah, and no judgin' him either right? I hear ya Teach."
Dean offered a small smile in response.
Sam lifted his eyelids gradually, but slammed them closed again when he realised who was in the room. He tried to even out his breathing back to a sleeping pattern, but a familiar voice made itself known.
"I know you're awake, Sammy please don't shut me out."
After some deliberation, Sam finally cracked open his eyes and stared at his brother's left ear. Still he said nothing.
"Please just tell me..." Dean's voice trailed off, waiting, hoping.
It took so long that Dean wondered if his little brother was catatonic. But finally he got an answer. And it hurt just like it should have done.
"If I hadn't been there that night you wouldn't have been hurt; I'm such a waste of space. Always have been, don't fit in, not even with my own family."
Sam fell silent for so long after that Dean managed to get time to recover. But the little waste of space wasn't done yet.
"I thought it would all work out, I really did. Can't believe I fell for it. Thought I'd one day be invited into the Winchester family with welcome arms for just being me. Thought I could show that I had other strengths..." Sam lowered a cynical gaze to his bed covers. "...but when that didn't happen and I knew it wasn't ever going to happen..."
Dean was shocked into silence once more, and John, who was waiting in the background by the door, suddenly felt rather sick.
Sam appeared to want to say more, but when he shut down and lapsed into an exhausted sleep, Dean was a little relieved. The truth hurts after all. Instead of embracing Sam's uniqueness that was so a part of their family, that had more often than not proven useful to a hunt, they'd lost sight of who Sam was. His role in the family was important to Sam and they'd made light of it, and disrespectfully so. And Dean couldn't in all honesty lay all the blame with their father.
I'm just as responsible.
And when he glanced at their Dad he saw the same in his eyes.
John Winchester nodded slowly but with the kind of resolve normally found on the Captain of the Enterprise; stubborn, unyielding, I don't give up on my crew.
We work this out. No matter what it costs, we fix this for Sam.
Sam was still quiet; Dean noted worriedly after their father gave the brother's some time alone. Sam wasn't going to make it easy on them. And he shouldn't.
"I'm sorry Sam, but there's something we need to talk about."
He realised he missed his little brother's constant questioning, which he and John suddenly saw for what it was. Sam didn't like to leave any stone unturned, wanted to explore every opportunity. It was his nature, and vastly important to Sam because it kept his family safe in his own way. John was worried that he'd fucked up so bad this time Sam would never truly come back to them. Dean had other ideas.
"Sammy, if you hadn't been there that night," Dean stuttered, still scared beyond belief. "I wouldn't be here right now. You ever think about that? Dad couldn't get out of that damn grave fast enough and I was stuck. Don't you see it? We couldn't have done it without you. I'm so sorry we never let you in kiddo."
He was wrong. His little brother took mercy on him and as usual read his mind.
"You've nothing to be sorry for; you're my big brother." Sam smiled slightly. "You're bound to fuck up from time to time."
And Dean snorted. He just wanted his little brother back, and for once someone had actually answered his prayer.
Of course he was wrong...
Because, being the Winchesters, life was about to get interesting yet again.
Please don't look for serious medical facts within this fic because there really aren't any. I have purely twisted it to the advantage of the story. Also, I'm not epileptic and do not profess to know anything about being one, and most of all do not wish to imply that epileptic's are suicidal or depressive in any way. Again, it's just the story at work.