Train Kept a Rollin'
Summary: Dean just knows Sam will continue to fight the good fight and be okay after the hellhounds come for him. That is until he gets a wakeup call. Set during S3, sometime after Fresh Blood.
Sam flew down the two-lane highway, oblivious to his excessive speed. He would have berated Dean for going 80 mph in a 55 mph zone had his brother been the one behind the wheel. But Sam didn't have a clue that he was going that fast. He was preoccupied with his brother's situation. And attitude.
If they didn't find a way to break the Crossroad Demon's agreement with Dean within the next six months then his brother would be taking up permanent residency in Hell. Although if he was going to be accurate, there was no "they" working on a solution; Dean refused to contemplate the situation and had forbidden Sam to pursue anything which might void the agreement.
There had been a moment, right around the time Gordon had come gunning for Sam one last time, when he thought the brothers had come to some sort of understanding. A break-through of sorts. Those hopes were dashed when Dean quickly reverted back to his too cool for words routine.
Sam was at a loss. He not only didn't have any real leads but he was baffled by his brother's actions. Dean treated Sam as though they were business partners and Sam was the junior partner with little or no say. If Sam protested against one of Dean's ideas then his brother guilted him into going along by throwing in his face the fact he'd, the awesome older brother, had traded his life for Sam's. But if Sam brought up the deal, or the way Dean was in denial, his brother accused Sam of being too emotional. He just couldn't win.
And now Dean had thrown out the edict about Sam needing to become more independent so that he could carry on once Dean shuffled off this mortal coil. Sam, you need to take over the weapons…you can start by getting more gun oil and solvent. And don't give me that look. This is for your own good. Someday I won't be around to do it for you. And bring back some burgers while you're out. I'm starving.
It was as if Dean had forgotten both brothers had received the same training growing up on how to care for weapons.
Or more to the point, that Sam would really be capable of continuing without Dean. That was what was so frustrating and depressing…that Dean thought no one would be affected when he was gone.
Sam absently noticed a bus full of kids as he weaved around it. They were decked out in football uniforms and cheerleading outfits as they alternately waved or flipped him off as he roared by. For a moment he was overcome with jealousy. Why should they be allowed a normal childhood? He and Dean had certainly been denied one.
The jealousy faded to despair. Dean was the one positive, the one person he could count on, and he'd soon be gone if Sam couldn't figure things out. After a lifetime of Dean saving Sam, it was time Sam returned the favor. Only he didn't know how.
A stoplight suddenly appeared ahead, green morphing into yellow and then red, as he bumped over railroad tracks and then braked to a stop. He didn't recognize his surroundings but that didn't really surprise him; he'd been locked in his own thoughts ever since Dean had asked, no ordered, him to run this errand.
The rural highway had abruptly ended and he could now see signs of civilized life with businesses and restaurants popping up along the intersecting roads. A steady stream of cars whizzed by as he sat there. He shifted impatiently and glanced at his watch; he was now stuck in commuter traffic, or what passed as such, as normal people raced home from their normal work to get home to their normal lives.
Sam would never know why but he picked that moment to look in the Impala's side mirror and noticed red lights flashing as the bus straddled the train tracks. The city planner had done a lousy job with this intersection if a stoplight could strand traffic on the tracks.
Red lights. He could hear a horn sounding in the distance. He craned his neck and saw a train rocketing down the tracks.
Toward the bus.
The bus that was sitting on top of the tracks.
Sam wheeled around in his seat and sought out the panicked eyes of the gray haired woman in the driver seat of the school bus. His brain kicked into gear, reviewing and discarding the bus's options. It couldn't move out of the path of the oncoming train by navigating to the left because cars had filtered in and were now sitting in that lane waiting for the light to change. The bus couldn't steer to the right because there was a steep incline complete with guardrail. The Impala blocked the bus's forward progress.
Sam was in the way.
The train was streaking toward the bus, horn blaring continuously, as sparks flew off the tracks; the train couldn't stop in time.
Sam did the math. One life versus a busload of kids.
His foot jammed down on the gas pedal and he shot out into the busy intersection, his own hand smashed the center of the steering wheel causing the horn to wail its distress.
He had a second to look in the rearview mirror and was relieved to see the bus jumping forward in his wake.
And then the front of the Impala was brutally smashed from the left followed closely by the right. His head cracked against the window.
His last thought was of the Impala, his brother's pride and joy. He'd done it again.
Dean was going to kill him.
And then the dark spots dancing in front of his eyes took control and he slumped over the steering wheel.
Dean was getting pissed. He'd called Sam's cell phone numerous times and his brother was ignoring him. Sam was probably stewing about taking orders from him but someone had to be in charge. And if Dean left it to Sam, they'd both be buried in obscure books, trying to find a way to void the deal which would result in Sam's death.
Once was enough. He refused to watch Sam die again.
And what his baby brother failed to realize was that life would go on when Dean's deal came due but there was a lot Sam needed to learn if he was going to survive. Stuff that Dean needed to show him.
It had started gradually. Dean had given Sam lessons on caring for the Impala. Then Dean had tried to instill all of his hard earned knowledge on con games in his little brother but Sam had balked. They'd now moved on to weapons maintenance.
Sam knew the basics but there was so much more to keeping things running smoothly. Especially when your life depended on those things.
Dean's stomach growled noisily and he patted it absently. Where was his damn food?
The cell phone, tossed on the bed in a fit of temper, began to ring. Dean stalked over and grabbed it. He was on the verge of growling at Sam when he noticed it was Bobby calling him. "Hey, Bobby. What can I do for you?"
Bobby Singer had turned out to be a godsend. He was a fountain of information and dropped whatever he was doing when the brothers needed him. Unlike John Winchester, who had dropped out of his life for long periods of time. That is until the very end when he'd returned only to give his life up so that Dean could live.
The Winchesters were definitely a dark, twisted family.
Silence met Dean's greeting. "Bobby?"
A soft sigh was his first response. Then Bobby began speaking in earnest. "Dean. Thank god you're okay."
Dean was baffled. He was pacing in his motel room, waiting for his dinner. Other than being outrageously hungry, he was fine. "What are you talking about?"
Bobby sighed again and it was getting on Dean's nerves. And then he was shaking his head, trying to follow the stream of words coming out of the older man. "I got a call from Sam's phone. He was broadsided going through an intersection. Something about a bus and a train and he saved lots of lives."
Dean wasn't following. He couldn't figure out why the older man in such a tizzy. If Sam had called Bobby then he must be okay. And then he wondered what the Impala had ever done to Sam. That was twice now the Impala had suffered with Sam behind the wheel. "Why'd he call you, Bobby? He scared to call me himself because of the Impala?"
Bobby was replying before the words were even out of Dean's mouth. "No, Sam didn't call me. I was listed as his emergency contact on his cell. They're taking him to St. Vincent's Hospital. I told them I was his uncle."
Dean was numb. The ache in his stomach moved to his chest. Sam was hurt. "I, ah, thanks Bobby. I'm heading over to the hospital now. I'll call you later."
Dean grabbed his jacket and wallet before snapping up his keys. The second set of keys to the Impala. Sam had been in a car accident. He'd been out on the road because Dean made him go to the gun shop.
And Bobby had been called instead of Dean. That one really hurt but he had only himself to blame. He'd made Sam change his ICE setting to Bobby. After all, Dean wasn't always going to be around to bail his brother out of trouble.
Dean hopped out of the taxi before it coasted to a stop and threw money at the driver. He sprinted into the ER waiting room and almost trampled two rug-rats who were playing on the floor. Muttering an apology he shot toward the desk. He was out of breath and couldn't calm down. "My cousin, Sam Winston, was in a car accident and they said they brought him here."
The harried admissions clerk glanced at Dean and consulted a list. Before she could say anything the phone on her desk began to bleat. She snatched it up and Dean impatiently drummed his fingers on her desk as he listened to her side of the conversation. "Of course...when is he due...uh huh...and who are you looking for? Just a moment. What's your name? Sir, I need a name, please."
It took Dean a moment to realize the clerk was speaking to him. He hesitated, unsure of what name to give, and then decided it didn't matter. His brother was hurt, he didn't know how badly, and he couldn't think straight. "It's Dean..."
The clerk cut him off with a wave of her hand and returned her attention to the phone conversation. "Yes, he's here. I'll tell him."
She quickly hung up the phone and turned her attention to Dean. "The ambulance with your cousin is arriving now. Please take a seat and the nurse will come get you after they finish the triage."
Dean ignored the clerk and bolted through a set of double doors; all ER's had the same basic floor plan so it shouldn't be difficult to find his brother. He ran straight down a hallway until he spotted another set of sliding glass doors. This had to be the ambulance bay. Dean forced himself to keep moving; if he looked like he belonged then the staff would be less likely to hassle him.
He moved into what looked like a heated garage. A man and a woman, both wearing scrubs, stood talking with their backs to him. They didn't even pause in their conversation as the sliding doors swished behind him. He moved closer so he could hear them more clearly. "The paramedics radioed ahead and said the victim is not only awake but really agitated. He keeps calling out the same name."
Dean wanted to interrupt and tell them the victim had a name but he let the comment die on his lips as the ambulance backing into the area distracted him. He was pushed back as the back doors opened and a team of staff poured into the area as the paramedics emerged from the ambulance.
Dean craned his neck to get a look at his brother but the area was crowded with people and his view was blocked. He listened as the voices babbled around him. "MVA. Grade 3 concussion. Pupils sluggish with disorientation and perseveration noted, rule out skull fracture. Possible spinal injury. Victim's left leg is externally rotated and appears shorter than the right one. His left posterior tibial and dorsalis pedis pulses are +2. His left leg is cool to touch with limited range of motion. Right leg is normal. Multiple contusions and lacerations."
The voices faded away as he got his first look at Sam as the stretcher was pulled out and its wheels were dropped down onto the concrete floor. His brother was strapped to a backboard with his neck in a cervical collar. IV's and wires poked out from beneath a warming blanket, which was draped loosely over his twitching form. Blood was smeared across his brother's already bruising face, an oxygen mask cupping his nose and mouth.
And then he heard his brother's weak, muffled voice calling Dean's name and his legs carried him forward, pushing past the milling bodies, until he was at Sam's side.
Dean wanted to reassure himself that Sam was alive and his fingers ached to touch Sam's face, the only skin exposed, but he was afraid he'd cause further damage. He contented himself with leaning over until his own face was inches from his brother's, staring into bloodshot, confused eyes. "Sammy, it's Dean. I'm right here."
Sam's face worked as he struggled to turn his immobilized head. He needed Sam to listen and cooperate otherwise his brother risked doing himself further damage. Dean took a calming breath and tried to pacify his injured brother. "Sam, you need to calm down. You're hurt and you need to let them help you."
His insistent voice finally reached Sam's ears and he visibly relaxed. In a small, tired voice he whispered, "Dean, I'm sorry about your car."
At his moment Dean didn't care about the car. Dean wanted to reassure his brother that everything was going to be okay, that he would take care of him, but Sam blinked his eyes sluggishly before his dark lashes dropped abruptly against his pale cheeks.
A voice bellowed next to Dean's ear. "Okay, people! Let's get him down to radiology for x-rays and a CT scan. We need to get a handle on the extent of his injuries."
The rest of the orders were lost on Dean as the stretcher bearing his little brother was briskly wheeled out of his sight.
Dean didn't know what to do with himself. Sam was seriously hurt and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it except wait.
A dark haired nurse cleared her throat to get Dean's attention. He hadn't heard her approach or noticed her until she was right in front of him. He must be getting rusty if he allowed a nurse to get the drop on him like that.
Dean felt dislocated from his body as the nurse explained she was taking him back to the waiting room. She didn't chastise him about being in the wrong area. She introduced herself as Faye and calmly took his arm and guided him back through the sliding glass doors and down the hallway.
As they walked by a nurse's station he noticed one of the paramedics who had treated Sam talking with a cute, young staff member. Time slowed down as Dean tried to process what he was hearing. "They're calling him a hero. They said if he hadn't blown through the red light into the middle of the intersection that the bus would have been smashed by the train. But, boy, was he messed up. I thought we were going to have to pry him out with the jaws-of-life but we finally got the passenger door open and slid him out that way."
Dean's legs locked in place. He could hear Faye asking him if he was okay but all of his attention was focused on the paramedic and what he said shook Dean to his core. "I thought he was a goner but he woke up in route to the hospital and it's a good thing he was strapped down to the backboard because he kept trying to wrestle his way free. He wouldn't calm down and he kept chanting the same name over and over. I was afraid this Dean guy had been thrown clear of the car during the accident with the way this guy was carrying on but witnesses said he was the only person in the car."
Dean was light headed as he listened to the pumped paramedic talk about the car accident that had resulted in Sam's injuries. It sounded as though his brother had jeopardized his life to save a busload of kids. Stupid kid.
Faye finally got him moving forward again. Dean was grateful when they made it to the waiting room. He was lightheaded and needed to get off his feet before he passed out. He allowed himself to collapse in a hard, plastic chair. After a moment a Styrofoam cup with dark liquid was thrust into his hand. He took a sip and made a face – coffee loaded with sugar. Just the way Sam liked it.
Dean didn't say anything. He set the coffee on the floor before letting his head sink into his hands as he tried to bring his breathing under control. Dean couldn't afford to fall apart; his brother was counting on him.
Dean pushed the door to Sam's room open and peaked inside, unsure of what he would find. It was a double room but there was only one bed occupied at the moment. A bed that held his very bruised and pale brother.
The wait had been interminable with only Dean's thoughts left to keep him company in the waiting room. He thought the staff had forgotten him, or worse, something had happened to Sam, but someone finally stopped and told him his brother was being settled in a room.
That someone had turned out to be Sam's doctor and he'd filled Dean on some of the particulars. As Dean eased into the room he took quick inventory of his brother who was laying flat on his back with white covers pulled up to his chest. He could see the evidence of the injuries the doctor had mentioned.
A white bandage was taped to the left side of Sam's forehead in deep contrast to the dark hair it peaked through. A shiny, purple bruise marred the pale skin under Sam's left eye and his right one, also heavily shadowed, didn't look much better. His bottom lip was painfully split. The cervical collar surrounded Sam's long neck, making his sibling appear much smaller than his 6'4" frame. But it was the pulley system Sam's left leg was rigged up to which made the greatest impression on Dean.
The covers were thrown back at the foot of the bed to expose Sam's left foot which was encased in a foam boot. A weight was attached to the boot and hooked to a cable; the doctor had explained this would pull the bone fragments into alignment to prevent further injury and reduce muscle spasms until the surgery could be performed.
It looked positively medieval but the doctor had gone to great lengths to assure Dean that this would minimize Sam's discomfort.
Dean dragged a chair over to the bed and dropped into it. A frown marred Sam's face and although his eyes were closed, Dean didn't think he was resting comfortably. That was another problem; the staff couldn't give Sam much in the way of painkillers until they knew for sure that he didn't have a serious head injury. The CAT scan hadn't revealed any bleeding and there didn't appear to be a skull fracture but Sam's pupils weren't reacting as they should so the doctor wanted to monitor him closely. If he didn't show any other signs of head trauma then the surgery to set the fracture would occur in the next couple of days. Until then it was a waiting game.
The fluorescent lighting in the room was harsh on his eyes and Dean squinted in an attempt to ward off a headache. He refused to dwell on it because he knew Sam's headache had to be astronomical what with the bruises that were blossoming on the left side of his head and crawling over his left cheek bone and down to his chin.
Dean wasn't sure if he wanted to hit Sam for pulling such a dangerous stunt or hug the kid. He settled for lightly grasping Sam's exposed hand, mindful not to tug on the IV line snaking from a machine into his brother's arm.
Sam tried to open his eyes. He succeeded in parting them enough to let some light seep in and he instantly regretted it as his head spun dizzily. He realized that it wasn't just his head that hurt. It was everything. If he concentrated he could narrow it down to the left side of his body.
His left temple throbbed in time with his heartbeat.
Every time he took a breath, pain spiked from the area around his eye, across his cheek bone, and then down to his chin.
Not to be outdone, his left shoulder and arm ached with steady intensity.
But it was his left leg that caused him the most concern. There was a pulling, stretching sensation that made him grit his teeth. He couldn't classify it as pain exactly. It was more of a penetrating pressure which had him squirming in an attempt to find a more comfortable position. The problem was he couldn't move.
Sam took a deep, calming breath which set his lungs on fire. He fought to lift his eyelids up again and was pleasantly surprised when they obeyed. He was flat on his back, staring at a ceiling. He tried to turn his head but his neck was held immobile. He wanted to struggle but he lacked the strength. Why was he being held down?
Sam's eyes skittered around the room but from his vantage point he couldn't see anything except the damn ceiling and a steel bar over his head. It reminded him of a trapeze but he was pretty certain he wasn't at the circus. Clowns hung out at the circus. He hated clowns.
There was movement out of the corner of his eye. He still couldn't generate enough torque to see to his right but a moan filled the air as he tried. It was a mournful, pained cry and Sam felt sorry for the poor, lost soul.
As much as Dean wanted his brother to wake up, he was grateful Sam was sleeping through what had to be hideous pain. And then he heard a soft, plaintive wail coming from the bed. "Sammy?"
Dean clambered to his feet, his muscles achy with disuse from sitting so long, and leaned over his brother to get a good look at him. Sam's bloodshot eyes were wide, jerking from side to side. And then Sam's eyes stilled as they made contact with Dean's.
Maybe it was a trick of the light but Sam looked panicked at Dean's appearance. All his life Dean had been charged with caring for Sam and he wasn't accustomed to creating agitation in his sibling. Instead his presence usually brought calm to a sick or injured Sam.
There was a sheen of moisture in Sam's eyes as he spoke. "Dean? Where's Dean?"
And then Sam's eyes locked on Dean's. "Dean, is that you? Please don't leave me. Everyone leaves me."
Sam's tone, resigned and broken, as much as the words were a kick to the gut. He needed to reach Sam, make him realize he was right there. "Shhh, it's okay, Sam. Everything's fine. I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere. I promise."
Something inside of Dean tore and fell away. He wouldn't be able to look after Sam when his time was up. And if anyone needed looking after, it was Sam.
A/N : I'd like to send out a great big Happy Birthday to Pinkphx1985…I know this isn't the story you had your heart set on but it does feature some bonding moments between the brothers so I hope you'll enjoy!