Title: Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Rating: PG 13 (language)
Summary: Sarah learns she has cancer. Just so you know, I am not a doctor. If I were, I would not be working where I'm at and making the crap amount I make now. Thank you, drive thru! The title of this fic is the title of an Emily Dickinson poem.
Disclaimers: Not mine except Sarah.
They had just finished a hunt and John Winchester was feeling pretty good about it. Neither of his kids were injured and they made the world safer by disposing of a rather angry spirit so he felt that deserved a few drinks. John told Dean and Sarah he'd meet them at the bar once he talked with his sheriff friend about the spirit.
Of course, he would never admit it to anyone but somehow the feeling of accomplishing this task seemed hollow and he had a feeling he knew why. Sam wasn't with them. Oh sure he told Sam if he left to never come back, but John hadn't really meant it. Maybe at the time, but now... it seemed like it was years ago when in reality it had been merely months.
John shook his head. No, he was not going to let thinking about Sam ruin his good mood! Once he was finished talking to his friend, John's phone buzzed and he thought for one minute that it could possibly be.... "No, John!" he warned himself. However, glancing at the caller ID he saw Dean's name.
Before John could say anything, Dean's frantic voice came on the line. "Dad, it's Sarah!"
"Calm down, son, I'm heading to the car right now. What's going on?"
John knew there would only be two reasons that would cause Dean to freak out and they were Sarah and Sam. "She fell asleep while I was in the shower and now I can't get her to wake up. She was complaining about her head hurting and that she felt really confused as to where she was and why we're here."
"Damn," John muttered, wondering if she had hit her head when the spirit threw her. He knew Sarah would have told them, unlike Dean. "Listen to me!"
"Dean, listen to me!" John barked and he could practically see Dean standing at attention. "Get Sarah into the Impala and take her to the hospital. I'll be right behind you!"
Dean hung up the phone before John could say anything more. He sighed wondering if he had gone too far with the Marine training for Dean. He decided not. Well, at least not for hunting. Dean was a damn good hunter and the training had gotten him out of many tough situations. John just hope Dean realized he didn't need to use that training for the off hunting days.
A drive that should have taken John 20 minutes took him 10. He was just lucky no police were out patrolling the roads. When he arrived he found a frantic Dean pacing in the ER and on his phone. As John got closer he heard Dean leaving a message for Sam. "Dude, I know you're pissed at us, but Sarah's sick and we're at the hospital trying to figure out what's wrong. I know she'd want you here so please, call me!"
Dean hung up the phone and angrily spun around, almost knocking John down in the process. "Dad!"
"What's going on?" he asked, effectively avoiding the fact that Dean was even attempting to call Sam. John knew that would have been a waste of time.
"They kicked me out because they had to do a brain scan since she's unresponsive. They did a quick blood test before they took her for the scan, though. Said her blood count was really low. I think the doctor's have an idea of what's wrong. They didn't tell me yet, but I overheard him talking to one of the nurses." Dean swallowed around the lump in his throat. "Dad, I think they're talking cancer."
John blinked, staring unbelieving at his son. "What? But we don't..." Then he trailed off. Sarah was adopted so it may run in her family, but then of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be genetic.
A young nurse came up to them just then. "Mr. Simmons," she said addressing Dean.
Dean nodded. "Yeah, and this our dad."
"If you two would like to come with me, please," she replied, then looked over at John. "The doctor would like to speak to you about your daughter's condition."
The men followed the nurse to the elevator. Dean shared a glance with John as they saw the button she pressed. The third floor was oncology. Neither of them said a word as they continued to Sarah's room. Upon arrival, the doctor looked up from the notes she was jotting down in Sarah's chart. She was not yet awake and that was scaring Dean to no end.
John explained who he was and the doctor introduced herself as Francesca DeSoto. "How is she?" he asked.
"I'm afraid she's still unresponsive at this point, Mr. Simmons. After doing a series of scans on her brain we detected a small tumor pressing on her hypothalamus, which deals much with emotions. Has she experienced any unusual bouts of emotion lately?'
"Not that I'm aware of," John replied, still trying to understand how his little girl was going to survive this. "Dean?"
Dean shook his head. "She seemed quieter than normal and more tired, but that's it." He didn't mention that those 'unusual bouts of emotion' probably had more to do with Sam then the tumor, but he was no expert.
"What can be done?" John wanted to know, clearly disturbed by his thoughts because they seemed to be echoing Dean's and he didn't need to hear them voiced to know that!
Dr. DeSoto went onto explain chemotherapy and surgery. "However, Sarah's blood count is pretty low and I don't want to risk either until the come up. We're going to do some more blood tests shortly."
"Thank you, Doctor," John said, taking a seat next to Sarah, and reaching for her hand.
"I'll be back after I've gone over the blood tests and the other scans that should be ready now," she replied. The doctor gave Dean a reassuring smile and left the room.
Dean just remained there, staring at Sarah in stunned silence. She looked so small and frail in that bed and he wished she would just sit up and yell at them for staring at her. He didn't know what to do. He already lost Sam and now he was going to lose Sarah too! Dean cleared his throat. "Um, I'm gonna get some air."
John understood his older son so he nodded and said, "I'll call you when I hear something or she wakes up."
Dean thought about calling Sam again, but he didn't. If his brother truly cared about what was happening with Sarah, he would pick up the damn phone and call Dean. He never wanted Sammy to go, but he did understand his need to get out of this business. Dean didn't blame him one bit. He would never admit this to anyone but he hated this life.
He longed to live oblivious to everything going on, but then he remembered all the people he wouldn't save. People who would end up dying because he wasn't hunting and Dean would start to feel guilty for even having those thoughts. Dean Winchester was just destined to live alone trying to keep his family alive and strangers safe.
And here was the biggest joke of them all staring at him in the face. Sarah had cancer and it wasn't something he could fight. How the hell did someone as sweet and pure as his sister get the short end of that stick? She'd been helping them with the family business as long as either brother and yet she still ends up with cancer.
Dean wanted to know where God was in all of this. His family was slowly disappearing and somehow he knew he would be the last one standing. Not because he deserved to be but because he was being punished. He was certain of it! Dean was being punished for something and whatever it was, his family was going to be taken away.
It started with his mom. His sweet, beautiful mother. She had the voice of an angel, which she said was always watching over him. Well they need to stop! If those angels truly existed then they need to leave him be and keep an eye on the rest of his family. Dean jumped at the sound of his cell phone ringing.
"Sarah's awake, Dean. She's asking for you."
"I'll be right there."
Dean took a deep breath and a stop in the bathroom to make sure he didn't look like he'd been crying. He was going to be strong for Sarah, no matter what! He was also going to keep any conversation about Sam away from her unless she asked about him. Dean knocked on the door before going in.
When he did, he plastered on a fake smile. "Hey, Sar! You're looking great!"
"Don't lie, Dean, it doesn't suit you," she replied, returning his smile. If she knew he was hiding how upset he was, she didn't show it.
Dean waved the comment off as he stepped over to her bed. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired," she admitted. "Ready to get out of here."
"Sarah, I've told you already," John said with a sigh. "You're not leaving anytime soon. The doctor wants you to start treatment."
Sarah crossed her arms. "I have cancer, dad, but I don't want them to pump me up full of drugs and radiate my body just to get rid of the damn thing. I just want to get out there and kill as many sons of bitches as I can."
By this point Dean had paled and looked ready to pass out at the thought of chemotherapy. Earlier it hadn't even registered that Sarah would be put through all that. Might even lose the long black hair she loved so much. "Dean?"
Sarah turned to looked at her brother when John said his name. "Hey, Dean, it's okay," she said, reaching for his hand. "I'm sorry about that."
"What?" Dean asked, shaking his head, recovering from his shock. "I'm good, but Sarah, please if not the chemo, then think about the surgery. If the Doc can remove it, then what's the problem?"
"He may not be able to remove the entire tumor," she replied, biting her lip. "It's just a risky operation all together and I'll be down for the count for a few weeks after it."
Dean shook his head. "It doesn't matter! It's no different a risk than when we hunt, Sarah!"
"There is a difference, Dean! When I'm hunting, I'm risking my life to save others, if I do this surgery, I'm risking my life to save me. How fucking selfish is that?"
Dean looked over at John, who seemed to be at a loss for words. "If you do this surgery, Sarah, you're not being selfish because you're risking your life to save our family and that is the most unselfish thing in the world."
Before either John or Sarah could say a word, Dean had all but run out the door. They were both silent for a few minutes before John said, "He's right and you know that, sweetheart. Please at least try the surgery."
"I will," Sarah finally said, tears falling. "I'm sorry, daddy!"
"Don't be Sarah," he replied, standing to give her her hug. "We love you so much!"
"I love you guys too."
"Hello," Dean said groggily. He had just been sleeping after attempting for an hour when the phone rang.
"Dean, it's Caleb. I just got a frantic call from Sam. Is everything all right over there?"
That woke him up for certain! "What the fuck is Sam calling you for instead of me when I left him the fucking voicemail to begin with?"
"Whoa, easy there, Dean! I don't know. He just called me worried about Sarah. He just said she was sick."
Dean sighed, rubbing his eyes. "Sorry, Caleb, I'm just a bit stressed out here. Sarah's been diagnosed with brain cancer."
"Shit," Caleb muttered.
"Tell me about it! Anyway, I had left message for Sam to call me about it, but I guess he hates us too much."
"He doesn't hate you guys, Dean. Far from it!"
"Well it certainly doesn't seem like it! When your sister is sick, possibly dying, can't you forget about the past for five minutes! Sarah won't admit it, but I know she's really hurting over the fact that Sam hasn't even acknowledged her since he left!"
It was Caleb's turn to sigh. "I know, Dean, and I've said as much to him when he calls to ask how you're all doing."
"He does what?" Dean closed his eyes briefly and counted to ten to calm himself. "I'm not mad at you, Caleb, I just wish he would call us. I know dad pissed him off, but there was no reason for him to completely cut Sarah out. Me, I get too, but not Sarah."
"It's all right. Let me give him a call and tell him what's going on. If he doesn't show up at the hospital something tells me he'll at least give Sarah a call."
Dean agreed. "You're right. Thanks, Caleb."
When John left after visiting hours were over, she never did fall asleep. She could hear the worry and fear in Dean's voice. She knew understood what he was feeling because she would be feeling the exact same thing and he was right. She need to have this surgery, not for her, but her family.
Sarah glanced over at the phone, wishing Sam would call. John said Dean had left a message for her younger brother, but that no one heard back from him yet. Why should she be surprised, though? He didn't call her back when she called to tell him about a good hunt or Dean's latest idiotic escaped!
She jumped when the phone did ring. Reaching over, she took the receiver from the cradle. "Hello?"
"Sarah, it's Sam."
"Hey, I heard from Caleb..."
Sarah decided she wasn't going to be all meek just because she was sick. "Caleb? You didn't call Dean back, did you?"
"No. I thought it would be better if Caleb called him."
Sarah sighed. "Sammy, I just don't understand what's going on with you. I mean I totally get you wanting to go to college and having a normal life, but we're still your family no matter what dad said. We still love you and still want to hear from you! Please, Sammy, I need you here. Can you come?"
"Yeah, Sarah, I can come. I'll leave tomorrow after class. I have a huge test I need to take, but I promise I'll be there!"
Sarah smiled. "Thanks, Sammy. I love you."
"Love you too, Sarah."
Once Sarah hung up the phone, she settled into bed and drifted off to sleep.
Unfortunately that sleep didn't last long. During the night, Sarah became confused and disoriented. She didn't know where she was or where her family went. The doctor finally had the nurse call the young girl's family when she started talking about her mother being stuck to a ceiling and dying in a fire.
When John got the call he explained his wife died in a fire when the kids were little. Of course he avoided the whole thing about a dark malevolent creature killing her. At first he was going to leave Dean to rest, but deciding against it, he reached over to wake him up. "Dad?"
"The hospital called, we need to get over there."
Dean needed no further urging and soon the pair were speeding down the road, arriving at the hospital within ten minutes of the call. John saw Dr. DeSoto standing outside of Sarah's room and immediately accosted her. "Doctor, what's going on? Is she all right?"
Dr. DeSoto's expression wasn't very comforting. "I'm afraid not, Mr. Simmons. We performed another scan on her brain and she needs to be prepped for surgery right away. Since she's incoherent, I need you to sign the release form as next of kin."
Dean was standing behind John, hands in fists and trying not to lose it. These doctors were supposed to help her and now she was going to die! Once John signed the paperwork, Sarah was wheeled from her room and he turned to face Dean. John placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "Hey, you with me?"
"Yeah," Dean replied effectively shutting off his emotions.
"It's okay, you know."
Dean blinked. "What?"
"To cry. Let it out."
"You used to tell me to suck it up," Dean said in confusion.
John shrugged. "I used to think that, even before hunting when I was in the Corp. Your mom taught me how to. Okay so it was never in front of anyone, but I still did it."
"Then why did you always tell me a good soldier never cried."
"You weren't listening to me, Dean. You were taking my words at face value." John paused. "That was my fault. You were 10 at the time and I should have been more understanding that even though I was training you as an adult, you were still just a kid."
"It took you 15 years to realize that?"
The pair turned to see Sam standing there. Dean glanced over at his dad. The shit is gonna hit the fan, he thought to himself.
"I know, Sammy," John replied as Sam walked over to them. He pulled his younger son into a hug. "Thanks for coming. Sarah will appreciate it."
Dean was surprised and relieved to see this happening. He hated having to choose sides and Sam probably thought that's what he did when Dean didn't say anything as he was being disowned by John. "It's good to see you," Dean said, giving his brother a hug.
"You too, Dean. Where's Sarah?"
"They, uh, had to take her down to surgery. She was confused about where she was and what was going on. The doc thought it best if they start the surgery to remove the tumor," John explained.
Dean still remained silent as John and Sam spoke. He was pretty sure it was getting hotter in there. He was scared and he needed to be alone again. He needed Sarah to live because he didn't know how he could stand losing her. "Be right back," Dean muttered.
"What was that about?" Sam asked.
"Your brother's taking this pretty hard, Sammy. Harder than I would have expected actually."
Sam shook his head. "You don't get it, dad. Dean is as emotional as I am but he just keeps it bottled in. I think you should be more worried about him than Sarah."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Do you remember that hunt after Dean graduated from high school? He was dating that one girl that we swore he was going to end up marrying?"
John nodded then realized what Sam was saying. "Wait a minute! Those knife wounds... you two said they were from the witch who was about to perform a ritual sacrifice on her and Dean. He did that himself? Fuck! Why didn't you guys say anything?"
"I promised him I wouldn't."
Trust was the one thing John had taught his boys, but it was his fault they hadn't trusted him to this secret. He closed his eyes, rubbing his forehead. "Thanks for telling me now, Sammy, but I think we should keep that from your brother and you need to make sure he's all right. I'll call you when Sarah's out of surgery."
Sam agreed. "Yeah. See ya later."
Dean was back at the motel leaning against the Impala and drinking a beer. This was a tradition for him and Sarah after a case since Sam left for college. They hadn't gotten to do it since she was admitted to the hospital. He looked up from the ground when a car's headlights shown on him. The car was unfamiliar, but not the person who came out of the car.
Without a word, Dean leaned over and grabbed a beer from the cooler and tossed it to Sam, who caught it easily. "I know what you're thinking, Dean, and I don't like it."
"Don't act like an idiot! This is starting to be Marina all over again!"
Dean whirled around to face Sam. "Don't you fucking dare!"
"Dean, I'm not trying to attack, I'm trying to help you!"
The older brother sighed and leaned against the Impala again, taking another swig of his beer. He was silent for a few minutes before he began to speak again. Sam noticed that he sounded almost like a scared kid. "What am I supposed to do, Sammy? I keep losing everyone I ever care about. Mom, Marina, you, and now Sarah."
"Wait! Dean, you haven't lost me, I'm right here!"
"Only because Sarah's sick. When she gets better you'll just head back to Stanford and continue to ignore me... us."
Sam glared at his brother. "Now who's being selfish around here! Yeah, dad told me how you convinced Sarah to agree to the surgery, but suicide is just as selfish!"
"Look, I understand how upsetting this is for you, I'm scared too, Dean! Sarah is the last person who deserves this, but we gotta be there for her and pray for her." Dean gave him a look. "Okay, I'll pray for her."
Dean nodded secretly planning on doing the same. It couldn't hurt, right? "I think I'm going to run over to the diner and grab something to eat. You want anything?"
"I'll come with you."
The brothers had just finished eating (in fact Dean was on his second piece of pie) when Dean's cell phone rang. "Yeah," he answered. "Awesome, we'll be right there!"
"Sarah out of surgery?"
"Yeah," Dean replied, throwing some bills onto the table. "She's still out from the anesthesia but he wants to tell us what the doctor said. He sounded pretty optimistic."
Sam grinned. "Lets go then!"
John looked up from the magazine he was reading when the boys entered Sarah's room. Dean inwardly winced at the fact that her head was shaved, but said nothing about it. "How is she?"
"The doctor was able to remove most of the tumor."
"Most?" Sam asked.
John nodded. "While the tumor itself wasn't malignant according to initial testing, the placement of it made it difficult to remove the entire thing. Dr. DeSoto recommends monthly check ups for her as well."
"When will she wake up?" Dean asked, taking her hand.
"She's going to be weak for a while. I've already talked to Pastor Jim and he said he would be happy to take her in and make sure she gets to the doctor."
"And we're just gonna continue hunting?"
"Dean, that's what we do. That's what Sarah's going to expect us to do," John reminded him. "She's not gonna want us hanging around just watching her as she recovers."
Sam chuckled imagining Sarah kicking Dean's ass just for doing that. "No she won't."
"And Sammy, I would like to think that even if you're in college you'll give your siblings the courtesy of a call back if not answering the first call they make," John said.
"Of course, Dad."
A few days later Sarah was being settled at Pastor Jim's home. Of course she told the men in her life that she would be fine, but she all knew they would worry as much as any woman would. "Dad, really! Come on, I'll be fine!"
"Hey, I'm just making sure. You have our cell phone numbers."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yeah, programmed in the same cell phone I've had for years," she told him, waving it around.
Pastor Jim smiled warmly at the scene. It was rare to see these moments between the Winchester family and he enjoyed them even more when they happened under his own roof. He looked over at Sam and Dean, who also wore concerned expressions on their faces, but the two of them wisely said nothing.
"I think Sarah has everything she needs, John," he told his friend.
John nodded, then went over to give her a kiss. "I love you, honey."
"I love you too, daddy." With a pat on her cheek, he smiled and left the room with Jim. She turned to face her brothers, who she could tell without even looking at them that they were chuckling. "You whores!" she cried, throwing a pillow at both of them.
Dean feigned a look of shock. "How can you say such a word under Pastor Jim's roof!"
"Like you've never cussed in this house before," Sam said, shaking his head.
Sarah laughed. "I think lying is just as worse dear brother."
"Whatever," He replied, giving Sarah a hug. "I'll call ya when we get to Denver."
"Be safe, Dean!"
Once he was gone, she accepted Sam's hug. "Don't be a stranger, Sammy."
"I'm sorry for ignoring you guys," he told her. "I guess I was just upset and really didn't think about what I was doing. Besides I met a girl up there, Jess, who I think you'll get along with."
Sam nodded. "Yeah so he's not allowed to know about her until I've officially gotten to know her!"
Dean ducked his head into the room. "If she's nothing like the women you've dated previously, I can't wait to meet her!"
"Later!" Dean called out, ducking the pillow that came flying at him.
"Jess is so screwed!" Sarah said with grin as Sam ran after his brother.
*Author's Note: Just so you know the story of what happened with Dean and the girl named Marina mentioned is being written. What Sam thinks happened was not what really happened. ;)