This was written for the commentfic meme at LJ's spn_het_love community. The prompt I chose was to write Sam/Lisa Braeden (the mother of Ben, Dean's maybe-son from 3.02 "The Kids Are Alright") during the time when Dean was dead and Sam thought there was no way to bring him back. So. Here you go. Sadfic ahead.

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playing with conditionals

(future less vivid)

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She's alone when Sam Winchester shows up, as big and hollow as the doorway he's hunched in. She knows when she sees him exactly what he's gonna tell her. She brings him in, sits him down at the kitchen table, and pulls a beer out of the back of the fridge. Then she calls Sherri and asks if Ben could maybe just spend the night with Connor tonight, since he's been begging for it for a while now.

He hasn't even opened his beer by the time she sits down across from him. He's just rolling it in his hands, making his palms slick with condensation.

"So," she says, just to say something.

"Dean's dead," he blurts, like the words have been locked behind his teeth and all they needed to come rushing out was for him to open his mouth even a little. He looks shocked, and she knows now that it's still a new idea for him.

She wants to say something soothing, like "oh honey" or "it'll be okay," but she doesn't. Instead she gently takes his beer from him, twists off the top, and hands it back. He downs three quarters of it in one go, and the breath he takes after sounds dangerously like a sob.

"I mean, I know you said Ben..." he says, looking anywhere but at her. "But I know, I mean. I'd lie, if I were you. Strange guy, scary shit going down. I'd lie about it. But even if you didn't, I know how Dean felt about...he, uh, he really liked you and Ben. And if he actually was--well. I'd want to know. If I was you."

She steeples her hands together and presses them against her mouth. Dean had been a rebound, and she's never known. Never wanted to know. It just wasn't that important to her. And why saddle the guy with that? Especially when he'd dedicated his life to something she'd never let Ben be a part of? Still, it's a hard thing to hear. Because of the if.

But Sam is folded in half over the table, the heels of his palms pressed deep into his eyes, breathing deep and unsteady. She reaches out, runs her fingers over one of his wrists. He jerks suddenly, expression raw and open.

She's always had a thing for taking in strays.

He's violent where Dean was smooth, and she's a little sorry she's not as flexible as she used to be. He won't look at her, keeps his eyes tightly closed even as he pins her up against the wall. Between gasps, she takes this opportunity to stare at him. His face tells her that this is making him feel awful, and she gets the impression that he looks like this a lot. She can smell the traces of someone else in the hollow places of his throat, someone hot and acrid and alien.

He curls away from her on the bed when they're done, shaking a little. She thinks about touching him and decides against it. Some time later, after it's been dark a while, he gets up and starts collecting his things. Light spills in from the hallway onto his back and thighs, but she can't see his face.

"You don't have to go yet if you don't want to," she says, even though she knows Ben is coming home in the morning and that'll bring up a whole host of uncomfortable questions.

He pauses for a long moment, then bends to scoop up his shirt. "I'm sorry," he says, and then he leaves.

She lies silent and still until she hears the front door shut and an engine start and fade. Then she gets up to change the sheets and straighten the house.

In the shower later, she makes a mental note to stop at CVS for some Plan B before she picks up Ben. She tells herself that at least there are some lessons she has learned.