Drawing A Blank
A/N: Sorry this took a wee while. I planned to have it up sooner but then work and all those other things that manage to interrupt writing got in the way.
Thanks everyone for your wonderful reviews!
When he finally came, he wasn't what Gloria was expecting. If she was honest she'd almost given up expecting anyone to come.
When she did, however, she pictured worried parents, or perhaps some friends from school. She certainly never imagined the frazzled young man that stomped into the hospital that day.
He was one of those 'tough guy' types, clad in a battered leather jacket, hair bordering on military crew cut. One of his arms was in a cast and he had the green and yellow remnants of bruises on his face.
Gloria probably would have passed him by without a second thought – she was on her lunch break and on her way to see the young John Doe - but she was close enough to hear his frantic words to the receptionist.
"…told me downstairs that someone here matched his description. He's tall, got kinda long brown hair, brown eyes. He's 23. Names Sam…"
'Sam,' Gloria thought as she moved towards the man. It seemed to fit.
"Do you have a photo?" she asked, startling the newcomer.
He stared at her for a moment as if processing her words, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. He fumbled with it for a moment before handing over a battered photograph.
"It's a bit old," he stumbled over his words, desperate hope crushed into his tone, "But he still looks the same. He's just-"
"That's him," Gloria nodded. One look at the photo and, old or not, she immediately picked out the dark hair, hazel eyes.
The man in front of her seemed to sag, "He's here? You're sure? Is he okay?"
Gloria held out a hand to stop the tumbling flow of questions, "Are you a relative?"
"I'm his brother," the man said, and he said it with such a possessive tone of affection that Gloria didn't doubt him for a second.
"I'll take you to his room," she said, carefully biting back the 'where have you been?' that was on the tip of her tongue. "What's your name?"
The man cleared his throat, "Dean."
A glance at him had Gloria softening, despite her attempt at righteous anger over Dean's unexplained absence. He looked ill with worry, fear and relief warring in his features.
"You play poker," she offered as she led him down the white corridors. They really needed to get some painters in, add some colour to the place. It depressed her and she only worked there. She could imagine how it made the patients feel.
"Yeah," Dean looked confused, "What…"
"Sam told me. He's been teaching me how to play. I didn't know his name before now."
Dean's brow furrowed further. "How could you not know his name?"
Gloria stopped. They were only a few doors away from the boy - Sam's - room now. She'd have to explain.
She turned to Dean, thinking her words through carefully, "When your brother was brought in he had a pretty serious head injury. We think he was mugged. He had a fracture to his skull and was hemorrhaging. That means-"
"I know what that means." Dean's face had leached of colour and he brought a hand – the one not in the cast - up to steady himself on the wall. His mouth moved silently for a moment before he managed to form words. "How… how bad…?"
"He's okay," Gloria assured quickly, "The surgery went well. It's just…"
"What?" Dean looked like he was bracing himself.
"Its called traumatic amnesia," Gloria took the plunge, "He's fine. His brain's fine. He's just… a little mixed up."
Dean frowned, "What, like, he can't remember what happened?"
"I mean, he doesn't remember anything." Gloria said as gently as she could, although there was no gentle way to break that kind of news, "I didn't know his name because he doesn't remember it. He mentioned that he had a brother who played poker and he speaks Latin, but that's about all we got." She decided not to mention the notebook.
Dean's frown deepened, "Amnesia… doesn't that only happen on crappy soap operas?"
Gloria smiled sympathetically, "Do you want to see him now? I know it's a lot to take in. If you need some time-"
"No." The force in his tone surprised Gloria, "I need to see my brother."
She nodded and led the rest of the way to Sam's door. She knocked gently and pushed it open, Dean right behind her.
Sam was asleep, curled on his side, head tilted so that the shaved patch of hair and the stitches beneath the stubbled re-growth was visible. Gloria saw Dean eye the heart monitor, take in the various pieces of equipment at the bedside, before stepping closer and hovering there, as if unsure of what to do next.
Gloria took charge, walking over to Sam and bending down in front of him. She placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, honey?" she murmured softly, "Time to wake up. You have a visitor."
Sleep-dulled hazel eyes blinked open slowly. "I don't get visitors," Sam mumbled drowsily.
"Well, you got one now. It's your brother."
Gloria didn't hear him come up, but suddenly Dean was at her side, peering down at Sam. Gloria stepped back to give them some room. In turn, Sam gazed up at Dean, still vague from the sudden pull from sleep and the pain meds that Gloria knew were the culprit behind his afternoon nap.
Dean crouched down a bit lower, "Hey, Sammy. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner, I…"
Sam blinked. Something unidentifiable flickered in his eyes, then they widened in surprise. "Dean."
It wasn't a question, more a statement. Sam tried to sit up but the drugs made his movements sluggish and Dean placed a hand on his shoulder to still him.
For the longest moment, Gloria observed as the two young men stared at each other. Finally, Sam breathed out a sigh.
"Where the hell have you been?"
Gloria supposed that it wasn't that odd that seeing someone familiar had jolted Sam's memories back into place, and as she got to know Dean a little better, she realized that, despite her first observations, he was exactly the type of person she'd expected.
It was obvious the brothers were close. Their love for each other came out in insults and teasing and carefully masked worry. They were inseparable; even when Sam was asleep she could be sure to find Dean sitting at his bedside like a guard dog, scrutinizing any nurse or doctor who dared come near his brother. Gloria wanted to ask where he'd been for nearly three weeks while his brother recovered from surgery, but couldn't seem to find the right time for what must've been the source of a decent helping of guilt.
So Gloria was surprised when she entered Sam's room, exactly three weeks and four days after her mysterious patient had been admitted, and Dean was no where to be seen. Sam was sitting cross-legged on the bed, his notebook in his lap.
"Must be interesting, reading that now you have your memories back," Gloria observed lightly.
Sam closed the book.
"Mm," he agreed, seeming slightly disturbed by his own work. He shook it off quickly however - quicker than Gloria had after seeing those drawings – and gave her his full attention, "Finished for the day?"
Gloria nodded; kid must know her schedule by heart by now, "All done today. Just came to say bye. Where's that brother of yours?"
Sam shrugged, "Sorting out some stuff. He'll be back soon."
Gloria looked over his chart out of habit. "You're doing really well, Sam."
Sam flashed her a smile, "Dean tells me I'm remembering everything perfectly."
"That's great. I said you would, didn't I?"
Sam nodded, chewing on his lip a little, as if pondering what to say, his gaze drawn inward, before looking back up at her. "I just… wanted to say thanks. You've been so nice to me."
Gloria felt herself blush, "I was just doing my job."
Sam quirked a knowing smile, "You must be the best nurse in the world then."
Her blush was growing, and she couldn't seem to find anything to say. She was rescued when Sam held out his arms and she moved forward, gratefully embracing the boy in front of her.
"I'll remember you," he said.
Gloria smiled, "You better."
She was almost out the door when a thought occurred to her and made her turn back.
"Sam," she started hesitantly, "That writing in your book… what does it mean?"
Sam's expression changed minutely. He looked as if he was trying to decide what to tell her. Finally, he met her gaze.
"They're exorcisms," he said seriously, and Gloria believed him.
The next day he was gone. Sam and his rough-around-the-edges brother.
Gloria asked around but no one had seen them leave. The bed was made and the room seemed to show no sign that anyone had ever been there.
Belatedly, Gloria realized that the hug had been goodbye, and she couldn't help feeling a little hurt that Sam had left without telling her. Staring down at the empty bed, she told herself sternly that she was being ridiculous. She barely knew the boy. She had found out that he was 23, that his parents were dead, and yes, he had been to college although he didn't seem to want to talk about it for some reason. She knew only the barest hints of the person he was.
But she had known him when he didn't know himself, and she felt like that had been important. At least, important enough for him to not simply vanish without a trace in the middle of the night.
Or maybe… with a trace.
Gloria leant forward, trying to calm her suddenly excited heart, and tugged on the small bit of paper poking out from under the pillow. It was an envelope, with a single word written on it.
Gloria looked over her shoulder surreptitiously, as if someone might be watching her, but she still had the room to herself. She opened the envelope carefully.
It was a card. A business card, with the name Sam and a phone number printed on it, and when she flipped it over there was a simple message.
If you ever need help.
Gloria smiled and tucked the card into her pocket, vowing to keep it safe, in case she ever did.
A/N: Okay, I have to apologize down here. I know some of you wanted to find out exactly what happened to Sam and what took Dean so long, but I felt that those were things that Sam wouldn't divulge to Gloria, who is still basically a stranger no matter how close they had grown. So, Gloria doesn't know, therefore we don't know. I don't even know (but I do know that that's a bit of a cop-out. Sorry, just needed some Sam-whumpage. Hope you enjoyed anyway!)