Just a few notes:
This is my first ever (published) 'fanfiction', so enjoy. It IS written like a novel, so there will be several dynamic characters, meaning there will be scenes with more character interaction than fighting monsters and what not. However, I'll try and throw in a memory every chapter or so of the little Winchester's training or being cute. Anyway, enjoy, read, review, and so on!
Disclaimer: Sam, Dean, and John Winchester do not belong to me. The title of the story is a play on Emily Dickinson's 'Because I Could Not Stop For Death'. There. =)
Canton, OH. Thirteen years ago.
It was the crying that woke him.
His green eyes flew open in the darkness, but unlike most boys his age woken in the middle of the night, Dean Winchester wasted no time being disoriented, trying to figure out what had disturbed his slumber. At fourteen years old, Dean knew that a moment's hesitation—especially in the dark—could well be the difference between life and death.
But this surprise alarm held no immediate danger in it. It was not a scream, or a growl. There was no howl in the wind, no bump in the night. This alarm was quiet, stifled by fear and sadness. This was a quiet cry, a sniffle, a whimper in the darkness.
This was his six-year-old sister Lily.
Again, Dean distinguished himself from others his age. He didn't roll over and go back to sleep. He didn't pull his pillow over his head and grumble about her immaturity. He didn't slam his bedroom door shut or shout down the hall for her to be quiet. He did sigh heavily as he sat up, yawning, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He did tiptoe as quietly past his sleeping younger brother as he could. He did crack open the door and peer down the hallway of their rented house to intercept his little sister just before she reached her own room, a converted laundry room which gave her 'privacy'.
"Lil, com'ere. You okay?"
The dark haired child jumped, not having heard Dean's approach, and whirled around to look at him as he crouched next to her. He saw fear flash to confusion, then finally reluctant, but stubborn, resolution. She blinked her tears away and sniffed before nodding.
"Yes, Dean, I'm okay. I didn't mean to wake you up. I'm sorry."
Dean raised an eyebrow. She wouldn't look at him, but it was clear she was still upset, and lying about it. He knelt in front of her so their eyes were at the same level. They had the same eyes, everyone said. Same color, same shape. But Lily's were so big, it was impossible not to think she was a few years younger than the six years her birth certificate claimed.
"You sure, Lil? You're shaking. What happened?"
Lily's breath hitched, but she still refused to look up at him. "N-no," she whispered, her voice now drenched in barely withheld tears. "I mean yes. I'm okay. Nothing happened."
"Daddy told me not to wake you up. He said you were real tired because you helped him fix a lots of cars today."
Dean shut his eyes and let out a small huff or irritation. It was true enough—he was tired, but it wasn't due to fixing cars. Not that he'd tell his sister that. Not yet. Not ever, if he could help it. He'd made the mistake of telling Sammy two years ago, and he'd never quite gotten over that guilt. But it wasn't the lie that bothered him. It was that she'd obviously gone to her father for comfort, and he'd sent her away, with instructions not to wake her brothers. John Winchester was training little Lily to be a soldier, too, but in a different way.
Dean opened his eyes his eyes with a resigned sigh and drew his sister toward him. With his other hand he smiled tiredly and brushed her hair out of her eyes.
"Don't worry, Lil. I'm okay. I—" He stopped and frowned through the darkness. "Lil? Are you feeling okay? You're a little warm…"
Lily hesitated visibly, then, in a whisper so low, Dean just barely caught it, she said, "I threw up."
Dean ground his teeth together. "Did you tell Dad you're sick?"
She nodded. "He said to put my blanket in the laundry basket and go back to sleep."
"Did he give you anything?"
"He said I should sleep it off…" There was another pause as Dean struggled to maintain his annoyance at his father's neglect. Independent or not, a sick six-year-old wasn't just going to magically recover from a fever. He started to say something, but Lily interrupted.
"Mm?" He was still distracted by his own anger.
"I want to go to bed now. I don't f-feel good. And I'm cold."
"I know, Lil. C'mon. Why don't you come spend the night with Sammy and me?"
"But Daddy said—"
"I know what he said," Dean replied a little too sharply. "It'll be fine. I want you to stay with us for tonight, okay?"
She hesitated again, then nodded, fresh tears streaming down her cheeks. Dean winced, knowing then that she probably felt worse than she let on. Because Dad scared her into silence, he thought drily.
Sam was sitting up in bed when Dean carried Lily into their room. The ten-year-old flicked on the bedside lamp and looked back and forth between the faces of his brother and sister, one set in a grim mask, the other flushed and tear stained. Sam frowned.
"Dean? What's going on?" He squinted at Lily. "Is she okay?"
"Lily's sick," Dean said shortly, setting the now shivering girl on his bed. Still obviously upset by her interaction with their father, she scrambled up and followed after him as he retreated to the door. "No, Lil. Lay down. Get under the covers. I'll be right back."
"But if Daddy sees you, he'll know I woke you up, and—"
"It'll be fine. I'll tell him—"
"Dean, no! You can't!"
Sam was up then, reading the short glance his older brother had shot him. He knew what their father could be like, and he knew how to read his siblings. He shuffled out of his own bed and sat with Lily on Dean's, wrapping his arms around her.
"Shhh," he soothed. "It's okay, Lily. Dean'll be quiet. You just worry about getting back to sleep, okay? You sleepy?"
The girl's cries quieted slowly as her weariness, as much as her illness, forced her eyelids shut. Head leaning against Sam's chest, she curled up, shaking, tiny fingers wrapped around Sam's skinny arms. Both boys waited until the fall and rise of her chest became slow and even, and her grip on her brother's biceps went slack. Then Sam looked up and said, "Dean, she's really hot. Don't you think we should tell Dad?"
Dean shook his head. "She did. He sent her back to strip her sheets and go to bed. She was sick," he added, at Sam's questioning look. "Keep an eye on her for a second. I'm gonna go change her sheets and grab a few extra blankets and some Tylenol or something. Try and get her under the covers. She's shaking pretty good."
Sam nodded and complied without asking questions. He knew, perhaps better than Dean did, what it was like to be forced into a corner by his father. A ten-year-old boy was one thing…but a six-year-old girl, especially when she was sick?
Sam sighed and shifted to pull Dean's bed linens up around Lily's shoulders. She felt like a furnace, but her shaking didn't lessen until her pulled her a little closer.
"Oh, Lil," he whispered to the sleeping girl. "I'm sorry he's like that with you. Dad…he still loves you, he just…just…" Sam trailed off. Just what? What could he say that he actually believed?
He still hadn't found an answer when Dean returned with another blanket and Lily's stuffed pink-and-green puppy, Ruff. It had been a gift from a mother she couldn't remember, and he knew she treasured it.
"How's she doing?" Dean grunted, going to change into something dry.
"Sleep," Sam mumbled, half asleep himself.
"I'll take her. Go to bed, Sammy. Thanks."
"But Dean, you and Dad—"
"Don't worry about it. Go to sleep."
Sam hesitated, then complied, carefully untangling himself from Lily's loose grip to settle into his own bed. Dean climbed up next to his sister, wrapping the second blanket around her before settling her into his chest for the night. She stirred slightly when Sam moved, but she was too exhausted to truly wake. For the first time, it occurred to Dean she might have been sick longer than he'd thought.
"She should drink some water," Sam whispered quietly, swaying on his feet as sleep threatened to drag him under again.
"I'll wake her up in a little bit. Let her sleep for now. She's tired." Dean squinted at his brother through the dark. "So are you. Get to bed, Sam."
Sam nodded sleepily, then grabbed Ruff from his nightstand where Dean had set it, and placed it lovingly next to Lily's head before climbing into his own bed again.
Dean smiled, looking just as tired. "Thanks, Sammy. You did good."
"You're not gonna sleep tonight, are you, Dean? Even though you had that hunt…" Sam's words were muffled by his pillow, but they both knew it wasn't really a question.
"You know how she gets," Dean answered evasively.
There was a long silence, and for a second, Dean thought Sam had gone back to sleep. Then, just as Dean had begun nodding off unintentionally, Sam spoke up.
"Why does he treat her like that, Dean?"
Dean didn't answer right away. Why did he treat any of them like that? They were children, not soldiers. They deserved a house, not a rented shack, which was even a step up from the new motel every other week. They deserved friends, and a parent who cared. But Dean had learned long ago you didn't always get what you deserved.
"Go to sleep, Sammy. Go to sleep."
"I know. I'll wake you up if she gets worse. Goodnight, Sammy."
"'Night, Dean… 'Night, Lily."
Hanover, NH. Present day.
"Dammit, I know!" Lily grunted, pushing away from her flimsy school desk in frustration. Her alarm clock had warned her for the fourth time in thirty minutes that she was supposed to be up to go to crew practice.
Problem was, of course, she was already up. And if the searing red LED numbers on the clock her father had gotten her for graduation—the only sign, and a ten dollar sign at that, he'd even remembered—were anything to go by, she had been for the last thirty-six hours. As a second year pre-med student at Dartmouth University, 5 AM bedtimes were far from abnormal for the nineteen-year-old. But that knowledge certainly didn't improve Lily Williams' mood.
With another frustrated grunt, she reached over and slapped the offending alarm clock into silence. "Shut up, bitch," she muttered without thinking. An answering groan behind her told her that her roommate, Amber, had also suffered the consequences of Lily's sour temper.
"Sorry, Bersey," she whispered drily. Amber mumbled and answer, shifted in her bed, and was snoring again two minutes later. Lily smirked, sighed, and shuffled to their shared mirror, carefully avoiding the numerous hazards, including book bags, books, and crumpled clothing, leering at her through the dark.
At nineteen-and-a-half years old, Lily wasn't…small, exactly. After all, she'd been doing crew now for fives years, and her upbringing hadn't exactly lent itself to a sedentary lifestyle. She was well built, muscular, for a girl, anyway, and tan from her hours in the sun. When schoolwork got to be too much, her favorite thing to do was go running by the lake her team usually practiced. Lily loved the outdoors, despite knowing 'what was out there', as her father liked to say, and everything about her physical appearance reflected the fact, from her browned skin, to the freckles spread over the bridge of her nose and the high cheeks bones she'd inherited from her mother.
Still. As a child, she'd often been teased for not looking her age. It wasn't her fault entirely. For some reason she'd never been sure of (the same unidentified reason that had prompted her into pursuing biology; that, and the premature death of the mother she'd never known), she was a little on the 'petite' side, her doctors had always said. Proportionally, she was alright. In fact, thanks to crew, she was probably a little bigger—more well muscled, anyway—than the average girl. But her height and weight had just never met the standard. Her abnormally large green eyes didn't help, either. Lily had always felt, even now, with twenty looming only months away, that she looked more like a ten year old at five feet tall, than a twenty year old with a penchant for fighting.
With yet another exasperated sigh, Lily brushed her thick, dark brown curly waves into a ponytail. As usual, her curled bangs fell into her green eyes, brushing her eyebrows and tickling her eyelashes. She didn't bother to push them back, instead securing them in place with a haphazard red bandana. She knew her hairstyle probably didn't help her appear older, but she had a good reason for keeping her ten-year-old bangs.
Hair manageable for the moment, it took her only a few minutes to change; she'd shower and brush her teeth when she returned to her room with the rising sun in about two hours. Then she'd skip breakfast to finish the paper she'd been working on all night. What fun.
Lily yawned as she grabbed her sports bag and jogged from her room all the way to the gym. It wasn't easy, she supposed, the college life. Hell, it was the life of a pre-med, Ivy League athlete. But it was the life she'd chosen, and she loved it. Anything was better than life at home. That life was the life she'd left behind when she'd graduated high school. It was the life she'd cut herself off from when she'd legally changed her last name at eighteen. That life was far away seeking darkness in childhood nightmares.
That life was the life of a Winchester, and she wanted nothing to do with it.