A/N: Reviews are loved!
Warnings: Here be the warnings…angst, slash, drug use and completely lacking in beta-ing.
"…tumor….meningioma…relatively benign…radiation therapy…."
Dean Smith sat in his office at Sandover, replaying the doctor's words over and over again, wondering how it was possible that he had a brain tumor. According to the neurology clinic, it was likely that Dean had had this tumor for years, slowly growing in the vulnerable grey matter that composed his brain, patiently lying in wait. Beneath the stunned disbelief was a bitter sense of having been betrayed by his own body. All the hours spent at the gym, choosing a salad with no dressing over the succulent temptation of a double bacon cheeseburger, the protein shakes, the cleanses and in the end it had all been for nothing.
"Ellen, please cancel my meetings for the rest of the afternoon," he said into the phone, feeling proud at the steadiness in his voice.
"Um, sure, Dean, but-"
"I know, Ellen, but um, I've got a family emergency."
Ellen probably knew that he was full of shit but she went along with it, probably happy to have a valid reason to give to Zachariah Adler for Dean's absence from one of his oh so important meetings.
After packing up his laptop, Dean grabbed his suit coat from the small closet and locked his office door intent on ignoring the migraine that was beginning to gather steam. Dean did not acknowledge his assistants concerned gaze instead offering her a distracted smile and a wave.
"Have a good night, Ellen, and feel free to take the rest of the afternoon off."
Ellen just nodded, her eyes following his progress through the cubicle maze until his disappeared.
Once inside is ridiculously expensive silver sports car, Dean popped the top of a prescription pill bottle and poured two tablets into his hands. In all his life he'd never been dependent on any kind of pain reliving medication beyond a simple Tylenol and now he was looking at the percodan in his hand like they had become his own personal Jesus. Fuck. Pushing away the troubling thought, he quickly uncapped his ever present bottle of water and swallowed the pills.
Dean wasn't sure what to do now that he'd left the office behind and found himself driving aimlessly around the city streets as the sharp edge of his headache began to numb with the absorption of the narcotic painkillers into his bloodstream. Initially he had wanted to go home and begin planning the next or possibly last few months of his life, organize his appointments, decide how to put his career on hold, and most importantly, how not to let his sister find out about his abrupt decline in health. Now he found himself wanting to put it off, prolong making any life altering decisions or perhaps not making them at all. What did it matter really? The tumor would probably kill him and it wasn't like he had a child to worry about. No it was just him, his sterile IKEA showroom apartment, and his embarrassingly shiny sports car. Of course, there was his baby sister, the last of his family and he felt his chest tighten at the thought of her being the last surviving member of their family. It wasn't fair to her, she had suffered so much when their parents had died in the house fire four years ago, and now she was going to be suffering again. Dean would give anything to spare her that pain, which was why he didn't want to put her through the agony of seeing his eventual downward spiral and found himself thanking the universe that she had found herself a wonderful husband who could help see her through her pain.
"Mr. Smith, I strongly advise against putting off the radiation for even a few days," Dr. Couldwell stated, calling him Mr. Smith even though he had insisted to the man that he preferred being called Dean. The doctor had just given him a practical death sentence and he didn't even have the decency to respect this smallest of requests from his patient. Douche.
"Look, Doc, I've got things that I need to take care of. I have to…" Dean trailed off, knowing on some level that he was just afraid and wanted to put off the cell destroying treatment for just a little while.
"I understand that you have had quite a shock," jeez, ya think, "but the sooner we begin-"
"Are you telling me that if I start the treatment today, that I have a greater chance of living?" Dean interrupted.
The doctor just looked at him, pity warring with frustration in his pale brown eyes.
"Right, so I'll make the appointment for two weeks from today."
The doctor had made one more attempt at protestation but it was a token at best. The fact was that there was just no way of knowing the prognosis. No calculations that could tilt the balance to one side or another.
Dean caught site of a small bar on the corner of Treetop and Vine and impulsively pulled over to the empty spot beside it. Despite the warnings on the side of the medicine bottle strongly advising against drinking alcohol with the medication, Dean couldn't imagine wanting anything more than emptying a bottle of Jameson.
Before exiting the car, Dean pulled out his phone and quickly shot off an emailing, apologizing for missing the meeting and asking if he could please have the rest of the week off to deal with a family issue. After the appropriate amount of typewritten groveling, he pushed send and then turned off his phone deciding that his own company was all he could stand for the evening.
After securing the alarm on his car, Dean walked the few feet to the door and pushed inside, welcoming the cool air and acrid smell of beer that washed over him. Ignoring the lone patron sitting at the bar, Dean slid onto one of the empty stools and signaled to the bartender, a gruff looking middle aged man sporting a slight beer belly and a trucker cap that had seen better days.
The men let out an irritated sigh (had Dean interpreted the open sight too broadly?) and raised a scraggly brow in Dean's direction, "Yeah?"
Customer service clearly not the man's bailiwick, check and double check.
"Jameson, bottle if you wouldn't mind," Dean answered efficiently, assuming that the man wasn't in the mood for extraneous niceties.
If possible the man's brow actually disappeared into the brim of his hat but he kept whatever opinions to himself and pulled the bottle from the shelf behind him.
"Ya want a glass with that or are you gonna just drink it straight from bottle?"
A glass appeared next to the bottle of whiskey without the bartender waiting for a reply, other than to take the credit card Dean had pulled from his wallet and held loosely between his fingers.
With a silent apology to this body for the hangover waiting to happen, he twisted off the top of the bottle and poured himself a hefty portion of the liquor into the glass, raising it in a silent toast to the brain tumor that had brought him to this hole in the wall.
Dean had just tipped the glass to his lips when the heretofore ignored bar patron spoke.
As the whiskey burned a path down his throat, the deep voice burned a trail of warmth straight down his spine.
The whiskey pooled pleasantly in his empty stomach and seemed to spread through his veins, likely in search of the demon narcotic in order to really start the party, as Dean turned to towards the voice, hoping that it was dark enough to cover the flush that stole across his pale cheeks at the sight of the man sitting only a barstool away.
"Not even close, but it's as good an excuse as any I suppose," Dean finally responded, wondering at the whisper of shyness that colored his words. Dean Smith had never been shy a day in his life, it just wasn't a part of his programming, or at least it hadn't been until just this moment.
"Hmmm," the man sounded as he took a drink from his own glass.
Dean couldn't seem to take his eyes off the guy, and was completely mystified by his reaction. He wasn't so completely ignorant of his own physical reactions not to know that he found the other man attractive, gorgeous actually, but this would be the first time in his thirty plus years that he had ever experienced sexual attraction to a member of his own team. It seemed to Dean that this should probably cause him a little discomfort, but for some reason, probably the combination of controlled substance and Irish whiskey, or even possibly the fact that he might be dying, he was just going to roll with it. And seriously, those eyes were just too blue and soul deep to resist.
"I was about to go sit in one of the booths back there and destroy this bottle, any interest in joining me?" Dean asked, surprising himself with such a bold come on. Dean didn't pursue, Dean was pursued and really not even that much these days since he was so career oriented, spending at least sixteen hours a day in his office.
The other man's full lips tilted slightly on one side and his eyes narrowed before nodding at Dean.