Here we go, the last chapter of The Price of Love! I know some of you asked me to try and extend this, but I wanted to finish this today so I could start on a new story without over-loading myself. Besides, I felt that this made one chapter nicely. And I'm pleased to say that this chapter is almost 3,000 words! Yay!
This story was written for SparkieBunny for a request - hope you liked it!
Tissue alert for a certain friend ;) Be warned, there is much sappiness in this chapter.
This chapter wasn't beta'd so all mistakes are my own.
Love can neither be bought or sold, its only price is love.
Dean knew Sam was awake before he so much as twitched. It was an art he'd perfected over the years, just like he always knew when Sam was hurt, even if he lied about it.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean said softly. He leaned forward a bit as he watched Sam struggle to open his eyes while Dean mentally congratulated himself on successfully recognizing Sam's awareness.
Before, after Sam had first awoke, Sam had fallen back asleep quite quickly. So quickly in fact that he wasn't even awake when the nurse Dean had called for came. Funny how Sam could still be so tired even though during the last few days he'd done nothing but lay on a bed. The nurse hadn't been able to say anything for certain yet, but based on how alert and focused Sam had seemed before, she concluded it was likely that Sam would recover without any permanent damage. Music to Dean's ears.
John hadn't come back yet, but Dean wasn't surprised. John didn't know Sam was awake and he was no doubt intentionally lingering to give Dean some time to himself.
Sam opened his eyes and took a minute to focus before flinching back slightly.
"Jeez, Dean, personal space!" Dean could tell he was trying to sound indignant but failed spectacularly do to the roughness in his voice.
Dean leaned over and snagged the cup of ice chips from the side table and grabbed a spoonful. Sam seemed to stare at it for a second as if wondering how it had got there. Then he shakily raised a hand and took the spoon for himself. Dean could plainly see the relief in his eyes that the cool liquid provided. But he knew his brother and he knew Sam was frustrated with himself for shaking.
"Sam, we need to talk," Dean said seriously. That didn't sound ominous at all, Dean mentally berated himself. Way to scare Sam away. Sam looked slightly caught off guard and Dean couldn't blame him. For serious conversations Dean normally started with some meaningless chat then moved onto what the real topic was.
" 'bout what?" Sam asked. He knew perfectly well what, Dean knew that, he just wanted to stall. Dean sighed. He couldn't blame Sam for being hesitant, Dean had been an awful brother and Dean wouldn't blame Sam if he never spoke to his sibling ever again.
"You know what," Dean said lightly.
Dean's jaw dropped.
Sam was in the hospital because of Dean and he was apologizing? He'd pushed Dean out of harm's way and had been hit by a car and yet the first words out of his mouth were that he was sorry? Just how much did he value Dean?
"No, I'm sorry," Dean said. It wasn't so hard to say. It wasn't hard at all, actually. Because Sam deserved an apology and that was enough for Dean to drop the never-apologizing badass cover.
"But I…and the dog…I should have checked more…shouldn't have made such a rookie mistake…"
"Sam!" Dean said, shock written all over his face. Sam seriously thought he was still mad about that? After everything Dean had no right to be even slightly mad about anything! Let alone something as stupidly trivial as that!
"That…why…you…that wasn't your fault, Sam, it was just a mistake that anyone could have made. Even me. That's one of the reasons I'm apologizing – let me finish," he said as well as raising his hand when Sam looked like he was going to interrupt. "I was a total ass to you for no reason. I shouldn't have jumped on you like that. And more importantly, I should have just looked both ways. I was so frustrated and if I hadn't let it get to me like that…you…"
His heart broke at the sight of Sam looking at him, almost shyly, brown eyes flickering. There was such adoration in his gaze it almost scared Dean. What had he done to deserve such devotion?
Sam seemed to read his mind because he immediately supplied the answer.
"Dean," Sam said softly. "you're my brother. You can yell at me all you want but you're stuck with me," Sam said with a smile on his face. "Someday you're going to realize that every protective, possessive, brotherly feeling you have for me – they're all mutual. I would die for you same as you would for me. You're my brother, Dean. My only brother and I don't plan on letting you go anytime soon."
"Sammy, I thought you were d-dead…it was all my fault…"
"That's what I'm trying to say, Dean. It wasn't your fault. Did you know that car was coming but still go anyway, knowing I would save you?" Dean shook his head and started to protest. "No, Dean, listen. I chose to save you because you're my brother. Just like you would have done if the situation was reversed. Dean, you and I are a team. In hunting and just in life. It's not Sam and Dean, it's SamandDean together, as one. You know what I learned when I went away to college? We can't be separated for long. I thought about you every day. I picked up the phone to call you every day. And the only thing that stopped me was the thought that maybe you wouldn't want me to call. And if you were better off without me at that point, then so be it. Because, to me, that pain from missing you was worth it if you were happy…"
"Sam, I could never be happy-"
"I know that now. I knew that the minute you came through the window into my living room. But before, I just wasn't sure."
"Sam I went to call you every day while you were gone but I didn't think you wanted to hear it. I know now that you weren't running away from us, you were running away from hunting. And I'm sorry we made it an all or nothing deal. You offered to try and hunt on weekends or at least keep in contact, but Dad thought…"
"But really, Dad shouldn't be the one to decide where we stand with each other. I should have spoken up that night. Told you I was proud-"
"You were?" Sam asked with disbelief written all over his face.
"Sure, Sammy, I mean how many people get a full ride to Stanford? Let alone get a full ride while hunting. Really, when it comes down to it, it's like you said. You're my Sammy and I'm your Dean and that's just how it is. No one - not all the demons in hell, not old yellow eyes himself, not even Dad – are going to change that." Dean suddenly changed from serious to humorous as a huge grin slid onto his face. "Even if one of us temporarily loses their head and goes running in front of cars," Dean said while leaning forward to mess up Sam's hair.
"Dean!" Sam whined, though he had a smile on his face.
"Well now that that incredibly sappy moment is over, are you ready for me to go get Papa Bear?"
"Course Sammy. He had to come to sign you out of this hellhole!" Dean laughed. "But seriously, man, Dad wants to get some stuff off his chest. You know, clear the air between you two."
Sam groaned jokingly and nodded. Dean got up, but stopped at the door. He threw his hand over his heart and dramatically said, "Good luck, my dearest comrade," before sweeping out the door while pretending to cry.
Sam just shook his head. That was his brother for you.
Sam suddenly felt nervous. What would John have to say? It'd been years since they'd talked and even then it was more yelling than anything. Was John mad that because of Sam he'd had to leave whatever hunt he was doing and come all the way done there? Did he come just to make sure Dean was okay? After all, Sam had practically been disowned during that mother-of-all-fights argument years ago.
The door creaked open and John stepped in. He looked almost as nervous as Sam. Odd, the Winchester patriarch was never nervous. Winchester's in general were never nervous, or at least never showed it.
John shuffled in and sat down in the chair next to Sam.
"How are you?" he said awkwardly. All of a sudden, Sam was hit with the realization that he hadn't actually had a one-on-one conversation with his father since he was thirteen or so.
"Fine," Sam said simply, forcing all emotion out of his voice and off his face. If his dad actually had something serious to say, Sam wasn't going to throw him any lines. John would have to suck it up and just say what he wanted to say, no cop-outs.
"That's good," John said while avoiding Sam's eyes.
"Yeah," Sam said. Sam might just have to throw his Dad a lifeline just stop the awkwardness.
"Sam-" They both said at the same time.
"You first," Sam said quickly.
"Well…um…I wanted to apologize to you…" John said formally. "I was shocked mostly…not that that's any kind of excuse," he added quickly.
Sam sighed. This was happening again. Every time John tried to say something serious, he would flounder around until Sam took pity on him and just let him off the hook.
"Don't worry about it," Sam said.
"No, Sam, I need to say this." For the first time in the entire conversation, Sam looked up to meet John's eyes which were finally fastened on him.
Sam was completely floor by the amount of emotion pouring off his usually stoic father.
"Sam…you were – and still are – so different from Dean," Sam immediately raised his mental walls. If John just wanted to compare him to Dean so more and point out how he wasn't a good little soldier like Dean, Sam was going to stop the conversation and demand John get out. He couldn't handle that now. His brain was too fuzzy with drugs and sleep to get into a fight.
John must have recognized Sam steeling himself for battle because he immediately said , "Just hear me out." Sam supposed he could give his father that much.
"Dean…Dean was the easy one. Dean would have eaten dirt if I told him to. You, you had to fight me on everything. You're like a bull dog, once you sink your teeth in you just don't let go. You're stubborn, Sam, and honestly that reminds me of myself at your age."
"Really?" Sam asked.
"Yeah. And I think that's one of the reasons we fight to much. We're both much too stubborn to ever give in. The problem is we both can't win every time. Sam, you are so smart," John said earnestly. Sam felt a bubble of happiness rise in him then felt like a child for feeling that way. He wasn't a ten year old constantly craving Daddy's praise. "You're inquisitive too. And that plus stubborn isn't a great combination. You can't take things at face value, you always have to dig deeper. And I think that's where we really clashed. You always want to know why. But a soldier doesn't question commands, he just does-"
"But I'm wasn't a soldier-"
"And I realize that now. I just wanted to keep you safe, to make sure you could defend yourself if you had to. And somewhere along the way, I pushed it too far. But back to my point about you needing to know why. Your questions used to bug the hell out of me. I thought you were just trying to be difficult, but I realize now you were just honestly curious. Sam, sometimes in hunting, it's really just a matter of doing it. You don't always have time to sit and think things through. But, having said that, sometimes, you'll say something that will make me stop and think and I'd find something I wouldn't have seen before, another way of doing something that might just save my ass down the road.
"You and Dean make such a great team because of your differences. You're both great hunters, but Dean excels more in the physical part and you excel more in the technical stuff like research. It makes you work together better because both are of equal value. We could have been a good hunting team the same as you and Dean, but both of us were too stubborn to admit the other part was just as important.
"I may be a good hunter, Sam, but I have still done some really stupid stuff. The stupidest one being letting you walk out on me thinking I didn't give a damn about you. Because, Sam, first and foremost you are my son and even though I know I never say it, I do love you."
Sam just stared at him, mouth hanging slightly agape, tears welling up in his eyes, completely stunned. His dad had never shown that much emotion nor said that much to Sam in one conversation. It was strange, like meeting someone you thought you knew all over again.
"So, forgive your old man?" John asked. Sam blinked away a few tears before nodding. In a rare display of love, John leaned forward and gave Sam a hug. It was a little awkward as Sam was lying down and all, but the meaning was still there.
"I see hugging!" Dean called in a childish voice from the doorway. Sam and John broke apart, both blushing slightly, while Dean came in and plopped down on the side of the bed.
"Do you want a hug, Dean?" John asked in a mocking voice.
"Oh, father," Dean said while putting a hand over his heart and pretending to blink away tears. Sam knew the joking was most likely just for his benefit, but he enjoyed it anyway. John and Dean both burst out laughing as well. It felt good, laughing with his family. It'd been so long since they'd all just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.
At the same time it was sad. The only time they ever really seemed to reveal their true feelings was when one of them was hurt. Why was that? It didn't make them any less tough to have emotions, it only made them human. And why was laughing okay when crying wasn't? Weren't they both just an outward expression of emotion? Yet crying was perceived as weak.
"Sam?" Dean asked having apparently picked up on Sam's increasingly upset thoughts.
"It's silly, really, that the only time we ever really let each other know what we're feeling is when one of us is hurt. I mean when did that whole thing start?"
"You know, I don't remember. Somewhere along the way, emotion just became something you kept to yourself," John said, looking troubled.
"I don't know. Too be honest, it felt kind of nice to get all that stuff off my chest," John said.
"Woah, don't be going all fruity on me now, Dad!" Dean cried jokingly.
"Shut up," John growled, though he was still smiling.
"I just mean that it wouldn't kill us to talk sometimes about major things that are bothering us," Sam said.
"Agreed," John and Dean both said at the same time. Sam smiled.
For the first time in a long time, everything was okay.
"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching."
Thank you so much to everyone who has followed this story. I was blown away by the response this story got in review, favorites and alerts.
Reviews rock my salt! (hint hint)