Title: And All She Saw Was Love
Author: Still Waters
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Just playing, with love and respect to those who brought these characters to life.
Summary: A lot could happen in a week. God had created the whole world. And she had seen Dean Winchester's destroyed.
Notes: Set during season seven, this story came out of nowhere, written in an unplanned, emotionally exhausting marathon at a bookstore café. When I sat down, the world faded out, and the only thing that existed was this tale, coming through my hands in four nonstop hours of writing. I truly hope I did the characters and emotions justice. Thank you for reading.
The day Sam Winchester was admitted to Angie's unit, the resident cat hopped up on the bed, nuzzled Sam's left hand and curled up on top of it.
Angie let him lie as long as she could, checking vitals, PEG tube patency, and sluggish to nonexistent reflexes. She skimmed the spotty H&P again – several pages of medical jargon basically amounting to "we have no idea why this twenty-nine year old had a psychotic break and is now pretty much brain dead." Noting the chest tattoo and scattered scars on her skin assessment, she stretched the time as long as she could before having to turn Sam over to check for pressure ulcers.
"C'mon kiddo, some of us have to work," she chided the cat softly, dislodging him from Sam's hand and depositing him on the floor. She turned Sam's hands, adding the ugly scar on the left to her notes. As she looked back up, the silent pillar of shock standing rigidly across the bed suddenly stepped forward, lethal grace a startling juxtaposition to the gentleness of the hands that pulled Sam toward him and onto one side so she could finish her assessment.
"Thank you," Angie said with soft surprise. "You didn't have to…."
Dean Winchester met her eyes for the first time since Sam had been brought in, a flash of what must have once been a force of a personality surging into a split-second, unspoken, but crystal clear response: The hell I didn't.
Angie watched Dean's calloused thumb rub Sam's skin absently as she worked; an unconscious, intimate comfort. When she finished, he carefully rolled Sam onto his back again, tucking the blankets protectively around the shell of his brother. The rest of Angie's standard welcome speech died on her lips as Sam's eyes rolled open – half-lidded, vacant hazel that slid uselessly to his right, to the presence of the brother he no longer knew.
Dean dropped a hand to squeeze Sam's forearm and collapsed into the bedside chair. As he went down, Angie caught a fleeting glimpse of those startlingly green eyes before they shuttered with his bowed head, and wondered how they could be so filled with grief, yet more vacant than his brain-damaged brother's at the same time.
And they said Sam was the broken one.
Angie hoped the compassion overrode the almost laughable reminder for Dean to call them if he needed anything. She had just met him, but she already knew that the only thing Dean would ever want or need was lying empty under his hands; the one thing none of them could bring back.
Angie quietly headed for the sink by the door. As she washed her hands, she thought she heard a cracked, "Sammy", a voice as sandpaper rough as the stubbled face. But she couldn't be sure. As the water stopped with a dull rattle of old pipes, silence settled over the room again like a funeral pall….and it was easy to believe she had only imagined it, that Dean had no voice left; the only reason he ever had to speak lying in a living death in front of him.
Angie stepped over the threshold into the hall and bit back a curse as she nearly tripped over the cat. She swore she saw a flash of something in his eyes, an almost indignant irritation at having been displaced; yet he didn't go back in when Angie gestured toward the bed.
But every time she passed Sam's room that shift, the cat was posted right outside the door.
Three days later, as Angie was flushing liquid Tylenol through the PEG for a stubborn fever, Sam had his first seizure.
It was ten agonizing minutes of spasms and involuntary vocalizations, the sounds seeming to hurt Dean even more than the silence had. Angie stayed with the both of them, observing and timing the seizure characteristics as Dean made it very clear, without a single word, that he would do the physical protecting. Once Sam went limp, Dean tenderly wiped the blood-tinged saliva from Sam's cheeks and moistened the cracked lips with a wet swab.
"Dammit Sammy," he choked, smoothing the long hair back with one hand as his other skimmed over Sam's chest, wrist, and forehead; an action that made Angie wonder if the vitals she was currently taking had any credibility at all.
As she left to call Sam's doctor about reassessing his anticonvulsant meds, the cat strode past her into the room. Fifteen minutes later, one of the CNAs came through the nurse's station after changing Sam, paper towels slapped over her freshly bleeding arm.
The cat had refused to leave the bed.
On the fourth day, Sam seized three times during her shift, and Dean started talking. Rambling. Remembering and soothing in an instinctive rush of comfort for the both of them. Childhood memories, urban legends, snatches of classic rock songs, detailed mechanics of a '67 Impala – a whirlwind glimpse of two lives cut down in their prime. Angie learned that Sam and Dean were both horror fans, the stories pouring from Dean's lips as vividly as if he had lived them. And while their admission paperwork didn't specify a religious preference, she swore she heard snippets of Latin around tales of angels and demons.
The hoarse voice should have been a relief after days of stricken silence, but Angie almost yearned for those earlier days, because the desperation, grief, fondness, and sheer, earth-shattering love in that voice…..it was all she could do not to break down sobbing every time she walked into the room. Dean respectfully, but firmly, declined blood work to check the levels of Sam's seizure meds, or to get another neuro consult, while continuing to gratefully accept position changes, water and swabs for Sam's mouth, and pain meds at regular intervals to ease any discomfort Sam may have been feeling…..if he still felt anything at all. It was a layperson's unspoken hospice order – comfort measures only – for a body refusing to realize that it was already dead.
So Angie honored Dean's wishes, walking in and out of the soothing stream of the young man's voice, as invisible to the weary, memory-laden green eyes as the rumbling bundle of fur that had Dean's hand sandwiched between its belly and Sam's chest.
On the fifth day, Dean finally asked.
"What's with the cat?"
"He lives here at the facility – earns his keep as a therapy animal. You'd be amazed at what a pet can do in this environment, especially with the dementia patients," Angie replied, turning the thermometer screen so Dean could see the result.
"Huh." Dean looked at the cat curled alongside his and Sam's hands, honestly seeing him for the first time. "He earn a name?"
"Yeah, but we're not the most creative bunch," she allowed herself a chuckle.
Dean's lips quirked, a gift of an attempted smile. "You named him 'Cat' didn't you?" he groaned.
"We're not that bad," Angie laughed. "His name's Bobby."
Angie frowned, gesturing at the lump of folded tissue where the cat's tail had once been. "You know, 'cause of the bobbed tail?" she tried to clarify.
Dean swallowed roughly, shuddered tremors running through impossibly stiff shoulders, a shine of tears filming his eyes.
Oh God, what had she done?
"I…..I'm sorry," Angie apologized profusely for whatever she had just caused. "You want me to move him?"
Dean blocked her advance with a firm, but gentle, grip on her arm. The cat was looking up at him now, brown eyes focused on Dean with an almost uncomfortable intensity, and Angie suddenly felt like an intruder on a private reunion. Dean somehow seemed to tense and calm at the same time, until his whole body finally relaxed, air escaping lax lips with a sound equal parts relief and laughter. When he finally spoke, his voice was shaking under brimming eyes, but his mouth had eased into a soft smile rippling with too many emotions to count – one she had a feeling only Sam could have translated.
His eyes never left the cat. "I wouldn't dream of it."
On the seventh day, Angie walked in to disconnect the tube feed to find Dean shaving Sam's face. "Dude, you never could grow a beard worth a crap. You could totally be rocking the evil Spock right now," he sighed in mock disappointment, dipping the razor into the soapy kidney basin and going back to shave the stubbled goatee he had left on his brother's face.
Angie snorted back a laugh as she moved into Dean's line of sight. Ever since Bobby's name was revealed, something had shifted in Dean – there was a lightness to his movements, life in his eyes – it was as if the room suddenly breathed again.
Dean's eyes sparked appreciatively at the understanding in Angie's laugh, even as his attention and conversation remained fully with Sam. "Man, Uhura was hot in that one, wasn't she?"
Angie must not have hidden her blush as well as she thought, because when she looked back up, Dean was wincing guiltily.
"Sorry," he grimaced.
She waved off the apology. "Don't be. I'd still kill to have her figure."
She was rewarded with a bright bark of laughter as, with a final visual inspection, he set the basin aside, swapping it for a wet washcloth to tackle the lingering shaving cream.
"The girls will be by in a few minutes to bring Sam for his shower," Angie filled him in.
"Sam, you sly dog," Dean grinned, grabbing a fresh washcloth and patting Sam's face dry. "Two chicks in the shower? Pretty naughty there, kiddo."
Bobby resumed residence on Sam's chest as Dean discarded the used washcloth on the bedside table. "You get fur on his face, I'm gonna shave you next," he threatened.
Angie swore, were cats capable of doing it, that Bobby would have rolled his eyes just then. Instead, he stared at Dean for a long moment before finally curling up – but an inch or two further away from Sam's chin.
"Damn straight," Dean growled.
Angie dipped her head to hide the grin, and took down the PEG dressing to clean the site.
"Hey Angie, you said I could sign Sam out for a few hours, right?" Dean was watching her work with an almost clinical eye, a hint of apology under his question for not recalling her welcome speech that first day.
"Of course. Just let us know when and we'll have him ready for you."
"I, uh, was wondering if I could pick him up tonight. Take him for a ride. There's supposed to be this awesome meteor shower and…."
Angie glanced up at Dean's strangled attempt to clear his throat and watched his gaze slide to Sam's face, something too intimate to be named passing through his eyes.
"Well, the drinking might be a bit one-sided," he chuckled, an odd dichotomy of fond memory and breathtaking grief, "but Sam's always had a thing for the stars."
Angie swallowed at the unspoken history there; a lifetime of devoted brotherhood. "Sounds perfect," she somehow kept her voice from cracking. "Seven o'clock okay?"
"Yeah, thanks," Dean cleared his throat again, a flush of embarrassment coloring his cheeks. Angie taped the new dressing in place, cleared off the tray table, and headed for the sink. Just before she turned on the water, she heard Dean mutter, "See what happens, Sammy? You leave and I become the emo one. That is so not cool."
Later that evening, before reporting off to the oncoming nurse, Angie gave Sam a final check as he was settled in the wheelchair. "C'mon Bobby," she lifted the cat from Sam's lap after Dean assured her, once again, that he didn't need any help getting Sam into the car, "time to let these two go."
Dean gave Bobby another one of those layered looks Angie only wished she could decipher, before turning to her with a soft, "thanks."
"You're welcome. Enjoy the show," she smiled.
Dean's eyes slid to Bobby one last time before he got behind the wheelchair, slapped Sam's shoulder, and pushed him into the hall. "Okay Sasquatch, here we go."
The night nurse nearly jumped out of her skin when, at midnight, Bobby let out an agonizing yowl.
The meteor shower had been spectacular - one of the best in decades.
The Impala was found early that morning, parked in the open field of a mountain overlook; a tiny black spot under tendrils of rising sunlight spreading through a sky that seemed to go on forever.
They'd had one hell of a view.
Wheelchair tracks to the surrounding woods led police to the ashes of a funeral pyre, a handgun, and two spent shell casings. Best they could figure, Dean had put a bullet in Sam's head, laid down next to his brother on the pyre, lit the fire, then shot himself.
The police called it horrific.
Angie called it love.
Hindsight was a tricky thing. Angie knew that Bobby settled in with patients about to die, so she should have started watching and preparing for Sam's death, even if it was a little odd how early Bobby had stepped in with the Winchesters. She also knew enough about suicidal warning signs that Dean's suddenly bright mood should have set off serious alarm bells. Maybe it did.
Maybe she saw it all.
And maybe she just let it be.
All she knew was that she felt no regret, even as tightly controlled tears burned the back of her throat – just a wistful sadness for all those who would never know the kind of love and devotion that had brought Dean to the overlook, and that final gift under the stars.
After her morning rounds, Angie ended up in Sam's room, finding Bobby curled up on his pillow. She sank down onto the bed next to him, wishing she could just curl into a mourning ball herself. "I miss them too," she sighed. She had only known Sam and Dean for seven days…..but a lot could happen in a week. God had created the whole world.
And she had seen Dean Winchester's destroyed.
Angie swallowed back a surging sob and reached for Bobby. "C'mon kiddo, we've got work to do."
But Bobby's work was done.
It took fifteen minutes of hysterical sobbing and rocking the cat's cold body before she felt her nurse manager's hands. Another fifteen before she calmed enough to convince everyone she could drive home. Housekeeping got her a box and some linens and she tucked Bobby into her front seat. The rest of the staff had wanted to bury him, but Angie, in a voice that wasn't her own, had insisted on cremation.
Three days later, as midnight brushed the mountaintops, Angie ducked under moonlit crime scene tape and scattered Bobby's ashes over what remained of Sam and Dean's.
When she got back in the car, "Ramble On" came on the radio. She had never been a Led Zeppelin fan, but she rolled down the windows, turned it up as far as it would go, and belted the lyrics down the open stretch of road.
And found only peace in how she suddenly knew all the words.
- A PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube is a feeding tube in the abdomen, inserted directed into the patient's stomach.
- H&P stands for "history and physical."
- CNA stands for "certified nursing assistant."
- The episode of Star Trek: The Original Series that Dean is referring to is "Mirror, Mirror", where an "evil Spock" in a parallel universe has a goatee.