AUTHOR'S NOTES: So for once one of my plot bunnies is actually a fully formed story. I'm surprised, really. This story should only be 4 or 5 chapters so I'll be able to finish it up in relatively good time.
STORY SUMMARY: There has always been three things that Dean has paid attention to with his girlfriends: their legs, their hair, and their eyes. Sam finally finds out why when he meets Dean's wife. That's right-wife. But their love affair has been anything but easy and their reunion may be shorter than they expect.
A/N2: This takes place after 'Abandon All Hope' but Ellen and Jo are alive and Lucifer was killed with the Colt. I'll try and fill in details as I go.
Chapter 1-Dean Has a What?
Sam Winchester was curious.
VERY curious, actually. The kind of curious that usually had him asking a bunch of questions of his older brother, Dean.
But at the moment, Sam was driving towards Milford, Michigan with Dean asleep in the passenger seat.
Two months ago, after narrowly getting out of Carthage, Missouri alive, Sam and Dean had been celebrating with their friends—Bobby Singer and Jo and Ellen Harvelle. Jo had been attacked by hellhounds and had almost bled to death before Ellen managed to get her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean had—by some miracle—managed to kill Lucifer with the demon-killing Colt revolver that had recently come back into their possession.
During the course of the partying when the group finally regrouped back at Bobby's house, the celebrations included Bobby proposing to Ellen who had said yes.
So far, life seemed good. The demons were under control, and the cases lately were just the usual crap.
But last week, Dean had seemed agitated and worried about something after getting a phone call that he had refused to talk about. And then he started spending hours on Sam's laptop looking up…
Sam looked over at his brother and felt his stomach clench as he remembered looking at Dean's search history the previous night. Dean had apparently tried to cover his tracks, but his computer mojo didn't hold a candle to Sam's. And once the younger Winchester had brought up the search history, he nearly stopped breathing.
Dean's research had been centered around bone cancer and bone marrow transplants, including the best hospitals for treatment, side effects… Sam felt his head spinning as he went through everything he'd read for the 3rd time that day. Looking at his brother again, he fought the urge to wake him up and pull over until Dean told him everything. How long had Dean been sick? And why hadn't he told Sam anything about it?
Getting off the interstate and turning right onto the new road, Sam nudged Dean who woke quickly and stretched before asking, "We almost there, Sammy?"
Sam nodded, continuing to look straight ahead out the windshield. "20 minutes till we get to the hospital," he said, flatly. His stomach did another squirm and his mouth went dry. He didn't say anything else, just kept driving until Dean looked over at him.
"Why don't you just drop me off and go hit a motel, Sammy? You've been driving almost 12 hours straight," Dean offered, noticing how tense his younger brother looked. Expecting Sam to shrug off how tired he was, he was caught off guard by Sam slamming on the brakes and hastily pulling off to the side of the road in a cloud of dust.
Putting the car in park before turning it off, Sam turned to look at Dean who looked ready to berate him for mistreating the Impala. "Why didn't you tell me you were sick?" Sam snapped, hurt and anger in his voice. When Dean frowned in confusion, Sam went on. "I saw what you were looking up on my computer, Dean! How the Hell could you keep something like this from me? I mean, is that why you've been taking crazy risks lately? Because you're dying?"
"Whoa, whoa…" Dean said, quickly, hands up in a 'calm down' gesture. "I'm not dying, Sammy, okay? I promise."
But Sam didn't believe it. He remembered shortly after Dean had picked him up from Stanford when they'd been hunting a witch in Utah and Dean had been bitten by a Mojave Rattlesnake. Sam had finished off the witch but had panicked when Dean had gone missing. A week later, Sam had stood by his brother's bedside in the hospital, half relieved that Dean wasn't dead, but also pissed off that Dean hadn't called him about what had happened.
Of course, when Dean had finally explained, Sam's anger had lessened slightly. The snake's neurotoxic venom had caused Dean to hallucinate before causing several seizures. Then he had suffered an allergic reaction to the antivenom and had ended up unconscious for nearly 6 days.
Thinking on that whole event, Sam took a deep breath and fixed Dean with a sharp look. "You're not dying," he said, figuring he'd start with the basics. When Dean nodded, Sam asked, "But you are sick?" he added, trying to keep his composure.
"I'm not sick," Dean insisted, firmly. When Sam started to reply, Dean again held up a hand to stop him. "I am not sick, Sammy. Okay?" Taking a moment, he sighed and rubbed his face with one hand before he went on. "Look, it's a long story, alright? Let's just get to the hospital and I'll tell you everything."
Sam didn't say anything for nearly 5 minutes, but he eventually nodded and turned the engine over. Pulling back onto the road, he once again felt his curiosity revving up as he and Dean headed down the road.
Parking in the visitor's lot at the Beachwood County Hospital, Sam felt his curiosity and his doubts turning up again, especially when he saw how nervous Dean was as they walked into the building. But before Sam could start up the questioning again, Dean led him into the nearest elevator and hit the button for the top floor.
"Two and a half years before I got you from Stanford," Dean began as soon as the doors closed and the elevator slowly moved up. "I was involved with this girl. More than involved," he added, thoughtfully. "We were in love. I spent almost 5 months with her after we met and I stopped by to see her whenever I could after going back to hunting. 8 months later… we started looking at rings."
Looking at his brother with an expression of incredulity, Sam didn't have the slightest clue what to say to that. Dean had almost gotten married? But then he looked at the ring that Dean always wore—something Sam had puzzled over for the past 4 and a half years—and realized that 'almost' was the wrong word. Wait… Dean had married a girl and hadn't told Sam, their dad, or even Bobby?
But Dean saw the look and shrugged lightly. "It wasn't much of a wedding. She and I got married here in the hospital. We tried to make it work with me hunting, but…" He gave Sam a sympathizing look. "After what happened to Jessica, I realized that it was too dangerous for her and me to be together."
"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam said, quietly at the elevator reached their floor. He hated that his brother had given up on what had obviously been an important relationship because of him. When Dean didn't add any more to the story, Sam asked, "What's her name?"
"Amanda," Dean replied before the doors opened. He stepped out, Sam right behind him and started navigating the hall until he was stopped by a woman in her late 20's. Dean tensed a bit but tried to sound sociable as he said, "Hey, Melissa."
The woman frowned disapprovingly at Dean for a moment before looking at Sam. "I'm Melissa Allard," she said, holding out a hand to Sam.
"Mandi's twin sister," Dean supplied, simply. "How is she?" He wanted to see Mandi but knew that right now whether or not he did see her was dependant on her sister's permission.
Melissa crossed her arms and again frowned at Dean. "The doctors are starting her chemotherapy treatments before the transplant." She didn't say anything else and seemed to be taking just the slightest bit of pleasure from Dean's pain. Finally, she said, "Room 5259."
Dean headed down the hall, leaving Sam and Mellissa alone. "Nice to meet you," Sam said, after an awkward silence.
But Melissa smiled, wryly, as she led Sam to the waiting room. "Dean never talks about me or Mandi, does he?" When Sam shook his head, she sat down with a sigh before starting the story. "Mandi and I are conjoined twins. Well, we were conjoined," she amended. Pulling up her right pants leg, she exposed the titanium prosthetic she wore. "I was the lucky one. Hip and upper femur were in good shape so I was able to keep most of my leg. But the way Amanda and I were joined, her hip was in really bad shape and the doctors had to remove her entire leg at the joint."
Sam was shocked by that. And particularly because until now, Dean had always eyed a woman's legs first. Now he was finding out that his brother had been married to a woman with one leg? But thinking about Dean's research, Sam asked Amanda's sister, "So how long has Amanda been sick?"
"Off and on since she was 10," Melissa replied. "The cancer was first diagnosed just after her birthday. The doctors did chemo and radiation after removing a tumor from her tibia. She was sick for a year and a half before she went into remission. When she was 16, the cancer came back. She lost her right leg just above the knee because of it."
Pausing just before he got in visible range of Amanda's room, Dean tried to quell the butterflies in his stomach. For some reason, he wondered if this would be easier if he and Mandi were divorced instead of still married. Okay, technically they were separated, but still…
He wished he knew the right way to handle the situation. But it wasn't like there was a handbook for what to do when you find out your estranged wife was hospitalized because she needed a bone marrow transplant because chemotherapy and radiation were no longer working on the disease killing her.
Leaning with his back against the hospital wall, Dean rubbed his face with one hand. He wanted to be here… he needed to be here… So why couldn't he just walk into that room?
"You know when Dean first met Mandi we—me and my parents—were kinda surprised," Mellissa said, continuing her sister's story. "He seemed kinda fixated on looks, but Dean and my sister… their eyes met and that was it. They went to rock concerts, car shows… Mandi loves burgers even though she's supposed to be watching her diet and Dean took her out for dinner nearly 5 nights a week."
"So she was in remission when she met Dean?" Sam wanted to know. He had endless questions going through his mind but since Dean didn't talk about it, apparently the answers would be coming from Melissa.
Melissa shook her head, paused a moment and then shrugged. "She'd just finished her last round of chemo. Dean was in the hospital after getting beaten up by ghost." Seeing Sam's startled look, she gave her first real smile of the day. "Yeah, imagine my surprise when my future brother-in-law tells me he hunts monsters for a living."
"And you were okay with that?" Sam asked, amazed by the revelation. Usually civilians didn't take to well to the fact that the things that went bump in the night were actually out there.
"Took a while," Melissa admitted. "But Mandi loved Dean and he loved her. They got married and seemed really happy." Her mood turned dark as she went on. "But then Dean said it was too dangerous for them to be together and that was the last I saw of him until today."
"Are they still married?" Sam wanted to know. Knowing what he did about Amanda and Dean, he suddenly felt guilty for being the reason that Dean hadn't been with the woman he loved for the past 4 and a half years.
"Technically," Melissa told him, standing up. She looked at Sam and after a few moments, she said, "Come on. I think they could use us being there, don't you?"
Sam followed her and when he saw Dean he gave him a reassuring look. "Come on, Dean."
Dean just nodded and after a little light pushing from Melissa and Sam, he went into the room and tried not to react to how Amanda looked.
The last time he'd seen her, Mandi's hair had been growing back and it had come in with a frizzy curl that Dean had loved. He'd gently run his fingers through her hair, making it more frizzy and messy which annoyed Mandi but also made her smile. But now she was once again bald and even her eyebrows and eyelashes were gone.
She also looked more pale and thinner than he remembered and she was wearing a pair of pajama shorts and a sweatshirt as she sat in bed with the blankets tossed back as though she had been too hot. But even as bad as Amanda looked, Dean couldn't help but smile. She was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever known.
"Hey there, hubby," Mandi said as she saw Dean come in followed by her sister and a man that had to be Dean's brother, Sam. "Long time, no see."
"So how are you doing?" Dean asked as he tentatively approached the bed and slowly sat down.
"Better now that you're here," Mandi said, her voice sounding tired, but she sat up a bit more.
There was so much to talk about and so much Dean wanted to apologize for. Turning to look at Sam and Melissa, he said, "You guys mind giving us a minute?"
Melissa looked reluctant, but nodded and left, although she remained just outside the room within visual range but not necessarily within earshot.
Sam quickly got the Impala's keys from Dean and hastily said something about finding a motel before leaving the room.
Mandi sat up and after a moment, she gave Dean soft laugh. "Boy, you were never this serious before. Do I look that bad?" Touching her bald head, she added, "Is it my hair?"
Dean gave her a small smile which she returned. "No, you look beautiful."
"Well, then do you mind moving over a bit?" Mandi said, looking at where Dean was sitting. "You're sitting on my leg."
Dean jumped up quickly and a split second later, he gave Mandi a look which made her laugh even more. "That's not funny," he said, quietly as he sat down again.
Mandi sighed and looked at Dean, long and hard, for almost 3 minutes. "Look, I know that what's coming is going to be worse than anything before now. And if I want seriousness, I'll talk to Lissa. Look, Dean, I know why you left. The life you lead… And I've just been getting worse the past year." Taking Dean's hand, she added. "I never stopped loving you, Dean."
"I missed you so much," Dean said, putting his hand gently on the back of Mandi's neck and pulling her closer into a kiss. "I was such a dick for leaving. I love you."
Hugging her husband, Mandi felt tears in her eyes as she said, "I love you, Dean…so much."
Out in the hallway, Melissa hugged herself as she watched Dean and Amanda kiss and smile and laugh and talk… just like they had when they'd actually been together. Mandi had refused to divorce Dean. She loved him and knew that once he did what he needed to do, he would come back.
But now that Dean was back, would he stay? Surely he wouldn't leave while the ultimate battle for Mandi's life was just beginning.
The last thing Melissa wanted was for her sister to be hurt again. But with Dean Winchester, that was always a constant danger.
A/N3: Next chapter-When Dean Winchester met Amanda Allard.