I wrote this story almost a year ago, only even intending it to be a one-shot. People asked what happens next, but I never knew. In the season eight timeline, Castiel comes back in the next episode, so I always thought he would heal Sam, but when I got a review recently it got me to thinking about Sam and Dean and where I left them and it made me want to write chapter is unbeta'd so any mistakes are all mine.
Soon after his outburst of hysterical laughter, Sam lay down on his bed again and buried his head under the pillow. He wasn't sleeping, but clearly suffering, so Dean stayed quiet and let him get through it the way he wanted to. He didn't think talking would do much good anyway. What could he possibly say?
Creeping across the room, he pulled Sam's laptop out of his bag and booted it up at the table. When he had a search engine open, he typed in cancer and results blurred across the screen. There were millions upon millions, and he didn't know where to start. He only knew the barest facts about the disease and most of that knowledge came from Dr. Sexy MD. In that, they either killed off the character in a hurry or there was some miracle cure at the last minute. Dean would have given anything for a miracle cure.
The irony was that he had a miracle worker but he was stuck in Purgatory still. All because of Dean. He had dragged Castiel into the faceoff with Dick Roman and because of that, Castiel had been dragged to Purgatory. If he had left the angel out of it, Sam would never have gotten so far into the disease. Castiel could have healed him from the moment he'd got sick. It was more than that though. It was the failure to bring Castiel out of Purgatory too. He'd been at the portal and the angel's hand had slipped out of Dean's. He'd tried so hard to get them all out alive, and he'd failed. It was easier to turn his anger against himself; it gave him something to focus on other than the fickle nature of fate in choosing Sam to suffer this.
He slammed the laptop closed and shoved it away from him. This wasn't a case he could research and find the answer to. There was nothing in their father's journal that would help him deal with this any better. He was on his own in this. Just like Sam had been. How could he have borne it, being alone with this noose around his neck? Dean wasn't sure he could have. And Sam was still strong. He had seemed at peace as he'd announced he only had a couple of months to live. Dean remembered the fear he had felt when he came down to the last couple of months of his deal. He'd been terrified, knowing where he was headed. At least he knew Sam wasn't headed there. He'd been given a ticket to Heaven. They both had.
The realization of what he was thinking settled over him and he jumped to his feet, knocking the chair to the floor. What was he thinking about Heaven and Hell for Sam? It wasn't going to come to that. He was going to fix his brother. There was no other possible outcome. To hell with what Sam said. He would find a way to save him. Whether it be demon deal, healer or medicine. There was no way he was going to let his brother die.
Sam shifted, dislodging the pillow from his head. He was asleep now, but Dean had disturbed him. Cursing himself—if anyone deserved the peace of sleep, it was Sam—Dean got to his feet, drew the blanket from his own bed, and draped it over Sam. Dean wouldn't be sleeping that night. He had to stay awake to keep an eye on Sam, as there was a very real risk that he would lose him if he didn't.
When morning came around, Sam began to stir. Dean didn't want Sam to know he'd spent the night watching him sleep, so he jotted a note to say where he'd gone and crept out of the motel. He headed down the street on foot to the diner they'd eaten in the day before. He didn't want the sound of the Impala's engine to wake Sam before he was ready.
The diner was open but almost empty. It was still early, just a little past six. A different waitress to the one that served them the night before was behind the counter. The waitress the night before had been young, probably a college kid subbing her tuition taking shifts after classes. Today it was a middle-aged woman with dark hair pinned back behind her head. She looked up and smiled as Dean entered and came to the counter.
"What can I get you, hon?" she asked.
"Two large coffees, please, and…" He trailed off as he thought. He remembered something about sick people needing to eat healthily. Sam tended to do that anyway, but was that right? Should Dean be piling him with calories instead to bulk him up a little more? Energy food.
"And?" The waitress prompted.
Dean appraised the menu. "A short stack and a fresh fruit platter, please."
Sam would know better than anyone what he should be eating. If he needed calories, he could have the pancakes and vice versa. Dean would have whatever was left.
"Sure thing," the waitress said. She disappeared through a swing door.
There was a newspaper on the counter and Dean picked up and flipped through the pages. There was nothing about them breaking into the mausoleum, for which he was grateful. They would have to book it out of town fast though. It was never good to hang around once a case was over. They usually drew attention to themselves, fixing the world's problems, and believed dead or not, they both had a rap sheet a mile long. He didn't know where to go next though. The obvious answer was a hospital, but which hospital in which state? Where had Sam been treated before? Then he remembered what Sam had said the night before; he'd had a place with that Amelia in Kermit, Texas. That had to be their next stop. Dean needed to see Sam's doctors to find out the facts. Hell, he didn't even know what kind of cancer Sam had. Though he didn't even admit it to himself, Dean was secretly hoping that the doctors would say there had been some kind of mistake, that Sam was okay really, or that they'd underestimated his time left. If anyone could beat this thing, it was Sam. He'd beaten the Devil after all. What was cancer compared to that?
The waitress came back with his order, breaking into his reverie, and handed over the Styrofoam packages of food and their coffees. Dean paid and made his way out of the diner.
The walk back to the motel only took a few minutes. Soon he was shouldering open the door and setting the packages down on the table. Sam's bed was empty and neatly made, and Dean could hear the shower running.
Despite the fact he knew it would piss his brother off, he crossed the room and knocked on the door. "You okay in there, Sam?" He couldn't help but ask. He had visions of Sam on the bathroom floor, unconscious.
"Dean?" Sam's stunned voice came back through the wooden door.
He heard the sound of the shower cutting off and then the door swung open. Sam was looking at him like he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. "You came back."
"Of course I did," Dean said, confusion evident in his voice. "Didn't you see my note?"
"Yeah, but I thought… Never mind."
He didn't need to finish his sentence. Dean knew exactly what he was thinking. He thought Dean had run out on him. It wasn't an irrational fear, Dean had let his brother down lately, but it still stung.
Turning away he said, "I got breakfast."
"I'll be right there."
Ten minutes later, Sam was sitting opposite Dean at the table with the laptop open in front of him. He was working his way through his fruit platter slowly while searching for who-knew-what on the computer.
Dean was watching him surreptitiously, appraising him. He didn't look like he was in pain today, his brow wasn't creased and his eyes were bright, but there were still shadows circling them and he was pale. All the things Dean had missed for the last couple of months that should have alerted him to how sick his brother was.
"I can feel you watching me," Sam said not looking up from the laptop.
"I'm not watching you," Dean lied.
Sam looked up and smiled. "Yeah, you are, and I get it, but it's starting to get creepy."
Dean pushed away his pancakes, his appetite gone. "We need to talk."
Sam closed the laptop. "What do you want to talk about?"
Dean huffed a laugh. "Oh, I don't know, how about that shit-storm you unleashed last night. You can't drop a bomb like that on me and not expect me to ask questions."
"I can," Sam said, raking a hand through his hair. "Can't we just pretend last night never happened? I don't want to talk about this."
"Dammit, Sam! This isn't a one-night stand with a skeeve that we're talking about, it's you dying. I think I've earned the right to ask a few questions." That wasn't entirely true. He hadn't earned the right to ask anything, but he was going to damn well try.
Sam sighed a long-suffering sigh. "Fine. What do you want to know?"
Dean had been waiting permission to ask the many questions he had burning in him, and he didn't hesitate. "What kind of cancer is it?"
"Brain," Sam said simply.
Brain. Sam's wonderful, agile brain, the thing that he had always taken pride in, even as a child. The mind that had saved their asses on a hunt more times than Dean could count. That was where Sam was infected by this… thing. "Like a tumor?" he asked quietly.
Sam nodded. "Yeah. You want the cliff notes or the full edition?"
"I want to know everything." Dean needed to know everything.
"It's a tumor on my occipital lobe called a Glioblastoma." He turned and rubbed the back of his head. "Right here. It's in deep, so they couldn't operate."
"But you had other treatment?" Dean prompted.
"Yeah, radiation therapy."
"I thought they did chemotherapy for cancer."
Sam shook his head. "It's all dependant on the type and position. Radiation was my best bet, so we went with that."
"But it didn't work? I mean, you're still…" Dean couldn't finish. He couldn't say the word in reference to his brother.
"I'm dying, yes," Sam said calmly. "It worked for a while, to prolong my time, but it's incurable."
Dean closed his eyes, absorbing the information. "And there's nothing that can be done now. The doctors tell you that?"
Sam shifted uncomfortably.
Dean glared at him. "Sammy…"
"It was just giving me more time," Sam said defensively. "It was never going to cure me."
"So why'd you stop the treatment?"
Sam looked away and Dean understood.
"It was me, wasn't it?" he said. "You were having it done when I got back." He cursed. "Why didn't you tell me then, Sam? I could have come to the hospital to find you. We could have taken care of this thing together."
"It wouldn't have worked," Sam said. "It was only ever prolonging the inevitable. That call, you coming back, that was the best thing to happen to me in a long time. I finally had an excuse to get out of the damned hospital. I was lying there waiting for death to come, but you came instead. Dean, don't you understand how good that was? I finally had something positive in my life again."
Dean disregarded the mention of his brother laying waiting for death. He couldn't think about that. "I don't understand. You were fighting it, why did you quit?"
"Because you were back and you needed me."
"So this is my fault?"
Sam bowed his head. "No, Dean. You aren't hearing me. It wasn't anyone's fault. Coming back like you did, that was the best thing."
"I don't understand," Dean said. "How can you be so Zen about this? Why aren't you pissed? Why aren't you pissed at me?"
"I was pissed," Sam said. "For the longest time I was so pissed. I was pissed at my body for doing this to me. I was pissed at the doctors for not being able to fix me. I was pissed at myself for not seeing it sooner, when there was a chance of me beating it. I was never pissed at you though. The only reason I hung on as long as I did was because of you. I knew you would want me to fight, so I did."
"And now I'm back you're giving up."
"No, Dean, now I am living as much as I can while I can. We are going to find Kevin, find out how to shut the gates of Hell, and we're going to slam them closed. If I can see that happen, great. If not, you'll have to do it for me."
Dean pushed himself to his feet and paced the length of the room. No matter what Sam said, it sounded to him like he was giving up.
"Please try to understand, Dean. "I did fight. I did try. But it didn't work."
Dean rounded on him. "You fought for me then, when I wasn't even here to help you, but now I'm here, you're giving up. I can't understand that."
Sam sighed and rubbed his temples. "Fine, I'll take you to someone that can understand."
"Oh yeah. Who's that? Who understands you better than your own brother?"
Sam smiled slightly. "Amelia."
I am not a huge fan of Amelia - as you will know if you read my short story Temper, butI have stowed my personal feelings for the character for the purposes of this fic.
If you got this far and are still reading, thank you.