The smell of rain hung heavy in the air when Sam Winchester stumbled clumsily to his apartment. His arm was slung around Jess's thin frame while she fiddled with the key to unlock and open the door. Sam stumbled through the door and to the living room couch in the darkness, nearly tripping over his coffee table he acquired from a yard sale after being in Paolo Alto for a few days. He toed off his shoes and hissed when Jess flipped on the light switch. She smirked and shook her head, curls falling into her face and Sam smiled, feeling the warmth of cheap tequila spread through his gut and redness danced across his nose.
"Looks like you really enjoyed yourself there, Sam." She shut the door behind her, perhaps with more force than necessary, and slipped out of her shoes before walking to the back bedroom.
In the dark room, Jess clicked on the end table lamp and glanced down at Sam's closed phone that chirped repeatedly, indicating a missed call. She picked up the phone and her brows drew down when she opened it and saw that there were 17 missed calls in the span of the two hours they were gone.
"Hey, Jess! 's awf'l lonely out there by my l'nsome. What're you doin'?" Sam slurred as he walked up behind Jess into their bedroom of their tiny apartment. He flopped down on the bed and the spring creaked under his weight. "Wha's up?"
"You gotta few missed calls there, Sam. It's enough to make a girl wonder if you're seeing someone else. Luckily for you, I'm not the jealous type." Jessica handed the phone to Sam and quirked up an eyebrow. He watched her for a moment before turning his attention to his phone, blinking away his drunken fog. "Seems important. There's messages, too."
He grumpled something unintelligible while he scrolled through his call log. Although the names weren't saved in that phone anymore, he recognized most of the calls. Some were from John's burner phone, there were three from Bobby's, one from Dean's and the last one was a number he didn't recognize. He cleared his throat and risked a glance to Jess and found her sneaking quick looks from the corner of her eye while she took out her earrings. "Mus' be importan'."
"You should check them. I'll be in the kitchen."
Sam nodded even though Jess's back was to him as she walked to the kitchen. Sam frowned down at his phone in one hand and pinched the bridge of his nose with the other. Here goes nothing.
"You have 7 unheard voice messages." Sam huffed.
"Sam, it's Dad. Where the hell are you? Call me when you get this message." There was a pause and John cleared his throat. "It's important."
Sam furrowed his brow. Same ol', same ol' and he quickly pounded the 7 key to delete the message.
John's next message came 30 minutes after the first and the irritation in his voice in the first message seemed to have been replaced with anger and annoyance. "Sammy. I wouldn't have gotten you the damn phone if I thought you were gonna forget how to use it. Call me." Sam pushed the 7 key one again and rolled his eyes. As John's anger seemed to rise, so did Sam's. When the two of them would get into fights and the obligatory shouting matches before Sam left, they'd yell and shout until both their faces were red and veins throbbed in their foreheads and necks. Dean be quick to intercede, and hand to both of their chests if they were getting too close, too aggressive, and he'd swear that they only reason they fought (about hunting, Sam's homework or haircut, John's training schedule, the weather, whatever…) it was because they were so much alike. Dean was smart. When it came to hunting, Sam would often times wonder when the day came that he became more skilled than their father and he could read people like he had an insight to their soul. And when it came to the dynamic between Sam and John, he was smart about it too and it ate at Sam that Dean knew made him tick without even needing to try. Sam hated when Dean was right.
The next message played and Sam balled his free hand into a fist on his thigh. "Sam. It's Bobby. I know yer Daddy's been tryin' to call you and you haven't been answerin'. Usually, I make it my business to stay out of whatever's goin' on between the two of you…that's more Dean's gig than mine. But, son, you need to answer your phone. It's Dean…" Bobby sighed heavily into the phone. When he began to speak again, his voice was tight and controlled and tired-sounding. "Dean's in a bad way, Sam. Call yer Daddy."
At some point during Bobby's message, Sam stood from his bed and his earlier anger flushed away, leaving deep-seated concern. His stomach clenched and his heart danced in his chest and the next message played. He hadn't realized until he nearly dropped his phone that he was shaking.
"Sammy…" John's exasperated voice hitched and even without being there, Sam could easily picture John running a hand through his stubbled face. "I know – I know we left off on a bad foot and I'm sorry. Really, I am. Please, I'm begging you here, kid. Call me back or just answer your phone. Dean's – he's sick and fuck, Sammy, it's bad. But they don't know the things we know, right, Sammy?" Even under the forced optimism, Sam could hear the desperation ring in John's voice. "Call me."
Sam's knees wobbled where he stood so he stumbled backwards back onto the bed that responded with a groan. His eyes stung with warm tears and his chest tightened while the next message played.
"Hiya, Sammy." Dean's greeting sounded…wrong; forced somehow. "Long time… no speak, dude. What's up with… that?" He sounded weak, tired. His sentences were peppered with awkward pauses and if Sam listened hard enough, he could hear him wheezing and struggling for air. "Listen, I know…Dad and Bobby have been callin' you all….night and you haven't answered. I'm glad…Didn't need…a long distance…chick-flick…moment." Dean paused again and coughed rough and loud coughs that made Sam flinch just listening to them. He could hear his gasps for air before he cleared his throat and paused again. The familiar beep-beep of a heart monitor was faint in the background and Sam swallowed thickly, noting that the pace was much too quick.
"I keep…tellin' them that…you're probably studying…or banging that…hot girlfriend of yours." There was more coughing and Dean pounded on his chest. "Shit, Sam. I know you're….gonna be pissed about all this...but…why couldn't you…just answer your….phone? It would've…been good to…hear your voice, kid. I miss ya, Sammy." Dean sniffled for a moment and when he spoke again, Sam could hear the tears he knew Dean tried his damnedest to hide. "I'm scared, Sammy." There was another moment where Dean didn't say anything and Sam would've thought the call had cut out if the heart monitor wasn't beeping and echoing in the background as it slowed its pace. "'m tired, Sam. 'm sure Dad or…Bobby'll call you later. Pains in the ass…both of 'em. Dad's gonna…need you, Sammy.
Love ya. I'll…tell Mom…you said hey"
Sam shook on the bed. Despite the warm July breeze that floated through an open window in the bedroom, he shivered and held the phone to his ear so tightly he feared that he'd break it.
The next message came a little over an hours after Dean's and it was John again. For a split second, Sam hoped and prayed that John would reveal that it was some joke to get Sam back into the fold again. And, honestly, he wouldn't have been pissed if it meant everything he'd just heard had been a part of some bad joke and that Dean wasn't laid up in a hospital somewhere thisclose to coughing up a lung. Dean hated hospitals, after all.
John didn't speak right away. This time, there was no beeping of the heart monitor in the background, just John's ragged breathing. "Sam." His voice sounded hollow and Sam felt sick. "Sammy. Why didn't you just answer your phone?!" John must have pulled the phone away from his ear. Sam could hear him still, John's voice booming in the background as he shouted a string of expletives to someone somewhere. "Don't unhook that! He needs that shit for the pain! Wait, no. Please. Do something! Save my boy, please!"
Sam could also hear another voice in the background. A woman; her voice soft and even sad-sounding, trying to contain John's rage. "Sir, I'm sorry. We've done all we could for your son. I'm so sorry."
There was a long pause before John spoke again. His voice was broken and fragile as he sobbed into the phone. "He's so still, Sammy. So pale and so still. Dean's not supposed to be like that. Fuck. FUCK!"
Sam wiped the string of tears away that ran steadily down his cheeks and bit down on his lip to stifle his own sobs. Instead, he muttered a string of denials to himself and swallowed down rancid vomit that had nothing to do with alcohol and let the next message play with the phone pressed tightly to his ear.
"Sam Winchester, this is Dr. Johnson at St. Vincent Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm calling at the request of your brother, Dean Winchester, in case he succumbed to his illness without reaching you. There are a few items your brother possessed that he asked me to see that you got incase…well, worst-case scenario. It's uh, not exactly things that I can mail, but I'll hold them in the area for when you get the chance to pick them up.
Sam, I'd only known your brother a short while but he, um, he seemed like a great young man that cared very deeply for you. He spoke about you all the time during his treatments. Anyways, I am truly so very sorry for your and your family's loss. Don't hesitate to call me back at this number if you need anything at all. I mean it. Your brother deserves that much. Call me when you feel up to it."
The phone fell from Sam's grasp onto the bed. He held on to his middle as if to keep himself from disintegrating and fell into intense sobs that wracked his body. Jess ran into the room and wrapped a comforting arm around him, urging him to explain what happened. He shook his head and reached again for his phone, dialing his father's number.