A/N: I know I should really be working on my summergen fic but this idea has been nagging me a bit and I wanted to let it out. I read a similar story and I thought I would try my take on it. Hope you enjoy! And as always, I do not own Supernatural, or any of its characters.
Sam fought the urge to throw up his breakfast as he scanned the darkness, searching for any signs of his brother. The cavern is dank and cold, but it is not the chill of the cave that seems to penetrate his very soul. He had heard the cries from in the distance, the sounds reverberating along the cavern walls, nearly disorienting him. But now, Sam had tracked down what he believes is the place where Dean is (hurt, trapped, alone… he can't even bear to think the other possibility) and carefully makes his way along the path, resisting the urge to sprint blindly into danger. No use to Dean captured himself, right? But as the seconds passed and there were no signs of his older brother, Sam was prepared to toss all cautionary measures out the window. Safety be damned. He had to find him.
And he does, not five minutes later. The hint of metal reflecting from the beam of his flashlight caused Sam to stop in his tracks. This can't be a good sign. Once again swallowing a wave of nausea, Sam hurried to where the source of light was. To find a familiar looking wristwatch poking from beneath a pile of rocks.
Ohgodohgodohgod… Panicked, Sam quickly pulled aside the rocks, tossing heavy boulders over his shoulder as if they were mere pebbles. And when he finally threw the last one aside, he felt his heart stop beating. There was Dean, his big brother, but not wincing in pain, or complaining about how long it took his pain in the ass brother to find him. About how he'd already been nearly a Wendigo's lunch years before, and sure as hell didn't want to be on the menu again. Instead, Dean was still (god, too still), eyes closed, face caked in mud and dirt. "No. No no no. Please, God, no." With a trembling hand, Sam reached for his brother's neck, praying to feel that telltale pulse, some sign that his older brother, his hero, is still with him. Still alive.
Sam Winchester lost his breakfast.
He couldn't remember how long he stayed in that cave, cradling his brother's lifeless body in his arms, body shaking as he sobbed violently. He forgot that there was a good possibility that the Wendigo was still out there, waiting to snack on another Winchester. All Sam cared about was his brother. And he was gone.
Dean awoke to the low murmur of strangers talking around him, the squeak of sneakers on a freshly waxed floor, and the steady beep of machines. From those sounds, and the horrible, clean smell of disinfectant, he calculated that he was in a hospital. Squinting against the brightness, Dean slowly opened his eyes, and his suspicions were confirmed when a young woman with a chart stood before him, calculating the necessary information with a pen. But there was something even odder about the scene, something which felt even more wrong than a stay in a hospital.
"Sir? How are you feeling?"
Dean quickly closed his eyes again, the brightness doing nothing to soothe the pounding in his temple. "Peachy," Dean whispered, reaching to rub the throbbing from between his eyes. Or at least, try to. His arm was secured by an IV, and weakened from his state. Cursing inwardly, Dean decided to change tactics. Try to find what the hell happened, and where he was. "What happened?"
"You were found in some cave in the middle of the woods, severely dehydrated and with massive internal bleeding, broken and bruised bones. You've been in a coma for almost nearly a month –"
And then, it hit him. Dean had felt before that something was wrong with this picture. Forcing his eyes open despite the pain, he scanned the room, searching for any sign of his brother, of Sammy sittiing in the corner, asleep. That would be the only reason why he would not have been at his side right now, initiating one of his sappiest of chick flick moments. But the room was empty, other than himself and the cute nurse, who now wore a look of alarm and confusion on her face.
"Sammy? There's no record of a Sammy or Sam anywhere sir. We still don't know your name."
Who cared if she had no idea who he was? The woman had not heard of anyone named Sam. And a gigantor of a man like his brother would not be hard to miss. That meant that either Sam had ditched him (not an option) or his brother was hurt…or worse.
No. That couldn't be.
But why else would his brother leave him in a coma for four fucking weeks? The kid may have left him for Stanford, to try to have that normal life, but he would have never left his side in cases like this. Never.
The thought made him physically ill.
"Sammy, where is he?" In a voice surprisingly strong considering the had spent the better part of a month comatose. The nurse looked even more concerned, and quickly left the room, no doubt in search of someone who could calm him down. But no doctor was going to stop Dean Winchester. Not when his brother was MIA.
Saying goodbye to his brother was the hardest thing Sam Winchester had ever done. Watching the flames dancing in the night sky, their greedy tendrils licking at his brother's body, Sam felt a tightness in his chest, squeezing until he felt he couldn't breathe. He had wanted to bury his brother, in the plot next to his mother, but he knew that it would not have been what Dean wanted. It took every fiber in his body to keep from planting him, to leave some sort of marker or memorial. Why was it that his brother had to sacrifice himself, and not even have a final resting place, for godssake? But he knew he had to do it. There was a reason for the traditional hunter's funeral, no matter how painful it may be. Sam said one final goodbye to his older brother before gently laying the match to the dry tinder. How could he possibly say goodbye to Dean? Dean: The man who had soothed the scraped knees and nursed fevers. Who had made him laugh when all he wanted to do was cry. Who had been that shoulder to cry on when life got too overwhelming after all, and one of the Dean Winchester smart ass comments rarely had no effect?
Sam fought back the lump in his throat as a strong gust of wind caught the flames, and they leaped into the night sky. A loud snap made him cringe, and for a moment, he almost smiled. Just like Dean to want to go out with a bang. He stood for several minutes, absently toying with the amulet he now wore around his neck like a lifeline. One of the few things left of his brother, other than his mullet rock collection, and the Impala. The tears began to trickle down Sam's cheek, slowly at first, and then a flood; he felt his knees give way beneath him, and he collapsed, sobbing uncontrollably, crying his brother's name for what seemed like hours. For the first time, Sam Winchester felt truly alone.
Dean had tried to check out early, but his weakened condition, as expected, was not in his favour. It was a week later before he finally was able to slip out AMA. First thing was to find a ride, hotwire some POS on wheels and find a motel, some sort of home base. And look for his baby. Not because he loved the car over Sam, but if the car was spotted on the radar, there was still a chance his brother was alive.
He had to be.
Within an hour, Dean had managed to steal an older model Ford Topaz and check himself into what had to have been the shadiest motel imaginable. Not bothering to even shower, Dean set to work, calling anyone and everyone from his and his dad's contact list, searching for anyone who could help him track down his brother, with little success. Pastor Jim and Caleb had promised to keep an eye open, and Bobby had called contacts of his own, but otherwise, it was a dead end. No one had seen or heard of Sam in weeks. Not a good sign.
"Damn it, Sammy, where are you?" Dean collapsed to his bed, burying his face in his hands. It had been his job from day one to look after the kid, and now he was gone, as if vanished off the face of the planet. In the morning he would go over the site where he had been hunting, try to find some sign of his brother, but at the moment, he was exhausted from illness and grief. His mind, his heart, willed him to go out searching, but his body was uncooperative. He dropped to the his side, and in moments, fell into a restless sleep, plagued by nightmare of Sam, lying dead and alone. Without his older brother, his protector, at his side.
It was pure luck that Dean Winchester found his brother.
Days of searching, dead end leads and hours of sleepless nights, had taken their toll on the young man. As expected, a search of the hunting site proved to be futile, as did an equally thorough sweep of the surrounding area. Bobby, as equally frantic as Dean but trying to keep strong for the kid's sake, had found no sign of him. Even if the boy was alive, he had certainly not bothered contacting him. Even Pastor Jim was telling Dean (gently, of course) that perhaps it was time to move on. Have a memorial for Sam, build some sort of monument. Have some form of closure. Dean had nearly laughed at the notion, despite the kind hunter's best intentions. There was no way he was giving up on his brother. Until he found a body, Sam Winchester was still alive.
But as the days stretched to weeks, even Dean began to believe the worst. If Sam was alive, he would have found some way to contact him, to let him know he was OK. Why else would he let him go on believing he was dead for two fucking months? Physically and emotionally spent, Dean headed for the nearest hotel, wanting only a hot shower and a bed. Scratch that. Make it some booze. The hard stuff. He could drink away his grief, maybe actually think of a monument or memorial for his brother. The kid deserved something, right?
When he saw the Impala parked at the Deer Lake Motel Dean's heart literally stopped beating for a second. No. It couldn't be. Trembling, praying that it wasn't just wishful thinking, Dean pulled the Topaz next to the sleek car and killed the engine. He knew without even checking that his was his baby, but he quickly checked the license plate, just to be positive. Sure enough, he stared back at the familiar Kansas plates: KAZ 2Y5. Sam. He was here. Maybe hurt, but alive and here. Heart pounding, he made his way to the only occupied room, the telltale glow of lamplight identifying which one his brother had checked in to. Carefully, he picked the lock and drew his piece, just in case. Slowly the door creaked open.
The sound of a lock being picked snapped Sam from his reverie. He had been staring blindly at the television, to some late night B horror movie, but not registering what was going on. He had been like this for days, staring into nothing, feeling empty, barely eating. Days were spent either wallowing in grief or just laying in bed, unwilling to face the day, wondering if today would be the day he would put a bullet in his brain. He had never really thought of himself as suicidal, not even after Jess, but Dean… God, Dean was everything. His hero, brother, best friend. And what kind of life was he living anyway, going through the motions: wake up, force something down his throat, sleep. Life without Dean was not life at all.
But hunting habits die hard, even if Sam had been idle for two months, and at the sound of strangers at the door, he had his Glock ready, eyes cold. For a moment, he almost relished the idea. This could be the day he died, and he would be able to be with Dean again. It was actually a comforting thought, and he almost lowered his weapon. Just a hunting accident, after all.
Moments later, Sam Winchester thanked God, or whoever was out there, that he had not gone through with his suicidal thoughts. When the door slowly opened, once again his world changed.
It was not the reunion Dean had hoped for. Standing at the door was his brother, hazel eyes hard and filled with anger, was Sam, aiming his Glock at his chest, fighting to keep his composure.
"No. This isn't happening. Get out of my brother's body you sick sonofabitch."
Body? Ohmigod did Sam think I was dead? Was that why he had taken the car, not bothered to call? Holy fuck… Shitshitshit.
"Sammy?" The words came out calm, despite the incredible wave of emotions overwhelming Dean. He was safe, Sam was safe, thank God. He wanted nothing more to just grab him, hold him close and never let go, but he couldn't. Not yet. Not when Sam wasn't convinced that he was even alive. As expected, Sam didn't even flinch at the childhood nickname. "Nice try. Calling me Sammy. Thinking I would let my guard down. Well guess again. You don't know who my brother is."
"Sam, it's me. Dean. I know you have to go through the motions, but I swear it's me. I'll draw the damn devil's trap myself."
Sam arched an eyebrow, his hand no longer trembling. This thing was wearing his brother, not even letting the guy die in peace. The thought that he had salted and burned him weeks ago never crossed Sam's mind. All he knew was that his brother was dead; there was no way he could have possibly come back, and yet this thing claiming to be Dean was standing in front of him. He couldn't let himself hope it really was his brother. Because to hope, and lose him again…it would be too much.
"What do I have to do, Sammy? Splash some holy water on my face? Hell, I'll say it myself. Christo. See? Nothing. Cut my arm." He outstretched his arm, waiting for his brother to slice it open. When he didn't, Dean reached in his brother's duffle for it, not really surprised when Sam did nothing to stop him. Looking up, he saw what could be the slightest bit of hope in his hazel eyes. Was he finally getting through to him? But if slicing his arm open a bit didn't prove that he wasn't a shifter or a revenant, then nothing would. Grimacing in pain, Dean carefully slid the blade across his arm, a thin line of blood (perfectly normal human blood) seeping gently from the cut. Dean looked up, hopeful. "See? One hundred percent Dean Winchester."
Finally Sam lowered his gun, eyes suddenly bright with emotion. Without another word he grabbed his brother and held him like he never had before, sobbing with a ferocity that would have frightened Dean on any other occasion. His own eyes bright with tears, Dean returned the hug, taking comfort in the steady rhythm in his brother's chest. Sam was alive. He was well. He had not abandoned him, but thought him dead. God, the poor kid must have been through hell.
"Are you ok, Sam?" Dean muttered, after a few minutes had passed. He had been gently massaging circles in Sam's upper back, a trick he had used since the kid was still a toddler, but now had relaxed his grip a bit.
"Not yet," Sam muttered, face still buried in his brother's, the warmth of his skin and the beating of his heart a comfort. "Just give me a bit." Dean complied, held his brother as if he were still four-years-old. When Sam finally pulled away, eyes still wet, he seemed relatively composed. He sat on the bed, his brother settling beside him. After a few moments, Dean broke the silence. He had to know.
"What happened, Sammy?" In a voice barely above a whisper.
"I found your body. You were dead, Dean. Cave collapsed on you. Had to have been a shifter looking back, but I wasn't thinking straight. All I saw was you not moving, not breathing. I took you – it – and had a hunter's funeral for you. That was about two months ago. Been on my own ever since." He paused, looked at his brother – God, he was actually here – before continuing. "What about you? Where've you been all this time?"
"In a coma," Dean answered quietly, and gently laid a hand on Sam's knee. "Woke up and you were gone. Man, I thought you were dead. Waking up in that hospital alone, shit…" He closed his eyes, wanting to push back the painful memories but continuing nevertheless. "Thought it was bad enough when you were in Stanford. But not knowing if my little brother was alive or dead." A few stray tears threatened to spill. "It was awful, Sam. Worse than Dad."
"I know." Sam sighed, his own eyes finally dried. It was his turn to be the comforter. He placed a reassuring hand on Dean's shoulder, looked into his pain filled green eyes. "It was hell waking up every morning knowing that I had to go on another day alone." And had actually considered killing myself. Thank God I didn't go through with it."
They sat in silence for hours, until the early morning rays peered in from beneath the heavy curtains. Finally, emotionally and physically exhausted, Dean crawled into bed, grateful to have his brother, his family back.
He didn't object when Sam slid in beside him.