A/N: So now it looks like everything is perfect for the boys (well, at least in Pleasantville). But rest assured, these boys are Winchesters, and, well, when do things go well for them? Sorry for the long set up, but we're going to see some serious angst coming soon! Thanks for sticking around! I would like to thank LilyBolt and mandancie for their recent reviews. You guys are awesome! Technically don't know you, but love ya like sisters! Thanks also to BranchSuper and niccita for their latest reviews as well. DISCLAIMER: I don't own Supernatural, for entertainment purposes only.
Pleasantville, two months later
"Is this Sam Winchester?"
The female voice on the other end of the line wasn't familiar; and unfamiliar voices tended to increase Sam's anxiety level tenfold. Strangers calling, especially at 8 at night, generally did not bring good news. Sam stood up from his chair, rubbing the tense muscles (the result of three nights of working double time at the firm. The joys of being on the bottom of the ladder. Trying to keep his voice level, Sam nodded, forgetting that he was talking on his cell and the caller was unable to actually see him.
"Yes, this is Sam. Is everything all right?" Oh god, it wasn't Jess, was it? She'd been called in to work unexpectedly, and Sam had taken the car. God, if anything had happened to her….
"No, I'm sorry, Mr. Winchester, there's been an accident…"
"Is she ok? Please tell me Jess is ok."
"Sir, I'm not sure who Jess is, but I assure you, she isn't the reason why we're calling. It's about your brother, Dean."
Sam froze, his cell phone nearly slipping from his trembling hands. No. Please no. Not Dean. Sam tried to speak, but found that no words could come. He simply stared at the cubicle before him, the colourful snapshots offsetting the dull grey upholstery: his and Jess's wedding day; his graduation from Stanford; one of Sam holding a six week old Sammy in his arms, Jessica peeping from behind his shoulder with a smile. And one of him and Dean, sitting on the hood of the Impala, laughing as they sipped ice cold bottles of El Sol. Carmen had snapped the candid photo just a few months after Sam had awakened to this new world, the brothers oblivious to the photo op.
"Mr. Winchester, are you still there? Mr. Winchester?"
"Yes." Faintly, in a voice hardly recognizable as his own. "Yes, I'm still here. What happened?"
"Your brother was involved in a head on collision. He's on his way to surgery now. At Lawrence Memorial."
Sam couldn't remember the drive to the hospital, or the voicemails he left to his parents, Carmen, and Jess. But in fifteen minutes he was standing at the reception desk, looking for someone, anyone, who knew about his brother's condition. After a few minutes, he was led to a crowded waiting room, where Carmen, John, and Mary were already waiting anxiously, Carmen pacing back and forth and trying to soothe her wailing son. Mary noticed her youngest's arrival, and immediately wrapped her arms around him, eyes bright with unshed tears.
"Did you hear anything yet?" Mary, still clinging to Sam as if for dear life, shook her head. "No, nothing yet. Doctors say they won't know anything for a few hours yet. "
"What happened, Mom?" He could barely bring himself to ask, but Sam still needed to know. Needed to understand what circumstances had caused him to face losing his brother. And especially after he's finally happy. Sam felt hot tears threaten to overwhelm him, but he quickly blinked them away. Not now. No time for crying. At least, not yet.
Mary Winchester finally pulled away, opened her mouth to answer her son…and found herself overwhelmed with sobs, unable to answer him. Sam immediately regretted the question. As much as he needed to know, he sure as fuck didn't want to hurt his mother in the process. Hell, sometimes he still found it hard to believe that his mother was alive in the first place. He couldn't fall apart, not in front of her. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Dean pulled her back into a hug, rubbing her back just as Dean had done to him as a baby. The thought of his brother' simple act of love nearly caused Sam to break down, despite his promise to his mother.
"Drunk driver." Sam looked up for a moment, surprised by John Winchester's voice. In his efforts to console his mother, he had forgotten that he had asked what had happened to his brother. And he noticed just how old his father suddenly looked just then: the greying beard, the heavy bags under his eyes, the trace of wrinkles on his forehead. But the look of grief on the man's face, the sorrow and exhaustion… Sam was reminded of the John Winchester of his other life, the hunter who would stop at nothing to find his wife's killer, even if it meant subjecting his children to the life, to years of shady motels, different schools, suppers from a can or box. This was the John Winchester Sam had thought he would never see again. And yet, there he was, standing before him, the same haunted expression he had seen for years as a boy. This isn't how it's supposed to be. Dad's supposed to be alive and happy with Mom. I'm supposed to live a great life with Jess. Dean's supposed to be happy for once in his life, to think of something other than just looking after me for a change. This isn't supposed to happen…
"This isn't supposed to happen." Sam hadn't realized that he had spoken his last thought out loud until he noticed the sympathetic looks from his family. But they didn't know what Sam had meant by his seemingly cryptic words. Had no clue that Sam wasn't even supposed to be here. Fuck, it was unnatural. He should have just stayed where he was, he didn't deserve happiness. Was he cursed? It seemed that the Powers that Be, or whatever, didn't want him to be happy. Because if they truly did, they sure as fucked wouldn't have toyed with him, twisted him and molded him like clay, only to be tossed out in the trash. It wasn't fair.
"I- I, I need to get out of here," Sam whispered, gently pushing Mary aside. And as his family watched in confusion, Sam stormed out of the waiting room, not looking back. He couldn't just sit there and wait for the news; the atmosphere in the waiting room was stifling, suffocating. Sam loved his family with all his heart, adored Jessica, thought the world of Carmen. But they were nothing compared to Dean. Dean, his hero, his best friend, his beloved big brother. Eyes brimmed with tears, Sam rushed to the hospital sanctuary, collapsed on the nearest pew, buried his face in his hands… and sobbed as he had never cried before. He sat there, alone, for what seemed like hours, indulging in years' worth of unshed tears. And when finally he had somewhat calmed, Sam stared ahead at the altar, trying to cling to some hope that his brother would make it. But he knew otherwise. Sam Winchester was not supposed to have happiness outside of a life of hunting. His world was Dean, cheap motels, fake IDs. Not this. Not this fabricated life. This lie.
"Why, Dean?" His voice was barely above a whisper as he sat stiffly in the pew, hands folded tightly in his lap. "Don't I deserve to be happy? Don't you deserve it? I mean, I thought happiness for me would be a life with Jess, Mom and Dad alive, a successful practice. But, you know, I really think it's to see you happy. Man, you've got a wonderful woman, a kid, a steady job that doesn't involve ganking things." A weak chuckle, as Sam wiped away the tears that now fell steadily and freely from his hazel eyes. "Man, you're so happy here. Why do you want to give it up now? You can't go, man. I can't do this. Not alone. Not without you." Sam paused, closing his eyes. And then, a whisper. "Please."
When Jess finally found him about an hour later, Sam was still sitting in his pew, eyes still closed, as if praying. She carefully sat down beside him, placing one hand gently on his pant leg: the business suit he was wearing at the time he had gotten the call. Her diamond sparkled in the soft light, as if reminding Sam that this was the life he had chosen, the one he had wanted since he was still just a kid. Sam looked up, saw the sadness in his wife's blue green eyes. "I'm so sorry, Sam," she whispered.
And Sam knew, without Jessica having to say a word. His brother was gone. For a moment, he stared at her, numb, even though he knew deep down that Dean would die. That Sam would never be happy in this kind of life, not truly happy. Jess gestured as if to offer Sam a hug, but he pushed her gently away, headed to the sanctuary door. He didn't get far before he felt his knees buckle beneath him, and he collapsed to the floor, sobbing hysterically. He was gone, just like that. His life snuffed out like a flame. "Ohgodohgod… DeanDeanDean…." He sat there, hunched on his knees, sobbing hysterically for several minutes. This time, however, when Jess reached over to comfort him, he allowed himself to be held, crying into her arms, his tears dampening her thin blouse.
The funeral was rather ostentatious (well, for Winchester standards, or at least Hunter Winchester ones); Sam thought rather bitterly that the Hunter Dean would have laughed his ass off if he were to have witnessed it. Words were spoken, memories shared, flowers surrounded the casket where his brother's body rested. The sight almost made Sam sick, but he wisely chose not to comment. Perhaps Pleasantville Dean wouldn't have minded a, well, normal, funeral, but nothing short of the typical hunter's send-off was what Sam had always pictured giving his brother. It seemed almost sacrilege to see him off to the other side like a civilian. The usual hymns were played: "Amazing Grace", "Nearer My God to Thee", "Rock of Ages." Listening to the sound of the organ in the church, Sam once again felt that the song choice was grossly inappropriate considering his struggles with faith, and that Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages" would be more Dean Winchester's style. Sam sat dutifully, somehow managing to say a few words about his brother…but they felt like lies. Because the real Dean Winchester, the one he loved, grew up with, raised him since infancy, was somewhere else. To describe the one who had made lunch for him while John was on another hunt? The one who had gone to his recitals and sports games, when their father was unable to? The one who had saved him both physically and metaphorically? This was not the Dean Winchester his family knew. And while he loved this version of his brother just as much, had grieved his death intensely, this was not the Dean he really, truly knew. But somehow, Sam managed, and seemed to have done fairly well, as his words were responded with gentle applause and knowing nods.
The only thing that seemed to truly say Dean was the wake, complete with mountains of food: cocktail weenies, mini burgers, the typical fare that Dean would have enjoyed. Sam had smiled faintly at the spread, but was unable to keep anything down. Instead he had sat outside on the back deck, thoughts drifting to his old life. He had vaguely remembered reading how he was actually in some dream like state, and that to leave, he would have to wake up somehow. Easier said than done. Not just in the physical sense. Sam was a hunter, after al; he would be able to figure something out with relative ease. But could he really leave this life behind, even without Dean? If he had been alone in this world, the answer would have been "yes" in a heartbeat. No contest. Already he felt that he could no longer really stay, not without his big brother. But could he hurt Jess by leaving her? His parents? They had already lost one son; would his leaving this universe mean that they would lose Sam too? He couldn't inflict that much pain on his family.
But what if this really was just a dream? If that was the case, none of this was even real. No Jessica, no baby Sammy, no law degree. His parents would still be dead, and Dean very much alive. He had never really known his mother, and had been estranged from his dad for years; but Dean, he was his everything, as clichéd and co-dependant as that sounded. He had known Dean his whole life, had looked up to him, and idolized him. The man who would do anything for his baby brother. And Sam suddenly felt a pang of guilt. He knew how, if he were still alive, his brother would be frantic, trying everything to bring Sam back. The younger Winchester knew that only he could be the one to initiate wakefulness, and not Dean. He had been selfish this entire time, thinking only of himself and not truly Dean. Sure, he wished with all his heart that his brother would be happy, truly happy, but as much as Sam had tried to admit, it wasn't a house, kid, and steady job that made Dean Winchester truly happy. It was Sam, his baby brother, the one he had risked his life for on more occasions than he could even remember. Sure, Dean had wanted that life, no question about that, but without Sam, not even that would truly make Dean Winchester happy.
"I'm sorry, Dean," he muttered, wiping the tears from eyes which seemed to have leaked their steady stream of tears more in the past few days than they had in years. He looked up, stared at the back yard where Jess was talking with Carmen, baby Sammy in her arms…
…Sam is lying on a motel bed, as if asleep, but clearly unconscious. His face is deathly pale. Dean lies beside him, a needle piercing the vein in his forearm. He is violating his no chick flick moments rule as he gently squeezes his brother's hand…
Sam blinked, the vision strong and incredibly vivid. And any traces of doubt Sam had about where he belonged vanished like the dying remnants of dissipating tornado. Dean was alive, giving his own blood for him. Protecting him as he had always done. How could I have ever doubted that? How could I have possibly forgotten about the hell he's going through? Sam sat up from his chair, his mind made up. Quietly he snuck his way into the kitchen, grateful that the room was empty, and pulled a knife from the drawer. He had remembered that killing oneself in a dream would initiate wakefulness; and as Sam Winchester slowly climbed the stairs to his parent's bathroom, knife carefully hidden beneath his jacket, he prayed that it was true. He willed himself not to give final glimpses to the array of photos on display, the ghosts of happier times (no, of false hopes and memories) as he passed through the living room, made his way up the carpeted stairs to the bathroom. And as he closed the door, locking it shut behind him, Sam glanced one last time at the golden band on his finger. The symbol of the love he had for Jess, for the woman he truly thought he would have done everything for. "But I can't do this," he whispered. "I can't live this lie. Not without my brother." Closing his eyes, and praying that he wasn't about to make the biggest mistake of his life, Sam plunged the knife deep into his stomach.