Dean guided his injured and disoriented brother outside of the dilapidated chapel into the rain, intent on getting him in the safety and warmth of the Impala and then… well, Dean wasn't quite sure what he was going to do next but they would cross that bridge when they got to it.
He was about to open the passenger door for Sam when the younger man slipped in the soggy grass and landed heavily, his legs twisted underneath him as he fell. Dean bent down to grab his brother's arm and help him up when he noticed that Sam was staring not at him, but at the night sky.
"No Cas," Dean ground out as he saw what appeared to be shooting stars, streaking down towards Earth, and his grip on his brother's arm tightened angrily.
Sam flinched underneath Dean's hand, startled, face still turned upwards.
"What's happening?" he asked through his pain, eyes barely open.
Without looking away, Dean answered, "Angels."
Sam lowered his gaze, shocked by the answer.
"They're falling," Dean continued, stunned, mouth hanging open in awe.
For a moment everything around Dean Winchester ceased to exist except for the angels. A part of him wanted to sit there all night and watch but a wet, hacking sound quickly squashed that desire.
Sam was listing to the right side, nearly doubled-over as he coughed. Dean tore his attention away from the spectacle overhead and focused on his brother. Despite the steady rhythm of the rain, Dean clearly heard a meaty spatter that had nothing to do with the precipitation.
"Sam! Sammy!" Dean cried, alarmed and pulled his brother up so that he was sitting upright again.
Dean's eyes widened in horror when he saw a bright smear on his brother's lips and chin and knew without a doubt that it was blood.
"Okay Sam," Dean stood and grabbed hold of his brother under the arms, "It's time for us to go."
"Where?" Sam asked quietly as he staggered to his feet, his shoes slipping in the mud beside the car.
Dean didn't answer for a minute. Where were they going to go? The drive back to Lebanon, Kansas would take six hours and if Dean was truly honest with himself he didn't think Sam would be able to last that long. The only other option was
"A hospital," Dean grunted as he struggled to keep Sam from falling and open the passenger door of the Impala at the same time, "Whichever one is closest."
Although Dean had not forgotten what Cas had said about the trials and how they were affecting Sam- changing him- there was no way he was going to sit back and watch his brother die without at least trying.
Dean eased Sam onto the seat and reached over to buckle him in. Sam was leaning forward; both arms wrapped around his middle as though he was a little boy again and had a stomachache, his breathing fast-paced and too shallow for Dean's comfort.
Before going around to the driver's side, Dean paused and gave his brother's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. It was about all he could do for the moment, that and get Sam some much needed medical attention.
The Impala barrelled down the rain-slicked highway. Dean was not concerned about being pulled over for speeding. He was certain that the cops would be far more concerned with the celestial light show going on overhead than a lone car breaking all of the road laws.
Sam curled up in the passenger seat, one hand clutching his stomach while the other covered his mouth.
Dean listened to the sound of wet hacking over the bullet-like drilling of rain on the classic Chevy's rooftop.
Hang in there, Sammy, we'll get you help soon… I hope.
Dean hated this. He hated being unable to help his brother. He was Sam's big brother! He should be able to fix this. But he held no illusions. Dean knew that this wasn't like the times when Sam was little and had Dean kiss his skinned knees or bruises and that made everything better. If Cas couldn't even help Sam than what hope did Dean have?
What hope did doctors have, either?
Dean's grip tightened on the steering wheel and he refused to think about the inevitable. Sam was bleeding out and no one could help him. He was going to die and Dean could do nothing but sit back and watch.
Shaking his head to try and scatter the depressing thoughts, Dean grinned, baring his teeth when he saw a reflective green sign announcing a turnoff for a hospital a few miles ahead.
The large parking lot of the hospital was packed with cars- as such places usually were- and Dean had to search for a long, frustrating ten minutes before he found a parking spot. He turned the Impala's engine off and pocketed his keys, glancing at his brother.
Sam didn't look like he'd be able to get up from his seat much less walk all the way to the Emergency entrance.
Getting out of the car quickly, Dean hurried to the passenger's side and opened his brother's door. Dean unbuckled Sam's seatbelt because his brother was busy clutching his belly as though trying to keep himself from falling apart.
Sam unwrapped his arm from around his middle and grasped Dean's hand with icy fingers. He kept one hand over his mouth though, and Dean could see his fingers slick with blood.
Heaving his brother onto his feet, Dean waited to see if Sam would be able to hold his own weight. His younger brother's knees wobbled treacherously and he slumped weakly against the side of the Impala, an apologetic look in his eyes.
"Alright, Sammy," Dean said, "That's alright."
He wrapped a strong arm around his brother's shoulders and helped keep Sam standing as he closed the passenger door and made the first tentative steps away from the vehicle.
It had stopped raining but the asphalt was dotted with potholes turned to puddles and the black surface was slick, reflecting the orange lights of the massive hospital that Dean didn't even know the name of. The clouds were quickly clearing from the sky, the stars casting their cold light on the angels that continued to fall from Heaven.
But Dean wasn't concerned with angels right now. He had a job to do. He had to get Sam inside the hospital and have someone check him out.
Shuffling slowly, trying to conserve his younger brother's energy, Dean led Sam across the parking lot towards the beckoning sliding glass doors.
Sam coughed again- the wet sound setting Dean's nerves on edge- and curled in on himself.
"Just a little farther, Sammy," Dean coaxed, his haggard features already awash in the harsh white glare of fluorescent lights shining out from the hospital's windows.
Sam cried out as he stepped in a pothole filled with cold rainwater, soaking his foot up to the ankle. Dean swore and gripped his brother all the more tightly.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean muttered soothingly, trying to calm him down.
The hospital doors pulled apart and offered admittance. Dean and Sam staggered through them and the older brother looked around. No one was looking at them: patients, relatives and staff members were either crowded around the large windows watching the sky or staring up at the television in the waiting area.
"We need help!" Dean bellowed, his arm trembling, knowing he wouldn't be able to hold his brother up much longer.
Luckily the Winchesters didn't have to wait for Dean's strength to give out. A female doctor broke away from the crowd of people glued to the t.v. screen and hurried over.
Sam coughed, nearly retching as bright red blood seeped through his fingers and splattered on the speckled tile floor.
"What happened?" the doctor asked even as she readied her stethoscope.
"He's bleeding," Dean said breathlessly because, what else could he say?
The doctor glanced at Dean once before placing the end of the stethoscope against Sam's chest, listening for a moment before once again turning her attention to Dean.
"Was he injured? Gunshot? Stab wound? Anything like that?"
Dean shook his head.
"Okay," the doctor said and shouted at a couple of orderlies who were watching the sky outside.
Dean watched as the two men brought over a gurney and helped Sam onto it. His brother clearly couldn't lie down- blood leaked from the corners of his mouth- and twisted to the side as he coughed.
Sam's eyes met Dean's and the older brother's heart broke at the terrified look on the kid's face.
Dean tried to smile, tried to look confident now that that they were at the hospital and a doctor was now spouting a lot of medical mumbo-jumbo to the orderlies and a nurse who had just approached, but the gesture fell flat and he was forced to hold back tears instead. This could be the last time he ever saw Sam alive.
At a word from the doctor, the orderlies pushed the gurney away from Dean, out of the waiting room and down a hallway towards the exam rooms.
Dean turned away, his hands clenched into fists and stared at the people gawping out the windows. Sighing tiredly, Dean dropped down into one of the brown plastic chairs to wait for news on his brother; knowing that it was going to be one hell of a long night.
His attention was drawn to the television in a corner of the waiting room, a news station showing a grim-faced reporter who was relaying the latest information on the breaking story.
"There has been no word from NASA about the current meteor shower," the reporter said blandly, "But the local police are advising everyone to stay indoors and wait until further notice."
Dean wondered exactly when the 'meteor shower' would end. How many angels were there? And what would happen once the authorities- the government- discovered that it wasn't just chunks of space rock crashing into Earth but, for all intents and purposes, people?
"Hey!" a voice cried from the crowd gathered around the windows, "There's a chick out there! She came from where that meteorite landed! I Swear!"
Dean, knowing that it was probably an angel, stood up from his seat and elbowed his way towards the window.
He might not be able to help Sam right now but he could almost certainly do something about a fallen angel. But what could he do? Could he convince her to keep her mouth shut about who she actually was? Would she even listen to him?
"Where's she going?" the same voice cried and Dean looked up to see the angel at the far side of the parking lot, out of the range of the lights, turn and walk away.
"Someone should go after her!" a concerned female voice cried but no one moved.
Dean tracked the angel's path until she disappeared around a building across the street.
"Man, you're crazy! No lady fell from the sky!" another voice cut in and Dean pushed his way out of the crowd, leaving them to their rubbernecking.
Returning to his seat, Dean collapsed once again, exhaustion seeping into his bones.
The events of the past few hours seemed so unreal to Dean, like they had happened to someone else and not him. Dean wished they had happened to someone else but of course, they hadn't. Once again, it was he and Sam who were left with the short end of the stick.
Dean rubbed his eyes tiredly and jumped when his phone vibrated in his pocket, trilling out the chords to 'Smoke on the Water' as it did so.
Grabbing his phone, Dean stared dumbly at the Caller ID, completely forgetting about Kevin.
"Yeah?" he answered distractedly and was bombarded with the frantic rambling of a confused and terrified teenager.
"What happened Dean? Everything's going crazy! The lights are blinking everywhere and the equipment's acting like there's some sort of power surge! What did you-"
"Slow down, Kev," Dean shaped and the young prophet stuttered to a stop.
"What's going on there?" Dean asked his own question and he heard Kevin give a shaky sigh.
"The lights and equipment turned on and off like there was a power surge somewhere," he answered in a calmer tone, "And there's this world map with little red lights all over it-"
"Yeah, I've seen it," Dean growled impatiently, "What happened?"
"I think those lights show the location of supernatural creatures, you know? Anyway, they all started blinking practically everywhere… not only here but Europe and South America and Asia."
"Okay," Dean muttered and glanced up at the television screen across the waiting room.
"Okay? How is this okay? This looks bad, Dean! Really, really bad!" Kevin exclaimed and Dean resisted the urge to shout at the young man.
"Of course this isn't okay, Kevin! But you're alright? You're safe?"
"Yeah," the prophet answered in a small voice, "I'm fine."
"Look, I think those red lights are angels," Dean explained in a quiet tone, not wanting to be overheard, "Cas finished his 'Angel Trials' and now they're all falling."
He heard Kevin swallow loudly, "All of them?"
"Looks like," Dean confirmed.
"What are you going to do now?" Kevin asked.
"Nothing right now," Dean told him, "Sam needs-"
"Sam! Is he alright? Did you get there in time?"
"I stopped him from finishing the trial, yeah," Dean muttered, "But it didn't stop the bleeding. I had to take him to a hospital."
"Dean," Kevin said but then stopped as though unsure of how much he should say.
"Just… keep an eye on things for me, would you?" Dean asked Kevin and the younger man said he would.
"I'll talk to you later," the eldest Winchester said and ended the call. Dean knew there was a very real chance that he would never speak to the young prophet again. If Sam didn't make it, well, Dean wouldn't bother driving all the way back to the Men of Letters' bunker. He'd just find a nice quiet country road, like the one that had led to the abandoned church, take one of the guns from the Impala's trunk and follow his brother to the other side.
That's not going to happen! Dean snarled to himself; Sam's going to make it, dammit!
Standing slowly, Dean spied a coffee maker on the other side of the waiting area, near the television and made a bee-line for it. He could use a coffee… or a dozen. Dean poured himself a Styrofoam cup full of the bitter, lukewarm drink and went back to his seat. He hated waiting, especially in hospitals. He always felt so powerless. The doctors could take all the time in the world and Dean wouldn't be able to say anything about it.
He just hoped that the waiting meant that they were getting Sam fixed up. He knew that if that doctor appeared anytime soon he'd know it was too late to help his brother.
"Sir?" Dean jerked awake when a soft voice spoke close to his ear. He wiped a hand down his face and stared up at the small, dark-haired nurse who had been trying to get his attention.
"Yeah? Is Sammy okay?" he asked before realizing that she might not even be here for that; she might just tell him that he couldn't sleep in the waiting area or something.
Blinking, Dean noticed that the light in the waiting room was significantly brighter than it had been the day before and that it had taken on a golden hue. It was morning.
Swearing out loud, Dean sat up straight in the hard plastic chair- his back aching- and smiled as best he could at the nurse. He didn't even remember falling asleep.
"Dr. Peebles asked me to take you you your brother," she said quietly and Dean sighed and stood.
"Is Sam alright?" he asked as the nurse led him to the elevators rather than the hallway that led to the exam rooms.
"He's been placed in the ICU," the nurse explained, "He should be sleeping right now. Dr. Peebles gave him something for the pain."
The elevator moved silently upwards and Dean's heart pounded anxiously in his chest. He wanted to ask more questions about his brother but decided that they could wait until he'd actually seen the kid for himself- and until he'd had a chance to speak to his doctor.
Stepping off the elevator, the small nurse led Dean down a long hallway to the ICU. Besides the nurse on duty- a stout, matronly woman with a head of thick, grey curls like steel wool and droopy, kind brown eyes- the tiny sitting area was deserted.
"Kathy will be on duty until midnight," the nurse who'd met Dean in the Emergency waiting room said and the eldest Winchester nodded at the older woman.
Dean was then led to the small cluster of rooms off the waiting area where the patients stayed. Dean glanced up when the female doctor who'd taken Sam in, walked out of one of the rooms, closing the door softly behind herself.
"Dr. Peebles," the nurse called and the woman turned to them.
Something was wrong. Dean could sense it immediately. The doctor had dark circles under her eyes as though she had stayed awake all night looking after Sam and she didn't smile as she came forward.
"Dean Winchester," she took his hand in her surprisingly strong grip.
"How is he, doc?" the hunter asked, his mouth dry with fear. He didn't even notice as the nurse slipped away and out of the ICU.
"We ran a battery of tests on your brother," she began, "Some of them twice. But I'm baffled. All of the tests came back negative."
Dean's eyebrow raised, "Negative?"
Usually it was a positive diagnosis that meant bad news in regards to hospital lingo but the doctor did not look like this was a good thing.
"All the tests are inconclusive," she explained, "We can't find what is causing the bleeding."
Dean took a deep breath, "So, what does that mean?"
Dr. Peebles' expression turned sympathetic, "We can't stop the bleeding. All we can do right now is make sure your brother is comfortable and hope for the best. I'm sorry."
The eldest Winchester closed his eyes for a moment. He knew it. Of course he had. This wasn't any normal bleeding. The doctors wouldn't be able to put a Band-Aid on Sam and send him home. This was something supernatural that was beyond the reach of modern medicine.
"Can I… Can I see him?" Dean asked and the doctor nodded. She opened the door she had just closed and Dean stepped into his brother's room.
Dr. Peebles closed the door once Dean was inside but he didn't notice. His attention was focused solely on Sam.
The young man was lying in a bed, a starched white sheet pulled up to his chin. Sam's eyes were closed and the lids were bruised-looking. A sheen of sweat coated his face, his skin paler than the blanket covering. Dean saw an IV stand beside his brother dripping clear fluid into a tube that led to his brother's wrist beneath the sheets. A monitor showed a black screen with a luminous green line spiking up and down with every beat of his brother's heart, a quiet beep-beep-beep accompanying it.
Sam's eyes fluttered and opened half-way as though he sensed his brother's presence.
"Hey," he said in a whispery voice and managed a small smile.
"How're you feeling, Sammy?" Dean crossed the room and sat in the chair provided for visitors.
Sam lifted one shoulder in a non-committal gesture.
Dean leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees and his hands clasped together.
Sam turned to look at his brother and frowned, his brow furrowing.
"Dean," he whispered and swallowed, the look in his green eyes telling Dean that Sam knew as well as he did that he didn't have a lot of time, "I'm sorry-"
The eldest Winchester held a hand up, "Don't Sammy. You have nothing to be sorry for. You were doing what you thought was right."
Dean was speaking about the Trials but he was thinking about the past. He was thinking about Sam drinking demon blood to become strong enough to kill Lilith, he was thinking about his brother's insane idea to jump into the Cage along with Lucifer.
Sam nodded, his eyes welling with tears. Dean sighed and reached out, laying a hand on Sam's arm beneath the sheets.
For the rest of the day Dean sat with his brother, waiting and praying harder than he'd ever prayed for anything before that Sam would somehow bounce back.
But Dean knew that it was just wishful thinking. No one could help Sam.
Dean couldn't help but think about the last time Sam had been dying, when everything had seemed lost. But this time there would be no miraculous recovery. Dean had no idea where Cas was and even if he did, the angel had already made it clear he could do nothing for Sam.
Dean talked with his brother constantly, telling him stories- some were made up but most were true- in an attempt to keep both their minds off the inevitable. He held wads of tissue up to Sam's mouth when his brother coughed, trying not to look too closely at the red smears that were left behind. Although Sam had no appetite and couldn't have eaten anything because trying to swallow only rasped painfully against his sore throat, Dean convinced him to suck on some of the ice chips that Kathy had brought.
Dean didn't dare leave his brother for even the length of time it would take to go down to the cafeteria and get a coffee and a sandwich for fear of Sam slipping away a lll alone. Even when Dean was forced to take breaks to answer the call of nature, he left the bathroom door open so that he could hear the ping of the heart monitor.
The sun had just gone down outside the window above the bed when Sam's breathing began to hitch. Dean, who had fallen into a light slumber with his head leaning against the back of the chair, woke at the sounds of his brother's struggle and grabbed his hand tightly.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean whispered urgently, "Just calm down. It'll be okay in a minute."
Blood burbled up from between Sam's lips and he leaned forward, crimson spots dripping onto the pristine sheets. Dean reached over with a free hand and grabbed a handful of tissues from the box on the table beside the bed.
Sam's hand shook violently when raised his hand to his mouth as Dean pressed the tissues to his lips.
With a wet hacking sound, Sam coughed and flopped back against the headboard, exhausted. Dean balled up the tissues and grabbed some fresh ones, wiping spittle and blood from his brother's pale lips.
"Dean," Sam said, his voice low and hoarse, "T-tell me about M-Mom. Please."
"Sammy," the eldest Winchester began but his brother's big puppy-dog eyes were irresistible.
"Y-you never talk… about her," Sam begged and Dean could not say no.
"What do you want to know?" Dean asked quietly.
Dean squeezed his brother's hand tightly as Sam coughed, his little brother's shoulders trembling with the effort.
Glancing at his watch, Dean saw that it was just after ten o'clock at night.
"D-Dean," Sam whispered, his voice nearly frantic.
"I'm right here, Sammy," Dean assured him as he moved his hand to grip his brother's neck firmly yet gently.
Sam leaned unconsciously into his brother's touch and Dean had to blink back tears. Crimson blood was smeared down Sam's paper-white chin, making him look as though he'd been eating cherries.
Sam's skin was cold and clammy against Dean's fingers and he knew that it wouldn't be long now.
Dean let go of the back of his brother's neck for a moment, grimacing when Sam reached out almost blindly towards him, and settled down on the bed beside his brother, ever so gently easing Sam over to give him enough room to sit comfortably.
Dean settled his brother's back against his chest, wrapping one arm around Sam's middle while the other found the hand without the IV line in it and held on.
Sam's breathing was shallow and rapid, phlegmy sounding- but Dean knew it was not mucus making that horrible wet sucking noise- and it made his brother want to cry.
"It'll be okay, Sammy," Dean murmured in his brother's ear, "You'll see. Everything will turn out for the best."
"Hmmm," Sam groaned, lacking the strength to respond.
Dean said nothing for a long time. He just listened to the heart monitor's beep-beep-beep as though it were the only thing keeping Sam alive.
Dean's fingers curled tight against his baby brother's chilly hand and he closed his eyes.
"So close, no matter how far," Dean sang under his breath, "Couldn't be much more from the heart."
Sam's breath caught in his throat and he moaned- the good stuff the doctor had given him not able to cut through the pain anymore- shifting weakly against his brother's chest.
"Forever trusting who we are," Dean continued, tears pooling beneath his closed lids, "And nothing else matters."
"D-D'n," Sam whimpered and gasped before coughing weakly again. Dean felt a warm wetness land on the arm he had wrapped around his sibling's middle but he didn't draw back.
"Never opened myself this way," Dean whispered, "L-life is ours, we live it our way."
Sam sighed, his breath slowing.
"A-All these words I-I don't just say," Dean didn't even notice as his tears overflowed and coursed down his cheeks, "And huh-nothing else matters."
Sam sucked in a shuddering breath and his chest did not lower. Dean felt his brother's hand go limp within his own and the heart monitor gave off one long continuous tone.
Dean shook his brother, "Sam? Sammy?"
Sam was gone.
Dean didn't move. He knew that the nurse on duty would come in to check the heart monitor but he couldn't bring himself to get up off the bed. He couldn't leave his brother.
Dean hugged Sam to him, his cheek against the back of his brother's head and cried.
This wasn't how things were supposed to turn out. Sam shouldn't be dead right now.
Dean felt like a failure. He hadn't been able to keep his brother safe, he hadn't been able to protect Sam.
Everyone was gone. His parents were gone. Bobby was gone. Sam was gone. Cas was gone.
Dean opened his eyes and glanced upwards. He knew it was likely that no one was listening but he didn't care. He couldn't keep it inside.
"I can't do this anymore, you know?" Dean whispered, "I can't keep losing everyone."
"I'm going to follow Sammy," Dean continued just as quietly, "I'm no good without him."
Dean waited for a response of any kind but all he heard was the long high-pitched heart monitor.
"I just hope he doesn't think I'm too much of a jerk for what I'm going to do," he finished, blinking tears away from his eyes.
Dean smiled, imagining his brother rolling his eyes while trying to hold back a smile. Dean gently moved from his position on the bed, lowering Sam against the mattress. He brushed his brother's bangs away from his brow.
"Don't worry Sammy," Dean murmured as though his brother was only asleep and would wake up at any moment, "I'm coming."
1. This is my first death!fic so hopefully it is alright. Please let me know what you think!
2. The title comes from a Pink Floyd song of the same name.