Thanks go to Gredelia1 for pre-reading and to Snarkymuch2 for giving me the plot bunny. This story is un-beta'd so any mistakes that remain are my own.
Sam closed the door behind him and leaned his forehead against the cool wood. He had jogged the whole way home, and now he was tired. He told himself he hadn't been running away from what had happened at Bobby's place, but he wasn't even able to convince himself. The truth was his confrontation with Dean had rattled him. He thought on any other occasion he would get on with Dean, he seemed a nice guy, but they had stumbled on the topic of John, and that had blown things away.
Sam didn't hate his father, far from it, he loved him, but they had butted heads so often that it made it impossible to forge a deeper relationship. All they had in common was the predilection for drink and a life spent on the road. It seemed Dean had a better relationship with John, and that made Sam sad. Why was it that his father had been able to charm a stranger when he couldn't be civil for more than five minutes with his own son?
He pushed away from the door and walked into the bathroom. His impromptu jog in the South Dakota summer heat had left him in need of a shower. He set the water to running and stepped under the hot spray. He tilted his head up so the water ran down his face. The heat of the shower unknotted his tense muscles and he gradually relaxed, though his mind was still troubled. He shouldn't have left Bobby's the way he did, and he regretted his rudeness now, but at the time he had only been able to think of the confession that had almost slipped out of him.
It was Dean's question that had almost done it. "And you think you're a better man than him?"
Sam had been on the cusp of revealing just how well he knew he wasn't a better man. Thankfully, he had held his tongue. He could only imagine the way Dean and Bobby would have looked at him if they'd known just what a mess he'd made of his life.
The water began to cool. Sam hurriedly washed himself and got out of the shower. Wrapping a towel around his waist, he walked into the bedroom and dried himself off quickly. It was early still, but he knew he wasn't going out again that day so he dressed in his sweats.
He padded barefoot into the lounge and grabbed a book from the shelf then dropped down onto the couch. He wanted to lose himself into someone else's story for a while. He tried to read for a few minutes, but his mind was still racing with thoughts of what had happened. Sighing, he dropped the book down onto the coffee table and got to his feet. He kept all his medications in the bathroom cabinet and he went there now in search of the one bottle he hadn't touched since leaving the hospital. Cracking the seal on the bottle, he tipped a pill into his hand and dry swallowed it. It was a sedative Doctor Angelus had prescribed for when he was feeling overwhelmed. He hadn't felt the need to have one before now, as he had largely been calm, but tonight he needed a little assistance. He knew that the episodes were affected by stress and the last thing he wanted to do was to slip into the delusion now he was out of the hospital. He had been easier to control inside the hospital, but if it happened on the outside, there was no knowing what he might do. He could turn up at Bobby's and introduce himself as Sam Winchester. The thought of it made him shudder.
The pill worked fast. Soon he was lying back on the couch again feeling pleasantly mellow. He picked up his book again and read a few pages before realizing he wasn't taking in a single word. Dropping it down again, he put his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. His eyes drooped and his muscles relaxed.
He was almost asleep when he heard a knock at the door. His eyes snapped open and he got to unsteady feet. He fumbled with the lock for a moment, and when he got it open, he was stunned to see who was standing on the threshold. It was Dean.
"Hey," he said, smiling at Sam in a remorseful way.
"What are you doing here?" There was no heat in Sam's tone. The pill had washed the anger right out of him.
Dean held up a six-pack of beer. "Can I come in?"
Sam stepped back and Dean walked into the lounge. He gave the room an oblique glance. "Nice place."
Sam nodded vaguely and gestured Dean to an armchair. His brain felt sluggish and dozy and he had a hard time making it cooperate enough to know what he should do. His brain failed him and he merely sat down on the couch.
"I came to say sorry," Dean said. "I shouldn't have lost my temper with you. I was out of line."
Sam shrugged. "It's okay."
"No, it's not. I was wrong. I shouldn't have acted like that. It's just I did know your father, maybe not as well as you, but he was a good man and to hear you talking about him like that…" Dean shook his head. "It rubbed me up the wrong way."
Sam leaned back on the couch and rested his head against the cushion so his head was tilted towards the ceiling.
"Hey, are you okay?" Dean asked.
Sam nodded lazily. "Yeah, just a little inebriated."
"Something like that." Sam yawned. "Tell me about him."
Sam nodded. "You clearly saw a side of him that I didn't, so tell me about him."
Dean rubbed a hand over his face. "The man liked a drink, but I guess he kept the gambling under wraps, as I never saw him lay a bet outside of hustling pool. He was a badass; no one got the drop on him, though plenty tried. And like I said, he was damn proud of you. He told everyone we met along the road about his brainy kid off at Stanford."
Sam fixed his gaze on Dean. "Really?"
Dean nodded enthusiastically. "Really. In fact, one time, we were on the road together looking for work, and we made a trip into California just so he could show me the place his boy went to school."
"Dad was in California?"
"Yeah. I think he was hoping to catch a sight of you, but we didn't."
Sam sighed heavily. "Why didn't he just come by and see me? He found me easily enough when he needed to tip me up for cash."
Dean's features darkened. "He was a good man."
Sam fought back a yawn. "I guess he was." In truth, he was feeling a lot better about his father after speaking with Dean. He'd never known that his father was proud of him, and the thought of John bragging about his son seemed unreal. It was a double-edged sword though. Gaining new insight into his father made the guilt for killing him so much more acute, and it had been bad enough before.
His eyes pricked and one tear fell. Sam hoped against hope that Dean wouldn't notice, but he was disappointed. Dean leaned forward in his chair and stared at Sam. "You okay?"
Sam nodded and wiped at his face carelessly.
"Look, man, I didn't mean to upset you, talking about your dad, but I figured you'd want to know."
Sam sniffed. "This isn't your fault, it's mine, it's all mine."
Dean looked confused. "How's that?"
Sam scrubbed a hand over his face and looked at Dean. "I can't tell you."
"You can tell me anything." There was something more than a casual offer in Dean's voice. He genuinely wanted Sam to tell him.
Sam was silent for a long time as he considered his options. He could refuse to say more, and he knew Dean wouldn't push, but it felt like he needed to say it. Dean had offered him a gift with his insight to John's feelings for Sam, and the least Sam could do was be honest. Dean had been John's friend. Sam owed him the truth.
He drew a deep breath and fixed his eyes on the opposite wall. "It's my fault that my dad is dead," he said slowly. "I killed him." He chanced a glance at Dean and saw that he looked dumbfounded.
Eventually, Dean spoke. "What happened?"
Sam told him it all, thought every word cost him something. It was the first time he had spoken to anyone about this outside of the hospital, and he was terrified of the reaction. In the hospital, they had been bound by their roles not to betray their true feelings, but here with Dean there was no such protection.
He told him about the night they had been driving back from the bar. It was a rare sober night for Sam, thankfully, but that didn't excuse what had happened. He told him how he had seen the truck in the rear-view mirror, and how he had known somehow that it was going to hit them. He told him how he had sped the car up, trying to evade the truck, but it hadn't been enough. The truck had plowed into them, driving them off the road.
"So you see, it was my fault," Sam finished with a sigh. "I killed my father."
He had prepared himself for a lot of reactions, Dean punching him for one, but Dean managed to catch him off guard. He leaned forward with his hands between his knees and smiled sympathetically at Sam. "It wasn't your fault." Sam opened his mouth to speak, but Dean held up a hand to silence him. "It was an accident. That truck driver killed your father, not you."
Sam shook his head. "You don't understand. I was the one behind the wheel. I should have done more."
Dean braced his hands on his knees. "I am going to tell you something and I want you to listen to me carefully. It wasn't your fault. I was in a car crash once, and my brother was behind the wheel, but it wasn't his fault. We were run off the road by someone else, someone evil. It was his fault, not my brother's."
"I'm sure it wasn't," Sam said consolingly. "But this was different. The truck driver that hit us wasn't evil, he was innocent."
Dean got to his feet and made a pass of the room. "No, Sam, just trust me on this, it wasn't your fault."
Sam decided to humor him. "And how are you supposed to know that?"
"Because it was you behind the wheel, Sammy, when I had my crash."
Sam jerked as if he had been punched. "No!"
"Yes!" Dean walked towards him, but Sam held up a hand to stop him. Dean paused halfway across the room and then came closer anyway. "You were driving, Sam. Me and Dad were hurt so you were taking us to the hospital, but that truck ran us off the road. The truck driver was possessed by a demon. You remember?"
Sam scrambled to his feet and stood behind the couch, creating a barrier between him and Dean. "I don't know what you're talking about," he lied.
"You do," Dean said emphatically. "And if you try, you'll remember. My name is Dean Winchester. You are Sam Winchester. We're brothers."
Sam felt like he had been sucker punched in the gut. He had thought he had made a friend in Dean, but it was all an act. He felt like the biggest fool alive. "How do you know about that?" he asked through gritted teeth.
"I know because I have lived it," Dean said. "Come on, Sam, you know it's the truth."
"What did you do, break into the hospital and read my file?"
"Yes," Dean said honestly. "Cas took us there."
"Us? Bobby's in on this too."
"It's not what you're thinking," Dean said. "We're not screwing with you. I am your brother, and Bobby and Cas are your friends. We broke into the hospital because we needed to know what had happened to you. We had been searching for you for weeks."
Sam shook his head. "I don't know why you are doing this, but you need to stop. My name is Sam Wesson. I don't have a brother, and I never met you before today."
"Sam, please," Dean said desperately. "Look into my eyes and tell me I'm lying."
"No!" Sam said harshly. "You need to leave now."
"I'm not going anywhere until you listen to me."
Adrenaline burned through Sam, fighting the affects of the sedative he had taken. He crossed the room and grabbed Dean's collar. "Get out!"
Dean struggled but he seemed leery of hurting Sam so his movements were only halfhearted. Sam was able to drag him to the door. He had trouble opening the door and manhandling Dean out of it at the same time, but he eventually managed. He pushed Dean back and he stumbled and fell back onto his butt.
He looked up at Sam desperately. "Please don't do this."
"You're sick!" Sam spat. "Messing with me like this. You stay away from me!"
Dean scrambled to his feet, but before could get to the door Sam slammed it shut in his face. He hammered on the door and begged Sam to talk to him. Sam dropped down onto the couch and rubbed a hand over his face, closing his eyes. He didn't know why Dean would lie to him like that other than for amusement. Whatever the reason, it was sick, and Sam wanted nothing more to do with him.
"Now, Sam, that was rude," a smooth familiar voice said.
Sam's eyes snapped open and he looked across the room. "Doctor Angelus?"
The doctor smiled. "Yes, it's me. Now, let's talk about what you just did to poor Dean. He was only trying to tell you the truth, you know."
"How did you get in here?" Sam asked dumbly.
Doctor Angelus sighed. "Of course that's what your puny human mind would focus on, stupid boy." She patted down the front of her skirt. "I have a problem that you need to help me solve."
"I don't understand," Sam said.
"I know you don't," she said with a soft smile. "You will soon enough. Now, we need to leave before Dean manages to break down your door."
She crossed the room and pressed her fingers against Sam's forehead. He felt nothing as consciousness was swept away from him.
How much do you hate me for that cliffy? Not to worry. I won't leave you hanging for the next chapter long.