A/N: Well we've reached the end. I hope this is a satisfying conclusion to the story. I also hope everyone is excited for the Supernatural Season 9 premiere and all the limp!Sam potential it holds. I'm so excited I could burst! Thanks again for all the wonderful reviews, follows, and favorites. I need to catch up on replying to reviews but you can expect to hear from me soon. Also, please follow limp_Sam on Twitter if you have an account. We are trying to get more followers so hopefully we can do cool stuff, like fic exchanges. Also anyone is welcome to follow me on my personal account on Twitter as well, same screen name I use here.
A/N 2: Also, just one small thing I want to clarify since some have asked. This story does take place in Season 8 but people were confused as to why Sam applying to college was referenced. If you recall in 8x03, Dean found an e-mail from an admissions office for Sam. Apparently while Dean was gone, Sam considered going back to school. I can't blame those who forgot. I have to refresh my memory all the time, although this episode in particular did resonate with me.
Hope to see you next story!
Dean sat in the waiting room for over an hour, waiting for word. He figured if they had to take Sam back to surgery, they would let him know. Finally, Sam's doctor emerged and asked to speak with him.
"Thankfully it wasn't another bleed," the doctor said before Dean could even ask about Sam's condition.
"So he doesn't need surgery?"
"No, he needs rest. His heart rate spiked again due to his pain levels. We've put him on stronger pain meds as well as the sedative to give his body time to heal."
"Do you think he'll be okay?"
"I think he has a shot," the doctor said, finally sounding hopeful. "However, I think it might be best if you went home for awhile."
Dean got quiet for a moment letting the words soak in. Was this guy telling him he couldn't see his brother?
"Are you telling me I can't go in there?" Dean asked, wanting answers.
"No," the doctor said. "However, I think it's best he has as little stress as possible."
Dean knew that the doctor was implying his presence had caused Sam to have some stress induced attack and that he thought he somehow upset Sam. Did I? Dean wondered. He hadn't exactly been "Mr. Sensitive" lately.
"Okay," Dean said, simply. He wasn't sure why he'd ever agree with the man but something was tickling at the back of his brain and he felt maybe he had a point. He agreed to return the next day.
Before he left, Dr. Welsh checked him over again and handed him a pair of crutches. She assured him Sam's doctor was excellent and he was in good hands. She also promised to check in on Sam too and keep him updated.
Dean wasn't sure where to go. His car had been impounded so he needed to take a Taxi to the lot to get it out. Then he found a hotel. As he unpacked their sparse belongings, he pulled out Sam's laptop and rubbed his hands over it. Instantly his mind was hit by an image of Sam hunched over the thing telling him information about their latest hunt. He missed that, terribly. He missed when they could share their own insights and figure things out, together.
Then he remembered the e-mail he found when he had been the one researching, the one he and Sam had fought over.
"Look, I'm not saying I'm bailing on you. I'm just saying make room for the possibility that we want different things," Sam had said, regarding keeping his options open. Those words had hurt him more than Sam knew. Sam was still getting offers too. He felt a mixture of anger and pride at the same time.
How could he let himself get so consumed by Sam's words though? Sam was still by his side anyway, albeit reluctantly.
I'm not bailing on you.
Sam's words echoed in his head. Sam never intended to cut him out of his life, ever. Also, hadn't he always been happy that Sam kept this options open? He even at times encouraged him to believe that he could have a future, a normal one. He knew Sam wanted him to feel the same way too, to have that hopefulness that somehow they could both survive, have regular jobs, share holidays and be uncles to each other's kids. He couldn't though. It just wasn't his nature. However, having Sam's faith balance out his doubt kept him going at times, from falling into the hole of bleakness and despair.
He opened the laptop and found the essay. He was going to make sure the college got it, that Sam did have an option if he wanted to take it. He was going to simply reply to the e-mail he got and send it as an attachment, but instead the title caught his eye: Because I Had A Dean. Dean read the prompt below the title. Sam was to write about what set him apart from the other college candidates.
He saunters into the room, all bravado. However, his tough guy façade is merely that, a thinly veiled mask that hides his inner turmoil and his fierce devotion to his family. I keep that image in my mind whenever I need the motivation to continue, even if it means fighting back tears.
Dean stopped in his tracks. Was Sam talking about him? Dean continued:
See, what sets me apart from the other candidates is not a "what" at all. It's a" who." I had a brother named Dean and he made all the difference in my life. Dean was everything I could have asked for in a brother. Now it's so difficult to talk about him in the past tense because it means he's not here anymore.
As a kid, I was a pipsqueak, barely 5 feet as a freshman in high school. However, Dean was there with me, giving me a "hey Sammy" when he walked down the hallway. It made me feel ten feet tall. He never acted embarrassed to be seen with his little brother, a lowly freshman. Dean wasn't one for academics, yet he inspired me to pursue my goals. He'd keep the radio on extra low even if Led Zepplin, his favorite band ever, was playing making sure I wasn't disturbed when I was doing my homework. If I asked him to help me study, he'd readily recite words for me to spell or break out the flashcards. He always beamed when my report card showed all A's. I know he sacrificed his own goals just to make sure I could achieve mine.
We didn't have a mom or a strong father figure in our life but Dean fulfilled those roles completely. He'd say "no chick flick moments" but if I was going through something, he wanted to hear all about it. Even if I thought it was stupid, Dean would always lend an ear. We had a few kitchen mishaps but Dean could whip up a mean hamburger when he wanted to. We'd sit at the table and I'd tell him about my day. It was usually just the two of us but we were a family, not perfect but whole. When I had nightmares at night or I was scared, I could always count on hearing his breathing in the bed next to me. I'd match my breaths to his own, wanting to emulate him as best as I could.
As we grew, I told Dean about my goals, how I wanted to be a lawyer because I knew he wouldn't laugh at me or tell me it wasn't possible because we were expected to go into the "family business." He always looked so proud when I told him what I wanted to do. I'll never forget when I was going to Stanford, his eyes were bright, wet with unshed tears. However, I knew deep down they were more than just tears of joy. They were tears of sadness too because it meant I'd be gone. I was scared then. Was it the right thing for me to do? Could I make it at college without Dean? Dean looked at me then and said simply, "I'm proud of you kid" and ruffled my hair. This time he had to reach up to do it since I'd grown taller than him. However, he stood at a level I could never reach, still can never reach. His reassurances were all it took for me to know it was okay.
Dean was my role model, still is. I can keep that in the present tense because it never fades. I know if he read this he'd laugh right now. I sit here and imagine him doing it, loud and strong. It makes me smile and want to cry at the same time because more than anything I wish he was here. I wish I could have saved him the way he always saved me. However, he will always be with me guiding me every step of the way. He taught me so much about life and love. I had a Dean and it made all the difference.
Dean closed the computer then, the hot tears dripping down his face. He had been missing his brother, the strong hunter. However, Sam had spent a year missing him too. Dean hadn't even realized he'd been crying. How could he forget Sam felt that way about him? How could he forget that he felt that way about Sam?
He instantly sent the attachment. He sat back down on the hotel room bed, hit by the realization over how much this hunt and the last one had particularly struck a chord with Sam. They had investigated Brick Holmes who was actually the Mayan God Cacao. He, like Sam, had even tried to find normal, get married and fall in love. Then he knew though that it would never happen and he gave up. Then there was this case with Hans. Hans had been an academically gifted student and a standout in sports. His father took ill suddenly and he was thrust back into a life he didn't want, running a hardware store that his father couldn't take care of anymore. Like Brick, he gave up too and killed himself. Well, Dean knew one thing for sure. He wasn't going to let that happen to Sam. His brother wasn't going down without a fight.
Dean arrived back at the hospital twelve hours later. Sam's doctor looked slightly peeved but he allowed Dean to go in, reminding him again that Sam needed to rest.
When Dean entered the room this time, Sam was actually asleep, his head facing the door. Dean stopped a moment, taking in how young Sam still looked, wondering how it was even possible with all they'd been through, all they'd seen, loved, and lost.
He pulled up a chair, feeling his connection to his brother stronger than ever.
"I'm sorry Sammy," he whispered into the darkness.
He leaned back in the chair, letting himself fall into a light doze. The doctor said he expected Sam to be out for hours and he had the best chance of recovery if he actually slept.
Dean kept up his vigil for nearly 24 more hours before Sam started to come around. He knew instantly that Sam was in terrible pain again, but this time he was prepared. He hit the call button.
"Sammy look at me," he said, drawing his brother's eyes toward him.
"Hurts," Sam whimpered, reaching up his hand to rub at his chest.
Dean pushed his hand back down as the alarm bells starting going off again. He felt fear taking the wheel from him but he didn't let it. He grabbed Sam's hand and placed it over his heart.
"Sammy, you feel that? My heartbeat. Focus on it and my breathing," Dean said. He breathed slowly in and out. "Remember Sam? From when we were kids and you'd do that?"
Sam cocked his head as if wondering how Dean knew but he obeyed, slowing down his own breathing to match Dean's. The alarm bells stopped sounding.
The doctor arrived shortly after and gave Sam some more pain medication, then asked to speak to Dean outside.
"What's the verdict, doc," Dean asked.
"I'm hopeful," he acquiesced. "He seems to be mending. He is going to have a few rough days ahead of him but I think he's going to make it."
Dean's doubts were gone now. He already knew Sam would be fine.
The next few days were as difficult as the doctor said they would be. Sam was in and out of consciousness and when he was awake, he was in excruciating pain. However, thankfully tests had confirmed his heart was indeed healing. Dean knew it was healing physically but he knew emotionally, it would take time. Dean worked on the breathing with Sam to get him to calm down each time his chest would flare with pain. The doctor thought it best to keep Sam on oxygen as his breathing became labored during his pain induced episodes but all of the other tubes in Sam's chest had been removed. Sam didn't want to be constantly drugged so the doctor was working with him to lower the dosages of pain medication each day too.
Sam hadn't said too much too him, mostly made small talk asking his brother how his ankle was but Dean was happy any time Sam was lucid and painfree enough to talk at all.
"Hey Dean," Sam said, in the early morning hours after he had been hospitalized for close to 2 weeks.
Dean took in Sam's color then and noticed it was a lot better, that Sam's speech was clear, less pain inflected. However, he could tell Sam had been deep in thought and he wanted to talk seriously to his brother.
"Remember what Hans asked me?"
"Hans?" Dean asked, genuinely confused. He didn't remember.
"He asked me, where is your heart?"
"He knew Dean. He knew my heart wasn't in it. Remember what Brick's wife said, the heart is the key. What good am I if my heart is so torn all the time that I can't even focus on the hunt?"
Dean was taken aback by Sam's candid confession. This was the first time Sam had said anything more than a few sentences and something so substantial too.
"You'll just end up hurt, Dean. I'm useless," Sam continued. "I—"
"Stop," Dean said, cutting him off.
"No, it's true, Dean," Sam finished.
Dean could see Sam's chin quivering and the last thing he wanted was Sam crying. He could imagine the stress it would put on him. However, Sam kept going.
"I can tell how much it hurt you that I didn't look for you. I'm sorry."
There it was again. Confirmation for Dean that Sam had been apologizing when he woke up the first time for not rescuing him from purgatory.
"Sammy, you don't need to apologize."
"You know why I didn't look for you?" Sam continued.
Dean listened intently. He couldn't deny that he wanted to know.
"Because I knew I would screw up. I'd make the wrong choice and just let you down. You always believed in me Dean but I never made you proud. Even trying to find normal was a mistake because I failed at that too."
"Sammy, please," Dean begged. He knew how hurt he was by the whole purgatory thing but was now realizing how badly it had affected Sam. The poor kid felt like every move he made was the wrong one. In his eyes, he'd let his big brother down no matter what he did. Dean had to admit to himself that he never even considered that before.
"I'm not angry at what you did Sam and I don't want you to stop trying to find normal, whatever it is," Dean continued. "You know I always admired that about you."
"Thank-you Dean. And I just want you to know I'm here. I'm committed now," Sam said.
"I'm glad Sam because I do need you beside me, but don't give up on your dreams, okay?"
Dean saw Sam's whole body relax and he laid back against the pillows, his eyes half lidded as if now he could truly rest. Dean watched Sam as he dropped off to sleep. He knew Sam wasn't lying that he was committed but he'd be damned if he let Sam do anything too strenuous any time soon. It would be awhile before Sam was even healed enough to go on another hunt but he was willing to wait.
He put his hand over Sam's heart. He could see the stitches in Sam's chest sticking out of the top of the bandages through Sam's hospital gown. Sam's heart was bruised and broken, sewn up and put back together, just like his own.
He stayed like that, just listening to the steady beat of it, knowing that it beat in time to his own. They might never meet eye to eye on everything, but Dean knew they'd always meet heart to heart.