Title: When It's Over
Characters: Sam, Dean, Sarah
Spoilers: All of season one is fair game, but it's a future fic.
Notes: A future fic so it's definitely AU.
Warnings: Sadness and angst. Bring tissues.
Summary: After a horrible accident, Sam and Dean have to relearn what it is to be a family.
Dean woke slowly. There was pain everywhere. But at the same time, he felt as though he were floating. As though his body were suspended in water, rocking gently with the waves and the current of some invisible body of water. Things were slow and quiet and dull and Dean recognized what was going on. He was drugged up on some pretty heavy-duty painkillers. But as much as the painkillers were dulling his senses, fogging his thoughts, slowing things down, they didn’t stop him from realizing that if he was this drugged up, something was wrong.
Forcing his eyes open, they swam with tired tears for a moment before he managed to clear his vision and see the cream colored ceiling. How many times had he woken to ceilings just like this one? Too many. Too fucking many. Rolling his eyes to the side, he was surprised at who was sitting next to him. He’d expected it to be Sam, but the long hair and soft smile were definitely feminine.
“Sarah?” Dean managed to get her name out, though his throat was constricted and dry. She leaned forward so he wouldn’t have to strain himself too much to see her. He realized she was holding his hand.
“You’re awake,” she observed quietly, her smile faltering somewhat, but she managed to keep the comforting gaze in her eyes. Dean appreciated it, but he also knew how to interpret it. There was sympathy, sadness, and resignation in her eyes. Dean guessed right away what was going on. He’d seen eyes like that before. On a doctor’s face many years ago when he’d told him he only had a month at most to live. He’d recognize that look anywhere. “I made Sam take the kids for a walk. He’s going buggy.”
“It’s not good, is it?” he asked, the effort of talking making his eyes droop halfway closed. He felt Sarah squeeze his hand and he forced them back open again. He watched as Sarah shook her head ever so slightly, looking away from him for a moment, trying to collect her thoughts, trying to gather the words. He gave her time.
“I’m so sorry, Dean,” she said at last and Dean only nodded. She told him then what had happened. She told him about the infection and how it had spread throughout his body. About how his vital organs were shutting down, not functioning properly. About how he wasn’t going to make it. There was nothing they could do. Dean sat through it. He sat there and just listened. Looking for a loophole, a way out, but there was none. The more Sarah told him, the more he realized that this was it. Things were over, he was done. And surprisingly, it didn’t disturb him as much as it probably should have. A week ago, he would have prayed for something like this. Though he’d come a long way since then, and he sure as shit didn’t want to die, he was strangely okay with it. But he knew no one else would be.
Sarah sighed, wiping away a tear that slipped from her eye. Dean smiled a bit and said, “You shouldn’t cry.”
She gave a small incredulous laugh. “Can’t really help it.”
“It doesn’t become you,” Dean said, trying his best to give her one of those looks that had always drove her crazy. She merely laughed at him and stood up, intent on going to get Sam, he supposed.
“I’ll try to remember that,” she said.
“Sarah,” Dean stopped her as she was about to leave the room. She turned and looked at him and Dean fought to find a way to say what he wanted to tell her. He needed to tell her this, before Sam got here because he knew he wouldn’t have another chance. Not with Sam hovering. “Sam’s not going to accept it,” he said and Sarah straightened her back, nodding to show him that she knew what he was talking about. “He confuses optimism with delusion sometimes.” That garnered a small chuckle from the both of them. Then Dean grew serious again. “Take care of him for me.”
Walking towards him, she leaned over him and said, “Always.” She kissed his forehead, causing Dean to raise his eyebrows at her as she smiled. “You’ve done right by him.”
And that was all he needed to hear. He could only nod his thanks to her as she left the room to find Sam. You’ve done right by him. That’s why, he realized. That’s the reason he was okay with this. His whole life, the only thing he’d ever cared about more than life itself was the notion that he needed to take care of Sammy. In the past few days, living with Sam, seeing his family, watching him go about his day, Dean knew. He knew that Sam was okay and that he would always be okay. Because he’d gotten what he wanted. He had a family, he had a home, he had a life. There was nothing more Dean could offer him.
With that thought, Dean felt his body relax in a way it hadn’t done in years. Not just an untensing of muscles. It was an untensing of duty, of fear, of watchfulness. It was a release of worry. It was a resignation of a post he’d been perched on, guarding since he was four years old. And Dean had never felt so calm, so peaceful in all his life. It was okay. The job was done and he could relax.
“Dean!” Sam’s voice called from the doorway and Dean opened his eyes, watching his brother make a beeline across the room for the side of Dean’s bed. Dean could hear Sarah and the kids in the hall, giving Sam some time before they came in. He just watched his brother, watched as Sam looked him over, looked at the heart monitor, at the IV, at everything, making sure all was still in order. “Dean,” Sam said after he was sure that everything was okay with his brother for the time being. He took a heavy seat in the chair next to him, his eyes not leaving his brother’s.
“Well,” Dean started, knowing that Sam was probably going nutty with worry and a desire to stop all of this from happening. “Looks like I’m gonna leave town without you,” he said, playing around with the words he’d said to his brother the last time they’d been in a situation like this. Sam didn’t seem to find the joke funny. Dean smiled wider, knowing he hadn’t found it funny last time either.
“Don’t, Dean,” Sam shook his head. “We’ve been down this road before. We found a way to stop it last time, we’ll do it again.”
“I don’t think there’s going to be a quick fix this time, Sammy,” Dean said, already growing tired. But he knew he had to finish this conversation. If he didn’t, it would never be finished.
“No, Dean,” Sam said sternly. “I’m finding a way to stop this. I’m not losing you, not after everything we’ve been through.” Sam had to look away for a moment, his brow knitting in hurt and anger. He closed his eyes and when he looked back again, he whispered, “We just started being a family again.”
Dean smiled warmly at him. Maybe it was the drugs, but he couldn’t find the strength to banter or poke fun at his brother. Dean knew he only had so many words left, he wasn’t going to waste them. “We never stopped.”
Sam didn’t have time to respond as the door to the room opened again and his children raced in, Hannah in the lead. She stopped when she got to the side of Dean’s bed. Dean straightened himself up a little, ignoring the flashes of pain that were racing up his side, curling his insides. “Hey, kiddo,” he whispered to her.
“Uncle Dean,” Hannah said, her eyes tearful. “Are you gonna die?”
Dean answered her before Sam or Sarah had a chance to scold her. “Yeah.” He didn’t miss the way Sam’s body stiffened at the response.
Hannah looked completely lost for a moment before she suddenly shook her head violently and wrapped her arms around Dean’s neck. Dean held back a grunt of pain and put a hand on her back, the best hug he could give her at the moment. “But I love you,” she cried into his shoulder.
“I love you too,” he watched as Sarah wrapped an arm around Sam’s waist, giving comfort to her husband who was barely holding it together. Dean looked up at his brother, looking him in the eye as he said the next words. “But sometimes these things just happen, no matter how much we don’t want them to.” Sam shook his head, silently telling him that he wasn’t going to just let this one happen. Dean had no doubt his brother would do everything possible to stop it. The kid just didn’t give up.
Dean felt himself growing tired and Sarah must have caught on to his drooping eyelids because she came forward and said, “We need to let your uncle get some sleep,” in such a quiet voice that Dean guessed she was thinking the same thing he was. This was it. He leaned down and whispered something into Hannah’s ear. She nodded and pulled away from him, going to stand next to her brothers.
“I’ll be out in a minute,” Sam told them and Sarah gave him a questioning look. “I’ll drive you home and then I’m gonna come back.” She kissed his cheek and with that, the kids and Sarah left the room. There was a moment of pain in Dean’s heart, but it went away quickly as Sam sat down again, looking dejected. “You’re giving up, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I’ve had a good run, Sam,” Dean told him and Sam shook his head, his face crumbling.
Sam nodded but said, “I’m still gonna look for a way to stop it.”
“I know,” Dean said, smiling. “And I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize,” Sam warned.
But Dean smiled wider. “No, dude, I’m sorry,” he stressed the last word and Sam frowned. “I bought Hannah a drum set. It should be waiting at the music store in town. It’s cruel in the first place, but with me not around now, it’s just a little unfair for you I think. Especially since I used your credit card.”
Sam was quiet for a moment, a little taken aback by what he’d just heard. But then, much to Dean’s delight, he let out a chuckle that wasn’t forced, but still had a great deal of pain behind it. He closed his eyes and shook his head, whispering a softly scolding, “Dean.”
“And I may or may have not just told her that if you got a headache, she was probably doing something right.” The two shared another chuckle and Sam laid his head down on Dean’s arm. Dean, for once, didn’t mind the affection and he put a hand on top of Sam’s head, remembering when they were little and Dean had his tonsils removed. Sam had come into his hospital room after the surgery and had done the same thing. Sam had been too little then for Dean to shove away. And now, Sam was too old. It was funny how those things worked out. “You’ll be okay, Sammy,” Dean whispered. And when Sam raised his head to look at his brother, Dean said, “I’ll tell Dad you say hi.”
When Sam didn’t argue or scold Dean for saying such things, Dean knew that Sam, even if he wasn’t aware of it, was starting to accept that Dean wasn’t going to make it. He knew Sam wouldn’t stop looking for a way to save him until he was truly dead and gone, but he knew that at least if Sam had subconsciously accepted the fact he was going to die, then when it happened, the blow wouldn’t come as hard as it would if Sam refused to accept it altogether.
“I’m gonna take them home,” Sam said and grabbed Dean’s hand. Dean just looked up at him. “I’m gonna be right back. I’m just gonna grab a few things and then I’ll come right back.”
“I know,” Dean said, eyes drooping again. Every blink was a little longer than the last. Sam nodded and headed towards the door. “Sammy,” Dean called, stopping him. Sam turned around. Dean held up his pointer finger, sort of limp, and whispered, “Be good.” Sam felt his heart clench at the gesture. It was something they’d done as kids after seeing the movie E.T. Sam had bawled like a baby and Dean had mysteriously had something in his eyes at the end of the movie. But they had used the scene as a joke between them for years. Whenever they were separated. Whenever Sam went to stay with a neighbor while Dean and their Dad went on a hunt. Of if one of them had to stay the night in the hospital and the other couldn’t stay. It had become a tradition between the two. Sam couldn’t remember when it had stopped.
“I’ll be right back, Dean,” Sam said, choking on his words as the tears wouldn’t be held back any longer. Dean just smiled and lowered his hand.
When Sam came back after dropping his kids and wife off and grabbing his laptop and old list of contacts, Dean had fallen asleep.
He wouldn’t wake up again.
Go to Chapter Fifteen