TITLE: I’ll Just Fade Away
PAIRING: Dean/Sam (barely)
WORD COUNT: 6,540
WARNINGS: Slash - Wincest (mention of a past relationship between Dean & Sam)
SUMMARY: It was supposed to be a normal hunt. Go in, kill the monster, and keep moving. But things didn’t go as smoothly as Dean and Sam would have liked.
NOTES: AUish before the Season Three finale, set about six weeks before Dean’s year is up.
, all remaining mistakes are my own.
DISCLAIMER: "A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend." - I do not own any of the characters in Supernatural, they belong to Eric Kripke, The WB, The CW, etc. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Written for pictures2words
Art by inanna_maat
Link to Art: Art!
Dean was on his feet the minute the doctor came through the double doors from the emergency room. The doctor looked down at his clipboard to study it for a second to reacquaint himself with the name of the young man he’d just operated on.
“Rick Masten?” he called out and Dean’s gut tightened up.
“That’s me,” Dean called out, drawing the attention of the doctor and most of the waiting room. The doctor started toward him and Dean moved to meet him halfway.
His hands balled into fists, the dried blood cracked with the movement.
“How’s my brother?” Dean asked.
“I’m Dr. Grady. I operated on your brother.”
Dean ignored the stares from the staff as he followed the doctor through the bright, sterile hallways of the ICU. The smell of antiseptics wrinkled Dean’s nose, reminding him yet again that he’d never had a positive experience in a hospital. Dr. Grady’s footsteps slowed to a stop in front of one of the large glass windows that granted visual access into an ICU room.
Dean stopped next to him and let out a slow breath before he turned his head to look into the room.”I’m Dr. Grady. I operated on your brother,” the man introduced himself.
“Is he alive?” Straight to the point. Dean had spend the last seven hours harassing the receptionists trying to get more than ‘all we know is he’s still in surgery’.
“Your brother has been moved to the ICU,” he began.
Relief flooded through Dean with his words.
At first Dean didn’t recognize the man lying in the hospital bed. Tubes and wires snaked out of every available space to attach to the machine surrounding the bed. Sam’s normally tan face was deathly pale and covered in fresh dark bruises. ”Your brother sustained massive trauma to his chest. His left lung was punctured, torn, and collapsed completely. With the amount of damage, he’s been placed on a ventilator to take the strain off his lungs and allow them to heal properly. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the left lung. There’s a chance he may still lose it.”
The machine positioned next to Sam, slowly depressed to push fresh air, much needed oxygen, into his lungs and then pulled it back out to release the carbon dioxide that was left. Seven hours ago Sam’s lungs had performed this simple task on their own. Seven hours ago, Sam Winchester had been alive and in one piece. Now he lay on sterile white sheets in the ICU in Lewistown, Utah fighting for his life.”He sustained some head trauma as well. The CAT scans show a little bruising and swelling. When we bring him out of the medically-induced coma we’ll be able to determine the true extent of trauma and residual damage to his brain.”
“He’s comfortable, not feeling any pain, and we’ll start to wean him off the ventilator tomorrow,” Dr. Grady explained.
Dean managed a nod as he continued to stare at his brother. Dr. Grady placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “You can’t go in to see him, but you’re welcome to pull up a chair, keep watch from him here.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Dean managed to get out. He heard the Doctor disappear for a moment before he returned dragging a chair behind him.
“Karen will be the nurse in charge of your brother. She’ll take good care of him.”
“Thanks again. I….” Dean trailed off, now sure how to properly thank the man that had just saved his brother’s life.
“You’re welcome,” Dr. Grady said and then left him alone with his brother.
Dean stared through the glass window that separated him from his brother. His hands balled into tight fists so they wouldn’t shake as they rested on the ledge in front of him. Dried blood was still cake in-between his fingers and under his nails. Sam’s blood had steadily flowed out of him despite everything Dean had done to stop it.
Dean was drawn out of the memories as shoes squeaked across the tile behind him. He looked down, his gaze coming to rest on well worn white sneakers with pink accents. She was wearing light purple scrubs, her jacket covered with teddy bears wearing stethoscopes and other medical equipment. She held two steaming cups of coffee in her hands. Dean forced his gaze up further into the pity-filled face of Sam’s cute, young nurse Karen. Her sandy-blonde hair had started to escape her ponytail and she looked a little tired herself.
“You looked like you could use a cup,” she said and offered him the cup in her left hand.
Dean hesitated for a moment, staring at her as he fought to unclench his fist. Karen mistook the pause for hesitation or rejection. “Ok, I’ll admit, I really wanted a cup and knew I couldn’t drink the whole pot. I don’t know how you take it but it’s got cream and sugar in it,” she added.
Dean’s fingers loosened up and she was surprised they didn’t shake as he reached for the coffee. “Thank you,” he told her. Warmth bled through the thin layers of the cup, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee made its way to Dean’s nose. It was so achingly familiar that he felt himself start to relax for the first time in hours.
“You know your brother’s gonna be okay, right? Dr. Grady is the best we have. And he took good care of your brother. And me, I’ve got a good eye on him too.”
Dean took a small sip of his coffee so he wouldn’t have to answer. It was hot, burned his tongue and the roof of his mouth but he was still grateful. Karen was sweet and she was good at her job. But part of taking care of Sam meant dealing with his family.
When he didn’t comment she turned her attention back on Sam, silently studying him through the observation window. Her hands begun to slightly tremble so she used both to cup around her coffee. “He’s the first…” she started and then trailed off. “He’s the first out-of-towner that’s been attacked. Up till now it’s just been townsfolk. But he’s the first, and he’s the only one to survive too.”
Dean knew that, it was one of the reasons that they’d decided to come check it out. Eight victims before Sam, their bodies had turned up, mutilated, all of them missing their hearts except the one that had gotten away and died in the hospital.
“Joseph Turner was the first victim to survive the attack,” she continued, the tremor in her voice was faint but growing. “Ned and Billy Callahan found him unconscious on the side of the road, just outside the woods. He died before they could get him to the hospital.” There was a long, thick pause before Karen spoke again. “Do you believe in monsters, Mr. Masten?” her voice was soft, scared.
“Dean,” he immediately corrected her and then swore under his breath as he had just blown his cover. “It’s what my brother calls me,” he added as a weak explanation. “And monsters?” he hoped he put enough skepticism into his voice that she thought the question was crazy. He forced another mouthful of hot coffee down his throat to stop his mouth from running off further.
“Joseph said a lot of things before he died. Ned and Billy said he must have gone into shock because the things he said, they didn’t make any sense. He said that she wasn’t really a she, and that it had shoved its hand into his chest and tried to rip his heart out. That it had eaten the rest of them. And that it would hunt for more.”
“How did you know Joseph?” Dean didn’t want to ask the question, but the story was too personal for her to share it with him.
Karen pulled her attention away from Sam and turned back to look at Dean. “He was my big brother,” she answered, swallowing heavily around the lump in her throat.
“I’m sorry,” Dean genuinely replied as he ignored the tears welling up in her eyes, threatening to spill over. He knew exactly how she felt when she lost her brother. He couldn’t stand the thought of going through life without Sam and he’d sold his soul to get him back. The deadline loomed over his head again, reminding him that he had just another six weeks with his brother before he was headed to Hell.
She gave him a tight smile before returning her attention to Sam. “The Callahan boys are organizing a group to go out after it. It’s gone on too long.”
Dean sat up in his chair at her words. A group of inexperienced hunters was the worst thing that they could do right now. It would hunt them down, one by one, and kill every last one of them. His sense of duty warred with his desire to stay at Sam’s side and watch over him, protect him, when he’d failed hours before. “What time are they headed out?” His hunter’s instincts won out.
Karen turned her attention back to him, leaning a hip against the window and studying him. “You aren’t going,” she simply stated, leveling him with a stern look.
Dean scoffed and shook his head. “Of course not,” he honestly replied.
She studied him for a moment before answering, “They’re going out at daybreak to kill this thing, whatever it is.”
Dean nodded and cast a quick glance at his watch. Fortunately he didn’t have to fake the yawn that escaped his mouth. “Any place you’d suggest for me to get a room? We didn’t get a chance to settle in, just wanted to get out and explore the woods when we got here, I think I could use a shower.” Dean stuck with the story that he’d told the hospital staff and police when Sam had been hurt.
“There’s a Super 8 on the other side of town. Stan outta still be open and in the lobby,” she answered. “You could use a couple hours of sleep too,” she added as she gave him a once over.
He closed his eyes for a minute, immediately hating himself for what he was about to do. “I don’t want to leave S—Steve for that long,” he put up the argument.
“He’s gonna be fine. And really, you don’t want him to wake up and see you looking worse than him, do you?”
“I can catch sleep here.”
“Listen, we’re not really supposed to do this, but I can call you if you want, if Steve wakes up, or if something changes,” she offered with a small smile.
Dean offered her a relieved smile that wasn’t faked. It would make leaving Sam’s side easier if he knew someone was watching over him, would call if anything changed.
“I’d really appreciate that,” he told her and rose to his feet. His knees popped in protest to the movement after sitting in one position for so long. He towered over Karen and he knew she would be completely dwarfed when Sam stood next to her. His stomach rumbled and he immediately placed an embarrassed hand over it.
Karen didn’t bother to hold back her laugh at his expense. “Norma’s Diner opens at six. It’s a few doors down from the motel. But Stan’s got a few vending machines in the lobby that should hold you over until then.”
Dean waited until she stopped laughing and caught her attention. “I really appreciate you doing this, Karen,” he told her again.
She looked right up at him with complete understanding, “I know.”
Metal groaned as Dean pulled the driver’s door to the Impala open and slid inside. The overpowering smell of iron invaded his nose and he swallowed hard not to gag. There was blood on the steering wheel, blood on the inside of the door, and he knew that his backseat was covered in it. Sam had almost bled out before he could get him back into town, back to someone that could do something other than yell at him to keep pressure on his chest as he drove like a maniac.
It took him a few minutes to regain his composure, to settle the shaking of his hands, before he put the key in the ignition and turned it over. The Impala rumbled to life and Dean let instinct take over as he shifted the car into reverse and made his way to the Super 8. He needed a hot shower and a change of clothes before he headed out to kill this creature before the locals got themselves well and truly dead.
It took Dean all of fifteen minutes to get from one side of Lewistown to the other. The streets were unsurprisingly empty in the wee hours between midnight and sunrise. He passed Norma’s Diner, dark except for the emergency lights, and applied the brakes before the last stop light in town where the Super 8 sign was visible. He flipped on his blinker, turned left at the intersection, and pulled into the almost empty parking lot of the Super 8.
The office was well-lit and Dean could see the clerk, Stan, looking through the window at Dean’s car. He let out a sigh and put the car in park, sliding the key out of the ignition and pushing open the door with a groan. He pulled two duffel bags out of the trunk, one filled with clothes and the other filled with weapons. He needed to double check a couple facts in Dad’s journal, but he was pretty sure the thing that had killed the rest of the men in the woods, and had approached Sam looking just like Jess was a Kumiho.
The trunk slammed shut with an echo through the surrounding block and Dean made his way into the office. An obnoxious set of bells chimed against the door as Dean pulled it open and let it slide shut behind him. “Good morning,” the older gentleman behind the counter greeted him. “Looking for a room?” He eyed Dean carefully, gaze lingering on the blood covered clothes Dean was still wearing.
Dean looked down at his shirt and then returned Stan’s concerned look. “Yes. I need a room for the week,” he answered, reaching in his jacket pocket to pull out his wallet. He didn’t have a credit card in Rick Masten’s name and it was too small of a town to risk using multiple fake identities. He’d have to dip in their reserve and pay cash.
Stan hesitated for a moment before he nodded and reached back to pull the key for room eight off the board behind him. “That’ll be $150, room’ll be cleaned every other day,” he said, placing the key on the counter.
The amount hurt, but Dean pulled the bills out of his wallet and handed them over. Stan counted them and when he was satisfied he pushed the key across to Dean. Dean picked it up, gave him a quick nod, and walked out of the office. Room eight was wedged in the corner of the front rooms. The key stuck in the lock for a moment before it clicked and Dean pushed the door open. He dropped both bags on the closest bed before he did a quick cursory sweep of the room. Nothing stood out and he rummaged through the weapons bag to pull out a canister of salt. He lined the window sills and drew a line under the door before he headed for the shower.
The woods just southeast of Lewistown were eerily quiet as Dean eased the Impala off the highway and down a gravel service road. He turned off the car, the engine pinging quietly in damp air. He reached for the knapsack resting in the passenger seat. The metal canisters holding the holy water, gasoline and salt tinged against one another as Dean pushed himself out of the car. He quietly pushed the car door closed, latching it with a press of his hips, so it wouldn’t echo throughout the woods. But he had a pretty good feeling the Kumiho already knew he had come back.
She appeared, just as she had the first time, a hint of movement in the forest, a trick of light, enough for the mind to convince itself it was seeing things. But as Dean moved further into her woods, she appeared in longer periods of time, glimpses of her beautiful blonde hair flowing behind her as she ducked behind a tree, disappearing, enticing him to follow her. And he followed her, biding his time, fingers clenched in a fist, itching to reach for the knife in his boot and carve her to pieces for putting her hands on Sam.
“I almost had him,” the soft feminine voice drifted through the woods and Dean came to a stop. She hadn’t spoken a word the last time, but it hadn’t taken words to dismantle Sam’s guard. She had been in front of him a moment ago, but he knew that wasn’t still true.
He forced himself to relax, to study the forest for any sound that would give away her location. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck and he spun, dipped down and slid the knife free of his boot sheath. She stood a few yards away from him, on the trail that he’d come. Her white cotton dress was pristine, impossibly perfect in the woods, as it hung off one tanned shoulder. He met her gaze, and it wasn’t Jessica. Close, but there was something fundamentally off that he couldn’t put his finger on that let him know the creature standing in front of him wasn’t human.
“I could feel his heart beating, racing in fear. Another moment and it would have beat against my lips, warm in my mouth,” she continued as she took a few steps toward him.
She brought her fingers to her lips, tongue sneaking out to slide along her fingertips. “He tasted sick with despair. It’s tearing him up that you’re going to Hell because of him, Dean,” she said. “Don’t you wonder why he didn’t fight back a little harder as I was shoving my hand in his chest? It hurt, but Sammy didn’t fight back like he should of. Perhaps he welcomed an end because he knew he was going to fail you. No backing out on Lilith’s deals.”
“He doesn’t want to die,” Dean argued as he rose out of his crouch. His knapsack slid off his shoulder, settled against the ground a few feet from him. He took a step toward her, helping close the distance between them, fingers tightening almost painfully around the knife hilt.
She laughed, the sound hurt his ears and the forest shifted uneasily around them. “He doesn’t want to live this life either.”
Dean lunged, sprinting forward the few feet that separated them. His arm came up, knife over his head and she lithely side-stepped his downward thrust, while her leg came up in an arc to meet his wrist, knocking the knife away. He grunted in pain at the contact, wrist throbbing and his fingers released their hold on the hilt, allowing the knife to fly just out of his reach.
She collided with him, surprise at her speed and strength had him off balance and he fell awkwardly to the ground, unable to brace his fall. The Kumiho followed him down, trapping him, and the air left his lungs in a painful huff. Her legs came down on either side of his hips as she sat up. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs.
“I wonder if you’ll taste anything like Sam did,” she whispered.
She shifted, weight sliding back with her arm. His legs scrambled, boots finally finding purchase, and he bucked his hips. The Kumiho’s balance shifted and Dean rolled. He managed to get out from under her just as her fist came crashing down, digging deep into the soft earth. Panic slid through him. That could have been his chest that she split apart, his heart thudded rapidly, but safely in his chest. His eyes settled on his knapsack, the silver stake just barely visible from the opening. He forced himself up on hands and knees, lungs heaving, and he moved toward it.
His fingers wrapped around the stake just as she grabbed his ankle, yanking hard and pulling away from his weapons. The stake snagged on the pack, but came free, barely remaining in his fingers. He turned, bringing the stake with him, as she came down at him again. Both hands wrapped around the silver as she fell and the stake sunk into her chest. She screamed, the beautiful form of Jessica rippling and contorting as the metal entered her body. He pushed her off of him, her form still continuing to shift between forms and he frankly dug around in the dirt for the knife she’d knocked from his hands earlier. His fingertips slid against the sharp edge, pain raced up his hand as he felt blood well. His hand wrapped around the hilt, drawing with a whisper through the grass. As he looked back down, the form that had once been Jessica had mutated, shifting more toward its original fox shape. The knife slid easily across the creature’s throat, warm blood spurting up in Dean’s face, but he forced the knife down harder, pushing it deeper.
When the Kumiho’s head fully separated from its body, the thrashing and shifting of forms finally stopped. The breath left Dean with a whoosh and he almost collapsed. A sliver of the rising sun caught Dean’s eye and renewed his strength. He drove the knife in the ground next to the remains of the Kumiho and pushed himself to his feet. He stumbled over to the emptied contents of his bag, hands closing around the salt, the canteen of gasoline, and a box of matches.
The salt poured out of the canister, spilling down onto the creature, sizzling where it met with freshly spilled blood. The gasoline came next, soaking into the fur of the body and the ground underneath. He pulled out a single match, pushing the box closed and striking the match. The flame sprung to life at his fingertips. He stared at it for a moment, thinking back on the countless victims this creature had taken, thinking of Sam lying broken in the hospital. He dropped it on the remains, taking a step back as the fire immediately came to life.
The sun had fully risen over the horizon when the fire had finished consuming the creature. Dean’s eyes drooped as he unscrewed the canteen filled with holy water. He uttered another prayer over the water before he turned it over and poured its contents over the ashes. Exhausted, he carefully started collecting everything he’d brought with him into the woods for this hunt. It would only be a matter of time before the group of hunters found this place, and he didn’t want any more questions then he already had to deal with.
His Impala gleamed in the early morning sun as he made his way up the service road. He opened the driver’s door, relieved that this hunt was finally over, but his lips pulled down at the corners as he instantly missed the sound that accompanied Sam pulling open the passenger door before he lowered his gigantic form inside. He was tired, starving, and filthy dirty again, and he was pretty sure he needed to do laundry, but he wanted nothing more than to drive back to the hospital and whisper against the glass that he’d killed that bitch. Two days later…
“He’s going to be a little out of it when we bring him out of sedation. He’s going to fight the ventilator, but we’ll get him off that as soon as possible. We just need to make sure that his lungs are going to be able to support him without assistance,” Dr. Grady explained to Dean as they stood just outside Sam’s ICU room.
“Can I be in there with him?” Dean had to ask even though he knew they weren’t going to let him.
“Normally, we wouldn’t allow it. But given the extenuating circumstances, we’ll allow it. You must remain out of the way, at all times, no matter what you see or how painful it must look. He’s gonna come out of this just fine, Mr. Masten.”
Dean fidgeted as he stood in the back of the room, scrubs rustling against each other, and his breath was hot and humid against his face under the mask. The already tiny room was crowded with Dr. Grady, Karen, and another nurse to assist in bringing Sam out of the sedation and removing him from the ventilator.
It didn’t take long for Sam to wake up once the drugs were removed from his system. He immediately started to fight, hand coming up to claw at the tube down his throat. The Doctor and nurses were at his side immediately, faces leaning over his to let him know where he was, words calmly spoken to explain the situation with him. Dean’s nails dug into the latex gloves and then into his palm as he clenched his fists; he wanted to rush forward, pull them off Sam and keep him safe. But he knew Sam’s best chance at getting through this lay in the hands of the staff in front of him.
“Hey there, just relax, take some deep breaths, let them out slowly,” Dr. Grady’s steady, calm voice washed over Dean and seemed to calm Sam as well. “All right, good job, Steve, you’re doing great. We’re going to remove the ventilator. It’s going to feel a little weird. When I say, I want you to cough. Okay, are you ready?” Dr. Grady coached him through what was about to happen. Sam must have given an affirmation of some sort because Dr. Grady carefully grasped the end of the tube coming out of Sam’s mouth.
“All right Steve, here we go. Go ahead and give me a good, strong cough,” Dr. Grady instructed. Sam coughed and ended up gagging as the tube slid out of his throat. “Great job, Steve,” Dr. Grady exclaimed and moved away Sam’s side to set down the equipment on a nearby metal stand.
Through the gap created when Dr. Grady moved, Sam’s confused, terrified eyes met Dean’s, and Dean’s heart stopped beating for a moment at the lack of recognition there.
Sam’s voice was raspy as he spoke, “Who’s Steve?”
Dean nervously paced outside the hospital, phone gripped tightly in his hand, as he waited for Bobby to pick up. “Pick up, pick up, pick up,” Dean muttered with each ring. “Pick—“
“Dean?” Bobby’s voice flowed through his cell and Dean snapped his mouth shut. “Everything go alright with Sam?”
“No,” Dean answered. “He doesn’t remember who he is Bobby,” he blurted out in a rush. His heart clenched with the words, still not able to accept the words he’d heard uttered from Sam a short while ago.
“Slow down, son,” Bobby interrupted him. “Start at the beginning. They obviously woke him up, he’s off the ventilator, so what happened?”
“It was a disaster. They kept calling him, Steve Masten and he just looked so lost and confused. And then when he finally got his voice back, he told them his name was Sam Thompson. That he was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, and that his entire family died in a house fire when he was six months old.
“The Thompsons, our godparents, took him in. Bobby, he’s erased the entire Winchester family and our life from his past. He didn’t recognize me. Had no idea who I was. He’s scared and confused, and has no idea how he got to Lewistown, Utah or why he was in the woods.”
“Alright, take a couple deep breaths Dean. You need to keep your wits about you here, now more than ever.”
“You’re right,” Dean admitted, he collapsed on the closest bench and let out a breath of air.
“What did you tell them?”
“When they asked you for clarification?”
“I stuck to my story. I didn’t elaborate, just said I was as shocked as they were. It wasn’t hard to fake it when it was genuine shock.”
“OK. What are they going to do with him? Keep him in the hospital? Release him?”
“They don’t know yet. He’s too weak to leave, his lung isn’t completely healed, and his chest is still broken. If I take him, he might not make it.”
“Then you’ll have to control the situation from there Dean. You need to get in there, alone with Sam, and tell him the truth, the whole ugly truth. If they do any digging, they’re gonna realize Sam Thompson doesn’t exist, never did.”
“You didn’t see him Bobby. He’s not Sam Winchester. He’s convinced that he’s got another life out there, one where he graduated from Stanford, entered law school and married Jess. It’s the life that he would have had if he hadn’t been a Winchester.” “He doesn’t want to live this life either,”
the Kumiho had said. He slumped further on the bench, horrified that it had spoken the truth.
“Well good for Sam Thompson, unfortunately he doesn’t exist. Sam Winchester needs to know who he is, what he does, and how to protect himself, especially if we aren’t able to break your deal.”
Bobby’s tone was gruff, filled with authority and Dean felt his spine straighten until the mention of his deal. His stomach rolled at the idea of leaving Sam alone in this state for the rest of his life. He’d resigned himself to the fact that he didn’t want to die, didn’t really want to go to Hell for eternity, but there was no way to break his deal. But now, more than before, he wished for more time.
“I can leave now, be there tomorrow morning,” Bobby offered, but Dean found himself shaking his head.
He knew that Bobby would drop everything, throw together a bag, and drive all day and through the night to get to them. Dean had no right to ask that of Bobby. “Thanks Bobby, but there’s no need to drive all the way out here just yet,” Dean told him even though he wouldn’t mind Bobby coming out here and taking over. But they had gotten themselves into this mess, Dean would get them out, hopefully without involving Bobby.
“It’ll work itself out, son,” Bobby’s voice was filled with false hope. “Sam just needs some time to work through everything. He’ll find himself.”
“I hope you’re right, Bobby, I hope you’re right.”Six weeks later…
Dean turned the key to shut off the ignition to the Ford Tempo. He let out a long, slow sigh and dropped his head back against the head rest behind him, eyes staring up at the dirty fabric clinging to the car’s interior. The engine softly ticked as it started to cool down and Dean let his eyes slide closed. For a moment he wanted nothing more than to put the key back in the ignition, throw the car in drive and run. But he knew it was a stupid idea. The hounds would find him, no matter how fast he drove. No, he needed to do this, to make things right before he left.
He wearily opened his eyes and pushed open the driver’s side door. It whined, the hinges needed oiling, but in another seven hours or so the car wouldn’t be his to worry about. Dean shoved the door closed with a heavy thunk, pocketed the key, and headed up the walk to the apartment building he had been sharing with Sam for the last month.
His key easily slid into the deadbolt on the door and it turned over with a soft click. He stepped inside, eyes lowering to the floor to make sure the thin groove he’d dug in the floor was still filled with salt. It looked a little low and he made a mental note to fill it up before he left.
“You’re home early,” Sam’s voice greeted Dean as he pushed the door closed and made his way over the worn rug in the living room and across the wood floors into the kitchen, where Sam was working on dinner.
Dean stopped in the doorway to the tiny kitchen the apartment had and leaned against the doorway, studying Sam as he carefully stirred the hamburger in the pan. The fixings for tacos were set up in careful bowls on the counter, and a pan full of taco shells were sitting on the toaster, ready to go in the oven and warm up.
“Smells good Sammy,” he said softly. Sam looked up from the stove and smiled warmly at Dean. “Took off a little early today,” he answered Sam’s initial comment. He didn’t bother to tell Sam that he’d quit his job at Matt’s Garage. Sam didn’t need to know that right now and Dean selfishly wanted his evening to be spent in peace rather than arguing.
“Hope you don’t do that too often. Matt’ll fire you,” Sam commented and Dean could hear the worry in his voice.
“It’s okay,” he quickly assured him. “Worked through lunch a few days this week. Besides, I’m sure you could drum up something in legalese that would get me my job back.”
Sam snorted and shot Dean an exasperated look. “I’m not a lawyer Dean.” He reminded Dean.
“Right, right, just a clerk for Thomas Golten’s firm. A clerk that shows such great promise,” he teased his brother.
The tips of Sam’s ears turned pink at the mention of the compliments he’d received since he started work at the firm a few weeks ago. Sam cleared his throat and pointedly did not look at Dean. “You wanna set the table then?”
“Sure,” he murmured, letting the conversation drop.
Dean tossed his napkin on this plate and leaned back in his chair, studying his brother as he finished up his last taco. Sam swallowed down the last bite and picked up his beer to finish it off. Dean watched as Sam’s throat worked and not for the first time in the last few weeks, he wished his brother remembered who he was, how much more they meant to each other beyond brothers.
Dean cleared his throat, jerking himself out of thoughts that wouldn’t lead anywhere positive. “Wanna ‘nother beer?” Dean asked as Sam met his gaze.
Sam hesitated for another moment and Dean could see the internal debate in his head over whether he should have a second beer when he had to go into work tomorrow. “Sure,” he finally agreed.
Dean smiled, and let out a relieved sigh as he grabbed their plates from the table and disappeared back into the kitchen. He dropped the plates in the sink and pulled two more beers out of the fridge door. The tops came off with a small hiss and Dean pulled the plastic baggie out of his pocket. He immediately felt guilty as he focused on the two sedatives. He’d lied to Karen, telling her that Sam was still having trouble sleeping, and needed a good night’s rest. And he was about to destroy the trust he had worked so hard to gain with his little brother.
He fished the pills out of the baggie and carefully dropped them down into Sam’s beer. They began to dissolve instantly, fizzing slightly. Dean gave the beer a little shake to rid it of the extra fizz and headed back into the living room. He put the beer down in front of Sam before he headed around the table to slide into his own seat. He caught Sam’s eye, eyebrow coming up in a silent challenge that Sam had somehow managed to understand even with the amnesia, and took a long swig. Sam slightly shook his head in resignation before he too took a long pull.
Dean carefully arranged Sam’s dead weight in the bed and pulled the light blanket up over him. Sam’s soft snores matched the slow but steady rise and fall of his chest. Dean really regretted the fact that he had drugged his little brother, but he knew there was no way that he would be able to look Sam in the eye, lie to him about where he was going, and tell him he would see him later. He wasn’t strong enough to tell his little brother good-bye, not when Sam had died a year ago, and certainly not now when he was headed to Hell for eternity.
Dean leaned down and pressed a quick kiss to Sam’s lips. It was all he would allow himself since the accident, since his brother had erased everything Winchester from his mind and life. He pressed another kiss to Sam’s forehead, whispering, “Bye, Sammy,” against his brother’s skin, tears welling in his eyes, blurring his vision. He straightened up, rearranging Sam’s blanket once more before he forced himself to turn around and walk out of the room.
The Hellhounds whined in the hallway, just outside of the door to Sam’s apartment. A shudder ran through Dean and he looked down at his watch, 7:15. He needed to hurry, make sure he was out of Lewistown by eight at the latest, to put at least four hours of hard driving behind him and Sam before his deal ended at midnight. The howls of the Hounds had grown stronger over the last month. They had grown from fiery eyes glowing in the shadows to translucent beasts, saliva dripping off their razor-sharp teeth. He knew come midnight those beasts would be solid enough to rip his soul clean from his body and drag it to Hell for Lilith.
He moved past the front door, ignoring the hairs rising on the back of his neck as the Hellhounds paced, and entered the kitchen. The keys to the Impala rested on the kitchen table, his fingers itched to touch them one last time, but instead he dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the key to the piece of shit he’d just bought from the local junkyard. Sam would need the Impala whether he knew it or not, and Dean sure as Hell wasn’t going to let those Hounds tear apart his baby to get to him. He dug a notepad and pen out of Sam’s briefcase and settled into the kitchen chair that creaked with his weight. He rolled the pen between his thumb and forefinger as he debated just what to say to Sam. Bobby had been right. Sam had every right to know about his past, to know about who he truly was, who he was to Dean, because despite how much Dean wanted to deny it, he knew Sam’s supernatural past would catch up with him one day. Sammy…