Word Count: ~1230
Characters/Pairing: eventual Sam/Dean; John, Mary, Jess
Summary: When tragedy strikes Sam Winchester's life, his notoriously unreliable brother Dean is the last person he expects to help him get through it. And yet, here he is, acting like Sam is his responsibility or something.
Warnings: Character death (not Sam or Dean)
Notes: This story is an AU set in the alternate reality from WiaWSNB. Dean and Sam are somewhat estranged; Mary is still alive; there has never been any hunting. That, however, is where it veers off. Beta'd by the lovely writewanderlust. Title from the lyrics of Zep's What is and What Should Never Be.
Sam leaned against his father’s ‘67 Impala, watching the door, waiting for everyone else to come outside. He could hear his mother’s voice and his father’s laugh, and then Jess came jogging out of the house, pulling a hat over her blonde hair as she bounced over to him.
Sam reached an arm out, pulling her closer by the waist. Jess smiled up at him and let herself be reeled in.
“Your mom wants you to wear this,” she said, snagging a scarf that had been hanging from her pocket and draping it around Sam’s neck.
“Aw, come on, I don’t need a scarf,” Sam whined. He tried to hide the fact that he was shivering less now that he had it on.
“Well, I think you look cute,” Jess answered, still holding onto the scarf at either end.
“Oh yeah?” Sam smiled and bent over a little, heart jumping when Jess giggled into the kiss.
“Alright, you two, enough!” John’s rough voice called out behind them, fondly. Jess let go of Sam’s scarf, but turned so she was snug against his side. “Those pumpkins aren’t going to pick themselves.”
“Yeah, yeah, we were waiting on you,” Sam started. Mary stepped out of the house, then, closing the door behind her, and fixed Sam with a warning glare. Sam shut up and opened the back door for Jess, letting her slide across the seat before him.
After a couple minutes on the road, Sam cleared his throat. “So, um, I was thinking...”
“What do you want?” John asked, eyeing Sam in the rearview mirror.
Jess slid her mittened hand into Sam’s and squeezed, reminding him to be patient with his father. Sam smiled at her, squeezing back, before he continued.
“Well, most people take their SATs their Junior year, so I’ll be taking mine this spring. And I was wondering if maybe I could take this class I saw an advertisement for at the library to help me prepare, so I can do really well.”
John was quiet for a minute, then asked, “How much is the class?”
Sam shifted his eyes so he was looking out the window. “$350.00,” he mumbled.
“Are you insane, Sam?” John snapped. “No.”
“Sam.” Mary turned around in her seat, the fabric of her dark blue coat pulling as she twisted a little more to look at her son. “That’s a lot of money that we just don’t have for something like this. We can go to the bookstore next week, though, get a couple practice books for you.”
“That’s not the same, though! And I need to get a really good score so I can get a scholarship, and--”
“Sam, I don’t want to hear you arguing with your mother, do you understand me? No means no. We’ll get you your damn books and that will have to be enough,” John said, glancing to the back seat.
Sam was about to push back, his mind already forming more protests, when Jess screamed. Then there was pressure and noise and spinning, and Sam didn’t know which way was up or down, or who was screaming or why. The last thing he remembered was not being able to feel Jess’s hand in his anymore.
When Sam opened his eyes, he was wholly disoriented, and dizzy to the point of nausea. His vision was a little blurred and combined with the steady throb of his head, it made it hard to really focus on anything. He opened his mouth to call for someone, but all that came out was a dry, incoherent slur.
All of a sudden he felt a hand on his arm, which made him panic, and then he registered a beeping sound, which made him panic even further.
“Sam? Hey, Sam, can you hear me? Hey, calm down.”
And then Sam was confused, because that sounded like Dean, but he didn’t think it was a holiday today, and the last time Dean really just stopped by had been over the summer. Sam was also pretty sure it wasn’t summer anymore. He tried to sit up, thinking it might help him focus, but when he did, he couldn’t keep in the groan at the sparking pain.
“Damn it, Sam, just lie still, don’t try to move!” Dean’s voice sounded harsh, frayed.
Sam supposed on some level that he should probably be embarrassed when he started crying, but he was scared, confused, and in more pain than he’d ever been in before. Worse still, he didn’t know why.
“Ah, shit. Sam? Hey, it’s Dean, it’s okay. It’s okay.”
Sam felt a hand awkwardly pat over his head a couple times before resting on his arm again. He took a few deep breaths and blinked rapidly, trying to clear his vision. He turned his head a little and saw Dean leaning over, watching him. His brother looked rumpled, and his eyes were bloodshot, but he actually looked sober, which was more than Sam could say about the last time he’d seen Dean. Still didn’t explain what he was doing here, or where “here” exactly was.
“Dean?” Sam asked, and Dean let out an unsteady breath that was half a laugh. Sam didn’t think he could remember having ever seen Dean so shaken.
“Yeah. God, Sammy,” Dean said. “It’s about damn time you woke up.” He sat down heavily in the chair next to Sam’s bed. Sam thought vaguely that it was weird hearing someone call him ‘Sammy.’ No one had since he and Dean were both kids.
“I don’t--” Sam stopped, swallowed. “What’s going on?”
Dean stared at him, going a little pale. “What do you remember?”
Sam tried to think, but was only able to grasp fuzzy images of scarves. “I--I don’t know,” Sam said, and this time he was embarrassed by the way his voice trembled.
Dean looked away and stood up, pacing a little. “Okay, that’s okay,” he said again, but it didn’t sound very reassuring. “Bobby and Ellen were gonna stop by after work, maybe we should just wait for them.”
Sam watched his brother fidget, dread pooling in his stomach. “Dean, stop. Just tell me what’s going on.”
Dean did stop, but he stayed by the door, arms crossed protectively in front of his chest. “You were in a car accident a few days ago; we’re in a hospital just outside of Lawrence right now. You were pretty busted up--broken ribs, collapsed lung, broken leg. They said your brain was swelling or something, too, that’s why you weren’t waking up.” Dean clears his throat, then continued much softer, “I didn’t know if you were gonna wake up.”
It took a minute to process that, and then slowly bits and pieces of memory started filling in. “Right, I...we were going pumpkin picking, Mom and Dad and Jess. Where are they, are they okay?”
Sam watched Dean’s face shut down, watched him turn to face the wall before looking at Sam again, and Sam already knew what he was going to say.”
“They said Mom and Jess died on impact. Dad passed away yesterday from internal bleeding. They weren’t able to repair it.”
The nausea and dizziness came rushing back. All Sam could hear were the machines beeping wildly and Dean cursing, calling for a nurse, and then he couldn’t hear anything at all.