Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer/Summary: See Prologue
Author's Note: Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing! I promise I will eventually reply to each of you, but I hope you'll take this THANK YOU in the meantime. Also, apologies for the lateness; I'm intending on posting a new chapter every Friday but this week was so insane that I actually ~forgot~ it was Friday until the evening and was not able to post. Won't happen again. I hope. :)
From this point forward, we're getting into the weeds of this alternate reality. As the boys deal with the ramifications for what went down at Stull the action may ebb and flow a bit, but I felt it was necessary to set up their new reality in Part 1…so I can bring it all crashing down around them in Part 2. This is a bit of a Sam-centric chapter, but Dean is never far from him.
Hope you continue to enjoy!From Yesterday, Part 1: Prologue
From Yesterday, Part 1: Chapter 1
His face was wet.
Sam opened his eyes, trying to determine the reason for the moisture, staring up at a twilight sky. For brief, precious moments, his mind was completely blank; his memory a confused tangle of light and dark, blurred images and unfamiliar voices. Frowning, he started to reach up and touch his own cheek when pain blossomed throughout his body.
"Ah!" he gasped, trying desperately to pinpoint the source.
It was everywhere; it was in his thoughts, in each shuddering breath. He closed his eyes, feeling his body scream. Voices, loud, demanding, angry – his voice, words that cut as sure as a blade. Forcing himself to slow his breaths until he could count them, until the slam of his heart no longer threatened to choke him to death, he cautiously opened his eyes.
After two or three breaths, he was able to pinpoint the worst of his pain. It seemed to be centered on his right shoulder and left hand, with a strange, constant sting across his back. He huffed out a breath, trying to capture the ache radiating across every exhale and rolled to his left side with thought to sit up…until he saw the body. Sam lifted his head from the ground, clarity coming swiftly to his blurred vision.
Not ten feet from him, Bobby lay on the ground, next to an impressive pool of blood, his lips blue, his head at an unnatural angle. Sam felt his breath stutter once more in his chest, trying desperately to remember how this could have happened. He managed to leverage himself up to his elbow, unable at first to tear his eyes from Bobby's body.
It didn't make sense; the last time he saw Bobby—
"Oh, God," Sam breathed, memories suddenly filtering back to him like a broken movie reel.
The hotel room. Lucifer.
He'd said yes. He'd said yes and he'd felt the angel take over, shoving him back and away, pushing him deep inside his own mind, unable to control his own body, his own actions, until…. He looked over his shoulder quickly, almost expecting to see a red-faced demon with pointed teeth and horns. Instead, he saw something even more horrific: Dean.
Face broken and bloody, body utterly still.
"Dean?" Sam called softly, his voice sounding strange and strangled in his ears.
He started to push himself upright, but the moment he put pressure on his left hand, he jerked it back in surprise and pain. Looking down at his palm he saw a red, raw, seeping burn the size of a half-dollar. His body started to shake, shock setting in, chilling him even as heat radiated from his wounds. He closed his eyes, gripping his wrist as his hand throbbed.
Because we're two halves made whole….
Sam gasped, the voice erupting unbidden, echoing inside his head as if his brain were an amphitheater. He reached up, grabbing at his temple, remembering. Sickened. He could feel him…feel Lucifer. Except it wasn't like before.
The fallen angel was no longer here…but the memory of seeing the Devil in his own reflection, of hearing that voice, feeling the wicked, repulsive…oddly seductive desire and satisfaction rippling through him was still very real.
All those times you ran away, you weren't running from them.
"No…no, stop it…."
You were running towards me.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
What do you say you and I blow off a little steam…?
"STOP!" Sam roared, helplessly curling inward, trying to shut the voice out, quiet the riot inside of his head, sending his heart into a flutter of confused panic. How was he still alive? Why was he still alive?
The wound on his hand stung as he pressed it against his sweat-soaked head. Blood from the oozing burn saturated the edge of his sleeve and he saw that it had pooled on the grass beneath him, joined, he now realized, by blood from a wound on his right shoulder.
Not sure what was wrong with his back, but feeling the pull all the same, Sam tightened his stomach muscles to ease himself forward. Turning his right hand over, he saw the torn skin and swollen knuckles he'd normally associate with being in a brawl. Carefully curling his fingers against his palm, he shot a look toward Dean's still form.
Oh, he's here…and he's going to feel the snap of your bones….
The voice – his voice – continued to echo in Sam's memory. He flinched violently as he remembered slamming his fist against Dean's face again and again. He cried out, his body rocking involuntarily with the memory, the flush from before spiking up as his head swam.
Suddenly, Sam twisted at the waist and was sick. His stomach heaved as if trying to expel the memory, the sensation of having the Devil beneath his skin. When his heaving stopped and he was able to catch his breath, Sam rolled to his knees, crawling in a slow, awkward shuffle toward his brother.
"Dean?" He almost choked on the word. He was shaking all over, covered with a chilled sweat, his vision wavering as he pinned his eyes to Dean's broken form.
Nothing. No movement.
Sam reached out his right hand, his left curled protectively against his side, and gently touched Dean's wounded face. Something jolted through him, weak and wavering. He could see himself through Dean's eyes – only it was clear that it wasn't truly him he was seeing. It was Lucifer.
I'm here…I'm not gonna leave you.
"Oh, God, Dean." Sam cried, tears now flowing freely.
He remembered the sound of his fist slamming against Dean's face. He remembered the give of Dean's bones. He remembered the smell of his brother's blood.
And he remembered Dean's voice, unfailing, unwavering. I'm not gonna leave you.
He let his fingers slip from Dean's blood-covered face and the images seemed to fall away. His brother's breath rattled in the quiet of the night and a sob tore through Sam. Bending forward, he rested his forehead on Dean's shoulder, tears falling against Dean's jacket and soaking in. It occurred to him then that was what he'd awoken to: tears on his face.
A memory clung: a sensation of ripping – like paper from a book – and a scream of outrage and fear echoed oddly in the back of his mind, making his head ache with the faintness of it. He blinked the memory away, pressing his face against Dean's arm, feeling the heat there.
His hand throbbed; sniffing, he rolled his head to the side, still leaning on Dean's shoulder, and looked once more at the wound. He couldn't remember how it had happened. He recalled the sensation of swimming to the surface, of finally breathing once more, and then seeing his brother's battered face. He remembered heat and light and Dean's grip—
Sam brought his head up and clumsily reached for Dean's hands. His left was turned, twisted behind him. His right lay stretched out in front of him revealing a charred, bloody wound, roughly the same size as Sam's, but so deep Sam could see bone. Blood pooled in the grass around the appendage and coated Dean's fingers and wrist.
Sam felt his breath catch.
They were in trouble. He couldn't remember how he'd gotten here – something told him he really didn't want to – but they had the Impala; he needed to get them to a hospital. Reaching for the Chevy, Sam started to pull himself to his feet. He was surprised when his legs wouldn't cooperate.
The world spun slowly around him as he got as far as his knees, leaning against the silver grill of the Impala. Swallowing another surge of bile, Sam looked down at his shoulder, the dull pain there having spiked with his efforts to rise. Blood soaked his shirt and jacket; he pulled the material aside and saw to his surprise that he'd been shot. A small, neat hole puckered the skin just beneath his collar bone. Now that he was aware of it, he realized he could feel blood soaking his back, the bullet having apparently gone through him.
He closed his eyes, suddenly dizzy. Twice. He could remember a gun being fired twice. He couldn't feel another patch of blood on his front; it was impossible to tell how bad his back was. The only thing he knew was that he was conscious now and Dean wasn't. If there was any hope of getting out of there, he was going to have to call for help.
Sinking down to lean against the Impala's wheel, his side against Dean's folded legs, he patted the pockets of his coat, searching for his cell phone. He found nothing. Not in his jeans either. He swallowed, feeling his body begin to shake once more, a chill settling in that scared him. He had no idea how much blood he'd lost, but he could not pass out now. He did, and they were both dead and none of this would matter.
"It's not going to end this way!"
The voice was so real, so present that Sam looked over his shoulder, feeling the ripping sensation once more, crying out as the phantom pain seemed to destroy the muscles in his back and chest, catching his head in a vise. He saw something lying on a patch of yellowing grass, unsure exactly what it was, but hazarding a guess: the Horseman's Rings. As he stared at the Earth, a memory of hands pulling him back, dragging him away from Dean, rocked him and sent his body tumbling forward, across his brother's hip.
He clung to Dean, drowning in a sea of memory as his traumatized mind caught up with his consciousness and he saw, felt, heard the last few moments of his life. Gasping, he remembered how Dean had held on, the light emanating from his brother – his eyes illuminating until they were unrecognizable silver orbs, beams streaming from his mouth, ears, skin – both terrifying and reassuring, their hands burning as if fusing together. Sam remembered Adam lunging for him, desperate fingers clawing at him, working to pull him away, fighting gravity as the Earth opened up beneath them.
Sam gagged as the pain flashed, hot and fierce, through him once more, the memory of Adam—Michael—latching onto someone – just not Sam. He couldn't take Sam because Dean anchored him, body and soul, with what seemed to be only his grip and a light so intense it blinded them. Michael pulled Lucifer from Sam's body, ripped from his invasion of Sam's mind, Sam's soul, removed from his vessel with such force Sam felt his body being torn.
He trembled as he remembered the screams – his, Michael's, Lucifer's – of pain and denial that split the final hold, shredding the Earth around them and sending Sam forward, crashing into Dean and driving him to the ground. He felt the air around him burn hot and bright once more, a vacuum of will tugging him back, away, but unable to hold on, unable to pull him away from his brother.
And then silence. The Earth closed. The Archangels were gone.
No epic battle. No tumble into Lucifer's Cage. No sacrifice.
Sam was sobbing.
It seemed he'd been crying for years, for a lifetime. He was shaking against his brother's still form, exhaustion from the memories pressing him down, weighing him with grief and gratitude. His body was spent, his energy depleted. He couldn't remember ever being so weary. He wanted so badly to simply close his eyes, to sleep, to let gravity win.
He pressed his right hand to the Earth, forcing himself sluggishly upright.
"No," he said aloud, trying to focus his mind. He was their only hope. "You give in now, you both die," he told himself, keeping himself talking, keeping himself present.
No phone on him. He knew there were several in the Impala, but he lacked the strength to drag his body to the door. He began to pat down Dean's pockets, gently turning his brother to reach his right side. The dying light of day illuminated the shattered visage before him and Sam felt his breath catch in his throat.
"Dean," Sam rasped. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Dean made a strangled sound – somewhere between a cough and a moan – and seemed to flinch a bit. Sam stared for a moment before he realized that his brother was choking. Easing Dean to his side once more, he crawled carefully to sit at Dean's head, pulling his brother up into his lap as best he could, propping him up against his chest and relieving some of the pressure. Blood still ran freely from the numerous cuts on his swollen face. Sam finished patting Dean's pockets and found to his immense relief a phone in Dean's jacket.
Flipping it open, he registered briefly that it wasn't Dean's phone. The numbers wavered and blurred before his eyes. Holding the phone in his right hand, Sam struggled to dial 911 with his wounded left hand. Three little numbers. It was a monumental effort.
When the dispatcher answered, he was momentarily at a loss for words. The dispatcher spoke again.
"Hello? Is someone there?"
"Y-yes," Sam choked out. "I-we need…help. We need help."
It was getting hard to think, to process. He couldn't even remember where they were for a moment.
"Sir? Can you tell me the nature of your emergency?"
Without warning, Dean began to shake against him – not a mere tremble, but a frighteningly violent seizure that had Sam clutching him close in instinctive reaction.
"My-my brother is…," he had to stop, to hold onto Dean, to try to speak over his fear. "He's beaten up real bad," he managed, his voice thick with tears and fright. "I've been shot."
"Sir, where are you?" The woman's voice had shifted, turning serious and specific.
Dean went limp and Sam gasped, almost more afraid of his brother's stillness than he had been of the shaking. He froze in terror for the half-second it took to hear Dean's rough breath against silence once more.
There. Still there. Dean was still there. I'm not gonna leave you.
"I-I don't…I can't…."
"It's going to be okay – we're sending help. Can you look around? Can you tell me what you see?"
Sam obeyed, blurred vision filtering in the shadowed landscape, gravestones, and seemingly abandoned town. It had to be abandoned, right? How was it that no one had come to the sound of gunfire? To the sound of screaming?
"Stull," he blurted, the memory finally surfacing. "We're at Stull. The cemetery. We were…," he paused. How was he going to explain all of this? "Attacked. Please…please hurry. My brother… he was shaking, and—" His voice caught in a sob.
"Officers and paramedics are on their way," the dispatcher reassured him. "Are your attackers still nearby?"
"They were gone when I woke up," he answered honestly.
"Is your brother breathing?"
"It's really shallow," Sam told her.
"Okay, it's going to be okay. Where were you shot?"
"Okay, stay still. Try to put some pressure on the wound."
"I'm holding my brother."
"Good, you're doing good. What's your name?"
"You're doing good, Sam. You should be hearing the sirens soon. Stay with me until you hear them, okay?"
"How is your brother, Sam?"
"He's…," Sam looked down at Dean's battered face. "He's broken," he whispered, his voice cracking.
"Sam? Did you say he was broken?"
"His face…it's covered in blood…and he's barely breathing…and his hand…." Sam couldn't keep talking. He couldn't keep thinking. He wanted so badly to lie down. "I'm tired."
"No, Sam. No, now you stay on with me, okay? The paramedics are on their way. Why are you boys at Stull?"
Sam closed his eyes, slumping until his body curled over Dean's head and shoulders. "Had to save the world."
"Sam? Are you on any drugs?"
"No," Sam sighed.
"It will be important for the paramedics to know—"
"No drugs," Sam repeated. "Jus' tired."
"C'mon, Sam, you stay awake, okay? You hear the sirens yet?"
Sam lifted his head slightly. He could hear them, from far, far away, as if they were coming at him from inside the Earth. "Yeah. Kinda."
"Okay, I want you to stay with me until you see the lights. You watch for the lights, okay, Sam?"
"Yeah, okay," Sam said, straightening a bit more, glad to have a job to do.
"They're going to take care of you, help your brother."
"Who's going to take care of Bobby?" Sam asked, his sluggish brain focused only on finding the lights.
"Is Bobby your brother?"
"No." Oh, God, Bobby. Had he killed Bobby? He felt his stomach rebel and sweat broke out on his upper lip. "He's dead."
"Is he…is Bobby there with you?"
"Yeah," Sam sighed again. The world seemed to be slipping further away, his pain-wracked body slowly going numb in response to its retreat. "They killed him."
He heard the dispatcher curse and it make him blink. "The officers will take care of Bobby, Sam."
In some corner of his brain, Sam registered that he probably had just brought a whole new level of horror to the town of Lawrence, Kansas, with one call for help. But he didn't really care. He could see the lights now and the lights meant that someone was coming. That Dean was going to have help. And that the awful, bone-crushing ache that held him in a suffocate grip would finally ease.
"Lights 'r here," he said.
Before the dispatcher could say anything else, Sam closed the phone, stuffing it into his jacket. He could see the vehicles coming closer, their red and blue lights blinding him as they cut through the thickening night. Unable to stay upright any longer, Sam slumped over, falling across Dean at a somewhat protective angle, shielding the worst of his brother's wounds from the possessive dark as help rushed toward them.
"He ain't breathin', Joe."
"Jesus, kid, what the fu—"
"BPs all over the goddamn place."
The voices were at Sam's side, but distant. He felt movement, motion. He opened his eyes slowly and saw two men, both in blue uniforms, bent over someone lying on a stretcher next to him. One had his back to Sam, the other was in profile. It took Sam several moments to realize that the person on the stretcher was Dean.
Sam gaped, jerking in sympathy as Dean's body arched off the stretcher. He saw the two paramedics pause, looking at a small box with a screen on the front, strapped to the wall of the ambulance.
"We got him! We got him back."
"Easy, kid, take it easy, just breathe."
"No good, Joe, he's choking."
He'd been choking back at Stull, Sam remembered. Choking on blood.
"Need to intubate. Charlie, gimme a hand."
"Shit, this is gonna suck balls. This guy's thrashed, Joe."
Sam could hear Dean gagging, see his hands shake in reaction to the pain slamming through his body. He wanted to reach out, to comfort him, but he couldn't move: he was strapped down to the stretcher, his shoulder and torso wrapped tight.
"We're in. He's getting air."
Sam blinked, suddenly dizzy, the voices blending together, bouncing off each other like Newton's Cradle. He closed his eyes, trying to focus, needing to stay present for Dean. Needing to know Dean was okay. Opening his eyes once more was proving to be too difficult.
"God dammit, BPs bottoming out again!"
"Pushing 20 cc's of atropine."
"Calm down, kid. Take it easy; we gotcha. You're safe."
"Charlie, grab his hand."
"What's he reaching for?"
"Just hang onto him."
"No dice, Joe. Gotta get him to calm the fuck down."
Sam knew what Dean was reaching for. His left hand throbbed with the memory of Dean gripping him tight, of Dean holding him here, now, not letting him go. Dean was reaching for him.
"Dean." His voice was weak, and way too far away, but he knew Dean heard him. The frantic beeping that had been filling the interior of the ambulance began to slow. "I'm here, Dean."
And then the beep turned into a high-pitched whine.
"Fuck, not again."
"Charlie, get the paddles—"
When he was eight years old, Sam had fallen from a slide in the playground around the corner from the apartment John had rented for the month and broken his wrist. Dean had picked him up and carried him four blocks to the hospital, walking him right into the emergency room and had basically ordered the nurses to take care of his brother.
Dean had only been twelve years old at the time, but not one person had argued with him.
Sam had sat next to his brother, gripping Dean's hand with his good one, and watched with wide eyes as the doctor numbed his arm before setting it. He'd cried only when he heard the bone pop into place; he hadn't been able to feel it, but he'd known what had happened.
Dean had talked to him the entire time – keeping up a litany of possible plot lines for the Justice League cartoons, or what his next move might be in Dungeons & Dragons. Anything to keep Sam grounded. He'd made a big deal about Sam's cast, excited to be the first one to sign it. And then proceeded to write a quote from his favorite movie at the time: Peace through superior firepower.
As if that wasn't going to trigger questions from Sam's second-grade teacher.
They had to wait until the hospital staff could find John, then had some fancy footwork to do around the Social Services representative who came "just to see how things were," but the entire time, Sam hadn't once been afraid. He could remember knowing even as he fell from the slide everything would be okay because Dean was there.
When Sam opened his eyes to the muted light of the sterile-smelling room, monitors beeping to his right, IV itching on his left, and his body humming with a muted pain that screamed morphine, Dean wasn't there.
And nothing was okay.
For one heart-stopping moment, Sam couldn't remember where he was. His brain scrambled through the murky web of drugs and pain and missing time. He felt sweaty and hot and his stomach rolled in retaliation, warning him just in time for him to turn to the side and—
"Easy, I gotcha."
A blue accordion bag was placed over his mouth as he retched, keeping him from making a mess of himself and the equipment to his right. As he finished, strong arms helped him settle back and a cool, wet cloth was smoothed over his sweaty face.
"Sorry," he breathed. "'m sorry."
"Don't worry about it, hon." The voice was feminine, older, soft. He blinked, forcing his vision into focus and saw a stout-looking blonde women in her late forties standing next to him, a mobile computer cart by her side. "It happens all the time. Probably a reaction to the pain meds. Since you're awake, I'll get some orders to change 'em up. In the meantime, we'll get you some Reglan."
Sam stared at her for nearly thirty seconds as he brain fought to catch up with the torrent of words. "Wassat?" His tongue felt heavy, thick.
"For the nausea. Can you tell me what your pain level is?"
Sam looked around the room, slowly, taking it in. He was alone. A couch was across the small room, positioned under a window; the shades were drawn, but he could see light from the edges of the blinds. A small sink and a door to what he guessed was a bathroom was across from the foot of his bed. And he was surrounded by a multitude of monitors and IVs, more than he ever remembered having on him before.
"What…," he looked back at his nurse, who was busy checking IV bags and logging information into her computer. "What happened to me?"
At that, she paused, taking a moment to look at him. She had a tired, care-worn face and pale brown eyes. He knew he'd never seen her before, but the look she gave him made him feel as if he'd been told this information several times and just couldn't seem to get a grip on it.
"You were shot, hon. You were brought in here with another person and taken to surgery almost immediately."
"My...my brother," Sam replied, clearing his throat. It felt like someone had rubbed sandpaper inside of it. "Is he okay?"
The nurse handed him a Styrofoam cup full of ice and a plastic spoon. "Small amounts, now," she cautioned. "I'm sorry, I don't know anything about your brother. I've paged your doctor to let him know you're awake. You can ask him."
Sam let the ice melt in his mouth, relishing the blissful sensation of the cool liquid rolling down his throat. "Can I go see him?"
"Don't think so; not for awhile," the nurse replied, looking up at the monitor readings as his blood pressure cuff tightened and wrote down the results. "You've been through quite an ordeal this week."
Sam frowned. "This week?"
The nurse looked at him. "You and your brother were brought in here three days ago. You've been mostly out since your surgery."
Stunned, Sam leaned back blinking blindly at his lap. She asked once more about his level of pain and he told her a six, not really registering if that was true. He nodded vacantly as the nurse told him once more his doctor would be in to see him shortly. A strange humming-hiss sound emanated from the foot of his bed and he realized that pressurized leg wraps had been applied to help prevent blood clots as he'd been lying in bed. His brow furrowing as he became more aware of the bandages and wraps on his body, Sam lifted the blanket and saw, yes, that was indeed a catheter he was feeling.
His back ached a bit, but nothing more than he'd handled before. His right shoulder felt unnaturally heavy, a large bandage keeping his arm nearly immobile. His left hand was heavily wrapped from his fingers to his elbow.
Three days. Had he said anything while unconscious that would incriminate them? How had they dealt with the blood at the cemetery? Where was Bobby's body? What of the Impala? Had Dean locked it? Had they discovered the weapons cache in the trunk?
A knock on his door startled him. Before he could answer, a tall, black man wearing a white coat walked into his room, extending his left hand so that Sam could shake with his right. He clasped Sam's hand carefully, mindful of the IVs.
"I'm Frank Randall. It's good to see you awake."
Sam tried to smile. He muscles didn't want to fully cooperate. "It's good to be awake. I think."
"I hate to ask you this," Dr. Randall said, folding his arms across his chest. Sam decided he liked the doctor's voice – rich, deep, with a steady cadence that didn't make him feel as if he were being rushed to answer. "But…can you tell me your full name?"
Sam blinked at him, surprised.
"You didn't have any identification on you – nor did your companion – and the police were unable to find anything conclusive in the car they impounded. Well, except one cell phone with a call list of first names only. All we had to go on was the name you gave the 911 dispatcher."
Sam closed his eyes involuntarily. Dean had cleaned out the Impala of their fake IDs. That, or he'd stored them in the weapons cache – which, thankfully, it didn't appear the police had discovered. Yet.
"It's Sam," Sam replied. Then, after hesitating a moment, he elaborated. "Sam Winchester."
"Nice to finally meet you, Sam Winchester," Dr. Randall smiled at him, showing a row of startlingly-white teeth.
Sam wondered if twenty-five years was enough for a town to forget the mysterious death of a mechanic's wife. It was clear his name meant nothing to his doctor, so he was glad to have been honest this time.
"How is my brother, doc?" Sam asked.
Dr. Randall frowned. "Let's talk about you for a moment, Sam."
Sam felt a chill sweep over him at the avoidance of that question. "Is he…dead?" His entire body was tense.
His terror must have shown plainly on his face because Dr. Randall stepped forward quickly, placing a reassuring hand on Sam's left shoulder. "No, Sam. He's not dead. But he's not out of the woods."
Sam slumped back against his pillow.
"Which is why I want to talk about you, first. Because…," Dr. Randall clasped his arms at his wrists as if standing at attention. "Well, because if your brother pulls through, his recovery is going to require a bit of help."
Sam swallowed. "Okay," he said, bringing his chin up. "Lay it on me."
Without preamble, Dr. Randall began. "Do you remember what happened to you at Stull Cemetery?"
There had been several times in their past that he and Dean had been forced to think of a cover story on the fly, separated from each other. They had a series of standbys that got them out of just about every jam they'd managed to get themselves into thus far – and if their cover stories hadn't worked, they always had their lock-picking skills.
But Sam knew that this time there wasn't a story in their files that would cover the madness that brought them to Stull or explain the damage and pain that resulted from their presence. There was no way saving the world or stopping Armageddon was going to fly with the regulars. He'd honestly never expected to walk away from that confrontation; having to explain it never really entered his mind.
"It's okay, Sam," Dr. Randall said, his voice low and calm. "Temporary amnesia is expected in extreme cases such as this."
"I-I…," he stammered for a moment, then picked up on the save the doctor had unwittingly handed him. "I am trying, but I can't…," he looked up at the doctor, his expression one of desperation and a little fear. "I don't remember."
"Tell me what you do remember," the doctor offered.
Oh, he's in here, all right….
Sam sucked in a breath, pain lancing from his wounded shoulder to his wounded hand.
And he's gonna feel the snap of your bones.
"I…uh, I remember…voices," he replied honestly. "Angry…threatening."
Sam…it's okay. I'm here. I'm not gonna leave you.
"I remember my brother showing up –"
"So, you were there before him?"
Sam glanced up, a cold sweat breaking out across his skin as if he'd been caught standing in a vault with diamonds in his hand. "Yeah." He didn't elaborate. He simply waited.
Dr. Randall watched him carefully, then nodded. "Do you remember being shot?"
An impact, like a shove at his back. Turning. Bobby. Pain. The feel of brittle bones in an invisible grip. His soul screaming.
"Not exactly," Sam breathed.
"That's normal; it will probably come back to you." Dr. Randall tilted his head slightly. "What do you remember about what happened to your brother?"
Sam saw the man's eyes drop briefly to his scuffed, bruised knuckles, then return to the steady study of his face.
"I…um, I don't…," Sam swallowed, forcing himself to keep his hand still, to not look at the bruised, swollen knuckles. He could have sustained those injuries fighting off their 'attackers' for all the doctor knew. "I remember hearing him call out to me…, and then the next thing I knew I was awake and he was…he was…." He felt sick.
Dr. Randall grabbed a blue accordion bag and handed it to Sam, backing off from his questions at the look on Sam's face. "I'm sorry, Sam. I know this is difficult. The police are going to have more questions for you, once you're stronger. For now, let's concentrate on getting you better, okay?"
Sam nodded mutely.
"Did your nurse explain what happened to you?"
Sam shook his head, focusing on his breathing. He really didn't want to throw up again.
"You have a deep laceration across the back of your left shoulder; best guess is that it came from a bullet graze. We were able to stitch that up; it'll be an impressive scar, but no lasting damage."
A shove. Turning. Bobby.
"You were shot in your right shoulder and the bullet passed through, mercifully missing your clavicle and any arteries, but making a mess of your muscles."
Pain. The feel of brittle bones in an invisible grip. His soul screaming.
"You also have a curious wound on your left hand. Third degree burns around an open wound that was created by a weapon no one here – including the police department – has yet been able to identify."
Sam looked down at his bandaged hand. Light. All around Dean. Pouring from his body. Their grip fused together by heat.
"Interestingly enough, your brother has the same wound, though his seems to have been much deeper, damaging both tendon and bone."
Sam simply breathed, listening.
"Your shoulder required surgery to repair some of the muscle damage, but I believe with some physical therapy – and a lot of rest – you will regain full use of your arm. Your hand may be a different story. We repaired the tendon damage, but until it heals up a bit, we won't really know how much nerve damage was done."
Sam nodded, processing. Surgery meant they had opened him up. Surgery meant X-rays. How had they not seen the carvings on his bones? Why wasn't the doctor asking why he was covered in internal tattoos?
"The curious thing, however, were your blood counts and muscle fatigue."
Sam brought his head up. "My what?"
Dr. Randall frowned, turning to the portable laptop on the cart near the heart monitor next to Sam's bed. He clicked a few keys, scrolled, then, finding what he was looking for, glanced back at Sam.
"Based on the blood saturating your clothing, and your blood pressure when the paramedics arrived, you should not have been able to live through surgery. However, in the time between the paramedics reaching you at Stull and your arrival in my OR, your blood pressure leveled out – almost as if you replenished your own blood supply."
"But…," Sam's brows met across the bridge of his nose in confusion. "That happens, right? That's supposed to happen?"
"Not in a matter of hours. I've never seen regeneration like that before."
Sam looked away, stomach churning, suddenly remembering the gallons of demon blood in the back of the Impala. The slick, salty taste as he poured the blood down his throat, readying his body for Lucifer's invasion. The power he felt shimmying through him even before they'd reached the hotel room where Lucifer waited.
And the sick fear in Dean's eyes as he regarded him after the gallons were empty.
Don't think about it. Blank your mind. It doesn't matter…it doesn't matter…it doesn't matter.
"Then there are your electrolyte and potassium counts. Your other organ levels are registering at high-functioning status, even with the trauma of being shot and having surgery. It's remarkable. But your electrolyte and potassium counts were quite abnormal – severely depleted. As if you'd run a marathon literally just before arriving at Stull."
A ripping sensation. Hands pulling at him, a hand anchoring him. Screams as a fallen angel was torn from his body.
"As you start to move around, you'll need to watch for severe muscle spasms, cramping, unexpected weakness in your limbs."
"For how long?"
Dr. Randall shook his head. "I wish I could tell you, Sam. The way your blood has regenerated, you may not notice any of those symptoms. Or you may notice them for a few days or a few weeks. It's really hard to say at this point."
Sam knew he couldn't press the issue. He was an anomaly, plain and simple. The last thing he wanted to do was trigger questions he couldn't answer. And the demon blood was still very much a part of him, whatever that meant for his future. He took a shaky breath.
"When can I see Dean?"
Dr. Randall looked down. "Sam, you just woke up after being in and out of coherent consciousness for three days. You need rest."
"I need to see my brother," Sam replied stubbornly, ignoring how his body all-but wept in response to the word 'rest.'
After studying him quietly for nearly a minute, Dr. Randall compromised. "If your vitals stay steady for the next four hours, I'll take you to see your brother for a few minutes before I end my shift."
Sam nodded. He could handle four hours. It was going to take him that long to process all the physical damage the doctor had just rattled off. He couldn't remember a time he'd been hurt this bad; a time when they hadn't been able to leave AMA and get back on the road. He was going to be lucky to walk across the room, let alone from the hospital.
What amazed him was how quickly he fell asleep after the doctor left his room. It seemed no time had passed when a nurse returned to his room to check his vitals and informed him that it had been three hours since they'd last been taken. He managed to coerce more ice chips out of her to soothe his raw throat and they changed his pain meds so that he didn't feel like he was going to turn his stomach inside out just by being conscious.
The last hour until Dr. Randall returned was the most excruciating length of time Sam had experienced in recent memory. He turned on his TV via the remote attached to his bed and scrolled through the limited stations, marveling at the news station's announcement of weather patterns regulating, attributing the unseasonable storms to El Nino or Global Warming.
Listening, Sam leaned back against his too-flat pillows, closing his eyes. Global Warming had nothing to do with it; they had just saved the world from the freakin' Apocalypse and no one would ever know.
He brought his head up too quickly, blinking as the room spun a bit.
"Easy, sorry," Dr. Randall stepped in. "Was just checking your vitals."
"I'm good," Sam announced.
Dr. Randall frowned at him and checked the computer.
"Really, I'm good," Sam repeated. "I'm fine – barely any pain."
"Might have something to do with the pain meds."
Sam watched as Dr. Randall nodded at the computer screen. "No fever, blood pressure has remained steady, you're off oxygen…."
"Can I see Dean?" His entire body felt as if it were straining forward, the need to see Dean so great it was like a gravitational pull out of his bed.
Dr. Randall faced him. "You're going via wheelchair."
"Fine," Sam lifted his right hand in surrender. Anything. Anything to just look at Dean for a moment. To reassure himself that his brother was still there, as he promised he'd be.
"Listen, Sam, you need to prepare yourself," Dr. Randall cautioned. "I am your brother's physician, too. I didn't operate on him, however, as I was in the OR with you. He had one of the best reconstructive surgeons in the metro area – flew him here to Lawrence, rather than sending your brother to Kansas City as there were too many other…contingencies to worry about."
"Wait…reconstructive?" Sam started to feel very cold.
Dr. Randall frowned at the monitor keeping track of his pulse rate.
"No, don't," Sam snapped. "I'm fine. You can't expect me to stay completely calm—"
"You're right," the doctor interrupted. "But you've been through a major trauma yourself, Sam. I won't take that lightly."
"I understand." Just get me to Dean, dammit.
A different nurse from earlier brought in a wheelchair and Sam was surprised that it actually took both her and the doctor to help him from the bed into the chair. His legs were jelly – utterly useless in his effort to stand tall. His left hand throbbed as he lowered it to help balance and his right shoulder pulsated painfully with any movement.
His back cramped as he sat on the edge of the bed and took his breath away when he settled into the chair. The nurse brought his IV pole and other paraphernalia, and the three of them moved out into the brightly-lit, activity-heavy hall, down three doors and paused.
"You're both in the Critical Care Unit now," Dr. Randall informed Sam. "Tomorrow, you'll be moved to a regular room to continue your recovery, which is one floor down. Dean…will need to stay here for a bit."
"I can't stay with him?" Sam asked.
"I'm sorry, son," the doctor said softly. "We just don't have the room."
The nurse opened the door and Dr. Randall wheeled Sam inside. It looked just like his room, with the exception of the privacy curtain pulled to block the bed from view of the door. He could hear a soft hiss-click and the beep of the heart monitor. As the nurse pushed back the curtain, Sam felt his pulse pick up, his right hand going clammy and cold where it rested in his lap. The moment his eyes came to rest on Dean's profile, Sam let out an involuntary whimper.
Dean's face was swollen, almost unrecognizable. Bruises stood out in stark contrast to the white of his skin. From Sam's vantage point, he could see incisions and the ant-like feet of black stitches curving around Dean's left eye and down his temple, a splint on his nose, and stitches along his jaw and lip. His right hand was wrapped similarly to Sam's. He was shirtless, but bandages covered his torso. A narrow tube was inserted into his mouth, hooked up to a ventilator in an all-too-familiar visual.
"What…?" Sam asked helplessly. He remembered Dean's blood-covered face, the way he choked when Sam rolled him over.
I'm here…I'm not gonna leave you….
"Do you want the details?" Dr. Randall's voice was gentle, and that made Sam even more afraid.
"Yes." He made sure his voice was steady. He leaned forward, encouraging the doctor to push his chair toward Dean's bed.
"His left hip is fractured. It's a hairline fracture; we didn't operate as, comparatively speaking, it's the least of his concerns. Should he reach a point where he's up and walking again, we'll do a scan to make sure the bone set appropriately."
Sam stopped breathing for an entire minute the moment he heard the words should he reach a point. He started again when he felt Dr. Randall's eyes on him. He nodded, encouraging the doctor to continue.
"He has four broken ribs; they broke along his back. We had to put screws in two of them to ensure they set properly. Given time, they should heal completely; however he'll more than likely need some physical therapy to deal with pain management."
Sam pulled his lower lip against his teeth. Dean had had broken ribs before. He could take pain. He'd taken a rock-salt blast to the chest, been thrown against countless walls, been literally to Hell and back. Sam wasn't worried about his ribs.
"His right hand bears the same wound as yours, but, as I said earlier, his wound is much deeper. There were tendons that were irreparable. He may regain use of his fingers, but he will never have full use of his hand again."
Sam's stomach turned to ice. Dean was right handed. He shot with his right hand. He was going to be so pissed when he woke up.
"The head trauma is a different story," Dr. Randall continued, moving away from Sam's chair and around to the other side of Dean's bed, studying Dean's face as he spoke. "His jaw was shattered. Resetting the bone was a bit like putting a jig-saw puzzle back together. It's been wired shut in order to heal."
"How—" Sam stopped, clearing his throat as the ragged edge of emotion was exposed in that one syllable. "How long does that usually take?"
"Can take anywhere from six to eight weeks, depending." He glanced up at Sam. "If swift regeneration is a family trait, he may be in luck."
Sam didn't meet the doctor's eyes, waiting for him to continue. It doesn't matter…it doesn't matter…it doesn't matter.
"His left cheekbone and eye socket were broken, as was his nose. Those reset easily and, again given time, should heal completely. He will have scarring around his eye and it's impossible to tell how much of his vision will be impaired. He sustained a serious concussion and as a result, his brain has swelled. We won't know the significance of this until he wakes up." Dr. Randall looked up at Sam. "If he wakes up."
The sense of déjà vu was agonizing. The last time he'd been in this situation, the last time he'd heard those words, his father had been alive. Bobby had been alive. He'd had someone to go to, someone to turn his anger on. He had someone.
Oh, God, Dean…I'm so sorry. Please...please don't do this…don't leave me here alone.
"The beating he sustained was vicious and meant to kill," Dr. Randall continued. "It's a testament to your brother's strength that he's still alive."
Sam felt his heart slamming against his chest, his eyes burning. He was having trouble taking a full breath, but he didn't want the doctor to notice and send him back to his room, not yet. He didn't think he could take it.
"He has the best care available, Sam," Dr. Randall pressed on.
"Can I…," Sam swallowed, not taking his eyes off of Dean. "Can I have a minute with him? Please?"
Dr. Randall took a breath. "Of course. But not long. You need your rest if you're going to recover."
Sam nodded soundlessly, his eyes never leaving Dean's profile.
"I'll send a nurse back in here in a few minutes to wheel you back."
"Thanks." Sam's reply was strangled. He waited until he heard the click of the door closing behind the departing doctor and nurse before he exhaled a shaky breath.
"Hey, man," he said to Dean, using the bed rail to pull his wheelchair closer. "What a mess, huh?"
He physically ached to see Dean's lopsided, shit-eating grin, hear him rattle off a smart-assed comment about Angels being pussies, especially after they'd taken out demons. He wanted to roll his eyes at his brother's brashness, his reckless abandon. He would give anything to toss a mouthful of righteous indignation Dean's way and have his brother shoot it out of the air with all the effort of a raised brow.
The hiss of a ventilator, the beep of a monitor, the sight of a face almost too swollen to be Dean's…that wasn't his brother. That wasn't the way this was supposed to be. They'd won, dammit. They'd beat them.
"I was set to go, Dean." Sam's voice broke. "That was the plan. Get control and take him down. What were you even doing there, man? You weren't supposed to—"
His throat closed up and he had to sit back a moment. Of course Dean would be there. Sam was foolish to think that his brother would have simply let Sam say yes and walk into this battle alone. He'd been ready to, though.
He'd been okay with it ending. All of it. Trapping Lucifer, hauling his ass off to the Cage, saving the world. Saving Dean.
For a moment his anger flared hot, bright. What the hell was Dean thinking? Showing up with no back-up, no weapons, no special powers. He had nothing and he came anyway. As if compelled by a lifetime of ingrained…stupidity. He simply couldn't not step in where Sam was concerned.
Dean knew where Sam was and the rest was gravity.
Sam almost snarled. Dean clearly didn't trust Sam to get the job done…didn't think he could overtake Lucifer…thought Michael was going to kick his ass and take over the world…doubted his strength…his will…his ability.
It wasn't until his left hand shot pain through his arm, causing his other wounds to throb, that Sam realized he was clenching his fists – or trying to, at least. Forcing himself to take a breath, then another, Sam lifted his eyes to regard his wounded brother.
What the hell is wrong with me? He thought, working to force the anger back, down, away. It was too close to the surface, too sharp and real. He sniffed, tears balanced dangerously on the edge of his razor-sharp fury; it seemed his emotions were all over the place these days.
"I don't get it, Dean," Sam choked past the lump in his throat. Needing contact, he carefully reached out his right hand, his bandaged shoulder protesting the movement, to grasp Dean's left and as their fingers brushed, his world spun. He jerked his hand away as if he'd been shocked.
"What the hell?"
He flexed his fingers, shaking his hand, trying to rid himself of the sensation, remembering something similar happening when he'd touched Dean's face back at Stull. The wound on his left hand throbbed and he looked up at Dean's face once more, half expecting his brother to be reacting with the same confusion. Dean's eyes stayed stubbornly closed, his body frighteningly still except for the air pumped into his lungs by a machine.
Swallowing audibly, Sam reached out once more, hand shaking slightly, to touch the back of Dean's unbandaged hand. He had only seconds to register the warmth of his brother's skin before the world once more shifted around him and he was assaulted by images, sensations, voices.
They came at him too quickly to pull apart, differentiate. It was confusion and noise and he was almost immediately overwhelmed. It was like walking through a spider web; he couldn't stop it from clinging to him. He couldn't breathe from the pain of it, the fear permeating everything. A suffocating panic at the heart of everything that built a scream in throat until he knew only terror—
"…back with us, Sam?"
"What?" he gasped, blinking, looking around, confused and disoriented.
A nurse was bending over him, vigorously rubbing his sternum, her face close to his, studying him intently. When he licked his lips, air puffing out of him as he'd run up a steep hill, she stopped her ministrations and stepped back a bit, giving him room to breathe.
"You faded on us for a minute there," she explained.
He looked past her to see two other nurses on either side of Dean's bed, one adjusting his vent tube, the other pushing a button on his IV pump.
"'s he okay?" Sam asked, his voice oddly slurred.
"You both gave us a little scare. Can you tell me what happened?"
Hell no, he couldn't tell her what happened. He barely knew what happened himself. He looked at her, shaking his head helplessly. The nurse frowned.
"Let's get you back to your room."
Sam didn't argue. He was wrung out, shaken, and thoroughly confused. His entire body ached, muscles sore and uncooperative. It hurt to breathe, as if expanding his lungs took a monumental effort.
He wanted to talk to Bobby…to Castiel…to someone who could help him reason out not only what happened next, but what the fuck that sensory overload was all about. But everyone was gone.
Everyone. He had no one – not even Dean.
The nurses helped him settle back in bed and plugged in his IV pump, checking his vitals once more. He ignored them for the most part, staring resolutely at the square-pattern of stitching in the white blanket covering his legs. If only Dean had kept to the plan…if only he'd just let Sam do his goddamn job, then neither of them would be in this situation. Castiel and Bobby might even be alive.
Closing his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose, fighting back the urge to yell at the nurses to get the hell out and leave him alone.
"What." It came out like a whip of sound. He felt instantly contrite, dropped his hand and raised his eyes, sighing and repeated, "What?"
The nurse looked at him with a bland, honey, I've seen everything, expression, unaffected by his tone. She handed him a white plastic bag with 'Lawrence Memorial Hospital' printed on the side.
"I thought you might want your things," she told him. "They had to cut most of your clothes off of you; I think all you have in there are your jeans and shoes, but they saved everything from your pockets."
Sam took the bag from her, offering her a small smile that he didn't feel. "Thanks."
"Try to get some rest," she said. "You'll probably get moved at shift change tomorrow."
"Ok," he replied, waiting until they left before he opened the bag.
He could smell blood on his clothes…blood and dirt and an almost ozone-like stench. He dug past the denim, the boots, and found his watch, a leather bracelet, and a cell phone. The rings he remembered stuffing into the pocket of his jeans weren't there. Closing his eyes, he thought back, remembering how he'd known to toss them to the Earth…how the ground had trembled, shifted, opening up beneath them, a portal to Lucifer's Cage.
Shoulders sagging, he leaned back, the cell phone held loosely in his hand. For all he knew, those rings fell into the Pit with Michael and Lucifer. And Adam, he belatedly realized. Zachariah's Plan B.
"I guess none of the Winchesters ever stood a chance," he mumbled.
Thoughts still on Adam, Sam absentmindedly turned the cell phone over in his hand, flipping it open and shut twice before he registered what he was doing. This wasn't his phone and it wasn't Dean's phone. Frowning, he opened it and turned it on, remembering that he'd dug it out of Dean's jacket pocket back at Stull.
"Dad," he whispered, realizing at last whose phone he held. It was their one concession to keeping a piece of John with them. They kept it in the glove box; Dean was the one to make sure it stayed charged.
Why did Dean have John's phone in his pocket?
Sam saw that there was a voice mail. His fingers suddenly felt awkward and too big as he pressed the voice mail button and put the phone to his ear. His heart jumped to his throat when he heard his brother's voice.
"So, uh, I know this is crazy. I doubt you can hear me. I mean…we were there. Sam and me. In Heaven. Or, well, a version of it. Point is, we didn't see you, so…."
Sam closed his eyes against the burn that threatened to consume them. He pressed the phone closer to his ear, as if he could somehow touch Dean's voice by doing so. He listened as his brother's tone shifted from uncertain to all business.
"Okay, so here it is. First thing I can really remember you telling me was to watch out for Sam. Take care of him. And I have been. But…Dad, this is so much bigger than us. Bigger than anything you taught us about. And I think you knew about it. I think you knew and you were just hoping we'd never find out."
Sam nodded. He couldn't help but think that Dean was right – John had known, at least some of it. He had to have.
"But we did. And now…now I have to go back to Lawrence. Where it all started. I have to go back there and try to talk to Sam. Because…because he's in the biggest fight of his life…and he needs me. If you're hearing me now, you know what we're facing. You know what I have to do…what Sammy's gotta do. I just…,"
Sam bit his lip, listening to the desperate determination in his brother's voice.
"God, I wish you were here."
Dean breathed on the phone for a few more seconds and then the line went dead. Sam closed the phone, pressing it against his forehead. The anger that had been so eager to rage through him earlier was gone. In its place was a cold fist of regret, longing, and loneliness.
He knew. He knew why Dean had come to that cemetery. He knew Dean had never had a choice. Hell, he hadn't even fought back when Lucifer was pounding on him. He wasn't there to try to defeat Lucifer in Sam's place.
He'd been there for Sam. I'm not gonna leave you.
Fatigue caught up with him, rendering Sam helpless to the surge of emotion that swept over him. Curving to his side as much as his wounds would allow, Sam pulled his knees up, instinctively trying to make himself small, and gave in to the tears that had been threatening him since he'd first opened his eyes.
Continued in Part 1: Chapter 3
a/n: Hope you're still entertained. I'm going to take them on a bit of a journey of choice in Part 1 and play through the consequences of those choices in Part 2. Would love to have you along for the ride!