Title: When God Is Gone And The Devil Takes Hold… (2/?)
Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen), a bit of Bobby
Summary: Takes place after 4.22 Lucifer Rising. Sam wants to feel clean for once in his life.
Warnings: Spoilers for 4. 22 Lucifer Rising and to be safe everything that has aired up to now.
A/N: So, here's the third chapter. I thought I had abandoned this story. Not really in my head, I kept thinking about it but this year I had no time for writing whatsoever, so this next instalment is too late. At least it gives me something to do until Season 6 (Pssttt, I actually have an original piece of fiction I'm supposed to be working on, but this came over me thanks to borgmama1of5 's insistent encouragement and I didn't have the heart to just let it go. So don't tell anitta_gzd, she thinks I'm busy plotting and/or writing that original one. She's on vacation so she won't (hopefully) notice this post for some time =P) Anyway, hope you enjoy. I love comments, they really encourage me to write more so I'd really appreciate it if you comment after reading and I'm always open for con-crit so don't hesitate =)
Disclaimer: Me? Own Sam and Dean? I wish...
1. Who'll Have Mercy On Your Soul?
2. O’ Death, Won’t You Spare Me Over Another Year?
3. With Ice Cold Hands Taking Hold Of Me...
The doctor looked tired. He was a medium-height man in his late-forties, or early-fifties, with graying hair. He wasn’t someone who would attract attention in a crowd. Actually, if he hadn’t been treating Sam for the past – Well… Dean wasn’t sure how long it had been since Sam was admitted to the E.R. But the doctor was the most interesting person in the whole universe at that moment – too bad he wasn’t aware of it.
The bags under the man’s eyes hinted at a sleepless night but the look in his eyes said much more. No one had that kind of look in their eyes because they didn’t catch up with a few hours of goodnight’s sleep. No, his eyes showed how long he’d been seeing other people suffer. They gave away how many ‘time of death’s he had called.
He spared the two hunters in front of him a jaded glance before clearing his throat and talking:
“Your relationship with the patient?” His voice sounded careful but monotonous.
Dean blinked fervently, his eyes widening. He was waiting for something, anything about how his brother was doing and this soulless son of a bitch was standing before him calmly, asking what his relationship was to Sam?
He opened his mouth to swear but shut it tight when Bobby squeezed his bicep lightly, grounding him. Instead, he growled from between clenched teeth:
“He’s my brother.”
“It’s his brother.”
They had talked at the same time.
Dean sent a grateful glance in Bobby’s way as the doctor directed his professionally sympathetic gaze at the older hunter.
“I’m their uncle,” Bobby supplied, thinking fast. He didn’t know this particular hospital’s policy, but when he could, he wanted to be able to see Sam.
The doctor cleared his throat again, looking a tad bit uncomfortable as he skimmed over the chart in his hand, before regaining his professionalism. He started to speak with that sickeningly understanding, gentle tone that medical staff always used in the confines of hushed hospital hallways:
“Well, Mr. Wesson, I’m Dr. Ford. I’ve been treating your brother since he arrived… I’d like to say he was brought in here barely in time,” he started, then paused as if remembering something. “It was you who found him, correct?”
Dean gave a curt nod, not even able to speak through the fist around his throat.
“I understand you’ve done all the right things to keep him from losing any more blood. You’ve probably saved your brother’s life…”
“He’s okay then?” asked Bobby, trying to keep the hopefulness from creeping into his tone. He was still holding onto Dean’s arm tightly.
The doctor exhaled forcefully. “Well, I wouldn’t call him ‘okay’. Though he was given the right medical attention immediately, he’s still lost a great deal of blood. I’m afraid you haven’t found him soon enough.”
Dean felt his willpower fight with his own body to be able to talk. “W-what. What d-does that mean?”
“It means that – ” he glanced at the chart once again, “ – Sam lost so much blood in such a short time that his body wasn’t able to adapt to such low hemoglobin levels, resulting in inadequate oxygen supply to his tissues. So we need to assess the damage to his organs, detect any tissue damage… Right now, he’s been stabilized; his vitals are within acceptable levels. He’s having a transfusion as we speak.” He paused, trying to judge their reactions from their faces. “What’s worrying is that he’s never gained consciousness since he was brought here. So, I need to ask you a few questions…”
Dean blinked. “Okay,” he muttered silently, letting out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He willed himself to calm down silently; Sam had been stabilized, his vitals were good. What else could Dean possibly ask for? Something that was on his chest seemed to lift up a little as he went on and on about Sam being okay in his head.
“It’s been roughly an hour and a half since Sam has been first admitted here. Then, about two hours since you first found him, right?”
They nodded in response.
“How long was he on his own?”
Dean shook his head slightly in regret. He should have never left Sam alone. He should have known from the way Sam had been so quiet lately. “I dunno… Maybe an hour…”
Dr. Ford noted the information on his chart. “Was he awake when you first found him or was he already unconscious?”
“I thought he was unconscious…” Dean started softly, “But then he came to, when I was trying to stop the b-bleeding.”
“Was he responsive?”
He nodded. “He was… He. He t-talked to me. He tried to –” But Dean was interrupted by the sudden breath he took, which sounded like a cross between a gasp and a hiccup. His hands rolled into fists at his sides, then; a conscious effort to gain back control.
Thankfully, Bobby soon saved him the grief of telling the rest of the story:
“He tried to stop us from saving him,” he muttered, eyes cast towards the floor.
The doctor frowned. “He did, huh? But still, he was aware of what was happening. That’s good. He passed out later, then?”
Dr. Ford nodded thoughtfully. “Well, I think that’s all I need to know, at the moment.” He looked up to establish eye contact with Dean. “The fact that Sam was conscious when you first found him tells me that he’s not suffering from as severe a case of hypoxia as I thought he had been, at first. But – ”
“Wa-wait a minute. Hypo-hypox – ” Dean frowned, trying to remember the word.
“Hypoxia” offered the doctor, helpfully.
“Yeah, hypoxia,” he spit out, “What does that mean?”
“Hypoxia is the condition due to blood loss I explained to you, before. It’s basically poor oxygenation. You see, when a patient loses too much blood, even though their lungs take the oxygen in, there isn’t enough hemoglobin to carry it to tissues, such as the liver, the kidneys or even the heart or the brain. As I already mentioned, Sam is having a few units of blood infused, right now. Then, we’re going to do some necessary tests to detect whether any damage has been done to his vital organs. We wouldn’t want a liver or kidney failure on our hands, now, that can get pretty ugly.” He flashed them a hesitant smile in the end.
Dean tried to wrap his head around everything the doctor was saying but he was nowhere near the right state of mind for this shit. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand the medical jargon because Dr. Ford seemed like he had a whole lot of experience with explaining medical conditions to patient relatives; there was nothing to get confused up about what he was saying. But the possibilities he kept listing about Sam… It was too much to take in all at once. Give him some dental floss, a sharp enough needle and a bottle of whiskey for disinfection and pain-killing purposes; he could sew up the nastiest wound on his brother. But he had no idea what to do with a collapsed kidney. Not that anyone was asking him to do anything but…
“So what if… what if something’s collapsed? What happens then?” he asked silently, averting his gaze to the painting hung up on the wall on his right.
Dr. Ford sighed lightly. “Well, then we treat him accordingly,” he answered and his forehead creased up suddenly, making him check the notes on his chart once again. “I almost forgot,” he began hastily, “I need to know if Sam has any pre-existing medical conditions such as, uhhh… diabetes mellitus, high blood-pressure, heart conditions or a history of seizures…”
“No, no. Sam is healthy.” Dean didn’t know what else to say. His eyes roamed over the painting he had been absently looking at. He had no idea what the hell kind of genius had thought of hanging that up on the wall of a hospital waiting room. It was dark and gothic and… and disturbing, overall. You’d think they’d put up some cheerfully pastoral landscape in here, but no…
“What about a kidney disease or liver disorders?” the doctor broke Dean free of his thoughts.
“No, none of that, either,” Dean began, distractedly. “Though he’s been hard on a few bottles of liquor for some time, now, I don’t think his liver’s damaged that bad.” Oh, and he’s addicted to demon blood. What does that do to the liver?
The doctor nodded. “Well, that’s good news. I’d already ruled out diabetes since he doesn’t really show any symptoms to indicate hypoglycemic shock, but I had to be sure.” He took a couple steps back, continuing talking. “Anyway, I’ll make sure you’ll get notified about Sam’s condition. Now, I’ll – ”
“Hey, doc!” Dean called out when he was turning away to walk away. “You haven’t actually said anything about Sam,” he pointed out, anger suddenly bubbling beneath his skin. “You just learnt what you needed to know. But what about what I – ” he took a necessary breath, “ – what we need to know?” he asked.
The doctor let out a big breath, realizing he wasn’t going to get away that easy. He turned back to face them with careful eyes “What do you want to know?”
Dean took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders and bracing himself, as if getting ready to take a blow. “How’s my brother really doing?”
Dr. Ford took a glance around the waiting room before meeting Dean’s eyes. “To be honest, I’m highly suspicious that your brother’s slipped into a coma.”
“What?” Yet another word spoken in unison.
The doctor seemed to be searching for the right words. “Well, like I said, he’s been unconscious since he arrived. He doesn’t seem to respond to pain, light or sound – at least he didn’t, during my initial physical examination. Of course, blood tests, an electrocardiogram and CT scan of his head will most likely be needed to provide a diagnosis... After we’re sure his vital organs are in okay condition and if by then, Sam still shows no signs of wakefulness and awareness, those tests will be needed along with a complete neurological assessment.” He paused, seemed to have an inner debate about whether to tell more or not. Then frowned and kept talking. “What’s worrying is that, we have no idea for how long he bled out. We don’t know if he was brought to medical attention before permanent damage to his brain occurred. We have no way of guessing the outcome until he wakes up.”
The ground seemed to shift under Dean’s feet violently. He was suddenly left leaning on Bobby for support with the old hunter’s arm secured around his back as he stammered in a voice barely above a whisper: “Permanent damage?”
Dr. Ford looked him over with sympathy. “I’m afraid that’s a possibility. See, the brain needs oxygen to function and without enough of it, the brain shuts down. That was why your brother was unconscious when you first found him. But the thing is, there is very short time to get oxygen back to brain tissue before there is permanent damage.”
“How short?” It was Bobby. He sounded scared.
“Well, most research suggests that the time window is four to six minutes.”
Someone let out a pained sound somewhere between a wail and a wheeze. Dean realized too late that it was him.
Bobby had a death grip on him; one arm around his waist and one hand clamped around his upper arm as tight as a vice. Yet, Dean still felt like falling, falling away…slipping away somewhere, somewhere where little brothers didn’t cut themselves open and bleed to death. Somewhere where stupid, pain-in-the-ass little brothers didn’t fall into comas they may or may not wake up from. Somewhere where his Sammy didn’t face the risk of permanent brain damage. Somewhere… God, he was so tired…
He didn’t realize he was letting go until he snapped back into himself with Bobby’s sharp voice. “Dean!” the older hunter called out to him and Dean found that he was slowly but surely sinking to the ground, his legs having given out long ago. The only reason he wasn’t kissing the floor tiles already was because Bobby was trying to keep him up with all he got. He blinked a few times, disoriented, and felt the doctor’s hand on his wrist, trying to help support him.
“Mr. Wesson?” the doctor asked cautiously. He sounded worried, yet alert.
Dean slowly got back control of his own body and felt out his legs carefully. “I’m fine,” he said, struggling to sound like his normal, cool self. He stood up straighter so that he could demonstrate that he was really okay but Bobby was no fool. He was still holding onto Dean for dear life. “I gotcha, boy,” he muttered; his gruff voice full with unvoiced emotion.
Dean took a few careful breaths to help clear his head and strengthen his hold on his limbs. “Seriously, Bobby,” he insisted, locking gazes with his surrogate father. “I’m okay. You can let go.”
Bobby just raised an eyebrow at him and made a disbelieving face.
But Dr. Ford seemed convinced, at least. He was looking less alert and more exhausted like before. He quickly slipped into his counseling-physician voice and addressed Dean.
“I think you need to rest, Mr. Wesson and eat, too.”
Dean ignored him. “When can I see Sam?” he asked, determined.
The doctor shook his head slightly. “I’m sorry. Not any time soon I’m afraid.”
“I wanna see my brother!” Dean uttered forcefully, his breaths trembling as the air moved in and out of his lips.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Wesson, but you can’t,” he stated with an air of finality. “And you letting yourself go like this, it’s not gonna do any good to your brother.” The doctor gave him a careful onceover before continuing. “So I suggest you let your uncle get you something to eat or drink and step outside a bit, get some fresh air. It’ll help,” he told him, having witnessed him come close to passing out and observing the pale, unhealthy color of his skin.
Dean opened his mouth; to say what, he had no idea. But to object, most probably. Dr. Ford cut him off:
“Now, I need to go check on Sam and make sure we do the best we can for him before he’s transferred to the ICU. Like I said before, I’ll make sure you’re notified of his prognosis.”
After that, he turned around and disappeared in the hallway quickly, white coat flapping against his sides like the proverbial cloak of a vampire. Dean could do nothing but stay there and stare after him with slumped shoulders, having been finally drained of all the fight he had in him.
“Come on, boy. You heard the doc,” Bobby coerced him gently, tugging on his arm slightly.
Dean hung his head for a moment, then turned to face Bobby. But the painting on the wall caught his attention once again: His first, incomplete impression was right about the gothic darkness of it; it had a heavy, unsettling feeling to it that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. But Dean was only now noticing the bright whitish-yellow orb in the center and the two figures standing to the left of it. His lips twitched unconsciously as he contemplated the two men as they contemplated the moon hung before them in the dark night, from between eerie trees. One of them had his hand on the other’s shoulder and was leaning towards him as if sharing with him something important.
Dean’s brows trembled as he remembered the countless nights he and Sam spent together, just looking at the dark night sky: The stars and the moon readily at their reach, just a hair’s breath away from their fingertips… The leaves of the trees rustling quietly nearby. The warmth of the Impala’s engine beneath them, soothing. The fresh scent of the countryside in summer. The peaceful sound of each other’s even breathing. The satisfying clink of two beer bottles; a silent ‘cheers’ to being there together at that exact moment, an honorable homage to all the loved ones they lost, a curious wonder at what next is to come their way.
When Dean finally averted his eyes from the painting, he felt his throat close up as his sinuses started to ache with congestion. What on earth had happened to them? How did they end up here? How did they lose all that? How did they forget being brothers?
With renewed determination, he promised himself to fix all of this. To fix Sammy and to fix himself. And to fix the world. Just as soon as Sammy wakes up…
As a single tear threatened to break free from its prison, Dean kept staring at the artwork in front of him and absently wondered what it was called, who the artist was… Sammy would probably know, the geek who took Art History that he was.
He smiled slightly, unaware of the close scrutiny Bobby had on him. “I’ll ask him,” he murmured to himself with a crooked smile on his face.
“What?” Bobby asked, shocked and worried. Now, the kid was talking to himself with that horrible blank expression and that uncanny smile on his face? Things were not good. “Dean?”
Dean seemed to shake himself suddenly like a bird settling his feathers. “Nothing, just…” he started offhandedly. Gesturing towards the wall with one shoulder, he continued. “I was just wondering about that painting over there…”
Bobby furrowed his brows. “Yeah… What about it?” he asked carefully.
“Nothing. Just. I’ll ask Sammy about it when he wakes up.”
Bobby didn’t have the heart to tell him that maybe Sam wouldn’t… wake up.