Dean rested his head against the hospital wall as he hung up. There was no denying that it was his fault, he’d shouted at her and driven her away that morning. If he hadn’t she would have been in work instead of driving like a maniac. Turning slowly he headed back towards Aimee’s bed wondering what more he could do.
He hadn’t been to the hospital since his dad died, little over three years ago. He had walked these same corridors. The grief of that day had never left him. He had brushed his emotions under the antique child’s rug in his mind so he could be strong for his baby brother.
It was dusk when the call came. Dean was getting ready to head home, when the sound of the phone shook him from his daydream. He dropped the receiver at the voice on the other line.
Sam sat jiggling his legs on a plastic waiting room chair as Dean’s heavy footsteps echoed around the corridors. It felt like days had passed since their father had been wheeled off to the OR. The doctors hadn’t been forthcoming with the details of their fathers’ condition, only that it was critical.
“Did you know my great-great-grandpappy fought the measles? Yup, there’s been a Colt on the force ever since my ancestors came up on the umbilical cord.” Dean said, Sam rolled his eyes.
“Come on, get it together, old boy. I know, I’ll try to forget about it. You know, I actually feel a little better. I don’t even remember why I was so upset.”
“Spongebob? Seriously dude.”
“The Hoff is the man.”
Hovering in the doorway of Aimee’s room, Dean watched her still body, the beeping of the heart monitor ringing in his ears. He sat on the edge of her bed and took her slender hand in his, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles in time with the machinery.
“Hey sweetheart,” he spoke softly, his voice almost broken “the docs say you can hear me, although I’m not convinced, but then again, when was I ever convinced by doctors? I’m sorry about this morning. I know I’m an asshole sometimes but that’s my prerogative.” His voice cracked as the tears began to roll down his cheeks “You might have noticed that I’m not big on the open sharing business, normally I’d get drunk and smash things up to let it out, the dumb way I know. Not this time. I didn’t mean to lose it with you. I guess I’m just scared, scared of someone else I love walking away from me. I have to ask you something and you know how impatient I am so hurry up and wake up baby. Please?”
He gulped and looked up at her face, then leaned in letting his lips linger on her damp forehead. Sitting back again he caught a glimpse of a figure out of the corner of his eye “How long have you been there?”
“Long enough,” Sam replied “I’m sorry. You should’ve come and spoken to me, I would have understood.”
“I know, but my problems are mine.”
“And my problems are yours too?”
“Yeah. It’s called being a big brother.”
“You really are dumb sometimes.”
“Whatever. Where’s Sarah?”
“Getting us a coffee.” Sam smiled.
“Do you want Dad’s music collection?” Dean asked.
“Yes I want it so I can feel my ears bleeding every time I put a song on.”
“Alright Jenna no need for the sarcasm.”
“Well Matt we can‘t all like the softer side of Sears.”
“What are you on dude? Seriously. That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Yeah it does. Well it did in my head. You ever think the girls make us watch too many chick flicks?”
“Always. How you getting on with the closet?”
“I think there’s stuff in here that belonged to Fred Flintstone.” Sam coughed.
“Dad has a bowling ball? Dad wouldn’t even take us bowling as kids.”
“Would appear so. I guess there was some stuff he wanted to forget.” Sam replied holding up a wedding album with the names John and Sandy engraved on it.
“Sandy? Who the hell?” Dean asked dropping the bowling ball and snatching the album “June thirteenth nineteen-seventy-six huh? Dad was married to Mom before I was born like three years after that.” his brow creased as he stared at the women on his father’s arm.
“There’s a pile of papers in a box somewhere I didn’t go through maybe there’s something in there.”
The boys sat in silence going through the dusty box of papers; medical records, school certificates, love letters from High School.
“Here look, Sandra Winchester died July tenth nineteen-seventy-six, cause of death was cancer – ouch. Poor women.” Dean read.
Sam watched as Dean sat on Aimee’s bed occasionally stroking her cheek; their fingers locked together. He could see the love in Dean’s eyes. Glancing at Sarah as she lay curled asleep on a chair, Sam felt a surge of affection for his own girlfriend. She’d had been a rock to him since Jess had left him and then his father dying. “Dean?” he said
“Come on lets go for a walk. The fresh air will do you good.”
“No I’m cool thanks.” Dean replied his eyes never leaving Aimee’s face.
“I’m not going anywhere until she wakes up.”
“Nothing’s going to happen while you’re away. I promise.”
“How can you promise Sam? How does she know she has anything to live for anymore? She was leaving me when this happened.”
“Ok, Mr Ego, calm down. Just come with me and we’ll go for a walk, get some coffee and come back and sit with her till Sarah wakes up.”
“Fine, whatever.” Dean’s face softened as he leant into Aimee and kissed her tenderly on the forehead “I’ll be back soon baby, don’t you dare go anywhere.” They walked in silence until they sat down on a bench outside the hospital. The air was bitter, despite the fact it was spring.
“I’m gonna ask you something now and I want the truth. Why do you never open up to anyone?”
“I‘m not having this conversation with you.” Dean ran his hand wearily over his face.
“Yes you are because it needs to be dealt with. Whatever is eating away at you needs to be fixed before you do something rash.”
“I’ve never told anyone anything apart from Mom when I was younger and that was dumb stuff like nightmares and kids picking on me in the playground.”
“You have to deal with your feelings not put them in S.S.D.D. and throw away the key. I know you think you have to protect me twenty four seven but I’m a big boy now, I can look after myself.”
“Nice weather we‘ve been having.” Dean twiddled the ring on his right hand.
“You’re just a just a fucked up girl looking for her own piece of mind.”
“Dude!” Dean frowned.
“Just tell me what the hell is wrong.”
“Led Zepplin are going on tour.”
“Clementine.” Sam muttered.
“I am not a psychotic ginger English chick.”
“That’s starting to be debatable with the amount of pouting you have been doing lately. What is it? Is it to do with Dad? Mom? Hell I don’t know, the girl from sixth grade who kneed you in the groin when you pulled her pigtails?”
“Do you think they sell lasagne in the canteen?”
“You’re probably gonna hit me right now but have you considered getting help?”
“Like a therapist? Dad’s been dead over three years and you still haven’t been to his grave and you never talk about him its almost like you’ve forgotten him.”
Dean glared at his brother.
“You think I’ve forgotten my own father? I still go to ring him when I need advice on a car or what to buy Aimee as a present or to go for a beer with. I know he‘s gone, but in here” he tapped his chest “he’s alive and I don’t want to lose that feeling.”
“Dad will always live on inside us. You have to learn to deal.”
“I am dealing! In my own way.”
“The practically suicidal way that is .”
“Don’t give me that psychoanalytical bullshit Sam. I’m not as dumb as you think I am.”
“I never said you were. I just wanna help you.”
“Then help by leaving me the hell alone!” Dean stood and stormed back towards Aimee’s room.
As the morning sun shone through the slats in the hospital blinds, Dean began to stir. He’d spent the last few hours sitting on an uncomfortable chair, slumped over the edge of Aimee’s bed, their fingers entwined. He ran his hand over his face in an attempt to wake himself up. “I’ll be back soon baby, I need caffeine.” he muttered kissing her cheek, he stepped back quickly examining her face, unsure whether he felt her move or not beneath him. “Aimee? Aimee? Sweetheart talk to me.” her eyes fluttered open then dropped shut. The horrendous sound of the heart monitor holding a continuous note followed. “Aimee?” the door was suddenly thrown open and nurses pushed in, one of them grabbing Dean, pulling him away. As he realised what was happening, he tried to call out but nothing passed his vocal cords.
Sam’s mind was deeply in thought as lay awake bed, the idea of his family losing someone else was putting a strain on him, the memories of losing his Mom and Dad were still firmly imbedded in his mind. Jess and Dean were all he had at one point. Jess left too. Now there was the four of them, the thought of losing Aimee was unbearable for him too, she had become a sister to him.
“Do you think we should go back to the hospital?” Sam asked sleepily as he lay in bed, Sarah pulled in tight next to him, her head resting on his chest.
“I think we’re best giving Dean some space, he’s got a lot to deal with. I don’t think he’d appreciate us being there.” Sarah replied trailing her finger over Sam’s stomach.
“Mmm. I‘ve just got a feeling.”
“He’ll ring if there’s any news.”
“Yeah. I know it’s just,” Sam hesitated “it’s just that I know what its like to lose someone you’re that close to and he was the only one there for me when it happened. I feel like I should be there for him.” Sarah gazed up in astonishment at Sam’s words.
Sam stared into space, as Dean continued to ramble on about nothing of importance. “Sam? Sammy? Are you even listening to me?”
“Then what did I just say?”
“I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me… but I can’t help it that I’m so popular.”
“Guess again Gretchen. I actually said it’s time you got out there again, there’s a chick over there giving you the eye.”
“Jess has been gone less then a week and already you’re trying to pimp me out to some bimbo.”
“Well if you’d rather do Sarah just say the word.”
“Dean seriously, I’ve known Sarah my whole life.”
“I know, ever since she made you cry in Kindergarten. I’m telling you though she wants you.”
“Why else do you think she’s been hanging out with you day in day out? She‘s like Donkey and you’re Shrek. ”
“Um because my girlfriend just left me and she’s a good friend and you’re a jerk.”
Sarah jumped as she heard a tapping on the door, “Sarah? Baby? What’s wrong?” She quietly opened the door,
“If you don’t know what’s wrong Samuel then don’t bother.” Sarah snapped slamming the door in his face.
“I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry I’m just worried. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Well you’re gonna have to start thinking! And being more sensitive, my emotions are gonna be sky high for the next eight months so you better learn to deal with it!” Sarah pouted opening the door.
“I know baby I’m sorry.” he leaned down and kissed her.
“You know I was thinking.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Yeah it did actually.” Sarah smiled “How about we name the baby after your Mom or Dad?”
“Seriously, I mean they aren’t bad names and what a better way to remember them by?” Sam smiled and dropped a kiss on her head.
Dean cradled Aimee, her cold body in his arms as he sobbed into her hair. The nurse continued checking the monitors attached to Aimee‘s body, scribbling every now and then onto a chart. It had been two hours since she had been resuscitated and she wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. “Mr Winchester?” the nurse said softly “Would you like a drink or anything?” Dean lifted his head and stared blankly “Anything at all.” he shook his head wiping his tears away with his sleeve.
“Can you call my brother for me?”
“No problem.” the nurse smiled “I’ll leave you alone for a while.” his gaze returning to Aimee. He rested his head in the crook of her neck and fell asleep.
Sam motioned to Sarah to be quiet as he lingered in the doorway of Aimee’s room. Dean was still asleep, draped over her body, when they arrived. Sarah gathered the blanket up and pulled it over Dean, being careful not to wake him. “He really does love her doesn’t he.” She sighed sitting in the chair near the window.
“Yeah. When we were teenagers he told me love didn’t exist and that it was just something to say to get your way with chicks, I told him he’d fall for someone one day and he just laughed at me. I’m glad he’s found someone to make him happy.” Sam leaned against the door frame frustration building inside him. Usually he knew how to say the right thing, but the words just didn’t seem to be flowing. He prayed for Aimee to wake.
It was late afternoon when Dean finally stirred, every muscle in his body groaned as he stretched awkwardly. “Morning sunshine.” Sam chirped.
“Hey,” Dean frowned “Where’s Donkey? And why are you here?”
“Work and you got the nurse to ring me. Thought I’d stay with you in case anything happened. How you feeling?”
“Shit.” Dean hung his head in his hands, fighting back the tears.
“The nurse came to check on her a little while ago, said she was doing better.” Dean nodded silently, turning into Sam. He wrapped his arms protectively around his brother, holding him while his body shook with sobs.
“I feel so useless. Nothing’s gonna make this better. Not even Jim, Jack and José.”
“I’m here for you and I’m not going anywhere, even if you don’t wanna talk we’ll just sit and wait. Ok?”
“Man I feel like I just stepped into a chick flick big time.” Dean shook his head and rubbed is eyes.
“Dude it doesn’t make you any less of a man to cry or be hugged by your brother.” Sam said, “But seriously dude when was the last time you showered? You smell bad enough to knock someone out.”
“Thank you Sasquatch, you sure know how to make a guy feel better.”
Dean scuffed his toe against the grass, he’s clean jeans already dirty from the grass “So Dad, how you been? Sorry I haven’t been to see you. Been busy the last three years. Man I could do with a beer. Do you get hangovers up there?” Dean shook his head not believing he was doing this. “So um anyway dunno if you’ve been keeping tabs on me and Sammy but things are kinda messed up right now. Dad I’ve never asked for anything from you but please can you help Aimee, I can’t lose somebody else. I feel so dumb I’m talking to a slab of stone. Give Mom my love and I’ll see you soon.” Dean kept his eyes low as he trudged back towards his car.
Sam waited anxiously at the entrance of the hospital, breathing a sigh of relief as Dean came into sight. “What took you so long?”
“Didn’t know you’d miss me so much.” Dean smiled “I went to see Dad.” Sam stared at him thoughtfully.
“Aimee’s awake. You went to see Dad?”
“How do you mean she’s awake?”
“She’s sitting up and bossing me around waiting to tear a chunk out of you.”
“Thanks dad.” Dean muttered under his breath.
He smiled as he entered Aimee’s room, he felt relieved to see her bright eyes, despite her pale complexion, he couldn’t believe how much better she looked after having the tubes removed.
“Hey, trust you to wake up the one time I leave.”
“How you feeling?”
“Like I’ve just been hit with a 1967 Impala. You?” she teased.
“That hurt. Do you still love me?”
“Only if you grovel enough.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it, not a word of it.” Dean rambled, parking himself on the edge of the hospital bed “I was tired and stressed and I didn’t want to give anything away. I’m so sorry baby, you have no idea how bad I feel. Sam‘s right I am Clementine. I want to get over that and move forward.”
He sighed heavily before continuing “I want to ask you something,” he gulped nervously “you don’t have to give me an answer right away and don’t say anything until I’ve finished. I was gonna ask you before all this happened. I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know we’ll have problems in the future, what couple doesn’t? But I know we can get through them. I want to wake up next to you everyday for the rest of my life, I want to grow old with you, I want you to be the mother of my children, I want to be with you in everyway you’ll allow me to be, because if you aren’t there I truthfully don’t think I can go on.” he reached inside his jacket and pulled out the turquoise box.
“Will you do me the honour of being my wife?” she looked at the box and then at Dean, her mind whirring, trying to take it all in.
“I honestly don’t know Dean, I need to think about it, after everything that’s happened I need to take a good long look at my life and work out what I really want.”
“Ok. No problem.” he promptly stood up kissed her briefly on the cheek, dropped the box on the bed and left, his heart breaking as he walked down the bleak hospital corridors, into the pouring rain.
Aimee knew what she said was true. They had argued, she nearly died and now he was proposing? It didn’t seem right, almost like he was making up for something. She closed her eyes and let her mind wander into the future, wondering whether Dean would be there or not.
Dean lay slumped on the sofa, a glass and a bottle of Jack on the floor. His heart seemed to no longer exist. Grabbing the nearly empty bottle of Jack he downed the rest of the contents. Slamming his head into the cushion he held his breath, not knowing if he could ever let go. His head began to feel light and his chest tighten as it screamed to be released, he ignored it all, just wanting to drift into sleep and never wake up.
He was unsure how much time had passed when the heavy beat of ACDC woke him up, he answered the call, “Hello?” his voice was gruff and lethargic as he turned his head away from the cushion, squinting at the brightness in the room.
“Thank God dude! I was about ready to call the cops on your ass.” Sam said. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you since yesterday afternoon. Where’ve you been?”
“Drowning my sorrows and trying to kill myself. You?”
“Don’t do that, you sound like a girl dude.” he ran his hand over his face and sniffed feeling the effects of the whiskey taking on the form of suicidal Lemmings inside his head.
“What do you mean you’ve been trying to kill yourself? Will you get a grip please.”
“I have a grip and its on the other side. Deal with it.”
“Dean!” Sam grinded his teeth, “Aimee wants to see you.”
“Oh yay, she can turn me down again.” he sighed disconnectedly “Later dude.” throwing his phone on the couch next to him and collapsing back.
Sam wrinkled his nose at the stench as he stepped inside Dean’s house.
“Seriously dude how much did you drink last night?”
“Not enough. I’m still alive and hanging my head in the toilet.”
“If you say so. Come on dude get up off the floor, get in the shower and for Christ’s sake brush your teeth.”
Dean grunted as he heaved his body off the floor “Once you’ve done that and got some caffeine down your neck I’ll drive you to the hospital.” Dean dropped back to the floor. “Why are you acting like such a self sacrificing jerk?”
“Because the pathway told me too.”
“So next you’re gonna cut your own tongue out?”
“May as well, that’s what got me here in the first place.”
“Get over yourself seriously dude. So she said no, fucking talk to her and sort it out. Stop being a whiney little bitch.”
“I just don’t know what to do. It’s like I am stuck between two right decisions.” Aimee sighed.
“How do you mean?” Sarah frowned.
“Ok put it like this if Sam proposed but you did nothing fight all the time because he was always in the dumb garage and you felt like he didn’t care about you anymore yet when you think about the future you can’t imagine it without him. What would you do?”
“If I couldn’t imagine my future without him I’d try and sort it out. Maybe marriage isn’t the right direction but at least try and sort something out.”
“I’ve pictured my proposal so many times and this is definitely not how I envisioned it. Maybe if he’d done it differently I’d of said yes.”
“Well you’ll never know sweetie but you need to make the boy talk otherwise you’ll end up drifting apart.”
Dean paused outside Aimee’s room, his mind still foggy from the consumption of alcohol. Sam had dragged his ass down to the hospital and even put the child lock on the door so he couldn’t escape at the lights, much to his disappointment. He sighed heavily before opening the door to her room,
“Hey, come sit.” she beamed.
“I’d rather stand.”
“Ok suit yourself.” The room fell into stony silence as Dean avoided eye contact. “Dean look I want to sort this out. I know you hate talking but we need to discuss certain things.”
“You obviously don’t love me anymore. What more is there to discuss?”
“I never said I didn’t love you. I said I didn’t want to marry you.”
“What’s the difference?”
“There’s a big difference. I do love you I just don’t think we’re ready to get married. Maybe one day down the line yes but right now no. There’s too many creases in our relationship to take that step.”
“Then what the hell do you want from me?”
“I want you to talk to me.”
“That’s all anyone ever seems want me to do these days.”
“Because you never do. I want to sort this out and if you‘re not willing to then maybe we should just end it now.”
“Is that what you want?”
“Is it what you want?”
“Don’t turn it round on me when you’re the one who said it in the first place.”
“You are so pig headed sometimes Dean, why can’t you grow up and realise that you have to learn to work at a relationship? There’s more to it then crawling into bed drunk at two in the morning and kissing me on the cheek before you leave for work in the morning!”
“No shit Aimee.”
“Stop being a son of a bitch.”
“Stop being a whiny complaining bitch.”
“I am not whiny or complaining I’m trying to fix our relationship which you obviously don’t want to fix.”
“No obviously I don’t which is why I’m stood right here after you turned me down, after I opened up to you.”
“Opened up to me? You spun me a load of lines that you thought I’d want to hear. Not once in our relationship have you ever suggested you wanted any of those things.”
“Exactly I opened up. I told you what I wanted and how I feel and you said no to the lot of it.”
“Because I need you to show me that you want it not just say it after I nearly died, which was partly your fault.”
“My fault? How the hell was you driving like a maniac my fault?”
“You made me mad in the first place.”
“And I apologised for that. You think I enjoy arguing with you twenty-four-seven?”
“You do a pretty good job of it so I don’t see why the hell not.”
“You are impossible do you know that.” Dean sighed perching on the edge of Aimee’s bed.
“I’m impossible? You’re the one who won’t talk.”
“Because I don’t want to sound like an idiot.”
“For crying out loud, you’d never sound like an idiot to me because I love you.” Aimee smiled placing a hand on his shoulder.
“I do love you and I’m sorry if you don’t think I show it enough, I just don’t know how. Sam’s always been the soppy one.” She ran her hand through his hair, playing with the short strands at the top of his neck “I’d never been in love with some one until I met you. I never thought it would happen, hell you’re my first proper relationship, I’m still kinda in the dark on all this stuff.”
“You did well until about six months ago. You showed me affection, you took me out, we did things together, you came home for dinner. Yeah we fought but not like we do now.”
“Six months ago I realised I depended on you for everything and it scared me. I’ve not depended on anyone but myself in a long time. I guess its just a defence mechanism for me. To push you away before you leave too.”
“Then why ask me to marry you if you thought I was going to leave?”
“Because I can’t live without you. That without you in my life I no longer had any meaning. Sam has Sarah now, he doesn’t need me watching his back anymore.”
“Sam will always need you. He may be with Sarah but you’ll always be his short big brother.”
“I’ve fucked up big style haven’t I?”
“Not quite, but we can fix it, it’ll take time but we will fix this. Fix us.” Dean turned and faced her, kissing her softly.