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Title: When God Is Gone And The Devil Takes Hold... (5/?)
Author: to_be_empty 
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen), a bit of Bobby and someone original
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, I'm back from no-internet-land finally! But I had my laptop and I was a good girl so I wrote and wrote... This chapter's not short like the previous one so I hope it will be more satisfying for you guys, at least. Please let me know what you think. Comments 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...

4. But What Is This That I Can't See?

5. I’ll Open The Door To Heaven Or Hell



Dean sat at the little table in the cafeteria by himself, taking as little space as could be expected from a man his size. His shoulders were sagged forward in something resembling defeat – which he wouldn’t, no, couldn’t admit to himself, yet – and his gaze was somewhere far far away; his whole body was crooked into such an uncomfortable-looking position on the plastic chair. Overall, he seemed withdrawn and sorrowful like a broken and discarded toy lying in the dirtiest, least important part of a kid’s room.


            The full cup of coffee imprisoned in his absent grip was no longer warm but he wasn’t paying attention to it, anyway. He’d bought it just so he could have something to do with his hands when he’d been inevitably shooed away by the nurses at the ICU. Once again, he’d been told to get some fresh air, have something to eat and maybe even go home for a little while to rest. He would be made aware immediately if there was any change in his brother’s condition.


            Dean didn’t bother telling the nurse that he didn’t have a home. He didn’t point out that the only thing close to a home he ever had in the last twenty-six years was a ’67 Chevy Impala. He didn’t even look the nurse in the face, let alone check her out.


He didn’t go out to the Impala either because he couldn’t stand it in his car anymore; the front seat was never meant for Dean, alone. No, Dean needed his brother. He needed Sam. He needed Sam so bad, he was slowly wasting away as he sat there with his thumbs up his ass and did nothing to bring his brother back. But he knew better, now.


It was exactly this pathetic need that had gotten them here in the first place. It was that little, tight node inside of him that instigated his every move, every action, every instinct and made him trigger-happy for no other reason than the edge of a thought with “Sam” and “danger” in the same sequence. It was that dark but warm knot tucked away permanently somewhere deep in him that drove him to do anything and everything, really. “Sam, Sam, Sam… Watch out for Sammy… Look out for your little brother… Need Sammy…Need to keep him safe…” It kept sending these same exact pulses circulating through his body, every conscious moment of his existence. And Dean had long embraced the fact that this was who he was. Who he would ever be. Without Sam, there would be no Dean.


Still, he didn’t do anything. Because that tiny, bossy thing inside him was the reason for all of this. If he had never gone to Stanford and practically begged his brother not to leave him alone, none of this would have happened. Hell, if he had let Sam get away with his dreams of a normal life, maybe his brother would have become a lawyer now with a nine-five job like some ordinary guy. If he had… if he had learnt to deal with the screaming, screeching, tearing grief and need he had become when Sammy was. When Sammy was lying on a dirty mattress, lifeless… If he had never made that deal… Maybe Sam would be at peace. Maybe he’d be in the “heaven” that the angels spoke so highly of. Maybe Sam would be able to rest, finally.   


And maybe that was why Sam wasn’t waking up. Maybe he had found some measure of tranquility inside his own head. Dean couldn’t mess with that. He wouldn’t dare. He wouldn’t… he wouldn’t hope for help from anything from the other world he knew because now he was also aware that it almost always backfired. The price tag was too high for these sorts of things. That was why he had eventually dropped his father’s journal on the floor the other day, after spending half an hour searching desperately for some way to bring Sam back. That was why he had discarded the idea of calling Bobby and asking for his help to do what the journal suggested could be useful. Because he had come to the painful, stinging realization that he shouldn’t interfere with the natural order of things. It only brought more pain, misery and suffering in the end.


After abstaining from reading that page on John Winchester’s journal, he had ended up decorating Sam’s room with protective symbols and runes. He’d even hidden a few hexbags around the room. They always had to hide from angels and demons alike but right now, the world was even more dangerous with Lucifer raised and the angels already looking for a catastrophic fight. Dean didn’t know if anyone – angel or demon – would come after them but he had to be cautious. Bobby was home, gathering intel about the present condition. Did anyone know that Sam had broken the last seal? Would other hunters come after Sam to get revenge, to get rid of him? Would Lucifer come after Sam for any other reason – to thank him and then corrupt him maybe? Would other angels – Zachariah and his minions – come after Dean himself for running away and trying to stop Sam? He knew no way to hide from angels but he knew what Anna and Cas did to send them back wherever they came from so he located places around the room that he could draw that sigil on in case any of the dickheads decided to show up.


Sam was even more vulnerable than ever so Dean had to do everything he could to protect his little brother. He had to do something to feel like he still could do something.


But in the end, he had no choice but to sit back and let the doctors do their thing, like normal people. Even though there wasn’t much the doctors could do at this stage. He had no choice but to sit by Sam’s side and ask for him to wake up silently.


“Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether a patient’s unresponsiveness is due to psychiatric problems rather than a medical illness,” Dr. Walton had said after reading Sam’s full patient history. Dean had immediately understood he was subtly asking about Sam’s semi-successful attempt at killing himself – after all, coma was the state of mind and body that was closest to death – that had put him in this condition in the first place. He had had no idea how to break it to the doctor that his brother was depressed because of the guilt he felt for having started the apocalypse and also, he probably thought that the only family he had, namely Dean and Bobby, hated his guts. So instead, Dean had chosen to solemnly nod and duck his head to gaze at the floor while the doctor inspected him for a moment longer. Then Dr. Walton had sighed and left, promising to come back to check on Sam.  


Dean was forced to come out of his reverie with the disturbance of a polite voice directed at him.


“ – t here?”


Dean blinked and tried to shake off the cobwebs of despair wrapped around his mind as he tilted his head upwards to see who was talking to him.


There was a girl – a young woman at her early or mid twenties – at the other side of the table he was seated at. She was looking at him expectantly with warm brown eyes, as if waiting for him to say something. Dean continued to stare at her blankly until he finally realized she must have asked him something.


“Sorry. You need something?” he asked, mustering up whatever politeness left inside of him.


She flashed him a hesitant, almost coy smile. “Yeah, sorry. It’s really crowded in here. I was wondering if I could maybe sit here? I wouldn’t want to bother you…”


Dean took a quick glance around the cafeteria. She was right, there seemed to be nowhere she could possibly sit in here. The words flew out of his mouth almost automatically.


“Yeah, yeah of course. I don’t mind.”


She smiled again as she sat across him. “Thank you.”


Dean nodded in response. He was being polite despite the endless well of fury and despair inside of him because he figured she was here because something was wrong with her or someone she cared about. Why else would she be looking for a place to sit at a hospital cafeteria?


He was trying to decide whether enough time had passed so he could return to Sam’s side without the nurses bothering him when he was interrupted yet again with another soft query from the brown-eyed girl.


“Excuse me,” she started. “I was getting myself coffee and took the liberty of bringing a cup for you, too.” Dean hadn’t even noticed she had left the table let alone she had come back and that was saying something about how much he had abandoned his hunter instincts. ‘A careless hunter is a dead hunter.’ his dad’s words echoed around in his mind until he was distracted by the inviting scent of the coffee.


He could see the cup she was sliding towards him on the table, now. It was black, without any cream or sugar to soften or sweeten the bitter taste. Just the way he liked his coffee. At first, he couldn’t understand how she had known his preferences about caffeine. Then he remembered the now cold and still full cup in his hand.


His hand must have unconsciously tightened around it because she felt the need to comment on it. “I think that one hasn’t been warm for some time, now,” she said, then slid the new one she’d brought in place right in front of him with a sincere smile. “Here, drink this.”


Dean felt like he was being manipulated and it made his temper flare.


“No, thanks. I’m okay,” he replied, not completely rude but still lacking the edge of neutrality he had been emitting before.


Are you, really?” she inquired with a serious expression on her homely face, tucking a rebellious strand of straight, dark brown hair behind her ear.


“What?” Dean was surprised she was still talking to him.


She sat down in front of him, cupping her small hands around her own coffee and inhaling the scent, not taking her gaze off of him all the while. “You said you were okay and I asked ‘Are you okay, really?’


Dean’s eyes narrowed in spite and venom. “Why do you care?”


Her chocolate eyes widened and she looked taken aback for a moment before adopting a clueless but sincere expression.


“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Guess I’m a philanthropist.”


Dean tried to get rid of her by being outright hostile, this time. “Well, you better be a philanthropist somewhere else then, sweetheart. I just wanna be left alone.”


She didn’t even flinch. It looked like she had some experience with people who wanted her to get lost. “That might be what you want, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you need, right now.”


She sounded like a shrink. Dean became suspicious, then. “Oh, I get it now. You’re a shrink. Someone put you up to this, right? Sam’s doctors or maybe even those goddamn nurses...” He shook his head, half-amused, half-agitated. Why did people always assume that they knew better? Couldn’t they just leave him alone? Didn’t they understand he couldn’t share with them what he knew since he was a little kid? Didn’t they know he was always trying to help but it was never enough?


She chuckled humorlessly. “So you’ve got doctors and nurses on your tail, too, huh? Why don’t you spill what it is that’s making you brood like a turkey at Thanksgiving’s Eve and be done with it?”


Dean frowned, his narrowed eyes focused on her fair face. “How come you suddenly transformed into this? You looked like such a sweet, shy girl at first.”


She shrugged again. “Oh, this is just a self-defense mechanism for when I have to deal with smart-asses.” She covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes shining. “Oops! I did it again, didn’t I?”


Dean sighed, his lips twisting into an unpleasant expression. He was exasperated with her antiques already. She looked lovely enough with that long dark hair, soft-looking white skin and twinkling brown eyes. Dean would have probably hit on her if it were another time. If his brother wasn’t one touch away from death and if Lucifer wasn’t walking the earth for the first time in thousands of years. If Bobby wasn’t home making sure nothing major had started happening already.


But right now, he couldn’t stand her.


“Look, I’m serious. Just leave me alone,” he said, his voice growing deeper with each syllable.


She looked at him stubbornly. “Why won’t you just talk to me? I’m a stranger you probably won’t ever see again so you don’t have to protect your tough guy image with me.”


Dean took a deep breath to keep himself from calling her a bitch the next time he talked. “That’s exactly why I won’t talk to you, sweetheart. I don’t know you.” Then he thought of something better to throw back at her and continued. “Hey, if it’s such a terrific idea to share your problems with strangers, why won’t you tell me why you’re here? I mean, you are in a crowded hospital cafeteria, you can’t possibly be enjoying yourself here…”


She blinked a few times frequently, surprised at Dean’s unexpected comeback. Then she shrugged and looked at him challengingly. “If that’s what it takes to get you to spill, fine. You wanna know why I’m here, huh?”


Dean sat back in his chair and nodded to indicate she should keep talking.


“Okay,” she said, looking like she was trying to find how to say what she had on her mind. “So… the January before the last, there was an accident when I was going back to school after the holidays. A truck practically ran our car over.” She stopped when a pained expression crossed her young, smooth features but then she composed herself quickly, taking a deep breath before carrying on with her story. “My boyfriend died and two of my other friends were also injured pretty badly…”


Dean immediately felt horrible. He already regretted agreeing to have a pissing contest with her. He had figured she probably had some kind of problem but he wasn’t expecting death of a loved one to be a part of it. She looked like such a naïve, sweet girl to whom bad things had never happened and hopefully would never happen.


“I’m sorry,” he muttered silently as he ducked his head, ashamed.


She acknowledged his apology with a nod and kept talking. “And I was in a coma for three months.”


Dean’s head snapped up at that instantly. “Really?” he asked before he could stop himself.


“Yeah,” she said, nodding fervently. “The doctors were nearly sure I wouldn’t make it or if I woke up, I would be pretty much invalid.” She seemed to wait for a few moments. Whether it was for dramatic effect or for his benefit, Dean didn’t know. “But I woke up. Of course it wasn’t like how it’s shown in the movies; I didn’t immediately jump off the bed and go on with my life. I had some difficulty speaking at first and walking, too. Actually, I had a lot of problems because of the brain injury and it frustrated me. I hated being dependent on other people, even if they were my own family. So… I was in rehabilitation for nearly half the year, having to relearn many things I had previously learnt but could no longer remember. Yet, in the end, here I am. I’m pretty much recovered completely.” She was smiling at him as she finished. “So, that’s why I’m here. I have to go under a few tests because the doctors still want to be sure there isn’t any leftover damage they missed and I’m living as comfortably as the next girl. They write about me in their medical articles, you know?” She winked at him in the end. 


“Wow...” Dean muttered, shaking his head.


“Impressed?” she asked, raising one shapely eye brow.


“No, I just…” he shook his head again. “I can’t believe of all the people who could sit at my table it was you who actually did.”


“Why?” She sounded curious.


Dean took a deep breath and made a decision. He needed to know more about Sam’s condition.


“It’s… uh, it’s my brother. Sam.” He held her gaze as he finally told her the rest. “He’s in a coma.”


“Oh…” she let out silently. “I’m, umm… I’m sorry.”


Dean grinned humorlessly. “Don’t be,” he said. “I wasn’t all that friendly towards you.”


She shook her head. “Hey, I don’t mind. I wasn’t very understanding, either.” She paused, pondering for a moment, then continued. “But I just wanted to help and I immediately understood that you were someone who wouldn’t ‘fess up without a fight, so…”


“Yeah,” murmured Dean absently as he nodded thoughtfully. “I gotta ask, though. What was it like?”


She blinked at him owlishly. “What was what like?”


“Being in a coma. Do you, uhhh, do you remember what it was like?”


Understanding dawned on her immediately. “Well,” she started hesitantly. “I don’t remember much. I mean, my brain functions were pretty much on a leave of absence, then. But I know now that it was really horrible for my family and friends.”


Sensing that they were sailing towards dangerous waters, Dean tried to keep the conversation in the path he wanted it to stay in. “You don’t remember much but you do remember something?”


“Yeah,” she nodded. “Bits and pieces. I remember hearing things; people mostly. My mom talking to me. But my sister was the one I was able to hear most clearly. I think I could even feel her hand holding mine.” She shook her head then, unsure. “I don’t know. It’s a huge blur in my memory. But, I think I remember Lenore talking to me, telling me to hang in there and to not leave her alone.”


Dean was devouring ever word she uttered. Realizing this, she kept talking.


“Oooh, I remember someone else clearly. Some goddamn stupid doctor who kept telling the interns that I was a lost cause, that I wouldn’t wake up. I think part of the reason why I fought so hard to wake up was because I wanted to prove that old fool wrong.”


Dean cracked a shadowy grin at her. “Yeah, I noticed the stubborn creak in you.”


She smiled pleasantly at him in response. “Everyone does, after a while.” She fidgeted in her seat for a moment before starting to talk tentatively. “So, can I ask you something?”


Dean gave her tired, weary eyes and shrugged. “I guess.”


“How long has your brother been comatose?”


He cast his eyes downward as he replied softly. “Little over two days, now.”


“Hmm, so you’re in that awful phase where the doctors are all like ‘we can’t be sure until he wakes up’ and ‘his chances are blah blah blah’. Am I right?”


“Actually, yes. How do you know that? You were the one unconscious.”


“Lennie filled me in when I asked how it was like when I was lying there. We’ve always been pretty close so she didn’t hold anything back.” Then she added as an afterthought. “At least, I think she didn’t.”


Dean’s lips twitched.


“So, I gotta tell you. I’m not much of a believer. I don’t believe in fate but I don’t believe in coincidences, either. I just think that we somehow attract people to us, people who can be helpful. I think that’s why it was your table that was the least crowded and it was me who of all people ended up sitting with you… I guess that leaves me the responsibility to give you some advice.” She raised her hand to stop him from interrupting her and continued. “I’m pretty sure you haven’t been talking to your brother. But you should. Talk to him as if no one’s listening. Tell him all those things all that macho bullshit normally keeps you from saying out loud. It really helps. Maybe he won’t hear all of it but I’m sure he’ll hear some of it. And it’ll make him fight harder to come back to you. Believe me, I know.” She gave him a reassuring smile. “Oh, and I’m sorry. I never really introduced myself. I’m Anabel.” 


He sighed, shaking his head. “Hi Anabel, I’m Dean. Don’t get me wrong; your advice is really touching and all but my brother’s in a coma because he was actually trying to kill himself. I don’t think he’d listen to me much if I asked him to stay, you know?”


Her eyelashes fluttered in shock and she dropped her dense gaze to the table. “I’m sorry, I had no ide – ”


Dean held up a hand as he interrupted her. “Don’t apologize,” he said. “There’s no way you could have possibly known that.”


She nodded hesitantly as she gathered herself and braved a glance at him. “I… I think. I mean, maybe he… Maybe he regretted it once he did it, you know?”


Dean shook his head with a bitter, crooked smile on his lips. “No. No, he didn’t regret it,” he started as he felt the knot around his throat tightening. “He. He tried to – God… My little brother was lying by the tub, his arms soaked in a pool of blood and – ” he gasped, feeling like he couldn’t finish the sentence. But the hunter in him forced his throat to work around the fist gripping it. “He tried to stop me… As I was pressing hard to stop the bleeding, he begged me to let him die. He even said ‘Please…’


Anabel was silent across him. For the first time since he had met her, she looked like she was at a loss of words. After a while of quietly sharing Dean’s pain, she squared her shoulders in determination and spoke again.


“Well, just because he gave up on himself and you, doesn’t mean that you should, too.”    

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