Title: Home Is Where The Heart Is.
Word Count: 3508
Summary: After discharging himself from Hospital Dean makes his way home. How Dean got back to the Motel in Faith, or at least my version of it.
Disclaimer: Sadly I have to admit that the brothers Winchester do not belong to me (but seriously would it kill Kripke & Co to let me borrow Dean? Honest I’d look after him.). These wonderful creations are the property of others, I am merely digging in their sandbox for a while.
Notes: This is a missing scene from Faith and was inspired by this beautiful drawing by petite_madame . I only hope that I did my inspiration justice. As always my thanks go to bigj52 for beta’ing my tale.
“Mr Burkovitz, I must remind you of how seriously ill you are, and asking to be discharged is simply irresponsible.” The young black doctor who’d been dealing with this case since he’d been brought into the hospital was all but begging the man on the bed.
Dean gave him a shadow of his normal smirk, “Listen doc, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everything you and the nurses have done for me. Just answer me this, will I get better?” Dean fixed the man with determined green eyes, and tried desperately to control the muscle tremors that still racked his aching body.
The doctor looked down at the file in his hands; he was trying to play for time in the hope that he could either talk the man out of this foolhardy action or better yet, his brother would walk through the door and get him to see sense.
“By the way, doc, Sam won’t be coming in till much later. If I know my little brother he’s hitting every medical site on the internet to find me a cure so you’re stuck with me. So then, what’s the verdict? Is he gonna find one?” The doctor’s heart sank on hearing those softly spoken words; the voice may have been weak due to his difficulty with breathing. But his words rang with the resolve to see this through.
With a heavy heart the doctor knew he had to tell the truth, “I’m sorry, there won’t be a cure but Mr Burkovitz....” An eyebrow raised, and the doctor gave a helpless smile. “Sorry Dean, you have to understand we can offer you the best palliative care. You won’t receive the same treatment at home ...or should that be, the motel you’re staying at.”
“No doc, you don’t understand. I’ll be home and that’s all that matters. Now then, where are the papers I need to sign to spring me?” Dean held out a trembling hand towards the AMA paperwork the doctor held.
The doctor smiled sadly as Dean signed the papers. He knew he was right; there was nothing they could do for him. But it didn’t mean he had to be happy that the young man who was seen as a hero by many here shortening the time he had left. “I’ll send the nurses in with your clothes, Dean. Good luck.” He reached over and shook Dean’s hand; his face was a picture of surprise at the respect in the doctor’s tone.
The doctor left Dean and then one of the nurses came in. She fetched Dean his clothes and she stood, waiting, “Do you need any help, Dean?” She was devastated to hear that he’d discharged himself. Dean stubbornly shook his head and threw back the bed clothes. After his request earlier, all the lines attaching him to monitors and medication had been removed, now it was a simple matter of getting dressed.
“What! And there was me thinking you liked having me nearly naked and now you want me to get my clothes on. Damn! I must be losing my touch; I don’t suppose there is the chance of one last sponge bath for old time’s sake?” As he spoke he winked and smiled at the young nurse. She blushed at him, it happened every time he spoke to her. Dean just had that effect, along with his constant flirting with them all. All the nurses on that floor had fallen for the brothers and it had hit them hard when they heard that the elder brother had been handed a death sentence.
Now they took care of the brothers, throwing Sam out when Dean had told him to go and get some rest. He said watching Sam sleeping in the chair, twisted like a pretzel just made him hungry, and when Sam had asked where he could buy an old-fashioned Walkman so his brother could listen to his tapes, they had taken turns ringing every pawn shop and thrift shop in the area until they had found one, so Sam didn’t have to leave Dean’s bedside. Then Sam had gone to fetch it when Dean had been sent for even more useless tests. When Sam had walked in the room carrying the Walkman, batteries and several tapes with ’The Best of Mullet Rock,” according to Sam, the look on Dean’s face had been priceless.
The usually stoic face had transformed and the shyest of smiles appeared. He stammered his thanks before calling Sam, ‘St Francis’ and clutching the walkman as if it was the most precious gift he’d ever received. The nurses had turned a blind eye to Dean listening to music most of the night. After his electrocution, he didn’t sleep well; he was in constant pain and was nauseous and the soft strains of Metallica could be heard floating out of his room.
Now Dean was attempting to get dressed, panting with exertion as he tried to pull the T-shirt over his head. It should’ve been easy but each piece of clothing felt like he was battling a Wendigo while armed with nothing more than a pea shooter. His chest throbbed and the muscles bunched and twitched. He went from freezing cold to suffering from flashes of heat in his extremities, making him sweat as he went from one extreme to the other. He leant against the bed as a wave of dizziness made the room tilt alarmingly. After each piece of clothing, he’d had to rest until he was ready to try again.
Through sheer Winchester pig headedness Dean managed to get his jeans on; now all he had to get on was the hoody Sam had left behind and his boots. Dean had made Sam take his leather jacket in case he didn’t make it out of there; Dean wanted his brother to have something to remember him by beyond the Impala. Besides, his amulet was in the pocket as well for Sam. Now he had the hoody that Sam had given him when he’d said he was cold one night and he didn’t want to bother the nurses.
He’d never tell Sam that since he’d had it he’d rested better. The soft material held a comforting scent that reminded Dean of his brother; his cologne and the familiar scent of gun oil and just something that was pure Sam was better than any sleeping tablet for him. When he wore it he’d managed to get some sleep and now the nurses would put it on his bed each night. Even if he didn’t wear it, just having it near made Dean more relaxed.
Dean managed to wrestle the hoody on and now he sat on the edge of the bed utterly spent. He looked down at his boots as if they were some Herculean labour to be undertaken. He heard a sound and lifted his head. There stood Christine, the oldest nurse on the ward. She’d taken it upon herself to make sure Dean behaved. So far she’d like to say the battle was being evenly waged, and then Dean smiled at her. She knew she’d just lost the war, and her heart melted whenever he smiled like that. It wasn’t his usual cocky smirk; it just gently curled his lips upwards. Then he bit his lip, his eyes dropped down and a flush stole over that ashen skin.
Christine felt her own heart ache at that. She knew the independent young man hated being this weak and not even being able to dress himself without a struggle must be absolute hell. She shook herself and strode in, a professional mask slipping over her features, “I hear you’ve finally had enough of the food here and are making a break for it.” There was no pity in her voice as she spoke.
Dean felt a swell of gratitude at Christine’s manner, “You betcha, not a cheeseburger in sight, and if I see another pot of jello I might not be responsible for my actions.” He tilted his head back to speak to Christine. Her face remained impassive but it was painful to see someone like Dean looking so ill. His eyes still burnt fiercely with life but now even that was slowly dying. His skin was washed out, the only colour were his freckles which were adorable in her opinion, and the bruises like dark circles under his eyes. The full lips were tinged with blue as were the beds of his nails - she saw that as she rapidly knelt by Dean’s feet and swiftly put his boots on.
She paused for a second, unable to face those expressive green eyes again. She couldn’t bear to see the shame she knew would be filling them so she held her hand out, “Come on then, son. Don’t just sit there, help this poor old woman up, will you?”
For a second nothing happened then a shaking hand appeared in her vision. She took it and felt a weak pull as she stood up. When she came face to face with Dean, his eyes were filled with thanks at what she’d done. “Dean, if you don’t let go of my hand the other nurses will be jealous, and trust me, it gets ugly.”
Dean leaned forward and planted a gentle kiss on Christine’s cheek. When he sat back the smirk was back, along with the familiar devil-may-care expression he always wore when he thought people were watching. He managed to stand, his final act was to pick up the Walkman and hang the headphones round his neck. Just as he turned to leave he looked back over his shoulder and Christine’s breath caught in her throat.
Dean had never looked so young or vulnerable as he did at that moment, buried as he was in his brother’s hoody. He played nervously with the cuffs and then he smiled softly at Christine. “Thanks for everything, but I gotta be getting home. And Christine, thanks for taking care of Sammy for me.” Then he turned away and shuffled slowly towards the elevator. He’d steadfastly refused Christine’s offer of a wheelchair.
As he made his painfully slow progress, he was watched by a silent chorus of nurses. Each one had been touched by the brothers’ presence on the ward and each one felt helpless as the hunched figure moved. Christine walked out of Dean’s room and joined the vigil. As the elevator’s doors opened, Dean stepped through and he gave them one final look. He gave the nurses a crooked smile and a nod before disappearing from view.
They remained still and the youngest nurse said, “It’s just damned unfair! You save two kids and this is the thanks you get, and just what is he going home to? I mean, it’s a crappy motel. I could kick myself. I even told him how to get there by bus and now he gets to go there and die. Shit! It’s just not right.” With that, she turned away, angrily dashing the tears from her eyes.
Christine stood watching the doors of the elevator long after Dean had gone. She knew what he was going ‘home’ to. She’d seen many families come and go over the years. She’d seen devoted and broken families but none came close to the brothers Burkovitz. You could hear them bickering at the nurses’ station. Sam’s gentle voice chiding and encouraging Dean to eat, or rest while he carried out his continual search for a cure. Then there were Dean’s responses, exasperated but ultimately he always gave way to Sammy. And the way they looked at one another, it was always when they thought the other wasn’t looking. It was in those silent looks and communications between the young men, so much said without words. It always seemed to Christine in those moments there was nothing either man wouldn’t do for the other. No, Dean had plenty to be going home to. She smiled softly, “God speed, Dean, I hope you get home soon.”
The ride down in the elevator gave Dean a moments’ respite. He huddled in the corner; he was fucking freezing and the nausea welled up again. He swallowed convulsively and breathed slowly, managing to get himself back under control. He was frustrated with his failing body; all he had to do was walk out the hospital, catch a bus and he’d be back at the motel where they’d been staying in no time.
Easy, right? Shit! He hadn’t felt this crap since the last time dad had gone through one of his Marine training phases and to cap it all he felt as if the Impala had run over his chest. The doors opened and he steeled himself to move, one foot in front of the other. He snorted. He’d be happier if he was still running endless laps with his dad yelling “Smoother Dean, running fast will only get you so far, endurance is the key! Now only another ten to go, son.” Shit! He already felt as if he’d run a marathon, the sweat trickled down his back making his clothes stick to him. He made it to the hospital doors and they opened - a blast of frigid air hit him, chilling him to the bone. He shivered and that set off every muscle spasm and ache with a vengeance. It took several seconds of agonised ragged breaths before he could stagger forward again.
Right! This was just like a hunt; he had to set objectives. The first one was to get off the ward and downstairs. So far, so good. The next one was to make the bus stop, he could see it. It was only a couple of hundred yards away. Dean fixed his eyes on his goal and pushed on towards it but with each step he was getting progressively weaker and his breathing felt as if he was being repeatedly stabbed with an icy knife.
The cold air made his lungs burn and he started coughing; the violent fit bent Dean over. Only his pride stopped him sinking to his knees. Finally the fit ceased, leaving him weak and shaky. He slowly lifted his eyes; the stop was so close, yet it might as well have been in fucking Canada. Dean’s chest heaved as he tried to draw in badly needed oxygen, then he heard a calming voice, “Come on, dude, slow and shallow breaths. That’s it. You’ve been doing it for twenty-six years now. It should be easy.” Dean paid attention to the gentle order in those familiar tones. He slowed his breathing and finally he managed to straighten up.
“Thanks, Sammy....” Dean turned to speak to the brother who was waiting for him at the motel. A feeling of emptiness washed over him when he remembered he was alone, “Come on, Winchester, you’ve had worse than this and you’ve looked after yourself. Now suck it up and move.” He gritted his teeth against the freezing fire in his chest and staggered the last few feet.
He slumped gratefully down and sat waiting for the bus. He reached for the headphones and put the Walkman on, cradled by the soaring sounds of Zeppelin as he revelled in the music of Paige and Plant. The music slowly soothed him and relieved some of the tension from his muscles and it helped to lessen the ache in his chest. He cherished Sam’s gift of the beat-up old Walkman. It replaced the one that laid down its life for the cause and was now an EMF meter. It had kept him company when Sam had returned to the motel and now it was helping him make it home.
Dean sighed; he just wanted to be back at the motel. He was beat and this was taking a little more out of him than he would like to admit. Getting home was his final objective and he wouldn’t fail now.
Dean saw the bus approaching. He turned the Walkman off and pulled the headphones down again. He hauled himself slowly back to his feet, held out his arm and the bus halted. The driver looked at the hunched figure that climbed onto his bus. By the way he moved he was expecting an old man. When the figure straightened up to pay, he was shocked to find a young, sick man looking back at him. The man might have been young but his eyes spoke of having seen things that had aged him way beyond his years. He smiled at the driver and even that small gesture seemed to have drained his energy almost completely. The driver waited as the man lurched down the bus. Usually he’d drive off right away, but there was just something about the man that made him wait until he sat down.
Dean leaned back against the seat and rested his head against the window. As the bus moved forward he stared out into the night, not really looking at anything. Then he caught sight of his reflection. He barely recognised himself, his hair sweat-dampened flat against his head. His skin paper white, with smudges of charcoal darkness under his eyes, the shadows making his features sharper, more defined. Here in the electric twilight, the lights gave the streets a washed out hue, shapes loomed up and then faded away back into the pools of darkness. That’s just how he felt, he was fading and he knew it. There would be no final blaze of glory, no Butch and Sundance moment; instead, there would be a slow and steady fade to sepia before the final fade to black.
But for now that didn’t matter. Dean had one more objective to achieve that night, he had to get home. With every stop that passed he was getting closer to his goal, and that was easing some of the tightness in his chest, just knowing he would soon be home.
He counted off the last stop before his; he managed to pull himself to his feet. He swayed dangerously as the bus shuddered, his breath stuttered in his throat at the jolt. The bus driver saw the man from the hospital trying to make his way down the bus. He called out over his shoulder, “This your stop coming up, buddy?” Dean’s slowly raised his head and nodded tiredly. The bus glided to a halt and the driver sat and patiently waited, watching the slow progress. By the time Dean reached him he was sweating again and his breath came in short gasps.
The driver looked at the man concern in his eyes, “Hey buddy, are you gonna be alright?”
Dean looked out the door at the motel waiting for him; he looked over at the driver, a wistful smile on his face. “Me? Dude, I’m always alright, thanks for waiting.” Dean gave the driver a wave and stepped off the bus.
Now he was determined to make it to the motel room, even though he felt as if his knees would give way if he took even one more step. Dean drew in as deep a breath he could manage and started to make his way forward. With each slow step he was getting closer to home. He knew many of the nurses thought it was terrible that home was a motel.
Dean didn’t care, everything he needed was in that room all he had to do was get there. Just then a welcome dark shape appeared. Dean reached out to caress familiar lines, using them to guide his way. “Oh baby, are you a sight for sore eyes?” Dean leaned against the Impala and took strength from her comforting presence. As he leaned against the drivers’ door, using her as shelter and support, he gathered strength from the only other home he’d ever known.
Dean pushed off from the Impala and fixed his eyes on the door where he knew home was. He’d never needed somewhere permanent to rest his head. He knew that houses could be destroyed, but who was in that room represented everything Dean called home.
Dean stumbled the last few steps. He managed to lean against the door frame and took several seconds to garner the energy to just reach up and knock on the door. His fragile heart beat a little faster at the thought of what lay behind that door.
Finally Dean knocked and the door swung open. Sammy’s familiar expression of worried concern appeared, followed quickly by relief at seeing who stood there. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Dean let all his tension drain away; nothing else mattered now. Not his failing body or how quickly his time was running out. He was back where he belonged; he shrugged a shoulder and smirked at Sam before saying, “I checked myself out. Well, I’m not gonna die in a hospital where the nurses aren’t even hot.” He felt a hand gently grip his arm to guide him inside. He let Sam do it.
Finally he was home