Memento

Because grief is weird sometimes, but losing your father still hurts. So here's to the ones we've lost.

Carnage. Carnage in a cup of coffee.

Sam can't keep his eyes off the spill on the floor. A brown puddle; a smashed cup. And further into the room, his own broken heart.

What hurts most is that he sees these things coming, usually. He can predict strangers' deaths, cross half the country and get there in time to save them. But the one time it matters, the one time it's personal he has nothing. Nothing but cooled anger and a hot cup of coffee.

It hurts because if Sam had known, he wouldn't have argued, wouldn't have dawdled, wouldn't have left. Wouldn't have, wouldn't have, wouldn't have. There's so much he wouldn't have done. Instead he's sitting here staring at a spilled cup of coffee.

Dean's in the room with Dad, still shaky from his own near death, but strong (or stubborn) enough to stop the nurses from dragging him back to his room. Sam shook his head at them when the tried to do it. There's never been a force in hell that managed to tear Dean from his family, and this isn't an exception.

So they're in there now. And Sam is out here. "Giving Dean space" but really he can't stand to be in there now. Not with the guilt of their last words on his chest. Not with the image of his father, spread eagled on the floor, echoing like a ghost through his mind.

It's a loop.

Yelling. Coffee. Dad on the floor. DAD ON THE FLOOR. Ground, slippery beneath his feet, time slipping through his fingers one heartbeat at a time. Cold skin. Grey skin. An empty pulse and oh god someone -

"HELP!"

From there Sam can barely recall how he got here. He remembers, vaguely, the nurses rushing in, the beeping, thinking Dean should be here. Dean always glues this family together again, however far they've drifted apart.

But this isn't something he can mend.

So now here they are. And here Dad isn't.

Sam thinks he should feel more but he's just cold. Empty. Like he's missing a limb he never knew he had. There are so many memories of his father clamouring for attention he can't even sort them enough to clearly remember his face.

All he sees is a body on the floor and he's too late.

A little voice in him is telling him to keep it together, is keeping the tears from his eyes because he needs to the strong one this time. Part of him thinks he doesn't have as much right to grieve as Dean, that his loss can never be as great because he didn't worship Dad quite as much. The rest of him throbs in wet, hollow agony; white hospital LED thrumming with his heartbeat and converging on the coffee stained floor.

For the second time in a year, Sam's life has come to a grinding halt. The world doesn't take pity, doesn't pause in solidarity. It thunders on like it always has, full of life and death and the things in between.

A cleaning crew comes by, chatting cheerfully over the new house one of them bought. One mops the floor while the other leans on the cart, lost in conversation. Then a nurse comes by and sushes them, pointing subtly to Dad's room and then to Sam.

Immediately a look of pity crosses the others' faces and they shoot him sad little smiles. He averts his eyes to the ground where a mop has all but eradicated the stain on the floor.

The crew moves out and the coffee is gone. Just like that. All that's left is a forgotten drop on the white wall, a little memento of a tragedy. But the world keeps turning.

Something hot and wet gathers behind Sam's eyes. Something raw and empty rises like an animal from his chest. He throws his hands in front of his face as if he wants to catch the sob that rips from his throat.

And he cries.