Hi, guys! So this was written as a request from one of my lovely readers.
It's set at the beginning of season two, after the season one car crash in the last episode.
Hope you enjoy!
Stacey Winchester, MD
Jefferson City, Missouri — Clearwater Valley Hospital — Emergency Room — 01:17am.
Stacey took a small bite of the red apple in her hand, and she heaved a worn sigh. Her green eyes were stinging, and the words of the many forms and reports scattered across her desk were becoming blurred and disorientated. Why had she volunteered herself for the night shift? It was the first and last time she would ever do so, because, at this point, she was sure that no amount of coffee was going to sustain her. Her body simply craved one thing; sleep, and that was so many hours out of reach that she couldn't fathom the thought of getting through her shift at all.
It was an unusually quiet night for their team, and she found herself wondering how her friends did this every night.
"Not your usual Friday night, huh?" A voice called from behind her, amused, friendly, pondering.
A smile crossed Stacey's face, genuine, and she tossed her apple the short distance to the trash. "You're not kidding." she replied. "It is way past my bedtime."
The girl behind her, Lauren, chuckled. And Stacey turned her chair to face her. "Well, what are the odds your first night shift with us on the ER would be the quietest I've ever seen it?" she asked, and the humour was evident in her tone. "How are you coping?"
Stacey huffed. "You have no idea what I'd give right now for something to happen." she quipped. "And, I mean, broken arm, case of the flu... anything. I feel like I'm about to pass out."
Lauren offered her a smile, sympathetic, understanding. "I get that." she nodded. "The night shift takes some getting used to. When are you back on your day shifts?"
"Couple weeks, I think." she replied, glum. "Once they've found someone to cover your big bad boss's shifts."
"You know, her going on maternity leave was the best thing that's ever happened to us." she remarked, humorous. "You're nowhere near as scary a boss as her. Plus, everyone here loves you. We're all terrified of her."
Stacey offered a smirk. "Careful what you wish for, Lauren." she mused. "You never know when big bad Stacey might come and get ya. Don't you have work you should be doing?"
For a long moment, Lauren stared at her, perplexed by the comment, before she gave a laugh. "Wow. You really had me going for a minute there, Stace." she chuckled. "You want another coffee?"
But Stacey shook her head. "Nah, they're on me." she offered, pushing herself from her desk. "I can't look at this paperwork anymore."
It was as Stacey made a move to leave her desk that the large double doors before them were barged open, and they both turned sharply at the sound. Two paramedics barged their way through to the ER, a stretcher pushed between them, and it looked urgent. Immediately, all signs of tiredness or weariness were forgotten, and she was on full alert.
Lauren rushed around the other side of the desk to greet them. "What have we got?!" she pressed.
"Car crash." The paramedic informed. He was in his fifties, and neither missed the fresh blood that stained his blue gloves. "Male, mid twenties. GCS-3, unresponsive. Significant passenger side intrusion, semi-trailer truck. Pressure dressing on head wound but it's seeping through. BP is 180 over 50. Heart-rate 95. We got another behind."
"Alright, Doctor Williams, you got this one?" Lauren nodded at her. "Okay, Treatment three."
Sure enough, within seconds, another stretcher was forced through the double doors. The paramedics at either side looked to her, and she didn't have to ask. "We got a male, early fifties, GCS-10, responsive. Head wound, suspected broken arm, vitals holding steady."
Stacey nodded, taking the information in. "Alright, Treatment four for me guys." she directed, taking a hold of the stretcher and leading the way. "Doctor Thompson, you're with me." she called towards a blonde nurse standing at her desk. "We'll get him checked over and head for X-ray on that arm." They turned the stretcher towards a free room, and aligned it with the empty bed. "Alright, airways are in tact. Let's get him off that back board." Firmly, they and the paramedics each took a hold of the board beneath him. "On my count, one, two, three."
The man was pulled onto the bed, and the paramedics pulled out the board. "You got this, doc?" The older one asked her.
Stacey nodded. "We're good, thanks guys."
But before she even had a chance to look down at her patient, the sound of footsteps running towards them caught her attention. They were heavy, pounding desperately against the tiled floor. The man who bolted through the doors stopped her breath.
"Jesus Christ." she breathed. "No." Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, and, as she glanced back over her shoulder at the two beds that had been brought in before him, her stomach twisted in knots. "Please, no."
"Stacey?" The voice pulled her from her trance, and she looked back to him, alarmed. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I, uh—" She shook her head, lost. "Sam? Are they...? What—"
"Stacey?!" Another voice called her name, urgent, panicked, from somewhere behind her.
"I'm sorry." she offered, her words little more than a whisper, before she turned and ran towards the source.
Lauren looked on at her as she entered the small room, alarmed. "Are you alright?"
Somehow, she snapped herself back to reality. "Yeah," She nodded, confident. "I'm fine." With a short breath, she composed herself, because she didn't know anything yet. Her attention returned to the task at hand, and she knew that she had to do her job. Right now, they weren't her estranged family, they were her patients, and they needed her help. Almost hesitant, she allowed herself to look down at the man on the bed, and that was when she truly realized the severity of the situation. Her brother. Dean. Covered in blood. Unconscious. Clinging to life.
"Doctor?" The firm voice of a nurse pressed, and she snapped out of her thoughts to note all eyes in the room were on her.
"Okay, uh..." Stacey cleared her throat. "12-lead EKG, chest x-rays, CT of the chest, abdomen, and get that head wound checked out. Intubation and ventilation." she ordered.
Lauren nodded. "Yes, doctor." Her eyes glanced to the beeping monitor behind them. "Stats are dropping."
Within seconds the beeping became frantic, as did the man standing beside the door. "What's happening?" Sam urged, looking between the doctors and nurses for some kind of answer. "Is he alright? Is he dying?"
"We need to intubate." Stacey ordered, her voice firm and strong, but he wasn't sure that she was even talking to him. He wasn't sure that she even remembered he was there.
Sam watched on in horror as his sister grabbed a tube and pulled back Dean's bloody head. She stood over him, and he winced as she pushed the tube into their brother's throat. For the smallest second she looked unsure, but even he saw the sigh of relief that left her. "Alright, I'm in." she pulled the device from his mouth and attached a balloon-like bag to the end of the tube, squeezing it gently.
"Stats are coming back up." The other nurse informed, her unblinking eyes locked to the monitor. "He's stable."
"For now." Stacey sighed. "Let's get some tests done and see what's going on here."
As she turned to leave, something stopped her. She glanced down to see Lauren holding her arm, a frown on her face. "Are you sure you're alright, Stace?" she pressed, concerned. "You don't seem yourself."
But Stacey nodded. "I'm fine." she assured. "I'm gonna go check on our other patient."
Our other patient. Stacey shook her head to herself, and she pulled a hand down her face. Their other patient was her father, a man she wasn't sure she was ready to face after so long. She wasn't sure she was ready to face any of them.
Nothing could have prepared her for the situation she found herself in. There was only one thing Stacey was sure of at this point; when she had left for work all those hours ago, her assumptions had been correct; it was going to be a long night.
Jefferson City, Missouri — Clearwater Valley Hospital — Emergency Room — 05:01am.
Stacey wasn't sure how much time had passed by since her father and brother had been brought into her emergency room. It could have been hours, yet it could easily have been mere minutes. Everything around them had dissolved into chaos, hurried and manic. But, as everything seemed to calm,as all sense of urgency seemed to dissipate from the environment, as she finally found herself not running around for test results or making phone calls or filling in paperwork, her thoughts returned to the man who had frantically followed the paramedics through the doors. Sam. Sooner or later she was going to have to face him. She didn't want to, but she needed to know what had happened to bring them there.
But, with that thought in mind, she stopped. Lauren approached the desk, her eyes scanning the words on the papers in her hands, and there was a concerned frown on her face. It wasn't like she was expecting good news regarding Dean, but this was about to confirm it.
"Hey." Stacey looked up at her, and she almost didn't want to ask. "We got some results?"
Lauren nodded. "Yeah, pretty much what we suspected." She gave a slow shake of her head. "God, this is awful."
Hesitant, she held out her hand. "Show me."
Lauren handed the clipboard to her. "So young. I mean..." She sighed. "I'll go inform the family."
"No." Stacey held up a hand to stop her, almost too quickly. Her eyes scanned the words, and her heart sank as she looked at the diagnosis before her. "I'll do it."
Seeming to think nothing of it, she nodded. "Oh, also," Lauren continued, holding out another clipboard of notes to her. "Patient in four, he's conscious."
Stacey nodded, taking the clipboard, but she said nothing. Tentative, she crossed the waiting room, and her eyes fell to Sam; sat with his head in his hands, in despair. She clutched the clipboard in her trembling hands, and she sighed softly. How was she supposed to tell him what she knew? It was going to destroy him, all of them. She changed direction and headed towards the coffee machine, as though putting off breaking the news for another five minutes was going to make it any easier.
Her hands were shaking as she picked up an empty cup and pressed the button. Black coffee was okay, right? It dawned on her, she hadn't spoken to her younger brother in so long that she wasn't even sure he liked coffee. But, at a time like that, she wasn't sure it mattered.
Something twisted in the pit of her stomach as she approached. The sound of her soft footsteps seemed to pull him from his thoughts, and he glanced up. She held out the coffee towards him with the smallest of smiles. "You look like you need it." she offered, the first real words she had spoken to him in so many years.
Sam stared at her for a long moment, until his trembling hand reached out and took the cup from her. He looked her up and down slowly, taking in the deep red scrubs that she wore, the white coat pulled over them rolled at the sleeves, the stethoscope around her neck, her hair was pulled back in a tidy bun, and he sighed. Missouri. Of all places. It hadn't even occurred to him that she might be working there. A thousand different thoughts had raced through his head on the way to the hospital, each one worse than the last, yet she hadn't even crossed his mind. The fact that she worked in that very town hadn't been one of them. And now, there she was.
"Thank you." he murmured, before his eyes fell to the dark liquid in the cup. "I, uh—" But he stopped, because, truthfully, he didn't know what to say to her.
"Sam," she pressed, her voice calm, professional, as though the two men lying in hospital beds weren't the only family she had. "I need you to tell me what happened."
Inside, her heart was breaking, because what the hell was he doing there? Dean and their dad, sure, she could accept that. But him? He was supposed to be at college. He was supposed to be out of the life. Why was he with Dean, and their dad? What had she missed?
But, this wasn't the time. This wasn't about them.
"You know what happened." he stated, blunt. "Car crash."
Her green eyes narrowed, and she pushed a lock of brown hair from her face. "Just a car crash?" she asked. "That's all?"
But Sam shook his head, and he huffed a dry laugh. There was no point in lying to her. "Is our family ever as simple as that?"
Stacey nodded slowly, as though in agreement. "No. I guess not." she murmured. "Look, Sammy, I think we need to talk."
"Alright," He noted the look on her face, and he didn't like it. Something was wrong. "Is this about Dean? Or Dad?"
"Both, actually." There was a pause, as though she was considering which news she wanted to break first. "Dad's awake." she told him, but he gave no reaction. She knew what he wanted to know. There was only one thing on his mind. "Look, I have some news about Dean, I'd really rather tell you this together."
"No." Sam stopped her, and he rose from his seat to face her. It was only then that she truly realized how much he towered over her. "Tell me now. How bad is it?"
Stacey cleared her throat. "It's bad." she offered. "Look, uh... Dean, he..." She pulled a hand down her face and took a short breath "Dean sustained serious injuries; blood loss, contusions to his liver and kidney..." She paused and glanced back to the chart before her. How could she even say the words out loud? None of this was right. "It's the head trauma we're concerned about. There's early signs of cerebral edema."
Sam stared at her, he didn't even know what that meant, but the look on her face told him enough. "Well, what can we do?" he pushed, desperate.
"Well, we won't know his full condition until he wakes up." There was another small pause, and her eyes found his. "If he wakes up."
Sam's stomach sank. He had to have heard her wrong. "If?"
"Look, Sammy, I'm gonna be honest with you, and I need you to hear me." She hesitated with her words, and a soft sigh escaped her. "Most people with this degree of injury wouldn't have survived this long. Dean's fighting, hard. But you need to have realistic expectations here."
Sam shook his head, and he pulled a hand down his tired face. "Why are you talking to me like a doctor." he snapped. She opened her mouth to respond, but he didn't give her the chance. "That's your brother lying in there, Stacey. It's Dean. You have to do something."
But Stacey shook her head. "I can't work miracles, Sam." she responded, resolute. "I'm sorry."
"So, that's it?" he pushed. "What, there's nothing you can do? You're just gonna leave him like that? You're a doctor, Stacey. Fix him."
Stacey took a breath, trying with everything she had to remain calm. "I'm sorry." she repeated. What more could she say?
"Wait, wait, wait," He stopped her. "What about dad? You said he's awake? Is he okay?"
"Yeah, uh..." She glanced to the other clipboard in her hands, and she realized then that she hadn't even glanced at it since she had found out about Dean. Her eyes scanned the words slowly, and for the smallest moment, her stomach stopped churning. "Dad's going to be fine, Sam." she offered, as though that was supposed to make him feel any better about the situation they were standing in. "Broken arm, some cuts and bruises, but he's alright."
But that wasn't enough for Sam, not at this point. "How is he?" he urged. "Have you seen him?"
Stacey shook her head slowly. "No, I'm on my way to him now. Why don't you come with me?"
"No." His eyes pleaded with her. "What about Dean? We need to do something."
"One thing at a time, Sammy." she assured softly. "Come and see Dad."
Almost begrudgingly, he nodded in agreement, and Stacey released a breath of relief she hadn't noticed she'd been holding. She wasn't sure if she wanted to let her brother breathe for a moment, to have someone else there to talk him down when she couldn't, whether she wanted to let someone else worry about their brother for the briefest second, or if she truly didn't want to face their father alone. Her head was spinning, it was all too much for one night. In these situations there was only one person she needed; Dean.
It occurred to her as she knocked on the door, did their father even know that she was here?
The lights in the room were dim, and she had to wonder if their dad had turned them down in attempt to soothe the headache he had to have. There was a large dressing covering the wound on his head, and his arm was hung at his chest in a sling. Other than that, he didn't look any different than she remembered. The same frown was furrowed at his brow, full of concern and worry and monsters.
"Mr Winchester." she stated, and his head snapped up at her voice. "How are you feeling?"
The colour drained from his face. "Stacey?" he looked lost, perplexed. "What are you doing here?" But she didn't answer. She crossed the small room and took the chart from the end of his bed. Her eyes flickered between the monitor behind him and the papers in her hand as her pen scribbled words furiously against the sheet. John looked between them. "Where's Dean? Is he alright?"
Stacey's pen came to a halt, and she heard Sam close the door behind them. Her eyes rose to find his, and she saw the worry. "Dad, it's not good."
"What do you mean it's not good?" he pushed, as though to say he didn't like that response and he was willing to give her a shot at another one. "Are you his doctor?"
Stacey nodded. "Yeah, I'm his doctor." she cleared her throat. "Look, Dad—
"She doesn't think he's gonna wake up." Sam interrupted. He didn't need to listen to the doctor speech again, and neither did their dad. It was filled with nothing more than long words they didn't understand and disappointment. He wasn't going to let anyone, not even her, tell them that there wasn't any hope.
John looked to her, expectant. "Is that true?" But she said nothing. "Stacey." he warned, his tone harsh. "Is that true?"
"Medically speaking, it's not likely." she offered. "I'm sorry, dad."
"Medically speaking?" he frowned, confused. "It sounds like there's but coming."
"Well, I'm sure someone is going to disagree with me." She looked to her brother, eyebrows raised. "Aren't you."
"We'll find something." Sam assured, he sounded confident, driven. "There's always something, right?"
"To reverse a cerebral edema? No, Sam, there isn't." She sighed, and she softened her tone. "I'm sorry, Sam. I know it's hard, and I know that you don't wanna accept it, but Dean is not in a good place. The damage done to him is—"
"Fixable." he stopped her, blunt. "There might not be a medical answer here, but I will find something."
Again, she looked between them, and her gaze fixed to their dad. "Look, Dad, I know this isn't a good time, but.." She shrugged. "Rather I ask you than someone else."
John huffed a dry laugh. "I get it." he nodded. "Here," He reached awkwardly towards his bag with his free hand and took something from his wallet. "Are you gonna take this?"
Stacey regarded him for a moment, but she reached out and took the card from him. "Elroy Mcgillicutty." she read aloud, and a soft smile crossed her face.
"And his two loving sons." he stated. "You gonna keep it between us?"
Stacey nodded. "Insurance is insurance." There was a fondness behind her words. "For you, I'll look the other way."
"Well, I appreciate it." her dad said, sincere.
"So," Sam pressed. "What are we gonna do about Dean?" He threw a pointed look towards his sister. "If the doctors won't do anything, we're gonna have to."
"Like what, Sam?" Stacey raised her eyebrows at him, but she refused to bite. "What do you propose we do?"
"I don't know," He threw up his arms in despair. "I'll find some hoodoo priest and lay some mojo on him."
John sighed, unconvinced. "We'll look for someone, but.." He shrugged. "Sam, I don't know that we're gonna find anyone."
"Why not?" He frowned. "I found that faith healer before."
But John didn't look at all convinced, and Stacey simply didn't want to ask. "Alright, that was, that was one in a million."
"So what?" Sam pushed, angry. "Do we just sit here with our thumbs up our ass?"
"No, I said we'd look, alright?" he assured. "I'll check under every stone. I—" There was a long pause, and for a moment he seemed worried. His eyes rose to his youngest child, alarmed. "Where's the colt?"
"Are you serious?" That only seemed to spur Sam's anger on further. "Your son is dying, and you're worried about the colt?"
"We're hunting a demon, and maybe it's hunting us, too." he chided. "That gun may be our only card."
Sam seemed to think on his words for a moment, and he appeared to back down. "It's in the trunk." he affirmed. "They dragged the car to a yard off I-83."
"Alright," he concluded. "You've gotta clean out that trunk before some junk man sees what's inside."
"I already called Bobby." Sam stated. "He's like an hour out. He's gonna tow the Impala back to his place."
"Okay, you go and meet up with Bobby, you get the colt and you bring it back to me. And you watch out for hospital security." He shot an accusing look towards Stacey, who simply held up her hands as though to say she wasn't a threat. "Stace, you got a sheet of paper?" Silently, she tore the blank half of one of the scan results away from her clipboard and handed it to him. "Here," he furiously scribbled away for a moment. "This is a list of things I need, have Bobby pick them up for me."
Sam reached out and took the sheet from him, and a frown formed at his brow. "Acacia? Oil of Abramelin?" he read aloud. "What's this stuff for?"
John looked between them. "Protection."
Seeming convinced, Sam made a move to leave, but something stopped him. "Hey, Dad?" he glanced towards his sister, as though unsure he wanted to say anything in front of her, but he seemed to dismiss any concern. "You know, the demon, he said he had plans for me. And children like me. Do you have any idea what he meant by that?"
John simply shook his head, as though uninterested by the mere mutterings of a demon. "No, I don't."
"Huh." Sam nodded, appearing to accept it, and he left the room almost silently.
The door closed softly, and John returned his gaze to the accusing stare of his daughter. "What?"
Stacey shook her head. "Nothing." she muttered, turning to follow her brother. But she paused in the doorway. "Just a heads up, your poker face isn't what it used to be, you know. Now, whatever has gone on here, it's none of my business, Dad, but whatever you're hiding from him, he will find out. You know that." Her father's eyes narrowed, but he gave no indication that he was willing to divulge her any information. "Try and get some rest. I'll get started on your discharge paperwork."
With that, she pulled the door closed behind herself. Her eyes scanned the emergency room around her, and everything suddenly appeared so quiet, so calm. There was nothing urgent going on around them, there was no life or death situation that required her immediate attention, and she decided there that she needed a minute, she needed an escape.
Slowly, without being noticed by anyone, she headed towards the staff bathroom, and she punched in the code to the door from memory. She slipped inside, and the door closed behind her with a harsh thud that seemed to echo off the walls. For the first time since they had been brought in, Stacey allowed herself to really breathe. She stared ahead at her reflection in the mirror, all of her weight leaned on the sink before her, and she sighed deeply. What the hell was going on?
Giving a small shake of her head, Stacey pulled a shaking hand down her tired face. She felt sick. She was in shock. Her stomach was turning. Thoughts were bombarding around her head faster than she could listen to them. She was terrified. Her brother wasn't going to open his eyes again, she was never going to hear his voice again, and she was never going to be able to make things right with him. He was twenty-six years old, and he was alive simply by the aid of a machine. How had that happened? What had he ever done wrong?
Dean had always been the one person she never thought she would lose. When their dad would return from a hunt; angry and distant and drunk, when Sam would bury himself in his textbooks and wish away the years until he could leave for college, there was always her and Dean. The two of them were supposed to be unbeatable, they were supposed to drive away together and take down the evil in the world. The team of a brother and sister who just wouldn't be beaten. But it hadn't worked out like that. And now, she could never fix the mess that had become their relationship.
None of this was fair. To any of them.
Sam was a wreck, barely holding himself together for the sake of his brother. And their father? She couldn't even take a guess as to what was going on in his head right now. He didn't seem worried, he didn't seem concerned, yet there was something behind his eyes that told her maybe he knew something that nobody else there did. Maybe he was going to fix everything last minute like he always did. Perhaps he was going to swoop in and save the day when everybody else had given up hope.
But Stacey huffed a short laugh. That wasn't their father. It wasn't the dad that she knew. It wasn't the father who had raised her.
Tears built up in her eyes, and she blinked them away. She couldn't afford to let herself break down, not there, not now. No one needed that from her. She had a job to do, she had a broken family to fix.
It was just that usually, it wasn't her own.
Jefferson City, Missouri — Clearwater Valley Hospital — Emergency Room — 06:47am.
Stacey gave a short knock on the door of her father's room, and she took a breath before she entered. He remained in the same place he had when she had left him earlier, sitting on the edge of his bed, a deep frown on his face as though contemplating life and death. For all she knew, he was.
"Hey," she offered. "How are you feeling?"
John gave a shrug. "I'm fine, Stacey." he told her, firm. "It's not me you need to be worrying about."
A small smile crossed her face. "I've got enough worry in me for both of you." she stated, but there was little enthusiasm behind her words.
John regarded her for a long moment. "Does anyone ever ask you how you're doing?" he asked, sincere. But she looked confused, as though she didn't understand the question. "You're taking care of all these people, all the time... tonight, it's your own brother... how are you doing? It can't be easy for you Stacey."
"I'm alright." she murmured, but neither believed her. Slowly, she moved to sit in the chair beside his bed. "I don't know what to do, dad." she admitted, and there was so much guilt behind her words. "I don't know how to help him. I don't know how to fix him. I just... He's gonna die, Dad. And, Sam doesn't wanna hear this, you probably don't, either, but... I really don't know how to handle it."
There was a soft frown creased at his brow, one that told her he understood. "I know, sweetheart."
Slowly, she looked up to face him. "You said something about protection. You think this demon is coming back for you?"
"I don't know." he muttered. "Maybe."
"It rammed a semi-truck into the side of your car, dad." There was a question in her statement. "There's something you're not telling me here. What's going on?"
There was a long silence, and she could see him choosing his words carefully. "It's not just a demon we were hunting, Stacey. It was the demon"
"The demon like..." He nodded. "No. You found it? The one that killed mom?"
Stacey jumped a little as the door behind her was forced open. Sam stalked inside with a duffel bag clutched in his fist, mouth pursed together and a deep frown on his face. He took a short breath, maybe to compose himself, before he slammed the door closed behind himself. His back was to them for a long moment, and John and Stacey simply looked between each other, puzzled.
"Sam?" Stacey pressed, and she stood from her seat. "You alright?"
Sam turned slowly, and the anger on his face was much deeper than his actions indicated. He hurled the duffel bag down on the bed, and the contents inside gave a loud clunk as he did. "You think I wouldn't find out?" he demanded, eyes fixed to their dad and seething anger in his tone.
But their father simply frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"That stuff from Bobby, you don't use it to ward off a demon, you use it to summon one." He stated, blunt, his voice gradually rising as he spoke. Stacey looked up to their Dad, as though expecting him to deny it. She looked between them slowly, cautious. "You're planning on bringing the demon here, aren't you? Having some stupid matcho showdown?!" Sam yelled.
But he didn't deny it. He didn't even try. With a short sigh, he shrugged. "I have a plan, Sam." He answered flatly.
Sam just shook his head at him. "That's exactly my point!" He shouted. "Dean is dying, and you have a plan! You know what, you care more about killing this demon than you do saving your own son!"
Stacey cleared her throat. "Sam." she cautioned. "This isn't helping anyone."
"Do not tell me how I feel!" John retorted, his tone easily matching Sam's. "I am doing this for Dean!"
"How?" Sam countered. "How is revenge going to help him? You're not thinking about anybody but yourself. It's the same selfish obsession!"
"Guys-" She tried again, getting nowhere before their Dad carried on.
"You know, it's funny, I thought this was your obsession too!" He yelled. "This demon killed your mother, killed your girlfriend." Stacey's eyes widened at that comment. She had missed so much. "You begged me to be a part of this hunt, now if you'd killed that damn thing when you had the chance, none of this would have happened!"
"It was possessing you Dad," He argued. "I would have killed you too."
"Yeah, and your brother would be awake right now!"
"Both of you!" Stacey warned, trying to get at least one of them to see how out of hand this was getting.
"Go to hell." Sam spat, cold.
"I should have never taken you along in the first place." John continued, and it was clear that he wasn't prepared to back down. "I knew it was a mistake, I knew it was wrong—"
Before anyone had a chance at saying another word, the glass of water on the table in front of their father was sent flying across the small room, as though someone had thrown it, and it shattered on the hard floor before them. Sam and Dad looked between each other, and then to her. "Did you just-" Sam began, but he stopped.
"That wasn't me." Stacey said slowly, looking carefully around the room with them, but she disregarded it. "Listen to me, both of you. Shouting and blaming each other isn't helping Dean. Getting yourself thrown out of here in a fight is the last thing he needs right now. So I suggest the pair of you grow the hell up and put whatever petty argument this is behind you. Trust me, I am not above calling security on either of you."
John stared at her, perplexed. He opened his mouth, maybe to apologize, maybe to ask at what point she decided to start answering back to him, but he didn't get the chance. The sounds of shouting, hurried and urgent, came from the other side of the door, and a rush of people seemed to pass by the glossed window of the door.
"Something is going on out there." he concluded.
Sam pulled open the door, curious, just in time to see a number of nurses pile into their brother's room. There was a loud beeping coming from that direction, and something in his stomach sank. He looked helplessly towards his sister. "Stacey." His voice was low, panicked, confused. "Do something!"
But Stacey was way ahead of him. "Move." She pushed him straight out of her way, and she ran towards the commotion. One look at the sight before her was enough to know they had to move fast. "Get me a crash cart!" she yelled over her shoulder, to no one in particular. "Lauren, talk to me, what's going on?!"
Lauren looked quickly between Dean and the beeping machine behind her. "He's crashing!" she stated. "Stats are dropping!"
Sam felt his breathing stop as Stacey unceremoniously pulled the pillow from beneath their brother's head. She climbed up onto the side of his bed and began furiously pumping down on his chest. "One milligram of epi." she ordered.
Lauren nodded as she grabbed a syringe from the cart. "One milligram of epi." she repeated. "Hold compressions."
Stacey pressed her fingers to his neck, shaking her head. "No pulse. He's still in v-fib. Laura take over compressions. I'm charging it to two-hundred." Sam watched on in horror as the other doctor began working on his chest and his sister grabbed the paddles. "Clear!"
"Clear!" Lauren confirmed as she stepped back for a moment.
Dean's body jolted with the force of the electricity from the paddles of the defibrillator, but the machine continued to beep erratically.
"Still no pulse." Stacey commented. "Charging two-hundred."
Everything seemed to be falling apart around him, Sam couldn't believe what he was watching.
"Clear!" Stacey's voice ordered, and again everyone stepped back from their brother's body.
Once again Dean's body was jolted by the force, and the beeping seemed to steady. "We've got a pulse." Lauren affirmed.
Stacey breathed out a sign of relief, and before anyone could say another word she stalked out of the room. She couldn't be in there any longer, she couldn't see him like that. Her hands were trembling, and she was certain that what she had done in there was the hardest challenge she had faced in her entire career.
She forced open the door to her father's room, because, right now, it didn't matter that he was her patient, she needed her family. She was as much a part of it as they were, and it was starting to hit her now that Dean was more than just someone in her care; he was her family, and there was only so long she could force her feelings aside and pretend like he was just a part of her job.
"How is he?" John asked immediately. "What happened?"
Stacey looked up to him, tears in her eyes. "He's stable." she assured.
"Stable?" Sam's voice came from behind her. "For how long?"
"I really can't say, Sam." She turned to face him, and she gave a slow shake of her head. "I'm sorry."
His eyes narrowed. "You keep saying you're sorry." he stated, almost accusingly.
"Yeah, it's a doctor thing." she muttered. "And, to be honest, Sam, I really don't know what else I can say to you at this point. You want me to fix him, I can't. I don't know what to do here."
"What do you mean you don't know what to do, Stacey?" he snapped. "He's your brother, there has to be something. We can't just leave him in there to die. What happens next time when you can't bring him back, huh?"
Stacey opened her mouth to say something, not even sure what, but she didn't get the chance. "Back off, Sam." John warned. "She's doing her best here. We all are."
Sam sighed, and he nodded. "Yeah, I know." he murmured, apologetic. "It's just... I think he's here. I felt something"
Stacey blinked, perplexed. "What?"
Their dad frowned. "What do you mean, you felt something?"
"When you were resuscitating him. I mean, it felt like.." He paused for a second and sighed. He knew how it was going to sound. "It felt like Dean." Stacey raised her eyebrows at him, and they both looked as confused as he sounded. "Like, he was there, but just out of eyeshot or something. I don't know if it's my psychic thing or what, it..." He stopped and shook his head, turning to their Dad. "But do you think that's even possible? I mean, do you think his spirit could be around?"
Their father nodded slowly, as though not ready to rule it out. "Anything is possible." he said simply.
"Well, there's one way to find out." Sam replied, resolute, and he turned towards the door. "I gotta pick something up," he said over his shoulder. "I'll be back."
"Wait, Sam." John called after him to stop him, and Sam turned. "I promise you, I won't hunt this demon, not until we know that Dean's okay."
With a simple nod of understanding, Sam left the room.
Stacey heaved a sigh and dropped down into the chair beside her father's bed. Her head ached, her body was exhausted. Her mind pondered over Sam's words, could it be true? Could Dean really be wandering around there and they simply couldn't see him? It was one thing knowing that her brother was lying unconscious and fighting for his life, but to think that his spirit was walking around the corridors, lost and unable to come back, it gave her chills. If he wasn't even inside his body, what was the slim hope that they'd be able to bring him back again should he go? Somewhere in the pit of her stomach, she knew, her brother was gone, and he wasn't coming back.
"Stacey." Her father's voice stopped her thoughts, and she looked up to face him. "He's going to pull through, alright? It's Dean. He always pulls through."
Stacey offered the weakest smile. "I wish I could believe you, Dad." she admitted sadly. "I really do. But... I just don't see it."
"I know it's hard, Stacey." he offered. "But we'll fix this. We always do."
When she looked back to him, he noted the tears that filled up in her eyes. "I never got to make things right with him, Dad." she murmured. "All this time we haven't spoken a word to each other, and..." She shrugged. "What if I never get that chance again?"
"Dean was never angry at you, Stacey." he replied, his voice firm, as though to be sure she took in his words. "All this time, he never stopped talking about you, and he never stopped being proud of you. Dean did what he did because he's proud of you, and because he didn't want to lose you."
"Yeah," She huffed. "So the alternative was I lost him. I needed my brother, Dad, so many times. And he wasn't there."
"I know," He sighed. "But, you gotta understand why he did what he did. He doesn't know, Stacey."
Stacey's head snapped up at those words. There was a soft frown on his face, and his mind appeared a million miles away from that room, swamped with thoughts, worries that she couldn't even begin to understand. "Doesn't know what?" she pressed. "Wait, do you..." Her face paled. "You do. You know."
Slowly, her father looked up to her, and he rose from the bed where he sat. A small smile crossed his face, and his eyes softened. "You know something, Stacey, you look just like your mom when you smile." His words were quiet, and he took a couple of steps across the room to close the door. He sat back on the edge of the bed, facing her. "I'm sorry that you never got to know her, because, believe me, kid, she loved you so much. And she would have been so proud of you now."
Her brows furrowed, and she studied him carefully. This wasn't like their father. "Dad, what's wrong?" she pressed, concerned. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, I'm fine." He took a hold of her hand, and his thumb brushed over her wedding rings. "This guy... Matt... he looks after you, right? He treats you right?"
"You know about him?" she asked, confused. It had been years since she had really spoken to her father, yet there was something in his eyes that made it feel like it had been mere minutes.
"Dean tells me more than you think." he replied, fondly. "He gave you away, right? I'm sorry I made you feel like you couldn't ask me."
Jefferson City, Missouri — St. Paul's Church — 11:22AM — Two years earlier
Stacey took a deep, soothing breath as she looked ahead at herself in the full length mirror. For a moment, she wasn't sure she even recognised herself, and she couldn't believe this day had come around so quickly. Everything had happened so fast, and this had been the first time she had truly been alone to breathe since she had woken up that morning. It all felt a little surreal.
There was a soft knocking on the door behind her, and she smiled. "Come in." she called, thinking nothing of it.
The door creaked open, and she saw through the mirror that it wasn't one of her bridesmaids. It was a man, he wore a smart suit, and it was the last person she had expected to see that day.
Slowly, she turned to face him, her eyes wide in shock. "Dean?"
Dean said nothing, he simply stood there and stared at her for what seemed like forever. He took in the delicate white dress she wore, the way her long brown hair was curled and fell softly around her face, and she swore she saw tears in his eyes.
"Wow." he breathed. A grin spread across his face, and he shook his head slowly. "Stacey, you look beautiful."
"Dean, what are you doing here?" She closed the space between them and threw her arms around his neck, unable to hold back the smile that took over her face.
"You think I was gonna miss my baby sister getting married?" Dean pulled her closer towards him, and he squeezed her tightly. It felt like forever since he had seen her. "Guess my invitation got lost in the mail, huh?"
Stacey pulled back enough to look at him, but she kept a hold of his hands, and he saw the guilt in her eyes. He understood why she hadn't told him the date, he got it more than she knew. "Dean..."
But he shook his head at her simply, as though to say it didn't matter. "I'm not here to argue, Stace." he assured. "Matt called me."
Stacey frowned, confused. "Matt called you?"
Dean nodded. "The guy's alright, Stacey. He'll make a good brother in law." He regarded her for a long moment, and he smiled softly. "You know, you look so much like mom. She would have been so proud of you today, kid."
There were tears in her eyes, and she nodded slowly. "I hope so." A smile was forced through her tears. "I wish she were here."
"I know she's with you." he promised, his words gentle. "Anyway, I'll let you finish getting ready. You've got an angry bridesmaid out there who said you're on a schedule."
Stacey huffed a laugh. "Lauren." she said knowingly. "Don't worry about her, she's harmless."
Dean smiled. "I'll see you out there, sis." Stacey nodded, and she released the tight hold she had on his hands. He crossed the room towards the door, but he paused. "Actually, uh... I was gonna ask you... is someone, you know... since dad isn't here..."
"Is someone walking me down the aisle?" She shook her head, unconcerned. "No. But, it's alright. I never really pictured dad wanting to do the honours anyway."
Dean frowned, and it dawned on him with those words just how screwed up their family really was. What daughter automatically assumed her own father wouldn't be interested in walking her down the aisle on her wedding day? Honestly, it was kinda sad. And his next words left him before he could catch them. "I could."
Her brow creased to a frown. "What?"
Dean shrugged. "I mean, if you want."
Stacey regarded him for a long moment, and the softest of smiles crossed her face. She wasn't sure he understood what that small gesture really meant to her. "I'd love that." She smiled. "Thank you, Dean. Thank you for being here."
Dean nodded. "I'm so proud of you, Stacey." he told her. "You deserve this so much."
There was a knocking on the door, and Lauren appeared in the doorway. She glanced between them slowly. "Stace? You ready?"
Stacey nodded, and she looked up to her brother. He grinned down at her, and he took a hold of her hand. "Let's go get you married, sis."
Stacey shook her head, brushing away the thoughts of that day. "I wasn't even sure that you knew." she murmured, more to herself than to him. "Dean really does tell you more than I think."
John offered her a soft smile. "And I know a lot more than he does."
But Stacey was nothing but confused. He couldn't be referring to what she thought. "Dad, what—"
There was something shining in his eyes, grief, sorrow, apology. "I'm sorry I wasn't at your wedding, Stacey. And, I'm sorry for what's happened to you. What you went through... I can't..." He pushed forward a shaky smile, and she could see him trying to hold back his emotions, his jaw was tightly clenched, but his words wavered. "I'm sorry you lost your baby."
Tears fell from her eyes, and she looked down at her lap. "Dad—"
"I'm just sorry, Stace. For everything. I've made mistakes with you, with all of you, I know that. And I'd give anything to take those back, to have been around more, to give you a better life, to have been there when you needed your family..." he trailed off, shaking his head slowly. "I want you to know that I never once stopped being proud of you. Ever." He reached out and pushed a lock of brown hair from her face, wiping the tears from her cheek with his thumb as he did. "My daughter is a doctor. How many people can say that, huh? You've done so well for yourself, and you've worked so hard. You deserve it, Stacey. You deserve so much more than the life I brought you up in. You all do."
"Dad, what's going on?" She reached out and placed a hand over one of his, searching his face for an answer. "You're freaking me out."
But John simply smiled down at her, tears shining in his eyes. "Everything's okay now, sweetheart." He moved to lean against the arm of her chair and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, resting his chin to the top of her head. "You're all going to be fine. You and your brothers, you're all going to be alright. I know it."
"Are you planning something stupid?" she asked, but a part of her wasn't sure she really wanted to know. "Tell me the truth."
But John didn't get the chance to respond. The door of the room was forced open, and Sam appeared with a large brown paper bag held in his arm. There was a box inside, but she couldn't tell what it was. "Stace." he looked directly at her, and nodded for her to follow him. "I need your help."
Stacey glanced between him and their father, who simply nodded at her. "I'll come check on you in a little while, okay?" she promised. "Don't do anything crazy before I get back."
And, with those words, she followed her brother from the room and pulled the door closed behind herself. Sam was already marching towards Dean's room, confident and with purpose. She didn't have the chance to ask what was going on before he ushered her inside and closed the door behind them. He pulled the box from the paper bag and looked to her, expectant.
Her eyebrows rose in disbelief, and she huffed a laugh. "You're joking, right?" she pressed, bemused. "Sam, you can't do this here."
Sam looked from her to the box in his hands; Mystical Talking Board was written in large letters across the front, and he failed to see what she found so amusing. "I need your help here, Stacey." he urged. "I can't shake this feeling. Dean's around here somewhere, out of sight. This is the only way we can talk to him."
"You're not joking." she concluded. "Okay, Sam, listen to me—"
"Please, Stacey." he pleaded. "We need to know. We need to be sure."
With a sigh, and anything but happy about it, she lowered herself to sit on the cold tiled floor, and he followed suit. She watched on as he removed the board from the box and placed it between them, before he positioned the planchette in the middle.
"You know," she pondered. "If Dean is around here somewhere, he's probably laughing at how lame you are right now."
Sam found himself smiling at that, and he nodded in agreement. "Yeah, you're probably right." he mused.
Something caught Sam's eye, and a frown furrowed at his brow. Stacey didn't notice how his gaze lingered on the large, delicate diamonds around her third finger for a moment, sparkling under the lights above them. Something twisted in his stomach. He hadn't even noticed until them, too wrapped up in everything going on around them, but his eyes fell to the badge pinned to her uniform, beneath her picture was a name; Stacey Brooks, MD. "You got married." he stated, blunt.
Stacey followed his gaze, and pulled back her hand out of sigh. "Sam, I—"
"Never mind." he muttered. He took a short breath and turned his attention to the board between them. They each placed their fingertips to the planchette, expectant. "Dean?" he called out. "Hey, uh, we think, maybe, you're around here somewhere? Are you here?"
The two of them waited for a short moment before the planchette moved slowly towards YES on the board. Stacey's head snapped up in shock to face her brother, and she could see by the look on his face that he hadn't been the one to push it, he looked as confused as she was.
Sam gave a relieved laugh, and for the first time since they had arrived in that hospital he felt some kind of hope in his chest. "Man, it's good to hear from you." he chuckled. "It hasn't been the same without you, Dean."
The planchette began to move once again beneath their fingers, and they both frowned down at it as they watched. "Dean, what?" Stacey's eyes followed the letters carefully. "H... U... N...T... Hunt? Hunting? What, you're hunting something?"
The pointer quickly moved back to YES.
"It's in the hospital?" Sam pressed. "What are you hunting, Dean? Do you know what it is?"
The pointer began to move again. "R... E... A...P..." Stacey's stomach sank. "Reaper." she breathed. "Dean, is it after you?"
The planchette once again moved to YES.
"If it's here naturally, there's no way to stop it." Sam concluded, and there was a note of panic in his tone. "You can't kill death."
Stacey shook her head slowly. "He's screwed." she whispered.
"No," Sam shook his head, resolute. "There has to be a way. Dad will know what to do." And, without another word he stormed from the room and slammed the door closed behind himself.
Stacey remained where she sat, and slowly she looked around the room. Her brother was in there somewhere, maybe this was her only chance. "I'm sorry, Dean." she murmured, sincere. "For everything." Once again, the planchette began to move, this time without her touch. "S... A... V... E... D... A... D..." she spelled out, and a frown came to her face. "Dad?" she questioned. "What's going on? Dean, what is he planning?" She returned her fingertips to the pointer. "D... E... M... O... N..."
That was enough for Stacey. She stood and bolted from the room. But she was too late. The room was empty, and her father was nowhere to be seen.
"Lauren!" She called over to her friend standing at her desk. "My patient, where did he go?"
"Uh, he said he going to grab a smoke." She frowned. "His discharge paperwork is being processed, I didn't think it was an issue."
"He doesn't smoke." she murmured. But she wasn't sure Lauren heard her. She looked back to the room, helpless. "Where have you gone, Dad?"
There was only one thing left for her to do now, in her mind logic told her that her brother couldn't be saved, but she considered the one fact she had dismissed all along; this was Dean. Her brother was different. He always found a way to beat the odds, he always worked out a way around the impossible. She had to beg. She leaned against the door for a moment, simply watching him breathe, even if, in the back of her mind she knew, it was only by a machine. She crossed the room silently, as though she didn't want to disturb the peace, and she sat down beside him on the bed, holding his hand gently. She wasn't sure why, he couldn't feel it, he wasn't even in there.
"Hey, bro." she whispered. "Look, I know you're around here somewhere, and I think you can hear me... I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to speak to you while you've been here. And I'm sorry there isn't more I can do for you. But, I'm kinda at a loss here, Dean. I've done my part, you need to do yours. You need to wake up." She pulled a hand down her face and wiped away the tears she hadn't realised had fallen. "Remember when we were kids? It was you and me until the end. We were such a team, we thought we were unbeatable... We said we'd go down swinging... Together. I miss you, Dean. I miss how we used to be. So much has changed since the last time we spoke, you don't even understand. You and me, we're fixable. We can make things right again, but you need to wake up."
In that moment, her entire body went cold with a chill than ran through her bones. The hairs on her arms stood on end, and she felt a presence behind her. She turned, but there was nobody there. And, suddenly, she understood the feeling that Sam had described.
"Dean?" She glanced back to his body, and her stomach turned. "I know you're here." Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks. "And, I know you're probably saying I'm being a girl about this, but, here's the deal... I'm trying my best to stay positive here, but you're not making it easy." Her breath hitched and caught in her throat. "You can't leave me, Dean. Please. Not like this. Not before... I never realised until now how much I really missed you. It's not fair. It's not right. I need you, Dean. You have no idea. Please... Wake up."
For a moment, she allowed herself to believe that he would, and she waited expectantly, as though everything could change. But, deep down, she knew that it wouldn't.
"Stace?" A voice came from behind her. Sam. "Dad wasn't in his room, but I found his journal."
"Hey, do me a favour, Sam?" She stood from the chair. "Stay with Dean. I'm gonna go find Dad. I'm gonna stop this."
"How?" he asked, as though to question what she knew that he didn't.
But she didn't get the chance to answer.
"Doctor Brooks!" A voice yelled from outside the room. "We got incoming."
Sam followed her to the door just in time to see a stretcher being forced through the same double doors his brother and father had just hours earlier. There was a small girl, maybe six or seven, with long blonde hair crying out in pain. Everything that was on his sister's mind seemed to vanish immediately as she rushed towards them.
"Hey, sweetie." she smiled down at the girl warmly. "My name is Doctor Brooks, I'll be taking care of you, is that alright?" The small girl nodded slowly. "Can you tell me your name?"
Her cries halted for a moment. "Emily." she whimpered.
"Emily?" she repeated. "Wow, that's a beautiful name." Her attention turned to the frantic woman beside them. "Are you mom?"
"Yeah," She whispered. "What's wrong with her?"
"That's what we're gonna find out." Stacey assured. "Alright, mom, you're gonna come through with us. Doctor Williams?"
Within seconds, Lauren was beside her, and Sam looked on as between them they ordered tests and shouted out words and abbreviations that he couldn't even begin to interpret. He noticed the difference in how she looked down at the little girl on the stretcher before her. She looked confident, sure of herself. With Dean, she looked terrified, hesitant, unsure of everything. And it was only then that he realized just how much of a responsibility she had to their family. Their brother's life was essentially in her hands. One wrong move and everything could change. She had put so much pressure on herself when it came to treating her own brother that she had scared herself. And, when he truly thought about it, he knew that he wouldn't have been able to hold it together like she had done.
Jefferson City, Missouri — Clearwater Valley Hospital — Emergency Room — 08:34am.
Dean wasn't quite sure what was going on around him. He looked frantically around the hospital room, searching for some kind of answer to the million questions swarming his mind, until his eyes found those of his brother, sitting in the chair beside his bed, confused, relieved, astonished. There was a nurse somewhere behind him, and he was suddenly aware that he couldn't breathe. Something was lodged deep within his throat, and he coughed and spluttered against it.
"Dean!" A firm female voice sounded behind his head. "Breathe for me." He felt the awful sensation of a tube being pulled from his throat, and he coughed harshly against his arm. Air seemed to rush into his lungs, and he breathed desperately, taking in as much as he could. "That's it." The voice encouraged. "Keep breathing. You're alright."
"Doc," Sam frowned up at her. "What's going on? What's happening?"
Dean leaned back against his pillows, slowly calming as his breathing steadied. "Sam?" he choked. "Where—" But everything suddenly came flooding back to him. The demon, the crash, their dad, all of it.
The nurse made herself visible as she moved towards the end of his bed. "It's nice to have you back with us, Dean." she smiled, warm and friendly. "I'll let your doctor know that you're awake. Let's see who you're with." She took the chart from the end of his bed and her eyes scanned it slowly. "Ah, Doctor Brooks. You're in safe hands with her. I'll have her come in and check you over, and hopefully we should be able to get you home as soon as possible."
Dean nodded slowly. "Yeah, thanks, Doc." He waited for a long moment until she disappeared through the door and was out of earshot. "Sam, what the hell is going on here?" he pressed. "Where's Dad? Is he alright? What happened to the demon?"
"Uh, Dad's fine." he offered. "The demon... I don't know, it didn't come back. But, uh, there's something else..."
"What?" Dean frowned. "What aren't you telling me?"
"Your doctor... Doctor Brooks..." He paused, as though uncomfortable, he didn't know how his brother would take the news. "It's Stacey, Dean. She's here."
His eyes widened, and all colour seemed to drain from his face. "Stacey? Like... our sister Stacey?" Sam nodded. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me. Of all the hospitals, of all the emergency rooms, of all the doctors, you're telling me I've got her?"
The tone seemed to take Sam by surprise. "You could have done a lot worse, Dean. She's worked her ass of all night for you." he offered. "What's the big problem?"
Dean shook his head. "Hey, I don't doubt that." he countered. "I just... I don't want her near this life, Sam. That demon is still out there somewhere, and we're sitting here like ducks. Does she know?"
"About the demon? Yeah, Dad told her." he stated. "She seems pretty calm about the whole thing. I thought you would have been happy to see her."
"I will be." Dean said. "I just don't know how happy she's going to be to see me." His gaze crossed the room, and he noticed something on the sideboard, moved out of sight. "What the hell is that?"
Sam glanced back over his shoulder and noted the ouija board. He huffed a laugh, because maybe now they could look back and laugh about it. "Uh, we used it to talk to you. Me and Stacey. You were around, Dean. They said you weren't going to wake up, but your spirit was here. You said you were hunting something... A reaper."
"A reaper?" Dean frowned. "I don't remember anything. How did I ditch it?" he asked, because they knew as well as each other, there was no stopping a reaper once it had it's eyes on someone.
"You got me." Sam admitted. "Dean, you really don't remember anything? Nothing at all?"
Dean shook his head, at a loss. "No. Except this pit in my stomach." He sighed. "Sam, something is wrong."
It was then that he noticed the girl standing at the reception desk, talking calmly to a male doctor, and his brow furrowed. It was the first time he had seen her in so long, and she didn't look any different than she had the night he had turned his back on her and walked out of her life for, what he thought would be, the final time.
Sam followed his gaze. "What, you think Stacey had something to do with this? No, man."
Dean's focus didn't leave her. "How do you know?"
"Because I watched her treat you, Dean." he stated. "I watched her resuscitate you. Twice. I saw the look on her face, she didn't think you were gonna wake up. None of us did." There was a long pause, and he contemplated his next words carefully. "Hey, Dean?" His brother looked to him, seeming to sense the confusion in his tone. "Did you know that she was married?"
A small smile crossed Dean's face as he looked back to her. "Yeah, I knew, Sammy." His eyes returned to find his, almost guilty. "I walked her down the aisle."
Sam's eyes widened. "What?" Those words shocked him more than he could have anticipated. "When? How come you never said anything?"
"It was a long time ago, Sam." he offered. "You'd gone off to college, to be honest, I didn't think you'd answer the phone if I had called to tell you. It's not a big deal, really."
"Not a big deal?" Sam shook his head. "You know, I don't understand the two of you. You haven't spoken in years, you've barely mentioned her since I came back, you didn't drag her back into this life when dad went missing, but now you're telling me you gave her away at her wedding, a wedding that you conveniently haven't mentioned at all since I came back. What happened between the two of you?"
"We're not talking about this, Sam." he stopped him, abrupt.
"Yes, we are." he snapped. "I wanna know. I don't understand why it was a choice with her. I never had the choice to come."
Dean sighed. "It's different, Sam."
"Because you didn't speak?" Sam shook his head. "Newsflash, Dean, we didn't speak either. You still came back for me when dad went missing, you still crashed back into my life and dragged me back. Why didn't you make her come back?"
Dean shot him a look, impatient. It wasn't a conversation that he wanted to have again. "We've talked about this before."
"Yeah, and I never got a real answer." he argued. "You told me she'd said no. Well, so did I. But here I am."
"Stacey was different. You don't understand." Dean sighed. "When you left, Sam, you cut us out of your life. I tried to call you, I tried to keep in touch. With Stacey, it was the other way around. I went back for her, Sammy. Before I came to get you. That was the last time I spoke to her."
"Wait, you cut her out of your life?" That didn't make sense. "What the hell happened?"
"Oh, Sam," he huffed in annoyance. "Why does it matter? It's complicated."
"I uprooted my entire life for this, Dean." Sam was getting angry, he wanted answers, and he wasn't about to back down until he got them. "Everything I worked so hard for. What makes her so different? I lost everything for this, but she says no and it didn't matter? I wanna know, Dean."
"What are you, jealous?" he snapped.
"Jealous?" Sam repeated, incredulous. "Of Stacey?"
Dean shook his head, because now he could see it. "You are, aren't you." he concluded. "You're jealous because she got out of the life, and you came back."
"Yeah, maybe I am." He shrugged. "She has a career, she has a real life, I almost had the same thing. How come you didn't force her to come back with you? What the hell made her so special?"
Dean regarded him for a long moment, because once he told him, there was no taking it back. He sighed, and he glanced towards her. "Sam, I showed up at her place that night, I gave her the same speech that I gave to you. I wasn't gonna leave there without her, but..." He shook his head. "She didn't come with me because she was pregnant."
Sam's face paled. "What?"
Jefferson City, Missouri — Stacey's house — 01:12AM
One night had changed Stacey's life for the worst; the night that her happiest secret had cost her the only family she had left.
It had started out as a normal, boring night. There had been nothing strange or out of the ordinary about it, and, truthfully, the biggest concern that played on Stacey's mind at that point was whether or not she needed to iron her uniform for work the next day. A small sigh escaped her as she continued to absent mindlessly flick through the pages of the magazine on her lap, she wasn't sure she had read a single word in the hour she had been sitting there.
A sharp knocking on the front door of her home dragged her from her thoughts, and she frowned. Who could be knocking on her door at that time of night? And, why? Whether it was down to the years she had spent hunting with her father and brother, or just a general concern for the abnormality of it, she wasn't sure, but something twisted in the pit of her stomach at the sound. Somewhat uneasy, she pushed herself from the sofa and heaved a tired sigh as she pulled her pink dressing gown tighter around herself. There was another knock at the door, this time a little more forceful, as she entered the hallway. As some kind of indication to whoever was outside, she flicked on the light, as though to tell them to be patient.
Stacey turned her keys in the back of the door, and the cold air hit her at once as she opened it. But that wasn't what shocked her. What shocked her was the face that stared at her, and, she couldn't help it, a smile formed on her face. "Dean? What are you doing here?" She glanced behind him, and noticed that he appeared to be alone. More than that, he didn't appear to be quite as thrilled to see her. "Are you alright?" she pressed, cautious.
Dean nodded, unconvinced. "Yeah, I'm okay." he muttered. "Listen, Stacey, we gotta talk."
"Okay." He sounded worried, and she knew, whatever this was, it was serious. "Come inside."
Dean followed her lead into her home, and he glanced around slowly as he followed her into the living room. "You've decorated." he observed. "I like it."
Stacey crossed her arms over her chest, and moved to sit on the arm of the sofa. "You didn't come all this way to talk about my interior design, Dean." she stated, eyebrows raised. "What's up?"
Dean smiled, and he walked further inside. He looked at the photo frames atop the fireplace, and he glanced between them slowly, pausing for a moment at the one of their family. It was old, tattered at the edges, and he knew it had been taken the first day Sam had been brought home from the hospital. Their mother and father sat on the couch, a small boy and girl between them, and a bundle of blue blankets on their small laps. He smiled to himself, and turned back to face her. "Where's the hubby?" he pressed, curious, upbeat.
"Working." she stated, blunt. "Dean, what are you doing here? You haven't called in over a week. I've been worried about you."
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry." he muttered. "Uh... look, Stacey. There's something I've gotta tell you." He paused, and she noted how uncomfortable he seemed. Whatever it was, it could only be bad news. "It's dad. He's missing."
That brought a frown to her face. "Missing?" She regarded him for a moment, as though trying to decipher what was going on in his head. "What do you mean he's missing?"
"Missing. Like, I don't know where he is." He snapped, impatient. "He left me this freaky voicemail and then just vanished off the face of the earth. I can't get a hold of him. Something is wrong, Stacey, I can feel it."
"Dean, I don't understand.." There was a concerned frown on her face, because she had a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that he was going to ask her to go with him, and that meant she would have to tell him why she couldn't. "Why have you come all this way to tell me? Why didn't you call?"
Dean shrugged. "I need you to come with me." His eyes pleaded with her. "Stacey, I don't know what to do, alright? I don't know where to look. I need some help."
"Dean," She shook her head. "I can't. I have a job, and a husband. I can't just walk out on my life."
"I'm not talking forever, Stacey." he countered. "I just need some help to find dad."
Stacey sighed. "Look, Dean, it's not that I don't want to help you. I just..." She trailed off, because she knew that she couldn't make him understand. "I just can't."
"You can't?" He raised an eyebrow at her. "What does that even mean?"
Stacey sighed. "Dean, you don't understand. It's not as simple as it used to be." she offered. "I can't just get a couple of shifts covered and run away for a quick hunt anymore."
"And, why not?" he argued. "This is our dad, Stacey. It's important."
"I know that. Believe me, I know. But..." She heaved a defeated sigh. "You're not gonna drop this, are you?" she asked, more to herself than to him. It was only then that she pushed herself up from where she leaned against the sofa, and she unfastened the thick robe around her. Immediately, he saw the reason. Her stomach formed a small bump that looked unusual against her otherwise small frame.
His eyes were wide, and he looked up to her in shock. "When?"
"Four months." she told him, and he heard the guilt behind her words. "Dean, I wish I could help you, but..." She placed a hand to her stomach. "I can't be in that life right now."
"No, no, I get it. I'm sorry, Stace." He shook his head. "I shouldn't have come here."
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, and she heard the hurt in his words. "Stace, we speak nearly every day, why didn't you say something? I thought we were close."
"I just... I don't know, Dean." she answered honestly. "It just didn't seem right to tell you over the phone. And then, I wanted to be sure that everything was okay before I said anything..." she trailed off, and she shrugged. "I'm sorry."
"What is it?" he asked, glancing back to the small bump. "I mean, do you know?"
Stacey smiled. "It's a little girl."
Dean found himself smiling at that. "You always wanted a little girl." he mused. "I'm happy for you, Stace. Really." Dean looked solemn, and he knew that she didn't yet understand what this meant. This changed everything. "You keep yourself safe, sis. I need to go."
Stacey nodded. "Call me when you find dad."
But Dean shook his head slowly. "I can't." There was apology in his words, and his eyes shone with something like loss. "Not when you're... You can't be anything to do with this life, Stacey. You can't be anything to do with me."
Stacey's face changed as she realized what he was saying. "Dean—"
"No." he stopped her. "You know I'm right here. I'm sorry, Stacey."
"So, what? That's it?" she argued. "We don't speak anymore? We're family, Dean."
"I know we are. And, I'm sorry. I mean that." He sighed. "But you know this is the way it has to be. Goodbye, sis."
"Dean, please." She grabbed a hold of his arm to stop him. "Don't do this. You're the only family I have."
Dean looked down at her, and his eyes found hers, tearful and pleading. He held the tops of her arms gently. "Listen to me," His voice was serious. "You raise that little girl right, okay? And," He swallowed hard. "If you ever tell her about me, you tell her that her uncle Dean would have loved her more than anything, just like he did her mom. But you tell her that I'm dead. And you tell your husband the same thing when he comes home."
Her face dropped. "Dean," She shook her head. "No. No, I am not doing that. Matt loves you, you're like a brother to him."
"Stacey, this is the only way." His voice pleaded with her to understand. "I am not gonna let you end up like mom, I'm not letting Matt end up like dad, and that baby is not growing up without a mother. Not like we did." He brushed a tear from her cheek, and he placed a soft kiss to the top of her head. "Goodbye, Stacey."
Stacey opened her mouth to stop him, but she couldn't find the words. Dean turned away from her, and then he was gone. The front door closed behind him, and all she could do was stand there in shock. As far as she knew, that was the last time she would ever see her brother.
Dean was aware of how his brother was staring at him, but he dismissed his questions. "Look, we've got bigger things to worry about here. Like why I'm alive."
His eyes returned to Stacey, still standing at the desk. Slowly, she turned to face him, as though she could feel that she was being watched, and he nodded at her, as though to tell her he needed her. He watched as she politely excused herself from their conversation. There was a smile on her face that she just couldn't hide, and he knew in that moment that any anger she held towards him didn't matter anymore. It would come later, he knew that, but, for now, he could see the relief in her eyes that he was awake.
"Hey, Dean." she smiled down at him. "How are you feeling?"
"Stacey?" Dean frowned at her, worried, concerned, fearful. "What's going on?" There was a panic in his words, as though he already assumed that he wasn't going to like the answer.
Stacey glanced between him and the charts in her hands, shaking her head. She was as lost as he was. "There's no explanation for it, Dean." she said, confused. "I mean, the edema has vanished. The internal contusions are healed. Your vitals are good." Her eyes drifted from him to their brother. "Normally, I'd call it a miracle, but..."
"But we're not a miracle kind of family, right?" he finished for her.
"Right." She nodded. Something in her stomach just wasn't sitting right, and Sam looked too confused to know anything about it. There was only one other explanation. "You know what, I'm gonna go and check on dad."
"No need." A voice appeared behind them, and she turned to see their father standing in the doorway. His eyes drifted towards Dean, and a smile crossed his face, relieved. "How you feeling, dude?"
Dean shrugged. "Fine, I guess." he muttered. "I'm alive."
John nodded. "That's all that matters." He rested a hand to his daughter's shoulder fondly. "You were in good hands."
Stacey turned to him, accusing. "This was nothing to do with me." She stated bluntly. "With anyone here."
Sam seemed to note what she was getting at, and his eyes narrowed, suspicious. "Where were you last night?"
But their father didn't seem concerned by his question. "I had some things to take care of." he answered, blunt.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Well, that's specific."
"Come on, Sam." Dean cut in, calm, rational as he always was when it came to the two of them.
"Did you go after the demon?" Sam pushed, because he wasn't ready to let it go. He didn't believe him. Truthfully, none of them did.
"No." Dad answered flatly.
Sam scoffed. "You know, why don't I believe you right now?"
But John's face softened. "Can we not fight?" he almost pleaded. There was a sadness in his eyes, a tone in his voice, something was definitely up with him. "You know, half the time we're fighting and I don't even know what we're fighting about. We're just butting heads." He sighed. "Sammy, I've made some mistakes, but I've always done the best I could." He looked him straight in the face, and there was something about his expression that Sam didn't understand. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen it before. "I just don't want to fight anymore, okay?"
Sam frowned, clearly confused. "Dad, are you alright?"
"Yeah," He nodded. "Yeah, I'm just a little tired.. Hey, son, would you, uh, would you mind getting me a cup of coffee?"
"Yeah," Sam answered. "Yeah, sure."
John watched after him sadly, and his attention turned to Stacey, awkwardly fiddling with the stethoscope around her neck. "Stace, could you give us a minute?"
Stacey knew the difference. Her father knew that she would agree to leave the two of them alone, whereas Sam would have questioned it. Their father knew something that he didn't want Sam to be aware of, and, whatever it was, he was about to share it with Dean.
"Sure." she offered. "Uh, Dean, I'm gonna go check where you're at with discharge, yeah?"
Dean nodded. "Thanks, Stace."
Something was very wrong, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach. After what their father had said to her, after wanting to talk to Dean alone, making his peace with Sam... something had happened to him. And it wasn't good. Slowly, she headed towards the reception desk, keeping a clear view of them from where she stood. Her dad leaned over the bed, and she watched cautiously as he whispered something into Dean's ear. Her brother's face visibly paled, and, whatever bomb their father had just dropped on him, it had knocked the words right out of his mouth.
John retreated from the room, and she narrowed her eyes at him as she walked slowly back towards his own. "Hey." she called after him. "I need to talk to you."
Her father stopped in his tracks and turned to face her, he offered a small, unconvincing smile. "What is it?"
Her eyes studied him, almost accusing. "You need to tell me what you've done." He opened his mouth to speak, most likely to dismiss her concerns, but she didn't give him the chance. "Was Sam right? Did you summon that demon?"
"Stacey," He looked like he was about to deny it, but he seemed to think twice about it, stopping and not saying anything else.
"Don't lie to me." she warned, and she took a step closer to him, her voice low. "I know how bad Dean's injuries were. There was no way in hell that he should have woken up. There's absolutely nothing wrong with him, that's not medically possible. You've done something, and I wanna know what. You know, I might have been out of this life, Dad, but Dean, even Sam, they have a right to know."
"Everything is going to be alright, Stacey." he assured. "I promise you."
And then it hit her. Like a punch to the face, it dawned on her.
"You haven't." she breathed. "Oh god, Dad, tell me that wasn't... dad, please..."
He shook his head slowly and leaned down, kissing her forehead gently. "I love you, Stacey." He whispered. "And I'm so proud of you. Take care of your brothers for me."
"Yeah, course." She felt tears building up in her eyes. "I love you, too, Dad."
John turned and walked away from her. She opened her mouth to call after him, to try and stop him, but she couldn't. There was no stopping what had happened. There was no saving him.
She could see it in his eyes as he turned and walked away from her, she knew, that was the last thing he was ever going to say to her. She couldn't physically move as she watched him head off towards his room, everything around her seemed to be moving in slow motion. Sam appeared beside her, a cup of coffee in his hand, and he seemed to think nothing of it as he started after him.
John paused in the doorway of his room, and the cup of coffee slipped from Sam's hand, splashing all over the tiled floor, as he watched his father collapse to the ground.
Stacey's eyes widened, and her stomach twisted. "Crash cart!" Stacey yelled on instinct, and within seconds doctors and nurses were to her aid, barging past Sam.
The sound of commotion was enough to coax Dean from his room, and there was a horrible weight in his chest as though he could no longer breathe.
"Get him on the bed!" Stacey ordered, and the team around her wasted no time in obliging. Her brothers appeared behind her, eyes pleading. "Both of you, back off."
But Dean made an attempt to force his way past. "That's our dad!"
"Trust me, you are not going to like what you see." There was something behind her words that Dean just didn't like, as though she knew something they didn't. "Back off."
Deans eyes pleaded with her. "Do something."
The machine was beeping erratically and Stacey pushed her way through the commotion. "Doctor Brooks." The red haired nurse looked towards her, eyes wide. "He's in V-tach, seventy over thirty, he's crashing."
Stacey's shaking hand found his neck "I can't get a pulse." She glanced to the male doctor across from her, and he nodded.
"Doctor Brooks, start compressions." he instructed. "Give me the paddles, now."
Sam and Dean watched on in horror as their sister began furiously pumping her hands on their father's chest. There was a panicked look on her face, and even they could see how she was forcing back tears.
"We're losing him." The heart monitor behind them gave a long, continuous beep. "Charge to two hundred. Clear!"
"Clear!" Stacey repeated as she pulled back from him, her voice shook with the word. His body jolted through the force, but the machine continued to beep. Her hand once again found his neck. "Still no pulse."
"Resume compressions." The man opposite her instructed. "Milligram of epi. Charge to two hundred. Stay with us. Clear!"
"Clear!" Stacey once again repeated, and she watched desperately as her father's body once again jolted from the bed with electricity. She pushed her fingertips into his neck, and shook her head. "Still no pulse."
Again, she began furiously pressing down on his chest, but the man across from her had stopped shouting out instructions. "Doctor Brooks, stop compressions." But Stacey either didn't hear him or didn't want to hear him. She continued to pump furiously on his chest, tears shining in her eyes. "Doctor Brooks." He tried again, but she gave no indication that she could hear him. "Stacey!" Her eyes rose to find his, and there was an apologetic look on his face. "He's gone."
How was she supposed to stop? The second she did, it was over, she was admitting that he was gone. Her own father. In the back of her mind, it was clear, there was no saving him, because it wasn't a medical issue that had taken him. Stacey knew full well what her father had sacrificed to save Dean, and, somehow, she allowed her hands to slow on his chest.
For a moment; everything went silent in the room. The only noise left was the deafening and steady beep that came from the machine behind them. Stacey took a short step back, her body trembling, and breathed. "I'll call it." she murmured. Her mouth opened and closed, but how could she say the words? The hardest thing she had ever had to say. "Time of death," she glanced to the monitor behind him. "10:04AM."
Dean felt something tighten in his chest. That couldn't mean what he thought. He had to have heard wrong.
Stacey looked between the distraught faces of her brothers, and she offered them a soft, sympathetic nod. It indicated their worst fears. "I'm sorry." She stated, calm, stoic, professional as could be, as though it wasn't her own father in that room.
And, just like that, their entire world stopped turning.
Jefferson City, Missouri — Clearwater Valley Hospital — Emergency Room — 10:59am.
Dean stared absently ahead at the wall, there was nothing going on his his head anymore. He wasn't sure there was anything left to feel in the world. His dad was gone, and it didn't seem real. Nothing around him seemed real anymore.
There was a soft knocking on the door, and he couldn't even manage the energy to turn and see who it was. The door opened when he gave no response, and, from the corner of his eye, he noted that his sister had entered.
Tentative, she approached the bed. "You're free to go." she stated, calm. There was no emotion in her words.
Dean huffed, yet he refused to look at her. "Awesome." he muttered.
Stacey took a short breath and moved around to the other side of his bed. She looked between him and the needles still attached to his arm slowly. "I'm gonna take these out for you, okay?"
Dean gave a short nod. "How are you so calm through all of this?" he asked, almost accusing.
Stacey cleared her throat as she peeled the plaster from over the needle. "You're going to feel a sting."
The needle left his arm, and he barely reacted as she placed some tissue over the tiny wound. "Do they even know we're related?"
"Hold that there for me." she prompted, nodding to her fingertip holding the tissue.
Dean's eyes narrowed, but he did as she said. "Stacey—"
Stacey peeled the back from a small plaster and brushed his hand aside as she placed it over the small bleeding spot in his arm. "All done."
"Stacey." he snapped. "Will you please talk to me."
Stacey sighed, and she looked up to face him. "I'm calm through all this because I gave to be, Dean. No, they don't know we're related because I'd have been banned off the ER if they did. You think they're going to let me treat my own family. It doesn't work like that. I don't know what else to say to you, alright?"
Dean shook his head at her. "You gave up on him, Stacey." he stated, cold. "You made that call."
"Dean, there was nothing more that we could have done. Dad is dead. And, I'm sorry." Her expression faltered for a moment, and he saw there that she wasn't the put together doctor that she was trying to paint herself as. She was hurting. "You don't know how sorry I am."
That's when he saw it. The pain. The guilt. And he had to wonder how she had managed to do what she had. Working on her own father as she attempted to save him, his life in her hands, he couldn't have done it. "No." He stopped her. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. It's not your fault. Stacey, I'm sorry. If this is anyone's fault, it's mine."
Stacey sighed. "No, Dean, it isn't. This isn't anyone's fault. Sometimes, things like this, they happen. Out of our control."
"No, they don't." he countered. "You're a doctor, Stacey. You're not stupid. I saw your face when you saw me awake. I saw your face when dad died. It should have been me. And you know it. So, don't lie to me to make me feel better. Don't you dare. For once, tell me the truth. Why am I alive?"
Stacey shook her head, and she regarded him for a long moment. She couldn't tell him, it would destroy him. "Look, Dean... The odds of you waking up, they were slim to none. That's the truth. But, sometimes people pull through. Even the times we least expect them to. And, sometimes, the healthiest people, the ones you think are in and out, they're the ones that you lose. It's just the way it is." She collected the equipment she had used on his arm and crossed the room to throw it in the trash, her back to him. "Nothing sinister is going on here. It's just life. And sometimes, we can't control it. You should get dressed."
With those words, she crossed the room towards the door, and he knew, if she had her way, she would leave it like that.
"Stace?" He stopped her, and she turned back to face him. "I know you're pissed at me, and I know we're not like we used to be, but... do I get to ask about her?"
Stacey's face changed. "No." she stopped him, abrupt. "No. We're not talking about this."
"No." Her voice was firm, unrelenting. "Just, leave it, Dean. Please. Not today."
Dean nodded, because he knew he owed her that much. "Okay, I'm sorry." he agreed. "We're, uh, we're gonna head to Bobby's for a few days, if you wanna come. I mean, you don't have to, but..."
Stacey regarded him for a long moment, and she frowned. They were going to have to burn their father, and she could see from where she stood how much he was already struggling with the idea. Her father had asked one thing of her before he had gone, to ensure that her brother's were alright, to keep them safe, and, no matter what had happened, she knew that she had to honour that. The way they were, it wasn't them, maybe this was their opportunity to fix things. Maybe something good could come of something so devastating. Dean needed her, and, if she were honest with herself, she needed him, more than she wanted to admit.
"Yeah," She nodded. "You know what, I'm gonna get Lauren to finish getting you out of here, let me go home and grab some stuff. I'll meet you back here, okay?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah, thank you, Stacey." He managed a small smile. "Be nice to have you back."
Stacey smiled. "We're family, Dean." she said softly. "There's no changing that."
Maybe this could be their new start. Maybe things could get better for the three of them.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed.