Title: heavier things remain
By: toneskis
Rating: PG-13, gen
Characters: Lisa, Ben, Sam
Words: 2019
Notes/Disclaimers: Complete. General season three spoilers. (Has anyone not seen the finale by this point?)
Summary: The fallout from "No Rest for the Wicked" will impact more than just Sam.




"Heroing is one of the shortest-lived professions there is."   --Will Rogers



At 3:12 p.m., Lisa heard the Hamilton Heights school bus groan to a stop in front of her house. Stepping to the window, she curled a finger into the curtain and pushed it aside, peeking out.

The bus door flumped open and five kids descended the steps, chattering together in a chorus of Oh my god's and cool's and something about Mr. Stein's  toupee looking like a dead cat. When the horde of grade schoolers were safely on the sidewalk and headed toward their respective houses, the bus - or as her son called it, The Rolling Twinkie - pulled away with another growl. Ben marched up the driveway like a solider coming home from war.

She smiled and turned away from the window, walking back to the laundry she had strewn across the couch. It was true - Mr. Stein did look like he had a Persian roosting on his head.

A few seconds later, the front door opened and shut. It was followed by the familiar thunk of two sneakers being dropped onto the floor.

"Mooom! I'm home!"

Ben stepped around the wall, shucking his backpack onto a spot she'd just cleared on the couch. After he gave her a hug, he made his daily sprint to the kitchen.

She didn't have the heart to tell him there'd be no message. Lisa watched silently as he climbed up one of the stools that lined the counter and bent over the answering machine. When he didn't see the blinking light he was hoping for, he looked over his shoulder at her. She tried smiling, but the motion felt fake, so she pursed her lips in a way she hoped came off as some momly middle ground emotion. She'd give anything to ease the look of hurt that shaded his face.

"He didn't call."

She set the laundry basket onto the floor and joined him at the counter. "No, not yet," she said, leaning heavily on her elbows.

"He usually calls back," Ben murmured. "Do you think... do you think Dean's mad at me or something?"

"He's not mad at you, hon. He's probably just busy. You know how it is. I'm sure he'll call you when he gets a chance."

Ben dropped from the stool, eyes shadowed. "But he's never taken this long. What if something's wrong, Mom?"

Since his rescue, her son had become a tad obsessed with Dean Winchester. Dean was so cool, Dean had awesome clothes, Dean drove a sweet car, Dean could walk on water (well, she might have made that one up, but she wouldn't be shocked if it was added to the list any day now). Ben would phone a few times a month and they'd chatter on about cars or music or girls. And, okay, girls was a little weird, but as long as Dean stayed away from discussing the finer points of a ménage à trios with her eight-year-old, she was okay with it. Dean told Ben which musicians were cool (Zeppelin) and which were not (anything Sam listened to), recited the full history of the Chevy Impala, and sometimes, just sometimes, offered stories about his family - though Ben got pretty tightlipped around her when it came to blabbing his hero's familial confessions.   

Dean never seemed to get bored of Ben's ramblings though, and she was grateful for the attention. She didn't like using the word father-figure when it came to Dean - it was a little too movie-of-the-week for her taste. She wasn't embarrassed to be a single mother; she didn't care that society looked down its collective nose at her because Ben didn't have a father. Sure, someday she might find someone to share her life with, but she wasn't going to rush into finding a man just to please those annoying PTA mothers. It would happen when it happened. So right now, if there was going to be a male in Ben's life, she was happy to have Dean there.

But it had been three weeks since he'd last spoken to Ben, and now every call went straight to voicemail. For every day Dean hadn't called back, she'd placated Ben,  constantly reassured him things were fine. She only wished she believed it herself.

Suddenly Ben looked up, his body language doing a one-eighty. "I bet this is just like last time, when the news said he was dead in that explosion, but he was just lying low for a while!"

This inner revelation seemed to ease her son's blues because Ben bounced to the couch for his backpack. A few seconds later he dragged it over to the table and began to rummage through it.

"You want a snack?" she asked, running a hand through his hair. "I bought some Fruit by the Foot the other day. I'm willing to bet it's your favorite flavor."

Ben nodded eagerly, and as he began emptying his homework onto the table, Lisa wandered into the kitchen. After digging through the shelf for the hidden - well, not so hidden now - fruit snacks, she plucked one from the box and walked it back to him.

As Ben dug into his science worksheet, Lisa went to finish folding the towels. For five minutes the room was quiet, save for the occasional squeal of eraser across paper. Ben was about halfway through his snack when he looked over at her, a purple ribbon of fake-fruit hanging from his mouth.

"I told Greg about Dean."

Lisa froze mid-fold.

"Not about that," he amended, rolling his eyes slightly. Ben pulled the rest of the fruitchew into his mouth and swallowed. "No talking about monsters, I promised I wouldn't. But I told him how awesome Dean is, and how he might come to my birthday party next week. Greg really wants to meet him, Mom." 

"Maybe. You know Dean's pretty busy."

"I just meant, if he gets a break. I bet he gets breaks sometimes. I bet even monsters get tired of doing evil and take a day off. So, maybe, if he's not too busy he could come. If he ever calls, of course."

"I'm sure he'll try, Ben. Just... just know that it might not happen; you have to be prepared for that, okay? A lot of things could prevent him from coming over."

"Bad things?"

"Yes," Lisa admitted. "Dean lives a dangerous life, which means sometimes bad things happen. We just have to pray and hope for the best."

"Dean's always okay," Ben said, going back to his worksheet. "He's like a superhero, you know? I mean, not super in that he can fly or anything, and he doesn't have, like, powers. But he's really good at saving people, and that's what superheroes do. He gets scrapped up sometimes, but it's just part of the job."

He stopped talking and made a sour face at his worksheet. "Mom? Do you think Dean knows anything about photosynthesis?"


A little after ten, fresh from the long bath she'd been promising herself all week, Lisa returned downstairs in search of the bag of Milano cookies she kept hidden under the sink. Ben was down for the night and she was debating between reading the book she'd picked up from the library last week or just zoning out - which probably meant watching an episode of either Scrubs or SVU on cable, because, seriously, when weren't they on?

At the bottom step, a new thought occurred. Forgetting her previous plans, she wandered over to the desk where she kept all her paperwork and picked up the address book that sat on top. Lisa flipped through it until she found the page where she'd scribbled "S. W." above an unfamiliar phone number. Dean had given it to her a few weeks after he left, instructing her to use it only if something was wrong and she couldn't reach him.

Lisa sat down, picking the phone off the cradle. As her fingers hesitantly pressed each button, she held her breath.

The cell phone on the other end of the line rang seven times before someone picked up.

"'Lo?" a slurred voice answered.

Fighting the urge to hang up, she cleared her throat and asked, "Is this Sam?"

There was no response.

"Um, this is Lisa," she continued. "Lisa Braeden. I'm sorry to bother you, but we were having trouble getting a hold of Dean. Ben's really been missing their talks."

The continued silence on the other end was oppressive. The line was still open, she knew that, but Sam - was it Sam? - wasn't doing anything but breathing softly. There was a faint clamoring in the background, the buzz of a crowd, the clinking of glasses, soft country music playing from somewhere - it was a familiar sound to someone who'd spent her early twenties hanging out in bars until the wee hours of the morning.

There was a strange clarity in that noise, and she suddenly felt sick to her stomach.

"Dean's dead, isn't he?" she whispered, the words coming out before she could stop them.

Sam still didn't speak, but he didn't have to. The answer was unspoken.

"God, Sam, I don't... is there anything I can do?"

There was a sudden noise - a wet, choked laugh. "You got a fucking time machine handy?"

The cruelness of Sam's tone was like a physical slap, and she inhaled, tears filling her eyes. It wasn't the voice of the nice guy she'd met last year, the voice of Dean's little brother, the man who'd help save her son. It was like talking to a stranger.

After a few seconds, Sam made a sound. A cough, a grunt, a sob - she couldn't tell.

"Oh god," he whispered, his voice louder than it had been before, like he had the speaker pressed to his lips. "Lisa, I'm sorry... I'm... god, I'm so sorry."

She took a breath, relieved to finally hear Sam. "It-- it's okay."

"Dean's dead, Lisa, his soul... oh god... It's just all... it's all wrong and I... I couldn't save him... I should have saved him."

"I'm so sorry, Sam," she whispered. She wanted to ask how it happened, how someone as strong as Dean could just not exist, but she couldn't. Because how it happened didn't matter, just that it had, and he was gone. "I shouldn't have called and bothered you."

"N-no," Sam stammered, "I'm glad you did. You needed to know. It's just... it's been over three weeks now, and I haven't been able to call anyone, tell them what happened. I haven't even been able to turn on his phone."

"Sam, if there's anything I can help with, or if you need something..."

"Oh, god. Ben. He's... you'll have to tell him, won't you? I'm sorry, Lisa, I wish he didn't have to go through that. Dean cared about you both, much more than he'd ever openly admit. He always talked about dropping by, but toward the end we just - Look, I have to go, Lisa. Please, tell Ben that Dean died protecting me. He was brave and strong and he... saved me."

The line went dead.

Lisa sat, unable to move, unable to react. It was like the world had just stopped spinning and she was stuck there, floating in nothingness. Frozen, she lost herself in the stillness of the room and her own muddy thoughts.

It wasn't until she glanced at the wall clock, watching the jerky circular movements of the second hand, that she realized time had passed. It was quarter till midnight.

It was almost tomorrow.

Unable to stop herself, Lisa began to cry. Hot, silent tears streaked down her face, soaking the top of her t-shirt and the tips of hair that dangled at her collar.

She wished she could freeze time, hold back tomorrow by the sheer force of her will. By her simple love for Ben. Tomorrow everything would change, and something in him would be irrevocably taken. Tomorrow she wouldn't be able to put her arms around her son and tell him lies, spare him - even just a while longer -the cruelty and unfairness of the world. The heartbreak.

Tomorrow was the day that even superheroes died.