Title: Time Lost
Author: Dhvana
Rating: PG
Warning: Character death
Summary: Suppose the Reaper did manage to transfer the brain tumor into Dean's head. Written from John's point of view, he arrives too late to save one son, but can he salvage his relationship with the other?
A/N: My muses are feeling depressed this week, so this time they decided to kill off the other brother. Sorry all. I hope things pick up for them soon.


John stopped as he reached the room number the receptionist had given him. Nurses and doctors rushed around him, but none hurried into the room holding his son. There was no need to hurry anymore.

He'd come as soon as he could. He would have been there sooner if his sons had just told him. Not that they'd kept all of it from him. They'd told him about the tumor after the tests had been confirmed. They'd told him there was time, that for now, everything was fine. They'd told him not to worry.

And then Sam had called to say that Dean had fallen into a coma and they didn't expect him to wake up.

He'd wanted to yell at his youngest for waiting so long, for not telling him sooner so he could be there to say good-bye. But he knew Dean. His eldest had probably kept the worst of it to himself so that his brother didn't know how bad things were, not until morning had come and he couldn't wake him up.

That's when Sam had called. John found a strange sort of comfort in knowing that his son had turned to him first, his voice filled with barely restrained panic as he pleaded with him to think of something, to do something, to find a way to wake Dean up. He'd done the only thing he could do. He'd told his son to hang up and call 911. He knew there was nothing within his power he or anyone could do to save Dean now. He'd already tried.

When Sam had called back with the news, John had to admit, he hesitated. He was close, so close, but in the end, he'd forced himself to let go. His sons needed him more. One son needed him more. The other son would never need him again.

Taking a deep breath, John walked into the hospital room. Somehow, Sam had managed to compact his long limbs into a single chair. He was sitting with his arms around his legs, his head resting against his knees, his face streaked with tears. John thought he was asleep, but then his lips began to move.

"You came." The words held more accusation than relief.

"Of course I did."

"You're too late," Sam said, and then all emotion was erased from his voice, the sound of it bruising his heart. "They'll be here soon to take him away. I'm having him cremated."

John looked over at the bed, the one holding the body of his other son. The machines had been turned off. Dean's eyes were closed. He looked. . . tired. Worn out. Twenty-seven years old, and his son looked like he'd been fighting each and every day of those twenty-seven years.

Looking at his sons, one resentful and filled with anger, the other having lost his youth chasing nightmares, he slowly started to feel that it hadn't been worth it. He'd failed as a husband, and then he'd failed as a father. What would Mary think of the mess he'd made of her children?

He knew what she'd think, and he knew she'd never forgive him. At least she was able to look after one of them now. It was time he looked after the other.

"I'm sorry, Sammy."

"Yeah, well, so am I." Sam unfolded his legs but didn't stand up. He just slouched in the chair, staring at him with the bitterness he'd grown accustomed to.

John sighed and walked over to the bed. He reached out with a shaking hand and placed it on top of Dean's--so cold, too cold. He bit his lip as hot tears rushed over his cheeks.

His beautiful beautiful boy. John couldn't believe he was gone. Dean had been the strong one, the one he could count on to watch his back, to watch Sam's. He'd never given up. He'd always pushed on, no matter what the odds. He'd been able to find humor in every situation--often inappropriate, but that was part of his strength, too. Dean had loved him, in spite of his faults, and never once stopped believing in him.

He had adored his younger brother, too. Loved him, worshipped him, not that Sam ever knew. Dean was good at hiding those sorts of things. He'd showed Sam the only way he knew how, by letting him go. Unlike his father, Dean always knew when to let go. He also knew when to hold on, to claim what was his. He knew the true meaning of family. These days, John only knew his obsession, and lately, he'd just been grasping at straws, holding on because he didn't know what else to do anymore.

And now he'd lost his son. Could he afford to lose another?

"It happened only a couple hours ago."

John started at the sound of Sam's voice next to him. He hadn't heard him move.

"It was like he took this one deep breath, and then he never let it out."

There was so much pain in Sam's voice. He recognized that pain. His baby boy was dying inside, just the way he'd died after Mary, just as he was dying now.

Wordlessly, he reached out and wrapped his arms around Sam, drawing him into a hug. His son's body remained stiff for a moment, then melted against him. Sam clutched at his jacket, his body shaking as he sobbed into his father's shirt. John held him tight, stroking his hair and whispering soothing words that meant nothing until he began to calm down.

"I'm sorry, Sammy, I'm so sorry. This is all my fault. I never should brought you two into this, but it's going to be different from now on."

"How?" he asked, the harshness in his voice tempered by the plea of a little boy.

"We're going to go back to California. You're going to get your degree. You're going to move on with your life, and so am I. I've lost too much time with you, Sammy. I lost too much time with Dean. I want to be a proper father to you, if it's not too late."

Sniffling, Sam looked up at him with reddened eyes filled with fear, afraid to hope that his dream of normality might finally be coming true. "Do you mean it?"

"I'm going to do my best. You tell me what I need to do, and I'll do it."

"What if it's too late?"

"Is it?"

Sam's eyes shifted from his father to his brother, and shook his head. "No," he said, sounding tired, and John realized he'd arrived just in time. "But what about Dean?"

John looked over to his forever sleeping son and a sad smile stretched across his face. "We'll take him with us. Unless you want to bury him next to your mom."

Sam shook his head. "He should be with us, for a little while. We can wait, can't we?"

"Of course. Whatever you want."

"Dad. . . is this really what you want?"

"Yes. I just wish. . ." He glanced over at Dean, and Sam nodded.

"Me, too."

"What about you? Do you want to go back to Stanford?"

"Yes," he answered without hesitation. "I can't do it without him."

"Sam," John started, hugging him again. "He'd be proud of you, no matter what you do. He always was."

"I know. He told me, once."

He smiled, kissing the top of his son's head. "I'm glad. I'm glad you two got to spend this past year together. I know it meant the world to him."

"Me, too," Sam said softly, reaching out to take Dean's hand in his. "I miss him so much."

"I know. So do I, but we're gonna get through this, Sammy, I promise."

Sam nodded and with one final squeeze of his brother's hand, he let go. John watched his youngest leave the room and then leaned down, kissing Dean's forehead.

"I don't want you to worry about Sam. I'll take care of your brother. I'm not going to let anything happen to him. I know you wanted me to tell him, but I think it'll be better this way. He'll go on with his life, and I'll stick around to keep an eye on him. I'm doing what's best for Sam. I always have, you know that. I'm just sorry I couldn't save you. I love you, Dean. I love you both. You just rest now. I'll take care of everything."

Giving his son one last look, he joined Sam in the hall and with an arm around his shoulders, led him out of the hospital to begin this next step in their lives. John knew things were likely to be rough between them, at first, but he wouldn't give up. He owed it to his family to stay strong. He couldn't risk losing another son.