Dean had died. For 2 and a half minutes. Sam slumped against the puke green hospital wall and slid to the ground, long legs twisted together beneath him. The doctor continued without a hesitation in his nasal tone, describing how they’d managed to revive Dean with minimal oxygen loss to the brain, and they’d stemmed the internal hemorrhaging. Sam was willing to bet that if he looked up at the doctor, the man would still be staring up at the space of air where his head had been when he’d been standing. But he couldn’t move his head from its bowed position. His brother had died. Dean had died. Ok only for 2 and a half minutes, but he’d been gone. Sam’s head filled with dense fog, but a single thought struggled to clear itself. When Dean comes around, I’m gonna kill him.
* * *
The tubes sticking into him were annoying and painful, and the strong smell of disinfectant stung his lungs at every breath, but Dean was calm. His stay in the hospital had uncovered a new layer within himself, one which pushed him to better himself. A deep survival instinct which burned away the foolish, wasteful actions of his past. He’d let Sam know his intentions to better himself when he’d first woken up in a drug addled haze which he could hardly remember, although he did recall asking his brother for “salad recipes that aren’t shit”. Dean itched to get out of the hospital and put his new enlightenment to the test.
His eyes lit up when his brother walked into the room with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a duffle bag of clothes in the other and settled into the chair by Dean’s bed. Sam smiled tiredly at Dean, “ready to go home?” Dean nodded and sighed at the sad remnants of his cold breakfast, “Yeah, can’t wait to get a decent meal in me”.
A nurse entered the room to remove all the hardware stuck into Dean as Sam busied himself throwing Dean’s things into a duffel bag. There were only a couple of get-well cards and a few pairs of worn pajamas and the plastic bag with Dean’s wallet, car keys and tapes that the police had recovered from the car. The nurse looked down in the trash can by the bed “oh this card must have fallen in the trash”, she fished out a pretty generic get-well-soon card with a cartoon thermometer with the flu on the front. Dean didn’t say a word, he only glared at the card as the nurse handed it to Sam on her way out, wishing Dean all the best. Sam opened the card, the printed text said, “You’ll soon be back to your cool self” and another cartoon of a considerably livelier thermometer. In pretty, cursive writing was written,
We’re glad to hear you’re recovering.
Ben has settled into his new school, his knowledge of Zeppelin is a real hit with the ladies out here and he thanks you for that, I do too.
Take care of yourself.
Lisa & Ben”
Dean took in a lungful of air the moment Sam wheeled him out of the hospital main doors. Angling the full length cast on his leg into Sam’s car had been a challenge but soon they were parked outside Dean’s house and the brothers were trying to get Dean out of the car. “Fuck Sam it’s stuck. That’s it, I’m gonna rot in this plastic hunk of crap forever”, Sam rolled his eyes, “quit the dramatics Dean and help push the seat back. And leave my car out of it”. Dean stopped trying to maneuver his encased leg and gazed suspiciously around his drive way, “Sam, what happened to my car?” Sam took in a sharp breath, “let’s just get you the hell out of mine, then we can get some coffee going”.
The mug of coffee shook in Dean’s trembling hand when he took in the sad sight of his baby in the garage. The driver side door had been completely removed by the fire fighters who had cut Dean out. All four wheels were clumps of melted rubber, the paint work was bubbled and peeling and the front resembled a battered accordion than the beautifully kept car it had once been. Sam took the mug from his brother’s hands and left Dean to be alone with the car.
The wreck of a car lying miserably in Dean’s garage drained the enthusiasm he’d been building in the hospital. He sat every day since returning to his house watching Dr Sexy repeats and adding to the piles of fast food packets which littered his front room. Sam had not given up on his brother and he dropped off healthy meals and recovery leaflets whenever he had time on his way into work, but Sam would meet his salads and pamphlets again when he took the trash out.
Catalogues for Impala parts were gathering dust on the ground by Dean’s feet. The cast was gone, but the immensity of the destruction to his car still left him immobile, as did the fact that it had been all his own doing. Sam let himself into Dean’s house carrying a container of vegetables which Dean eyed with suspicion, “shouldn’t you be at work or something?”, Dean didn’t even move from the couch he was sprawled over. Sam scowled down at his brother, “It’s Saturday”,
“It’s Saturday”, Dean mimicked in a high pitched voice, turning his head back to the tele novella being shown.
Sam stored his container in the fridge, wincing at the smell. When he returned to the front room he snatched the remote from Dean’s hand and turned the TV off. Dean let out a cry of anger but settled into resigned silence when he looked into his brothers weary eyes, but the older Winchester was not above pouting his lower lip out. “Don’t sulk Dean, you’re not a fucking princess. We need to talk”. Dean rolled his eyes, waiting for Sam to continue with his holy crusade of bettering Dean’s life. “I’ve found the perfect activity for you and if you try it out and don’t like it, I promise to get off your back about getting healthy” Sam hesitated, “well”, Dean encouraged, “c’mon, surprise me”, if Sam was going to stop harassing him, he’d do anything. “Ok, but don’t laugh, I’m serious about this”, Dean sat forward anxiously, waiting for potentially the last sport his brother would try and shove down his throat. Sam coughed, “I think you should try pole dancing”.
Dean’s jaw was floored, he couldn’t hide the shock from his face and it was useless to try and stop the nervous laughter from bubbling out of his throat. Sam worked his mastery of the bitch face and silenced his brother in an instant as Dean came to the realisation that his brother was dead serious. “I know a guy who said it helped someone he knew, and I read about it in a book”.
“You and your stupid books”,
“Say that again to the Vonneguts under your bed”,
Sam ran to the door as Dean was hastily limping after him with a murderous look darkening his face, “Just say you’ll come and meet the guy, please Dean. I said we could get lunch tomorrow. I’ll pick you up tomorrow ok”, Dean gave Sam a pathetic shove outside. “Ow, ok I’m going”, he said to the door which was slammed in his face, “and you’re coming to lunch”, he shouted through the key hole. “Could have gone worse”, he muttered to himself, asking Dean Winchester if he wanted to go twirl round a pole was not something that just anybody could walk away from intact.
* * *
The diner was Dean’s favorite type of diner, the kind that strived to deep fry the very air around them. The brothers were sitting next to each other, and were simultaneously browsing the menu and frowning at their watches. Dean was blocked in by Sam on his right and the sticky window to his left and he fidgeted anxiously like a caged animal. Gabriel was supposed to have shown up 15 minutes ago.
“Tell me how you know this guy Sam”. Sam scanned his eyes down the menu with contempt, “I’m his lawyer, I represented him in a case involving 15 candy bars, 12 bottles of vodka, 3 prostitutes and a complete box set of the X-Files if I remember right”. Dean gave an impressed nod, “so what happened?”,
“Sorry I can’t tell you the story, it’s confidential, and it’s a pity because you’d love it. But I did a stand-up job and got him off with only a fine. I actually think we’re, oddly, friends now”.
“Damn I’d love to know that story and dude, X-Files? At least this dude has taste”. The brothers returned to their menus, when a honeyed voice drifted towards them, “Taste? You think I have taste? Well then, I aim to disappoint you, Dean I presume”, Gabriel held out his hand as he slid into the seat opposite the men.
With initial introductions over and their food ordered, received and picked at Gabriel seemed to assume the persona of a sleazy businessman before Dean’s very eyes. The plaid shirt and faded jeans he wore could easily have been a three-piece suit, and Dean couldn’t help but respond with a defensive manner. Gabriel steepled his fingers, “now usually I dive straight into numbers, but this is on a more personal level so I’m gonna give you some spiel about my little brother and then I’m gonna give you a couple free lessons. Sound good?” The brothers could only nod dumbly, even Sam seemed surprised by the professionalism.
“My little bro, he was a little, shall we say unstable, when he was younger. Truth is he loves too much and he loves too hard, a sensitive soul is our Castiel. Anyway one night there’s some trouble going on in the club I own, Club Angels, you should show up some time, real classy, anyway, when I turn up to sort it out lo and behold it’s little Cassie, completely wasted and tearing up the place. He was scaring the customers and my girls and that’s just not on. So I did what any loving older brother would do, I threw him into the back studio to sober up and got on with the nights show.
When I went through to check on him the sick bastard was grinding against one of the poles. He said it made him feel free, or some shit like that, but I got a couple of the girls to train him up. Now he’s the best god damn pole dancer I’ve ever seen, and it really sickens me to say that, I mean he’s my brother, but he also rakes in the cash by teaching in classes I set up. We never talk about that night, I figure it was a break up or something, but seriously he’s so much happier, excuse me, can I get a chocolate fudge cake here, thanks”. A passing waitress nodded at the request.
Gabriel grinned at the Winchesters opposite him, waiting for their response. His grin deepened when the waitress returned with his cake. Dean said to her, “excuse me, can I get a slice of that apple pie on the counter?” Gabriel put a gentle hand on the waitresses arm, “I don’t think so, no pie for him. He’s, em, he’s diabetic”, and he gave the waitress a lurid wink, sending her off in a blush. Dean was breathing deeply, fists clenched, “what the fuck dude?” Gabriel dug into his cake with enthusiasm, “you are now on a diet. My brother can turn even your stubborn ass into a pole-god , but he’s not a miracle worker, you need to give him something promising to start with Deano”, and he turned all his attention back to his cake.
The men parted with a shaking of hands in the car park. The shake seemed to seal away Dean’s ability to make his own choices in life, but his brother was smiling down at him with such happiness that he would do anything to keep that smile fixed there. “Oh by the way”, Gabriel called to them from half way across the car park, “my brother, he’s gay”.
“I don’t mind that”, Dean shouted back honestly.
Dean cocked his ear, “sorry?”
Gabriel jogged towards the brother’s car, “ you had your gay experiences in college?” Dean spluttered but Gabriel maintained a sincere look and Dean’s cheeks heated, “I, uh, I never went to college”.
Gabriel turned his eyes up to Sam who raised an eyebrow but kept silent. “See you on Monday night Dean”, and Gabriel turned away from the men with a grin lighting up his face.