The lights of the hospital stayed on. Nurses in the hallway kept their usual pace. The emergency room still held children and adults holding themselves or their loved ones in pain. Doctors still wrote prescriptions and updated next of kin on the progress of their patients. The phones were still ringing. The hospital machinery still hummed with activity and beeps.
Outside Bobby's room, Sam and Dean Winchester stared at nothing, the world having stopped for them and for them only. Dean felt like he had been dealt a final blow. He had no more energy. He was drained. He was hopeless, finished.
He couldn't put thoughts together and he didn't want to. His eyes were dry.
Grief wasn't a staged process anymore.
The brothers no longer faced denial, anger, or bargaining sentiments.
Bobby was dead. They didn't have the energy to be angry and they were well aware dealing with a crossroads demon would cause further destruction.
All they had left was acceptance and depression.
Sam was fighting something else entirely in the midst of all this but Dean was caught in tunnel vision. He was frozen; completely unable to find even a nugget of logical, focused reasoning that could help put them both back on track. Perhaps if he didn't move, if he ignored the time passing, then it wouldn't.
Just give me a second. 5 minutes. An hour. Forever. I don't want this anymore. I don't want this life. I don't want to move past this.
Sam's voice broke through the mounting distance Dean was creating between himself and reality.
"He's a donor. Where do I sign?" He spoke softly, almost in a whisper to the woman Dean hadn't realized was standing in front of them with a clipboard. Dean gave an imperceptible flinch, turned around and walked away without so much as a glance towards his brother.
Sam vaguely registered that Dean was leaving. He finished signing the clipboard and continued to stare at Bobby's room. Unlike Dean, Sam's mind was racing a mile a minute, overwhelmed by Bobby's death and the implications of Bobby's last actions: Bobby had written numbers on his hand, called them, 'idjits,' and died. And it felt like the end. It felt like the end to Sam, and Sam knew it felt like the end to Dean. The boys' last witness was gone: no one was left to know all that they had done. Sam's rational side called to him, though: it is not the end, and those numbers mean something, and you will have to leave the hospital without Bobby forever. And you're going to have to figure out what they mean without him. And you're going to have to keep fighting. A wave of emotion swept through him and he lifted his hand to look at the numbers. These were the last written marks of a man he loved like a father and his implicit message: the hunt always comes first. The last thing Sam wanted to do right now was hunt, though. Sam fought back his nausea as he moved deftly to the bathroom and made his way to the stall.
Sam finished and fell back against the stall door, breathing heavily and sweating. He wiped his forehead and tried to settle himself. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he tried to relax. Tried to keep his breathing regular.
"Okay Sam." Sam looked up in alarm and saw Lucifer's cheshire grin. Lucifer was leaning against the sinks, watching Sam through the stall door still hanging open. Sam touched his hand in haste and pressed down, his face screwed in determination, whispering, "Not real not real not real..." Lucifer watched him and gave a disapproving look of impatience. He swiftly stood up and walked towards Sam quickly. "Time to go home." Sam looked up in confusion and started reacting as if Lucifer were real. He backed up in fear and hit the wall against him. Lucifer arrived at his feet.
"Please don't, no." Sam begged. Lucifer didn't respond. He bent down and reached his hand out and Sam cringed and tried to dodge away from Lucifer's touch.
"Dean! DEAN!" Sam called out just as Lucifer grabbed Sam by the throat and moved him back up to a sitting position. Grasping at Lucifer's arms, Sam gasped out his brother's name one last time before Lucifer touched Sam's forehead with his forefinger.
Dean wandered back to the hospital on automatic, programmed to always eventually come back to Sam. He had wandered around the city like a ghost. Watched people live normal lives. He hadn't really broken down, but he felt worse. He decided to go back to the only person in the world who really knew him now.
He walked to the hallway he'd last seen Sam and didn't find him there. He took the elevator down to the cafeteria and didn't find him there either. He sighed and pulled out his cell phone. It went to voicemail.
"Sam call me back. I'm trying to find you. I'm at the hospital." He clicked his phone shut and put it back in his pocket. He started back to where he had last seen Sam to talk to the nurses there. They might've remembered which direction Sam had gone when he'd left. Dean wasn't concerned; he had taken off... It would make sense if Sam had as well. Although why he wasn't answering his phone... Well, Dean thought, I probably wouldn't have been in the mood if Sam had called me while I was gone. Something bothered him, though. A voice in the back of his head responded: You still would have answered; Sam still would have answered.
Dean's concern for his brother hadn't grown when the elevator ping-ed and the doors opened. Dean once again stepped out into the hallway. He had grown frustrated and upset that his attempts to find his brother were failing. Normally, it would have taken Dean a lot more to become so irritated or bothered by his brother's absence... But not right now. Not when their surrogate father had just died, along with all the rest of their closest friends over the years. Now was the time to know that they would be available to each other at a moment's notice. Sam, usually so perceptive, seemed to have missed that memo. Dean didn't know this, though. He didn't understand: he didn't know if he was pissed, worried, or just anxious. All he knew was that he wanted his brother - and the sentiment's urgency was increasing rapidly.
He walked up to the nurse's desk and spoke with a slow tone. It felt like a lot of effort.
"Excuse me. Have you seen my brother? He's uh... Really tall. Kind of long brown hair... He was here with me... With Robert Singer." Dean's expression briefly flashed pain at the mention of Bobby. Dean could see the wheels turning in the nurse's expression.
"No... I mean I remember him with you... But I haven't seen him around lately." Dean sighed. His own sense of vulnerability further pissing him off. Containing himself, he smacked the desk with restrain and between pursed lips managed a, 'thanks.' He turned around and tried calling his brother again as he started walking out of the hospital. He took the stairs so as not to disrupt the connection. He was fishing his keys out of his pocket while listening to the phone's ringing when he stopped dead at the sound on the other end. It sounded like a click and then the unmistakable sound of movement and air. The line had been picked up.
"Sam? Sam!" Dean listened hard for a response. He heard vague sounds, almost grunts, which sent Dean whirling into concern.
"Sam! Where are you! Sam!" He heard heavy breathing and then the sound of the phone getting picked up. Whoever picked up took an unbearably long time fumbling with the phone and Dean yelled out.
"Sam! Where are you!" Dean noticed his voice echo throughout the hospital's empty stairwell.
"Dean... Dean," Sam whispered, sounding like he was on his death bed.
"Sam! Where are you?"
"I don't know. I'm..." Dean heard the phone land on the ground again and, this time, he heard his brother's muffled pained grunts and cries in the background; the wind was picking up and distorting the sound. Dean just listened in panic, unable to do anything to help his brother... Unable to even get to him. At no other point in time did death seem so real to him at that moment, and Dean was horrified to hear his brother in pain, fearing another loss was close at hand.
"Sam!" Dean tried once more, knowing that Sam wouldn't hear him because he could tell Sam was not close enough to the phone. Dean started hearing through Sam's choking sobs... Sam had relinquished the phone, but knew it was still on.
"Dean. It's just me. Come... Come get me." Sam then launched into another muted sound of anguish. Dean had never heard his brother sound so tortured. His heart beat skipped and sped as he got a better picture of what was happening to Sam from the sounds through the phone.
"Where! Sam where are you?" He yelled in anger, a hint of panic shooting through his vocal chords. He suddenly heard his brother scream for a second and then it abruptly cut off... Then just the sound of heavy breathing and Sam's humming voice pulsing through at each exhale, almost wheezing.
"Dean." Dean blanched when he came to the realization that Sam was actually crying. "Dean please come... Please get here..." Sam sobbed. Dean, empathetic, was nearly in tears himself as he heard his brother's experience through the phone and could do nothing to stop it. He was about to shout as loud as he could through the phone, "WHERE!" so Sam could possibly hear him... But stopped immediately as he heard his brother gasp and yell out in pain, then clamp down on it as soon as he could and finish out with what could only be described as whimpers and wheezes. Silence followed... More than Dean would've liked. Dean listened diligently for any clue as to where Sam could be from the sounds through the phone. The wind blew past the cell phone's receiver and a bird chirped. He heard a train coming in the background. Then he heard a train outside the phone. He turned around and looked out the window to see the train coming in the hospital's direction. Underneath the rails and behind the hospital, a long unoccupied expanse of unattended tall grass fields stretched out along the horizon.
Dean struck out down the stairs at breakneck speed.
"Sam I'm coming!" He yelled into the cell phone, hoping maybe Sam would hear him. He burst out the back doors of the hospital and ran into the field, shouting his brother's name and listening for any kind of response.
"Sammy!" Dean's voice almost broke, he was so scared. All the while he kept his phone to his ear. Suddenly, he heard another loud cry rent the air in the field and through his phone.
"Sammy!" Dean yelled and turned in the direction. What the hell was Sam doing out here? Dean wondered. He slowed down once he got to the location he'd judged to approximate the sound of his brother. He listened closely. Slowly, he got accustomed to the sounds of the waving grass around him. Dean used his intuition and headed in a direction - west.
"Sam? Talk to me!" Dean demanded. He walked slowly, not wanting to make much noise himself so that he could hear every other peripheral sound around him. Also, if something was hurting Sam, there could be more. Dean pulled out his gun at the thought and kept moving.
Eventually, he stopped, not knowing if he was too far off base now. He listened again, intently, and slowly felt like he heard something over to his right. He angled himself that way and trekked cautiously towards the sound.