Genre: pre-series gen, hurt/comfort
Characters: Dean, OFC
Word Count: ~1700
Summary: For the first time in a long time, Dean has someone at his bedside when he wakes up to hospital fluorescence and intravenous fluids. He's not sure how to feel about that. * Read it at A03
Notes: Written for hoodie_time's recent meme, for nickgregfan's prompt, Dean couldn't just LET that little old lady get hit by the car..... So he gets her out of the way and takes the hit for her. And he's the one that ends up with broken hips.
Dean Winchester isn't known for a hell of a lot--not now, and not ever. But Superman at sixteen isn't bad. He could die with that one on his conscience.
Emma Doyle is sitting at his bedside. Emma Doyle is eighty-four and tiny, a shrunken head that hasn't found her museum. She's blind as all hell, judging by the thickness of her glasses, but she's not as Old Lady as Dean would have expected her to be. But let's be real, everything above twenty seems inconceivable, and Emma Doyle is plenty goddamn old. Alaska, she says. She'd almost been run over by one of those bush planes in Alaska. Wasn't anyone there to save her back then, but oh, she wished there had been. I think all friendships are born of violent serendipities, she says. I'd teach that if I thought my students would have an idea what I meant. I was a teacher in Alaska, too, she says, I was a teacher in Alaska before I moved out to Carlsbad. Are you from Carlsbad, Dean?
Dean's starting to feel unconsciousness billow up from the back of his throat, the sort of radial nausea that comes with carsickness and, apparently, being hit by cars. His lips feel pasty, like they've been sealed together, and he'd be fucking glad for the silence if Emma Doyle weren't busily filling it.
He's been told she's thankful. But he knows guilt when he hears it. That's the big difference between little old ladies and babies (the kind you pull from fires), he's decided. Little old ladies have some idea of their own culpability. Don't matter whether it's real or imagined, they know guilt and given the opportunity they stew in it just like everyone else.
Dean just wishes she'd brought cookies. Day = made, right here. But no dice. Instead Emma Doyle talks, and Dean listens. Then Dean is in too much pain to listen. Then Dean is too drugged to listen. Then Dean sleeps, and sleeps, and Emma Doyle talks and talks. When Dean wakes and she's still there, he's torn between abject horror and hurt. He hates himself a little, but kindness hurts. He's known a lot of hospital beds, but the bedside's almost always empty.
"Mrs. Doyle," he mumbles groggily. "You're m' new best friend."
Emma Doyle doesn't seem to understand.
"So for the loveofGod, fuck off."
"Fine," is her only response. Which surprises him. It surprises the crap out of him, actually. She doesn't actually fuck off, but she does shut up. Dean turns away from her. Tries to wiggle his toes.
Jesus fucking christ.
"So you're Dean Neale," she says, finally.
"Sure." He wants water. He slants his eyes toward the IV in his arm and resists the urge to itch around the needle. He's so thirsty he'd rip it out and drink from it if he thought there was any chance in the world of getting away with something like that.
"And you're Mrs. Doyle. And you're a teacher."
Emma Doyle brightens. From the corner of his eye Dean sees her posture raise and her hands clasp together, her feet twist around the legs of her little plastic hospital chair. Part of him feels cold and leaden; and her little brightnesses are fucking exhausting.
"Well, a substitute, actually. I'm subbing for Mr. Granger, he had a heart attack, his wife's the algebra teacher, he teaches history--well. Anyway, I teach the US History course. Mr. Granger had a heart attack, you know."
"Did he." Dean wishes he could have a heart attack. He feels cold and static and he can't lift this nausea from his chest. He takes a deep breath. Fuuuck, he groans, and bites his lower lip.
"You know him?"
Please just drug me. He closes his eyes.
Dean hears her shuffle abruptly, takes in a whiff of her as she draws near then whips back, as though she is trying to decide whether she should call a nurse, call a doctor, call the entire hospital. He wishes she'd go. He wishes she'd forget.
"Yeah, I think so," Dean says, and looks up at Emma Doyle. She has nice eyes; they're green. "I think he was my history teacher."
Emma Doyle stares back for a moment, her green eyes probing him and just filling with confusion before she realizes what that must mean.
"You should go to school," she says, simply. Like that's it.
You know, I'd actually thought about that, Dean wishes he could find the energy to say. But then I got hit by a goddamn car. Instead, he says nothing, and Emma Doyle sits back down.
"Where's my dad," he asks no one in particular. If anyone would know, it'd be him--and, well, he doesn't. He imagines his father's concern, and imagines it laced with a fiery kind of frustrated disappointment. His father has so much disappointment he doesn't know where to goddamn put it all--but, Dean figures, there have been less opportune moments. Let him be disappointed. Let him--
"He didn't answer his phone."
--let him not be dead, honestly. That's all Dean really wants. For his father to not die and to have a bucket handy, because he's really going to throw up now. He takes a shaky breath. "My little brother--"
"They really want a guardian first," says Emma Doyle.
See, this is where Dean gets it. Fucking double standards. Let Sam whine about Dean treating him like baby; it's not his fault.
"He's my blood type," Dean offers.
"Well," says Emma Doyle. "A lot of people are your blood type, honey."
"Just wanna talk to him." Or throw up all over him, whichever's easier when the time comes. He imagines Sam's concern, which is kind of snotty and a lot shy. He hates seeing Dean helpless more than Dean hates being it; it rocks his worldviews in a way few things do. Which is just setting him up for a whole ton of survivor's guilt later in life, Dean can see it blooming. Sam's going to grow up to be Pastor Jim in miniature, Dean's sure. That fucking kid.
Dean coughs, or laughs. Or something. He thinks about Sam in one of those Pastor Jim collars and jesus christ, they are setting themselves up for the most tragic biographies of all time, aren't they. Sam's going to start doing penance for his long lifetime of sins by the time he turns twelve (the problem with babies and their lack of culpability, Dean thinks--someday they grow up and BAM, that's the end of the line for some people) and Dean is going to be Christopher Reeve at sixteen. Sam will begin to wonder, when Dean doesn't come to pick him up this afternoon, what happened. And somehow, in that sad, floppy little brain of his, he'll come to the conclusion that it's his fault.
God fucking damn it.
Yeah, right, Dean will say. He's decided he will say. Don't steal my glory. I jumped in front of that car so I wouldn't have to go to history class. I can't stand the Constitution, Sammy.
Which is crazy, and ridiculous, but Dean's got the street cred to pull it off, he's pretty sure. And it sounds better than "I just wanted to save someone, Sam." He wanted to save someone and it seemed easy enough.
Dean is sixteen years old and he's ready to give everything he has. It seemed like a Superman thing to do. Fuck it, it just seemed--
"You're going to be fine," says Emma Doyle.
"My dad's gonna be pissed," he says.
"My brother's gonna freak."
"I think the school's gonna hold me back a grade." He hasn't really been--not with any consistency, anyway--since February. He'd entertained the idea of putting in that extra effort to show up, just to end the semester on a high-ish note, but apparently not.
"Probably," says Emma Doyle.
Dean turns toward her. His first thought is bitch! and his second is that he kind of wishes he'd gone to history class. Mrs. Doyle's kind of all right for an old lady when she's not apologizing out of her ass. She doesn't take shit. But he figures, teaching for 187 years or whatever probably brands that into you.
"Thought I was gonna die," he finishes out.
"You might never walk again," says Emma Doyle. He can see her weighing this knowledge against her still-living existence. This is gonna keep her up at night.
"I saved you," he adds. P.S. --- I saved you.
"Thank you," she says.
"Actually, I don't know to feel about that," she says.
"Me neither." He knows how he feels--like shit--but he doesn't, actually, know how he feels about saving Emma Doyle. Pride, maybe. Fear. Disappointment. He doesn't feel like a superhero.
He sort of feels like he'd have rather just jumped in front of a bus, and fuck pretenses. Which would have been even more crazy, and even more ridiculous, but at least at the end of the day, he wouldn't have been around to answer for that.
Emma Doyle sits back down, and takes out a book. Dean is too fuzzy to read the title.
His eyes are. No, his brain. He closes his eyes and tries to swallow nausea. It's doughy at his throat but feels like ice water in his stomach.
She reads silently.
"Why are you still here?" Dean asks, eventually. Fuckin'--IV. Thing. He wants to ask more but there's just no way. Ain't gonna happen.
"Because no one else is," says Emma Doyle. "Because there is no one else in the history of the world who can be with you right now. Who can be here right now. Not even Thomas Jefferson."
Dean raises an eyebrow.
Emma Doyle raises her book. "It's a biography," she explains.
"If Thomas Jefferson could be here, he would."
"Okay." Fucking old ladies, seriously.
"And your father, too."
"But no one else in the world," says Emma Doyle, "can be where I am right now."
"What about you, Dean?"