Writer's Note: **** I added another little scene to chapter 7 that you might want to check out. Sammy and a thunderstorm! Just wanted to let you know!
"What do you want? You want the moon?
Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down."
George Bailey~ It's a Wonderful Life
It turned out that Dean was right about the trust issue being a little difficult to fix. They weren't fighting all the time or anything, but when they did, it stung a little more than usual. It took a little longer to let things go. It dredged up memories that neither one of them wanted to relive. And as much as either of them hated to admit, it made them question the other's devotion.
With the Mark of Cain, Abaddon and Kevin, always Kevin at the forefront of their thoughts, exhaustion and stress were constant. They were snapping at each other for ridiculous reasons. Often one or the other would have to leave the room just to prevent further confrontation.
One night, shortly after storming off to avoid saying something he would regret to his overly cranky brother, Sam swallowed his pride and reluctantly came back into the library after only a few minutes. Dean was flipping through pages of an old book, nursing a glass of whiskey. He did not look up.
Sam sighed and pulled a glass from the liquor cabinet and poured a drink for himself. He leaned on the wall near the telescope and angled himself to look out at the night sky. He stood there lost in thought for a while, gazing at the stars.
"Thought you went off to bed?" Dean said softly, breaking the silence.
Sam turned, somewhat startled.
His brother was watching him with that gentle gaze he sometimes wore when he was feeling guilty. I'm sorry, Sam was written all over his face.
"I did," Sam said, taking a sudden interest in a spot on the floor that he scrubbed at with his sock. "I just... I don't know. Sometimes I wish there were windows in our rooms... be nice to see the moon once in a while, you know?"
Dean cringed. Right for the heart, eh Sammy? He understood exactly what Sam was saying. He sat forward and rubbed his eyes.
Sam leaned into the wall, looking back out at the stars. "I don't think it's out there tonight anyway."
"Yes, it is," Dean said with conviction. He closed the book and leaned on the table, a sad smile passing over his lips. "It's the moon, Sammy. It's always out there."
"Not always...Maybe it's cloudy. Or maybe it's a new moon. Or maybe it hasn't risen yet."
Dean shook his head, smiling sadly and trying to catch Sam's gaze. "Well, yeah, but it's always there."
Sam glanced over his shoulder at his brother for just a brief second.
"Even when you can't always see it, it's always there... trust me."
Sam smiled a little as he nodded his head in acknowledgement. He took a drink from his glass and went back to staring out the window. Dean went back to his book, the silence between them now comfortable... and comforting.
"What are you doing in here?" Sam asked, surprised to see Dean in his room.
"Uh... looking for this." Dean pulled a large book off the shelf and shrugged at Sam. "Found it."
Sam looked at him doubtfully, but then proceeded to grab the pillows and blankets off his bed.
"What are you doing?" Dean asked. "And where have you been all day, anyway?"
Sam's suspicious look was replaced by one of barely contained excitement. "Come on, I want to show you something. Put that book down, you can come back and get it later."
Dean followed Sam down the hall, up the stairs and down another hall. He was struck then by how much of the bunker remained unexplored. They were so wrapped up with work all the time they never took a moment to actually learn more about this place they were calling home. He had a twinge of sadness then, remembering how he had planned to keep 5 year old Sammy here with them. How initially, he had imagined the little boy adjusting to this new life and being able to just be a kid. Sammy would have this place mapped out in a week's time! He would have found all kinds of things to get into, Dean thought fondly. He probably would have even gotten lost once or twice. Huh... that would actually have been a little nerve wracking. Maybe he would have found something horribly dangerous, or gotten hurt or trapped or- stop it!! Dean curbed his irrational train of thought and concentrated on following his brother. His adult brother who had apparently been doing a little exploring of his own and was just fine. Sam was fine. This was much better than having to worry about a 5 year old.
"Where are we going?"
Sam had reached the end of another hallway and was opening up a large, iron door. Inside the door was a ladder leading to a large hatch in the ceiling. He climbed up behind Sam and followed him out of the hatch onto the roof. It was dark outside, but a few lanterns were placed in a line leading from the hatch to a couple of folding chairs that were set up around a small cooler and what looked like... a fire pit?
Sam walked over and set the blankets down on one of the chairs and stood looking awkwardly at Dean. "So, uh... cool, huh?" he asked with an air of uncertainty.
Dean looked around. The roof top was huge and flat and in the distance he could see the lights of the city. He felt something he couldn't describe, and then suddenly he realized it was because it was a feeling he barely recognized. He felt suddenly at peace. The problems were all still there, and would still be waiting for him, but up here, he felt somehow removed from everything.
Sam was babbling on. "You said you wanted to get away from this place for a while, and you know, we can't really do that right now, so I kind of thought that maybe this might..." Sam shrugged his shoulders hesitantly, watching Dean from under the flop or hair falling over his forehead. He was obviously nervous about Dean's reaction to his gesture. And while Dean had to admit, this was an excellent opportunity for him to give Sam a good ribbing, he was also deeply touched.
"Sammy, this... is awesome."
Sam's face lit up and Dean was glad he'd passed up his opportunity. "Yeah, right? I got us a fire pit, too."
"I see that," Dean said coming over to inspect it. "What are you waiting for? Let's light this bitch up!"
Sam grinned and grabbed a box of matches. He handed them to Dean. "Want to do the honors?"
"Happy to." Dean struck a match and lit the newspapers that Sam had arranged under a small pile of wood in the little fire pit.
Dean sat down and grabbed a couple of beers from the cooler. He opened one and handed it to Sam. "So, star gazing, huh? Been a long time since we did that."
"I know. But not just star gazing. The other night when we were talking about the moon reminded me there's an eclipse tonight. That was kind of how I found this spot in the first place. I got thinking that there really isn't a great place in the house to see the sky and certainly not an eclipse. So I started wondering if we had a flat spot on the roof, and sure enough... So, if you're game for staying up a little late, we could watch it."
Dean stared at him for a minute. "First off," he said putting his feet up on the ledge of the fire pit, "there's beer and a fire. I don't think I'm ever going back inside again. Second, you are the biggest geek I've ever met, you know that?"
"Literally. The biggest."
Sam laughed and tossed Dean a blanket.
They were quiet for a while, just watching the stars. Eventually when they started talking, it was easy, relaxed, and surprisingly, just as the first piece of the moon began to disappear, the subject of their young counterparts came up.
Sam grew a bit nervous then, worried that Dean would get upset and close up, but he seemed to just be remembering in amusement.
"You were one stubborn little kiddo," he said shaking his head. "You really hated that car seat."
Sam grinned. "I can imagine."
"And God forbid I give you the monkey pajamas on the wrong night. You're lucky you were so stinkin' cute. What happened?"
Sam flicked his bottle cap at him. "I'm still cute."
"Whatever. You're still stubborn, too. I guess somethings never change."
"No, that's for sure." Sam said rolling his eyes.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Dean asked suspiciously.
"Well," Sam said sounding as put out as he could manage without laughing. "While you were galavanting around Walmart and the park and maybe having to deal with a little stubbornness from Mr. Cuddlebug-"
A smile cracked across Dean's face then and he couldn't hold back a snicker.
"You know it's true- every five seconds he was all 'Pick me up! Pick me up!' " Sam mimicked, waving his arms in the air.
Dean laughed out loud at that. "You know we're talking about you, right?"
"Parallel Universe Me. Different person."
"What? No, dude, that was you-"
"I was never like that!"
"You were ALWAYS like that! That was totally you," Dean insisted.
"Whatever," Sam said, waving his hand dismissively. "So, like I said, while you were getting hugs at every turn, I was locked in a room for an hour with Mr. Rabid Honey Badger and his sawed-off."
"What the hell is a honey badger?" Dean asked, laughing again as he pictured his 10 year old self holding Sam at gun point.
"You. At 10 years old. Look it up."
"I had a gun?"
"And a bucket full of crazy! You wouldn't let me near you at first. You were threatening to kill me, then Frank and then the future version of yourself."
"Frank was a douche," Dean said sourly.
"Your younger self would agree. He was ready to take his head off."
"Yep," Dean replied, mildly amused. "That sounds about right. I told you this was all right after that incident with the shitriga. That seriously messed me up."
Sam took another swig of beer and thought about that for a moment. Something ached in his chest when he thought about 10 year old Dean having so much responsibility heaped on his shoulders. The guilt, the fear... he shook his head. "Yeah... You know, Dean..."
Dean caught the sad, apologetic tone. "Sam, stop," he said softly. "We're good, all right?"
Sam looked hesitantly at him.
"I'm serious." Dean raised his beer and winked at Sam, pointing to the moon. "Hey, I think the moon's about to reappear."
Sam smiled then, looking down at the bottle in his hands.
"Or... it's just going to start turning a weird, angry red color- what the-?" Dean's eyes widened as he stared at the sky.
Sam looked up. The moon had indeed reappeared in an ominous, deep rust color. "A blood moon," he said.
"Is this something we need to take care of?" Dean asked nervously, setting his beer down and getting ready to stand up.
"No," Sam laughed. "A blood moon is the new term they're using to make this phenomenon sound a little more dramatic. This is what happens during a total eclipse. The sunlight shining through the earth's atmosphere is refracted towards the red-"
Sam was interrupted by a loud snoring sound. Dean's mouth hung open as his head lolled over the back of his chair. As soon as Sam stopped talking, he opened his eyes. "Are you done?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm just saying. It looks all angry and weird, but it's totally normal. It'll turn back to it's usual bright, shiny self when it starts reappearing."
"Ahh... that makes sense." Dean snorted, gazing back at the moon, a knowing smirk on his face.
Sam showered off before heading to bed to get the campfire smell out of his hair. He tossed the damp towel in with the laundry as he entered his room and wondered vaguely why his bedroom light was on. He noticed the book Dean had been supposedly looking for was still on the nightstand where he'd left it.
Guess he must have forgotten he needed it, Sam thought, somewhat proud that he'd been able to take his brother's mind off of work for a while. He'd probably grab it in the morning, but for now, Sam was glad that Dean must have decided to just go to bed. It had been a good day. Sam let out a contented sigh as he tried to let that feeling just linger. It was how he was learning to live life in general now... taking in the good things and counting them as wins, even little things, because sometimes, that was all there was. Little things like an evening of star gazing. Like beers and fire pits. Like being able to say 'I love you, man.' to his brother without actually saying it. Sam was happy about these things. He was happy that Dean had seemed relaxed for the first time in... Sam couldn't even remember. It wasn't anything monumental, he hadn't really been able to pull off a real vacation, but he'd managed to create a brief period of escape, and that seemed like just what Dean- what they both- had needed. He was feeling pretty pleased with himself.
He sighed heavily and flopped down on the bed. He didn't know what would happen with the myriad of problems they were dealing with right now. He didn't know what the implications were in regards to the Mark of Cain, or what kind of trouble Dean had gotten himself into, but he knew he would do what he had to to keep his brother safe. He was feeling more confident that Dean was starting to believe that, too.
He turned off the light and rolled over on his back. But when he stared up at the ceiling over his bed, what he saw took his breath away.
Suddenly, a lump formed in his throat and his eyes brimmed over with tears. He let out a wet laugh that choked off in a bit of a sob.
When? How...? There were questions trying to formulate in his head, but he was so filled with wonder by the sight before him that he didn't even care about the answers.
There above his head, a canopy of glow-in-the-dark stars shone down on him. They were everywhere. Big ones, little ones, some placed randomly, some forming constellations. All over the ceiling... surrounding the luminous circle of the full moon, right in the center. Right over his head.
Sam just stared at it all... awed by fact that it was kind of tacky, but really beautiful at the same time, amazed by the fact that Dean had actually sneaked into his room and done this without him knowing, mildly annoyed that this easily rivaled the eclipse viewing that Sam had put together...
"You'd better not be crying in there, Samantha..." Dean whispered mockingly from the hall.
Sam laughed, but his breath hitched, giving him away. "I'm not crying."
"Goodnight, Sammy!" Dean said smugly, sounding very proud of himself as he made his way towards his own room.
"Jerk." Sam said, his voice still unsteady, not sure if Dean actually heard him or not.
When the reply came, Sam could picture the cocky, self-satisfied smirk on Dean's face. "Bitch."
But he could also hear his brother's unspoken love and devotion when he stared up at the sight above his bed. Dean had aways been really good at saying things without uttering a syllable, and Sam could hear every word, loud and clear:
Now you can see the moon every night before you fall asleep, and know that it's always there.
Right up to the moon... and back. Forever. No matter what. I want you to remember that, ok?
No matter what.
Writer's Note: I can't begin to thank you all for your comments and responses to this story. Thank you for your suggestions, your support, and I would like to give a special thank you to the Sam-girls who took the time to explain their view points and help me to better understand Sam's side of things. I hope I was able to represent both of our boys fairly. I would love to hear your thoughts about the story if you have a moment to leave a review. Even if you're reading long after this is published, I always love to hear your comments! Best of luck to you all during this awful hellatus!