A/N: Once upon a time I wrote a one shot that spawned into a story. And now we're here at the sequel I never expected to write. And if we've learned anything from the first go around, it's that we should all just buckle up now because this ride will surely get crazy.
"How do you feel today Dean?"
The therapy sessions started with the same damn line every single time. Dean shifted around on the couch his ass had grown so used to and tried not to be annoyed by Dr. Walsh's question. "I'm fine," he grunted. He wasn't nearly as convincing as he tried to be. His voice was low and groggy, working alongside with his disheveled appearance to show how exhausted he was. He hadn't slept more than a couple of hours the night before. After four nights of peace the nightmares were back and driving him completely mad. He couldn't figure out what had triggered them this time. Maybe it had been the weird bearded guy he and Seth had seen in the store. Or maybe the Criminal Minds episode Roman had been watching had hit a little too close to home. Or maybe all his therapy and determination to be over all the bullshit that had happened with Bray wasn't working out the way he wanted it to. In the six months since the final confrontation with Bray he had tried to throw himself into a normal existence. He and Seth were back to wrestling on Raw and Smackdown though they were off house shows so they could have more time at home to help with Roman's recovery. Roman's parents moved in down the street to help him while they were gone. Roman spent hours upon hours in physical therapy, so if Dean wasn't with Dr. Walsh he was with Roman and Seth there. Roman was determined to not only fully walk again but wrestle as well. So far though he couldn't walk without a walker and even then he could only cover very short distances. It drove him crazy and he ended up driving them crazy because his stubbornness was going to get him hurt and set him back further and he just wouldn't listen.
"Did you have nightmares again last night?" Dr. Walsh's voice cut through his thoughts. She was going for the obvious question, wanting to just probe right in and pick at his brain.
"What do you think?" He rubbed a hand over his face.
"Were they ones you've had before or new?"
"I don't know. It all fucking runs together." He shifted around, slumping further down on the couch. "Makes me miss the sleeping pills. I at least didn't like remember the bad dreams with them." He chewed on his lower lip. He had stopped taking them and any other medication he had been given because he knew all too well he was just going to get too dependent on it. He had a bad history with addiction, both from a personal standpoint and a family history one. He couldn't get trapped in that cycle again. "I just feel like an asshole. Seth and Roman got enough to worry about as it is. They don't need me fucking having nightmares all night every night again."
"Seth and Roman have told you that they understand. That they don't see you as the burden you think you are."
"I know that." Dean let his eyes wander around the room. There was nothing really interesting to look at but it was better than keeping the eye contact. "But that doesn't fucking make me feel better." He folded his arms over his chest. "Roman's all pissed off because he still can't walk right and it's making Seth and Roman fight." He cringed at the thought. "Seth and Roman don't ever fight."
"Does he ever fight with you?"
He shook his head. "He treats me with kid fucking gloves. But he just gets so frustrated and Seth is just trying to tell him to not push too hard and he bites his head off. And like, it was my ex who fucked up his life. But he just takes it out on Seth and Seth's going to fucking hate me soon."
"Why would Seth hate you?"
"Because Roman won't yell at me too."
"You think Seth's going to blame you for his and Roman's problems."
Dr. Walsh just barely stopped herself from taking a long, exasperated breath. "Have you sat down and talked to them about this?"
He shook his head.
"Are you going to?"
He shrugged. He knew she was going to say he needed to but her advice was always easier said than done. There never felt like there was a good time for it and it just felt like a trap for starting a fight. What if Seth really did blame him? The thought of hearing it scared him. And the fact that it scared him made him angry. He didn't want to think or feel like this. Yet these kinds of thoughts still popped into his head, no matter how hard he tried to fight them. Dr. Walsh tried to warn him it would still happen. It was too engrained in his brain to just stop. But how was he supposed to really get better if he couldn't make them stop? Thoughts like that made him fall into traps like he had with Bray.
The session continued on with Dean not being too cooperative in any of his responses. Once time was up he rushed out of the room, barely hearing what she said as he went. He breathed easier once he was outside and he let himself stop and close his eyes. Summer was winding down and they were fast approaching fall. Seth was already on a Halloween kick, wanting to plan ahead for their costume and follow some general theme. Roman wanted to pick his own costume and not stick to a plan and Dean wasn't interested in dressing up at all. The only thing he liked about Halloween was the candy. He hated scary movies, haunted houses, getting dressed up, the fact that it was the time of year it started to get colder...he was perfectly fine going without any of those things.
A car horn sounded and Dean opened his eyes. Seth was waiting for him and doing it rather impatiently. He had forgotten it was him picking him up today instead of Roman's mom. The two of them switched off on who stayed with Roman and who picked up Dean when Dean had his therapy sessions. It made things easier for Seth, who didn't have to feel guilty about not being there enough for one of them. Dean almost wished it was Roman's mom who was getting him today though. She took the hints to leave him alone, unlike Seth who was on his ass the moment he got into the car.
"How'd it go?"
Dean shrugged. "Like usual." He put on his seatbelt and slumped down. "I think I'm past the point of earth shattering self realizations."
"Did you tell her about the nightmares?" Seth asked as he pulled back out on to the road.
"They were mentioned."
"But did you tell her what they were?"
"She fucking knows them all Seth. It was nothing new." Dean didn't want to snap like this. He really didn't. He was just tired. He needed a nice, long, dreamless nap and the fact that he probably wouldn't get one wasn't helping anything. He hated his brain for being the fucked up mess that it was. He hated how black and dark his soul felt. Six months ago he had stood over the comatose Bray and swore he was going to let him go. But what he hadn't realized then was that Bray still had a part of him. Bray had taken him and ruined him and he couldn't just be put back together. The glue he was putting over himself didn't make his cracks disappear. They were still there, sometimes feeling like they were healed over and sometimes they were still raw and fresh and throbbing, threatening to push him over the edge. The constant battle with his emotions was tiring for him and everyone around him. "Did you go to the store yet?"
Seth gave him a look for the change of topic but didn't fight it. "No. Kevin took longer at the vet than I thought." Kevin was the little thing (he was so god damn small that Dean didn't consider him to be a real dog) Seth had brought home a couple months ago. He had gone with Naomi and Jimmy to help them pick their own pet and came home with the Yorkie. And he had just been so fucking in love with it that neither Roman or Dean could really yell at him for it. They just rolled with it, both of them agreeing that they would bring home a big dog to their liking the next chance they got. Roman wasn't on board with naming it Killer like Dean wanted but Dean didn't particularly care. Even if they gave it some other name he would still call it Killer and nobody would be able to stop him.
"Can we go?"
"You actually want to shop?"
"Someone has to stop you from buying only shitty things."
Seth rolled his eyes. "My healthier choices are not shitty."
"Uh yeah they are," Dean insisted. He wasn't about to let Seth convince him otherwise. "I want some fucking cookies and Roman does to."
"Roman likes what I pick out and you know it."
"Whatever. I'm still getting my snacks."
Seth rolled his eyes but didn't argue. They rode in silence the rest of the way, splitting up once they were actually at the store. Seth took the cart towards the health food section like always while Dean took another and began to browse around on his own. He grabbed everything and anything that caught his eye. Some of it was grabbed because he really did want it, but other stuff he snagged just because he knew Seth would bitch. Maybe it wasn't the best idea, considering the fact that he was afraid that Seth was resenting him for shit, but pushing buttons was stuff he was famous for. Before Bray had broken him, he did it all the time to whoever he was with. It was stupid and immature sure, but if it was what the old him would have done, then they would at least be somewhat happy he was doing it wouldn't they?
Nobody really bothered him as he shopped. Living down here had bred familiarity with the locals so only tourists stopped him for autographs. Being left alone was something he really enjoyed. Getting bombarded by people had always freaked him out. He appreciated his fans, but some of them got mega intense and too liberal with their hands. And he minded that a lot more now than when he did when he was younger and more consistently drunk off his ass.
He felt a pair of eyes on him as he tried to decide which kind of Oreos to get. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up but he tried to just shake it off. It was probably just a fan that was too shy for an autograph. Or one that liked to stare at his ass. Or maybe it was Seth's super death glare for even thinking about bringing Oreos in the house. But as he put a package of double stuff Oreos in his cart he saw a large, looming figure at the end of the aisle. He turned to face it fully, eyes widening in horror as he realized who it was. Erick Rowan was standing there, clad in his usual green jumpsuit and beat up lamb mask. His head was tilted to the side, eyes burning holes right through Dean. Dean just stared back, his heart hammering inside his chest. Oh no. Oh no oh no no no no. He quickly glanced back, expecting to see Harper or even Bray standing behind him. Don't be Bray. Don't be Bray please...even with knowing Bray was still in his coma he couldn't stop the plea from going through his mind. No don't be Bray. Please god I'll do anything. Just no Bray.
There was no Bray. There was nobody actually. And when he turned back around there was no Rowan either. He blinked several times. Had he just imagined Rowan's presence? Maybe he had. But why would he imagine him of all people? If it were Bray he could think that. Bray haunted him on a regular basis, so hallucinating his presence would make sense. But Rowan? No. He wouldn't think to see Rowan. Rowan had to have been there. He whipped his head around again, looking for any Wyatts. His palms were sweaty and he had to tighten his grip on the cart to keep them from sliding. Seth. He had to find Seth. Seth would be in danger. If Rowan was around then other Wyatts had to be nearby. Maybe they were finally looking to get him for what he did to Bray. Not that it was undeserved but that wouldn't matter to them. Anyone Bray put into his family had their own set of twisted logic. And they all had been so devoted to the bastard. Dean couldn't imagine it being any different now.
"Seth!" He was running now, nearly crashing into people along the way. "Seth!" He finally just pushed the cart aside completely and sprinted to the heath food section. "SETH!"
"Dean?" Seth rounded the corner and Dean barely managed to skid to a stop. "What the hell?" Seth let go of his cart and grabbed Dean by the arms. "What's wrong? What happened?"
"IsawRowan." Dean was talking so fast it was all coming out as one long, extended word. "Hewasherehewasherehe-"
"Dean!" Seth ignored the people staring at them in favor of giving Dean a good, hard shake. "What are you talking about?"
"He was here!"
"By the-" Dean's eyes widened as he saw the lamb mask poking around the corner. "THERE! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!"
Seth whirled around but he wasn't fast enough. Rowan was gone again and Seth saw absolutely nothing. "Dean..."
"He was there!" Dean stomped his foot, not being able to help the petulant whine that came from his mouth. "Seth he was right fucking there!" He wilted as Seth looked around warily. "I'm not crazy. Seth I'm not crazy Seth you gotta believe me."
"I do." It was hard to tell though whether Seth did or not though. On the one hand, the Wyatts were creepy enough to come creeping around again. But on the other, Dean was always fragile and jumpy after a bad night like he just had. It would be easy for anyone to believe that he had only imagined the whole thing. "Where's your stuff? We'll pay for everything right now."
"I don't want the fucking stuff you ass. I want to go home."
"And we're going to go home alright? But if sheep fucker thinks I'm going to let us starve to death just because he wants to play games then he's sadly fucking mistaken." Seth reclaimed his cart with one hand and grabbed Dean with his other. "Come on. Let's go."
Dean followed along, eyes darting around nervously. He didn't see Rowan again but he didn't feel any more at ease. He could still feel the eyes on him. Those cold fucking eyes that stayed on him until they were finally in the car and speeding for home.
Harper looked at the men he had brought with him to Florida. Rowan was missing but Harper suspected he would be back soon. Or at least he would be if he knew what was good for him. Tonight was too important for any of them to mess up. It had been the night they had been working to all these months. It had been the source of constant frustration for everything to get into place but now it was here and he wouldn't let anyone ruin it.
Tonight was the night they were going to retrieve Bray.
It was something they were going to do months ago. Harper had upheaved everyone at the compound once he found a safer place in Mississippi and had been working on the plan to get Bray while everyone got settled down. But before he could enact that plan, someone had made the decision to move Bray from the regular hospital to a prison one. The fact that he had tried to kill the Shield boys hadn't been forgotten so they wanted him somewhere more secure for when he woke up. That put everything Harper had planned down into the depths of hell and he had been forced to start fresh. Getting into a prison hospital was a much harder task. It meant getting people in on the inside and having them gain the trust so when the time came they could strike efficiently. It had frustrated them all but now everything had come together. Joanna, Silas and Elijah had all sent word that tonight should be the night. Another prisoner was being transferred, meaning most of the attention would be on that and off anyone else. They had ironed out the details of the plan, arranging the upcoming death of another prisoner so they could slip in under the guise of collecting that body. They would get Bray in the body bag and wheel him right on out the front door. Risky but they couldn't just leave Bray there any longer. The family needed him back. They trusted him and loved him well enough but he wasn't Bray. Bray was their true leader. He had fallen off the path with his obsession with Dean Ambrose but everyone was certain he would be right again once he woke up. They were looking at his eventual awakening as a rebirth. Harper certainly hoped that would be the case. He didn't know what they would do if Bray still wanted to pursue Dean. There was no guarantee that the obsession would be dead. There wasn't even a guarantee that Bray would wake up even but Harper didn't let himself think like that. He couldn't entertain those thoughts. Not when it was his job to hold everything together.
"You know what we have to do." His voice was quiet. He was emulating Bray without really realizing he was doing it. "He waits for us." He took a good look at every single one of them, watching them nod their heads reverently. "He wants to come home so he can rise again. We must not fail him." His eyes drifted to where Rowan was approaching. "Do you hear that Brother Erick?"
Erick nodded. His sheep mask was getting really dirty and beat up. He went through them so quickly that it was hard to keep up on new ones.
"Do I want to know where you've been?"
A shake of the head was the answer he got.
"You remember what tonight is don't you?" He pulled Erick in the rest of the way, his hand gripping the back of his neck firmly. "You know what we have to do."
Erick nodded. If the grip Luke had on him hurt he didn't let it show.
"Good." Harper knocked his head against Rowan's, his actions putting the others at ease but his eyes telling the other man that they would be talking more about this later. He had a sneaking suspicion as to where Erick had been and he didn't like it. Tormenting Ambrose was not their priority yet. He had only stressed a million times that getting revenge on the Shield boys could come later. Their first priority had been to protect the family, which they had done. And now Bray was their mission.
And after that, once Bray was home safe and sound, if Erick still wanted to skin Dean Ambrose alive then Luke was certainly not going to stop him.