Sam Winchester shot himself nine years ago, leaving Adam and Dean to pick up the pieces of their lives and take on their father's hunt for the yellow-eyed demon. Now they've been zapped back into the past, just in time to save their brother, and fix some of the things they thought would never be fixed.
This was inspired by NoobieNinja's 'Needed' which you can find here: /works/930891
I shamefully horribly ripped off that brilliant piece of fiction, so you should probably flame me, and hate me for all eternity, but I wrote this a while ago, and I thought 'why not post it'. because it brought me joy to write it.
Adam woke to Kansas playing softly on the radio. He must have fallen asleep somewhere in Oklahoma. He wiped at his eyes and took in the scenery. The Impala roared softly under the two Winchester brothers. Dean's music was turned low, soft and lulling.
"I can take over at the next gas station," he offered.
Dean grunted, as much of an answer as he was going to get. Adam pulled the laptop from the backseat and opened the file Bobby had sent them the night before. A routine hunt, witches by the MO and nasty ones at that.
Well, it would be routine, but there was another ritual to get out of the way first. Every year, it was the same, like clockwork. The anniversary would begin at midnight when he would swing into the nearest hotel and leave Adam to protest weakly as he found the nearest bar, drink himself silly, probably pick a fight with some burly guy playing pool, and then stumble home at noon to sleep off as much of the hangover as possible before climbing back onto a barstool and drink himself to tears again.
Hence the rest Adam had been getting in the car. He hated listening to his oldest brother retch in the bathroom when all he could do was sit on the bed, but leaving his brother alone was worse. Being alone himself was worse. It had been over nine years since Sam's death, and three since their father's.
Sometimes Adam felt that the half-brother thing made things a little harder. As if a small difference of blood between them shut down their communication. Sometimes Dean got upset for no reason and kept all the guns locked away. He took Adam out to drink, or to a kid's theme park, or sometimes they just parked the Impala and looked out over the scenery, talking about everything and nothing. They avoided only one subject. Sam.
Adam remembered when he was a kid, and Sam had been this mysterious force of nature, the smartest person Adam ever knew. Sam could plan, and think, and just silently… understand. None of them had ever known he was in trouble until... Well, until Sam was curled up in the bathtub, his brain all over the… all over the…
He swallowed and blinked down at the screen in his lap. It had been nine goddamn years. He wasn't a child anymore. He barely remembered Sam's face, and yet he just kept bringing the memories up every year. They were never going to get over it if they kept fixating, kept remembering.
Adam closed his eyes again, trusting Dean to wake him when they reached the promised gas station.
13 Years Ago
"Sam? Why do we have to move all the time?"
Eleven year old Sam looked over to where his older brother was lying on the next bed and remembered asking him the same question. His hand tightened reflexively on Adam's forehead as he gave the same answer he had received all those years ago, "leave it Adam, you don't wanna know."
His younger brother huffed impatiently, but appeared too tired to follow up. Adam was just starting to see that they weren't like other families. The youngest Winchester had begun to understand that they were different. He had even realized the hierarchy in the family, was starting to look past (through) Sam to Dean and John.
Sam held his breath and felt the tears burning behind his eyes. He wanted to tighten his arms around his brother again, but didn't want Adam to complain or shift away. He stared into the dimly lit, blank walls of the achingly familiar motel room walls. They were all the same, no matter where the small, strange family went.
His arm was going numb from where Adam was lying on it, but Sam just left it that way. He wanted his little brother to just stay here with him, unknowing, unaware that the monsters were real, that someday he would be expected to face them, to fight them, because nobody else would. A solitary tear tipped over the bridge of his nose and fell into the blankets. He just wanted to grow up away from all this insanity, blood thirst, and a family held together by one revenge. Adam and Dean didn't deserve that.
Adam and Dean stopped at a hotel, and Dean left immediately, throwing his duffle on the nearest bed and slipping back out of the door with a muffled: "I'll be back soon."
That was a lie. And Dean never lied to him, except, of course, on this day. The anniversary of Sam's death. Adam dropped his bag next to the bedside table and slumped onto the bed that hadn't been claimed by Dean's duffel.
The impala roared to life outside and then growled into the distance like a predator in search of prey.
"Hey Sam," he said to empty room.
The air conditioning switched on, startling him. He laughed shakily, and shook his head.
"Getting paranoid these days," he said, "but that's not your fault Sam. I think I've started to understand why you did it. This whole life is pretty fucked up, and I think… I think I would have done the same thing. Well, I'm thinking—it doesn't matter." He shook his head, looking at the dull green carpet. He remembered Sam, a happy kid with wide eyes and a pout that pissed off and endeared him all at the same time.
"I miss you, and I'm sorry it's been so long since I talked to you, but I thought that maybe not talking to you would stop it from hurting. Of course it hasn't, but it was worth a try, right?" he laughed humorlessly. "I guess I just wanted to tell you that I still love you. I hope you're happier now, I know you've gone somewhere good, where none of this can touch you anymore, even if that meant leaving me—us."
Feeling foolish and a little sappy Adam climbed onto the bed, and switched on the TV. He would wait for Dean to come home, in case his brother needed help finding the bathroom through his haze of alcohol.
14 Years Ago
It was a year later that six-year old Adam faced his first monster— the ghost of a little girl who just wanted a playmate. She stole Adam, enticed him to taking the ribbon cursed with her spirit, and walked him away from the motel room and the safety of his family.
On Sam's watch.
He had looked away for a minute, had just left to get them both a soda from the vending machine, and when he had come back Adam was gone. Between Dean trashing the motel room and John's tense, angry questions, Sam felt himself shrink just a little bit smaller, hate himself just a little more.
He waited in the motel room, tense, afraid, and utterly alone, until Dean and John came back with Adam crying like the world had ended. There was no more pretending after that, no more questions that had to go unanswered. Adam had to know the dangers, had to stop trusting and start being very, very afraid.
Sam was the only one the little boy let into the bathroom, and they huddled in the tub together, Sam apologizing over and over for not being able to protect him. Adam cried himself sick. Sam held onto him, feeling numb.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Adam asked, when he calmed down enough to start speaking.
Sam sighed, ruffling Adam's silky hair, but said nothing. Adam would grow up just like him, hating the life, wondering why it was his fight.
Adam slept in the bathroom all night with the light on. Sam watched the crack under the door unblinking, feeling the crushing weight of guilt and sadness. He hated, hated, hated this hell.
The next day they were back in the car. Dad and Dean joked in the front, their conversation sounding brittle. Adam stared out of the window the entire day, resisting all attempts at conversation. When they reached Bobby's he disappeared into the house with barely a hello to the hunter. Sam sat at the table and didn't move for a very long time.
It was Dean, sitting on the counter and munching on an apple. John left a few hours after dropping them off. Either he didn't want to deal with Adam's newfound knowledge, or he just couldn't look at Sam. Sam would bet on the latter, and he hated that it would hurt Adam. The youngest Winchester needed his father and Sam had driven him away.
"Fine," Sam said.
"Getting used to the idea of monsters, still not talking much."
Dean nodded amiably, as if that was perfectly normal. As if this were a perfectly normal conversation. "What the hell happened last night?" Sam asked.
He poured himself a glass of milk and sat at the table like a civilized person. They could hear the sound of Bobby beating some car back into shape, and the tinny strains of some country band keeping him company.
He thought for a moment that his brother wasn't going to answer, but Dean broke the comfortable silence quickly, as if he had to force the words out. "Dad told him about the ghoul that got his mother."
Sam nodded glumly, he had suspected as much. "And the ghost?"
"Tried to push him off a cliff to keep him around as a ghost. Dad nearly didn't get there in time."
Sam cringed, feeling the ice clench around his heart. If he had just been watching as carefully as he should have been, none of this would have happened, Adam would be playing outside, trying to find something to show Dean.
The eldest Winchester sibling seemed to sense some of Sam's thoughts, because he slipped off the counter and joined him at the table.
"It's not your fault Sam. That little bitch killed a few hunters before we got there, she knew how to cover her tracks."
Sam shrugged, not meeting Dean's eyes. He swallowed a mouthful of milk, trying to rid himself of the feeling that maybe they would all be better off without him. Dean had made sure that Sam didn't learn about the things that went bump in the night until he could handle it.
Here was Sam, going through the same trials as his older brother, but he was failing every test.
Sam was just going to get everyone killed, the same way that he had gotten his mother killed… just by being there. He was a menace, a danger, and at some level he knew he was never going to change. Not the way John and Dean wanted him to.
Everything else was going to change now.
And it did.
Dean stumbled back into the room, and Adam was on his feet, clicking the TV off. His older brother was back hours before he should be, not that Adam was complaining He was getting pretty lonely and he always worried about Dean.
But his older brother wasn't even drunk. His nose was bleeding, and his left eye was swelling under a nasty black bruise. Dean scrambled against the door, locking it and drawing the curtains. Adam was up and at his side, checking the windows.
"What is it?" he asked, tense.
"I have no idea," Dean said "Where are the weapons?"
"Under the sink. What happened?"
"I was walking to the bar, something… some kind of creature came barreling past me. Shit just started vanishing."
"Vanishing? Adam asked, trying to recall what kind of monster could do that. He busied himself with checking the salt lines and the charms.
"I don't know Adam!" Dean looked crazed, he was tucking Ruby's knife into his jeans and loading bullets into the rock-salt shotgun. "I could barely see it, it was moving so fast. People, cars, a freaking fire hydrant—"
"Fire hydrant? What?"
But Dean was shushing him, waving his hand violently, and peering out of the crack between the curtains. Silence. In the distance, a dog barked and a car screeched into a turn. Suddenly a the light flooding in from one of the streetlamps winked out.
The Winchester brothers stepped back, Dean's gun pointed to the door, Adam's to their one window. Again, silence. A moment of stillness, of hushed breathing. Nothing had been this intent on hunting them before, not crazed enough to attack in the open at the Winchester's base of operations. There was no time for research, no time for questions, or mistakes.
It came through the door. A shadow. The door was simply gone, as if it had never existed, the hinges still attached neatly to the doorframe, the curtains barely whispering. Dean got off the first shot, but it didn't even stop the creature. Its blue-black hide was unmarked, and the knotted hair dangling from its head was swung against it's human-like shoulders as it swept around the room. A bed vanished, then a lamp, the radiator. Adam shot at it, but couldn't be sure if it even touched the creature as it whispered by.
"Adam!" Dean cried, and Adam was swung by the shoulder into the tight bathroom. They shut the door, but both of them knew that couldn't really stop whatever it was. There were bangs and crashed coming from their room. It had barreled through their wards like nothing Adam had ever seen.
"What do we do?" he asked Dean, his hands shaking on the gun. It wouldn't work against whatever it was, and they had nothing else, nothing at all.
He barely had time to glance over at his brother's horrified face before the bathroom door disappeared and they were confronted by the creature. It lunged across the empty space to Adam, and he had time for one shot, which simply disappeared, before the creature was on him.
"Dean!" he screamed. A vacuum opened up squeezing him into an impossibly small shape. The world grew dark, lost color.
He heard Dean's agonized scream of "Adam! No!" before the world simply vanished into an instant of blackness.
NINE YEARS AGO
Sam was sixteen, and Adam was eleven. He had Dean as an example and John as a role model. Sam stayed in the corner with his books, trying not to think about the letter from Stanford in his backpack.
Dean was playing a childish game of cards with John and Adam, though they had added stakes to the game and were now ribbing each other over the winnings. Sam stared at the textbook he didn't have to read until next week. He had told John that he had a test the next day, and that he needed to pass it if he wanted to graduate on time.
John didn't want Sam in school longer than necessary, though he agreed to let him get his high school diploma. That was generous of him, as he just shook his head exasperatedly when Dean had dropped out early.
But he would never let Sam leave for Stanford, but he didn't want to leave Dean and Adam. He didn't want to watch them become John, didn't want to see them stubbornly ignore all the things they wanted and could never have. Sam didn't want to be a hunter, and he certainly didn't want to keep watching Adam getting torn to shreds by every black monster John could find in the phonebook, all on this pointless, endless quest to find the yellow-eyed demon.
He was trapped. Absolutely trapped by his family. Why had he even applied to colleges? Why had they taken in such a fucked up kid? It had to be a mistake, but it was theirs this time, and he had one pin-point of light in this darkness.
He was going to suffocate under the weight of his own thoughts.
"Sometimes it's just impossible to read you," Dean said.
Sam looked up to find John unpacking the guns onto the table, and Adam putting the cards away. Dean had taken the opportunity to sit on the edge of the bed and take his shoes off. It was going to be a quiet night then. Sam snapped his book shut and stretched.
"What are you talking about?" he asked innocently, wrinkling his nose at the stench of Dean's unwashed socks.
"You've been staring at that book for the past hour, and nobody thinks that hard about," he craned his head to read the textbook's name, "American History."
Sam shrugged, "I guess I just zoned out."
Dean smirked knowingly. "Has our little Sammy found a girl?"
Sam rolled his eyes, "Shove off, Dean."
He got up, holding his hands out in surrender, "Whatever Sam, come on. Race you on a field strip."
The odds were against that. Sam was the fastest out of all of them, and the best shot. John did the research (though Sam had yet to make him see the powers of a laptop and a good spreadsheet), Dean got the info and could wrestle werewolves with ease, and Adam was turning out to be a damn master with a knife. He was growing up just like Dean, all swagger and cocky smiles, needing nothing but his family and his gun. (He's too young dad!)
They huddled around the little table. Sam, when trying to go fast, could clean a gun in forty-seven seconds flat. But he was going slow today, taking his time to make sure it was all done perfectly because a clean gun is a safe gun. Dean and Dad started talking about the latest girl Dean was "dating," some redhead college girl who apparently had a thing for thongs, and then changed the subject to Adam and his studies, because they realized they probably shouldn't be talking about thongs and hot redheads around a kid Adam's age.
Sam looked up, watching his family talk and enjoy their time while he stayed on the outskirts of the conversation, silent and barely there.
And he wondered.
What would happen if he just...
Shot himself in the head?
What would they do? Would they even do anything? They'd pick up and leave, find some other town, some other monster, because there were always monsters... always.
He looked at the gun in his hands, a powerful, sleek mechanical thing.
He would do it.
He was going to do it.
Right now, he should just shoot himself and be done with hunting and killing and all the abnormal in his life. He wouldn't be a failure to his family anymore.
He would just be dead. Gone.
He was going to do it. He was going to pull the trigger and shoot himself in the head and be dead and gone and finally see his mother. Dad and Dean and Adam would be free. It would all be so much better, so much easier for everyone. This was his escape, the way out, a big glowing exit sign that spelled out all the answers-
"I'm just going to the bathroom." He felt the words leave his mouth, but couldn't remember forming the thought. The Winchesters ignored him, Dean and Adam lost in a race to clean their favorite guns, John playing the referee.
In a dream-like state he was on his feet, the gun held loosely, balanced in his hand. The bathroom door opened and shut behind him, because he was on autopilot and it didn't quite feel real, that he was making these decisions. There was the cold white tile, the stained bathtub and the cracked toilet. The easily packet toiletries and a few towels strung haphazardly on the rack because the maid hadn't come yet.
There was a roar of laughter from the table had had left, outside in that dirty motel room that joined the stream of motel rooms that had become his home. Never permanent. Always changing, always the same.
He lay down in the tub, rested his feet against the faucet and tipped his head back. He felt the cool metal of the gun dig into his chin.
His finger tightened on the trigger ever so slightly, and he took his last breath-
A thunderclap of sound, color, and movement shook the bathroom and the gun went off. But the angle was wrong now, his hand had moved at the last second and the bullet grazed his jawline and shattered the tiles behind his left ear.
He cried out, because damn that had hurt, and he struggled in the tub pathetically for a minute, trying to see what the hell was going on, but his hands kept slipping in the light spray of blood he had managed to draw from his own neck.
"What the hell?" someone asked.
Sam stared at the two strangers slack jawed because they didn't look like monsters. Hell, they looked as surprised as he was. They were standing in front of the bathroom counter, and Sam could tell at a glance they were hunters, they had the look— Practical, tactical clothing washed a hundred times too many, hard eyes, calloused hands from shooting, digging, stabbing.
The youngest looked around his age, perhaps a little older, and the older one looked to be in his late twenties, early thirties. For a moment Sam and the two men stared at each other, shock and fear competing in each of their faces.
There was a crash from the adjoining room where his family had heard the- whatever this was. John's voice rose high and reedy into a noise Sam hadn't thought his father could make: "SAM!"
The door shook on its hinges, shivering against its frame as it no doubt met with John's shoulder.
Sam had the gun turned on the two strangers in a split second. He had the advantage from this low angle. They couldn't reach for a weapon without him shooting first. They were related, he could see that at once. Green eyes, the same shock of brown hair. They looked… familiar. In fact, he had the same eyes and hair. It couldn't be… John didn't have any family.
"Who are you?" Sam asked, his finger firm on the trigger, as if he were out on the hunt, not blitz attacked during his suicide.
They were staring at him, mouths open comically, hands half raised at the muzzle of his gun.
"Whoah kid, you're bleeding," the older one said, then he frowned and squinted at Sam's face.
"I noticed," Sam said evenly, not bothering to hold a hand to the wound on his jaw, though he could feel the blood slipping down his shirt front and collecting on his chest. "Dad?" Sam called out as his father hit the door again.
"Sam, What's going on?" John asked through the door, the doorknob shook as the older hunter tried the lock. "Sam, open the door!"
"Sam?" That was the younger one. He was crying.
"Do I know you?" Sam asked, his eyes flickering between the two hunters no longer out of fear, but confusion. They hadn't moved for their weapons, but they didn't seem that afraid of his gun, when they really should be.
"This is a trick," the older one said, looking around the bathroom.
"Sam!" That was Adam, calling through the door, sounding frantic. The two strangers flinched, now looking towards the door.
"No. I remember this," the younger one said, "Dean, I remember."
"It's not real," was the other's answer. "This… This is the angels. Or.." he trailed off.
"There are no such things as angels," Sam said, keeping his voice steady, though it took some effort. "How do you know Dean?"
The older one opened his mouth, but his reply was cut off as the door caved under John's heel. Now there were six people in the bathroom, far too many for its size. John, Adam, and Dean had fanned out in the doorway and the newcomers were crowded by the mirror, still looking more confused than afraid.
"Sam?" John asked, seeing the blood soaking into his shirt.
"I'm fine, sir," he reported. "Dean, do you know these people?"
"Never seen them before," Dean said, keeping his gun trained on the strangers.
"They know our names."
"Sam?" It was the younger one again, "Dean, it's Sam. It's him."
"What?" Dean asked, looking a little unbalanced.
"It's not!" The older one said firmly, looking away from Sam and focusing on John.
Sam opened his mouth, lowering the gun. It was… it couldn't be. How..?
"You have thirty seconds to tell me what you are and what you're doing here, or you're going to be buried on a very lonely stretch of highway," John said slowly.
Sam finally found his voice. He dropped the gun entirely, his hands shaking with adrenaline, his mind swirling with confusion. "Dad, It's… It's Adam. And Dean."
"What?" A few voices joined at once, mingling and echoing in the overcrowded bathroom.
But it was true. It was impossible not to see it now, like one of those optical illusions where there was a picture within a picture. He couldn't unsee it.
His brothers had grown up… well they had grown up like John, down to the haircut. And there were the scars on their hands, faded now and a few new ones crisscrossing their flesh, but the same ones that Sam had cleaned and stitched.
John hadn't lowered his weapon, but was eyeing them both suspiciously. It was Dean who brought out the silver knife and the holy water. The reflexes took over, this was a routine that every hunter knew. Everyone but Sam pulled up their sleeve and set about drawing blood to everyone's satisfaction.
Introductions over, they all holstered their guns, then stood awkwardly, looking at each other like two alien species meeting for the first time. Adam and Dean were peering cautiously around John's protective stance.
"Sam?" it was his Dean, "Sam, what are you doing in the tub?"
Sam looked at his gun, then lifted a hand two his chin where his skin was starting to feel like it was on fire.
"Those are powder burns," Adam observed from next to John.
Their father was staring at Sam, or rather at the shattered tile behind Sam's head, the gun now sitting on his chest, and the blood slipping down his neck.
"Sa-" his voice hitched, he half-raised a trembling hand.
"It's not what it looks like," Sam said, picking up the gun, and struggling to his feet. The blow came out of nowhere and he lost his precarious balance. Future-Adam had shoved him hard in the chest and disarmed him as easily as John or Dean could.
"Hey!" John's gun was instantly up, focused on Adam in warning, on the edge of aggression.
Adam held the gun out, gently placed it on the floor and kicked it towards his father. "I think we'd all be a little more comfortable if Sam didn't have the gun." he said reassuringly. He kept a hand on Sam's wrist, alert to any movement the boy would make.
"Adam," Future-Dean warned, "Adam let go. It's not real. This is a trick."
"Is that so?" John asked slowly, still pointing the gun at his eldest son.
Again, this was inspired by NoobieNinja's 'Needed' found here: / works/ 930891
Noobie's story is like... 10,000,000x better than this story, so go check that out. And if you like this kind of thing I can recommend googling bettenoir's suicidal Sam compendium because.. Gah! So much Angst!