Title: With Knowledge Comes Understanding
Author: kaly
Category: Gen
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Home
Summary: After leaving Lawrence, Sam thinks about home.

Disclaimer: Not mine. The pretty, snarky, angsty brothers belong to the WB.

With Knowledge Comes Understanding

I've lost track of the towns we've passed, the billboards and mile markers that have flickered past the Impala since we left Lawrence. Day and night have chased one another across the sky and we still push onward. I think Dean's hoping if we go far enough, fast enough, we can put everything behind us.

I know he's hurting, even now, although he won't admit it. And I hate knowing this latest pain is partly my fault. I was the one who insisted on going home. I took him back to a place he never wanted to return and made him face what was waiting for us there. As wonderful and horrifying as that proved to be before it was over.

When I realized what my dream was telling me I didn't stop to think what going back home would do to Dean. I mean for me, home was a fairy tale. It's the place I'd only seen in pictures and heard about in bedtime stories, not somewhere real. It wasn't something I could identify with, not the way Dean could.

That realization didn't hit me until I saw the look of panic in his eyes when I insisted we had to go back. Until then all I could see was the danger that the family was in.

I hadn't been able to tell Dean about my dreams, even after Mary. We were still trying to get back into a groove, to feel completely comfortable again and deep down I think I was afraid of how he would react if I told him. But if I had learned anything from Jessica's death it was that I couldn't ignore them and Dean wasn't going anywhere without an explanation.

In the end, admitting to my dreams was hard but worse still was knowing that my insistence on going to Lawrence caused Dean so much anguish. There haven't been many times - except for the few times I'd been in true, mortal danger - that I've seen such naked emotion on his face, which made it all the more powerful.

I knew he would agree eventually. He's drawn to this life more than I've ever been and he can't leave someone to die if he can avoid it. I think I admire that about him the most - the willingness to hurt himself if he can help someone else. Even though he bitches all the while and denies everything until the end.

It only got worse, for both of us, once we were there. I know why he ran from the car that day, claiming the need to use the bathroom. When he mentioned later that he had tried to call Dad, it was all the explanation I needed. He hadn't wanted to risk looking weak in front of anyone, even me. Maybe especially me.

I'm not sure if I could ever convince him that although there are a ton things he does that drive me crazy, I can only think of a couple that could ever make me think any less of my big brother. Least of all is the sight of him hurting.

I think Missouri realized what was happening, even when I didn't. I don't think Dean understood why she gave him such a hard time but looking back on it... I think I do.

She read about Jess and Dad in me. I think she looked at Dean and saw that he was barely, desperately, holding it together. She must have realized that he hated every moment of facing what happened to our mom, of facing the house that held the only memories of normal he must have.

So I think that's why she gave him so much grief. If he was affronted, offended and - to me at least, getting a little of what he gave out growing up - he was distracted. He wasn't focused on the grief and pain of a lifetime's worth of loss. No, he was smarting off again, sparring verbally, alert and ready to do what we had to do to save that family.

Not that we saved them. Don't get me wrong - Dean saved me from the poltergeist, no question. I'm not sure there's a hell hot enough or water high enough to ever stop that side of him when I'm in trouble. I mean, look at what he did to the front door just to reach me. But we didn't save the house or that family. Mom did.

For my entire life she's been nothing but an abstract. She's been the one thing I've missed most while knowing least. And all of a sudden... there she was, hidden amongst the flames that stole her from us.

I have to admit, I'm still a little surprised that Dean listened to me when he was aiming the shotgun at the flaming form. Not that he usually ignores me but normally he protects first and listens second. It was obvious he didn't recognize her. I still don't know how or why I did, but it just felt... familiar somehow. And when the flames died away, she was there.

It was like seeing a picture come to life. Even now, days later, it still feels unreal. I could hear the disbelief in Dean's voice as he spoke her name; could feel tears burning my eyes and I couldn't look away. She smiled at us and it was exactly like I'd imagined when I was little and Dean would tell me about her.

That is, right up until she apologized for something I still don't understand and disappeared before our eyes. I heard Dean breathe more than speak her name in disbelief, sounding more like boy than man, and his despair added to my own.

I tried to feel her then, to touch the presence that had been there only moments before but there was nothing. The house was empty. What good is whatever is changing me if I couldn't find her and bring her back to us?

And now I can't help but hate what happened even as I cling to it. I don't want to forget anything about her, how she looked or smelled or sounded. Those memories, ones I never imagined gaining, are precious. Although I wish I'd been able to touch her, just once, to hug her and feel her arms around me. I wish for it so badly it hurts.

I understand, now, why Dean dreaded going back home so badly. Before I didn't remember a mother's love to mourn its loss but now... Now I think I know a little of how Dean's felt all these years.

How it ended - how she died in front of us again - tears at me. Looking at Dean, who's barely looked toward Lawrence in the rear view mirror since we left, I know he feels the same. He's refused to talk about it since we left but I can tell, no psychic abilities required. And I can only wonder, and worry about, what new walls he's going to build because of it.

We found her, after years of missing and needing her, only to watch her die all over again. And we still didn't get to say goodbye.