Supernatural and its characters are not mine.

Thanks to daisymaygirl1, friendly, carocali (x2), laughandlove, shadowhisper (x4!), Onari, bally2cute, Riana1 (x3), empath89, Thru Terry's Eyes, ObuletShadowStalker and Phx for their kind reviews -- I'm really glad you guys seemed to enjoy it!

The story itself is done. This is just a coda. Kinda.


Sensory Deprivation: Coda... kinda

He didn't panic when he woke up and it was dark, because Dean was there, so he knew he must be OK. Didn't panic until he heard the worry in his brother's voice. Then, OK, sure, he panicked. A little.

He didn't panic on the nightmarish trip back to the car, when thorny fingers seemed to be trying to trip him up with every step, tearing at the flesh of his ankles, because his brother was an invisible presence under his arm, pulling him onwards.

He panicked in the car on the way to the hospital, knowing they were going too fast even though he couldn't see the scenery rushing by, panicked all alone in the dark little cupboard that his world had shrunk to, and didn't even remember that the everything else was still there until Dean told him not to panic, that it would be OK, that he would fix it. And he trusted his brother, so he stopped panicking, letting the fear sink back into a curdled lump in his stomach.

He didn't panic when he heard about Tommy in the hospital and realised that the same thing might happen to him, because he could tell that Dean was panicking and if both of them did it at once then they were going to go nowhere fast.

He didn't panic again until he tripped over twice on the way from the car to the motel room, and then it was because Dean was supposed to be guiding him, Dean, but later he realised that nobody was perfect, and that his brother was just as new at this as he was.

And then, when he thought about it, it wasn't so bad. I mean, sure he couldn't read, but there were books on tape, right? And Braille, he could learn that, learning things had always come easy to him. He would learn to live with it eventually, he wouldn't be helpless forever, right? OK, he would never hunt again, but that was what he had wanted wasn't it, so surely it couldn't be responsible for the tendrils of panic curling up his spine. So everything was OK really, until

a hand came out of nowhere and tapped him on the shoulder. Then he definitely panicked, no doubt about it, and even after he had ascertained the identity of the hand's owner, the panic didn't really leave, because this was getting bad and Dean hadn't fixed it yet, and he was starting to doubt that he could. Then the panic was at a constant low level, like a nagging doubt at the back of his mind, an unpleasant little voice that whispered about how this was his life now, this empty black silence that didn't even echo like a decent empty black silence ought to. But if he talked loud enough, he could drown the voice out, which was weird, because he couldn't hear himself talking and probably that meant he couldn't hear the voice either. It was OK, though, because if he talked loud enough then he didn't have to think about these things, either.

And every now and then a hand would fall on his shoulder and he would know that Dean was still there, probably mad as hell from having to listen to him babbling on about anything and everything he could think of, but there. So he didn't panic, not really, although the nagging voice told him that at some point the touch wouldn't come again.

He did panic when he suddenly felt that he was no longer talking, just moving his lips and tongue. Yup, that was panic all right, he would know it anywhere, unmistakeable. That one was pretty bad, ebbing and flowing, pretty much until he knew that dad was there, because then he was sure that Dean would fix it, no way that the combined powers of dad and Dean could fail to fix something. And anyway, after that Dean was holding his hand most of the time, so panic was unnecessary.

The last time he panicked was when he had the vision, because it hurt, worse than usual, and because he saw

himself, lying on the ground in the forest, and Dean leaning over him with a knife, a hunting knife, and cutting into his flesh, bathing his hands in the blood. And Dean, putting the hands of an evil creature on his temples, forcing it to interact with him, to suck at his life-force like it had before.

The voice at the back of his brain grew to a roar, saying this is how you're going to die.

And he replied, no. This is Dean. Fixing it.

The voice didn't come back.

And Sam didn't panic.