What Dreams May Come
Disclaimer: Nothing and no one in the world of Supernatural is mine. They belong to Kripke and his oh-so-talented staff of writers.
A/N: This story takes place after Everybody Loves a Clown so there might be some spoilers from the first two shows of Season 2 and some references to events in Season 1. Mention of events from another story of mine 10:42 a.m. exist, but you don't need it to understand this one. I really don't know anything about repairing cars, and all advice came from my father who had a '67 Pontiac. All errors are my own.
John confronted Sam. Enraged. "This is all your fault. You insisted on joining the hunt. You are the reason Pastor Jim and Caleb are dead. If Meg hadn't had your phone number, the demons couldn't have used their lives to blackmail me about the Colt. They wouldn't have found me if I had been on my own. Now look at what's left! You were weak. The demon is still alive. The Colt's gone. I'm DEAD!" His father's figure filled Sam's line of sight as his words filled his ears before all was consumed by flames.
Sam shot upright from where he slept on the sofa bed. Another nightmare. A new one. His breath came in short gasps and goose bumps covered his arms. He cocked his head to hear if he had awakened either Bobby or Dean. He wasn't sure if he had cried out during his nightmare. Nothing. Their doors remained closed. Sam swung his feet around and winced when they touched the chilly floor. He carefully transformed his bed into a sofa again. He padded softly down the hall to the bathroom but decided against showering yet. The darkness outside was still complete, and he hoped the others could finish a good night's rest even if he couldn't. Sam threw on a hoodie against the early morning chill, stepped outside, and gently closed the door behind him.
The moon had set but the lights around the yard still silvered the scattered husks of men's dreams. Sam ambled through the yard until he reached the Impala. Bobby had hauled it to the far side of the yard so junk divers wouldn't annoy Dean while he worked on his car. Sam ran his hand lightly over the trunk. His fingers couldn't find the welds, but his memory still saw the jagged hole that had penetrated the surface. He knew when it had happened; he'd heard the tumult right after his confession of guilt to Dean and heart-wrenching plea about Dean's rigid self-control and lack of acknowledgement. Hearing the smashing glass and impact of metal on metal, he had been torn. Sam wanted to help Dean; Dean wanted nothing from him. Not now. Maybe not ever. It tore his heart to be rebuffed by Dean. Sam needed to talk, to find some solace, to come to grips with what had happened. Dean needed to be left alone.
Once Sam would have called Pastor Jim or even, heaven forbid, the acerbic Caleb. Those options were forever closed to him. Words spoken within his latest nightmare tumbled back down on him. He'd taken psych as one of his freshman courses and remembered that dreams often reflected turmoil within the unconscious mind. He had wondered why Meg had called his number rather than John's. John had hidden from the demons successfully on his own. How accurate was Nightmare John's accusation? His thoughts spiraled down into a deep pit as he focused on this newest theory in his growing litany of self-blame. He sat in the Impala's shell, in his seat, and turned his gaze inward. The stars continued their rotation above him.
Wandering into the kitchen a little after six, Bobby glanced at the sofa. It looked like Sam had been awake a long time. When he'd offered the boys a choice between the guest bed and the sofa, he'd been surprised when Sam had chosen the couch. His lanky frame was really too long for it. He had to sleep angled and his feet still hung off the edge. After a few days, though, it became apparent that Sam wasn't sleeping much. Concerned, Bobby watched shadows darken beneath Sam's eyes while the bruises healed. He kept waiting for Dean to notice and remark on them but nothing was said. Bobby wanted to say something, to interfere, to break down the wall growing between them. They still joked with each other, sniped at each other, but the topics were cursory and didn't touch on what had happened to them at all. Bobby's tentative attempts had been rebuffed by both. Dean just left the room with the pretense of needing to be someplace else while Sam had just looked at anything other than Bobby. They were powder kegs ready to explode.
He wasn't completely comfortable with either boy wandering around the yard alone. He had built wards into the fence but those weren't as sound as he had believed. Meg had proven that. He couldn't place demon roach motels everywhere. He needed to get his new puppy, England, trained fast. Animals could sense the paranormal but puppies were so easily distracted. Bobby was at a loss. Years ago, he'd kicked John out of his place for being pig-headed and reckless. His recklessness had cost him his life and now threatened his sons' equanimity. He figured John had made some sort of deal in regards to Dean but still. . .The cost was more severe than maybe even John had reckoned.
Two weeks ago, Sam had called from a hospital and begged Bobby to come and tow the Impala back to his yard. They'd fought the demon and lost. The car was a total ruin, reflecting the wreckage of the elder brother who was seriously injured, and Sam wouldn't abandon either. Bobby had been asked to pick up supplies for John; supplies that probably had led to his death. While towing the Impala to his yard, his phone rang. Dean's voice, unexpected but welcome on the other end, had lifted his spirits from a pit of despondency. They plunged back with the news of John's death. Dean was worried about Sam who was heading to the motel where he claimed Bobby was also staying and could help him cope. Sam had lied. Dean hung up with the goal of finding his brother. Bobby heard nothing from them until they showed up at his door a few days later. They were beaten and shell-shocked. He offered them his home; they accepted. Dean spent every daylight hour working on the Impala. Sam rattled around the house and the yard with nothing to do. His computer had been destroyed in the crash. Borrowing a minivan, he'd gone into town. He never discussed his errand but packages began to arrive with parts for the Impala. Dean accepted them with equanimity. Impasse.
Dean dragged into the kitchen, drawn by the scent of freshly brewed coffee. Filling a cup with the bitter liquid, he plopped down into a chair and rested his chin in his hands.
"What's on the schedule, Dean?"
"I've got the radiator, hoses, fan belt, and fan blade that I need to install. The filler I fixed the side dents with should have dried overnight so I can sand those down. I still need to check the fuel pump, both shocks, wheel struts, brake lining, and hoses. I don't know how long that will take."
"Sounds like you have a lot to do. Why don't you get Sam's help?"
Dean snorted. "You got to be kidding me! He knows nothing about cars. Besides he . . ."
"Nothing," Dean growled. If Sam was with him, he'd want to talk. He refused to understand that Dean had no desire to share anything about John's death with Sam. Sam's admission the other day had come close to breaching Dean's wall right then and there. He'd held off long enough for Sam to leave before lashing out. Dean wasn't sure what made him angrier. Sam choice to be a hunter now, rather than when John and Dean had needed him. Sam admitting his actions were "Too little. Too late." Sam trying to get Dean to admit his own pain. John's secret. Dean's utter loss. His father had been his world, and his world had come crashing down around him. Only Sam kept him back from the edge of insanity. He pushed back his chair and, without another word to Bobby, went into the auto yard. He needed to get his own emotions back under lock and key.
Sam heard Dean stomping across the yard. It sounded like he didn't want company so Sam ducked out the opposite way. What to do today. He skirted the edge of the yard and headed back towards the house. God, he missed his laptop. With it, he could look for things to hunt. Dean had come alive when they'd gone after that killer clown. They were both still off their game, but they had destroyed it. Maybe Ellen could suggest something. The screen door hit him on the butt as he stopped in the doorway. How well had his father known her? She had said it had been a while since she'd seen John, but she knew other hunters. Had she known Pastor Jim and Caleb? Did she know about their deaths? Sam had thought they were a small, select group. He could count the number of hunters he knew of on both hands. Her words implied the group was larger than either Sam or Dean had imagined. Sam walked into the kitchen and sank down at the table. He nodded an abstracted greeting to Bobby.
Bobby took one look at Sam's face, got up, and poured the boy a cup of coffee. He added milk and took the sugar jar with him to the table. He wanted to weep at the lost look on Sam's face. He only knew bits and pieces of what the youngest Winchester had been through the past year. He knew the boy had lost his girlfriend in the same way their mother had been murdered. Pastor Jim had called him about eight months ago to warn him. Dean had been calling him for advice since her death. Jim had wanted their friends to be aware of what had transpired so that awkward conversations might be avoided if the boys showed up. Dean had been worried about Sam's emotional state. From what Bobby had seen, any improvement was now erased. Worse, the trauma was magnified with this new loss. Dammit! Couldn't the Winchesters ever get a break? He hated to leave Sam alone right now, but he had a customer coming in and needed to get ready. He had tried to draw him out in conversation but the boy just clammed up. Bobby knew he needed to talk, just not to him. He didn't know Bobby that well and while Bobby knew he was trusted, it just wasn't with Sam's emotional turmoil.
Bobby took a deep breath. "Hey Sam, you want to help me today? I've got a shipment of parts coming in, and a dealer coming to check out some cars that he might be able to use. I can't take care of both at the same time."
"Yeah, I guess so. You want me to wait here for the delivery guy or in the office?"
"Office, please. The earliest anything might arrive is 9. Plus, I have a box of books coming in too. Go ahead and open it. There's bound to be something there you'll like. I ordered it from an estate sale of some occult collector."
Sam perked up at the thought of new texts to explore. Maybe there would be something that could help Dean and him combat the demon. Sam had been trying to memorize as many common rituals as he could. He knew he'd probably have to perform another exorcism at some time and not relying on a book would be a boon. When he'd dropped the text on the plane when fighting that demon, he'd almost failed to finish the ritual in time. The intense concentration he needed to memorize the texts helped take his mind off current events as well. Sam declined Bobby's offer of breakfast claiming he wasn't hungry. His stomach was as numb as his heart.
Bobby came close to calling his customer and canceling. He was really uncomfortable leaving Sam alone right now. Something in the boy's eyes was making his nervous, but he couldn't pinpoint what caused his trepidation. But he needed the income, if nothing else than to pay for more obscure texts, so he left Sam with the intent of checking on the boy throughout the day. He would make it a point to return for lunch and insist that Sam eat something. His lanky frame had no extra flesh to spare and if he got hurt, which he was bound to do given his current occupation; there would be few resources for his body to use for healing.
After nursing his coffee, Sam went to take a shower. Toweling his hair dry, he wandered into the living room. Stacks of books went from floor to ceiling. Sam had been sorting the texts by culture and language. They still were in stacks on the floor but at least he had a better idea of where to find what he wanted more quickly. Bobby had noticed and left it alone. To be honest, his filing system was haphazard and Sam's system made life easier. Of course, when Sam finally left, who knew how long the organization would last. He looked at the clock, took the towel back to the bathroom, and headed towards the office.
Dean tried to forget everything while working on the Impala. He narrowed his focus until he only saw and thought about the specific part he was working on. He was meticulous in removing each piece to see if it could be salvaged. No part escaped his scrutiny. When the car left under its own power, Dean wanted it growling like a tiger. He needed this one thing to be dependable. Unlike his family, the Impala had never let him down. "Stop it!" He told himself. His hands dropped down to his chest, the wrench thudded into the dirt. The scent of his father's burning flesh filled his nostrils again and a sob escaped him. Under the car, no one could see his face or hear him. "I'm fine!" Dean told himself. Yeah right. He couldn't convince himself but he had to convince others. If he couldn't, Sammy would badger him to "talk." Well, Dean didn't want to talk. He wanted to bury everything inside. He would let his anger out when he killed anything they hunted. He almost felt sorry for their next target, whatever that was. He veered away from the memory of his own words. A week after Jessica's death, Dean had been terrified for Sam. His brother had been so full of rage and hurt that it scared Dean. "All that anger, you can't keep it burning over the long haul. It's gonna kill you." Sam had kept the whole story from him. Bloody Mary had seen Sam's secret and Sam had almost paid with his life. He hadn't trusted Dean with the truth. Only when a nightmare had shown another's death did Sam admit to his visions. Dean still did not know what to make of Sam's abilities. He knew they were valid, had used them to help others, but they spooked him. When Sam went blank, Dean was shaken to the core. The demon had admitted to knowing about Sam's abilities. Hell, it had known he'd had them when he was only six months old. It took Sam another 22 years to learn what the demon had known from the start. It had taken their father a little less time to find out more. Dean veered away from those thoughts. He couldn't do anything about that. Not yet. Until then, he would just have to keep on killing as many evil sons-of-a-bitches as he could. He reached for the wrench and removed another part.
Bobby's new puppy, England, woke him with an insistent whine. He needed out. Now. The puppy rushed out of Bobby's room and headed towards the back door. Bobby had tried to keep him chained outside, but the little bugger had howled. To get any sleep at all, Bobby had to let him stay inside. Walking softly through the living room, Bobby was surprised; Sam was still asleep. Hopefully, the puppy wouldn't disturb him. After England was done, he scooted back inside. Bobby turned around but was halted by Sam moaning. The young man's head began tossing on his pillow and he seemed distraught. So, this was what kept Sam up at all hours. Nightmares. He should have suspected. Bobby was deliberating whether he should disturb him or not when that decision was taken out of his hands.
Sam screamed and surged out of the covers. He thrashed around wildly, trying to fend off something Bobby couldn't see. Bobby checked his wards but they were unbroken. What was after the boy? The light flared on as Dean lunged into the room. He locked gazes with Bobby before going towards Sam. Dean crouched out of the flailing arms' reach and called his brother's name. Reason still did not reside within the boy's eyes and Bobby started forward. Dean put up one hand; palm out to halt his movement. As Sam stilled, Dean inched forward until he could grasp Sam's arm. His brother did not acknowledge his presence at all; he gasped for air with lungs squeezed by fear. Bobby retreated to a chair followed by England. The pup knew something was up and licked Bobby's hand for reassurance, whimpering.
"Sammy! Come on, dude, wake up. What's wrong?" Dean was afraid it was a vision. He wasn't so sure they were ready to deal with something Sam had dreamt about. Those dreams had all been related to the demon in some way. He didn't know what would happen if they ignored such a vision though. He hoped they weren't about to find out.
Sam's tremors began to desist. He gained control of his breathing and the knowledge of where he was seeped into his thoughts. The light was on and both Dean and Bobby were in the room. His secret was out. Now Dean knew the nightmares were back in full force. It had been a few months since his last intense nightmares about Jess. The visions had replaced them. He glanced through his bangs at Dean to check his reaction.
"Was it a vision?"
"No, just a nightmare. Please, just go back to bed." Sam expression was truculent, his jaw jutted out in defiance. Dean hadn't wanted to talk before and Sam was too abashed to ask for help now. He had mentioned his guilt to Dean. Surely his brother would leave him alone. Surely Dean could figure out the topic of his dream. "You already told me not to lay my issues onto you so. . .please. . . go away, go back to sleep. I'll deal with it." Sam dropped his eyes. He didn't know if his words would hurt Dean but right then he didn't care. Nightmare John's hateful words still echoed in his ears and Dean had worshipped the man, had never been at odds with the man like Sam had. Sam didn't want to knock Dean's hero off his pedestal. Sam's thoughts drifted back to his dream and he had to work to pull himself back into the present.
Dean was truly conflicted. He was so used to Sammy's nightmares about Jessica. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know about Sam's new nightmare. From the way Sam was acting, he didn't think so. He reached towards Sam who shrunk back slightly. Dean was hurt but knew he had only himself to blame. Sam had always come to him with his problems when he was young. During his absence at school, Sam had been alone. Dean knew that Sam had not confided in Jess about his past at all. He wondered how she had dealt with his nightmares. They started right before Dean had dragged him off to Jericho, before Jessica's death. Once they had left Stanford after the fire, Sam had put off Dean's questions, admitting to the nightmares but not sharing the details.
Sam got off the bed and staggered towards the bathroom. "Go to sleep. I'll be fine."
Dean's turned to Bobby, silent witness to the whole scene. Dean plunked into the chair next to Bobby. "Were you here when this started?"
"Yeah, England needed outside. When I came in here, Sam was having a nightmare. I was trying to decide whether to wake him when he woke up. What's going on Dean? Jim had mentioned that Sam had nightmares but I've never seen ones this intense."
Dean sighed, "You haven't seen the worst ones." He sighed again. "I don't know if I can talk to him. I'm not sure I can handle what he might tell me. I don't want to know what Sam might tell me. I need. . ." Dean's voice dropped to a whisper. "I want things to be like they were before."
Before what, Bobby had only a guess. But here was the opening he'd been looking for. "I know you looked after Sam since he was a kid. Hell, you both were kids but still, you watched over him. Have you looked at him lately? You are going to lose him if you don't do something."
"What do you mean 'lose'? Sammy's not going to die on me."
"Don't be too sure of that. That boy doesn't eat; neither of you eat, but you've got more muscle on you than he does. He can't sleep, just look at his eyes and tell me he is. Every morning I come in here and he's gone. If you boys go on another hunt and run into some other demon or The Demon, you'll lose. You need to trust each other again. I don't know what happened between you two but without that trust, one or the other of you will die."
Dean sat back. Was that what was behind Sam's decision to "do what Dad would have wanted?" Did he have a death wish? Dean had pushed him away, needing to encapsulate his own grief while shutting out his brother's. He looked up as Sam entered the room again. He cleared his throat, "Sammy. . ."
"Don't patronize me. Don't listen to me out of guilt. I need to learn how to deal with it on my own, right?" Sam sank back onto his bed and turned his back on his brother.
Bobby tried to be unobtrusive as he could as he left the room. He hoped the boys would be able to clear the air, but he didn't think it would be tonight.
"Sammy." Dean moved over next to his brother. Sam's words hurt. He'd always trusted that Dean could fix things. Now he knew that Dean didn't want to. Not now. Letting Sam's pain even touch his awareness tore at Dean. How could he survive it? He tried again. "Sam, I'm worried about you. Why didn't you tell me…"
"Tell you! I've tried and all you do is accuse me. I know I wasn't a good son to Dad. I know I hurt him; I hurt him as much as he hurt me. But I can't apologize to him. I can't do anything anymore. And you. You sit there and judge me. You say I'm not dealing with Dad's death. He sent me off without another word or even another thought and that's all I have. Well, I'm doing the best I can and if that's not good enough for you, too bad! It's all I've got." Sam's words sputtered to a halt.
Dean heard his own words thrown back at him. He wished he hadn't lashed out at Sam that afternoon but he hadn't been able to hide his own anger any more. "The only thing I said was that you picked a fight with Dad right before he died and you feel guilty about it. You need to deal with it because you can't make it right. He . . ." His lie came back to bite him. When asked about their father's final words, Dean had claimed there were none. He had been afraid that if he admitted some of what John had said that the rest would come tumbling off his tongue. He hadn't been ready to talk about that at all. His dad had praised Dean and told him, once again, to "watch out for Sammy." The rest. . .Dean scrambled to bury that once again in the deepest recesses of his memory. He tried another angle. "Sam. You remember Mom's spirit?" At his brother's nod of affirmation, Dean continued. "She recognized the adult you, she knew what had happened to you. I mean she apologized." At the time, Dean had assumed it was because of Jessica. Now. . .maybe she was talking about something else. Never mind. Let Sam believe Jessica was her reason. "I'm sure Dad, wherever he is, knows you don't hate him. I know you were worried about me when you said it." He looked at his brother to gauge his reaction. Bobby was right. Sam's face was gaunt.
Sam's hands hung down between his knees. Dean's words rolled over him. He heard them but they really didn't sink in. All he heard was the accusations of John Winchester in his nightmares. Maybe one day he could talk to Dean about them. Today sure wasn't that day. He sighed, lifted his head, and faced his brother. "I hope you're right. I hope Dad can know that I don't hate him." Unspoken was his fear that John was trapped somewhere where he couldn't see his boys. Where he was surrounded by flame. Where he needed to be rescued by his boys. Sam hoped his nightmare didn't turn into a vision of that. He knew they'd both go. Dean had already swore he'd go anywhere to get those who had killed their father. Would Sam have to show him the path? Would that vision haunt him? He shook himself and glanced at the clock. "Look, it's still a few hours until dawn. Try to get some sleep?"
Dean allowed himself to be pushed away by Sam. He could be persistent but not right now. His own foundation was rocky. He got up to head for his room. Turning, he looked down at his younger brother, seeing a younger Sammy shadowed within. "Sam, please try to get some sleep yourself." If we get called to a hunt, we need to be sharp." Seeing his words had little effect, Dean bared a bit of his soul. He squatted in front of his brother. "I need you. All we have is each other. Please…" his voice broke, "promise me you won't risk yourself."
Sam was comforted by the naked need briefly reflected in Dean's eyes. His brother hadn't completely shut Sam out. He opened a chink in his armor to show Sam that he was still important to him. Sam's unvoiced concern was that Dean would hate him completely for his final words to their father. That he'd hold John's death as somehow being his fault. He probably wouldn't get any more sleep tonight but the darkness now had a candle showing him the way home. A weak smile turned the edge of his mouth up. "I promise."
With that, Dean had to be content. They were both still so broken but the road to recovery was before them. It faded into the far distance but their steps would take them down it together.
The light in the living room went out. Sam lay back down. He wondered if his nightmares would ever stop. He knew of only one certain way to stop them but Dean made that choice an impossibility. He turned onto his side. He knew he wouldn't be able to shut his eyes the rest of the night and he hadn't been able to look at a ceiling at night for a year now. He'd traded one nightmare for another. He prayed it was the final trade. A third nightmare would make him break his promise. But if that happened, his promise wouldn't need to be kept and he could finally close his eyes in that sleep of death. He could only hope his dreams would then end.