Chapter 7 - Eremophobia
Disclaimer: I have no rights to anything in the universe of Supernatural. It all belongs to Eric Kripke.
The next morning, Caleb was awake before either Winchester. He puttered around the kitchen quietly to avoid waking Sam. Putting coffee on to brew, he tried to figure out how to approach Sam about his fear. He hoped a good night's sleep would go a long way to solving their problem by getting the cobwebs out of Sam's head so he could find his balance.
Adding cream to the coffee in his cup, Caleb turned around just as Sam entered the kitchen. His mop of hair practically obscured his eyes. Caleb was beginning to wonder if that was intentional. Hiding from notice was how the Winchesters kept on hunting, flying below society's radar. "You know where everything is, help yourself," Caleb said by way of greeting. "How are you feeling?"
"I don't know. I'm not as cold any more but the other stuff. . .I won't know until I see Dean." Sam looked out the window. "In all that stuff you read about that thing, was there any mention about how long the, I don't know, effects lasted?"
"I didn't find the info, Bobby did. If we need to, we'll call him later to see if he found anything else." Caleb was startled. He didn't remember Bobby mentioning anyone surviving the cauchemar so they wouldn't know about the length of its effect on dreamers. Oh man, this could be harder than he had thought. Caleb reached slowly and grasped Sam's forearm in silent support.
"Caleb. I hate this! I . . ." his voice broke off as Dean walked in.
Dean had heard voices in the kitchen. Moving quietly through the living room, he leaned on the wall next to the kitchen doorway, listening. Sam still sounded upset. His first waking thought that morning was the hope that Sam was over whatever it was that had freaked him out. Sammy didn't fear much and to now fear his own brother. . .Would the Winchesters ever get a break? He sighed and walked slowly into the kitchen. "Morning," he said, his eyes going directly to Sam as he slowly approached the coffee pot and Sam.
Sam inched away. He wasn't ok. Sleep hadn't helped. He looked at Caleb then Dean, "Caleb. . .Dean. . .I gotta. . ." Sam fled the kitchen without another word and went onto the front porch. He tried to get his breath back; why couldn't he control this fear? A wail built in the back of his head and only iron control kept it from reaching his throat.
Dean leaned against the counter. He wanted to be young again when Sam had trusted him implicitly. He wanted Sam to trust him. He needed Sam to trust him. The two men left behind exchanged glances. "What do we do? It's killing both of us having Sam afraid of me."
"Let's give him a minute and I'll go talk to him. Maybe if he can talk about it, it might help. You know," Caleb paused as a thought struck him, "The cauchemar was a supernatural creature. I wonder if we can find some ritual or spell to counteract its effects. I'll call Bobby and put him to work on it." Hope budded in Caleb. Looking at the elder Winchester, he could see how Sam's rejection hurt worse than all the wounds to his body. "Why don't you get a shower while I talk to Sam?"
Sam stared at the surrounding trees. He felt an emptiness in his life. Without his brother, Sam was alone. Dean had been the one true constant in his life. Faced with Dean's impending death after the rawhead fight, Sam had known he couldn't go on without his brother. But now, Sam couldn't even be near Dean without being afraid. Alone or afraid. Not much of a choice. Sam tensed as he heard footsteps behind him. He forced himself to hold still until Caleb came into view. He relaxed minutely, afraid of the condemnation he might hear. After all, Dean had taken care of him all his life and for Sam to treat him thus was harsh. He should be ashamed. He was ashamed. Anguish consumed him. How could he cope with this? He looked over at Caleb.
Caleb was struck anew by the pain in Sam's face. Sam's psychic wounds had pierced both boys deeply. "Let's take a walk." He led Sam around the back of the house and into a clearing. Sunlight was filtering through the trees as they sat on a fallen log. "Sam, the cauchemar drew out your worst memory and amplified it, attacked you with it. You were wounded just as surely as Dean was struck by that bar. I've got an idea but I think you will also need to talk with Dean about whatever it is you are remembering."
Sam swallowed heavily. "I guess you know about Jessica, huh?" Caleb nodded and Sam continued. "Well, I also saw Dean. A shapeshifter we fought took his form and tried to kill me. Right now, I keep seeing the joy that thing had as it choked me while wearing Dean's face. I still feel his weight on my chest holding me down. I don't see Dean, I see it. But that's not the worst of it. In an asylum, I got possessed or something and. . .I tried to kill Dean. I mean I pulled the trigger four times. He had been suspicious and removed the bullets but still. . . I tried. I know it bugged him but he refused to talk about it. Caleb," Sam was practically sobbing, "I can't see my brother any more. All I see are those memories that thing brought back. I can't. . ." Sam buried his face in his hands.
Caleb grasped his shoulder to let Sam know he was there. When the storm calmed, he cleared his throat. "I've got an idea but I don't know if it will work. In the meantime, I really think you two need to talk about this. It obviously stayed in your thoughts otherwise the cauchemar couldn't have used it. Come on back to the house, will you? This is Dean, your brother, the other thoughts are nightmares and don't exist any more."
Both men stood up and headed back to the house. Dean, standing watch at the screen door, moved away and sat on the couch. He wanted to seem as unthreatening as possible. Sam followed Caleb in, felt himself start to shake, and firmly got himself in hand. "Dean, we need to talk."
"Okay." He had a feeling this was going to be rough on both of them.
Caleb left the two alone and went into his office. Propping his feet on his desk, he dialed Bobby. "Hey man, it's me. You were right, it was a cauchemar. It's dead. We got a bigger problem though. . .It really got to Sam. . . He's kinda shell-shocked and isn't coping with what that thing made him see. . ." Caleb picked up a small throwing knife and began tossing it up and catching it on the way down. "Oh, the stuff deals with Dean. . . Yeah, it seems a shapeshifter turned into Dean and tried to kill Sam and Sam once tried to kill Dean when he was possessed. . .Yeah, that's what I said. . .I don't know if talking will work this out. You know Dean, he'll keep things inside and not talk. But he's real shaken by Sam's fear of him. I'm hoping that Sam will come out of it but I don't know. . .That's why I called you. I want you to see if you can find some kind of ritual or spell to break the cauchemar's effect on Sam. . .That's what I said. Look can you just try? . .I'll be here all day so just call back as soon as you can. . .Thanks!"
"Dean. I'm sorry. I can't seem to stop myself from jumping around you. I know it's not you I'm afraid of, I just can't. . ."
"What is it then that's got you spooked?"
"I kept seeing things over again and again. Jessica's death. That shapeshifter attack in St. Louis. . . and. . . me trying to kill you in Rockford." Sam peered up at Dean to gauge his response.
"I kinda thought that's what it was about," Dean flopped back against the couch and then reached out a placating hand to Sam who had jerked back at his sudden movement. God, this had to stop! It was tearing him apart seeing Sam like this. Okay, this was his baby brother but he was not a coward. Not until now. "Caleb had better figure this out or I will kill him," fumed Dean silently.
"Sam. I guarantee that shapeshifter is dead. You saw those two bullet wounds, one right in the heart. You know I'd never hurt you like it did, even when you are such a brat." Sam smiled slightly. "As for the asylum, I know you didn't want to kill me. But I also know you were angry at me. I had taken you away from Jessica, from your life, and then dragged you behind me after all sorts of things. You so wanted to escape Dad's and my world. Of course, you were furious. It tore me apart when you tried to kill me. To be honest, if we'd talked then I'd have probably said some pretty harsh things. But now, Sammy. . . now, I don't think that. Almost losing you to those hillbillies, I was so scared. I thought they'd shot you and I had told them to chose you over that sheriff. Your death would have been my fault." Dean looked up to see Sam's reaction. He had relaxed into his customary slouch with his hands slack on his thighs but against the couch's far arm. "Sam. You and Dad are the most important people in my life. I don't resent you for that attack. I've already forgiven you. You need to forgive yourself."
Sam looked at Dean before turning away. An old bruise on his heart finally began to heal. They heard the phone ring once before Caleb answered. Dean looked at Sam. Had he gotten through? It was true, he'd been hurt for a long time by Sam's attack but recent events had shown him how much Sam cared for him. Sam would do anything for his brother just as Dean would do anything for Sam. Both had a fear of being alone. Apart, they were broken, together they were a whole. They would fix this. Together.
Caleb strode into the room. "Bobby found something we can use," he announced triumphantly.
Sam sat cross-legged on the floor in the center of a pentagram. Dean stood at the point behind him. He had a hard time not flinching every time he heard Dean shift his weight or rustle the papers he held in his hands. His hands were clenched tightly on his thighs. At each of the five points were bowls holding different herbs used for purification and fighting negative thoughts. None of the men knew if this would work; it was Bobby's best guess. The spell was to defend against mental attacks by ghosts, but they figured the cauchemar's attack on Sam qualified. At this point, Sam was willing to try anything. He couldn't stand being afraid of Dean and he knew it was tearing Dean apart. He put his trust in this ritual. He looked up at Caleb.
The older man saw trust and fear fighting for control of Sam. He was worried. This had to work. Sam couldn't keep on living with this fear. Caleb knew if one Winchester went down, the other would soon follow. Those boys were two halves of a whole. Normally, this was a bonus, but now, it was a liability. Caleb lit the herbs. The combined scent wasn't that bad really. He nodded for Dean to begin.
Dean wished he'd rewritten the ritual in his own handwriting. Caleb's was crimped and slanted and hard to read in the dim light. When Caleb nodded, he asked Sam, "Ready?"
Sam took a deep breath. He could taste the eucalyptus within the smoke and it soothed his throat a tad. He cleared his throat, "Go ahead, Dean." He trusted his brother with his life. His mind knew that Dean would do anything for him; his unconscious mind didn't listen to its other half. Sam focused on his breathing, slowing it down, and clearing his mind of all thoughts. He heard Dean's voice begin reading the text, "Levo obscurum ex hic. . ."
Caleb backed off to one side. He seemed to see a shadow building over Sam. He squinted his eyes trying to see. Was it caused by the flickering flames or something else?
Dean kept on reading. He too had noticed the shadow. Being closer to Sam, he saw that it was oozing out of his head. He wondered if Sam felt anything. His voice gained strength with the knowledge that something was happening.
Sam was disconnected. He no longer felt the hardwood floor under him or the pain from the abrasions on his knuckles. He was able to breathe with greater ease. The coldness that had taken up residence in his chest was dissipating. Dean's voice came clearly to him once again with the words "sic mote is exsisto." Silence filled the room.
Both Caleb and Dean watched Sam. Would the dark influence of the cauchemar be ended? Dean saw spots; he'd been holding his breath since he'd finished speaking. "Sammy? How. . .?" He couldn't go on. If Sam wasn't better, what would they do? His brother had been under his protection since the beginning. Not being able to be the protector would leave a hole inside too great even for John to fill. He stepped towards Sam and stopped. If he jerked away. . . Despair threatened to rise.
Sam heard Dean move behind him, shuffling the papers in his hands. He waited to see what his body would do. When he didn't jump out of his skin, he smiled up at Caleb. He turned around and looked at Dean. Dean didn't know it but the smoke wreathing the room gave him an evil appearance. And Sam didn't care. His fear was gone. He held out his hand to Dean who grasped it as if at a lifeline. On his feet, Sam faced his brother and grinned. Dean felt his heart explode out the top of his head. His Sammy was back.
It had worked. Caleb half collapsed against the doorframe. He hadn't realized how tense he had been during the ritual. It seemed all was now well with the world. Stepping next to the two, he ruffled Sam's hair, getting the usual backhanded smack to the chest before he slapped Dean on the back. Dean's eyes were a clear green once again. The fear of being alone no longer clouded them. Sam laughed. "What's for dinner?" The other two joined in laughing as they headed towards the kitchen and three beers of celebration. Caleb let them precede him. He watched the two, comfortable in each other's presence once again and all was right in the world of the Winchesters boys.
A/N: Thanks to all of you who liked this story enough to read it all the way through. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. For those who didn't care to Google, the chapter headings mean: triskaidekaphobia - fear of Friday the 13th, agliophobia – fear of pain, acluophobia – fear of darkness, atychiphobia – fear of failure, aphephobia – fear of being touched, and eremophobia - fear of loneliness. Also the "spell" really isn't one. I just wrote two sentences and translated them into Latin via an internet translator. If it's an incorrect translation, please blame the webpage:" Lift the darkness from here" translates into "Levo obscurum ex hic" and "So mote it be" translates into "sic mote is exsisto"