Well, sadly, it seems people have lost interest in this one. Well, here's the final chapter. Thanks to those who are still following and have left reviews.
Faye Dartmouth and Geminigrl11 has been an incredible help on this story, thank you so much, ladies!
I own nothing. Reviews welcomed.
"Oh...oh, yeah..." Sam moaned.
"That feels so good," Dean added.
"God...this is incredible..."
Dean smiled lazily, "Mmmm, Sammy...we should have done this a long time ago..."
Sam frowned, or tried to; sheer enjoyment kept it from forming on his face. "I...I don't think I should tell Sarah about this..."
"Nah...she just wouldn't understand," Dean agreed. The masseuse's hands moved to his lower back, eliciting a deep, contented moan. "Besides, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas..."
"You always wanted to come here..."
"Worth the wait wasn't it, Sammy?"
Dean saw his brother's masseuse move her hands to Sam's shoulders just as he answered. "Oh...yeah..."
They'd arrived in town late that morning, a wreck on the Interstate holding them up during the early hours of the day, and checked in at a nice Fairfield Inn hotel two blocks off the Strip. The selling point was that it had a honeymoon suite available.
Dean decided that the funny look the receptionist gave the two of them when he asked for it was worth the embarrassment to get Sam and Sarah their own bedroom.
It wasn't one of the iconic mega-hotels that the town was famous for, but it more than suited their purposes. They were using some of the money from their Dad's insurance settlement, not the credit cards. They hadn't wanted to waste the money their Dad had somehow managed to secure for them; anything more than the dives they usually stayed in still felt like an extravagance.
Not that either of them really planned on splurging anyway. Dean was going to try some of the poker games, Sam wanted to take Sarah to some of the shows, and they needed to eat. That was about it.
Well, and this nice relaxing massage package that the---quite attractive---concierge at the hotel had suggested.
"I've got to bring Sarah here tomorrow..." Sam slurred.
"Thought you weren't gonna tell her…."
Sam mumbled something totally incoherent.
Dean grinned evilly. "You know, she'll probably get a guy for hers."
Sam managed a frown this time. "Hmm. Maybe I'll do it myself then..."
Dean groaned. "Too much information, little brother!"
Sam mumbled something unintelligible again as his eyes started to drift shut. Dean, with some effort, raised his very relaxed arm to swat at Sam's. "Hey...no sleeping. The sauna appointment's next."
"I'm glad you went with the package...it's worth the extra money..." Sam sighed.
Dean was right.
There was nothing quite like sitting on top of the Seattle space needle and drinking a beer with your brother.
All right, so it wasn't really the Seattle space needle. Heck, it wasn't even Seattle. But, it was Las Vegas' imitation of it, the Stratosphere Tower. The view of the city below, the Strip, and the desert beyond was spectacular.
They sat on the outside observation deck, by the railing, sipping beers. Sam was idly rubbing at the still sore, but fading, bruise on his neck from where Dean had injected him when he felt his brother's eyes on him.
"Neck still hurt?"
"Just a little. It's going away," Sam shrugged. He glanced over when Dean snickered, curious.
"You can tell people that it's a hickey."
He snorted, shaking his head. "I'm a little old for that, don't you think?"
The evil glint in Dean's eye told him he'd just walked into something. His brother confirmed that a moment later.
"Really? Then how do you explain all those turtle necks you wore the week after we took Sarah to the fair?"
Sam felt warmth rush to his cheeks and he silently cursed his ability to blush. "It was February, Dean. It was cold."
"Uh-huh," Dean nodded mockingly. "And that trip into the photo booth had nothing to do with it, right?"
Actually, that little photo booth had everything to do with it, he thought. But, he wasn't about to admit that to Dean. "Shut up."
"You never showed me those pictures, by the way---"
Dean looked impressed. "That X-rated, huh? I'm surprised. Little booth like that…there's not much room---"
"So, when do you need to pick her up?" Dean asked, changing subjects so fast that Sam barely had time to stew. He really did spend his life enduring Dean's attacks of being an ass…. He pushed his annoyance aside, with difficulty.
"Not 'til eight. Her plane was delayed."
Dean looked smug. "See? That's why I don't fly. Cars don't have schedule delays."
Sam smirked. "Oh yeah? I thought it was because every time you set foot on a plane you scream like a little girl."
Dean grimaced. "That only happened once, and it was during an exorcism!"
"Yep. And my Latin was really improved by your chorus of AHHHH!" Sam laughed, waving his arms in mock panic.
Dean glared. "Shut up."
Sam took another sip of his beer, relishing the conversation's sudden shift into his favor. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes. It was long enough for Sam to start thinking that he was lucky to be able to spend his life enduring these moments too.
But, there were other pressing matters waiting to be discussed. As always. And loathe though Sam was to be the one to initiate the conversation, he needed Dean's input.
"So…." Sam began, then faltered. He covered by taking another sip.
"So." Dean replied noncommittally. It wasn't the opening Sam had hoped for. He cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable.
"So…any advice on how to tell her?"
By the look on his brother's face, Sam knew that Dean understood the question. He was glad he didn't have to spell it out.
"The direct approach always works best," Dean said with a shrug, watching a plane land at the nearby airport. Sam stared at him incredulously until he amended. "Well, ninety percent of the time."
Sam frowned and followed Dean's gaze to where the little puddle-jumper was landing. "Somehow, I don't think that's the best plan."
Sam tried not to sound too condescending. "Sarah, hi! Glad you're here! Oh, by the way, my flashbacks are worse than ever and I put a guy in the hospital back in Denver because I flipped out and saw a dead vampire instead of him…."
Dean only nodded, obviously taunting him while he scanned the area to make sure no one could overhear them. "Pretty much like that. Except, I would add the fact that the guy was a multiple murderer and he deserved it."
Sam turned to stare at him. "Dean---"
His brother merely stared back, challenging.
Sam shook his head and backed down. "I can't do that."
Dean's starting to sound like a broken record, Sam mused. "I--- Because I can't."
Dean cocked an eyebrow. "Look, you said you wanted my help."
"Yeah, breaking the news to her, not breaking us up!" Sam snapped. Why wasn't Dean taking this seriously?
"What makes you think that she'll break up with you?"
"Dean---" Sam began, then paused, turning and placing his beer bottle on the table between them. "Dean, you of all people know what happens when you suddenly dump the truth on somebody."
Again, he could tell Dean knew what he was referring to, and for a moment, Sam wondered if he was using the psychic link again unintentionally.
"That was totally different," Dean said, waving his hand dismissively.
"Because Cassie thought I was just a normal, irresistibly sexy guy," Dean frowned when Sam rolled his eyes, but pressed on, "and when I told her what I did for a living, she thought I was crazy."
"And?" Sam asked, not following. "How's that different than this?" I've been lying to you and her for almost a month, pretending I was getting better.
Dean stared at him patiently. "You took Sarah ghost-hunting the second night that you knew her. She already knows you're crazy. She'll take this much better than Cassie."
Exasperated, Sam turned back to the railing with a huff, irritated that Dean was just cracking jokes at his expense. "You're impossible."
He heard Dean sigh. "Sam---"
Sam looked up when Dean paused, just in time to see Dean reach over and snag Sam's phone from the table top. He hit a few buttons and scrolled down something on the screen. He turned it over and held it out. "Read this."
He did as he was told, confused, reading one of his saved messages. It was from Sarah, received a few weeks earlier; one day when they kept missing each other's calls. The words on the screen caused his mouth to tug into an automatic smile. Dean snapped his fingers.
"See? That right there. That stupid little grin you get when someone even mentions her name. I guarantee you that she does the same thing when she thinks about you. That's why it's different."
Sam frowned, blinking when his eyes moistened. Okay, maybe Dean was taking this seriously. He sighed and deactivated his phone. "I don't know, Dean…."
Dean was frowning back at him. "Look, Sam. You said that you were going to start being honest with me and Sarah. That you were gonna start trusting me. You backing out on that?"
His head jerked back at that. "No, Dean…of course not…."
"Then trust me. I know women and I know her. I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't believe it."
Sam considered his brother's words and face for a moment, then nodded. "Okay."
"Okay?" Dean pressed.
He smiled sadly and nursed his beer. "Yeah. You're right. I have to face the music on this."
Dean nodded triumphantly. "Damn straight. And believe me, you'll feel a helluva lot better when you do. Just trust her, Sam."
Sam just nodded and turned back to the view. He watched Dean do the same out of the corner of his eye. A thought occurred to him and he smirked.
"If you're wrong, and she does break up with me? We're gonna come back here, and I'm gonna throw you over that railing."
Dean stared at him for a long moment, then laughed and took a swig of his beer. "That sounds fair."
Sam stepped out into the main room of the suite, dropping onto one of the stools by the small bar to pull on his shoes. Dean was sitting at the table, tapping keys on the laptop.
"You leaving to pick Sarah up?" Dean asked, glancing from the screen only briefly.
"Yeah, I'm gonna leave in a minute," Sam replied, noting with some dismay that his voice was quivering.
Dean did look up now. "You okay?"
Sam shifted from foot to foot, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I'm a little nervous."
"Don't worry about it. She's into you…for some reason."
That made Sam frown, but he wasn't sure if it was due to the comment, or the fact that he couldn't muster a comeback to it. His brother noticed the expression.
"Sammy, relax. It'll be fine."
The words didn't offer much reassurance, despite their intent. Sam shook the worry off and busied himself with gathering his watch, wallet, and the car keys. He glanced over at Dean a few times, trying to see what he was doing on the computer, but the screen was angled away. He switched to the direct approach, emulating his big brother's advice.
"So, what are you looking at?" Sam smirked. "Busty Asian Beauties dot com again?"
Dean grinned. "No, I only do that when you're asleep."
"Ugh," Sam groaned. "I don't want to know why…."
A smile played across Sam's face. The banter was helping his nerves. Normally, he'd be thrilled just to see Sarah, let alone spend a few days on vacation with her. But, this time was different. He had to break the news to her that he'd been dishonest about his recovery, and that his flashbacks had hurt someone. In Sam's mind, it didn't matter that the guy, as Dean had pointed out, deserved it. The lapses in control---hell, they were practically black outs, since Sam sometimes couldn't remember what he'd done---made him dangerous.
That realization had triggered a new line of thought over the past few days. If the flashbacks made him dangerous to others, including Dean, then was it even safe for Sarah to be around him?
That idea made him queasy.
Dean didn't agree. He argued that, for all the repressed anger and frustration, and regardless of the incident in Denver, Sam hadn't actually hurt him during any of the episodes. He'd come close twice, but had always come out of it before anything happened. Dean used that as reassurance to Sam that Sarah should be safe. Sam desperately wanted that theory to be true.
The sound of snapping fingers broke his concentration.
"Sammy? Hey, you zoned out on me for a second there."
Sam pushed his thoughts aside with a shrug and shook his head at Dean, indicating that it was nothing. Dean wasn't ready to drop it so easily, though.
"What's going on, Sammy? Something we need to talk about?"
He shrugged. "No…I, just--- Just the past few days have me worried. What if…what if I flip out around Sarah?"
Dean shook his head. "We've been over this, Sammy. You didn't hurt me when you had those flashbacks. I think you'd catch yourself the same way if she was around when it happened. You're just OCD-ing again."
Sam snorted. "Uh, 'OCD-ing' isn't a verb, you know?"
His brother had already turned back to the laptop when he released a long-suffering sigh. "Shut up, geek."
Sam glanced at his watch. He only had a few minutes before he had to go. He looked back at his brother and gestured at the laptop.
"Dude, come on. You've been on that thing for days. Tell me what you've been looking for. I can help."
Dean sighed, but turned the monitor around so Sam could see. He saw a webpage devoted to the treatment of PTSD open in one window, and the contact info for a doctor in another.
"Doctor Gamble? She was the doctor in Ohio…."
"Yeah," Dean confirmed quietly.
"You want to get in touch with her?"
Dean nodded again. "I, uh--- Actually, I think we should go see her."
A shiver traveled down Sam's spine. Going back to that hospital---to that town---wasn't something he wanted to do. Ever.
Dean seemed to be the one reading minds this time. "Hey, Sammy...I know man. I wouldn't think of going back there if we didn't need to."
"What do you think she can do?"
"Well, before we left, she talked a lot about getting you some drugs and stuff like talking to---"
"I talk to a shrink and I'll go into a straightjacket for sure, you know that."
"Dude," Dean admonished, holding up a hand. "Chill. You're not gonna talk to any shrink. But she talked about some anti-anxiety drugs before I signed you out. Honestly...I mean--- I was hell-bent on getting you out of that town, and I didn't listen to her that well. But, I think maybe some medication could help. Hell, at least it might take the edge off, you know?"
Sam was still stuck on the whole returning-to-the-town-where-he-was-abducted part, but he shrugged and tried to be open-minded. "I dunno…. Do you think she'd even talk to us after so long?"
"She was the doctor on the scene. I'm sure she'd understand."
A half-hearted nod was all Sam could muster. Saying "I don't want to go back there" wouldn't be helpful. It would be childish.
And it wouldn't even scratch the surface of his feelings on the matter.
Dean, as usual, had little difficulty deciphering his moods by just looking at him. "Hey, dude. I get it, all right? I swore I wouldn't go back there either. But, look…the hospital's outside of town. We'll go there, talk the doc into prescribing something that will help, and we'll get right back on the Interstate. We won't be there two hours, I bet---"
"Okay," Sam put up a hand, stopping Dean's sales pitch. "Okay, I get it."
"I gotta go. Sarah's plane lands in a few minutes," Sam said quietly, turning for the door. Dean's voice stopped him.
"Sammy? Think about it?"
Sam's hand was on the door handle. "I think you have a good idea, Dean. It's just going to be hard being back there. But, I think you're right."
He stepped out before Dean could answer.
"That was freakin' awesome!" Dean exclaimed as they left the auditorium.
"See? I told you that you'd like it," Sam grinned walking beside his brother, with Sarah on his arm. After a lot of cajoling and arguing, he'd convinced Dean to join them at a late showing of the Blue Man Group.
Dean had objected, saying that he wouldn't like "that new-age music crap." But, Sam had persisted, and eventually, his brother had caved.
As Sam had anticipated, Dean loved the show, and already wanted to see it again.
It had started raining while they were inside, and an impressive nighttime downpour had developed. They'd left the Impala at the hotel after dropping Sarah's luggage off, and so Dean offered to flag them down a taxi. He disappeared into the crowd in front of the casino, leaving Sam and Sarah alone. They moved off to the side, away from the crowd, so that Sam could keep Dean in sight.
"You've been quiet tonight," Sarah ventured.
Sam tried to smile, and brush it off, but failed at both. "Just been thinking. Dean wants me to do something…but I don't know if I can."
She blinked at him. "What does he want you to do?"
Sam hesitated. He didn't want to get into a long conversation out here on a crowded sidewalk, so he kept it simple. "Go back to Ohio."
"Back to Ohio...as in, back to where...?"
"Why?" Sarah asked, frowning.
He hesitated. Intellectually, he knew Dean was right. He knew he needed to clear the air with Sarah and be honest. Dean was absolutely right.
But Dean wasn't the one who had to stand in front of her and do it.
"It's part of that 'long story' I need to tell you," he hedged, feeling more than a little cowardly.
"Hey, guys! Come on, I got one!" Dean shouted from the curb. A minivan taxi was waiting behind him. Sam turned back to Sarah. "I'll tell you everything later, okay? I promise."
She nodded, and started to head for their waiting ride. He stopped her and pulled her into an embrace. "I missed you."
"Enough with the PDA, man! Let's go!" Dean yelled cheerily. Sam reluctantly let go and escorted Sarah to the car. He tried to ignore Sarah's concerned eyes on the ride back.
Sam bolted upright, not even fully waking until he was sitting up. He dabbed at the sweat that poured down his forehead. When he could breathe normally again, he glanced around, trying to find his bearings in the darkened room.
The dream had been an intense jumble of images, ranging from the cabin to the dark void to the motel in New Mexico. The one that stood out clearly though, was the one where a white-eyed version of himself was holding Sarah tightly in his clutches, leering at the real him over her shoulder.
It was only a dream, he assured himself, blinking his eyes to help them adjust to the dimness of the bedroom. He realized that he should probably try and be quiet too late, as a pair of warm hands wrapped themselves around his shoulders.
He looked back, just making out Sarah's face amongst the shadows. "Sorry…."
"Nightmare?" she asked softly. He nodded, but then wondered if she could even see him in the gloom. His question was answered when the hands on his shoulders pulled backwards. He considered resisting, and sitting up against the headboard, but the thought died quickly and he allowed her to pull him down onto the pillow. Her hands slid under his arms and held him.
"Wanna talk about it?"
He fought down the "not really" that was on the tip of his tongue. He'd been putting this off all night, and thought he had managed to delay this conversation until the following morning.
As usual, his luck was nowhere to be found.
Pressing his forehead against hers, he whispered. "That story's a little longer than I let on. You sure you want to hear it?"
"I've got all night," she said, kissing his cheek.
Buoyed by her support, Sam took a deep breath and told her everything. About how he hid his true problems from her and Dean. About Denver. About hearing Dean's thoughts. About Anthony and the hellish week he and Dean had spent in New Mexico.
When he finished, almost an hour later, Sarah stunned him. She didn't pull away. She wasn't furious about him lying to her.
In fact, there was no initial reaction. He had just finished telling her about Anthony, eyes tightly shut not only against the memories, but out of fear of her reaction.
"I'm glad you're okay."
Her concern took him by surprise, and he stammered, eyes opening wide.
"S-Sarah, I--- I--" He wasn't sure what he was trying to say. Sam didn't think he could stand it if she reacted the way Dean had. He needed her to be mad, he deserved it.
"Did he hurt you? I saw Dean's bruises, and this," she said quietly, her hands ghosting over his still bandaged forearm.
"Sarah...I lied to you..." he said. He felt like no one was getting it. No one understood how wrong he'd been. How many times he'd lied. Why didn't they see it?
"Yes," she whispered, pulling him closer. "That was pretty stupid."
He blinked. It wasn't much of an admonishment, but it caught him by surprise. "I'm sorry."
Sarah shook her head once, her fingers rubbing at his bandaged arm gently. "Don't say you're sorry. Just tell me that you're going to be okay."
Sam wasn't sure what to say to that. "I'm trying to be..."
She nodded, and they lay silently for a moment. Sam wanted to speak, but had no clue what to say. He knew he'd hurt her, just as he'd hurt Dean; he just didn't know how to fix it.
"Sarah…I'm so sorry. Please believe that…."
"I do," she looked at him again, shifting slightly beside him. "But…did you think you couldn't trust us? Me?"
Just like that, he was reduced to stammering again. "I--- It's just… I just couldn't keep piling my problems on you two. You and Dean both did so much for me…but I wasn't getting any better. I couldn't tell you that. Not after everything you did for me…."
"We weren't keeping score, Sam. You should have told us. Told me."
"I was just tired of feeling helpless," he whispered miserably, unable to meet her eyes, even in the dark.
Sarah moved again, wrapping her arms around his neck and placing her forehead against his again. She sighed. "Is Dean gonna kick your ass for this?"
The question blindsided him, and he couldn't stop the bubble of laughter that rose through him. "Yeah…you're gonna have to get in line."
His smile was short lived; a loud voice in his head telling him that he no more deserved her absolution than he had Dean's. He would have handled it better if they'd been furious with him. Anger, he could deal with...even groveling for forgiveness.
But being forgiven so easily…he wasn't sure his psyche could handle that.
"Why does Dean want you to go to Ohio?" Sarah asked suddenly.
Sam was startled, but recovered quickly. He took it as a test, even though she was probably just asking a simple question. To him, it was so much more. He wanted to be honest. He wanted to trust her and show it. This was his chance.
"He wants to go see the doctor that fixed me up. He thinks she might have some meds or something…maybe take the edge off my flashbacks," he said sheepishly.
Sam saw her nod in the darkness. "I'm gonna cancel my flight back. I'd like to go with you."
He blinked for a moment. His first instinct was to keep her away from such a meeting. The conversations with the doctor were probably going to force him to uncover a lot of issues he had buried, and he wasn't sure he wanted Sarah to hear them. It was bad enough that Dean would have to witness it.
Another, stronger part of him didn't care about the potential humiliation. That part insisted that having her there, by his side, would only make it easier.
He chose to listen to that part of himself.
"Anything you want," he said softly. "I want to do things differently this time."
The morning sun was far too bright for Dean's taste.
He sat at the table, sipping coffee and nursing a blistering hangover. After escorting Sam and Sarah back to the hotel and safely tucking the lovebirds away, he'd gone downstairs looking for a drink. Turned out there was a bar, and after a long conversation, he had taken the very sociable concierge up on her suggestion of a nightcap.
He'd just gotten back to the room about an hour before, just long enough to shower and change clothes.
She, in fact, had a great deal of knowledge that went beyond her normal job duties, and he smiled at the memories of what he'd "learned."
His nighttime excursion had also, he hoped, given Sam some time to talk to Sarah. He'd watched them the previous night. His younger brother was all smiles around her, as always, but Dean knew that Sam had spent the better part of the night stalling.
Dean couldn't blame him. He knew that what Sam needed to tell his girlfriend would be difficult. And embarrassing for someone as proud as his little brother. But, the sooner Sam confessed to her, the sooner they could put this mess behind them.
So, being an excellent older brother, he'd walked them to the room, ushered them in, and then poked Sam hard in the ribs, mouthing silent orders to get it over with. Sam had reluctantly nodded, and Dean gave them a little privacy.
He just hoped Sam had done as he'd been told. Dean's pounding headache couldn't handle an argument this morning.
His musings, and his third cup of coffee, were interrupted when the bedroom door opened, and Sam entered the main room. Dean heard the shower running inside. He'd---wisely, he believed---taken the smaller bedroom, leaving the larger honeymoon suite to his all-too-noisy brother. Dean again gave silent thanks for the room's sound-proofing.
Sam stepped over to the kitchen and poured himself some coffee. "Hey."
Dean waved lazily, resting his chin on his hand and blinking heavily. Sam smirked and settled across the table from him.
"You just get back?" Sam asked, smiling knowingly.
"Hour ago. Our friendly concierge Sandy can really drink…." Dean muttered with a tired grin. Sam just shook his head.
"You up for breakfast?" Sam asked.
"Always…I hear the morning buffet at Caesar's is awesome."
"Your hangover's not gonna stop you?"
Dean scoffed. "Please, a little headache won't stop me."
"Okay," Sam laughed. "Soon as we're ready, we'll head over there."
"So," Dean started slowly, gulping down more coffee. "You talk to her?"
Sam sobered a little, but nodded. "Yeah, last night."
"She break up with you?"
"No," Sam smirked. "You get to live."
Dean returned the smirk, and finished off his caffeine. "Well? How'd she take it, then?"
Sam started to answer, but was interrupted when Sarah called out from the other room. "Hey, Sam? Can you bring me a towel? I forgot one."
Dean rolled his eyes. He'd heard that one before. Sam dutifully rose from the table, making a pathetic attempt to hide a smile, and moved back toward the bedroom. He paused and looked back at Dean.
"Wait for me, okay? I'll be right back."
"Oh, please," Dean groaned. "Think I forgot? The last time she 'forgot her towel' you didn't come out of the shower for an almost an hour!"
Sam's cheeks turned a deep shade of red, and he looked away. He would have appeared abashed had it not been for the small smirk he was wearing. "Yeah, but I came out clean…."
I know entirely too much about their sex life…I need to ask that doctor for some drugs, too…. Dean thought, rolling his eyes. He motioned for the door. "I'm going downstairs to get a cab. If you're not down in twenty minutes, you two can get your own ride."
Sam considered that for a moment, then held up four fingers. "How about forty minutes?"
"Thirty!" Dean shot back. It was his final offer. Sam grinned broadly and nodded, already turning for the bedroom.
"Hey, Sam?" Dean called. When his brother turned back, he gestured in Sarah's general direction. "I guess it went okay last night? You did tell her, right?"
Sam's smile sobered a bit, but was definitely still a happy expression. Content, even. "Yeah, it went fine. I took your advice."
Dean frowned at him questioningly. Sam's smile strengthened.
"I trusted her."
Sam nodded to him, then turned and vanished into the suite. Dean heard Sam talking in the bathroom, and he hastily grabbed a door key and left the room before he could hear any details.
As he closed the door behind him, he smiled to himself. Sammy had done good.
I trusted her.
"That's my boy," Dean whispered to himself. He headed downstairs. Maybe Sandy-the-concierge-plus was free to join them for breakfast.