Summary – Set a few months after the events of 'Further And Further Out'. Sam is still not entirely himself when a vision of their father in trouble sends a reluctant Dean off to track down John Winchester. AU, Contains wincest.
Disclaimer – Not my characters, I just use them improperly.
You like? You don't like? Review and tell me why! (Constructive criticism only please, if you don't like the subject, don't read the story.) This takes place after 'Further And Further Out', so you'll probably want to read that first :)
I'm back, and I bring more crazy!Sammy! Apologies to everyone who wanted another part to FMFC, it should be coming at some point, but this wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it… This is my attempt to incorporate a cool Monster Of The Week into my own little AU, hopefully with some kind of success :) This is also the first time I've used a quote from a song as a title (Sins And Tragedies doesn't count, that was paraphrasing :) ) but the song (actually the whole album) goes so well with crazy!Sam that I couldn't resist! So everyone go and listen to Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' because it is awesome :) Let me know what you guys think, and the next chapter should be up on Saturday…
Flowers were pretty.
Especially these particular flowers, with petals soft like worn cotton and stems smoother and greener than anything man-made, and leaves with thousands and thousands of tiny veins that were shiny on the top and rough underneath…
The middle of the flower was the most amazing thing though. The long, stalk-like part with yellow fuzz on the tip that came off on his fingers when he touched it and smelled like candy, and he lifted his hand to his mouth, because anything that smelt that good had to taste even better, right?
"Sam, no! Don't put that in your mouth, it's dirty!" A hand. A hand that wasn't his, pulling at his wrist gently. The hand looked like his, kind of. The same blunt nails, the same long fingers. His were more slender around the wrists though, and the palms not as broad. One of the fingers had a silver ring encircling it that flashed in the light, and Sam immediately reached out to touch, to stroke and feel the body-warmed metal with the tiny scratches on the underside that indicated wear.
"Sam, you with me here or am I talking to myself?"
Oh. Talking. Right.
"Dean?" Sam looked up, seeing his big brother standing over him, concern wrinkling his forehead. The sun was setting across the field behind Dean, casting a fiery glow over the earth that eclipsed the green of the lush grassland. It touched Dean's hair as well, turning the tips into burnt caramel-gold. A breeze touched his face, cool with autumn and tasting of dying brown leaves. Dean tugged his leather jacket around his torso. Sam closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of the chill air combing through his bangs.
Dean smiled uncertainly, like he wasn't sure Sam was one hundred percent there. Sam stifled a laugh. It did funny-tickling things to his chest and throat. "I'm okay, Dean."
"Yeah. Good. Well, Pastor Jim's cookin' up some steaks inside. You wanna come in now, tell him how you want it done?"
"Okay." He nodded compliantly.
Dean waited for him to stand, hovering protectively as he had taken to doing recently.
The old Sam probably would have bitched him out for it, made a stand for his independence. And a part of him did want to tell Dean to back off. But the logical side of his brain, what little there was of it left, said that it was better to have Dean around when his mind wandered. Especially when it happened in inconvenient places, like the middle of the Walmart parking lot. And it wasn't as if he could complain. He did get lots of petting and attention, which was nice, even if it made him feel kind of like someone's overfed house cat.
Dean took his arm carefully, tugging him toward the rectory. He held on until they got to the big door leading through to the kitchen at the back, which was good because it left Sam free to focus on the crunch of gravel beneath his sneakers and the interesting food-smells drifting out the open door.
Pastor Jim looked over at them with a smile as they stepped inside. In front of him a big pot was boiling on the stove, and he poked at a frying pan holding a large steak. "Sam. Did you enjoy the sunset tonight?"
Sam pulled his wandering attention away from the cooking food. "Yeah, it was pretty. The flowers smell nice."
"They do. Maybe tomorrow you can help me weed some of the flowerbeds at the front of the rectory while Dean gets started fixing some of those pews in the church?"
Dean stiffened beside him. From the corner of his eye, Sam saw his brother's mouth open like he was about to object, but a subtle shake of Jim's head cut him off before he could begin.
Sam frowned. Why was Dean upset? Had he done something wrong? He only said he liked the flowers.
The most frustrating thing about his condition, as everyone except Dean seemed to refer to it, was his inability to follow a thought through to its conclusion. It was like having a series of snapshots in his head; each one different and interesting and he could spend hours staring at all the minute details, but there was no way to link them together. Did this one come first, or this one? What happened afterward? He'd given Dean his word that he wouldn't go searching in people's heads anymore without their permission, and sometimes it was just so tempting to take a peek and see what he was missing. But he'd promised Dean, and a promise to Dean meant something, even if he couldn't always recall why.
The first time his mind had wandered into someone else's thoughts without Dean's permission, he'd started crying. Embarrassing, but nothing shamed him more than admitting to his big brother that he'd broken his promise. It had happened one morning, in the soft and sleepy minutes before he'd fully woken up. Everything had felt warm and cosy; the thick bedspread tucked up tight under his chin, and the steady tick of the old-fashioned brass alarm clock Jim kept in his guest bedroom, the heavy weight of Dean's arm around his waist, his breath licking at the back of Sam's neck. And his mind had just slipped, water running through his fingers and spreading in a growing puddle. Dean had been dreaming in violet; flicker-images of himself and Sam, hot kisses shared languidly between them. His hard-on was a thick press against Sam's lower back, and it was the feel of it that brought Sam into the present. He'd thrown himself out of bed, his body clenched like a sore muscle. Dean had woken up, stroked his head gently and told him it was okay if he did it by accident. But Sam hadn't forgotten how bad it felt to disobey Dean.
"Sam? Are you listening?" Jim's calm voice broke his concentration and Sam looked up, the lingering worries floating away like they'd never been. "Do you want to go and wash up before we eat?"
Dean had moved to the chair in front of the big kitchen table while Sam had been thinking. He stood at Jim's words, reaching out to take Sam by the arm again.
"No Dean. Let Sam do it himself." Jim said, putting a hand on Dean's shoulder. Dean's face tightened and Sam took a step toward him before remembering not where other people can see, secret, secret.
"Okay. Wash up. I can do that." Sam smiled reassuringly at his brother. Dean still didn't look happy.
"You call me if you need help, Sammy."
The wallpaper on the landing was interesting. There were raised patterns that tickled his fingertips when he stroked them, and shiny parts in muted pearlescent colours. The edges didn't meet up exactly in the corner, leaving a half-millimetre gap where the plaster showed. Sam ran his fingernail down the gap, feeling the bump and scratch of the wall underneath.
Wash up. He was supposed to be washing up.
Feeling obscurely proud of himself for remembering, Sam made his way to the bathroom at the end of the landing.
The tap squeaked when he turned it and he wanted to try it again. But Dean was waiting for him, and Sam didn't want to make his brother come and get him. The projected grey worry hovered in big clouds around the kitchen, growing denser with each moment Sam took. So instead he pulled all his concentration together, repeating the simple instructions over and over so he wouldn't forget.
Wash up. Turn the tap. Run water over hands. Use the soap. Run water again. Dry hands with the towel.
He completed the task, only allowing a moment's distraction lathering up the slippery soap, but he figured soap was something everyone enjoyed playing with.
Making his way back downstairs, he made sure to keep putting one foot in front of the other, staring at his sneakers while he did it. Maybe he should have taken the shoes off inside. The carpet was getting dirty; he could see dry leaves flaking off. They got lost in the light brown of the carpet, and Sam bent to look more closely. Leaves looked funny on carpet. Not natural. He poked at one with a finger, watching it disintegrate with the touch.
"Yeah, I know he can do it himself, I just don't like leaving him!" The raised voice caught his attention like a fishhook in the gut. Dean was angry. He didn't like it when Dean was angry, even when it wasn't directed at him.
Sam stepped closer to the kitchen door.
"Dean, I know it's hard, but you have to let Sam figure things out for himself. How is he going to get better if he knows you'll always be there to do everything for him?" Pastor Jim said quietly.
"And what if he doesn't get any better? What if he's like this for the rest of his life, and you forcing him to do stuff on his own gets him hurt?"
"Dean, I'm not asking you to let him go wandering around town by himself. All we'll be doing is weeding the garden. I'll be there the whole time, I promise. Sam likes the garden. And despite what you say, I know you could do with some time for yourself. A few hours apart, that's all I'm asking."
Sam heard Dean sigh loudly. When he spoke again, his voice was quiet and shaky. "I just don't want him to get hurt. It's not that I don't trust you…"
"It's that you don't trust anyone when it comes to taking care of Sam." Jim finished. Sam felt a brush of rose sad-affection radiate from Jim, and he let himself bask in it for a second like a cat sunning itself. "I know, Dean. But you're going to run yourself ragged worrying if you don't take a break every now and then," Jim paused and Sam could picture the sharp grin on the older man's face, the one that made him look years younger, "and if those pews don't get fixed soon, I'll make sure you're the one sitting on them when they finally give out."
Dean laughed softly. A long pause in conversation, before, finally, "Yeah. Yeah, okay, fine. Two hours. That's it."
"That's all I'm asking for." Jim said, sounding pleased.
The taut atmosphere in the kitchen had lightened to a conciliatory flush of pink. Sam breathed a little easier and stepped inside, looking for Dean's bright smile. He wasn't disappointed.
Helping Pastor Jim weed was fun. There were worms in the dirt, wiggly ones that stretched and contracted. He pulled them out of their dark hidey-holes, making a worm-pile in the grass that writhed in all different directions, like they were one pulsing mass. Jim let him, glancing over with smiles that Sam met every time.
The dirt caught under his fingernails, and he was tempted to suck them clean before he remembered Dean telling him no last night. Instead he ran his fingers through the grass, feeling it slide against his skin.
"Sam, do you want to help me plant the new flowers?" Jim said, breaking the easy
silence between them.
"Yeah, okay." Flowers were nice. They were bright colours and they smelled good. Maybe they tasted good too, but he shouldn't eat them.
Jim stood, wincing as his knees popped. "Not as young as I used to be."
Sam smiled, standing in one fluid movement. Jim shook his head in mock-exasperation.
"You shouldn't show off in front of an old man, Sam. We're liable to get jealous and grumpy."
"Are you old?" Sam asked, cocking his head to one side. Something in his mind tickled as he spoke, whispering that he shouldn't say that, rude, not polite. He blushed. "Sorry."
Jim chuckled. "C'mon, Sam, let's go get those flowers."
"Hey Sammy." Sam looked up from the busy job of scrubbing the dirt from his nails to see Dean stepping into the bathroom. His big brother put on a tired smile, like it had exhausted him to be apart. "Didya have a good time with Pastor Jim?" without me? followed silently, projected into the space between them with a jealous tang.
Sam slipped into Dean's arms before his brother could throw out any more negative thoughts. "I found worms in the dirt." This time Dean's smile was genuine.
"Yeah? Sounds exciting."
"Did you have fun?" Sam whispered, nuzzling away the sore lines in Dean's jaw.
Dean snorted. "I wouldn't say fun, exactly. Those pews are a bitch. My splinters have splinters." Sam frowned, pushing out with his mind, until he found
…little spots of sting, aching, a sliver prickling at the nerves...
and Sam pulled Dean's hand to his mouth without a second thought, sucking at the tender finger, lapping at the sore spot with his tongue. Intent on removing the source of Dean's discomfort, Sam only noticed his brother's heavier-than-usual breathing when he went strangely still.
"Uh, Sammy, I think the splinter's out now."
Sam met Dean's eyes, noted the flush on his brother's cheeks and the dark eyes. He pulled the finger out of his mouth with a pop. "Okay Dean." He said, almost a whisper, before sliding his lips over the next finger.
Sometimes Sam thought of Jess, of Stanford and his old friends and Becky and Zach. Mostly they came to him in his sleep, angry thoughts directed at him by those he'd left behind, those who didn't understand. He knew, in a vague way, that people were looking for him. It'd been amusing to see his face on the front page of a newspaper in town. Dean had gone pale upon seeing it, and hurried them home like he was expecting angry villagers with pitchforks to appear on the horizon at any minute. Sam tried to tell him not to worry, that he had it covered, but it was hard getting words out so he gave up.
No one would recognise the crazy fugitive ex-Stanford student, and not just because now-Sam looked completely different to then-Sam. Now-Sam was thinner, cheekbones prominent to the point of gauntness. He was paler too, and his hair had lost some of its lush thickness. It had grown, falling around his face in soft curtains that he could touch with his tongue. But when Sam looked in the mirror, it was his eyes that looked the most changed, and it was his eyes that caught and held people. They looked at once older and younger, some ephemeral in-between that shone like dark green-black. He looked nothing like he had.
He'd cried for Jess once, a few days after coming back to himself. It had hurt, but in a cleansing way, like shedding layers of skin and starting new. He knew he should feel bad about it, about not grieving enough for the woman he had once loved. But emotions came and went too easily for him to really take them in and hold them close. And besides, Jess understood.
What initially woke Sam was the dream, half his own unconscious, half the thoughts of the cat prowling the backyard in search of a nest of field mice. He was swept from sleep with a sense of awe that made him want to laugh. Being a cat was fun. Everything was strangely coloured and bright, even in the moonless dark outside. The cat had been stalking through the long grass at the back of the garden that Jim never bothered to cut and Sam could still feel the echo of it between his fingers and toes.
Dean was a still mass beside him, breathing deeply with one hand splayed on Sam's stomach beneath the tee shirt he wore to bed. The print of skin against skin felt hot.
Sam spent a minute exploring the texture of Dean's forearm with light fingers, feeling the bristle of short hairs and the bump of a faint scar by Dean's elbow. It was still night outside and he should be sleeping. Instead he let his eyes trail the edges of the furniture in Jim's guest bedroom, curling around the sharp corners and tracing shapes in his mind. The big antique mirror over the dresser was especially interesting, swirls of metal framing the glass in gold curlicues. Pretty.
An itch at the back of his brain was growing, heavier and heavier until it was a throb that he couldn't ignore. Sam frowned, pouted a little. This was familiar in some way. Dean said to wake him if something hurt, but this wasn't an ouch hurt, not really. It was something new, something he'd forgotten.
He blinked, and suddenly everything around him was different. He was outside, but it wasn't an outside that he knew. A city street spread to either side of him, tarmac dark as the night sky above. The sound of cars rumbled ominously in the background. But it was the building in front of him that caught his attention. Neon signs lit up the windows, brilliant light trapped in thin wires that hummed on his nerves like shivers, and it was an effort to force himself to read the words.
Bar. Sam smiled, pleased with himself. He had read, without getting lost in the colour of the word or the flavour of it on his tongue. He had read it, and now he could go back to Dean and tell him, and Dean would smile bright at him, tell him how well he did and stroke his hair.
The door to the bar swung open. It took a second for Sam to make out the features of the man stepping outside, the shadows falling in his face. But then the man turned, looked straight at him like he could see Sam standing in the street.
John Winchester paused for a second, a frown pulling the corners of his mouth down. His face looked worn and taut with tension. Then he spun on his heel, tugging the collar of his jacket up around his neck and striding away down the street. Sam watched him go, his own frown set on his face.
And then Sam was back in Pastor Jim's guest room, Dean making snuffling noises into the pillow beside him.
Sam lay still for long moments, wondering what he should do. Dean would want to know that he saw their dad, even if it was only in his head. But it was night, and Dean was sleeping. Maybe he should wait until his brother woke up. Except Sam had no guarantee that his muddled mind would even remember by the time morning came around, and Dean told him that it was okay to wake someone if he needed them.
Decided, Sam rolled onto his side to face his brother.
"Dean." Dean didn't stir. "Dean." He tried again, punctuating the word with a prod in the arm. Dean frowned in his sleep, mumbling something indistinct and batting a hand in Sam's direction.
Sam chewed on his lower lip. Dean wasn't awake. He needed his brother, and Dean wasn't awake.
"Dean. Dean. Dean." He was pretty sure if he spoke much louder Pastor Jim would wake up too and he didn't want to disturb the whole house. He moved closer to his brother, until they were practically nose to nose. Dean looked funny from up close; his face was all blurry and trying to look made Sam's eyes cross.
"Dean. Wake up. Please." Dean moaned something, his face screwing up as he cracked open an eye.
And abruptly fell backward out of bed with a yelp, dragging the bedcovers with him.
Sam sat up, cocking his head to one side as he peered over the edge of the mattress at Dean's crumpled form on the floor. A scruffy head poked up out of the mess of blankets.
"Christ, Sam! What was that?" Dean's hair was rumpled, crease lines striping down one cheek. He blinked wildly at Sam.
"I woke you up." Sam said.
Dean stared for a second. "Yeah, you did. Any idea why?"
"'Cause I needed to tell you something."
Dean frowned, gathering bedding and lumping it all back on the mattress. "And you couldn't have waited 'til morning?"
"It was important."
Dean sighed, slumping down on the bed and turning to face him. He blinked, rubbing at his eyes, before visibly pushing his tiredness to one side and looking over expectantly. "Okay Sammy. What do you need to tell me?"
Sam blinked. What did he need to tell Dean? It was something, it was important…
Beside him Dean suppressed another sigh. "Think it through Sammy. You can do this. What were you thinking about before you woke me up?"
He bit his lip again, chewing on it as he tried to trace his trail of thoughts backward. He had done something, something good. Something Dean would be happy to hear. And then a fragment floated back to him, a luminous word glowing in the dark. "Oh. I read."
Dean paused in the middle of rubbing his hand through his hair. "You what?"
"I read. It was a word, it said 'bar' and it was bright and shiny."
Sam waited expectantly for the praise. But Dean wasn't smiling, wasn't happy. He was frowning again, deep lines in his forehead that made him look like dad…
"Dad was there." He added quickly. Dean still didn't say anything, staring blankly at him for a second. Rolling confusion overtook the groggy just-woke-up that slowed his brother's brain.
"You had a dream that you were reading, in a bar, with dad?" Dean spoke slowly, like he was trying to connect the dots in his head.
"No." Sam shook his head, allowing himself a second of distraction to note the way the movement made his mind dizzy. "I saw it."
"You saw…" The older man closed his eyes for a second, taking a visible breath that he held in his chest. Sam pursed his lips. Dean wasn't getting it. "Uh, how about you run it by me again, Sammy. Where did you see dad?"
"In the street in my head." He stressed the words.
"And…not a dream?"
"Not a dream. I was the cat in the garden when I dreamt." Sam said plainly. Apparently this didn't help Dean either, his hand coming up to massage at his temples like he was getting a headache.
"You were…" Dean started. He couldn't seem to find the right words, mouthing silently for a second before shaking his head as if to clear it. "You saw dad? Like, a vision saw him?"
Sam nodded so hard the bed bounced under him. Dean's head seemed to sharpen at that, and Sam felt good knowing he was helpful.