Author's Note: And here we are at the end. Hopefully it's as satisfying to read as it was for me to write. Thanks again for the awesome response. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.
take your chances
Watchful of the glances
But don't turn away
Though the wounds are healing
Don't tell me the feelings the same
Temporary Heroes written by N. Trevesick and J. Clee;
Performed by Pat Benetar
Dean stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way back to the motel. He helped Sam into the room and moved as many things out of the way as possible before setting the food out on the table. Before joining his brother, Dean salted the window sills and quickly went through the protection ritual he and Sam normally did when they checked into a new place. Since he had been spending most of his time at the hospital, Dean had been lax with the protection at the motel.
He sat down across from Sam and noticed the food was untouched.
"Who was that woman, Dean? Marie? Was she just a regular nurse?"
Dean didn't want Sam's loss of sight to be a permanent condition, but he was certainly glad his brother couldn't see his face right now. And he couldn't help but notice the childlike tone to Sam's voice. "I don't know, Sammy."
"She looked like –"
"Why would she help us? Why did you even ask her to?"
"I….I don't know. I just had a feeling she'd help."
"Sammy, I don't know, okay?" Even to his own ears, Dean sounded tired. "Let's just eat something and hope Bobby calls soon."
Sam reached for the burger in front of him, but Dean could see he wasn't interested in it. Truth be told, he wasn't hungry himself, but there wasn't much else they could do. Besides, Sam hadn't been eating very well and he needed the protein.
With Sam guiding him and throwing out ideas, Dean looked up things on the computer. They'd done their best with the food, but most of it had been tossed out. Bobby had called and said he was getting the last of what they would need and would be there soon.
"You hurting?" Dean asked when Sam shifted in the hard wooden chair and put his arm across his midsection.
"I'm all right."
"Go lay down."
"I said I'm all right." He sounded annoyed.
Dean waited a few minutes before saying anything else. "What did she say to you?"
"Marie. When you were in the car; what did she say?"
"She said to take care of myself."
"And to take care of you. She said it was all going to work out. Dean…."
He was saved from having to respond by a knock on the door. Sam visibly tensed.
"It's probably just Bobby," Dean said.
"You got your gun?"
"Yeah. Stay here."
Dean made his way to the door, gun at the ready. He heard Bobby call his name and then heard Sam let out a breath. Dean didn't feel at ease until Bobby was inside and even then, he stayed on alert.
"You two all right?" he asked. He thought they both looked like hell.
"Did you get everything?" Sam asked him.
"Did you figure out what that shadow is?" Dean asked.
"I talked to a woman I know who has been practicing white magic for a long time. She's also an expert in black magic, but she only studies it. She said she knows what the old biddies were trying to do when they created it. They only intended the spell to work once, on Marcy's friend, but they created….well, an entity, for lack of a better word. It should have been fairly easy for them to get rid of it, but…."
"What about Sam's eyesight?"
"She said there's a spell that should reverse the effects, but there aren't any guarantees. And it doesn't matter if the shadow is destroyed first or not," Bobby answered. "She agreed to do it, but Sam has to go to her. She doesn't need the girl's cooperation."
"What about Joanna's daughter?" Sam asked quietly.
"The spell, if it works, will reverse what the shadow did."
Bobby couldn't remember ever seeing Sam look so conflicted.
"So, this ritual to get rid of the shadow…." Dean clearly wanted to change the subject.
"Like I said before, it would be best to do it where the thing was created, but next best thing is where it most recently worked, like I thought."
"The hospital," Dean said.
"You can't do it alone," Sam interjected.
Bobby glanced at Dean.
"Sam, you can't stay here alone. You can't protect yourself."
"You did the protection deal, there's salt on the window sills and in front of the door. I'll be okay. It's more likely the shadow will come after the person trying to get rid of it anyway, so you have to go with Bobby and make sure the job gets done."
Bobby knew that Sam was right, but he had to let Dean come to that on his own. If he convinced Dean to come with him and something happened to Sam….
"You come, too, then."
"Dean, I'll slow you down. Besides, it's not like I can waltz into the same hospital I snuck out of."
"I don't like this."
"But you know I'm right."
"Dean, you need to go with Bobby. I'll be okay."
Bobby walked to the other side of the room and watched as Dean crouched in front of his brother. "You listen to me, Sam. I want you to just….I don't know, stay in bed or something. Don't try to move around. I've cleared everything off the floor an there's nothing between the bed and the bathroom and you've got a straight shot to both from this chair."
"I'll be okay. It's a small room."
"There's bottled water in the refrigerator and I'll leave some pain medication right here on the table."
"You need to go," Sam said again.
"Your phone is charged," Dean said as he stood up. He walked across the room to retrieve it, then put it in Sam's hand. "You call me if something happens, you understand?"
"I'm leaving you a gun loaded with rock salt," Dean said as he pulled a weapon from the bag on one of the beds. He checked it and handed it to his brother along with some extra slugs. "It's loaded."
"We'll be back soon."
Bobby watched as Dean made a final check of the room. He saw the conflict on Dean's face. He clearly didn't want to leave Sam alone, but he also didn't really have a choice.
"Go, Dean," Sam said, clearly sensing his brother's unease. "I'm not completely disabled – hell, a lot of what we fight isn't always visible, anyway."
"I'll be in the car," Bobby said. He wasn't sure if that would speed Dean's exit, but at least it would give the brother's a little privacy. "Take care of yourself, kid."
"Sam," Dean said once they were alone.
"Dean, come on, man. I know you don't like this, but if you don't take care of that shadow soon…."
"Yeah, okay." He laid a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I know you can handle yourself. Just….I'll be back as soon as I can, okay?"
Dean and Bobby made their way to the basement of the hospital with no interference. It didn't really matter where in the hospital they were, but the basement provided the most privacy for what they had to do. Using the picture from one of Bobby's books as a guide, Dean drew the proper symbols on the floor with chalk while Bobby set out the necessary candles and mixed the herbs.
The idea was that they would summon the shadow by reading the appropriate passage, then trap it within the circle of symbols. From there, a different recitation would send it back to the nothingness it came from. They worked quickly and efficiently while Bobby explained what to expect. After a final check of their preparations, Dean took up his position while Bobby began to read the correct verse of the ritual.
As Bobby read, Dean felt a change in the room and he shifted position, looking around for any sign of the shadow. It wouldn't be easy to spot considering the lighting in the room and the glow of the candles casting odd shadows already, but if the ritual worked correctly, it should be directed to the circle of symbols he'd drawn on the floor.
He saw Bobby glance up from the book for a moment, then look back down and continue reading. Dean didn't even see it approach, but just before Bobby finished the passage, the shadow appeared inside the circle. Bobby saw it too; he looked at Dean and smiled.
"Let's finish this and get out of here," Dean said and Bobby began to read again.
Dean turned toward the source of the shout and was surprised to see Joanna running toward them. He wouldn't have believed she could move so fast and he stepped forward to block her way, surprised when she pushed past him. He saw Bobby look away from the book, but it was just a moment too late.
Joanna ran into him, yelling and trying to hit him. The book fell to the floor as he tried to grab a hold of her hands. Dean ran forward and grabbed her shoulder. She turned on him, a hiss escaping her lips.
"Get the book, Bobby, I'll take care of her!" Dean yelled and Bobby moved away.
With strength Dean never would have thought the old woman possessed, Joanna pushed him. He lost hold on the gun and it fell at her feet. Bobby had the book, but it was no longer on the correct page. Dean saw him falter with it, but his attention was quickly drawn back to Joanna when she pointed the gun at him.
"What the hell are you doing?" he asked, holding his hands up. "You wanted my help!"
"Shut up," she said and chambered a round.
"Sonofabitch," Dean muttered.
"You," Joanna nearly growled as she pointed the gun at Bobby. "Leave the book on the floor."
Bobby shook his head. "You'll have to shoot me."
Dean looked at him in shock. The gun was just loaded with rock salt, but he knew from experience that being shot with it would hurt like hell. Bobby bent over and Joanna surprised the men by hitting him in the head with the gun. He collapsed to the floor and Dean looked at Joanna.
He didn't want to hurt her; she was an old woman, after all. He knew he was faster and stronger and he couldn't let her rescue the shadow from the symbols. Dean didn't even chance a glance at Bobby when Joanna began to back away from him and toward the circle drawn on the floor. Without a sound, Dean rushed forward and grabbed the gun. He was shocked when she was able to keep a hold of it.
Dean hesitated only a moment before tugging at the weapon again. He got it away from her, but she stumbled backward and into the circle of symbols. The shadow moved toward her and seemed to almost be absorbed into her skin. He heard Bobby groan and from the corner of his eye, Dean saw him reaching for the book.
"The shadow is inside of her," Dean said.
"I can't find the page," Bobby said, one hand on his head where he'd been hit with the gun.
"Let me," Dean said and took the book from him. "Will this still work?"
"Damned if I know." Bobby staggered and fell to the floor. "Hurry."
After what seemed like hours, Dean found the correct page and began reading the Latin passage. Joanna screamed and Dean hesitated, glancing at her and seeing her writhe, but almost immediately, he resumed reading. He got to the end of the passage and Joanna screamed again. He saw the shadow, outside of her body, and a moment later it disappeared in what seemed to be a flash of fire.
"No," Joanna said, crying. "No."
Dean ignored her and turned his attention to Bobby, helping him into a sitting position.
"Oh sure. Just great."
Dean gently touched the spot on his forehead and Bobby flinched.
"Sorry. You're gonna have a bump."
"Could be worse. You did good, Dean."
"Yeah," he said, shrugging off the compliment.
Dean had just helped Bobby to his feet when they heard someone calling Joanna's name.
"Marcy," Dean said to Bobby, recognizing the voice. He called to her and a moment later she was there, sitting on the floor with Joanna and holding her lovingly. "Did you get rid of it?"
Dean nodded. "Yeah."
"We helped people," Joanna whispered, still crying.
"Shhhh….you know that help came with a price. And we were losing control of it," Marcy said. She looked at Dean and Bobby. "I'll take care of this. You should go."
Dean quickly gathered the important things and stuffed them into his bag. Bobby wasn't completely steady on his feet and Dean helped him walk.
"What about my daughter?" Joanna whimpered.
The men hesitated and Dean saw Marcy shake her head at them. They continued toward the exit.
"We'll get some ice on your head back at the motel," Dean said as he opened the passenger side door of the Impala. "I want to call Sam."
Dean got behind the wheel and pulled out his cell phone, dialing Sam's number as he started the car. Sam answered on the third ring.
"It's me, Sammy. We're done here and on the way back. You okay?"
"No," he said in a whisper.
"It's okay. We'll head to Bobby's friend in the morning. She'll take care of it."
"You both okay?"
"It got a little weird. Bobby got whacked on the head, but we're okay."
Back at the motel, Bobby lounged in one of the beds with an icepack on his head while Dean told Sam what happened at the hospital. After he answered all of Sam's questions, the trio decided to go to bed. Bobby was suffering no ill effects of being hit on the head, but Dean woke up several times during the night to check on him.
He tried to call Marcy the next morning, but she didn't answer and he left a message. Bobby had a bruise and a slight bump on his forehead, but no headache and they all decided he probably didn't have a concussion. Dean offered to help Sam get ready, but he insisted on doing everything himself. He was able to shower and dress, but decided not to try shaving. He barely had any facial hair, but even a little was more than Dean was used to seeing.
After packing and getting everything into their cars, the group went to a diner down the street for breakfast. It was the first time Sam had eaten in public since losing his eyesight; it was the first time he'd actually been in public and though he was self-conscious, he was determined to finish his food.
Dean didn't particularly care for the way he seemed to be getting used to not having sight. If it had happened in some natural way, Dean still would not have liked the situation, but he wouldn't have felt as bad as he did now. He knew there were millions of blind people in the world who were able to function perfectly well, but that wasn't what he wanted for his brother. Not because there was any shame in it, but because it wasn't his fate. Without the intervention of Marcy and Joanna, things would have been different.
They finished their meals and were on the way into the parking lot when Dean's cell phone rang. He saw Marcy's name on the caller ID display and spoke to her briefly before hanging up.
"Joanna's daughter wants to talk to you, Sam."
"Marcy isn't sure. She and Joanna talked to her last night; told her everything."
"Everything?" Sam repeated.
"That's what Marcy said."
Sam nodded. "I'll talk to her."
"Are you sure? You don't owe her anything, Sammy."
"I know that."
"All right. Let's go."
"You don't have to do this, Sam," Dean said again as he parked in front of Joanna's house.
"I want to, Dean. It's okay."
"All right," Dean opened the car door. "Hold on, I'll help you."
Sam was already standing on the sidewalk when Dean got around to the other side of the car. Dean led him to the front door and then helped him get to the couch when Marcy invited them inside.
"Joanna is in bed. She's being pretty melodramatic," Marcy said. "I'm sorry about yesterday. Is your friend all right?"
"Yeah, he's fine," Dean said. Bobby had decided to let the brothers handle this on their own; they planned to meet up outside of town.
A moment later they were joined by a young woman who introduced herself as Darla, Joanna's daughter. She sat next to Sam on the couch and reluctantly Dean followed Marcy out of the room.
"Sam, my mom and Marcy told me what happened. I have to say that I was more than a little shocked. I knew my mom used to be involved in….but I had no idea what they'd done. I didn't know about that shadow thing. And….I'm sorry you got involved."
"It's kind of what me and my brother do."
"You go around taking on health conditions that shouldn't be yours?"
Sam laughed. "Well, no."
"Do you think you can change things? Make them the way they should be?"
"Bobby, our friend, he knows someone who can do it, but I –"
"You're going to do it."
Sam noticed it wasn't a question.
"I want you to, Sam."
"Because it's the way it should be."
"Sam, Marcy told me a little bit about you and your brother. You've helped a lot of people, haven't you?"
"Yeah, I guess, but…."
"You need to keep doing that and if you're blind – but more important than that, I would feel guilty for the rest of my life if things weren't put right," he felt her hand on his. "And somehow I don't think I'd get out Scot-free. I want you to get things to the way they should be."
"Absolutely. Do I need to do anything?"
"No. I – Dean's taking me to the woman who can reverse it and she's about five hours away. I don't know what it involves yet, but I can call you before we do whatever it is….she can explain it to us both at the same time."
"I'd appreciate that."
With the right knowledge and supplies, the reversal was a very simple process. Andrea, Bobby's friend, explained it to them while Darla was listening on the other end of the phone. She stayed on the line while Andrea performed the necessary steps. She'd told them that their conditions probably wouldn't change immediately and stressed that it might not even work at all. They waited at her house for a couple of hours after the ritual had been completed, but there was no change.
Even without seeing Dean's expression, Sam knew his brother was disappointed. They rented a motel room, ordered a pizza and turned the television on just to have some noise in the room. Bobby got the room next to theirs and after eating some of the pizza, he left the brothers alone.
Sam knew that his brother was trying to keep the mood light for his benefit and he appreciated that, but he wanted to talk about their next steps and what they would do if the reversal didn't work.
"Sammy, we don't have to make any decisions tonight."
"I know, but I'd feel better if—"
"Speaking of feeling better, how are your ribs? Being in the car can't have been good for you."
"I'm all right. They're a little sore, but not too bad."
"You want something for the pain?"
"You need anything else?"
"I need you to sit down and listen to me. Please."
Sam heard his brother sight, but a moment later Dean was sitting on the edge of his bed.
"I talked to Bobby and he said I could stay with him for as long as I need to. We both can. I'll learn how to do things without being able to see; I can get a computer that talks, so I can still research….I don't know how many of the books we use are in Braille, but I can learn –"
"Dean, come on, man. This is important."
"You sound like you've given up."
"I haven't. I'm just trying to be realistic."
"I don't think I like that plan."
"What? Going to Bobby's?"
"No, being realistic."
Sam laughed. "We'll talk about it later, then. I'm tired. You mind if I turn in?"
"No, of course not."
"You can go out if you want. You don't have to stick around here."
"I don't feel like going out. I'll turn in, too."
Sam's ribs were bothering him enough to wake him up the next morning. He rolled over onto his back, resting his arm lightly across his midsection. He also had a slight headache and he needed to use the bathroom. He heard Dean's even breathing and knew he was still asleep. It took him a few moments to get out of bed and make his way across the room.
"Dean!" Sam yelled. He walked out of the bathroom. "Dean?"
"What is it?" his brother asked, awake and alert.
"I can see!" Sam laughed.
"What?" Dean sat up and looked at him. "You can see?"
"How many fingers and I holding up?" Dean asked, raising his hand.
"You're kidding, right?"
The older man jumped out of bed. "Sammy!"
He put his hands on Sam's arms and then pulled him into a hug. "I knew it would work! I knew it!"
Sam returned the hug, ignoring the pain in his midsection. After a few minutes of celebrating, he pulled away and sat on the edge of the bed. "I should call Darla."
"Aw, Sammy. It's not your fault; you didn't do anything wrong."
"I know. And I know it's not my fault. I just…it would be a hard adjustment for anyone."
Dean sat down across from him. "Yeah, you're right."
Sam was reaching for his phone when it started to ring. He glanced at Dean and his brother nodded, then went into the bathroom.
"Hi, Sam, it's Darla. I hope I'm not calling too early."
"No, I'm awake. I –"
"I know; you got your eyesight back. Congratulations." She sounded genuinely happy for him.
"Thanks. I guess. I'm sorry, Darla."
"Don't be. Really. It was me it should have happened to; it was me it did happen to. It's okay, Sam."
"You sound…happy about this."
"I'm happy that things have been set right."
They spoke for nearly half an hour, then the brothers woke Bobby and told him the news. The three of them went for breakfast before leaving town, all headed to Bobby's. Sam still needed some time for his ribs to completely heal and Dean figured he could use the time to do some preventative maintenance on the Impala.
Sam and Dean talked about Marie again, then they talked to Bobby about her. He admitted he shared their suspicions that somehow she was connected to their mother, but he didn't think the nurse had actually been Mary. He told them that while they were visiting Darla, he'd gone back to the hospital to find the nurse and had been told that she had quit without notice. He'd managed to track down her address, but when he went to the house, she wasn't there. He picked the lock and went inside, but other than furniture and food in the kitchen, there was no sign she had ever lived there. There were no clothes in the closets and no personal mementoes in any of the rooms. Whoever she was, they were all grateful for the help she'd given them, but their suspicions remained.
Once Sam was completely healed, the brothers would find another job and keep helping people. It wasn't just the family business anymore; it was something Sam felt he needed to do. He had committed himself to the hunt after Jessica died in a way he never had before. And again, when his father died. He felt that surge of commitment again now that he'd gotten his sight back and he wanted to do it for Darla as well.
Besides, they still had a demon to destroy.